Thursday, May 12, 2005

Watermarks, Paranoia, & Greed

I received the new Oasis album, Don’t Believe The Truth, via UPS yesterday. It’s a promo copy for review by Blogcritics. It’s supposed to be a return to their glory years, but it sounded fairly uninspired and half-baked the first time I gave it a spin. There’ll be a full blown review of it here soon; maybe it will grow on me. What was absurd to me was that the CD came with a watermark both on and in the disc itself. The paranoia and greed of these multi-million dollar industries continues to astonish me.

The watermark in the disc is track one: a 24 second admonition to not copy or distribute this disc to anyone. I’m also told to take very special care of the disc since the record company can trace it back to me. My name is also emblazoned on the label of the disc. What’s really funny is that it isn’t even a proper disc; it’s a CDR. I don’t know about you, but I’m not in the habit of purchasing CDR’s from used record stores. By now I’m so skittish about having this disc, I’m wondering if I’m even allowed to review it without being charged some hidden fee. Because money is what it’s all about. Forget about art. Forget about entertaining the bored. It’s like the Wu-Tang Clan said, “cash rules everything around me, C.R.E.A.M.” Filling their corporate coffers is what the major labels are all about.

Here’s what the record company is paying me to review this album: nada, zip, nothing, a big fat zero. Sure, not very many people will see the review here, but thousands upon thousands will see it at Blogcritics, plus it’s likely to be out there on the net as long as this present version of society exists. That’s a damn good return on what has to be a minimal investment for the marketing department of Epic Records. A press photo, a couple of Xeroxed copies of blather about the new album, and a CDR with no cover can’t cost much. The watermark is probably the most expensive part. It’s enough to make this unpaid reviewer question what he’s doing. Everybody’s getting fat and rich and I’m helping them for nothing more than what’s likely to be a tepid Oasis set that I can’t even give away as a gift.

It may just be the imminent release of the new Star Wars movie, but I’m beginning to really feel that the music industry is part of the dark side. They’re extremely powerful – witness their pursuit of out of court settlements with downloaders, and also very stupid – their steadfast refusal to admit that video game and DVD sales have helped erode the music market (along with the fact that bad music is being peddled and that most baby boomers have replaced their old records with CD’s…what a boon that must have been for the music industry). I don’t advocate downloading copyrighted material for a few reasons. It’s illegal for starters and if you get caught the recording industries mafia goons will get at least two grand off of you. There’s plenty of free music out there, lots of it independent that’s way better than most of the drivel on the big labels. But I'm not about to cry any tears when rich people like Don Henley and Sheryl Crow cry about all the money they're losing. Plus it's very laughable when they bemoan all the little people being laid off because of downloading. I wonder how many people lost their jobs when record plants started going out of business when CD's first really made inroads into the market. Where was the outcry and support from rich musicians then?

I know this song has been quoted time and again, but Elvis Costello’s diatribe against the radio programmers of the late ‘70’s, “Radio Radio” where he spit out the line, “I wanna bite the hand that feeds me, I wanna bite that hand so badly” fits the situation with the music industry today perfectly; except it has to be twisted around. Those lines show what they are doing to the consumers of their lackluster products. I’m beginning to wish I’d gotten into something besides music consumption. But I’ve seen the light. Once I get through the several dozen more major label releases I’m supposed to review, I think I’ll go completely indie. As soon as I’m done with the new Oasis CD, I’m going to take a hammer and smash it to bits. I’m not taking any chances.


Anonymous said...

Good rant. I agree completely. That is some kind of arrogance for a band that (hopefully) no one even cares about anymore. They don't deserve your time.

Liam Gallagher said...

We demand photographic evidence of the destruction of said disc. Then you must return the shards, preferably in a Jiffybag, within one week of destruction. otherwise, you'll be hearing from our lawyers AND I will personally come to your house and sing the entire Heathen Chemistry album at you until you comply. So cough it up, mate.

Wally Bangs said...

God, anything but Liam singing!

EJ said...

Epic deserves to have you (and every other Blogcritic) take the review copy and sell it to a used CD store, make 4 bucks on it, and never review it.

Maybe if enough critics started doing that, these record companies would take their heads out of their collective asses and figure out that nobody, not anybody, gets something for nothing these days. The money they used to spend on marketing and promotion is absorbed in the cost of lost sales from MP3's being traded on the internet to grow interest in their artist. Anyone too stupid to know that doesn't deserve their shitty A&R job in the first place.

Great rant, Wally.

Wally Bangs said...

Thanks for the kind words EJ.