Are we the only ones tired of seeing Billy Corgan‘s smug mug in the news these days? It would be one thing if it was for his music, but lately it seems to be for anything but. Now he’s gone to the highest powers in the country to plead his case for the Performance Rights Act — admirable enough — only a few weeks after supporting the Ticketmaster/LiveNation merger in a letter to Congress — did we mention he’s managed by Ticketmaster CEO Irving Azoff?
Yesterday, Pitchfork reported that the Smashing Pumpkins front man would head to Congress to speak in favor of the Performance Rights Act — the act would award royalties to performers for terrestrial radio play; the way the law currently stands, only songwriters get those royalties. In a shrinking record-sale economy driven by an industry that is being pushed by the availability to listen to songs both on the internet and radio, we think this is a fair enough argument. But our admiration stops there
Coincidentally, the Chicago Sun-Times Jim DeRogatis (who is on top of everything these days) ran a letter yesterday that Corgan apparently wrote to several members of the Senate’s Committee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights in favor of the proposed Ticketmaster/LiveNation merger, which as well know, is currently facing Congressional antitrust roadblocks.
And yes, Corgan is managed by Ticketmaster CEO Irving Azoff. This is what we in the ‘biz call a conflict of interest.
The letter, as Pitchfork pointed out today, goes on to defend the merger in the vaguest possible terms. Aside from vocabularic vagueries like “new model” and “dynamic synergy,” we found this excerpt the most amusing: The combination of these companies creates powerful tools for an independent artist to reach their fans in new and unprecedented ways, all the while restoring the power where it belongs.
Look out for that next Ticketmaster/LiveNation presented diy tour, and in the meantime, check out the full letter below as it ran in the Sun-Times. Oh, and you can see photos of Corgan testifying here.
Billy Corgan’s letter to Congress:
Dear Chairmen Kohl & Leahy and Ranking Members Hatch & Specter:
The merger as proposed before you on the surface may seem to be too much power in the hands of the few, and I can understand the need for Congress to review this matter. Here I would hope that my 20 years in the recording and touring business will allow me some candid authority on these issues, and would help shed some light for you on some of the nuances that perhaps could easily get missed.
The ‘system’ that was once the modern record business, essentially ushered in with the meteoric rise of the Beatles, is now helplessly broken. And by almost every account available cannot be repaired. Personally I would add to that a healthy ‘good riddance,’ as the old system far too often took advantage of the artists as pawns while the power brokers colluded behind the scenes to control the existing markets. This control often saw the sacrificing of great careers to maintain that control. Look no further than the major record labels’ intense fight to slow down the progress of Internet technologies that more readily brought music and video to the consumer because they couldn’t completely control it. This disastrous decision on their part has destroyed the economic base of the recording industry. It is now a shadow of its former self.
Artists now find a heavy shift of emphasis to the live performance side, and this is where this merger finds its merit. The combination of these companies creates powerful tools for an independent artist to reach their fans in new and unprecedented ways, all the while restoring the power where it belongs. In today’s ever changing world, the ability for artists to connect to their fans and stay connected is critical for the health of our industry. Without sustainable, consistent economic models upon which to make key decisions, it is both the music and the fans that suffer.
In short, we have a broken system. This is a new model that puts power into the hands of the artist, creating a dynamic synergy that will inspire great works and attract healthy competition. The proposed merger you have before you helps create those opportunities by boldly addressing the complexity of the existing musical and economic landscapes.
The Smashing Pumpkins