Mr. Corgan was busy in Washington today, first appearing before the House Committee on the Judiciary in a hearing on the Performance Rights Act, then delivering a letter in support of the controversial Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger. You can read Billy’s words to the committee here, but essentially Corgan told congressional leaders that radio should pay performers, not just songwriters, for tracks played. Seems fair, though Hitsville’s Bill Wyman has a point that the RIAA appears to be “using its waning days of influence to grandfather in some payments that will artificially keep the labels alive after technological changes have passed them by entirely.” In any case, if you’re surprised by Corgan’s testimony on this matter, brace yourself for his letter to Congress supporting the Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger, which many believe would constitute a monopoly in the ticket sales market.
Here’s the text, provided by Ticketmaster to Chicago Sun-Times’ Jim DeRogatis.
Dear Chairmen Kohl & Leahy and Ranking Members Hatch & Specter:
The merger as proposed before you on the surface may seem to be too much power in the hands of the few, and I can understand the need for Congress to review this matter. Here I would hope that my 20 years in the recording and touring business will allow me some candid authority on these issues, and would help shed some light for you on some of the nuances that perhaps could easily get missed.
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. 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. This control often saw the sacrificing of great careers to maintain that control. Look no further than the major record labels’ intense fight to slow down the progress of Internet technologies that more readily brought music and video to the consumer because they couldn’t completely control it. This disastrous decision on their part has destroyed the economic base of the recording industry. It is now a shadow of its former self.
Artists now find a heavy shift of emphasis to the live performance side, and this is where this merger finds its merit. 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. In today’s ever changing world, the ability for artists to connect to their fans and stay connected is critical for the health of our industry. Without sustainable, consistent economic models upon which to make key decisions, it is both the music and the fans that suffer.
In short, we have a broken system. 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. The proposed merger you have before you helps create those opportunities by boldly addressing the complexity of the existing musical and economic landscapes.
The Smashing Pumpkins
P.S. Ticketmaster CEO Irving Azoff is the Smashing Pumpkins’ manager.
UPDATE: Video of Billy’s testimony: