Friday, March 29, 2013

The Indie Scam

Attention musicians and artists! Have I got a deal for you! Are you looking to record your music, get more followers online, produce a physical CD of your album, and obtain worldwide digital distribution of your music? Would you like to license your music to film and television? Well, my small independent company has what you are looking for. We have a sleek website, people know me, and if the songs are ready we could release your album in a month’s time, less if you like. Satisfaction guaranteed. You’ll have hundreds, if not thousands, of new followers in no time. We produce music videos, and can even help you develop a Kickstarter campaign so that my company can record your album. My company is looking for new artists to produce, and I’m glad that I was able to get your attention. All my company asks for is publishing rights, and a competitive cut of sales much smaller than the industry standard. I’m really excited we have this opportunity. And even if this relationship doesn’t work for you, just know that you are special and I can offer you the services you deserve. There’s a kicker though. Unfortunately, my company is not interested in randomly soliciting musicians, online or in person, and in reality that type of discussion will most likely never happen between us. It’s nothing personal, rather hopefully a manipulative attempt at getting you to read further. Either way, didn’t it sound kinda trashy to begin with? While I do have a small independent company that could fulfill every detail listed, and people do in fact know me, I wanted to ease you into my true motives. Truth.

I have become completely disgusted by hearing this type of nonsense, and reading between the lines of indie record label, producers, and promoters gimmicks. It’s manipulative and a slew of lies by omission. Eager and idealistic artists with life’s lust in their eyes conned into thinking their record label is pure of heart because it has the prefix of indie attached to it. I think not, and that’s why I am here. Forget the banter about my company, because if it could it would be eating a fibrous diet and taking a dump on the crowns of supposed record labels and producers.

First, if an asshole that has his own recording studio needs to get thousands of dollars through a Kickstarter campaign to begin recording your album, he’s an asshole. This is the type of entity that tarnishes the somewhat altruistic and exciting nature of crowd funding. Additionally, there’s an inverse of what should be occurring between the musician/record label relationship. Your record label should be making money by making you money. In other words, if a record label cannot produce your album until it gets money out of you then it’s not a record label. It’s a fucking pyramid scheme. I see so many so-called businesses that offer worldwide digital distribution, film and television licensing, and blah blah blah. “Get you music on iTunes, or in a real-life Hollywood movie all for a low one-time cost of $199.99!” They provide an illusion in which they are doing something more than what you can accomplish at home with your favorite internet search engine and a couple clicks.

It’s called a digital aggregator, and an album costs 50 bucks to accomplish everything they are advertising. That’s it. No, not $50 a year. 50 dollars until the end of time, as it currently stands. You create an account, upload your tracks, type in your liner notes, upload your artwork, agree to the “Terms of Agreement,” process your payment, and presto! In less than 48 hours your music will begin appearing for sale on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Spotify, and many others. Oh yeah, and after these retailers take their cut, you get 100% of the sale. This ish that these Susquehanna labels are spewing to you about licensing for film, television, and more is called sync-licensing. It’s a service that comes with the $50 fee for digital distribution. One click. You can either opt-in or opt-out when finalizing the album through the aggregator. Odds are this $50 fee is where your up-front costs, crowd funding, and/or label's justification for a cut is doing most of its work.

“Sir, our record company also produces our physical copies too. At least some of the money is going to that.” Maybe, but it’s 2013. Guess how much it costs an artist to initially press an album to CD these days (if the right place is found)? Zero fucking dollars. That’s right church. You upload your album and artwork, and they send you your first copy of a professionally manufactured CD with full-color cover and CD art, free of charge. You can then, of course, order more copies for generally $1-2 each plus S&H. These services even offer options in which artists could sell their physical copies online without ever paying an out-of-pocket cent. So, while your indie record label sells your physical copies for $12, gives you a couple bucks, and blames the world for not moving more units, you could take your masters, tell a label to piss off, and have a platform for selling your album that does not cost shit. Meanwhile, some douche nozzle will not get an undeserved slice of the pie. Punk rock will always be fashionable.

Only now do I realize that I have just begun to dig under the surface of the bullshit fa├žade that is the indie scam. Classic misdirection. The victims: starry-eyed artists often consumed with a passion in their bellies to create without care of what is going on behind the scenes. It makes me spitting angry, enraged, and more importantly sad. Sad, that “record label” on both sides of the spectrum arouses an icky feeling of manipulation and shitheads preying upon ignorance. Sad, that a knife in the back of art gets a pat on the back in return. Sad, that D.Y.I. does not get the credit it deserves. Sad, that I do not have more time to continue discussing this issue into oblivion.

Maybe one day we can talk about what a record label should be doing for you. You know, how a producer should not be a person you pay. Rather the person that ensures the right resources are utilized for the right reasons, so that you may both mutually benefit from a finished product of excellence. Even some corrupt Hollywood record exec will get you one of those without an up-front fee. In the old days, you use to have to sell your soul to get a record deal. It seems to me most of the indie circuit is mining for souls too, but the little devils want you to write them a check first.


In the above I stated 'While I do have a small independent company that could fulfill every detail listed...' However, considering all of the points I addressed, Burning Empire does not guarantee satisfaction and our website kinda sucks currently. If you got this far thanks for reading my rant. Peace!

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