Thursday, July 29, 2004

...and That's Why They Call it Show Business

According to an Associated Press report posted on MSNBC, the federal anti-trust regulators okay'd the merger between Sony and BMG (Bertelsmann Music Group).  Last week, the EU also approved the merger of the German based BMG, "Despite concerns from independent music companies, European regulators determined there was insufficient evidence that the 50-50 joint venture would harm consumers."

With the merger occuring within the next couple weeks, Sony and BMG issued statements detailing their motivation for the merger, declining CD sales and the threat from illegal downloading on the Internet.

The obvious downfall for musicians and independent labels is the fear the merger will make it even harder for indie artists to breakthrough the mega conglomorates tight hold on the industry.  In a post merger landscape, there would be 4 companies controling over 80 percent of the world music market: Sony-BMG, Vivendi-Universal Music Group, AOLTW - Warner Music Group, and EMI Group.

Which once again brings me to the point that we need Studios that care about films, we need Music companies that care about music, we need News groups that care about delievering unbias news.  And as far as the "harming consumer" arguement goes... who is willing to stand up and argue the detrimental effect of lack of plurality?  Will consumers be harmed by price fixing, inflation, etc?  The decided effect is no.  The only harm the regulatories question is money.  The $ is the only sign they see.  Although to be historically accurate and blunt, the music industry has been known for price fixing since it's infancy.  Do you really think $18 for a new cd was worth it?  Probably, and you paid it, right? But, was that really a "fair market price"?  At least now, prices have somewhat dropped to around the $12-$15 range on new releases unlike the pre-Napster days when I was in high school.  The only seaming way to combat the congloms is to rally as a generation around quality and not what we're fed.  If you looking for some great music that doesn't fit the cookie cutter sounds of today, it's out there and accessable through the internet (check out my friend Jon's Blog).  Of course, once a following develops, bands and contract are bought up by the congloms, white washed, glossed over, and distributed to the masses.... (Liz Phair - In the end does it matter who brought you to where you are now, or are the legions of pre-teen girls plenty swell enough to maintain your chosen life style?) Remeber, Jimi Hendrix was a one hit wonder.  What would the congloms have done with his contract?

 The point... which I think I digressed to far from, is that we are "harmed" maybe not in our wallets, but in our souls.

We as a public and our goverment, have allowed, NewsCorp, AOLTimeWarner, General Electric, Viacom, and Sony to dominate all of our media be it music, film, tv, news, or even print.  And what a dysfuntional family it all is when the news outlets criticize the music or film products... when everyone pretends to be objective.  What chance does that give art anymore? 

At least the de'Medici family cared.


At 10:49 AM, Blogger djbenvolio said...

oh i give up...i'd say fuck the major labels (wait is label still pluralized in this context?) and just go on finding and listening to new music as i always going to shows, doing research, and so on. however, as a musician i realize how hard it is to ever make a living in music with out at least some help from a major label or one of their subsidiaries.

i'm not talking about a multi million dollar britney type deal... i mean being able to tour, play your music, and not have to have a full time job otherwise to pay your morgatage.

good music is out there without representation and all you have to do is find it. then buy a cd, a 7", or an mp3 from the band you just found out that you love. the internet allows you to be personaly involved in the music being written for your enjoyment. no labels needed.

check out:

i've become a big fan of radio locator, especially the links to college radio stations from all over the country. KEXP-seattle is a great one with very diverse music.

Screw the big 5! or 4 as it would soon seem to be.



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