Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Most Maddening Thing About The Music Business

has to be the way artists are paid (or more commonly not paid).
for example, take a look at this portion of a check pictured above.
I just received this in the mail from a certain "collection agency"
responsible to track my royalty shares and send them to me.
this particular agency sends me checks like this frequently,
which normally would be a good thing except they are always
for embarrassingly low amounts such as this one for 6¢.

the collection agency mindlessly spent 39¢ to send me 6.

is this a torture device meant to remind me
of how invaluable my life's work has been
for the needy hearts of a barren culture,
or someone's poke in the eye with a sharp stick
to say pointedly, "look at you, you piece of dookie"?

either way it does not inspire.

but it does reinforce my belief that I would have to
make music and art for my sanity's sake even if no one cared.
but I'm glad someone does.
thank you all.


  1. Absolutely, we care!
    And thank YOU!

  2. Sort of ironic that the graphic on the check where the amount is printed resembles a fretboard.

  3. It's a ridiculous world -- the way many are paid. I work for a gi-normous public company (55K+ employees) and the cost-saving initiative just started. Don't get me started. But I am compelled to say that music and artists such as yourself improve my life ten-fold, HUNDRED-fold! Truly. There's no tonic finer. The riches are in our hearts, Adrian.

  4. when I first heard lone rhino 25 years ago, You entered my personal list of top five musicians and took a place alongside Lennon Zappa Fripp and Bruford. it's always been a pleasure to meet you at your shows and get you to sign albums and t-shirts, like the last time when you walked up and started signing my Inner Revolution shirt as I was looking the other way at the Bears show in St. Luis last spring. who else would do that? i wonder. with your post today,i felt this would be a good time to say thanks to you mr. musichead for all your tremendous enlightenment. rick from houston.

  5. Hey Indoorgames,

    I was at that Bears show in St. Louis and I saw Adrian sign your shirt. Pretty cool! Do you still wear it? Get it framed?


  6. Can't wait to see "Side four" in shops, I'll get a few for me & as gifts for friends, so don't worry about checks coming :) Is there any chance that you'll tour with band in Europe? We'd love to see you in Poland.

  7. I've got the "classic" $.01 check from some credit card company for an overcharge refund. I'm not cashing it in hopes it screws with their accountants.

    When I was younger I would scoff at picking up pennies off the ground--saying it wasn't worth my bending over for a penny. My uncle would give me the adage, if you have 100 pennies and someone takes one away, you won't have a dollar anymore.

    Your music has meant a lot to me since 1982, when returning from a midwest road trip/tour our guitarists friend introduced me to Twang Bar King (on vinyl no less. My how times have changed). You're worth every penny of time I've spent listening to your music and that of KC and Bears. Thanks!

  8. hi rheayes. I do still wear it, gently wash and drip dry as always. but I think I just might frame it along with a signed rise and shine shirt which I've never worn. also, that was a great show... the bears in the duck room ho ho. I bought everybody's cd and got them all signed including 3 bears cd's. even john sinks the engineer, whom I knew from reading fripps diary. I could go on... peace, rick

  9. Again, this is the sordid nature of art versus industry. While it must be nice to love the work you do and get paid for it, I would argue that true artists work for nothing because "art" (or in this instance music) cannot be quantified in monetary terms. In ye olde days, musicians or travelling troubadours, wandering minstrels if you will, would go from village to village playing to get fed. "Sing for your supper" the people would say, and so they would because they were hungry and because they had a talent that no-one else had and that talent had some value - the price of supper.

    Then the music industry (and the word industry is a hard uncaring word which is extremely apt) came along in the late 50s and some artists got paid very well, while many didn't and managers and executives did very nicely indeed. Soon there was an expectation from anyone who could play three chords that they would become rich and famous...wrong!

    All the artists I love died poor and struggled for their art: Van Gogh, Herman Melville, William Blake, to name a few. If you can think of a great artist, poet or writer, you can bet that at one point they lived in poverty or died in poverty. The point being is that you create art because you can and because you want to, nay are COMPELLED to, not because you expect to get paid for it. Those artists will be long remembered not because of the money they earnt, but for the works they created, so there's always the legacy. Mr Belew, I read your blog and love your music and I believe you've had a blessed life and a great talent. Don't let money get in the way of your art. I make my own music and give it away on the Internet because I can, because I have a proper job and my art is my compulsive hobby, not my main means of supporting myself thankfully. Whether my music has value to anyone is another matter - but I know I average 80Gb of MP3 file downloads from my website every month. That thought alone that people might just be listening and enjoying it, drives me on. If money were to enter into the equation, I would probably lose interest in music all together.

    Also, in ye olde days, some artists got clever and got themselves a wealthy patron to support their artistic follies, while others married into money. Maybe more musicians should do this? ;-)

  10. Let me join the chorus saying "thank you". I never had a chance to hear you playing in flesh and bones but your music (s) are certainly an important part of my life. BTW isn´t it great that the internet gives us the possibility to say those things?
    Let there be music!

  11. I'd love to see the math they use to get to $.06!

    Somehow, seeing this check makes me feel better about the small purchases I make at StoreBelew.

    You inspire others. Thank you!

    The word 'dookie' makes me laugh, m-kay?

  12. Adrian,
    You have touched SO many people with your
    music, you are So blessed.
    I can remember the first time I heard " Walking on Air " it was so beautiful and inspiring to me, and still is my favorite KC song.
    Keep inspiring us with your art and we will faithfully be here listening and loving it, AND looking forward to many more years of music ! ( We were starting to sound like Mr. Belew's Opus :))
    love and light
    PLEEEZE return to Palm Beach, Florida soon!

  13. Sounds like the workings of a new song to me. I had to laugh when I read the word dookie. It'd sound great in a song-hehe! Thank you for your music and your blog! Have a blessed day.

  14. I'm glad you stay. Your music has been essential to my life's soundtrack.

    To name a few:

    The Inner Revolution album gave me hope at a time when things weren't going so well. No details are necessary. Something about that CD made me more optimistic when I listened to it.

    Another case was on the night of the first date I had with the woman who would one day become my wife. It was the best date I ever had. I dropped her off and turned on the radio. Just as I turned the radio on, KCRW started playing a brand new KC song, One Time. That song was the little green rosetta on a perfect muffin of a day. I still remember that night whenever I hear that song.

    I can't thank you enough.

  15. Like the fans before me have said, Thank you Adrian. Music is healing. It is powerful. It is in our hearts. I truly could not imagine my world without your music. No way.

  16. yeah but look at that guitar collection! you did alright.
    I've heard a musician is basically a slave. Maybe there is something to be said for at least being involved and occupied with something that is interesting.
    In the words of the buddha "gratitude is the highest state of being." keep up the good work as they say. who the hell are they anyway? yeah the fat cats with all the dough.

  17. No thanks necessary Adrian....!

    We are thankful everyday, for you, and your incredible ability to create, inspire and delight us daily in all your many different creative mode'd'employ, be they musical, artistic or literative.....

    I personally consider myself lucky that I was introduced to your 'life's work', and as a result, so very thankful that I have been able to share in the pure joy that your music gives me, each and every day.

    I firmly believe that these 'torture devices' are merely a reflection of the evil 'music' industry conglomerates at work, and are used by such to keep artist's like yourself, dumbed-down, disheartened, and bound to them.....
    rather than a reflection of the reality - a truly invaluable life's work (albeit sadly for the needy hearts of a barren culture - what better cure than the music of Adrian Belew!) by one "piece of dookie" who certainly has the most kindest and beautiful soul of all!

    I say to those demons - poke away all you like - my captain is made of way sterner "dookie", and his joy will prevail!

    Unfortunately, I cannot alter these pathetic moron's from their mindless actions - but what I can do is take away the power from these evil-doers, and transfer that to the individual artist - by buying ALL my music directly from the artist, and by attending their gigs when they play in my COUNTRY! (please come to Canada soon Ade!)

    Yes Adrian Belew, I care!

    And, as you've mentioned before, in your reality it doesn't really matter what I think or feel, as YOU will do what YOU do for YOUR SAKE! That is all that really matters....

    But no worries, I will continue to be inspired, and to support you in any endeavour you see fit to engage.

    Because your life's work IS invaluable to this piece of dookie!

    Love, light and happiness always...

  18. I'm happy to pay you for your music.


  19. It seems like the less talented you are, the more money you make(15 yr olds in boy bands/"pop sensations"<~~BOO!)... All I know is your music is so fantastic, and your voice is SOOO amazing/beautiful. I listen to your music everyday and it always makes me happy! If I was rich Id send you a million dollars as a huge and deserving "Thank You" for the happiness your music brings me. BUT im I hope in March when you play at the Tralf(In Buffalo) you will stay around after the show!! I am just DYING to meet you!!!
    Tons of love
    Infinite X's & O's!

  20. Adrian,
    Slaves to the money machine, bean counters, have nothing to do w/ so many of us whose lives you have made indescribably better, or the impact you've made on the positive side of the universe.

    Told you once after a show, I can always count on your music to make me happy. I speak for many I'm sure. Another show I said how great Eric and Julie were, and you asked if YOU sounded ok? How it dumbfounded me, that you could even have the slightest question of yourself and your insane talent, after the best playing I'd ever heard. EVER.

    You are the best musician alive, as far as I'm concerned. And one of the nicest people on the planet, too, I bet. THAT is amazing, and what counts. Never doubt it! Big hugs and heartfelt thank yous for that :)

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  23. Hello, Adrian.
    Thought it would be good to add a view from the other side of the planet.

    I don't know if you're aware, but in Russia you have a pretty much cult status among cirtain cercles of music lovers and musicians as far as i can judge. Many people love your work with KC of course, but many also love your solo work. And your latest releases were received very enthusiastically. Unfortunately, I really doubt that you get any reasonable money of that due to the pirate issues and many other problems of the "third-world" countries.

    Oh, btw, now I recall that you were in St. Petersburg and Russia with KC in 2003. Unfortunately I couldn't attend neither of the two concerts.
    I wonder if you liked performing here and the trip in whole.

    I personally can assure you that from the moment i first heard the Discipline album you were the huge star for me and one of the favourite musicians. You managed to create something that crosses all the (fictitious) boarders (cultural, political, state etc. etc.) - that's something the greatest musicians succeed at.

  24. kool-aid kat:
    I truly enjoyed my visit to russia and wish I could return. the monetary logistics are difficult, and you're right, I don't make any money from my records there.
    still I loved the country and its people and am honored if they like my music.

  25. To use the Ghandi-ism, we must be the business we wish to see in the world.

    The failure of the music industry to support artists is an opportunity to remake the industry. It is just now becoming possible to do so.

    In the 60's there was the hippie notion of people taking care of each other, along with all of the other fun stuff (and some not so fun). I was too young then, but some of the flavor was still alive in the 70's when I was growing up. I think there is a possibility for this ideal to become a foundational business model for the new music industry. The essence is making business personal again. Can we structure business around our ideals rather than sell out? Some similar examples of this are Ben and Jerry's, Craigslist, and I'm sure there are plenty others, but you get the idea.

    People with "sense" would say this is naive. That's good. Sense is overrated.

  26. Adrian...listening to a Frank Zappa concert where you are playing a Tribute to Hendrix and his 7th year of is tapes like this that remind us how valuable music is, to remind us we are not invincible, that we need each other, to get thru the year, month, week, day, hour, minute, and seconds of manucia that exists in todays play on Adrian, play on....we do care...

    Johnne in Seattle
    November 14th 2007

  27. It is unbeliaveable what happen with musicians all around the globe.
    I'm brazilian and my brother is a musician and composer and the same thing happens to him.
    I think that more than illegal downloads, the burocrats of music is the real music cancer.
    You don't know, but you have a lot of fans here. For coincidence, last saturday me and some friends played 6 or 7 songs of your solo albuns and KC.
    In the other hemisphere has a lot os people who cares about you and your work.


  28. and we could CARE less about the greed out there in the music biz trying to ruin the art...Keep on doing what you do best...Your caring soul shows in everything you do and we appreciate it...
    speaking of ridiculus accounting, when I returned to Nashville in 1996 (I had lived and worked here in 1986-88 at Opryland Hotel) I took a fun pt job as an usher at The Ryman Auditorium also run by Opryland. When I received my first pay check I received 2! One for my work as an usher and one for a penny! Yes, I had a check cut to me for 1 cent! Evidently they had "owed" me from the 1986-88 stint! I still have that check and almost called them on the 89th day to say I lost it and could they cut me another one!

  29. your contribution to music is invaluable, just remember that.