Featured Artists' Coalition & Weird Al- taking control

by Jason Gross

7 October 2008


Radiohead, Iron Maiden, Billy Bragg and Kate Nash wouldn’t seem to have much in common except their Brit connection but they’re banding together with Bryan Ferry, David Gilmore, the Verve and others to form Featured Artists’ Coalition, a collective that claims that it’ll empower musicians more by letting them keep control of their music- see this BBC article for more details.  In theory, it’s a great idea and the labels have to play nice (or appear to) and there is the idea that there’s strength in numbers.  But it’s another thing to put it into practice.  How much are all of these artists really going to band together (so to speak)?  They have different outlooks, interests, motivations and schedules so it’s hard to imagine that other than symbolically, they’d all stay on the same page.  I wish ‘em luck and hope that more artists join and maybe they could even come up with their own bill of rights for musicians.

But one guy who puts his modem (or high-speed) where his mouth is happens to be a novelty artist.  That’s the reason that some people might not take Weird Al seriously, especially when he jokes around all the time but he does take his career seriously.  That’s why he’s said in his MySpace blog that he’s putting out music whenever he feels like instead of holding back a bunch of tracks for an album.  Even he admits that his humor’s timely, tied to recent hits, so it only makes sense for him to just pop out songs when he things they’re ready- the most recent one is a bite on T.I.‘s hit “Whatever You Like.”

He’s hardly unique in doing this- garage/punk screamer Jay Reatrard did it recently himself as did Nine Inch Nails when they surprised everyone with two back-to-back albums recently too.  But few artists have made a point of doing it in the Net age that would and should ideally open up the idea of thinking of new, creative ways to put out music, including doing it more frequently, in different lengthed formats (singles, albums, EPs).  No doubt you’ll be seeing more of it and not just from a funny man like Al.

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