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Sound Facts



Cashing in or selling out?

A cacophony of censorship.

Selling sound

The Gang of Four

Musical feudalism

While a select few musicians make millions, the majority are beholden to the record company they signed with and earn a pittance. Steve Albini - an independent record producer famous for his work on Nirvana's In Utero - suggests that many bands who sign with major labels may be earning about a third the salary of an average convenience-store employee. 9

The music piracy myth

During the recent downturn in the global economy, record companies artificially deflated sales in order to strengthen their arguments that music piracy was severely crippling the industry.

Illustration: Rich Anderson

Sisters are doing it for themselves

The world's most recorded artist is a toss-up between Lata Mangeshkar - the 'Nightingale of India' - and Bollywood legend Asha Bhosle. Both are extremely popular and prolific Indian film singers and they also happen to be sisters. Between them they have recorded nearly 100,000 songs in over 20 different languages.11

  1. Martin Cloonan and Reebee Garofalo, Policing Pop, Temple University Press, US, 2003, based on data collected by Index on Censorship.
  2. Index on Censorship and Orange, Rebel hearts heed authority's words. indexonline
  3. UNESCO Institute of Statistics (UIS), International Flows on Selected Cultural Goods 1980-98
  4. US Federal Trade Commission, Statement of Chairman Robert Pitofsky and Commissioners Sheila F Anthony, Mozelle W Thompson, Orson Swindle, and Thomas B Leary, www.ftc.gov/os/2000/09/musicstatement.htm
  5. Curtis Lee Fulton, 'Record Labels Pirated American CD Customers Too', The Online Reporter, 11 October 2002, Issue 317, New York and London.
  6. Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and other industry groups as well as the Future of Music Coalition, Association for Independent Music and the American Federation of Musicians, Joint Statement on Current Issues in Radio
  7. US Commerce Committee hearing, Media Ownership: Radio Industry, 30 January 2003,
  8. Billboard Magazine, 13 April 2003.
  9. Steve Albini, The Problem with Music
  10. George Ziemann, 'RIAA's Statistics Don't Add Up to Piracy', Mac Wizards Music, 11 December 2002,
  11. Based on statistics mentioned in Broughton, Ellingham, Muddyman and Trillo, World Music: The Rough Guide, London, 1994 and estimates of recordings made since 1991.

New Internationalist issue 359 magazine cover This article is from the August 2003 issue of New Internationalist.
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