*My perspective on music and the music industry is drawn from my 30+ years in the business. I came to New York City in the fall of 1981 with the express purpose of working in the music industry—marketing and publicity, specifically. Since then, I have had a catbird’s seat in witnessing several musical revolutions: the entrance of the compact disc (CD), Napster and, most intimately, rap/hip-hop music.
In all circumstances, my take on the label’s slow and desultory reaction had me branded as the “loose cannon.” And considering the industry’s overall lack of vision, “loose cannon” has become a treasured and welcomed moniker!
The music industry has failed repeatedly to meet the challenges of technology—even when they owned it. That was the case with my first encounter with the CD format in 1990. When I worked at Mercury/Polygram, the label was very reluctant to replace vinyl servicing with a CD, although our parent company, Philips, developed the CD and was the license owner. And of course, on the way to that revolution, labels often sought ways to rip off the artist.
When the CD was introduced, many record labels lowered artist royalty payments. How did this affect black music? Historically, many black artists were already receiving lower royalty payments due to poor representation or general exploitation.
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