Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

When artists compile the blame report

La Roux is the latest dissatisfied artist to give out yards about her record company over disappointing sales

La Roux: not a happy camper

Fri, Sep 26, 2014, 15:28


There comes a moment in many artists’ lives when they need to compile the blame report. This usually happens when they realise that they’re not living high on the hog and look around for someone to blame for their misfortune. In most cases, it’s the record label who get it in the neck, the same record label they loved to bits a few short years earlier.

Case in point, Elly “La Roux” Jackson. She’s a bit miffed that her second album “Trouble In Paradise” has not done as well as her debut album. This might be down to the fact that the collaborator who initially worked with her, Ben Langmaid, is not around to co-pen the songs, but Jackson prefers to slate her label instead.

“It’s really frustrating when your label kind of expects certain things to happen, and then they don’t happen, and then they just stop bothering”, she said in a recent interview. “It seems to me that maybe they wanted number ones and if they don’t get them, they’re not really bothered.”

You can be sure there’s Jackson’s two-album contract is receiving plenty of attention in Polydor’s business affairs’ department after that. But she’s not alone in the having-a-go-at-your-record-label club. Azealia “212” Banks has split with her label, making it the second time she’s parted ways with a label so far in her career, after a short period earlier on with XL. She blamed “someone with an agenda trying to get me to do what they wanted me to do” for her departure.

Others have also huffed and puffed at the labels they were once happy to sign on the dotted line with in return for a large cheque. Earlier this year, Angel Haze leaked her album online in an effort to get her record company to hurry up with the release, while Mercury Music Prize winner Speech Debelle blasted her label, indie imprint Big Dada, when the win didn’t result in blinging sales.

In all of these cases, you’d love to get the full, unvarnished truth from the labels about what happened from their point of view, but that’s never going to happen. Record labels are cautious when it comes to speaking about their acts and don’t want to tell the truth about truculent, troublesome, lazy, unrealistic individuals for fear of scaring away the rest of the artistic horses.

But what we do know is that these artists got into a business relationship with those labels with their eyes wide open. We assume they took the best legal and management advice money could buy. They were, after all, signing a contract with a business, so expert guidance is downright essential in those circumstances. They’d also have had a good inkling from talking to other acts and examining the labels’ past performance as to how they operated.

Yet, despite all of these precautions, we’re still left with the artists compiling blame reports. Some things will never change.