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"The record business is sloppy and inefficient and arrogant. Great artists get flushed, and brilliant, commercial records are sacrificed for internal politics and corporate policies. I want no part of that system, and I sleep really well at night now."
COURTNEY’S MANAGER RESPONDS
TO SCOPPA’S COMMENTARY
James Barber On The Record
What follows is Courtney Love manager James Barber's response to the questions I posed in my commentary earlier today. —Bud Scoppa

Bud:

I very purposefully haven't been a public figure in the Universal lawsuit yet, but I'm ready to stand up and shut down whatever whispery crap that's floating around.

Frankly, I expected you to collect bullshit commentary from industry losers about how our case's legal arguments don't really hold water (which is the lie they will tell themselves every day until a case like this goes to trial). But a piece wondering why I (ME?) turned my back on the grand opportunities afforded by the major-label executive lifestyle? Come on.

You've known me for 10 years now, and it's always always, always been about figuring out ways to make it easier for artists to make great records. I went to a record company because I really wanted to affect positive change from the inside, and I had the leadership skills to run a company and to rethink contracts and run things in a fair way.

And if I'd been in the business 10 years earlier, I would have succeeded. But the corporate takeovers have cut the heart out of the record business. At least when David Geffen and Chris Blackwell were signing artists to these unconscionable contracts, they were taking some personal responsibility for the art and welfare of their artists. Now, all we're left with are evil and untenable contracts and faceless suits who care only about surviving the latest round of corporate maneuvering.

Again: It's always been unfair, but the plantation system was tolerable in the '70s and '80s. The last decade in the business has been miserable, and the last three years an abject disaster.

Okay, you claim that I'll "never work again." But why should I want to? I'm finally dealing head-on with the reality of the situation: The system must be changed, and artists need to get paid for their work.

The record business is sloppy and inefficient and arrogant. Great artists get flushed, and brilliant, commercial records are sacrificed for internal politics and corporate policies. I want no part of that system, and I sleep really well at night now.

And consider the possibility that we're working with Brett and Epitaph because it feels good and we like him and his company. Art has been known to happen, you know.

And to address the most misleading part of your commentary: Gary Sheffield is handsomely paid because of sacrifices made by players like Curt Flood. Unlike baseball players, successful recording artists are paid a tiny sliver of the income they generate. Bud, I know you understand how the reserve clause worked and know how poorly baseball players were treated until they got free agency. So don't pretend you don't understand that metaphor.

Recording artists deserve true free agency and the opportunity to be fairly compensated for their work. And if that means a Platinum artist gets paid $5 million instead of nothing or $100K, that's a good thing. Any mid-level artist deserves to be financially secure and any incredibly successful artist deserves to have a much, much larger share of the income they generate.

And I don't mean to suggest that Courtney is Curt Flood. Curt Flood sacrificed his career for a principle. She could have been Curt Flood if I'd allowed her former lawyers to sell her out. She is Olivia de Havilland, who won the case that firmly established the legality of the Seven-Year Statute and brought down a studio system that made sure actors were underpaid and kept them from choosing their roles. The industry "experts" in 1945 were sure her career was over, but Olivia de Havilland saw her career blossom with the best roles of her career and an Academy Award. Once Courtney wins her case, I know her music career will finally get the care it deserves.

Neither Courtney nor Metallica nor any other successful artist gets an adequate cut of their royalties. And our giant industry stays sloppy and gross and lives off their sweat and toil.

One last point: The end of the studio system brought enormous wealth and freedom to Hollywood. Free agency has fueled unimaginable financial growth in baseball. When creative people and athletes are given their freedom, it ALWAYS proves to be good business. When the music business leaves behind all the lies and doubletalk that infect every single contract and accounting statement, the growth will be enormous.

This is so goddamn simple, Bud. Don't pretend otherwise.

All the best,

James

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