June 6, 2013
Over the years I have written columns, and discussed on my radio and television programs the struggle for equal opportunity, parity and recognition in the world of music and entertainment.
For many years independent record labels, producers, writers and artists have been the object of a type of unfairness and bias that is difficult to imagine by the general public. Local artists and companies in cities across the nation such as Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis, Memphis, Detroit, Houston, Cleveland, Dallas, Jackson, Charlotte, Indianapolis, Louisville and hundreds of others too numerous to name have been systematically excluded from this multi-billion dollar enterprise.
In a report April 28, 2007, RBG Scholaran published ‘Major Record Companies Manipulated Control of Black Music’. It revealed "the real goal was to put black record companies out of business and capture their market share."
Dr. Kwaku Person –Lynn in 2006 believed to understand how major corporate record entities manipulated control of black music, we have to understand this story begins in the 1980s with the sale of Motown Records, a once black-owned record company, to MCA Records and Boston Ventures Limited Partnership. The African American community felt a great loss of one of its cherished institutions.
Around that same period it seemed like war had been declared against the survival of black-owned record companies. Solar Records was involved in a suit, counter-suit with Warner Brothers Records for control of its assets. Sussex Records, a once fast growing black-owned record company, was forced to cease doing business for tax reasons. Philadelphia International Records, a quality black-owned record company, was under the distribution control, lifeline to its financial survival, of CBS Records (also known as Columbia Records).
These days, Jerry King of Jamestown Records based in Atlanta, has been working tenaciously to bring justice and change to the industry. He stress that in the black music market, the three remaining major labels are making the bulk of the profits from the sale of black music. He said ‘there is also a systemic collusion between many radio stations which ensures that independent black music labels do not receive air time, therefore not being able to attain any progress for profit, jobs and diversity, I want the American people to realize how our US potential is being withheld by a few’.
King remembers the drum in Africa represented the heartbeat and soul of Africa. He wrote ‘it indicated communication, endangerment to the community, festivity and celebration and music. It enriched the community. That same innate drumbeat prescribes that same enrichment in all areas revolved around black music. In short, the business model of terrestrial radio in collusion with major record labels is to silence the beat of the independent drum’.
Personally it is mysterious to me how some record companies and black radio programmers and deejays can be such hypocrites regarding black artists. And they are especially prejudiced against singers and musicians recording ‘cover records’, meaning songs that have been previously recorded by other artists. They become very selective of artists they know as opposed to new artists who are ‘trying to make it’. They must realize that the definition of hypocrisy is deceit, dishonesty, deception and false professionalism.
When some artists record a CD and there are cover tunes they are usually overwhelmingly rejected, but now on the R&B Soul charts is Larimore’s “Hit the Road Jack”, a song that sold millions for Ray Charles. It is currently being heard on nearly every Southern Soul radio station in the nation and overseas. Another example is Alicia Keys “How Come You Don’t Call Me”, originally recorded by Prince; and Destiny’s Child’s “Emotion” by the Bee Gee’s. The list is endless.
The music industry, including some black radio and record company executives should be reminded of the reference by Frederick Douglas on hypocrisy. He said ‘for it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be denounced.’ This should apply to all record company executives and radio station programmers and star struck deejays.
If you want to help, reach me here at The American, or contact Jerry King in Atlanta.
Please watch the Bernie Hayes TV program Saturday Night at 10pm and Friday Morning at 9 am and Sunday Evenings at 5:30 pm on KNLC-TV Ch. 24.
I can be reached by fax at (314) 837-3369 or e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be Ever Wonderful!