Black Collar Workers




Trent ReznorOzzy

Trent Reznor has made no secret of his scorn for big record labels, and Ozzy Osbourne hasn’t tried to hide his hate for illegal downloaders. It’s interesting to note how much these two highly successful musicians differ in opinion, and how their success has manifested itself in their stances on the current woes of the record industry. If someone asked me to write an SAT-style “compare and contrast” essay on illegal downloading, Ozzy and Trent would be exhibit A. Thankfully I will never have to write the dreaded 5-paragraph essay again; instead ya’ll get my blog rantings. After the jump, we take a look at recent quotes from both Trent and Ozzy, and how we think each will fair in the new world order.

In a recent interview with New York magazine, Reznor (a self-proclaimed OiNK user!) acknowledges that music has been devalued but recognizes the reality of this fact and the need to find a new way forward:

I think it’s just an awkward time right now to be a musician. The reality is that people think it’s okay to steal music. There’s a whole generation of people, that’s all they’ve known. I used to buy vinyl. Today, if you do put out a record on a label, traditionally, most people are going to hear it via a leak that happens two weeks — if not two months — before it comes out. There’s no real way around that. I’m truly saddened because I think music has been devalued, so that it’s just a file on your computer, and it’s usually free. But we can’t change that. What we can do is try to offer people the best experience that we can provide them. Will it work? I don’t know. But I think it’s a great way to get music out to people who are interested. At the end of the day, all I care about is the integrity of the music, and that the feeling of those who experience it is as untainted as possible. I’d rather it not be on an iPod commercial. I’d rather it not be a ringtone that you have to get with a free cell phone or any of that bullshit.

Compare that sentiment to Ozzy’s fear of the future. From a recent interview in Australia’s Herald Sun:

I’ve been suffering terribly from people downloading it [his latest album Black Rain]. If they don’t find something to stop it, people won’t be able to make records. There won’t be any new bands. How are they going to survive? I’m an old-timer, I’ve been doing it 40 years now, but new bands are going to suffer. It’s ridiculous, you could be doing it for nothing. Sharon said I’d be astounded to find out how many bands are touring because you can download a record but you can’t beat a rock show. I’ve never done in a long time as many live shows as I’m doing now. This year I’ve done 90 shows. I mean, I ain’t getting any younger. Sharon says to me ‘Just stand there’. I can’t just f—ing stand there! I’m a moving target. People would aim their can of beer at my head!”

It’s a fair point; Ozzy is old and can’t continue to tour forever, which in a world of illegal downloading is more and more becoming the only solid source of revenue. But at least we now have justification for Ozz’s lame frog-hop / water hose attempts to entertain the audience.

But what have we got from Sharonozzy in recent years in the ways of innovative marketing? This past year’s free Ozzfest was a step in the right direction, but it only helped to further Sharon’s point that Ozzy contended above, that bands are forced into more touring because they can’t sell records — and paying them nothing to play Ozzfest is just perpetuating this growing reality. Instead, Sharonozzy got the big payday through corporate sponsorships of the tour.

Still, that free touring model won’t hold much water in a world where bands NEED to make money on the road to make any money at all. Sharonozzy is obviously fearing the coming record apocalypse, still operating in the old-school world of big marketing dollars, radio and MTV driving record sales. Meanwhile, Reznor recognizes the need to adapt and has seemingly accepted what I’ve been preaching since we started MetalSucks:


Sure there will be the occasional superstar and one-hit wonder — but the reality is that most musicians will not attain worldwide ubiquity. Because of an increasingly segmented market thanks to readily available home recording software and the Internet, musicians will make modest livings and will be able to continue their craft, but they will not be able to afford the lavish lifestyles that their past counterparts have enjoyed.

So how does this affect the old folks like Ozzy who can’t go out and tour like they used to? It’s a fair question. But I’ll leave you with this thought; if a chairmaker makes chairs all of his life, he sure as hell doesn’t collect royalties every time someone sits down on a chair he made. When his joints and bones are too old to make chairs anymore, the money stops coming in. Hopefully he saved and invested his money wisely. If not, too fucking bad.


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