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by Marty Thau, [July 8, 2002]





[]  Michael "the self proclaimed King of Pop" Jackson has a complaint to make, and when he does, people listen. Online journals like the Drudge Report print Jacko's issues as their lead story, and crapmeister rags like the New York Post (always looking for dirt on anyone, and one step up from the gutter) foam at the mouth and can't wait to further discredit the now pathetic megalomaniac singer who won't accept the fact that these days most consider him to be an irrelevant freak show.

With Jackson we want blood because he has been so transparent and disingenuous, from his staged marriage to Lisa Marie Presley, to his denials of any misconduct with young boys. But Jackson still sells in the low millions, still has fans and is kinda Howard Hughes-ish, and can't be totally written off.  If he never released another CD, or never toured again, there would be no need for a Wacko Benefit. Among other things, Jackson owns the Beatles Publishing catalog. Have any idea what that alone is worth? Upwards of half billion dollars, as a very educated guess.

Anyway, today let's all be good Christians and hear what the "once great always great" music man has to say. (And he was great at one time, wouldn't you say?) Whatever Jackson is these days, be it closet gay, recalcitrant pedophile, knight in rusted armor out to save the record business, or classic great sorta out of shape, let's analyze his anti-music biz complaint very closely and be fair to him, and to Sony Music, too.

This is what it's about: Jackson believes Sony Music, his label, has sabotaged his latest CD, Invincible, by mishandling its promotion. And to take it one step further, Jackson has called Sony chieftan Tommy Mottola a racist. If that's not bad enough, the esteemed Rev. Al Sharpton is right there in the middle of the fray, guns drawn and ready to stir some shit.

Sony says they've spent an estimated $25 million promoting Invincible and called Jackson's accusations "ludicrous, spiteful and hurtful."





Right there is lie number one -- record companies are never "hurt." They'll do anything and not think twice about who it hurts if it makes money for them. Major record companies do not have feelings. They are cold-hearted scumbags. Blood does not flow through the veins of record company pigs.

I wonder if this is about Jackson wanting to start over at some other label, and this is his way of escaping his contract with Sony. I wonder if Sony want to rid themselves of Jackson's heavy duty contract and have actually sabotaged his recording in order to get Jackson to request a release and settle with them. These are possibilities. We're talking about Michael Jackson here. We're talking mucho bucks and financial strategy and public image. It's big-time scumbag business.

Now back to the racism factor.

I'm in the midst of a "racial argument" with Sony myself, which leads me to believe that racism, of sorts, just might be somewhat of a reality at Sony. The kind of racism Sony might be guilty of is "unconscious and insensitive racism." They don't wanna be racist, they don't think they are racist, but they're too removed from the real world to realize that that is exactly what they are.

Example: Heineken USA, Inc., the Dutch beer folks, decided to market their beer through music CDs. They formed a label, struck a distribution deal with Sony's Epic Records division, and decided to call themselves Red Star Records.

Now, my company is Red Star Records, and has been for 25 years. Yet Heineken is trying to steal my company name because I failed to trademark it in 1977. They know without any doubt I've been Red Star for 25 years, but that doesn't matter. They want the name because their beer bottles have a red star on the label, and that's enough reason to steal my name and not think twice about who it might "hurt." Heineken even tried to persuade me that since they are a "non-profit music initiative designed to benefit urban musicians" I should, in essence, give up my company name and go along with the program, because it would be the righteous thing to do. Such bullshit!





What does this have to do with racism? Well, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that Heineken wants to sell more beer to blacks, but under the false pretense of their "non-profit music initiative to aid urban musicians" they are actually degrading blacks. For one, blacks don't seem to have any difficulty getting their urban music across. They ARE urban music! If Heineken really wants to help needy people, they can donate computers to poor schools in Detroit, or Philly, or in Africa, for that matter.

Both situations, mine and Jackson's, are about "unconscious racism." I don't know what Jackson will get out of this, or if he'll be able to prove racism. It seems, though, he's through at Sony. Probably Warners, or BMG, or one of the few remaining other major scumbags are waiting to pounce on Jackson and give him $75 million, or more.

Bottom line: The record business needs a complete overhauling. Its artist contracts are one sided and incredibly unfair, its musical offerings are stale and cater to the lowest common denominator crowd with some rare exceptions. The extremes are left as crumbs for the indies to fight over. As Don Henley recently said: "the record business has a 90% failure rate; it's the 10% that make the season." I say this: any business that fails 90% of the time should be closed down.

Don't underestimate Jackson. He'll be back.

But if I may offer some advice: Michael, get someone to handle your PR. You're much too much of a megalomaniac to do it yourself ... and pay attention to the new musicians coming up. They're outstripping you by miles. Join the party. And last, but not least, come out of the closet.

Copyright © 2002 by Marty Thau


Marty Thau writes for Tres Producers. His email:

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