Send Lawyers Guns and Money
You know how we feel about the taste and (ironically) choice destroying, pathetically mismanaged de-evolution of popular music into worthless 1s and 0s. It is a Vandal sacking of song, but one that has awakened some fun old demons lurking amongst Major Label dirty laundry.For percolating around a Northern California courthouse is a Class Action (as in multiple plaintiffs involved) lawsuit between the estate of the sadly burnt out and long dead funkrock alchemist, Rick James, and $6bn musical mammoth, Universal. At stake is a brake on the apparent return to the gravy train for the pop slingers, just as the music biz is crowing about the return to revenue growth. If Rick's people win, $2bn could be clawed back from iTunes "sales" alone.While many of the greatest musical artists of all time were paid little or nothing for their gifts to humanity, or else were cheated out of anything, those with the Majors had a pretty standard-ish deal from the late 60s. There were two kinds of cash paid to the luckier performers - a percentage on "sales" or "licences". Sales meant a record, tape, CD 8-track wack or whatever being picked up by a punter. Licences was when a track was used in an advert, TV, show or movie type thing. The difference in percentage given to the artiste is massive - 10-20% were typical for sales, 50% for licensing. Now this was for a reason that smells something like fairness - the money men need to manufacture, package, ship and advertise a physical product. Licence a track, and its just used in itself - nothing has to be made, shipped, advertised or stuck in a shop. So whoever made the music is due a bigger cut to compensate.Even the most spun out and snow blinded old rocker can work out that a ringtone annoyance or some computer file spat out of iTunes, Amazon or whatever does not involve any cost to the label. Much like a song being put in an ad or tv show - its playing with someone else paying for the mechanism.The Remains of Rick are being joined in court by a mixed bag of "Heritage Acts" ranging from Chuck D to Rob Zombie, Whitesnake, James Taylor and Foreigner. What this lineup of Hip Hop innovators, shlockshock jock rockers, pretty boy soft rockers and arena airheads has in common is a desire for cash justice. In the classic manner of not necessarily effective imperial control, Divide and Rule has been deployed to quiet down angry musos shaking the majors down. Eminem got a fat chunk of change from Universal - big enough that they kept it secret. The Allman Brothers and Cheap Dicktrick got something like $8m from Sony. And the lawyers suggest that there is not a lot of time to make it alright, not just because of the grim reaper but rather the natural insurance like limits on when you can claim for things.We all know that in their little plastic passion poptart hearts all the sheeple love simple, sugary, easy to hum along to sonic slop. Like "I want to know what lovee isss.....I want you to show meee" which works equally well in a bad wedding or dubious Christian rom-com VHS. Foreigner sold 80m "albums" in the 80s for fucks sake - there is some basic mass need for all this.These kinds of products are often revived for a new generation of gimpage by tv shows like Glee and Da Voice. Video games too can be responsible. Another Foreigner emission "Juke Box Hero" got half a million downlowloads off the back of some air guitar suburban party thing.So now the zombies are at the door of the majors. And we should welcome them. Why? Because they hurt music worse and longer and bigger than any soft rock arena show could - and must PAY.A far happier thing to Pay for is the magic and genius we have lurking in the rat racks this Saturday. Our vinyl vampires have been on a big spree - and here is the mega detail.Cream, Chief Ebenezer Obey,King Sunny Ade, Monk, Baaba Maal, Jimmy Cliff, Leroy Carr, T Connection, Tower of Power, Burning Spear, Coltrane, Grace Jones, Undertones, XTC, Dead Can Dance, Squarepusher, Richard Thompson,VU, Creedence, BT Express,Fred Wesley....Fuzztones, Dead can dance, Brian Eno, Jacobites, Astronauts, Allman brothers, Beatles Stones, Hendrix, Alton Ellis, Public Enemy, Spacemen 3, Pete Rock+CL Smooth, Ethiopians, Squarepusher, Doors, Cure, Velvet Underground, Fred Wesley, Maceo Parker, Billion Dollar band, Dead Kennedys, Cramps, Fugazi, Dinosaur Jr, Olympic runners, Kingks, Pink Floyd,Black Sabbath, Fleetwood mac... it's a gargantuan feast of classics!So come down, fill up and forget about Foreigner.