Record Labels Screwing Over Musicians Is Nothing New; The Buddy Holly Edition
from the the-interests-of-musicians? dept
It's still amazing that anyone thinks that organizations like the RIAA or any of the record labels actually represent the best interests of musicians or even the music industry, when they have such a long history of doing things that go against the musicians best interests -- and this goes back decades. A bunch of folks have sent in this amazing recording of Buddy Holly negotiating with his record label after the label recorded a song but refused to release it. The label, Decca, had dropped him from his contract and was refusing to release the songs, including the song "That'll Be The Day." According to the story, the producer wasn't a fan of rock music, and did a terrible job on the song, and Decca refused to release it. So Holly went to re-record it at a different studio, and since Decca had dropped him from his contract, he wanted to clear the rights to use that song, but Decca refused, claiming it had money "tied up" in the recordings... even though Holly clearly offered to pay up to reimburse Decca for the costs, the label refused. Holly apparently recorded his phone call with the label discussing this:
Of course, the story is that Holly went on to release the re-recorded version against his Decca contract, but did so under a group name (The Crickets) rather than as Buddy Holly to avoid the contractual issue -- but the success of the song resulted in Decca coming back to Holly and signing a new contract. Either way, the phone call highlights how labels have treated musicians for ages -- forcing them into terrible contracts.
There still is a role for labels to play in the music industry, but one of the more exciting things that's happening is that with greater alternative options, musicians are able to sign deals that are much more favorable, and are less likely to get them locked up in a situation where the labels have too much control.