Archive for January, 2001

THE THE vs THE CORPORATE MONSTER

THERE’S NO POINT IN ASKING, YOU GET NO REPLY

I know what questions to ask in order to find out when people are doing their jobs and then they’re not. Artists are often able to gain the confidence of record company employees who’ll tell us things about their company they won’t admit to their bosses or co-workers. Though most are afraid to admit it publicly morale is now very, very low at the Universal conglomerate (at least 6 people I’ve worked closely with on my new album have walked out on the company and I know of several more who are planning to follow soon) The Seagrams takeover and subsequent merger of Universal and PolyGram was very traumatic, not only for many artists on the label but also for many of the employees. There are many decent hard working people in this company who wanted to work in the music business for all the right reasons but now find their hands are tied behind their backs as they are not allowed to get behind the projects they really believe in. Seagrams bottle drinks and music using the same machine and the sheer incompetence of this conglomerate just beggars belief. To fully list All the cock ups that have utterly undermined and ruined the release of NakedSelf would take all day and I’d like to stress the positive changes I’m anticipating in the industry rather than whinge and whine about the past year’s mistakes.
Suffice to say it has been the most disastrous episode of my entire career.

THE REAL QUESTION IS THIS

The million dollar question for all artists associated with this bloated company, and this is where it gets interesting, is this: Is this really just sheer incompetence or is this wilful neglect? Because it does seem that nothing/Interscope/Universal can be very aggressive and successful with a certain type of popular music, so it begs the question that is it not really the fact that to pay for that preposterous merger, and in order to pacify their shareholders, Seagrams had to promise to make cutbacks rather than investments for future profits? Was an executive decision taken to only back acts that they thought were ‘sure-fire’ instant commercial hits palatable to corporate radio stations, rather than take a chance on any artist that doesn’t conform to this bland criterion?

SOMETHING FOR NOTHING

I loathe censorship even more than piracy and increasing numbers of artists are now becoming victims of censorship by apathy and neglect. They just cannot get their music heard through the traditional channels.

As nothing/Universal/Interscope seem either incapable or unwilling (or both) to distribute and promote my album properly, and as they’ve refused to give it back to me, then I’ve been forced to consider alternative ways of reaching my audience. After much deliberation I have therefore decided to offer free downloads of NakedSelf on a song by song/week by week basis from my official site. www.thethe.com. By doing so I hope more people (including the bulk of my audience) will finally get the chance to hear this album and hopefully support me by purchasing this CD and future releases. For me to just walk away from NakedSelf now would be like leaving a baby on a doorstep and I just can’t do it.
I believe in this album too much.

This is not a decision I’ve taken lightly, because as some of you may know, I’ve been widely quoted in recent months regarding my opposition to Napster. As musicians and songwriters, as in other professions, we have dedicated our lives to our art and craft and now face a situation of people stealing our work and passing it around the world for free. No one who has ever done a hard days work for a days pay would expect others to work for free, why should musicians?
it’s also a sad fact of life that the general public are still fairly ignorant as to how unfair most record company contracts really are. The artist pays for everything yet owns nothing. To receive fair and accurate royalty accounting he/she has to be able to afford to send in a team of auditors every few years to examine the books and this costs thousands of dollars to do properly. Most artists with more than a couple of years experience now sadly accept that the industry is run on principles of institutionalised corruption.

The record company position is this; If you want your money you can come and find it. If you can afford to find it then you’ve obviously earned so much that we can afford to give you some.

THE ONLY THING THAT STAYS THE SAME IS CHANGE

This weird period we’re going through in our industry right now feels both daunting and exciting and in a way reminds me of where I came from. As a teenager I was turned down by every indie and major label in the UK at least
three times before I finally got a recording contract so in the meantime I started producing and selling my own cassettes at the various gigs I attended.
It was a liberating and empowering experience and taught me how to stay positive in the face of apathy. When you get knocked to the floor you have a choice, you can either curl up in the foetal position and die or you can climb back onto
your feet and fight.

Matt Johnson/TheThe