OnlineRock: Empowering Musicians  

Our Music, Ourselves
Part III, Solidarity

To recap briefly the two previous "OUR MUSIC, OURSELVES" pieces; record companies suck and everyone from Carlos Santana to little ol’ you and me should be recording, producing, publishing and distributing their own music online. If you not only read the last installment but also checked out the web sites I gave you, no doubt at this juncture you may be inclined to agree with me.

What OnlineRock represents is a chance for you to be free to create without constraints, to control your own destiny and not be beholden to record company interests as well as own all the rights to your music; therefore being in position to make much more money from your music than any relationship with any record company will allow. Got it? Good!

But what really needs to happen is for some of the so-called heavyweights to figure out that this is good for them, too. Some of them are starting to. Courtney Love says she’s going exclusively online, and has flipped the bird to the major label system. Good for her! We need more like her.

Just so you know, as we speak the record companies are working behind the scenes to further limit what little royalty money is available. It ain’t much to begin with, and they want to give you less! Also, a law was recently passed that seriously affects all artists who record for all record companies. It has classified all music recorded for a record label as "Works for Hire". What this means is the musician or band that writes and records a tune now gives said tune to the record company and said tune is wholly owned by said record company. Funny, the record companies don’t want to give away their music but they expect you to. Isn’t that special?!

This situation should cause a mass exodus to the Internet, ala Courtney Love, by most of the big time stars now under contract. Unfortunately, I doubt it will. But it should because this vile situation is all about who owns the music, musicians or record companies. The record companies want to be able to license your music any way they want to. They want to be the only ones who make any money from the licensing agreements they make without having to pay one damn penny to the person who created the music in the first place. And they can do it all without the consent of the artist! This means they could, for example, license your song for a toothpaste commercial and all the royalty money they receive is theirs. How were the record labels able to get this law passed in congress, you ask? With a little help from their friends, the RIAA!

For those of you who don’t already know, RIAA stands for Recording Industry Association of America. You would think that musicians are a part of this industry, wouldn’t you? Well, think again! The RIAA are agents for the record companies. The record companies give them money so that they can lobby congress to pass laws that are favorable to the record companies while leaving us musicians out in the cold. This latest bit of legislation, re-classifying original popular music as "Works for Hire" (As if the record companies were subsidizing their artists? Get real!) Is particularly heinous. I would like to know who it is that is standing up for the rights of individual musicians?

It is us, my friends, only "ourselves". We need to get up and stand up because no one else is doing it for us. Certainly not the RIAA, they’re not with us, they’re against us! And the best way to stand up against the oppression of the record labels and the RIAA is to opt out of their sordid little system and create a new system. We have that system now; all we need is full participation from the musician community. SOLIDARITY!!!

Now is the time to blaze trails through the wilderness of online music. Don’t sell out if you don’t already have a record contract and if you do don’t stand pat. Because even though the record companies still have the biggest guns, we can start taking pot shots at them and ambush them whenever we get the chance. We need to shore up our ranks, not break them. For sure, the Internet is the music distribution medium of the future. Let’s make the future happen as soon as we can.

Stay Tuned,

The Virtual Musician

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