2007/12/17

The Problem With Music

Steve Albini is a maverick pioneer in the music world. His early background as a musician in punk rock bands led into writing as a pundit in music journalism.

Below is an excerpt of an article that prompted my introduction to him and his ire at the recording industry. I think that it is important for any fan of music, any aspiring musician --especially those about to make their big break-- and anyone who wonders why the rock stars they love have no money to read the following.

Whenever I talk to a band who are about to sign with a major label, I always end up thinking of them in a particular context. I imagine a trench, about four feet wide and five feet deep, maybe sixty yards long, filled with runny, decaying shit. I imagine these people, some of them good friends, some of them barely acquaintances, at one end of this trench. I also imagine a faceless industry lackey at the other end holding a fountain pen and a contract waiting to be signed. Nobody can see what's printed on the contract. It's too far away, and besides, the shit stench is making everybody's eyes water. The lackey shouts to everybody that the first one to swim the trench gets to sign the contract. Everybody dives in the trench and they struggle furiously to get to the other end. Two people arrive simultaneously and begin wrestling furiously, clawing each other and dunking each other under the shit. Eventually, one of them capitulates, and there's only one contestant left. He reaches for the pen, but the Lackey says Actually, I think you need a little more development. Swim again, please. Backstroke. And he does of course.

It is truly scathing. Read the full opinion article at negativland.com.

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