Let me be very clear here. What I know about hiphop can be written in very large letters on a grain of rice, and I'll be the first to admit it. That's not the point. I do know that samples get used a lot, that backing tracks get remixed with new vocal tracks a lot, and that there's this whole mixtape scene thing, which is the mechanism by which new artists, if they are good enough, get exposure. Exposure which can lead to them being signed to and sometimes making a lot of money for the mainstream music industry.
This story on Slashdot about the arrest of artist, producer and mixtape maker DJ Drama is just the next installment of jaw-droppingly barefaced idiocy from the same total morons who brought you 'Home Taping Is Killing Music' (you know how there's no music any more, right, since Home Taping killed it, only, uh, no it didn't), the fools who shut down Napster (via which a lot of people discovered a lot of new music they then went out and purchased on CD) and Allofmp3.com (a legally constituted company in Russia operating within Russian law), who now routinely sell CDs which technically aren't actually CDs (and might not work on your kit), and the people who have successfully pushed for the next version of Windows to deliberately degrade the quality of audio files which have not been purchased from a major label.
Can you say 'cartel'? Can you say 'illegal monopolistic business practise'? It can't go on much longer. Can it? These are surely the increasingly unpleasant death throes of a dying dinosaur. To say that new genres, new distribution mechanisms and new technology have far outstripped the ability of the old guard to keep up is a commonplace; in the meantime, they've still got a lot of money and power and lawyers left and are going to do a lot of damage both to individual artists and to music as a whole before they finally implode under the weight of their own bullshit.
Let's hope that happens soon.
They never did support jazz or classical music. Or folk. It's already clear to everyone with a brain in the rock scene that getting signed to a major label is now career suicide for a musician. Now they want to fuck everything up for the hiphop scene too. Actually, while it must suck horribly for DJ Drama and his colleague arrested with him, maybe in the long run it'll be for the best. One by one, the creative people involved in each genre will see, plain as day, that there is nothing - nothing at all - the mainstream industry can offer them that they can't do better independently, and the old labels will die off, one by one.
The claim that their sales are dropping as a result of mp3 downloads does not wash. Their sales are dropping because they stopped at least pretending to invest in artists twenty or thirty years ago. They forgot that their business was built on artists and they are now beginning to run out. Paul McCartney is 64, and it's great that he's still around, but we don't still need him like we did in 1963. All they have left to offer is Pop Idol. Which they can keep, both as far as I am concerned, and, according to sales figures, as far as everyone else is concerned too.
End of rant. I've a long overdue blog about the 'Other Music You Might Like' artists I didn't cover back in December, but I'll save that for another day when I have less steam coming out of my ears.