Stan Sheppard

Stan Sheppard

*Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last month, you must be aware of the war of words going on with the members of the recording group “TLC” and their former manager “Pebbles.”

Pebbles is very angry over the way she was portrayed in the new movie about the group and is threatening legal action against everyone she feels slandered her. Obviously, the group members are standing by their version
of what happened, so get ready for continued fireworks attached to this issue.

Unfortunately, this type of activity between recording artists and business people has been going on since the inception of music, as we now know it.

For those of you who read my column, you know I like to break things down in “Street Terms” when I describe the inner workings of the music industry, so to describe the relationship between recording artists and business people is like explaining the relationships between “Bloods and Crips.” To put it bluntly, “they don’t like each other very much.”

Recording artists are “different people mentally speaking” who are really not like your ordinary run of the mill guy or girl who gets up in the morning, showers and goes off to work. These are people who have a “vision” about themselves and the world they live in and they interact with people through their words and melodies.

Really, they could care less about the “business aspects” of the music industry and they interact with business people “only because they have to” not because they want to. If recording artists had it their way, they would record their music and release it to the world for all to enjoy! But unfortunately, “The Suits” will be having none of that my dear friends!

For the most part, the “Suits” know they are hated by the recording artists and the recording artists know “they are viewed as inter-changeable parts by the “Suits” so it doesn’t take a brainiac to see there’s trouble on the horizon.

Now, when you throw in the role of the “Production Company Owner” who signs the struggling recording artist to his/her “privately owned production company for representation,” then the whole process gets even uglier.

The major recording company that wants to sign the artist to their label usually finds out about the artist through “small, privately owned production companies” that the artist is signed to. The production company sets up the meetings via their contacts with the A&R director at the major label and if a deal is done, the major label must now deal with the production company owner and the recording artist to complete the project.

Now please remember, in this scenario with a production company involved, the artist and the major record company want the production company owner gone as soon as possible! The artist really doesn’t want the extra layer of business they have to go through with a production company they are signed to and the major label doesn’t want the production company owner in the mix at all because they are kept at arms length from the artist. So everyone wants them gone ASAP!  The sad part about the whole scene I just laid out to you is that “95% of all deals done today in Urban Music are done by production companies!”

Now if you are reading this article and you are not involved in working and making your living in the recording industry, you might well say to yourself “this is a doomed business model waiting to explode.” Well, you would be right my friend!

The artists dislike just about everyone at the record companies who control their artistic freedoms and royalty paychecks and the “suits and managers” know contractually speaking they only have a limited amount of time to earn income off of the recording artists they represent. So everybody has knives out just waiting to cut someone in their personal mix!

During my 35 years in the recording industry I have worked directly with “The Jackson Family” “DJ Quik” “DJ Battlecat” “Glasses Malone” “Kokane” “Mausberg” “Suga Free” and numerous other Platinum/Gold selling recording artists, so when I speak to you, I speak to you about “Facts” and not my “opinions.”

The recording industry is destroying itself from within. This current crop of executives at the major labels are woefully weak as a group and the “360 Deals” being offered these days to artists should come with an “indentured slave” clause on the front of the contract!

So for those of you who will continue to follow the ongoing saga of recording artists in their wars with the business people who surround them, rest assured that you will have all you need for content as the days, months and years go by because this is a “war with no clear end in sight.”

To reach Stan Sheppard, email him at: [email protected]