Austin, Andrew austina at
Thu Feb 15 08:54:21 MST 2001


Only a handful of musicians make money in the business, and this is almost
always after a long period of time. Even after a band is signed, they rarely
"make it." Record companies make a great deal of money off their best
selling artists. But they also play the field by signing several artists,
pay them nothing (what's known as a "development deal"), provide no support
(which almost always dooms them to failure), and tell the bands to promote
themselves. This is the usual character of the record business. What they
want to see are bands who will make all the effort and make money for the
company - virtually risk free. This is business efficiency in the record
industry. For every successful band that the company gets behind (almost
always an already well-established artist - a low risk investment), there
are dozens on the label's roster who get almost nothing - typically, no
money, no support, no access. On top of this these artists get exploited by
their managers, who, if they can land them a development deal, are probably
already hooked into the record label clique (at this level it is a scheme to
lace the palms of con artists). One thing managers do is to dangle a
contract in front of a band but tell them they first have to undergo
polishing at the hands of an "industry professional" (usually a low-level
has-been or clever never-has-been), which the band will have to pay for
(never do this!). Blood in the water draws in the sharks. Add to this the
hours of practice and sacrifice, plus renting rehearsal space, buying
equipment, making demos (good demos are very expensive), going from club to
club and then from showcase to showcase to "get seen." The real tragedy is
that some of the best artists I have ever heard and seen you will never hear
or see.

One does not need to be a musician to understand the problems with the
statements made below (although it certainly gives one insight into these
matters!), but one does need to understand the business. One also needs to
understand the principle of exploitation under capitalism and apply it. With
all due respect, I think neither understanding is expressed in your

Andrew Austin
Green Bay, WI

-----Original Message-----
From: Maryann Bowers
To: marxism at
Sent: 2/15/2001 7:58 AM
Subject: Napster

I suppose I'm going to get a dressing-down for my naivete, but I
respectfully submit that I'm baffled by the reaction of people like
with regard to Napster remaining a free service.  It's important to
the only means of offsetting the costs of recording, distribution, and
promotion of music is income from record sales.  Record companies front
obscene amount of money, in good faith, to artists for these costs, and
unless labels restructure themselves into a public service, they expect
recoup.  Royalties from sales, on or off the net, are the average,
non-DietCoke-sponsored artist's only income as well.  Following your
every cd at Tower should be free to everyone, and no one should be
to make their living writing and performing music.

Yes, of course, ideally artists/studio engineers/video directors/record
store employees/Napster code-writers should control the means of
and reproducing cds, making videos, etc., but as the model stands now,
unless everyone along the chain of production agrees to work at a loss,
the government radically changes its stance on funding for the arts,
and royalties are the only means of paying that perky Brittany Spears
bringing her particular brand of joy into your daughter's life.  The
obvious alternative, if record labels go under at the hands of
is you could start seeing commercial messages in the middle of the song
you're downloading.  If  I'm missing an incredibly obvious solution, I'm
more than happy to be enlightened.  (ps. People who run record labels,
the thousands of employees who've lost their jobs the last few years,
painfully aware of the technology and its impacts.)

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