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The Music Lover's Manifesto:

Why buying CD’s hurts the musician and supports tyranny.

The music industry is in turmoil. The rise and fall of Napster has unearthed the ugly

nature of the record labels and their congressional lobbying group, the Recording Industry

Association of America (RIAA). Since the successful annihilation of Napster the

corporate record labels have begun bombarding us with propaganda against other file

sharing services. Once we understand just why the music industry is afraid of the Internet,

it becomes clear that the industry is not fighting against piracy. It is, in fact, desperately

fighting to maintain the financial wealth it garners from the exploitation of musicians.

Despite the industry’s PR campaign about lost revenue, a simple look at the SoundScan

numbers during Napster's lifetime reveals a steady increase in album sales (this fact can be

found on the RIAA’s own website, under "Market Data"). CD sales continued to increase

even when the economy started to sour, and this increase continued until near the instant

that Napster went offline. In effect, Napster was one of the best things to happen to music

in a long time—and this makes perfect sense: the more music people were exposed to, the

more music people wanted to buy. The music industry also appeared to have the perfect

marketing tool in that they wouldn't have to do any marketing—the good artists would

sell themselves. And as far as piracy was concerned, Napster was perfect in that regard,

as well. The simple fact that it was peer to peer meant that it was virtually impossible to

download a complete album of any consistent quality. Every track was recorded from a

different source, different bit rate, different audio levels, etc., making downloading a

complete album that resembled the quality of a purchased one extremely difficult.

So, given that Napster improved album sales and could have been a great marketing tool,

why were the corporate labels so eager to shut it down? The answer is simple: they saw it

as a threat to their control over the musicians. We must begin to look at this from the

perspective of the highest people in the industry—the Tommy Mattolla's (who has recently

been forced out of his power seat), the Clive Davis's, etc. These are intelligent and

powerful men, and they make millions of dollars on the musicians they exploit. And

without this system of exploitation, their power and unlimited wealth would come to an


Here is how the exploitation works. When an artist first signs to a major label, visions of

millions of dollars and thousands of screaming fans allow them to sign their freedom away

on a dotted line. A typical contract goes something like this: the artist forever loses all

copyright and control over any music recorded during the length of the contract; the artist

loses the final say over what songs end up on the album; the artist loses the right to say

what his music can and can't be used for (e.g., suddenly, the artist’s most cherished song

can be used to sell long distance, or SUV’s); and, finally, the musician signs away these

rights to future recordings. But the most telling piece of freedom the artist loses is when

he signs away the ownership to his own name. That thing that makes a band a band,

makes a rapper a rapper, even an individual an individual, now belongs to the record label.

Recall that Prince changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol precisely because

Warner Bros. owned his name.

To the label, the artist is no more then a servant who is there to do it’s bidding and to

generate massive amounts of capital. In return, the label grants the artist a tiny cut of the

wealth that he produces. When indentured servitude was a common part of life, the

masters would sometimes allow their servants to go out into the world and work for

wages, then the cruel owner (having done no work) would take all of the servant’s

earnings as his own, possibly giving the servant a few cents for his long labor. This is the

relationship of the artist to the major label. By being able to work away from his owner,

the servant feels almost like a free man, and the artist enjoys the same false sense of

freedom. The artist is able to do many things that makes him feel free, but these are just

allowances provided by the master label. The artist can do drugs, swear, get arrested,

etc., and the label says nothing—in fact, these things are encouraged because they provide

free marketing. But until the artist completes his contract with the label he is still merely

a servant.

In exchange for giving the label all these things, the artist gets in return a lump sum

ranging from $100,000 to millions of dollars—which the artist has to pay back—to cover

studio costs, manager fees, etc., and the label grants royalties from the sale of the album.

These royalties are calculated in "price points" and typically amount to about 9¢ per

album. Now, this deal seems pretty bad: the artist has signed away all the rights to his

music, the ownership of his name, and, indeed, his freedom—in exchange for a loan and a

few cents from each CD sold. Why would an artist agree to this? The answer is simple:

choosing not to sign to the major label is in essence choosing not to be heard.

Historically, the selling of records was a complex venture. It took visionaries to predict

what would and would not be popular. It took record company promotion people who

had personal relationships with local DJ's to get a song played on the radio, and even then

there was little guarantee. But, recently, the music moguls have found that the secret to

making popular music is to simply maintain complete control of all the mainstream access

the public has to new music. And unholy unions with the two major outlets of music—the

radio and MTV—have accomplished just this.

In the last couple of years, the corporate labels have rejoiced because they no longer have

to struggle with any local radio stations across the country for airtime; they now only have

to deal with one corporation: Clear Channel Worldwide. Clear Channel began its take

over of the radio waves in 1999. Since then, it has acquired nearly 1,500 popular radio

stations worldwide. No longer are radio DJs in control of what music is played on the

radio, it is the corporate executives in Clear Channel's corporate headquarters, located in

Austin, TX, (the ones receiving huge kickbacks from the major labels) who control it. All

one has to do is look at the 'press room' of the Clear Channel website to understand the

horrifying corporate nature of music today. In a recent interview with Fortune magazine

Clear Channel's founder and CEO, Lowry Mays (who was originally an investment banker

before joining the radio business), states, "We're not in the business of providing news and

information. We're not in the business of providing well-researched music. We're simply in

the business of selling our customers products." Fraternity brothers who studied together

at business school—not people who actually care about music—are now in charge of what

gets played on the radio.

This is why the peer-to-peer revolution has the industry so terrified—and is also the

reason they have fought so strongly to quash Internet radio. Suddenly, this new

technology makes it possible for any musician, not just the ones signed to the corporate

big wigs, to be heard by millions of people. The relationships the big wigs have been

nurturing with Clear Channel and MTV have started to lose their value. The corporate

labels (Bertelsmann, Sony, Universal, Warner Bros., EMI) have decided to fight peer-topeer

technology with all their might. First off, they use the RIAA, which is the

congressional lobbying group whose only purpose is to fight for the interests of these five

labels. The RIAA has absolutely no vested interest in the rights of the artist; its sole

purpose is to perpetuate the current system of exploitation. This group used the millions

of dollars it received from the labels to fight Napster in court, and, of course, their millions

of dollars won against the small Internet company.

Distorting its legal victory into a moral one, the RIAA began a campaign against Internet

file sharing in which they labeled such activities "piracy," thereby accusing the majority of

its costumers of being thieves. It was precisely when this campaign began that CD sales

began to drop.

If Napster was good for CD sales and helped get musicians heard, why would so many

artists speak out against it? For the same reason that a servant would try to protect his

master when his master was in danger: their livelihood is caught up in the slave system.

Artists who are already established fear the collapse of the major label system because

they worry that without it, they will suddenly lose the prestige and wealth they continue to

accumulate. It is the fear of the unknown that causes artists to stand up for their cruel

masters. It is also possible that these artists who stand up in favor of tyranny may not

even realize they are doing so, they may actually believe the rhetoric that the industry has

fed them.

We must now realize that the corporate labels and their lap dog lobby group will do

anything in their power to keep this old system of servitude in place, and they have LOTS

of power—billions of dollars—and they also have congressmen who will do their bidding.

But in order for them to keep their power, they rely on us. Every time we buy a CD we

are supporting tyranny. We must stop. We must stand by the musicians that we love—

we can free them. The RIAA wants to guilt us into continuing to buy CD’s with the

audacious claim that if we don't, we are hurting the artists. In reality, however, the

opposite is true. There are many ways we can continue to support the musicians without

financially supporting the corporate campaign against us. Consider this: if we download

an album or copy it from a friend, and then mail the musician five dollars, that would be as

much as 50 times what that musician would make if we spent $18 for the CD! It’s up to

us. We have the power to stop tyranny and all we have to do is stop buying CDs.

-In the interest of freedom, this document may be freely distributed, published, sold,

quoted, posted, e-mailed, performed, etc.

-Get involved. Below you will find links to source articles. Please read them and understand that

this issue is much larger then the RIAA’s claim of piracy. The last page of this document contains

a flyer that can be passed out or posted, should you care enough to get involved.,15114,423802-1,00.html


File Sharing

Hurts mega corporations, not musicians.

The five major labels (Sony, Universal, BMG, Warner Bros, EMI) would like us to believe that file

sharing steals from musicians. Wrong! It is actually the major labels who steal from the musicians!

What you need to know about Major Label recording contracts:

1.Typical royalties paid to the artist come out to about 10¢ per album sold.

2.The artist loses ALL COPYRIGHT OWNERSHIP to his/her music.

3.All recording, production, mastering, and music video production costs COME OUT OF THE

ARTIST'S royalties.

4.The label has total control over what the music is used for. The label is free to license anything they

own to whoever they want. (Think about it next time you hear that classic song on an S.U.V.


What you need to know about Clear Channel:

1. Owns the majority of radio stations in the U.S. (over 1500).

2. Receives huge payments from the 5 major labels to play major label owned music.

3. Has direct ties to the Bush administration and actively censors artists who do not support their rightwing

politics. (I.e. Clear Channel has stopped playing the Dixie Chicks)

Why would an artist sign to a major label?

1. Without the major label's connection to Clear Channel the artist has NO CHANCE OF EVER


2. Without the major label's connection to MTV the artist has little chance of ever getting a video


3. Often the artist is wooed to the label by a large advance (sometimes in the millions of dollars), but

the artist has to pay this money back to the label.

File sharing Facts:

1. File sharing gives equal exposure to ALL musicians regardless of corporate sponsorship.

2. CD sales rose steadily until AFTER Napster was taken offline (check SoundScan numbers)—CD

sales only began to drop once the labels began calling the majority of their customers thieves.

3. The major labels began to reduce the number of releases BEFORE the Napster hearings—EVEN


4. Independent artists are currently SELLING BETTER THEN EVER BEFORE.

Why the major labels are so scared of file sharing.

Because the labels know that the only thing they can offer new artists is the chance to be heard on Clear

Channel and seen on MTV. File sharing allows any artist to be heard by potentially millions of people,

this has the corporate labels terrified. They are willing to go to any lengths to stop us from hearing

independent artists. Recently the RIAA has sued a Michigan Tech student for sharing music with other

students. The total amount in damages the RIAA sought from this single student was a whooping 97

billion dollars! (the case was eventually settled out of court)

Every time you buy a CD you are supporting a system that exploits musicians and

STEALS their intellectual property. Stop funding the persecution of fellow

students! Stop giving money to huge corporations who take 99% of the money that

rightly belongs to the musician! If you want to support musicians, consider

downloading or copying their album and mailing them 5 dollars (that's fifty times

what they would make if you paid 18$ for it!).