Breaking music news: Napster files for bankruptcy, and gets into a deal with German media giant Bertelsmann AG, which will pick up what remains of the one-time gloriously popular site. Napster, which had 60 million users at its peak, is unlikely ever to be the same again. And in the last week of May, the music industry went after another music sharing site, Audiogalaxy, thereby proclaiming to the world that it was determined to put these free global juke boxes to eternal rest.
The music industry's action against Napster, and now against Audiogalaxy, has prompted a former music industry insider to call a US-wide CD boycott week.
Amanda Garcia, who lives in California, has called the boycott from June 23 to 30 to protest against the industry's action.
Garcia argues that the music labels' contention, that file sharing amounts to stealing from hard-working artistes, makes no sense as artistes make their money from live concerts rather than recordings.
"We are tired of being forcefed mediocre actors posing as musicians... We are tired of being trained what to like and what to buy," she told The Music Magazine in an exclusive interview.
This is the text of her media release:
After learning about the lawsuit launched on May 28 against the free music file sharing service Audiogalaxy, it became all too clear, big business owns music, or does it?
If you are like me, then you are tired of paying 18 dollars for a music CD that costs at the most 1 dollar to make. Record labels try to justify their anger over file sharing by saying it's stealing from the hard working-artists' pockets.
By working for a record label I know firsthand that the artist only recieves at most 8 per cent of sales (each CD is sold by the the labels to distributors at 8 dollars), and that's 64 cents. And the artists only receive their royalty check AFTER they pay the record label back ALL of the money it fronted for production. Not only do record labels recoup the costs of the fancy artwork inside and on the CD, but also make damn sure that the artists pay back for any little item, including MEALS.
Needless to say, most artists do not see a royalty check at all. The artists make the bulk of their multi-millions by touring... so you see we aren't stealing from the hard-working artist; we are sending a strong message to money-hungry corporate record labels.
The impact of a lost week of record sales will send a strong message to record industry yuppies. Let them know we are tired of being taken advantage of. We can help change the system, if we make sure our voice is heard.
The Music Magazine asked her some questions:
How do you plan to make this boycott a success when you are calling it in an individual capacity?
The amount of support I have gained so far has been phenomenal. I have learned of a national boycott month in August supported by the groups www.boycott-riaa.com and Save Audiogalaxy. They have contacted me and plan to support this week as a precursor to the boycott month. As of right now, I have enough manpower to create an organization called Freedom Through Music. So this has gone from an individual effort to a group effort in a matter of hours.
How have the labels responded to your demands?
As yet I have not received any response. Once again this is a fresh plan. However, if they do not respond, I am sure their heads will quickly turn during the boycott week. We are calling all supporters to protest in front of record label headquarters and music retail stores around the country. I am sure then we will gain the attention we need for our cause.
What in your view is the solution to this conflict between music majors and new technology?
We are not advocating a full-blown "free for all". When corporations get involved, that could be dangerous. If there is no regard for copyright at all, major labels may take it upon themselves to steal music from a demo sent to them, without paying the artists for their services. It should be totally and completely the artists' call whether or not they want their music on these sites. The record companies should not be involved in this fight at all. I know some contracts have been worded in a way to strip new artists of their copyright.
File sharing is a great way to hear about new bands and up and coming artists whose labels cannot afford to get their sound on the radio because their music is not considered "radio friendly". We do not want to steal artist's rights. Various reports make it clear that free file sharing services have not affected CD sales. If anything they help the artist. I find it hard to believe that the RIAA is out to protect precious artist's rights. This whole thing is about money. The RIAA, which is basically five majors joined together in a cartel, is out to protect its money interests. They do not want anything to threaten their enormous profit margin. This issue was around when tapes were made available. It caused a huge stir in the industry and they wanted to eliminate them altogether. As we all know, in the end, tapes came and went, and the record companies made more money than ever. MP3s are modern-day mixed tapes.
Tell us about your experience with music companies. In what capacity were you employed with one? And what made you feel the whole system was unfair?
I took a job as director of A&R with an independent record label in Southern California. When reviewing the contracts given to artists I found that artist earnings were minimal. The reasoning for high pricing was that they had "to protect the label against major losses incurred by artists who flop in the market." My response: Stop signing one hit wonders and go back to basics, sign talented artists true to their craft. Mathematically it was almost impossible for the artists to recoup any advances and costs from their royalty percentage. After many private talks with label executives, I learned this was a common practice and they received the outline for their contracts from a major record corporation. Most labels do, however, let the artist keep most if not all revenue received from touring and merchandising. The label was also involved in bootlegging practices. Needless to say I resigned for ethical reasons.
We are not out to steal from the hard working artist. We fully support going to concerts and even paying inflated ticket prices. We are tired of paying upwards of 20 dollars for a CD that only has 2 good songs on it and the rest are fillers. We are tired of being forcefed mediocre actors posing as musicians on radio and on music videos. We are tired of being trained what to like and what to buy. If the RIAA wins this battle, who is to say they won't go after local bands singing cover songs? In their view, that is also copyright infringement. This is not only a fight against the exploitation of the musical art, it is a fight against corporate take-overs of our constitutional rights.
Posted on 4 June 2002
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