Courtney Love does the math

I don’t know how I missed this, but Court­ney Love gave an incred­i­ble speech at a May 2000 con­fer­ence, on the music busi­ness, copy­right law, and the real music pirates – the Majors. Salon has the unedit­ed tran­script, but I rec­om­mend read­ing it on Dave Ray’s site.

My favorite excerpt:

Some­where along the way, record com­pa­nies fig­ured out that it’s a lot more prof­itable to con­trol the dis­tri­b­u­tion sys­tem than it is to nur­ture artists. And since the com­pa­nies didn’t have any real com­pe­ti­tion, artists had no oth­er place to go. Record com­pa­nies con­trolled the pro­mo­tion and mar­ket­ing; only they had the abil­i­ty to get lots of radio play, and get records into all the big chain store. That pow­er put them above both the artists and the audi­ence. They own the plantation.

Being the gate­keep­er was the most prof­itable place to be, but now we’re in a world half with­out gates. The Inter­net allows artists to com­mu­ni­cate direct­ly with their audi­ences; we don’t have to depend sole­ly on an inef­fi­cient sys­tem where the record com­pa­ny pro­motes our records to radio, press or retail and then sits back and hopes fans find out about our music.

Record com­pa­nies don’t under­stand the inti­ma­cy between artists and their fans. They put records on the radio and buy some adver­tis­ing and hope for the best. Dig­i­tal dis­tri­b­u­tion gives every­one world­wide, instant access to music.

And fil­ters are replac­ing gate­keep­ers. In a world where we can get any­thing we want, when­ev­er we want it, how does a com­pa­ny cre­ate val­ue? By fil­ter­ing. In a world with­out fric­tion, the only fric­tion peo­ple val­ue is edit­ing. A fil­ter is valu­able when it under­stands the needs of both artists and the pub­lic. New com­pa­nies should be con­duits between musi­cians and their fans.

Court­ney Love was, (dare I say), a vision­ary… too bad nobody at the Major labels was listening.

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