Allow me to get my bias out of the way immediately. I think Billy Corgan is a douche. I’ve thought it for years…that might make me appear a little harsh in what I’m about to write, but it’s probably best to be upfront about it.
So what has he done lately to reinforce my opinion of him and to secure himself a place in the Celebrity Douchebag Hall of Fame?
On Tuesday, Mr. World-Is-A-Vampire appeared before the US House Committee on the Judiciary (currently holding a hearing on the Performance Rights Act) to lend his support to the act. For those of you that don’t know, the act is one that amends the federal copyright laws in the US to:
- Grant performers of sound recordings equal rights to the compensation from terrestrial broadcasters;
- Establish a flat annual fee in lieu of payment of royalties for individual terrestrial broadcast stations with gross revenues of less than $1.25 million and for non-commercial, public broadcast stations;
- Grant an exemption from royalty payments for broadcasts of religious services and for incidental uses of musical sound recordings; and
- Grant terrestrial broadcast stations that make limited feature uses of sound recordings a per program license option.
What this basically means is that, should the act pass, then (non-satellite) radio stations would have to pay royalties to the artists they are playing.
I have a problem with this because Corgan, like all mainstream artists, uses terrestrial radio to reach a wide audience to ultimately sell their albums and concerts to. No audience = no money.
Any artist that makes it big did so because they rode the radio-train. Want proof that this system works? Just compare album sales of two of Corgan’s own bands: Smashing Pumpkins and Zwan . One got massive airplay and the other didn’t…Siamese Dream for example got as high as #47 on Billboard, while Zwan limped to a pathetic 196 (Creed Greatest Hits made it to 102 for crissakes!!!)
Now this isn’t to say that the system is perfect. The same beast that makes superstars out of the talented also does so out of the undeserving. If it wasn’t for radio’s reach and power of influence, bands like Chumbawamba and Sugar Ray never would have gotten 1 minute, let alone 15 minutes, of fame.
Another flaw in the system is that it apparently creates a sense of entitlement in those that it helped achieve success, as Mr. Fuck-You-I’m-A-Genius is so aptly displaying. But I digress….
Now before you “Literal Jim’s” out there start to spout off about how it isn’t just radio, and things like MTV and MuchMusic and the Interweb contribute to the success of a band, you’re right. But you have to keep in mind that radio is a massive part of the equation. Radio’s reach is incredible. Not everyone has a TV in their vehicle, but they all have radios…and because most city infrastructures are crap radio has a captive audience for large parts of each day. If this act passes then there is nothing to stop labels/artists from doing the same to TV, YouTube, etc. If this passes you’ll see independent radio stations shut down at a far greater rate than they currently are, because they simply can’t afford to keep going. And frankly why would they want to go on, when the music they’re promoting is the very thing that’s killing them?
Corgan should have called Lars before he sat in front of congress, because if there’s one thing he learned from his Napster incident is that people don’t take kindly to “greedy” artists. Especially irrelevant, Uncle Fester looking “artists” who are simply trying to increase the revenue stream from their back catalogue.
Stay tuned for the second installment in my two part series, titled “Why Billy Corgan is a douche – Part II”. I can’t guarantee it will be good, but it will definitely contain the words “Corgan” and “douche”.