You Knew It Was Coming: Perez Hilton’s Getting A Label

The music industry’s in hard times. So hard that Warner Bros. thinks its best shot at a better bottom line is to give an imprint to internationally acclaimed Photoshop dildo artist Perez Hilton. To the label’s credit, if their negotiations with Perez are successful, this actually would be Warner’s best move towards embracing the blog phenomenon yet, which is to say it would be an irrefutable official acknowledgment that blogs, in fact, exist! We’re getting somewhere, music industry. NYT reports on the particulars of Perez’s future as a music executive:

Mr. Lavandeira has been negotiating a deal that would provide him with his own imprint at Warner Brothers Records, a division of the music giant Warner Music Group, he said. This was confirmed by several other people associated with the talks who spoke on condition of anonymity because no deal has been made. The talks are preliminary, and an agreement is not certain, but Mr. Lavandeira could receive $100,000 a year as an advance against 50 percent of any profits generated by artists he discovers and releases through Warner Brothers, these people said.

Six figure salary, minimum. Damn. NYT then offers some stats to lay out the quantifiable effect of blog posts on record sales:

Early CD reviews on blogs and magazine-style Web sites like Pitchfork (pitchforkmedia.com) are generally coveted by music marketers. In a study conducted by researchers at the Stern School of Business at New York University, an examination of 108 albums that hit record shops in early 2007 determined that those that had been the subjects of 40 blog posts before their release date had sales of triple the average. But blogs, which sometimes post songs without permission, along with commentary, pose a tricky problem for music labels trying to maintain control in an increasingly fast-paced digital culture.

Here’s some more on how Perez’s dynamic with the label would play out:

If Mr. Lavandeira sets up formal ties to a record label, can he still be an objective taste-maker? He seems to think so. In an interview last month, he said he would still have the freedom to rave about artists on rival labels and had no obligation to praise acts on Warner Brothers’ roster.

“I’m upfront with them,” he said. “They can’t tell me what to do. If I hate one of their artists, chances are I won’t mention them.”

“There’s no need to trash them,” he added. “Unless they do something stupid.”

Mr. Lavandeira enjoys sharing his passion for music with readers, he said, but “can’t wait to do it on a larger level.” His prospective label venture “is not a vanity project,” he said.

“I’m really going to be actively involved in it,” he added.

He said he wanted to keep the names of acts he hoped to sign to himself for the moment, but thought his partnership could validate the role that blogs and similar sites can play in the music business, which has been straining as sales melt down, and some stars leave major labels. Madonna, he noted, is departing Warner Music after her next album to release her future recordings through a concert promoter.

“I think I could do a lot for them,” he said. “Madonna’s leaving, Perez is coming.”

So this is where we are. Rick Rubin couldn’t save the music business. Let’s see if a gossip blogger can. Does anybody see the real problem here? Props for recognizing blogs can help an artist, but why are they still fixated on record sales? Doesn’t it seem sorta like, as they say, reshuffling deck chairs on the Titanic? We need creative solutions to the the problems facing the market right now (namely, attitudes toward access and entitlement have shifted and for the upcoming generation of music listeners, records have always been free), not ways to prolong the death of a sinking model. But who knows, maybe we’re underestimating the power of a good cum doodle. Anyway, start gaging Perez’s ear for talent at SXSW: He’s having a day party on March 15th, featuring Chester French aka “the new Weezer.”