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Thoughts on STP Getting Sued and More About Why the Industry Needs to Change
A few days ago I read an interesting bit of music news that struck another one of those "I'm going to start ranting" chords. Apparently record label, Atlantic decided to sue both Scott Weiland and Eric Kretz of the Stone Temple Pilots for not delivering on their end of their contract and trying to terminate it. Atlantic apparently not only wants the 6 albums that STP already delivered during their heyday, but also the seventh that the recently reunited band has indicated they might like to record, as well as two more albums.
Let all that sink in so that it truly makes sense as to what's going on and why this might be just a little upsetting.
Now, I'm not going to claim to be a legal expert... I'm hardly even legalese competent, let alone fluent... and I know there are issues over where the contract is being terminated (New York, vs California), the stipulations that were originally outlined in the contract, and something about whether musicians have the right to terminate their contract etc etc... BUT... for Atlantic to have the gall to say that a band "owes" them albums, right around the time that the band is making a come back, just rubs me the wrong way.
There is this little issue about being money grubbing "insert plural expletive of your choice here" that bothers me. Doesn't it seem just a little suspicious that the first time we're really hearing about this is now that the band has reunited and is gaining momentum again? Sure, STP fell apart because of drug problems way back in 2002 and so they weren't really around for the past 5 years to be bothered by such contractual obligations, but still. Atlantic just seems like they're in it to get any amount of money they can get from the band that they can and are using the opportunity to try and screw them to the wall and force them to give any new material they're going to record over to them.
Really this whole idea makes me a little sick to my stomach because it sounds like forcing art, as opposed to actually letting the creative process go it's way. I understand that in the past musicians had to be contracted for a specific number of albums and were scheduled to release them at specific times. That's great as for some artists who were lucky, it worked really well and they produced some amazing results. In more recent times though it seems to have just resulted in mediocre music that the bands write purely to meet their contract. There are still some bands that are successful for sure, but there's also a large swath of music that sounds 100% produced to make money and to satisfy contractual obligations.
Everything about those kinds of situations seems far to strict to me and if the results of not meeting a deadline are going to be that the band gets sued... then I definitely think that these kinds of contractual agreements should be the thing of the past.
Luckily in the age of independents I don't think bands need to put up with this kind of poor treatment anymore and can actually make the music they want to make... whenever they want to.... how's that for a novel idea. And that's the kind of shift that I think the music industry has to make. It has to move away from being label centric towards artist centric, where artists can can make the decisions and labels can serve more as distribution centers than the owners of the music, making demands of their artistic puppets to produce on demand (OK maybe that's slightly dramatic).
I don't know what's going to happen with this battle between the Stone Temple Pilots and Atlantic, but it upset me, more than a little and produced the rant that has been distilled into this post. I'm definitely pulling for the artists in these cases, but also for the industry as a whole to make a change so that musicians don't have to be bullied and ripped off anymore, just to get their music out.
Hopefully in 5 years, or even 1 year's time we'll be able to look back at my posts on these topics and see exactly how the industry has changed for the better.