Money Changed the Game

“The amount of dollars generated was just overwhelming and changed both the mentality of people in charge of the labels as well as completely changing their future.”

-Michael James Jackson, from the book Laurel Canyon: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll’s Legendary Neighborhood.

As we continue to experience, observe and steer the evolution of the structural integrity of the recording industry, let’s continue to go deeper into how we ever got here to start with.

It was about the music at one point. Then, during the late ’60s and early ’70s, the money took over. Whether we like it or not, the music is fighting back.

Michael James Jackson, a former A&R executive (Elektra, A&M) and record producer (KISS, etc.) had the following experience, also from the book Laurel Canyon.

“While Jackson was at A&M Records, a distinguished independent L.A. label co-founded by the trumpeter Herb Alpert – it would reap a fortune in the ’70s with Peter Frampton’s Frampton Comes Alive! – he lobbied A&M’s chief, Jerry Moss, to launch a spoken-word label that would document the works of people like Buckminster Fuller. It was a quixotic proposition, as Jackson well knew, but he felt compelled to push for it anyway. “I said, ‘Y’know, Jerry, we’re the gatekeepers,’ ” Jackson recalls. ” ‘The public only gets to choose from what you decide they’re gonna get. And all this other stuff, they don’t even know it exists if we filter out too much. I was just thinking, we have a social responsibility to offer-‘ ” Jackson says Moss cut him off. “He looked at me and said, ‘I have no social responsibility. I’m here to make money.’ “

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