An Artist’s View

I would like to expand a little on one of the questions that came up during my latest interview. I received a number of e-mails on the subject…and I was asked if I could expand upon it in one of the essays. The questions is: What do I think about the current state of the Music and Entertainment Industry, and how is it affecting me?

What is evolving now in the music business has far more repercussions on intellectual property in general. First, we have to go back and look at how we got here. For most of the past century, for a recording artist, movie actor or book writer to reach the masses, they had to sign a deal with one of the major conglomerates. Yes, there were independent companies, but overall, the major companies had the financial backing to enhance and grow a career in the Arts. Over the years in the business, for each wonderful tale, I have heard nine horror stories of how people were taken advantage of and just plain ripped off. While a few starlets were paraded in front of the cameras, behind the scenes many were paid little to nothing. Anyway, let me stick to what I know best….did you know that within the past ten years you could have had a number one record in America, and made zilch? Crazy, but true. How could that be, you may ask? Toni Braxton, the R&B singer, had to file for bankruptcy because she realized how little she was making after all the deductions were taken out of her percentage. The houses, the fancy cars, the beautiful clothes….in many cases are an illusion. Just like us, they can charge it too.

I’ve had the opportunity over the years to sign with two major labels…when I saw the contracts, they were nothing more than glorified documents of slavery. They wanted to own my songs, have me pay half of the making of videos, support myself on the road, provide my own individual health insurance, all for an advance of around $100,000…which, by the way, I had to use to record the album. I would not receive any royalty statements until the advance was paid back in full. After that, one-third of my royalties would be held in an account in case records were returned from stores (!) Now I ask you….would you buy a used car from that kind of dealership?:) So I went Independent. Aviator Records is a label I part own. They care about my music.

So now for the current state of affairs. The Record Industry, in their wisdom, has decided to sue the very same people that they depend upon for a living! Yes, I know…downloading songs for free is not the answer overall…but, to quote the George Harrison song Sue Me Sue You Blues, “You sue me, I sue you, swing your partners, we all get screwed.” What I would like to see is between five to ten music sites selling downloads at a REASONABLE price. As of now, songs are for sale at about $1.50 to $2.00 a download. Apple Computer’s i-Tunes is selling downloads for 99 cents. That seems more reasonable to me, but for now, it’s only available for Mac users (!)

Some wanted to know my thoughts, so there they are. What I have decided to do is to open an online store on my website where people can buy the entire CD’s for around $6.00 or $7.00 a CD (which includes shipping and handling) I would rather do it this way so I can pass along the savings to the people who matter…the music lover. The Avalon Store should be up and running this Fall.

Just like we are able to come and go freely to public libraries to access knowledge and information, so too, I believe, music should be made partially available for free, so a person can decide if they want to purchase an entire CD. Music stores do have listening booths, you might say…but, unfortunately, the artist has to pay an arm and a leg to have their CD in one. At the end of the day, I have become a big believer in shortening the distance between an artist and the fan.

Long Live Music,
love, Jennifer Avalon
© 2003 Jennifer Avalon

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