If Inside.com, the appropriately named website covering the culture industry, does nothing else beyond Danny Goldberg's article "The Ballad of the Mid-Level Artist," it still will have gone far in exposing the confusing world of record-label economics. The article could be a twin of Steve Albini's noted Baffler polemic on how major labels screw over good bands, except for two things: It's not a polemic, and Goldberg's been on both sides of the economic fence, first as manager of Nirvana and Sonic Youth, then as the head of Atlantic Records.
Goldberg runs through the occult forces governing musicians' income--album royalties, mechanical royalties, recoupable advances, the whole bit--in a way that's not as impossible to follow as you might imagine. He then makes the case that mid-level artists--your Aimee Manns and Chuck Ds--get a contractual bum deal, although record label execs aren't exactly swimming in caviar off the money they make on these types. Smaller bands don't get screwed by labels, because they didn't make the labels any money in the first place, while big-ticket acts generally have the upper hand in contract negotiations, since the labels depend on them for profits.
But when the Manns and Ds decide to go at it alone, perhaps selling their records over the Internet or starting their own labels, the situation doesn't get better, because their album sales tend to drop precipitously, and they have to pay their own staffs. The Internet offers intriguing possibilities--bye-bye, manufacturing and distribution costs--but unless consumers can be convinced to pay CD prices without getting an actual object in return, it's bye-bye mark-ups, too.
To read the article, go to www.inside.com and search for "Danny Goldberg."
Kristen Kosmas' triumphant return to the Seattle stage has been postponed, if not cancelled completely. The former Seattleite and writer-performer of blah blah fucking blah had been recalled from New York by Consolidated Works in order to create a new piece titled The Scandal, but a brief fax sent last week from ConWorks informs us that the scheduled June 2 opening (and indeed the entire run) has been cancelled at the last minute.
"Ms. Kosmas will continue to work on the show, which may be presented at a later date," says the fax, but such a presentation will not occur at ConWorks, according to executive director Matthew Richter--who, despite being my former co-worker and current friend of some six years' standing, refused to give me any dirt on the reasons behind the production's demise, on or off the record.
Cultural conservatives as freaky cultural critics? The hot samizdat publication currently making the rounds in Seattle's political and architectural circles is Live from Rotterdam: Rem's Revenge, submitted to the Seattle Public Library Board by inveterate local activist Linda Jordan on April 24. Jordan attacks by mimesis, interspersing her comments with quotes and images from S, M, L, XL, Rem Koolhaas and Bruce Mau's 1998 book. Jordan focuses on Koolhaas' writing about pornography and public sex. One of Koolhaas' great traits is his willingness to accept that "architecture gets dirty," that his buildings will change through time and use. Jordan compiles his quotes to that effect and charges him with making dirty architecture, as well as being "discombobulated," "incoherent," "twisted/confused," and so on. It's a great fight, and I promise to have Koolhaas or another architect from his office comment on Jordan's work within the next couple of weeks, and also to provide some kind of distribution method so you all can experience Jordan's delirious critique firsthand.
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