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Author: Subject: Frank Marino on the state of the music biz

Peach Pro





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  posted on 9/18/2003 at 12:13 AM
Someone posted this at the Guitar World forum. I thought it would stir up some opinions here:

This is a long bit from a great interview with the excellent '70s guitar hero Frank Marino(big Zakk Wylde influence)and he has a very strong first person account of why th music buisness is so screwed up today.Worth taking a few minutes to read-

" Frank: I have to tell you, I don't wanna seem like the voice of doom here. But the music industry, the business as we like to call it, there's something wrong with it. It's very ill, you know? Nobody's in sync. No one's in sync with the fans, that's for sure, OK? Just look at the P2P sites. These fans are going to get their music on P2P because they can't get it, reasonably priced, anyplace else. They're getting totally **** in' ripped off by a bunch of fat cats in the industry that don't know the first thing — and now they're gettin' sued by the RIAA for downloading. It's ridiculous, but the industry is totally out of touch with the fans. The radio is totally out of touch with the fans. The promoters are totally out of touch with the radio. The industry's totally out of touch with the promoters — nobody's communicating here. And I come from a time when everyone was communicating, you know, it clicked. You had everybody always on tour playing and they were always puttin' out records and they were always gettin' gigs, and it was like a big circus. Now, it's like, me me me me me me me. Everybody's got this me thing goin'. Consequently we've got a bunch of musicians out there that want to do — even for the right reasons — that want to good music, they can't get **** in' arrested! I mean it's — it's ridiculous.

DRG: When did it break?

Frank: I think it broke slowly. I think it broke, uh, it almost sort of eroded more than broke. And, I think, I could point to a dozen times that I would think were the watershed this started that happening, this started this happening. But we are at a point where something has to be rethought here. Point 1: the fan of music, who just likes music, OK? That's the guy that's downloading. The guy that's downloading music from sharing sites, is actually the guy who just likes music. He's not downloading it so he can have the latest KISS record or the latest Metallica record. He's downloading it because it's there. He likes to have it. He probably doesn't even listen to all of it that he has, but he says, music, I like music, and he downloads the music. Whether that's right or wrong is a whole other argument. But the point is, this is the guy that likes music. And if he likes music so much that he's gonna sit down through a download for God knows how long to get it to be able to hear it at his computer while he's working on his drawing program, then, why rip this guy off? He's doing this so he can get songs on a one by one basis based on what he likes to hear. He doesn't want to have to spend $17 or $15 or whatever it is in America now, to get a CD where one song is good and 12 songs are trash. So he's basically trying before he buys. Unfortunately it sometimes works a little farther and he tries the whole album. Then he tells himself, you know what, I've got it on MP3 and it sounds pretty good on my computer so why should I buy it? A lot of people go out, I've noticed, and buy a record in the store, copy it themselves for their own use and then sell it on EBay, so they get their money back. I see this all the time. Brand new copies of records, opened once, right? This is what they're doing. The problem behind all this is basically one of gouging, and price. I think that the fans pay way too much money for a record — way too much money, and I think they pay way too much money for a show. And I think that if we could, somehow, bring them really truly affordable music in its original form, then those fans would probably buy it. I think that the fans who download the record, uh, if he figured he could get the whole record for 5 bucks, and it would be the real record, and it would have the real everything, I think he'd probably say, I'll pay 5 bucks for that. So how do we do that? Well, I believe we do that by cutting out all of the middle people. I believe that record companies are not necessary. I believe that record stores are not necessary. I believe that everybody in between the artist and the fan is not necessary. I think that if we could somehow engender in the minds of fans that it is the normal way of living to go direct to an artist and buy their product, and then engender in the artist that he could sell his work for 5 bucks and not try to gouge them for 20 bucks, if everybody did that, in 6 months there would be no record industry left. There'd be no more record companies, there'd be no more record stores. It would simply be the normal way of getting your product — you go to the band's site, you click on this thing, you pay 5 bucks, you get the music either as a download or sent to you and you can burn to your heart's content, or copy it — do whatever you want with it. And I think if — just imagine, if big bands started to do that, if the Rolling Stones started to do that? So I'm calling for a site, that I would like to put together, where it's basically a portal, a doorway, where anybody putting their music on this site — small band, big band, medium band, whatever — they just have to live up to our mission statement. Our mission statement is, we will only sell the records for so much money, we will offer them for download, we will allow free copying, we will do whatever, and it's like going to a market. If the fans get to know that I can go to that place and get all of these band's records directly, and pay an interesting price for them, like 5 bucks, why not? And I think it would work.

DRG: I do too.

Frank: And I think that if we did that, if we somehow put — hear me now, in order to make this successful, it doesn't just have to be an idea. It has to be engendered in their minds that that's the way we do things. Just the way we do it. Like you know how people think, well when you have money you put it in the bank? Well, you don't really need to put it in the bank. People just believe that it's the way you do things. But you don't really have to. So the public can be educated to believe something like that, and the public can be educated to believe that the way we do things with music is we buy them direct from artists. No one buys them from record stores or from record companies. And if all of this happened, you have to understand that the biggest artists in the world aren't getting better than 2 bucks a record, for their CD. They're not. Maybe $2.50. OK? Then there's a about $1.50 to $2 manufacturing cost on that, literally to manufacture it, OK? That's about 4 to 5 bucks in total. Why does it need to be $18? If the artists were able to sell their product on their site directly at $5, they'd cover their manufacturing and they'd still get the same darn royalty that they're gettin' from the record company, and that's if they even get it, 'cause most of the time the record company steals it. In my case, they stole every penny. So what we have to understand is, as artists and fans, we are on the same side. It is an issue of sides. There are sides in this industry. The problem is, it's not the artists and the record companies on one side and the fans on the other. It's the artists and fans on one side and the record companies and record stores on the other, and the distributors, the people that drive the trucks to get the records there — everybody in the chain is dipping their hand into the till, and adding to that price. That drives the price up to $18, $19, $20 — in Canada, it's 22 bucks for a CD. So at this point, we're left with ok, let's sell it ourselves. But here's the problem: yeah, I'm gonna sell my record myself on my website. But because I don't have the old everybody thing working, I'm not gonna get the same amount of distribution, fans are not gonna come and buy my record in the same numbers that they would if it was engendered in their mind that it's the normal way of doing business. So what am I gonna get? I'm gonna get about 10% of the amount of people that would've bought my record had it been in the stores. So now I'm forced to sell my record at $15 or $20, because if I sell it at $5 and only do 10% of the business I won't even make enough money to make another record.

DRG: Right.

Frank: So the only way this thing works, is if we know that A) all the fans will buy direct from the artist and give them the $5 of course, not try to steal the stuff, and B) all the artists will sell it at $5 and not try to gouge anybody, and do it only that way and not through record companies. If we could make A and B happen, I'd be the first one to put my records out there for $3 or $4, and try to talk all of my friends into doing the same. I would like to see a portal website that caters to these people, and handles all of this, but you can't get on this site as an artist unless you're willing to do that — sell it inexpensively, allow copying of it, and basically adhere to the mission statement of the site. Now I'm currently putting together a site like that. I have no idea if it will be successful. I'm throwing this idea out to a bunch of people that I know and seeing if they're interested in coming along and doing this. I know that all of the small bands have said to me oh, I'll do it in a second. Well of course they're gonna say that, 'cause they're not on record companies to begin with. But if I go up to AC/DC or people like that, and say do you wanna come and do this thing, do you know what they're gonna tell me? They're gonna tell me to go to hell because they're getting big advances from the record company, and they're getting all the promotion and everything else that goes with it.

DRG: If you got in early enough, I think you're OK. The guys who managed to get in before 1980, most of them, if they had some big records they're OK. But from 1980 on, everything just got really weird.

Frank: I'll tell you why. Interesting that you pick 1980. There's a reason for that. Because 1980 was the advent of that new thing in our industry that we never had before that, or had very little of. You know what that is? The rock club. There was no rock club in the 70's. Very few. Everything was a concert, everything was a show, everything was a hall or a theater, whatever, when bands came to town. There was no rock club — even small gigs, they were done in schools, or they were done in theaters, or they were done in universities. All of a sudden some bright guy figured out that you could take a **** ty room where you used to have strippers in, get the fans in to see a band and sell them a bunch of booze! So it went from being thinking man's music to drinking man's music! So now, it was hey, we can get the bands in here, we can pay 'em $3000 to play the gig, guarantee $3500, and hell, even if we pay 'em and don't do great on the door we'll probably do $5000 in liquor. But here's the problem: why should we even be talking about club owners in the same breath as music? They're part of that other side! They don't belong in our business. But let's just be idealistic for a minute. Frank Marino puts up this site where people sell their music for $5 — the biggest bands in the world. Six months later there's no Sony. There's no Epic, there's no Polydor — those companies no longer have a stake in the business. Basically, we kicked 'em out. The record stores now, there's none of those either, because nobody's gonna go to a record store and buy for more what they can buy for less directly into their home. So now, we've taken a huge chunk of the business out of the equation, and we've got the farmer, that's the musician, selling his wares to the market, that's the fan. He's goin' directly and sellin' his tomatoes to the buyers, right? The next thing is, those groups now want to play concerts. Well now you've got these club owners who, at this point won't give you the time of day because you're not part of the other equation, but when that equation is gone, you then become as strong as the band who used to have the big record deal, because you go to the club owner and you say to him hey, we're on the direct site, we're selling numbers. You want us in your place, you pay us to do it, pal. And guess what, if you don't, there's a knitting factory down the street that we can rent and put on our own show. We don't need 'em, and we don't even need the club owner. They need us. Currently, currently we need 'em. And we need the record companies, because they're holding the cards. But the point is, let's not fight the current! Let's just empty the **** in' river, so there is no current, and we walk up the sand! This is the way I'm lookin' at it. These people in record companies have no business in our business of art. They are not artistic people. They are not even nice people. If you met them, you wouldn't even want to go eat with them. They don't like music, they don't dress like you and me, they don't listen to the stuff we listen to, when they pretend that they like a band it's all lip service they're paying to be able to get the band to sign with them. So, why keep them in? Let's kick 'em out! Let's kick the suckers right out! And let them scream and yell — so what? Big deal. You know the only thing they could do after to hurt us is they could go to the pressing plant and say it now costs $18 to press a record on your own. Well, you know what? We'll burn 'em on our burners.

DRG: A lot of us are already doing that now.

Frank: I think . . . look, it's an idealistic pipe dream, and the chances are that it will probably never happen because I've always had these crazy ideas for better windshield wipers and stuff like that that never work out, but the fact is it's a great idea and if it could, I just keep saying if it could work, we would really, really need the cooperation of every fan out there. We would really, really need to be able to say to this army of potential fans of music — and not just our music, but every type of music, every genre of music, from pop to rock to jazz to you name it to classical — if I could get everyone who ever buys a record to say I'm in and I promise I'm gonna buy stuff direct from whomever I like, and I'm gonna pay a quarter of the price for it and I'm gonna be happy with it and I'm not gonna steal it, I'm not gonna download it and I'm not gonna be the one guy that doesn't adhere to it — never mind six months — one month. One month, there would be no more system. I don't know what they'd do. I'd do this in a heartbeat if I had the money. I'm a guy who's basically a broke guy with three kids, who's an ailing rock musician. (laughs) You need money. First of all you need to maintain incredible servers to make this work, Microsoft style servers. Imagine! All of the music. You need someone to maintain all this. And I'll tell you something else too, and I'm not shy to say it. If I was maintaining a site like this, I would need to be able to have 5 or 10% on top of everything to help take care of the whole thing.

DRG: You have to pay for the infrastructure.

Frank: Yeah, otherwise forget it, it won't work. But, we're talking about 20 cents or something here, not 10 bucks. You need all that, and most importantly you need money to be able to get the word out in the first place, and I'll tell you why. The internet is a really great tool as long as they come to you, but you can't take the internet to people. With television you can have ads, it comes into people's homes in the midst of other things that they're doing, like watching the latest episode of Friends. But you can't do that with a computer, you can't just SPAM people. They don't like that. So, you need to be able to get your message out to the people, and that message has to be done not on the internet, which means you need to use the current infrastructure system in order to get your message across. The current infrastructure owns radio. They own television. You need to be able to use their system to deliver your message, and tell people go to your computers now, type this in and read about this thing, and become part of it if you're a music lover. It's gonna take money to get that word out, but more importantly than just getting the word out, you need to get the word out in a way where the fans say, that's cool. I like it, that's cool! Not that's a great idea, or yeah, I think I'll check that out. It's gotta be cool. Once you can convince the record buying public that that's cool by giving them value, by not gouging them, by saying the customer is always right, going back to the business practice that started our country, and you make it work for you, why shouldn't it work? All I'm saying is get rid of the crooks. They're the ones driving the price to 20 bucks, not the band."-reprinted from DinosaurRockGuitar.com,an excellent website




 

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Replies:

True Peach



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  posted on 9/18/2003 at 09:30 AM
Good piece, thanks for posting that.

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 9/18/2003 at 11:40 AM
Thanks for the read. I always liked Frank Marino.
 

Universal Peach



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  posted on 9/18/2003 at 01:28 PM
I own at least 7 Frank Marino lp's and 6 cd's.
One of these cd's is actually a cdr i burned from the original cd i borrowed.
And until now i've only downloaded 2 Frank Marino songs (both from compilation / tribute
albums).
what i mean to say is the stuff i own which is "illegal" is dwarfed by the stuff i bought trough the years.
Most of the time it's the other way around.
I download a couple of complete songs (samples suck) or a entire album every now and then. Sometimes these new discoveries turn me into a hungry fan that buys as many cd's (newer releases or from the artists back catalogue) as possible. Music i never would have knew or bought i i hadn't downloaded some songs.

By the way Frank Marino is a fantastic guitarist with a great body of work.
Whether or not "in fashion" i kept playing them trough the years and like them a lot.
Unfortunally he hardly ever tours Europe.
Last time he played here was in 1983 if i remember correctly.

Another aspect:
the multinationals (and their RIAA Gestapo) that unleashed the Spanish inquisition on downloaders of mp3's and shn's are the same companies that developed CD-burners, MP3
players, digital recording equipment and billions of blanks (cdr's / dvd'rs). They develop it, they sell it and make a fortune and in the meantime they damage another branch of their Imperium and they blame US !!!

 

Universal Peach



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  posted on 9/18/2003 at 04:04 PM
"The Power Of Rock & Roll" & "What's Next"

Amazing stuff !!!

Yihaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah !!!


 

Zen Peach



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  posted on 9/18/2003 at 06:41 PM
Don't feel bad. I grew up in the same city as Marino and he rarely plays there either. He takes huge breaks. Works more on cars than guitars, he must be working with Jeff Beck.


Juggernaut and "Live" are also excellent albums by Marino. Love the solo to "Ditch Queen".

 

Peach Bud



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  posted on 9/23/2003 at 10:05 AM
Marino makes some excellent points...it's good to see that there are entertainers out there who are truly in touch with reality.
 

Extreme Peach



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  posted on 9/23/2003 at 12:35 PM
Wow! That was great. Thanks for posting that. It's nice to know SOMEONE has a clue. I worked in the music industry for years, I've been out for about 2 now and I love it. I was dying in there. Most of my friends have since been layed of and I only know a handful of people who are still truckin' along...
 
 


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