White Collar Criminals

CENTURY MEDIA RESPONDS AGAIN! THE SPOTIFY DEBATE RAGES ON!

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Century MediaSpotify

And the feud continues! “The Suits” at Century Media have responded directly to MetalSucks about Spotify once again! This time they are responding to what I wrote yesterday. But it’s going to end here… this will be the end, until the next chapter. We’re going on indefinite hiatus, as industry lingo dictates.

CM has requested I publish their letter all in one fell swoop then shred it to pieces afterwards instead of going line by line, so that’s exactly what I’ll do. Here we go:

WOW!

Today it’s the “white collar criminals” from Century Media (not sure how we got there) coming back to “Vince the MAN”.

I must admit, we are all very excited here about the attention and flak we are getting for taking the liberty of saying “NO” to something we disagree with.

We didn’t know that “manufacturing and distribution have been tightly controlled and unavailable to the masses…for the past six decades or so”.

We do, however, remember the 70’s and 80’s where independent punk and hardcore bands would make and sell their own vinyl and tapes. As a matter of fact, we were some of those people, that is how Century Media started.

We also vigorously disagree thatRecorded music is no longer a viable income option”.

And thatmusicians (artists of any kind, really) …, certainly didn’t get royalties from music sold.”

“Come to think of it, I don’t know a single metal musician that survives only on revenue generated from his band’s music.”

Do you really think all the big metal acts you cover on your blog do not make any money? Or is this part of the cool lies we tell each other because otherwise our heroes would all be “white collar criminals” and “suits”.

I hate to deflate anybody’s bubble here, but Century Media pays out over $5 million a year to its artists and depending on their lifestyle and management they certainly live off their music. Does this apply to all newcomer bands on the label? Of course not.

But the label is the middle man here. We invest in music/artists we hope you guys like and if you buy their music, they make money and so do we. It’s pretty simple and straightforward. Millions of fans out there do that and we are very grateful for their support!

We understand that it is “cool” to think of the label as the bad part in the equation that sucks the artists dry and never pays them a penny. Some of the same people think foreigners are inferior, all multi-ethnic folks are lazy and the government is here to protect you.  Prejudice to some of us is like a religion, but at least be aware of your prejudice and do not throw shit at the people out there that do not conform to your religion.

But we are happy to listen and learn:

Vince knows, “And you know what? They (the artist) keep making music anyway! Because they love it! And they would still do it even if no money was at stake! Same goes for the hundreds of “industry” folks that operate on a DIY basis. I’d wager that taking money out of the equation entirely would actually improve the overall quality of music because we’d have less kids in it for the booze/drugs/bitches…”

Well that is good news. First of all, we are the industry folks that operate on a DIY basis, but let’s stand by your word Vince. We gratefully accept your offer to take the money out of the equation, hence thank you for giving Century Media all ad space on Metal Sucks for free from now on. We appreciate that!

On the same token value is pretty easy to determine. In a free market, the price determines where both seller and buyer feel they are giving something up of lesser value to get something of higher value. It’s a personal decision. Now all we are saying is: we feel we are getting next to nothing from Spotify so WE do not do it. Others do and that is good. We encourage them to be on Spotify! They must be smarter than us.

Check out this link to judge yourself how many records it takes for an artist to sell or stream to make “minimum wage”.

http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/2010/how-much-do-music-artists-earn-online/

We think this is ludicrous, so regardless what you think of it our bands are not into this for “the dream only.” They take their job seriously and like to get paid for it.

Thus, when we say NO, it’s a decision we are free to make. It is that simple. And I do not understand why it ruffles anybody’s feathers because according to Vince there are millions of good bands out there who like to give their music to you for free or for next to nothing. Embrace them!

Come to think of it, we would like to extend an offer to Vince to have his own imprint on Century Media, where without any money he will sign, record and bring bands to you, of course through any streaming service he seems fit. We will throw a big party in Vegas from the profits and invite all Century Media Fans and Metal Sucks readers.

There the suits at Century Media, sorry the white collar criminals at Century Media, will bow down to Vince and pay him the respect the fruits of his ideas deserve.

Please take us up on the offer. We see you in Vegas! Enough said.

The Suits

Here is the problem with this letter: Century Media is willfully ignoring the entire crux of my argument, namely that their business model of charging a lot for pieces of plastic (or digital files to be stored on a harddrive) is outdated, and that all record labels are going to have to evolve to act more like management groups in the very near future. CM hasn’t addressed that argument directly at all.

The line that you “didn’t know” distribution was unavailable to the masses in the ’70s and ’80s cracks me up. Of course it was available — it was just fucking EXPENSIVE! Now that the Internet has broken the distribution walls down it’s an entirely different ballgame that ANYONE can play, and the Internet is 1,000,000 times more powerful and widespread than tape-trading ever was.

Feel free to disagree that recorded music is “no longer a viable income option”… in other news, the sky is green, up is down, and Vampires Everywhere are a great band (haha, couldn’t resist! sorry). I have no doubt that Century pays artists royalties from sales of recorded music NOW, but I also have no doubt that these amounts are diminishing and will continue to diminish to nearly nothing. Why not diversify your business and get into the management, merch, publishing, etc game? You’re going to have to in order to survive. Evolve or die.

I, too, have seen that “minimum wage” link. But it actually further proves my point and dis-proves yours: RECORDED MUSIC IS NO LONGER A VIABLE INCOME SOURCE! If not now (while a few remnants remain), most certainly in a few years. Diversify your business. Think long-term. Spotify will actually help you with this.

You feel you are getting nothing from Spotify: you’re right! In the short-term, that is. Think long-term. Think benefits beyond immediate income. This is where you’re really missing the boat.

Your offer to me to start my own Century imprint with no money is a cute jab, but further proves that you didn’t actually carefully read what I wrote yesterday. Music costs money to make (less than ever, but still costs money to do properly) and definitely costs money to market; my point is that labels should be looking beyond record sales to other income sources to fund these things. Management companies already do this — 15-20% of ALL income — yet no one poo-poos them for signing their artists to 360 deals! The step that needs to be taken is manager and label merge into one, so you have the funds and marketing expertise all in one place while collecting from all sources of income. So, if you’re offering me an imprint where I won’t have to worry about sales from records to fund it and instead can look to the future at other revenue streams, sure, I’ll do it. Actually, come to think of it… if a label can’t see the long-term benefit of a service like Spotify, I’m not so sure things would work out between us.

I don’t feel it’s “cool” to single labels out as the bad guy. Labels still have plenty of value. I do, however, feel it’s poignant to call them out when they’re going down with the sinking ship and wondering why the water level keeps rising when all they do is keep piling boulders on board. Also, it’s hilarious that you’re calling an extremely liberal, Jewish blogger from Brooklyn whose great-grandparents literally travelled across Europe on foot to escape oppression “prejudiced”… so I guess that makes you the prejudiced one with regards to what I am and am not.

Lastly, since you seem so keen on making offers, I’d like to extend an offer to YOU for a free year of ads on MS, under two conditions: 1) Century goes back on Spotify (today or tomorrow, not next week or next year), 2) the ads link to Century’s Spotify page.

Cheers! This has been fun.

Sincerely,
Vince Neilstein

P.S.: Don’t feel special for receiving the “White Collar Criminals” category; we’ve been using that heading on MetalSucks for years to take jabs at Roadrunner, Sumerian, Earache, and pretty much every label out there. We’re equal opportunity haters!

P.P.S: I’ve been contacted by a number of music industry employees and band members (some on CM) over the past day or so, and guess whose side they’re on?

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