Music is everybody’s possession . It’s only publishers who think that people own it.
Timothy Alexander Guzman, Silent Crow News - The Corporate Music industry has had a monopoly on what youths from all around the world listen to. They have been controlling the thoughts and beliefs of our youths and even adults through their control of the music industry. The Music industry is a multi-billion dollar business. There are now “Big Three” record labels since 2012 that include Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group that dominate the market. They control the artist and set what percentage of the sales receipts they keep as profits. They also keep the competition between the major record labels at a minimum since they are already a monopoly.
There are many underground hip-hop artists that the political and corporate elite don’t want the public to know about. They control what kind of music is produced and sold to the public. In an interview with Jay Woodson, organizer of National Hip Hop Political Convention (NHHPC) in Philadelphia with online news source The Final Call:
FINAL CALL (FC): A recent study of rap songs and music videos on BET and MTV found that several major corporations advertise their products or services during programs that often expose explicit lyrics and images to children. I remember the time when the music industry and society held that rap and hip-hop music was just a fad that would pass. What’s happening now that “everyone” seems to be on board?
JAY WOODSON (JW): What our options are in this political economy are options for profit, which benefits large corporations. This includes the entertainment industry. They give a very narrow message and image of what Black life is. It’s materialistic, about death, it’s about violence, and it’s about misogyny and any diverse or alternative messages and images of that, they don’t seem to support because they don’t find it profitable to have diverse aesthetics within the entertainment industry for people to purchase and to view on television. A lot of time when it comes down to critiquing BET and Viacom, we really need to look at the policy of communications. Like, we understand that the airways are owned by people, who give licenses through the Federal Communication Commission. With legislation that was passed in the mid-90s under Bill Clinton, Congress narrowed the plan for people to tap into the media. A lot of larger media bought up media in smaller markets and it narrowed the choices for smaller media or even public access to have cable programming or even local radio stations. So you have these large corporations such as Clear Channel giving such small packages of 20 songs that are played over and over again.
Lauryn Hill is a Grammy award winning singer, songwriter, rapper and a former member of the Fugees explains how the music industry operates in a letter she wrote on Tumblr to the public about the music business and her tax evasion case where a judge sentenced her to 3 months in prison earlier this year:
For the past several years, I have remained what others would consider underground. I did this in order to build a community of people, like-minded in their desire for freedom and the right to pursue their goals and lives without being manipulated and controlled by a media protected military industrial complex with a completely different agenda. Having put the lives and needs of other people before my own for multiple years, and having made hundreds of millions of dollars for certain institutions, under complex and sometimes severe circumstances, I began to require growth and more equitable treatment, but was met with resistance. I entered into my craft full of optimism (which I still possess), but immediately saw the suppressive force with which the system attempts to maintain it’s control over a given paradigm. I’ve seen people promote addiction, use sabotage, black listing, media bullying and any other coercion technique they could, to prevent artists from knowing their true value, or exercising their full power. These devices of control, no matter how well intentioned (or not), can have a devastating outcome on the lives of people, especially creative types who must grow and exist within a certain environment and according to a certain pace, in order to live and create optimally.