Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

You won’t get me I’m part of the union

It’s just what the world needs right now as capitalism as we know it comes cap in hand to governments worldwide looking for a few bob – an union for rich rock stars to moan about their lot. Featured Artists …

Wed, Oct 8, 2008, 09:58


It’s just what the world needs right now as capitalism as we know it comes cap in hand to governments worldwide looking for a few bob – an union for rich rock stars to moan about their lot. Featured Artists Coalition made its way into the world at last weekend’s In The City conference in Manchester and more than 60 acts have already put their hands in the air to say yes to the idea of forming an union to campaign for the protection of their rights.

Not surprisingly, the bulk of the artists who have already paid their union dues are acts who are well established. It’s always the way – the ones who’ve already made their cash are protecting their necks. There’s Radiohead (the band who became rich megastars thanks to the support and patience of EMI Music, who initially signed the band in 1991 when they called On A Friday and were way worse than they are today), Robbie Williams (the gombeen who declared “I’m rich beyond my wildest dreams” when he signed a £80 million deal with EMI in 2002, but who has gone from seeing angels to seeing aliens in that six years), Richard Ashcroft (you could probably purchase Iceland with the money record labels have wasted on him and his band over the years), Travis (yeah, they’re still around, probably still wondering about the rain) and many others. U2′s application must have got lost in the post from Amsterdam.

On FAC’s website, they have a whole list of demands and aims. These loosely translate into getting more cash from record companies. They mention “digital distributors and others” in their manifesto, but it’s really the record labels they’re after.

Ah, the record labels. The same record labels who took a punt on those bands when they didn’t have a clue what they were doing and guided them to where they are today. The same record labels who presented the bands with contracts outlining what they would get and what was expected in return, contracts the bands and their representatives (who seem to be behind the setting up of FAC) then paid a lawyer to read through and explain to them. Lets be blunt here – the bands knew what they were getting into when they signed those contracts. They were, I assume, all adults and took proper, precise, independent legal advice and didn’t just go with the lawyers their managers recommended because they were (a) cheap or (b) mates of the manager. That never happens. Oh no. Bands have brains. Bands think things through. Bands would never sign a contract and then bleat about it when the penny drops that they’ve actually agreed to do stuff. It would be like someone getting a loan from a bank (used to happen pre-’08 when banks had cash reserves) and then expressing surprise at having to pay the money back.

Interestingly, there’s no mention of live promoters or agents in the ya-boo-sucks list. It would seem that the acts are completely happy with the large cheques they’re getting from that particular quarter and have little to say about how ticket prices paid by their fans have ballooned to pay for these pay-days. Funny, that.

And if the bands think they have been hard done by conventional record labels, that’s nothing to what they’ll encounter with that rabid bunch of snakeoil salesmen currently working to get acts – and surprise, surprise, it’s acts with established audiences these boyos are after too – into bed with brands. You thought things were bad when your record label wanted you to do a couple of aul’ phone interviews to plug a new album? Wait till you get a load of what these brands want you to do for your big cheque. We won’t start on how the digital pimps will rip these acts off for fear that we’ll be here all day.

All in favour of an all-out strike, raise your hand.

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