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How To Kill An Artist


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What is interesting, thought CD sales are down, is that people are buying other things. Have you noticed that poster and T-shirt sales have been up? Of course---depending on the contract---

some of the labels are getting a cut of this,too.

CBS is probably the most screwed up entertainment company there is(I may have mentioned it before) All but put Rogers drums out of business. Watered down the quality at Fender and Steinway(until they regained their independence.

As for the New York Yankees, they had the worst teams in the CBS era. Del Webb had great ownership before, and Steinbrenner afterwards...

but in between, the Yanks had a crappy operation.

Several years ago, they cut a few knowledgable newscasters, to "cut costs".....only to splurge on Katie Couric???!!

The independent record labels are doing well, all things considered. You only need to sell a few hundred to break even on whatever was invested, and bands sell them at the gigs.

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Oh, yes, Dar....classical music in the US always got the short end of the stick, as far as the labels were concerned. Orchestral music in particular.......

It is expected that there will be a small amount that would sell.....so, you've got 50+ musicians at scale, with limited studio time. So, this is a "hurry up" session....and in(most often) a studio with absolutely dead acoustics(which they are not used to).

Needless to say, orchestral classical music in the US really sounds horrible, compared to what it COULD be. Personally, I find that the Germans, Brits, Hungarians, Austrians and Japanese do a much better job at getting classical music right.

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  • 1 month later...

highwayangel, I read this post yesterday and it was food for thought! Eric's description of the music business was the stuff of which nightmares are made.

I agree that an artist should work unfettered! However, Eric also said (I think in an interview) since there are large sums of money to be made off of an artist, this industry attracts the scum of the earth (or something to that effect). :twitch:

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Since there are large sums of money to be made off of an artist, this industry attracts the scum of the earth (or something to that effect). :twitch:

You ain't just whistling Dixie, sistah! Why did I just say that? How 'bout...ain't that the truth and in the last few years I have run across quite a few!

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"In any business where you can make big money in a short amount of time, it attracts the lowest life forms who attach themselves to the talent," he says. "The industry has been set up by businessmen, and it's not stacked in your favor."

Wendy and highwayangel - those are Eric's words in the interview "All By Himself Among Musicians" in the Press section of this board in the year 2004. I don't mean to be so retentive, but it bugs me when I am not able to correctly provide a quote and to site the source. crying

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I am aware this topic has been dormant for a few days but I just read the entire thread and I think it's not only unprofessional but immoral and heartless what these agents/ lawyers due to artists. Eric,your account of facts is an eye opener for those of us who have no idea what goes on behind the fame, money and glitter. I, for one, always assumed that once a person could prove talent and found a good agent to represent him/her, all the rest would come easy: the top dollars, the fame, the recognition. Boy! how many times I wished I had been one of them and envied them. Thank you Eric for putting things into perspective for all of us outside the world of show business.

Agents and lawyers come and go..your talent will always be there!

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  • 2 months later...

"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench--a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side."

-- Hunter S. Thompson

And on critics:

"Pay no attention to what the critics say: there has never been a statue set up in honor of a critic."

-- Jean Sibelius

"The most popular form of transportation in the music business is the bandwagon."

-- David Hooper

"Music is spiritual. The music business is not."

-- Van Morrison

"Half the battle is selling music, not singing it. It's the image, not what you sing."

-- Rod Stewart

Sad, but true.

:)--Darlene

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Also, the music industry is always looking for a scapegoat when the chips are down.

Yes, there is a certain amount of counterfeiting and illegal downloading, as of late. And granted, a certain amount of revenue is lost.

But in reality, you can blame the lack of CD sales on just plain lack of quality material. Why pay for a whole CD of mostly crap, when you can download it at minimal(or no) cost.

Now, the labels are taking a different angle, and taking a cut of the artists' other income. Take the case of Katy Perry.

Her contract also includes t-shirts, handbags, and other merchandise----Capitol gets a cut out of that, as well as the actual music sales.

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  • 11 years later...

For the newcomers to the bulletin board, here's an interesting old post from 2009—started by the site's namesake himself. It's a good example of the kind of content in the nooks and crannies of the board... all the more reason to be thankful that Bernie took the "Going out of business" signs out of the front windows. :-)

Anyway, a lot of us have played Monday Morning Quarterback with regard to Eric's' entire career and the pitfalls (vs. the successes). If you read Eric's posts on page 1 closely, you get his own take about what happened vs. what might have been. Good stuff. 

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  • 1 year later...
On 3/1/2009 at 2:41 PM, Eric Carmen said:

The problem is, it's not just one guy, at one label. By the nineties, the guys who ran at least half the big labels operated like that.

 

And then you have the problem of attorneys. There are a few big firms, and one in particular (I'm not naming names) that represent hundreds of the top artists in the music business. Unfortunately, they also represent the heads of many the labels, as well as the labels, themselves. And they often represent many of the top agents and managers.

 

These firms are known as "dealmakers." That means they don't really do any litigation. Their entire practice is just making record deals and publishing deals and deals between artists and managers and artists and agents.

 

Very often, they represent two or more parties in the deal. Let's take an example. Billy Joel hires Law Firm X to negotiate a new record deal with Sony. Billy assumes Law Firm X to be working in his best interest to get him the best deal they can. However, Law Firm X ALSO represents Sony Records, and the CEO, president, vice president and head of promotion for Sony. Sony wants Law Firm X to get them the most advantageous deal with Billy Joel. So, in who's best interest does Law Firm X negotiate?

 

Billy assumes it's him, but he's wrong, because as big an artist as Billy is, he's just ONE artist, and Sony has HUNDREDS of artists. Artists come and go, but record labels are forever.

 

So, while Law Firm X is negotiating for Billy, it's also negotiating for Sony Records and, when it comes right down to it, Sony is more important to the firm. Law Firm X makes a deal Billy can live with, but the advantage in the negotiation goes to Sony, because, over the long haul, the firm is going to negotiate hundreds of contracts for Sony, but probably only a dozen for Billy. Each negotiation brings a percentage of the deal to Law Firm X. So they get 10% of Billy's advance on his new deal, and they ALSO get paid a handsome fee from Sony Records.

 

Now let's fast forward ahead three years.

 

Billy is beginning to think he might not have received the best deal. He realizes the conflict of interest and he's not happy, so he goes to his manager and says "Why the hell did you accept these terms?" The manager says "Well, that's the best I could do. They wouldn't offer any more."

 

Law Firm X ALSO represents Billy's manager, who made the deal with Sony. Billy sues Law Firm X, and his manager, for failure to negotiate in his best interests. They settle out of court for an undisclosed sum. Sony gives Law Firm X the money to settle the suit, under the table.

 

Billy is just one of 400 artists represented by Law Firm X. Most of them will never figure out the game.

 

Law Firm X makes millions. The labels get advantageous deals with all their artists. The artists never know they could have done better. They thought they had the best attorneys in the business working for them. They DID have the best attorneys in the business. They just weren't working for THEM.

I have a very talented husband, who is a wonderful musician and has a beautiful singing voice.  Music wasn't his livelihood .... only a side interest which earned him a nice amount of side money back in the day. He never went after that brass ring so to speak.  Every now and then he opines on how things could have turned out if he had "gone after it".  I always explain to him that he wouldn't have been successful in such a dirty business because he plays fair and "they" don't. Now, there is no way I knew that for sure, but it was always my suspicion.  I'm so happy Eric laid all of this out so eloquently and I'm going to have him read this. I'm sure it will be meaningful.

 

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On 3/2/2009 at 11:54 PM, Eric Carmen said:

Taylor Swift is the real deal. She's a terrific writer and she's adorable. I can't think of another new act that has a good possibility of being around in twenty years. Country is where all the great writers and musicians are now. They're making real music in Nashville.

I'm reading this just as Taylor released yet another album - Midnights.  Looking back to posts from 2009 like this blows me away!

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Taylor ceased being adorable some time back. She also mutated from her country / pop high caliber song production and live performances to join the skank brigade (Jo Lo, Britney, Miley Cyrus, Katie Perry etc etc etc). Incredible to me that she felt a need to become them.

Having said that, she does the skank genre much better than any of the others.....often - though I don´t like the genre and think it´s a negative on our culture - her songs and performances (even though skanky) are very good. She has potential to do some pretty high end musical theatre stuff if she chose to get into that.

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Yes - I'm not a fan of her music these days (too much with the back handed slaps and whining in her lyrics).  She used to be adorable and wholesome and seems to have lost that.  But, I do applaud her ability to sell records and fill stadiums.  I got a kick out of your "skank brigade" comment.  Now that she probably has an awful lot of "f--- you" money, she ought to class it up and leave the lower common denominator behind.  My observation was more about how weird it is to be in 2022, reading Eric's 2009 post.

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