More often than not, Billy Corgan is in the headlines for something nutty he said. However, as an elder statesman of alt-rock, the Smashing Pumpkins frontman has been witness to a music industry which once awarded grunge bands with multi-million dollar record contracts, only to crash and burn, Hindenburg style, at the hands of digital convergence and the advent of streaming music services. And that’s given him perspective to say something pretty poignant.
During a recent appearance on CNBC’s Squawk Alley, Corgan perfectly articulated the state of the industry like few I’ve ever seen before, and he did so in under five minutes. “The music business is mostly run by feckless idiots, who do not subscribe to the normal tenets of capitalism … It’s run by thiefdoms, way behind the times technologically — the tech world is just blowing music out of the world — but music artists remain incredibly valuable to launch this, hence companies keep cycling back to music artists and music artists need to figure out their true value in a free-market society, which they’ve been slow to do because you have that old model of telling artists that they are not worth anything. They are disposable.”
Corgan also commented on Jay Z’s streaming music service TIDAL (“The problem is … it leaves a lot of people out”), and why MTV marked the tipping point for the industry’s downfall (“They let MTV build a network on their juice for free, but eventually [the network] kicked music off the channel and still called it MTV”).
He concluded, “The future of music is in brand identification, music will only be the lubricant to make the bigger deal. The old model of selling plastic is over.”
Watch the full interview below, which undoubtedly will leave you liking Corgan a little bit more — or, at least until the next time he appears on Alex Jones.