Author Frederick Pinto to discuss experiences, music industry, book on 'Writers Talk'
Published: Sunday, January 20, 2013
Updated: Monday, January 21, 2013 12:01
Some might say the entertainment industry is changing. Some labels take fewer risks, fewer bands become stars and what seemed like a thriving industry has recently begun to shrink. Or has it?
The changes have affected Frederick Pinto directly in his work as an entertainment industry lawyer and now as a self-published author. Pinto spoke with "Writer's Talk," a production of the Center for the Study and Teaching of Writing at Ohio State, about the entertainment industry and his experience as an author in an interview set to premiere Monday.
Pinto said his artist and music label clients used to come to him with hundred-thousand-dollar contracts to review, but technology start-ups have become the new normal in the entertainment industry.
"What is the most active segment of the market? It used to be record labels," Pinto said. "They would bank on a certain artist or they would launch an album and they would hope that it goes somewhere."
But the advent of the Internet changed that, he said. Artists can sell music directly through iTunes, Amazon, Bandcamp and their own websites. For example, "Gangnam Style" netted PSY more than $8.1 million from iTunes sales and YouTube ad revenue but only around $50,000 for CD sales in his home country of South Korea.
Pinto said the record labels see this change as a breakdown of the natural law and order.
"This shifting reality was something that it took the industry over a decade to come to terms with," he said. "Our industry has become dominated by money-hungry people -- artists that were in it just for the money. And what's happening now is that there's a kind of a flushing system, and it's pushing away all the people that were in it just for the money."
Cameron Chandler, a first-year in music education and member of OSU's Symphonic Band, said he sees this change as an expression of freedom.
"I don't see it as a rebellion against the music industry but people wanting to be independent with their music, wanting to make the sound more of their own," Chandler said. "Back in what I'd call the 'good old days,' the '60s, '70s, '80s, music was made because the music came to them.”Zach Slotta, a second-year in exploration and saxophonist in the OSU Jazz Lab Ensemble, said the music labels help artists.
"What the record industry is good at is making a product for the audience. If there was no big recording industry, I guess it would be hard to get the quality we have."
Pinto agrees and highlights some of the problems of the contemporary digital music industry in his new fiction novel, “The Sabbatical,” which released in July.The protagonist, Charles Barca, spends six years building an online music start-up and then falls victim to the investors that helped him build the company in a forced buyout.A real-world example of the storyline occurred about a month after the book’s release, when Jeff Price, the co-founder of TuneCore, an online music distribution project, was forced to leave the company he helped create.Pinto said Price’s experience was just a part of the requirements of capital associated with start-ups.
"In order to bring one of these start-ups into the big leagues, you really need to bring in some big money. And then you kind of enter a different reality," Pinto said. "A corporate reality where they impose all different kind of benchmarks, things which may or may not be realistic. And then eventually the (company’s) founder … ends up getting kicked out of his own company."
Pinto doesn't expect the instability of the music industry depicted in the book and in real life to go away for a long time.
"These major shock waves that are happening in our culture and within the institution, within the status quo," Pinto said. "I think there's an interest to try to continue seeing things the way they've already seen it. (But) there may be a new radical reality that's not going anywhere and we just have to adapt to it.”