NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Earlier this week on Twitter I got into an exchange with a guy who works in a relatively high-level position with The Grammys.
I'm not going to publish the Tweets for several reasons.
One, he asked me not to. He was speaking as a private individual, not on behalf of his employer, and did not want that fact to get lost in the spectacle. I respect and understand his position so I decided to abide by his request. Secondly, it's not this particular executive I have an issue with; his Tweets merely illustrate a bigger -- and very troubling -- picture.
Last week, in
, I chronicled the struggles of musicians attempting to navigate the unjust local music/bar/club scene of Los Angeles and places like it. Please read that article if you haven't already. It sets the table for all that follows. I intend to not only expose the injustice, but, one way or another, get the music industry to address and do something about it.
So, on Twitter, I asked this particular music industry executive to provide an opinion on the structure of local music scenes across the country, particularly Hollywood, California. Despite repeated requests -- I even begged him -- he would not address the issue. Small artists work in what amount to sweatshop conditions and nobody -- not one soul from the music industrial complex -- is willing to offer a thought on the issue. Do they not consider this important? Not worthy of a response?
Musicians and indie labels certainly do. Quite a few started following me on Twitter after that article. Several, as well as a handful of very respectable journalists, reached out asking me to keep the story alive. But, again, either silence or out and out dodging from music execs.
Music industry types ripped me on their blogs. But they didn't address the issue I asked them to. In fact, they blatantly ignored it. They just restated their opinions and distortions -- for the umpteenth time -- on royalties.
The Grammys guy told me I was trying to tie the
royalty issue to the local music scene injustice (though he never even admitted that an unjust situation exists). I told him I was treating the two issues both ways -- as related and as independent of one another. Because that's exactly what I have done.
To claim that royalties and the compensation/booking particulars in local music scenes are not related illustrates how out of touch the music industrial complex really is. When indie artists get in front of local music lovers -- frequently -- it leads, naturally, to more spins on everything from Pandora to
to more "records" sold at
or the world famous
. But, if the music industrial complex is so concerned about turning Blake Morgan's $5 quarterly Pandora royalty payment (see above-linked article) into $25 or keeping it from getting cut, you would think they might be give a damn about how other small artists gain exposure.
But to expect logic from music executives asks a bit much. They're too worried about protecting existing structures and using Internet radio to subsidize decades of non-payments from broadcast radio.
With all that said, I used a typical rhetorical tactic with this guy ... I said,
OK, OK . . . fine . . . you're right . . . now that we have that out of the way, please, what do you think about the issue I raise?
Again, a mix of silence and repetition (
you're trying to tie the local music scene rant into the Pandora royalty issue so I will not address it
It's not just this one person. He was speaking as a private individual, but, sadly, he can serve as poster child for an entire industry. The music industry refuses to tackle an important and uncomfortable issue. The fact that bars and clubs in competitive local music markets run a cartel that makes any meaningful level of exposure, let alone success -- already an uphill climb -- next to impossible for most acts.
a major elephant in the room.
Local musicians across the country absolutely need influential people -- maybe a big name artist, a club owner, a promoter or a record executive -- to take a stand. To shed light and offer some type of comment on a practical, "on-the-ground" issue that negatively impacts struggling artists a heck of a lot more than music royalties.
Where is somebody, anybody from the music industry to at least let us know what their corner of the world thinks? If they care about local music as much as they claim, they'll have some ideas on how we can work together to help, not hinder these efforts.
Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.
Rocco Pendola is
Director of Social Media. Pendola's daily contributions to
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