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Why 'Johnny' Record Label (Can't Come Out to Play)

By Kenny Love
© 2002 Kenny Love. All rights reserved

Remember that kid down the street who always seemed to have the best of all, clothes, got to go to Disneyland every summer while you stayed at home riding your bicycle and playing other dangerous yard games not nearly as exciting? He was also blessed with all of the latest neat toys that you would give your left arm and right leg to own.

That kid was probably also christened with a name such as Heathcliffe O'Reilly III, with some of the neighborhood girls hoping to marry him so that they could then shop endlessly...for life (sorry for the insinuated sexism, ladies). :-)

But, Heathcliffe also had a dark side to him, sort of like that other nice and sweet kid, Damian, in "The Omen." For, perchance, you were fortunate enough to play with all those neat toys that were affordably exclusive to Heathcliffe, or play games with him, it was readily understood that Heathcliffe would emerge the ultimate victor, regardless of how horrible his team participation.

And, when someone could stand this one-sided situation no longer without voicing his opinion, Heathcliffe would sport that infamous but deadly grin that signaled game's end and said, "See suckers? I know you couldn't take it for long!" This resulted in his gathering his belongings and heading for home, leaving you and your friends to your own boring devices.

Worst of all, Heathcliffe, along with everyone else, readily recognized how sorry a player he was, along with his incredible need to control. You probably did not realize it at the time, but that experience was your first introduction to the advantage of high-tech versus low-tech.

'Johnny' Record Label has always been the music industry's "Heathcliffe," but with one exception today...'Johnny' cannot figure out how all the other kids in the
neighborhood (unsigned recording artists) can now afford and play with the same high-tech toys that he does, and win the game without him. Plus, they are
much better at it and it frustrates 'Johnny' to no end that, while he can still smirk, he cannot take away his toys and head homeward.

And, if you stop and listen for a moment, after nightfall, when all the kids have left the playground for the day, you can hear 'Johnny' lying in his bed, while going from a moderate sobbing, to screaming and wailing at the top of his lungs..."They are not supposed to be able to have fun without me!"

This reminds me of one of my all time favorite villains..."Dr. Miguelito Loveless" from the television series, "The Wild Wild West." While Dr. Loveless was one of the most brilliant villains ever to grace the screen, the irony was his childlike responses whenever something went awry. And something, eventually, always went awry.

Major record labels are truly out of options because, in large part, the Internet and the ready availability of its vast amount of "how-to" information that was once either cloaked in secrecy behind steel doors, or was for $ale, is now exposed to the masses and there for the taking. And, I cannot state how wonderful it is to see the 'Net married with affordable recording technology once considered by the majors to be a fluke or fad that would end.

Add to that, the fact that many of their long-term, high-dollar recording artists are starting to 'see the light' and leave the labels upon the expiration of their contracts. Actually, they have wanted to make this move for years, however, no system was in place until now that allowed them to do so.

And, while the "once powers that were" attempt to shut down the radio streaming access to indies, while also attempting to work in conjunction with large radio networks hell-bent on controlling the airwaves through station buyouts and the implementation of national play lists, again, there is no shortage of information, outlets and resources for indies, even on the smallest of scales. That is, if they simply take some time to self-educate, review, plan and execute their options well.

After all, when all of the excessive and unnecessary financial padding that is a long time staple of the majors is stripped away, it is easy to see how, when executed properly and efficiently, the successful business aspect and profit$ of independent releases can both readily and quickly be realized. And, I might add, without a staff of thousands of useless hangers on.

Now, some people may would say that I am completely biased in support of musicians controlling their works and having the final 'say-so' regarding any degree of execution of said works. And, they would be 100% correct. And, I need cite no more reason than an historical emotionally and financially damaging campaign that has been wielded upon unsuspecting recording artists ever since someone got the bright idea to "help" musicians "make it." In fact, there now exists psychiatrists and psychologists who specialize in helping musicians overcome this particularly unique and painful dilemma.

I will say it once more...unsigned musicians and recording artists should take utter and complete advantage of the shaken, traumatic and fractionalized "deregulation" that is occurring in today's music industry.

As a result, I would like nothing better than to see the creation of an organization that operates similarly to a major label, in terms of proactive marketing and promotion, yet, is completely owned and operated by active, real musicians, and not some number crunchers or lawyers who, not only cannot distinguish between an eighth note or quarter rest or, more importantly, do not understand the psyche of musicians, and could not care less.

And, today, I believe that there are indeed enough business savvy artists to, at least, get this process underway. Even better, is the idea of musicians, who now run successful music businesses, joining together to create this unique element. I believe it is time for just such an alternative. Who knows? In an effort to realize this dream, I may just consider starting such a musician-run organization myself.

Kenny Love has an extensive background in both the Music and Writing industries. Learn about the new services that he is providing to unsigned and independent recording artists in response to today's shaken and fractionalized Music industry by sending an email request to

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