Billy Corgan Gets Taken To Task In Hometown Paper
March 16, 2009 at 5:22 AM (PT)
As the leader of alternative-era heroes the SMASHING PUMPKINS, BILLY CORGAN is one of the most successful musicians CHICAGO has ever produced, writes THE CHICAGO SUN-TIMES' JIM DEROGATIS. "As the major-label system that has dominated the music industry for seven decades crumbles around him, the 42-year-old graduate of GLENBARD NORTH HIGH SCHOOL is doing everything he can to maintain that rock-star status -- from lobbying Congress, to breaking a long-held principle against selling his music to MADISON AVENUE."
He continues, "The 'system' that was once the modern record business, essentially ushered in with the meteoric rise of THE BEATLES, is now helplessly broken, and by almost every account available, cannot be repaired," CORGAN wrote in one recent letter to Congress. "Personally I would add to that a healthy 'good riddance,' as the old system far too often took advantage of the artists as pawns while the power brokers colluded behind the scenes to control the existing markets."
Few musical advocates would disagree with that statement. But some of the answers that CORGAN is proposing prompts DEROGATIS to ask, "What the heck is BILLY thinking?"
The Great PUMPKIN declined an invitation from THE SUN-TIMES to expand on his recent statements. Via e-mail, he wrote, "I am loathe from here and ever on to talk about the music business. So honestly I'd rather not comment."
Backing The Ticketmaster/Live Nation Merger
With the exception of BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, major recording and touring artists have been silent about speaking out against the proposed merger of America's largest ticket broker and its dominant concert promoter -- perhaps out of fear of reprisals, as some congressmen have charged. Meanwhile, only a handful have endorsed the plan, including SEAL, SHAKIRA, JOURNEY, VAN HALEN -- and CORGAN.
"The combination of these companies creates powerful tools for an independent artist to reach their fans in new and unprecedented ways, all the while restoring the power where it belongs," CORGAN wrote to the Senate Committee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, which held a hearing on the merger last month. "This is a new model that puts power into the hands of the artist, creating a dynamic synergy that will inspire great works and attract healthy competition."
Backing The Performance Rights Act
"From my perspective, this issue is one of fundamental fairness," CORGAN told Congress. "If the performance of a song has value to a particular terrestrial radio station in its airing, I believe it is only right to compensate those performers who have created this work. Simply put, if a station plays a song, both the author and the performer should be paid."
"The problem here is that in an effort to wring a few extra coins from giant radio chains such as CLEAR CHANNEL -- and the royalties really only amount to fractions of a penny per spin -- the Performance Rights Act would severely hurt if not financially cripple community and independent radio stations, just as Internet radio has been walloped by this extra cost," continues DEROGATIS. "Artists will lose in the end, since radio will simply play less music. As NAB Radio Board Chairman STEVE NEWBERRY told the Congressional committee, 'Your local radio stations will be forced to cut services or employees, may be forced to move from a music format to a talk format or may be facing bankruptcy.'"
Backing The Use Of His Music In TV Commercials
"After a career spent carefully controlling the use of his songs, earlier this year, CORGAN and SMASHING PUMPKINS drummer JIMMY CHAMBERLIN recorded a new tune titled 'FOL' specifically for an ad introducing HYUNDAI's new GENESIS Coupe during the SUPER BOWL. And a few weeks ago, he went even further, licensing one of the PUMPKINS' signature tracks, 'Today,' for use in a commercial for VISA credit cards.
"Again: What changed? Well, these are hard economic times for everyone -- even rock stars with a posh NORTH SHORE mansion and a fondness for jetting around the globe. So perhaps CORGAN's commercial sellout and his attempt to shake down terrestrial radio are just two more distressing symptoms of this awful recession."
Read the full column here.