Artists used to complain, mildly, that there were problems with their record label, producer or agent. Even so, their product was in the stores. Making copies of vinyl, or even CDs was a nuisance, required some skill and equipment, and most people only made one or two copies for friends.
Now? Now artists are TIED TO THE WHIPPING POST, helpless against the massive "sharing" of their work. The rationale behind the Dementeds out there who couldn't keep their Hans off other peoples' copyrighted music, was "oh, it's not available on mp3." Remember that? Then the stuff was available on mp3. The reply was, "It's not cheap enough." So don't ruin the fun and just shut up. Some adorable Mephistophelian know-it-alls declared, "Ach, giving away music makes artists popular. Go sell t-shirts, and Zieg Heil to ME for putting your shit on my blog where I get banner ad money and Paypal tip money!"
It all worked out. NOT.
Aside from Taylor Swift or Sam Smith, most artists are discovering they've been cheated by Spotify to the point where it's embarrassing how many "hits" somehow only equal pennies. Artists have caved in and posted to YouTube to counter all the "fans" who have set up "juke box" accounts to take nickels for themselves. Yep, YouTube is a cheap nickelodeon where the parent company GOOGLE takes most of the money and tosses some chump change to the artists.
Think you can get somebody to untie the ropes to the WHIPPING POST for a tour? Well, how many venues are there? Most people stay home with their Netflix and their downloading. Without record label support and hiring a tour manager, it's difficult to tour. You have to truly be some "road warrior" who travels with just a guitar, and is young enough not to be worn out by the driving, the flying, the crappy hotels and the disorienting world of sound checks, talking to whatever local radio station might still be on the air, and of course shouting at your Twitter and Facebook followers about where you are. So you can hear: "Oh, damn, sorry to be missing it. Hope you come back my way again soon!"
Genya Ravan is among the many older stars who should be seeing royalties coming in. After all, her career stretches from "Goldie and the Gingerbreads" to "Ten Wheel Drive" to impressive solo albums that suffered from poor promotion (her debut on Columbia), bastardly production (like the well-titled "They Love Me, They Love Me Not") or drugged-up non-logic (an album titled "Goldie Zelkowitz" with no reference that this was actually Genya Ravan).
I did see Genya perform some years ago. It wasn't at a big venue. The place probably doesn't even exist anymore. A lot of the favorite places people like her used to perform at, simply got swallowed up by greedy landlords. Her autobiography, "Lollipop Lounge" tells the hard luck stories of her career (which also included being a men's mag model). I once complimented Genya; "you're a survivor," and that pissed her off, because she's been more than that...she's been a mover, a shaker, and she's beaten all the odds from addiction to cancer. She's also released new music on small indie labels. Some of her older material was re-issued on mp3 but that probably hasn't brought in much money. The quality isn't that great, either. This track, ripped from vinyl sounds better than the one I bought at eMusic.
A "little" material "free" isn't necessarily horrible. One or two items on YouTube to give an idea of how excited the audience is to see the artist live. One or two songs on a star's website or on a blog. In that spirit, here's a sample of Genya, for those who may know the name but not much else. "Whipping Post" is pure Ravan. Each stanza of this song brings Genya closer to the raw meat and the bare bones. Or to borrow, out of context, a Phil Ochs line: "The whipping was rotten with ecstasy." Good Lord...Good Lord...Lord...I feel like I'm DYIN'!!!
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