Friday, August 25, 2006

Judge Orders Removal of Hicks Song From iTunes

From the Hollywood Reporter:

"American Idol" winner Taylor Hicks has obtained a temporary injunction barring his former producer from releasing a song the gray-haired crooner wrote and recorded almost a decade ago.

Here's what I don't get. Taylor Hicks is one of those guys who is nice beyond nice. He really does care about his fans. There is no reason why he wouldn't want his fans to hear an early version of one of his songs. So why the sudden turn into Lars Ulrich?

A friend of mine, who used to be in a band and had signed a record deal, said this to me at one point: A recording contract is the single best way to end your career as a musical artist. What I'm saying is that this doesn't sound like Hicks is the one behind this situation. This smacks of a record company decision.

When you are signed by a recording company, there is a general "shut up and put up" mentality regarding the artists that they sign. You record what they want you to record. You do what they want you to do. You wear what they want you to wear. You say what they want you to say. After all, they are financing the release of your album.

The problem, as we have seen, is that the record companies don't seem to be in tune with what fans want. The artist doesn't get a say in what's released, and the resulting p.o.s. that is released to the general public under the guise of an album has no real heart and soul in it. You also run into problems, like this one, where the RIAA wants to squeeze every possible buck out of the fans that they can, with no regard as to whether it may hurt the overall reputation of the artist and his relationship to his fans.

Take, for example, my friend. He had released a personally recorded song that he held the copyright to, allowing his fans to distribute the song as free promotion for himself. After signing a recording contract (without reading it), the company gained the rights to that song and threatened to sue anyone distributing an unauthorized copy of it. While my friend is still under contract, no album has been or will be released, and he can't get out of his contract. He no longer owns the rights to his own voice, so recording elsewhere is out of the question. So if anyone wants to listen to the song, their only option is to have an "unauthorized copy" of it.

It stinks, but the recording industry currently holds all the cards and all the congressmen, so the consumer and the artist lose.

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