In the latest issue of TapeOp, there’s a fantastic interview with Bob Johnston, the legendary producer who made all the best albums by Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Johnny Cash, and Simon and Garfunkel. He’s a character who has left a remarkable legacy of refusing to take shit from label executives. He was asked about where he thought the music industry is going and his response is classic:
The future of the industry is that the major labels will collapse, and the attorneys and all those people will be gone. There will be a few because there will always be rap and they’ll be a few [big] things. But when somebody finds out that the company doesn’t control them, they don’t pay them, they run their debt up, turn down what’s good, put out what’s bad and charge them for everything in the world – promotion, marketing, merchandising, girls, hookers. You have the septic tank cleaners judging music. “We don’t like this. We don’t want this.” They get you caught up for a half a million so they won’t have to pay you, and that’s what they do. You’re at the mercy of sitting at a big table, listening to a bunch of clones watching their president to see what he’s going to say. It’s a horrible situation.
The whole interview is great, so you should seek it out. And if you don’t subscribe to TapeOp already, you really should. It’s one of the best music magazines out there (which isn’t really saying a lot these days, ha ha), and it’s free.