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Where Are The Record Companies?

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“More than 100 corporate executives hold call to discuss halting donations and investments to fight controversial voting bills”:

“Will Smith’s production pulls out of Georgia, citing the state’s voting law.”:

And Live Nation and AEG? Spotify? And even the Grammy organization?

For far too long the corporations, the entities behind the acts, have chosen to remain faceless and out of the fray, letting the acts make the moves and take the heat. But no act today has the power of a corporation, especially economically. Solidarity yields results. But the enterprise with the most mindshare, that is rooted in the Black experience, stays silent. Why?

Yes, music affects hearts and minds more than any other entertainment enterprise. It’s directly from the act to the public without interference. Well, this century the heavy hand of the label is too often involved, interfering in the artistic enterprise, talking about the cost of marketing and… If it’s about business, why can’t these same companies look outward and aid the public at large?

Yes, a look at the chart tells you that hip-hop, a Black-originated and dominated musical format, rules. Yet, once again, the white-run companies refuse to stand up for these musicians and what they represent as they rake in the dough. They’ll take their money, they just won’t stand behind their causes, they won’t defend them. The perspective is the acts are independent contractors. But is that really the case when the label owns the recording? Yes, the labels treat the performers like slaves on a plantation, but when push comes to shove they say the musicians don’t work for them. How exactly do you explain this? And I’d say the labels should provide health care, which they should, but really the government should provide health care for all.

Oh, the right doesn’t agree with that. But isn’t music inherently about taking a stand? I mean Coke is inert, not music. But Coke is taking a stand, and it’s based in Atlanta!

And Atlanta is an epicenter of hip-hop music.

Now Stacey Abrams is against boycotts, saying it hurts the people who live there, who it is trying to save, but every situation and every state is different, and it turns out the only thing these legislators promulgating these heinous voting laws seem to understand is economics and publicity. And the music industry spends and generates dollars, and has light years more publicity value than the corporations trying to move the needle on voting rights.

At least the music industry titans could get together and ponder this, like the “straight” companies above.

An act goes on a stadium tour, any tour, they can’t play every market. How about a list of markets to go unplayed because of voter right legislation?

How about no festivals in these states? Or pulling the festivals and placing them in a new location? Come on, this is not forever, couldn’t SXSW and ACL announce they’re leaving Austin for a year?

And record companies could say they’re not footing the bill for any studio time in these states, never mind not investing in infrastructure.

The rank and file will howl! And this gets to legislators, they’re operating under the illusion that the public is behind them, when oftentimes it is not.

Spotify, where the rubber meets the road, the retail point, could have a promo/info splash on their home page EVERY DAY! It doesn’t have to be music free. Maybe it can be passed from the three major labels to the indies on a rotating basis, but the content has to address the anti-voter legislation. The wheels of the Fortune 500 move slowly, as does the impact, whereas music can turn on a dime and start impacting people next week! Also, this will demonstrate the power and economic impact of music, delivering the respect it never gets.

Let’s start with ads in every major newspaper, at least the ones that still exist and have an audience. Wherein not only the companies but also the stars who agree put their names down in ink, stating their position. And TV too.

Then conversation about pulling live gigs. This will get more coverage than anything Coca-Cola does. And time is of the essence, this isn’t forever.

Sure, people knew who Tommy Mottola was, but that was the nineties, today’s execs are happily faceless, and that is good, but they’re also hiding behind their titles as they make millions, and when we’re fighting for the soul of our country that is unconscionable.

And music when done right has an edge, so no bland publicity. And if music has an edge, why can’t the political position?

And if someone comes around to our viewpoint, that we want to make it easier to vote, not harder, WE MUST EMBRACE THEM! This is what is wrong with the Morgan Wallen situation, cancel culture, if someone realizes the error of their ways we should not ostracize them forever, we must include them and then use them as poster people for our position. Come on, if we told Morgan Wallen we’d reinstate all his canceled gigs, his position on radio playlists, he’d do ANYTHING! Even if we promised nothing he’d do anything. But no, he must pay forever as the music industry sits self-satisfied accomplishing little.

It is time. And it must be led by the corporations, not the individuals. Individuals have less power than ever before, especially in a music world where the goal is to sell out to a brand. If the goal is to get involved with the corporation, why not put the corporation first? And the corporations the acts want to attach themselves to first are record labels and touring enterprises… Not to mention agencies, the multi-headed behemoths WME, CAA and UTA are not just talent brokers anymore, they’ve taken private equity money, they can have impact too. No UFC in states impinging on voting rights…you get the picture.

It’s your responsibility, not someone else’s. How about being on the right side of history, doing what is right for both your business and your country. Come on, music has the best spokespeople in the world, how about pulling them into the conversation as opposed to lying steadfast in the weeds?

This is very doable, very quickly. With impact.


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