Monday, February 11, 2008

Simon Napier-Bell on the Music Biz

An excellent Big O Zine article by Simon Napier-Bell on the music industry and the way it has screwed artists for more than sixty years and intends to go on doing so.

Simon Napier-Bell - the life and crimes of the music biz.

Napier-Bell was the Yardbirds' manager in the Sixties. He thought he was a good one. It was only after he negotiated the deals he realized how he had still gotten shafted. A lot of people say that Peter Grant was one of the first managers to get reasonable deals for his artists., and a lot of people regarded him as vicious.

In this article, Napier-Bell talks about being left in a record company waiting room that had no handles on the inside of the doors - an understated description of dealing with the Mafia that took a little while to sink in for me. But when it did, it was more chilling than the description of the record company executive choking his producer in a blizzard of racial slurs.You can see why it took an ex-wrestler like Peter Grant to out-frighten some of these people.

The article is trans-Atlantic, too, which is unusual. There's some things about EMI and some things about Atlantic or CBS. Usually an article is "my life with Stax" or "my life with Cliff at the 2I's" but not both.

Napier-Bell says that sometimes being a manager felt good,

But at other times - when your nitwit star... wakes you in the middle of the night with a call from Sydney to say he can't go on stage because he has no clean socks (as the lead singer of the Yardbirds once did) - it feels less so.

So not all of his problems were with record companies. Only about 99% of them.

Seen via DOC 40 - Mick Farren's blog. Mick's always worth a read.

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