Big Music-Related Companies We Could Do Without
It’s hard to make a list of companies and prioritize them because they are all equally evil so here they are in no particular order.
Live Nation Entertainment/Ticketmaster. You can’t go to a big concert or show of any kind in this country without getting your tickets through them. I can’t believe these people get away with charging a Service Fee, a Processing Fee, a Building Facility Fee and a Shipping Charge/ E-Ticket Convenience Charge/Will Call Charge—all for one ticket/order. In some cases this has added up to 50% of the actual ticket price. You have no choice, you have to pay it. Even buying your tickets at the actual venue will save you money. This is a monopoly of the worst kind and I refuse to participate. These days I only attend small intimate events that have no affiliation with Live Nation. I will live on just fine if I miss the next Jonas Brothers stadium tour.
Wal-Mart/Best Buy/Target. If you go to any of these stores looking for CD’s that are anything but current Top 10 or Greatest Hits packages, you’re out of luck. I miss the small mom and pop record shops that catered to their customers. I even miss the chains like Tower and Virgin. They were big companies also but at least they specialized in music. I couldn’t go in there and buy a dishwasher or a new pack of underwear along with the umpteenth box set of the same old 20-year-old Garth Brooks songs. Don’t go there. Search out the last of the little guys for your music fix, you’ll get better service and you’ll get more variety. Another great alternative is to go straight to the source—the artists themselves. Most artists now have their own websites with their music for sale. You’ll be able to cut out the middle man and better support the artists.
AM/FM/SiriusXM. AM/FM is obvious but why pick on satellite radio, you ask? SiriusXM is a failing company which means that they will ultimately disappoint you when they realize that their business model sucks and they can no longer support so many niche stations. I know, I know, you love Willie’s Place on XM and Howard Stern on Sirius, but I guarantee they will turn up somewhere else when SiriusXM goes under (and with their stock trading at 86 cents, it’s not far off). You shouldn’t have to pay for radio and with internet radio like live365.com and the availability of WiFi in cars, it won’t be long before that is what we’re all listening to.
iTunes/Rhapsody/Amazon.com. This is a bit hypocritical since I use iTunes a lot, though that’s changing. My biggest beef with iTunes is that you can’t search by a sub-genre like say, Honky Tonk. On top of that, a lot of their music is miscategorized because they either aren’t specific enough or the people doing the categorizing have their heads up their asses. In any event, if you don’t know the specific name of someone to search for, you’re not likely to find it. CDBaby, by contrast has 27 sub-genres of country. If I only want to look for Bakersfield Sound or Honky Tonk, they have those categories. I’ve discovered so much great music by going to CDBaby. For real country you should also try buckatune.net. I include Amazon for the same reason—lack of a decent search function. You need to have a specific name. Rhapsody is included because they are owned by my arch enemy, Viacom, or in other words, MTV. See my earlier articles to experience my true feelings toward them.
Viacom/MTV. I have beat the MTV horse to death in the past so let me just suggest Great American Country for your music video fix and RFD-TV for general country music-related TV programming. These are not as widely available but maybe if you contact your local cable company and bitch about it, these channels will be available in more homes.
The Big Record Companies. Big record companies put out big crap. And what do they do for an artist anymore that they can’t do for themselves? Get them onto the shelves at Wal-Mart and Best Buy? Big deal. You can probably get into the smaller record stores on your own or with the help of a smaller label such as Heart of Texas, Cow Island or Stag Records. Of course there are also about a thousand ways to promote your work on the internet. Sure a big company might provide you with some tour support but you have to pay that back so you might as well go off and live or die by your own actions.
The bottom line here is support the little guy whenever you can and voice your opinion with your wallet. Life will be much better for everyone if these big companies would just go away.