The reason why today's music is garbage
By Nick Carrabine
If anyone has been paying attention, the music industry is in shambles.
Today’s artists aren’t concerned with making an album, they’re concerned with releasing singles, surrounded by filler. Record labels, often encourage, or even force the artist to do so.
The sad reality is, albums don’t sell anymore, singles do.
Which is why it’s sad to see some of my favorite artists be blackballed by their own record labels.
Lupe Fiasco completed his third album, Lasers, more than a year ago and handed it over to his record label, Universal Records. To this day, Universal has still not released the album, despite Lupe’s first two albums receiving both critical acclaim and commercial success. Lupe has said Universal told him that they didn’t think Lasers had any quality singles, they even sent him new beats with different hooks and Lupe, rightfully so, declined to make any changes to the album.
My Chemical Romance, who are about to release Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous KillJoys on Nov. 22, were in a similar position two years ago. They wrapped up production and recording to their follow-up 2006 monster release, The Black Parade, in 2008 and handed in an album that their label wanted to hear. However, feeling that they have sold their selves out and made a record the band wasn't comfortable with after pressure from their label, they took it back, completely scrapped it and started from scratch to create what will now be Danger Days.
Joe Budden’s (original) second album, The Growth never saw the light of day. He’s going through record label woes again as not only will Amalgam Digital not release his new record, The Great Escape, they are not allowing him to sign with Eminem’s Shady Records as part of the Slaughterhouse group.
Now what really makes me angry is what I saw on Thursday. An e-mail that Nas sent to executives at Def Jam Records regarding the status of his Lost Tapes Vol. 2 album, which is a compilation of b-sides and rarities recorded over the past decade. It was supposed to come out on Dec. 14, but apparently Def Jam refuses to release it, causing Nas to write a Dan Gilbert style letter to his bosses.
The major problem I have with this, more so than the three previous examples, is Nas is a certified legend, has been around the block now going on 18 years, has sold millions and millions of records and has received nothing but critical success for 90 percent of his projects. So if Nas can’t release an album these days with a label’s backing, who can?
With CD sales declining, and the increase of music being released digitally, I believe within the next decade, there may not be such a thing as a major-record label anymore. Bands and artists are now starting to realize, they can release music on their own over the internet while still making money. Not only that, most money bands and artists make is more so through touring and merchandise - and not record sales.
Weezer, who has been around for a decade and a half and have been one of the more popular rock bands since their inception, opted to leave their major record label earlier this year to go the independent route. Brand New, who were signed to Interscope Records, left the label and plan to release their upcoming projects by themselves. Countless other bands and artists are following suit.
I’m glad these bands and artists aren’t caving in to the major record label demands, sticking to their true art creations and defending themselves, as well as their fans.
The truth is, these artists and bands don’t need the big executives anymore to put out music.
Quite frankly, all the big executives are doing is ruining the music industry.
Below is the e-mail sent from Nas to Def Jam executives earlier this week. MTV.com confirmed from “one of Nas’ people” that Nas himself wrote the letter and while it never intended to become public, the Nas camp “aren’t mad about it.”
To: LA Reid, Steve Bartels, Steve Gawley, Michael Seltzer, Joseph Borrino, Chris Hicks
Subject: PUT MY (record) OUT!
Peace to all,
With all (due) respect to you all, Nas is NOBODY’s slave. This is not the 1800s, respect me and I will respect you.
I won’t even tap dance around in an email, I will get right into it. People connect to the Artist at the end of the day, they don’t connect with the executives. Honestly, nobody even cares what label puts out a great record, they care about who recorded it. Yet time and time again it's the executives who always stand in the way of a creative artist’s dream and aspirations. You don’t help draw the truth from my deepest and most inner soul, you don’t even do a great job at selling it. The #1 problem with DEF JAM is pretty simple and obvious, the executives think they are the stars. You aren’t.... not even close. As a matter of fact, you wish you were, but it didn’t work out so you took a desk job. To the consumer, I COME FIRST. Stop trying to deprive them! I have a fan base that dies for my music and a RAP label that doesn’t understand RAP. Pretty (messed) up situation
This isn’t the 90s though. Beefing with record labels is so 15 years ago. @ this point I just need you all to be very clear where I stand and how I feel about “my label.” I could go on twitter or hot 97 tomorrow and get 100,000 protesters @ your building but I choose to walk my own path my own way because since day one I have been my own man. I did business with Tommy Mottola and Donnie Einer, two of the most psycho dudes this business ever created. I worked well with them for one major reason....... they believed in me. The didn’t (care) about what any radio station or magazine said....those dudes had me.
Lost Tapes is a movement and a very important set up piece for my career as it stands. I started this over 5 years ago at Columbia and nobody knew what it was or what it did but the label put it out as an LP and the fans went crazy for it and I single-handedly built a new brand of rap albums. It’s smart and after 5 years it’s still a head of the game. This feels great and you not feeling what I’m feeling is disturbing. Don’t get in the way of my creativity. We are aligned with the stars here, this is a movement. There is a thing called KARMA that comes to haunt you when you tamper with the aligning stars. WE ARE GIVING THE PEOPLE EXACTLY WHAT THEY WANT. Stop throwing dog (expletive) on a MAGICAL moment.
You don’t get another Nas recording that doesn’t count against my deal....PERIOD! Keep your bull(expletive) $200,000.00 fund. Open the REAL budget. This is a New York pioneers ALBUM, there ain’t many of us. I am ready to drop in the 4th quarter. You don’t even have (albums) coming out! Stop being your own worst enemy. Let’s get money!