Remember Liz Phair? And Tom Jones? Sure you do–they're both adult artists with a sizable fanbase who still buy records and have the income to pay for concert tickets. They might not be making Bieber or Bublé moolah, but the right record industry people should have no trouble figuring out how to get their music to the people who want it.
And by their music we mean the music that they make right now, wherever it is that these artists are in long (in the case of Jones, very very long), rewarding careers. Not the music some record company person thought they should be making. For that we already have Rod Stewart and his “Great American This and That, Volumes 1 to 3208.”
We've been through this many times, and way before the bloated big labels and big managers drove what was known as the music business into the ground (check out the Billboard figures for the last couple of months)–back in the '80s, megamogul David Geffen tried to sue Neil Young for delivering “un-Neil-Young-like music” instead of Harvest II: The Return.
Today we have can add two more instances of artists biting the hand that doesn't have a clue on how to sell them: Liz Phair self-releasing her new, strange album, and Tom Jones provoking the wrath of his label by going all Johnny Cash with Christian hymns
As Pitchfork reports, Liz Phair quietly dropped her new album Funstyle herself during the 4th of July weekend. First “single” “Bollywood” is, surprise, surprise, a rapping satire about her contractual situation:
Meanwhile, over in the UK, Island Records gave Welsh sex god Tom Jones a bunch of money to make a record, and was shocked when Jones delivered a really good, interesting collection of Christian hymns called Praise & Blame. One of Island's honchos, according to many reports, freaked out and called the album “a sick joke,” completely disregarding that Jones' eternal model, Elvis, had a successful gospel sideline through his whole career that is still bring in cash to the RCA coffers (RCA minions, by the way, also seemed reluctant early on to let Elvis do the gospel records. They quickly realized how boneheaded they were being).
Memo to record companies: let the artists do their things. If you wanna dictate content, direction, marketing, etc. stick to assembly-line puppets.