The Music Industry Reloads: It’s Not Dead Because We Didn’t Kill It!


A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

Monopolies get over like fat rats no matter what the overall state of the economy – because they control the entire process. Competition is a farce, and the music industry is no different. “This is the kind of rivalry the powerful like. Coke and Pepsi, Democrats and Republicans, it assures success in the illusion of choice.”


The Music Industry Reloads: It’s Not Dead Because We Didn’t Kill It!

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

The music industry won’t just die a slow natural death.”

Look around and you will find no shortage of people describing what they call “the death of the music industry.” Music sales are down and, therefore, the industry is done. On the political Left this is a great thing occurring as the result of homogenized music not appealing to audiences who along with artists are increasingly using the internet to revolutionize music distribution which offers more opportunity for communities to determine artist popularity. On the political Right this is the obvious result of street corner bootleggers and internet pirates terrorizing innocent artists and the legitimate business practices of record labels. But the fatal flaw in either analysis is that they’re nearly exclusively focused on sales, which ignores the social nature of profit or, in this case, the benefit derived from controlling popularity. Besides, the music industry won’t just die a slow natural death. We have to kill it.

A drop in overall sales says nothing about who owns what is sold or made popular through dominant media outlets. It also says nothing of how much money is still generated by those sales or who gets all of it. Sound familiar? Think Obama and austerity or Wisconsin and union worker cutbacks. Maybe an even better analogy is the 31 NFL owners who tell 2500 players that getting 50% of generated revenues is fair. That’s why they can afford a lockout. Sales can drop and they will be fine since they get most of what is sold. The music industry is the same, in fact, it is worse considering the benefits accumulated by the owners go far beyond money. Besides, if the industry were truly in such shambles and the risks were so great why are so many of the wealthiest individuals, private equity groups, conglomerates and banks all fighting so hard for their share of it?

Sales can drop and they will be fine since they get most of what is sold.”

The music industry is fine financially. In fact, digital sales are improving and some now claim that those sales and other merchandising are “more than offsetting” declines in CD sales. Plus, plenty of folks appear to be happily buying in and swapping jobs and all making tons of cash while maintaining absolute control over popularity. This week it was Doug Morris, the super CEO music executive, who jumped from the number one music label in the world, Universal Music Group (UMG), to take a turn running number two, Sony Music Entertainment (SME). He isn’t alone. In fact, it is being said that this means a bitter “rivalry… for artists and executives” between the two music industry giants. And sure it is. This is the kind of rivalry the powerful like. Coke and Pepsi, Democrats and Republicans, it assures success in the illusion of choice. And in each case, even when sales or votes are off, the top executives make plenty of financial and social capital.

How bad can it be? Sony routinely has 60-80% of the most popular songs on radio each week and it is said that Doug Morris will now make $10 million a year. And for even the number three of the Big 3, Warner Music Group, its top executives Edgar Bronfman, Jr. and Lyor Cohen made a combined $83 million between 2005 and 2010 even as their company lost more than $400 million.

And its not just these individuals. They are the executive fronts for so many interlocked individual, corporate and banking entities precisely because of the financial, but even more so that social capital, that cultural control offers. And now, predictably, sales are going back up and so did Universal Music’s revenues go up two percent in 2010. And remember, that only represents six percent of their parent company Vivendi’s total holdings. Vivendi’s revenues went up six percent by itself in 2010 to roughly $40 billion. And better still, with Universal artists like Lil’ Wayne and Nicki Minaj on the radio 10,000 times a week who has to worry about hearing from Lah Tere or Skipp Coon? That also means no more Public Enemy or Bob Marley either. And that is, for them, priceless.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. Online visit

Dr. Jared A. Ball can be reached via email at: [email protected].


Get Rich or Die Trying Huh???

Black artists have no one to blame but themselves.  Like Nfamous said and I paraphrase in so many words, the so-called famous and elite amongst them sold their solds to the Devil.  Sold their souls, their identity and their brothers and sisters for the love of money.  Where's the Ojays' when you need them??

Truth be told I haven't bought a music in 20 + years, matter of fact I am consigned to listen to my albums (yes albums) from my college days in the mid to late 70s.  Back when music meant something or moved me to laugh, cry or anger.  The shit they produce now-a-days ain't music, it's bullshit.  The Blacks played themselves, now they are left with "producing" little white boys and girls like Justin Beiber.  It was one thing when the Whites stole Black music it's another when Blacks fuck themselves all for the love of trinkets, bling bling and bullshit and misyognistic behavior towards Black women with their bitches and hoes nonsense.

The true Black artists got no love, no radio or MTV or BET play.  Speaking of BET, what a damn waste.  I give Monique some props, but by and large BET has squandered one of the most potentially transformative enterprises in the history of the Black Experience.  Think about the musical programs, financial literancy programs, fix up your house programs, cooking programs, political education/awareness programs, sitcoms, the writers, producers and actors that BET could have not only highlighted but made wealthy and how they could have taken Black Consciousness to a whole nother level.  But alas, some nigga wanted to be the first Billionaire as it that means shit.  The White boys out using their cash to build lasting legacies and foundations and institituions and the Nigga trying to be a White boy in terms of net worth and ain't building shit to last.

Funny.. not to many niggas have gotten rich, only a miniscule number and the musical genre of rap is R.I.P. for the most part.  All these street hustlers, shot callers and ballers got played by a bunch of geeky ass white boys (or played themselves).  What a damn shame.  Kinda lot like the lie called the "no snitch" culture.  No snitch my ass, niggas crying like bitches and knowing the first one to squeal gets the deal.  The primary bitches talking about no snitch are the first to flip for the gummint.

What a damn shame, they call it a mind fuck, right?? Harkens me back to a real artist named Curtis Mayfield:  "but they don't know, there can be no show, and if there's hell below, we're ALL GONNA GO."  "Kinda make you get that feeling, everybody smoke, use the pill and the dope, educated fools, from uneducated schools, pimping (rappers) people is the rule, polluted water in the pool"   "And if there's hell below, WE'RE ALL GONNA, GONNA GO!!!" 

p.s.  Once upon a time it was about "we the people who were darker than blue..."  High yellow gal, can't ya tell, you're just the surface of a dark deep well... 


p.s..s.  Surely yall don't expect me to buy the bullshit after being nurtured on this?????  I hope yall won't mind if I tell the whole story.....

MUSIC (Making Us Sick Insane Crazy)

Thanks Mr. Ball for a great article on the supposed death of the music industry.  If the music industry is dead I haven’t seen any signs of it.  As you clearly stated for an industry that is supposedly dying their making awful lot of cheddar.  I think we should look at music like this Making Us Sick Insane Crazy (MUSIC).  What we listen to affects us in more ways than we think.  Especially when one of the largest groups of people listening to music are adolescences teens and young adults.  That is a pretty large age group 10-12 to 20-25 (I’m guessing here).  At these ages minds are very impressionable and easy to influence.  What we seem to be allowing is that our children are being exposed to all the wrong things by all the wrong people.  Then we take it to the extreme and try to make what hear on the +radio happen in real life.


The real gangstas that run the music (Making Us Sick Insane Crazy) industry doesn’t care about what the artist say much less what the public thinks or says as long as they make plenty of cheddar.  Those of us that went to college and took those psychology classes remember the term operant conditioning.  You expose someone to a stimulus long enough and they will start to respond to that stimulus in predictable ways (IE Pavlov’s Dogs) you remember that don’t you???  You expose young impressionable minds (and some old ignorant minds for that matter) to the sexed up, drugged out they minds, bone dead ignorant MUSIC (Making Us Sick Insane Crazy) that we expose ourselves and our children to what do you expect is going to happen???


But on the brighter side some little young girls in Baltimore did  a voice over of a Li Wayne track with a open letter (rap style) to Li Wayne watch it here and watch a interview with the girls here this is a bright light shining into the Black Hole that a lot of the music (Making Us Sick Insane Crazy) we listen to has fallen into.  We need a gazillion more videos like this and start having a more open and objective discussion about the music (Making Us Sick Insane Crazy) industry and how it affects us all.








S Murph