Henry Rollins and John Mellencamp have spoken out on the struggles of major labels to stay afloat amidst the digital download revolution and neither singer is very sympathetic to their woes. Rollins in particular is embracing the dawn of a new music industry landscape that could even erase the word “industry” from the whole equation.
“I think the major factor in the couldn’t-come-soon-enough decline of the major label industry is greed,” Rollins told Street Team. “Greed and underestimating the intelligence of their patrons. File sharing has had an effect, certainly. Why do people share files? Maybe because you put out a CD for $19.99 and two songs on it are good and the rest is so-so because you told the band to hurry up already. When you make art into an industry, everyone will suffer. I am sorry about all the people who lost their jobs but this thing had to end.” That’s the blunt, candid quote we’ve come to expect from a punk singer, spoken word artist and muscular dude like Henry Rollins.
Mellencamp, however, offered a long essay/blog on the Huffington Post, which recounts major changes in the record industry from the late 1980s up until the invention of the compact disc. Huh? His article is a bit strange because he does rail against the music industry for only using modern technology to resell people music they already own and for marketing artists with merely commercial motivations, but he ends up essentially blaming Reagan’s trickle-down theory for the whole debacle. Don’t know about you, but when I ponder mp3s on the Internet, I don’t really think “Reagan.”
“That which, by all rights, should have had a positive impact for all of us — better sound quality, accessibility, and portability — is now being blamed for many of the ills that beset the music business,” Mellencamp wrote. “The captains of the industry it seemed, proved themselves incapable of having a broader, more long-range view of what this new technology offered. The music business is very complicated in itself so it’s understandable that these additional elements were not dealt with coherently in light of the distractions that abound.”
I don’t want to disparage John Mellencamp’s populist view of the music industry because at its heart is the same sentiment that Rollins offered (artists don’t need no stinkin’ industry), but it doesn’t look like his view has evolved much since “Little Pink Houses.” Next time perhaps he can start with “Ain’t that america, home of the free mp3” and take it from there.