After reading comments about recent problems between Throwing Muses and 4AD, I felt the need to have a moan about the major record industry in the world and reveal a couple of insights into the UK industry.
Musicians are artists. They do what they do for love, anger, sex, thrills, a need to emotionally expose themselves or to just enrich the world with a natural talent. The big difference between an artist and a fake, is the drive for money. There are plenty of musicians that make music regardless of money and there are a rare few who are lucky enough to have made some money from it.
Musical history is overrun with stories of exploitation, cheating, theft and abuse of artists by the industry that makes money out of these people’s personal struggle with life. In the late sixties, some independent record companies were started up in an appreciation of the artist and their work and tried to protect them from these carnivores of human emotion. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard from some the excuse “well, they are a business and a business has to make money”. Business is the modern monster in our society. Anything is justified in the name of business and money.
In the late seventies during the punk revolution, groups of people and artists were so sick of the abuse by these vultures, that they set up independent record companies of their own. Out of these many independents came record labels such as Factory, Mute, and Beggars Banquet. Out of Beggars Banquet came 4AD. These independents loved the music they signed up and signed artists under a culture of fair play and a combined interest to get this art out to people who would appreciate it. This was a total contrast to the major record labels whose interest in music was irrelevant, they may have just been shipping units of melons for all the care they had in the artists.
Nowadays many of those independents are themselves majors (or have been swallowed up by them). The original management have gone elsewhere along with their keen spirit and desire for fairness. The same greed that powered the majors is now once again starting to creep into the independents. This is causing a new revolution in small independent labels with the same love of the music and sense of fair play. Many new artists don’t even see the need for record labels and do everything themselves.
Meanwhile, the majors are struggling to make ends meet and are losing huge amounts of money and business. The funny part of it is that they are bemused as to why!??! That’s because you are not selling melons, you morons!
I have seen how far removed the majors are from their customers here in the UK. The UK was once a centre for groundbreaking, world selling music. The industry here has spent so long trying to control the market and making the products they sell cheap on overheads and short lived in interest, that the market here has become mostly disinterested, uncaring about copyright and narrow in it’s variety of taste. I have seen a growing number of artists that are doing well around the world, getting little to no coverage in the UK as they don’t fit the majors agendas. If you can believe it, huge numbers of major artists from around the world with many albums to their name, cannot be bought in the high street and have never been available except by import.
The independent spirit was what attracted me to 4AD’s music in the first place, and many others. It has been sad to see in recent years this spirit get lost and forgotten. This is also another reason for collecting the first decade, where the spirit of independence was very much alive.
Come on 4AD get your MOJO back!!