I'm not much into watching news channels because they seem to care more about polarizing their viewers. Fox paints the Democrats out to be loons and Anti-American socialists, MSNBC describes Conservatives as money grubbing Jesus yelling racists, and CNN shifts between the two descriptions every hour. Personally, I like my news to be objective and not in pep rally form so I choose to read all about it in the Wallstreet Journal and on Bloomberg.com, but even they are starting to be silhouettes of their former selves in order to compete.
The other day I was flipping through the stations and stopped on one of these "news sources" to hear some story that had to do with the Tea Baggers. It was a rally of some sort. The clips had the speakers talking about taxes being too high, the cost of health care, the elimination of the public school system, abolishing OSHA and the IRS, and how minimum wage is killing small business.
Intrigued about how this many people can dispute the relevance of something like OSHA, whose sole purpose is to ensure safe work conditions, I cut off the television and went to Youtube. What I found was nothing short of "what the fuck?" No I'm not talking about the signs calling Obama a nigger, socialist, or The Anti-Christ. Nor am I talking about the "healthcare is white slavery" phrases. I'm talking about the amount of folks that are letting these people shove feces in their throat and convince them that it's caviar.
You are a worker or professional in the middle class whose entire life will be spent working for someone else, and you believe that one of the reasons that the economy and the country is so jacked up is because the government requires companies to operate under certain standards and pay their employees a minimum wage. Not only that, you are for disbanding the public school system, despite the fact that you can't afford private schools because you're either unemployed or under paid due to the economy. I even saw a video that had a lady talking about the government had no business in the health care system; even though she was holding a sign that said,
"Government, keep your filthy hands off of my Medicare."
The best way to describe my thoughts was "facetiously disturbed." Don't get me wrong, I am all for what is supposed to be the basis of the Party's gripe, which is constitutional responsibility; however, I find that their claims, wants, and anger aren't centered in that. It, more or less, uses the U.S. Constitution as an excuse to push agendas.
The fact of the matter is, there are a lot of wealthy folks using this as an excuse to push through things that better their situations at the expense of the lower earning brackets. For example, the whole hullabaloo about the taxes being too high sounds great to a person who doesn't know anything about the history of income tax rates. If they did they would know that taxes aren't really that high if you compared them to our past tax rates or most industrialized country's tax rates.
As I'm watching all of this, I couldn't help but to think about the music industry and how it parallels the Tea Party. The Tea Party is exploited by wealthy folks who were looking to further their self interest by tapping into the anger of the average joe, and convincing them that the very things that will help them are the things that are hurting them; in addition, they make these folks believe that if we can get things passed that help me, then it helps you too.
In the same vein, the Music Industry is run by record company execs who want to make as much money off of you as possible while giving you as least control as possible, while convincing you that they are completely looking out for your best interests.
Let's go back twelve years to when Napster opened the flood gates to piracy. Every record company in the world was doing everything that they could to shut it down.Why? Well, the obvious reason is that it cut into album sales, so that was, in part, understandable; however, I was dismayed by the amount of artists that actually came out against this also.
For those that don't know, the average artist signed to a label, major or independent, very Rarely (with a capital 'R' that really means almost never) receives a royalty check.
For example, Happy MC signs a 4 album deal with the hip hop label, "Eff Me Over." First, Happy should understand that it's really a one album deal with 3 options for the label. In other words, if you sell they will probably pick up an option, and if you don't they will release you.
Happy will get somewhere between 9-15% of album sales sold in traditional outlets and varying percentage rates of albums sold in other ways. That rate is "all-in," which means that his cut takes care of producers. Since Happy got this new, up and coming cat, Dirt Money, to lace him with tracks it only costs him somewhere around 3%. Also, the label deducts 25% for packaging. After all of this, Happy's royalties are about .90/album.
Now comes the interesting part: that advance that the label gave him, the studio that they insisted he record at, and all of the promotions that they did all have to be paid back through that .90/album. "Eff Me Over" spent, or said they spent, $225,000 on all of the above for Happy. That means that he has to sell 250,000 albums before he gets a dime off of royalties.
After realizing what his deal really entailed, Happy MC has turned to Mad Rapper; however, there's a light at the end of the tunnel. Unless he was foolish enough to sign away his publishing and performing rights, which a lot of cats do, he can make his dough on the road.
Taking all of this into consideration, logic should dictate that he would want to get his music to as many as possible, because that increases the chances of more folks being at his shows; however, he doesn't see it that way. So he stands with the record companies and their shell organization, RIAA, to stop folks from sharing music over the web without permission, despite the fact that he won't make money from royalties.
Quanstar is an American underground hip hop artist, indie filmmaker, comic creator, and self published author from Atlanta.