Letter to ‘Frontline’ in response to episode on the music industry. I think it pretty well spells out what we’ve talked about as a band about our philosophy of business.


‘I felt that your program “The Way the Music Died” was a very good look at the way that major record labels do business today. However, I take issue at the scope of your broadcast. By focusing on the elements of the music industry that are in decline, you paint a picture which is not entirely indicative of the industry itself.

As a fan of what some term “jam” music, I follow bands such as Phish and Widespread Panic, who have developed large touring bases. From this, I have discovered dozens of bands who make their living under the radar of major labels and corporate radio. These are bands not supported by MTV, and yet through hard work, determination, and talent have managed to pack clubs and arenas and make quite a killing.

I feel that this sort of existence will become the norm for musicians, with touring revenues quickly outpacing record sales, until eventually CDs will become loss leaders, selling at a few bucks apiece. Recordings themselves will become mere advertising for bands outside the corporate system. When an artist comes to town, there will be several thousand people, who picked up the recordings for a dollar or two or even stole them off of the Internet, lined up to pay 30 dollars for a concert ticket, with most of that money going into the hands of the musicians who make the music rather than the stuffed shirts who sell it. In fact, Dave Matthews Band is already following this model, making much more on touring than they are making in recording royalties.’

John Emery
Memphis, Tennessee

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