The Great Pumpkin Goes To Congress

March 16, 2009

Hey, I just remembered something I learned in college! Wild, right?

My 20th Century Media course taught me all about “synergy.” When corporations try to consolidate their power in a given industry by merging or acquiring other corporations, they hope to benefit financially by controlling the 13 power roles that make up a given form of mass media. For example, when Sumner Redstone and Viacom owned Blockbuster Inc., Viacom controlled the producer and distributor/exhibitor roles, and the consolidation of power benefited the company financially because stores could stock more Viacom-related films (Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks, MTV Films, et al.). It behooves any major corporation to try to achieve synergy. Of course, it also behooves intelligent members of the public to fight against synergy. Generally speaking, synergy is horrible for consumers because it leads to market saturation and less choices. There are absolutely no benefits for consumers when it comes to corporate synergy.

…Which is why I am completely unsurprised to read that Billy Corgan — the frowning prince — has sent a letter to several members of Congress saying that the potential Ticketmaster / Live Nation merger is a good idea. Ticketmaster is facing a number of large lawsuits in America right now brought by customers who claim they conspired to divert tickets to popular events to its ticket brokering website TicketsNow, in which the same tickets were sold at premium prices. This happened to one of my coworkers, who said while using Ticketmaster’s website he was forwarded to the TicketsNow website, where he was offered the same exact seats he was trying to buy from Ticketmaster, but for double the cost.

So why is Corgan arguing for Ticketmaster? Well, that’s easy — his manager is Irving Azoff, owner of Ticketmaster. A copy of Corgan’s letter to Congress is available on the Chicago Sun-Times website. In it, he writes, “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.” Ugh. There’s that word again. “Synergy”. But, really Billy? Azoff convinced you that you would be in a position of power if this merger is allowed to occur? I really don’t think that’s going to happen. It’s sad to see a somewhat intelligent person manipulated to such a degree, but knowing what I know about Mr. Corgan, I am not the least bit surprised. For some hilariously seedy quotes, read this article from the Wall Street Journal about how Irving Azoff doesn’t consider shifting available concert tickets from Ticketmaster to the vastly overpriced TicketsNow website to be scalping. I guess because it’s all done behind closed doors in office buildings and not on street corners near concert halls it’s totally different. So when Azoff says his similarly-named brokerage companies shouldn’t be considered scalping, it stands in stark contrast to a statement made by former Ticketmaster CEO Sean Moriarty’s last May, in which he acknowledged his then-company had used a website called TicketExchange to sell tickets at marked-up prices. I think Mr. Azoff is in need of some clarification.

In more bald Pumpkin-related news, Billy boy went before Congress last week along with RIAA chairmen and CEO Mitch Bainwol as part of the hearing on the Performance Rights Act. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a proposed law that would require radio stations to pay royalties to the musicians who play on the songs they broadcast. America is one of the few countries in the world that doesn’t already do this, but of course that never seemed to matter until the dinosaurs working for the RIAA completely fucked up the music industry. So that makes two instances already this month in which the Great Pumpkin has aligned himself with villains and criminals. One would think that it would be easy enough to stand in opposition against a a group of people who sue 10 year-old and 13-year old girls. But sweet, innocent mongoloid Billy Corgan can be coerced into anything, apparently. It mattered not that he was aligning himself with an organization facing RICO charges, charges of overt unlawful acts and collusion charges, or that the RIAA was withholding $400 million dollars in settlement money from its artists, Corgan was still willing to go before Congress to defend them. What an amiable dumb piece of shit that guy is.

His statement — which can be read in its entirety on his band’s website — includes some real gems:

“The change to the law we are here to discuss only redresses an outmoded, unfair practice that favors one participant’s needs over another. This legislation is simply a form of restoration to artists long overdue.” – Nowhere in that statement does he mention that he already gets paid as a songwriter every time a song of his is played on the radio. But if this law passes, he would be paid double for those songs, as well as his band’s goofy cover of “Landslide.”

“All areas of the modern music business are currently feeling the shifting tides as new models emerge and old ones are broken up. Ours is a business that always begins with the brilliance of the artists. Contrary to long-held myths, it does take money to create new music.” – I haven’t heard anything that self-aggrandizing since, well, The Oscars, I guess. But still, what the hell does that statement about it taking money to create new music mean? How out of touch is Billy with how “working class” musicians operate? For fuck’s sake, he takes the time to mention his own blue collar upbringing, but he doesn’t take the time to mention any of the artists who have to work day jobs to pay for equipment, gasoline, studio time, or any of the amenities he obviously takes for granted.

Just for kicks, here are two quotes from the other person who spoke before Congress, Mitch Bainwol:

“This issue isn’t as complicated as the broadcasters suggest,” Bainwol told the committee. “On the contrary, it’s pretty simple when you get down to it. This year radio will spin almost a billion songs in the United States, leading to billions in revenue from advertising. The payment to artists and labels for use of those recordings, however, will not amount even to a penny.” – Don’t listen to their fuzzy logic about how they could go out of business if forced to pay double money to people like Billy Corgan, think about the fact that they play music all day and and all night and only pay certain people involved, not everybody involved.

“Half of the payments will go directly to the performers, by statute, regardless of any other contracts…Radio station to SoundExchange to the artists and musicians – period.” – …And suddenly this charade is made much more clear.

How pathetic. Everyone involved in these stories is lower than low. Scum of the earth. 8.1% of Americans (that’s about, what, 30 million people?) are out of work right now and these pieces of human waste are asking for their own personal government bailouts because they broke their own system and cannot fix it. I say let them fail.

Lee Morgan – Boy, What A Night
LSD March – Bisyonure No Kimi
The New Year – Body And Soul
Nadja – Only Shallow [My Bloody Valentine]


  1. |

    And two days later he hung out with porn stars. No foolin’. Check out my fake Billy Corgan Twitter for the photographic evidence. Ass.

    Oh, and congrats on getting on the WFMU blog!

  2. M.

    Wow, I didn’t think there was any way that I could possibly hate Billy Corgan more. Thanks for adding to the repertoire of thing the Great Pumpkin does that make my bowels churn.

  3. |

    Luckily, they will fall. Every axe chop gets us one moment closer to yelling “timber!”. They’re actually ushering their own destruction by lobbying for the Performance Rights Act. Radio is almost a dead medium anyway. That started with the advent of the internet. Clear Channel consolidating stations didn’t help either. Obviously, all the Performance Rights Act will do is force out independent radio stations. A lack of independent radio stations will lead to greater consolidation. That in turn will make radio sound even blander than it does now. Which leads to the rise of pirate radio, internet distribution, live shows, or people will just abandon popular music. That will leave the hungry ones, who are willing to forgo a payoff just to be heard. Rock n roll as rebellion lives again. A change is gonna come.
    Thanks for your thoughts.

  4. |

    1. Great article.

    2. Billy Corgan is the RIAA’s bitch, and an Uncle Tom.

  5. Fred Wilhelms

    Mitch Bainwol is flat out lying when he says that half the license revenue will go to artists “regardless of any other contracts.”

    The current language of the bill before Congress guarantees the 50% for artists only if the broadcaster agrees to the statutory license rates and do not attempt to negotiate a lower overall rate. If they negotiate a lower rate, ALL the money goes to the label and they get to pay the artist “according to their contracts.”

    Do you think ClearChannel is not going to look to reduce it’s overall royalty obligation by negotiating a lower rate, say at 75% of the statutory rate?

    Do you think the labels aren’t going to agree to that 75% rate when they get to keep almost all that money, rather than just the 50% of the full statutory rate?

    The only ones screwed by this arrangement are the artists. Billy Corgan has betrayed all artists by speaking up for this scam.

  6. Quentin Peppersmith

    And the guys ‘n’ gals making saving billions because of a legal loophole aren’t villains? Admit it, the only reason for this one-sided garbage is because you think that he’s a rich guy whining for more money. And that may be so, but if a struggling independant artist gets their song on the radio, shouldn’t they at least be compensated for the money the radio station gets? How would this make anything worse off for the artist? And isn’t it Sasha Grey’s birthday? Why can’t a guy go to a friends birthday party, even if he’s a prick and she’s a porn star. (I wonder who pops out of the cake at a porn star’s birthday…..a lawyer?).

  7. |

    I haven’t listened to ‘rock’ radio since 1992. AND NEITHER SHOULD YOU!

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