In the early '90s, I pumped my fist and shouted, "Fight the power!" Now, many years later, my fist is done pumping and spreading messages. My fist is now an adult that realizes you cannot fight the power; you must join the power. My fist was disgusted by the amount of skank on Flava Flav's VH1 show, and now my fist is fairly apathetic to the new digital download of the forthcoming Public Enemy album, How Do You Sell Soul to a Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul.
The group is giving into "The Man" by agreeing to distribute its new album through digital distributor, TuneCore, known as the anti-iTunes. "The Man" is Jeff Price, founder and chief executive of TuneCore, and co-owner of an independent label. Price operates TuneCore just like any distributor to get music into online stores, but unlike most distributors, Price does not take a percentage of the record sales. This seems awfully suspicious for someone with the last name "Price" (and if bad action movies have taught me anything, it's that if someone has a name like Dr. Kill, I probably shouldn't trust them), but I'll go out on a limb and trust the guy.
So, just how does he get away with being so nice? Well, TuneCore charges a flat fee of .99 cents for each song as an uploading and processing fee, another .99 cents for each store the acts choose, and $19.98 a year for each album stored. Mr. Price sees himself as providing a service, like a futuristic online Federal Express. The only difference is that, in reality, Federal Express sucks the big one. Price has said, "I wanted to get out of the exploitation business and into the service business." Congratu-fucking-lations! Now where the hell is my Public Enemy album?
But if Chuck D. is all for TuneCore, then I suppose I have no other choice than to abide. "I knew I had a fan base (Emceegreg) and I wanted to go directly to them," said Chuck D. "What good is a label? All they do is give you money. And in the area of digital distribution, they can't do anything better or faster than anyone else." Yeah, who the hell wants money?
Now to further explain TuneCore in the most boring and technical way I can, TuneCore does not work as "aggregators," which distribute music to iTunes and other online stores in exchange for a percentage of sales. This is usually done by making deals with small labels instead of directly with the musicians. Mr. Price doesn't believe such services are worth the price tag, and he said several TuneCore bands had received placement on iTunes without any middlemen.
My fist is now unraveling in a sympathetic open palm of love and friendship. I shake dirty hands with you, Mr. Flav, and I applaud your balls. I remember jammin' alone in my room to "Shut Em Down," and finally the dream is a reality. Along with my even more ignored friend, Terminator X, I see a bright future where artists will no longer have to deal with greedy, white, seedy capitalists. I say, fight the power. Let's feed the needy. (Emceegreg crosses arms and half-nods at YOU, TMT reader.)