"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side."
This often quoted quote is attributed to the late Hunter S. Thompson, but it is a little bit of a myth. From his book called Generation of Swine: Tales of Shame and Degradation in the '80s (New York: Summit Books, 1988). The actual quote wasn't about the music business at all. Here it is:
"The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason.
Which is more or less true. For the most part, they are dirty little animals with huge brains and no pulse."
Being such a darn good quote, it has been adapted to many industries and businesses, but the music business just seems to be a natural. With its history of finding wonderfully creative ways in which to steal from the artists, exploit the consumers and manipulate the data to justify their rape and pillage of an art form...well, let me just share this news and let the numbers do the talking.
The Warner Music Group here in the USA has to report it's profits and losses to the Security and Exchange Commission. Which they've done. And which I'll share. Thanks to Digital Music News today.
Here are ten years worth of financial profits/losses, fiscal years 2002-2012 (as reported to the SEC):
2012: ―$190 million.
2011: ―$206 million.
2010: ―$143 million.
2009: ―$100 million.
2008: ―$56 million.
2007: ―$21 million.
2006: +$60 million.
2005: ―$169 million
2004: ―$1.422 billion.
2003: ―$1.353 billion.
2002: ―$6.026 billion.
Total: -$9.626 Billion Dollars. Please note the minus sign. That's how much they lost. Only in 2006 did they manage to show a profit. Imagine if this was your company. How would you fix it? What would you change?
The SEC also insists that Warners' provides some additional data, like the salary and compensation of its executives. Here you go...this is for 2012 where the only lost $190 Million:
Stephen Cooper (CEO)
Salary+Bonus: $4.3 million
(Annual Expense Account: $1.8 million)
Lyor Cohen (CEO, Recorded Music)
Salary+Bonus: $14.0 million
Cameron Strang (CEO, Warner/Chappell)
Salary+Bonus: $2.32 million
Brian Roberts (EVP, CFO)
Salary+Bonus: $1.078 million
Stephen Macri (EVP, CFO)
Salary+Bonus: $1.571 million
Paul Robinson (EVP, General Counsel)
Salary+Bonus: $1.67 million
Edgar Bronfman, Jr.
(Chairman of the Board, January 2012)
Retainer for 1 month: $356,871
I don't know about you, but I am saddened by the fact that each of these talented music industry leaders are now going to have to be saddled with additional income taxes in order for our country to have avoided the fiscal cliff.
Hug a musician today.