June 26, 2003

AN INTERESTING TAKE:

For the last few years, top executives from all the major record companies have been giving interviews in which they criticize consumers for doing exactly what the execs have been doing for years – getting music for free. I was “in the loop” for a couple years, when I was writing about music for a free weekly, as well as a major daily newspaper, in Los Angeles, many years ago. And I can tell you – none of these characters paid for anything, ever.

The bookcases in their offices and their homes were (and are) filled with “product” that they receive for free as a matter of course. They would not dream of ever paying for recorded music, themselves, with very few exceptions. But now that the average consumer can download a ripped file from the Internet, you’d think it was the end of Western Civilization, from the way they talk.

The false piousness of their pronouncements on this subject really offends me. I assure you, back in the day, if somebody at Record Company A wanted a copy of the new LP by so-and-so and the such-and-suches, they would shout at the secretary to call their good friend at Record Company B and have it messengered over, with the fee for the messenger charged to the artist signed to Company B! Maybe it took a little longer than getting an mp3 off the web now, but my point is that they did not go down to their local record store and pay list price to nobly support the artist who they claimed to be interested in.

I made money selling the promos I received. It never paid my rent, it was more like a meal here and there, but I knew of other journalists who were much more handsomely rewarded for pumping up certain labels’ artists by being double or triple-listed on the promo mailing list. And, back then, many records were released each month, and there were far more record companies, so if someone got that privilege at five or six different publicity departments, it could really add up.

Basically, if you were connected to the teat, you waved your magic wand and any music you wanted came to you free of charge.

Heh. I love the part about the messenger fee. (It’s, er, “promotion.”) Read the whole thing.