News and Politics


Could it be that commercial radio is looking to befriend the independent artist? Apparently, amidst all the format-switching and auto-programming, Clear Channel and their kin have perhaps realized they’re falling behind where satellite is booming: playing good music.

The American Association Of Independent Music (A2IM), an organization representing independent music in the marketplace, has reached an agreement with four of the major radio outlets (CBS, Citadel, Clear Channel and Entercom), that requires 8,400 half-hour blocks of airtime to be dedicated to independent music. The A2IM’s “Rules of Engagement” marks the first step in setting an even bar for independent music on commercial radio.

This comes on the heels of New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer’s attack on the questionable relationship between major labels and commercial radio, as well as a recent agreement whereby radio giants would pay the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) $12.5 million in an effort to curb long-standing questionable practices that have been characterized as modern-day payola.


A2IM sent a letter to the FCC urging them to define the parameters between the four major labels (Universal, EMI, Sony BMG and Warner) and commercial radio. After a series of meetings and exchanges between A2IM, the FCC and the radio groups, the three have agreed on the conditions, jumpstarting a independent music campaign that will be led by A2IM, as well as the Future Of Music Coalition (FMC) and American Federation Of Television And Radio Artists (AFTRA), among others.

“This is for the entire music industry, not just for us,” explains Peter Gordon, A2IM board member and president of indie label Thirsty Ear. “It has been a fairly murky area for a number of years and without certainty, it can lend itself for certain individuals to take advantage of it. All we’ve done is create a foundation for a proper business relationship. What [independent labels] have is just as valid and just as exciting as everything else [commercial radio] is playing. And surprise surprise, we might even have better stuff.”

The “Rules Of Engagement” consist of eight guidelines, one of which forbids all cash and non-cash consideration made my labels to be reported to the FCC, who could not be reached by press time.

Source: cmj.com

Three years after it’s original release by the Norwegian record company Kirkelig Kulturverksted , the album “Lullabies From The Axis of Evil” is suddenly causing headlines in America.

The record, which borrows its name from President Bush’s speech where he referred to Iran, Iraq and South-Korea as the “Axis of evil”, consists of women from several eastern-European countries singing lullabies in their native language, and with English interpretations by such western artists as Nina Hagen, Eddi Reader and Eva Dahlgren. It has so far sold 10,000 copies in the U.S. since its release and gotten good reviews from The Washington Post and The Independent.

Eric Hillestad, the producer of the record, describes the 14-track album as forming musical bridges between the eastern and the west, since “lullabies are more sustain than the weapons of Bush and Al-Qadia”.

Despite these seemingly good intentions, this has not gone well with the Bush administration, resulting in them blacklisting the New York based label Valley Entertainment which distributes the album in the U.S.

Sample Mp3 from Valley Entertainment:
“Stars Are Rising” – Sun Ju Lee, North Korea / Eddi Reader, Scotland

Lovedrug is a band from my hometown, so this is blatant promotion for them. I love them all dearly and Michael had some amazing points about stealing and dowloading mp3’s.

Their new album “Everything Starts Where It Ends” out March 6th on The Militia Group

photo by: Glen Hentz

Taken from their myspace blog:

I’d thought I’d take a moment to address the blog I made a week or so ago about downloading/cd copying. Honestly, it was a bit of a vent for me. I was/am a little frustrated because I was just recently made aware that not only did our record “leak” onto the internet but that there were also a frightening number of people out there trying to download it illegally. I made an emotional outburst that was not intended as an equivocal statement and, more importantly, not an attack against the fans of this band. The very idea of being able to create songs or do something that is so very personal and have so many respond to it, feel it, and enjoy it with us is a life worth leading that I am honestly still baffled over being a part of. However, it is that very integral love and passion for what we do that drives me to care about the fashion in which it is received. And given the response that followed my previous post on the downloading issue, I thought it should take a moment to explain my thoughts and feelings further and with a bit more clarity.

Yes, I do in fact feel that illegal downloading and cd copying is bad. The reason is simple: it damages the artist and the art. It also damages the system that we use to release our music; which to some probably seems like a good thing… you know “down with corporate” and so on.. but there is much more to it than that. Many people do not have the knowledge that should be made readily available to truly understand how this affects musicians, songwriters and artists alike. Apart from simply being illegal, I feel that this is a horrible trend for music in general; but that’s not to say I don’t understand it. Regardless of Lovedrug’s, or my own personal interest, it just seems wrong to steal something that you claim to care about. Here are few reasons why I feel this way:

It Doesn’t Just Hurt Labels

Many people believe that downloading/copying doesn’t hurt the artist. There have been a plethora of statements about how artist only get 40 cents per cd, recording contracts giving the bulk of all money to the labels, artists never seeing royalties… etc. There are a number of reasons why these assertions are now only partially accurate.

The truth is that in many ways that USED to be true. Rampant music theft only injured the labels at first when it became prominent in the late 90’s (Napster and the beginnings of cd-burner ubiquity) but as the affect of that has taken its toll on the labels, the damage has been passed on to the music community as a whole and now to artists directly.

Essentially, labels are only as motivated to spend money on artists to the extent that they can make their investment worthwhile. And now, with downloading becoming the norm… the investors look on with more and more trepidation. So they don’t just hand out cash to bands anymore, they don’t give real tour support anymore, they don’t push as hard for radio, etc, because they simply can’t afford to. And I’m not just talking about the generally misunderstood “evil” major labels, this is independent labels as well. It is all too apparent that the corporate motto is simply becoming “do the work, do it yourself, make it work, and then we’ll take over”. And in battling forward to still accomplish our goals, in fact, Lovedrug has fronted the money for each and every EP and LP we’ve ever released. So you can understand my frustration over comments from people naïve enough to accuse me of being “just in it for the money” or “trying to be the next Metallica”. There is simply no comparison. In a system that feels just fine about saving the rich and starving the poor, you cant possibly imagine how it hurts to hear comments telling me that I don’t care about the fans.

Stealing Is Ok Because Music Is Too Expensive?

Many complain about the price of music and use that to justify stealing it. First of all, let it be known that Lovedrug fights desperately against the money machine to get the price of our albums to be as affordable as possible. And I cannot possibly begin to explain how difficult and gut wrenching this fight is. There are stores and corporations that literally make it impossible to lower CD prices…but still we try every time we put out a release. You can expect our new record to be on special sale for $9.99 or less at Target, Best Buy, and numerous other outlets. Our cds have also NEVER been more than $12 (including free shipping) from our website. Clearly it is hard to compete with FREE, which is what stealing costs, but is a full album of music for under $10 really too expensive? I hope that it is not.

Also, something very important that I want to clarify is that I am not saying don’t download, I am saying don’t ILLEGALLY download. There’s a huge difference. The internet is a wonderful tool for making the things we love more readily available and I am all about that. If downloading is your thing then please by all means do that. But please do so through a legal site such as itunes or Emusic. We have also provided a lot of places for anyone who would like to sample our music before they buy. Between free downloads that we provide, streams, and videos, we have made samples from the ENTIRE new LP available through our website, myspace, purevolume, ecard, and similar outlets. You don’t need to download illegal and poor quality MP3s to sample our music. Then, if you like it, buy it. Simple. The same is true of virtually every new band out there.

Music VS the Business

Please understand, I LOVE music. I LOVE creating music. And as soon as I recorded an album and wanted to put it out there for all to hear many years ago, I entered into a world that is infamously known as “the music business”. I had no idea what awaited me. Honestly, if I could take the business out of music I would. I don’t do this for money. If money was my objective I would have stayed in school and got a steady paying job. But I chose to play music because it moves me in ways that are simply indescribable. No label or publisher can buy or sell that feeling.

We are all music lovers. And as someone who is involved deeply in it I feel it’s my duty to stand up and say “wait a minute!” when I see something that arises and attacks what makes it possible for musicians everywhere to do what they do. In the end, will it stop us from writing music? No. We will always create music, because we love it. But we want to continue to grow and share our love with all.

Finally, Artistic Reasons

If I could draw this analogy; a painter works on his beloved work of art for four years and finally finishes it. Many of the townsfolk are anxious to see it and the artist can’t wait to reveal his work to the world. He prepares it for display in a beautiful hall of his choosing where all can come and not only view the beauty of the painting but also feel the emotional journey of turmoil and joy that the artist poured into its conception because of that atmosphere. Admission is 5 pence. Then one of the townsfolk sneaks in a camera and snaps a secret picture of the masterwork, which he copies in poor quality and hands out across the countryside. Even though the artists’ masterpiece reaches farther corners of the land and he achieves more notoriety because of this portable copy’s travels, the meaning and its original intended beauty are lost.

The bottom line is that as artists we appreciate you (the music lovers) more than you know. We want to share our music with everyone, a sentiment I assume virtually all other artists share. For the sake of music out there by all do I say this. And we simply ask that you help the cause and share this knowledge, for the sake of all music out there that you love.

Warmest Regards,
Michael Shepard of LOVEDRUG