Present day music business offices are stuffed with staffers whose main concern is in the ‘money’ the music can make and, although there are still those whose concern has more to do with the ‘music’ the money can make, they are few and far between. – With the advent of AI, the music mogul could become extinct . Maybe that might ‘clear the swamp’ and pave the way for a renaissance.. back to the future of music..
I signed as a recording artist to Warner Bros Records in 1975 and their Soho offices back then were stuffed with shady, disreputable looking characters. It was a louche world full of rakes and hustlers with hints of decadence. At 6pm they closed the doors to everyone except the dealers and at last, the latest Al Jarreau album could be carefully placed on the turntable, accompanied by the sound of the cocaine chopping ritual and the pouring of the brandy and suddenly the air was filled with the sweet scent of ganga. And the music played AND it was listened to and appreciated.. no talking, respect!
So a lot has changed in the music biz in 50 years.. except for the fundamental principle that the unsavvy artists/writers/creatives still get ripped off by the record companies and music publishers, the slight difference now is that the bullshit has become normalised and accepted, even by the lawyers.
I live to tell the tale. My own experience of ‘swimming in these shark infested waters’ has been punctuated with several ‘designer mishaps’ and financial irregularities. In this business, unless you have made it big, you’re vulnerable and liable to be at the mercy of a plethora of bad actors who’ve (not) ‘got your best interests at heart’.
‘Man from Manhattan’, the record I made with Freddie Mercury, has had a chequered history, firstly by being banned from all media exposure in the UK soon after release in 1976, then being imprisoned by Warner Brothers for 30 years and recently, the discovery that an unauthorised version of the record has appeared on the scene, in the guise of a 7″ picture disc porporting to be a Freddie Mercury/Queen release of Man from Manhattan, my name is either not mentioned on the record or in small print. The sound quality is apparently abysmal, but the pirates behind the release have distributed it globally and because it’s Freddie, they’ve been able to get ‘reputable’ dealers to stock it, even though it’s obviously a fake. The fact that we are preparing for the release of the Man from Manhattan box-set is no coincidence as they have probably hijacked the publicity for our release of the track. Nevertheless, we have managed to get this fake off the market.
The big disappointment (but not surprise) for me was the lack of support we received from the corporate music biz players. Their assistance was negligible. It was down to our little independent team with limited resources to stop this bogus release in its tracks. For those big players it was merely just a drop in the ocean and not worth the cost of pursuing, but for us, it had the potential to destroy the prospects for our own release! However, thankfully, we have the support of the most important players … The fans xx
to be continued