It's a jungle sometimes

The music industry, the crisis and the state

Dave Harker, Manchester

Additions and corrections are most welcome, particularly from non-anglophone sources


Many writers about popular music were greatly affected by the collapse of the Stalinist regimes after 1989, and some now believe that class society will remain with us indefinitely. 'Advocates of radical media messages from the revolutionary masses', apparently, 'must acknowledge, as never before how far "the people" may be from such consciousness'. According to this perspective the 'internationalisation of capitalism' is a historically new phenomenon and has to do with the 'decline of Leninist communism', as well as calling into question the 'notion of the nation-state'.

[1] All that self-styled 'radical' intellectuals can do is to look for ways of making capitalist social relations work less oppressively.They have two main capitalist perspectives to choose from, the 'classical'approach - deriving from Adam Smith - and the Keynesian.

The 'classical' approach suggests that slumps are not only useful but, if we are to have booms, inevitable. Slumps clear out 'inefficient capital', 'free' the labour market, encourage the re-organisation of industry, foster research, make possible the wholesale application of new technology and the reskilling of the workforce and reward the application of entrepreneurial skills, thus raising society's overall wealth. In this perspective, the market is always there, and all the state has to do is set up an appropriate body of company law. The market's 'hidden hand' will do the rest. The Keynesian perspective also encourages the introduction of new technology, but looks forward to programmes of genteel political lobbying at national and international levels. In this perspective the market will be created, and the state's job is to pass domestic laws to weaken trade unionism and guarantee the protection of property rights, while internationally it negotiates the 'harmonisation' of copyright law and 'free-trade' agreements. The market must be regulated. In the later 1990s such faith in a capitalist solution seems utopian, so what actually happened?

1. The crash of '79 and its consequences

(a) All shook up: 1978-1981

In reality there has never been a 'free' market in commoditised popular music. Up to 1974, half the US domestic market for recorded music was controlled by CBS and Warner, and under 10% was outside the control of these or other 'majors'. So early as 1970, CBS owned at least eleven labels in its Records Division. Fender guitars, basses and amplifiers were part of Columbia's Musical instruments Division; and Columbia owned seven big radio stations (each with AM and FM) and had 237 affiliated stations around the country.

[2] But by 1978 the 'world' market-leaders were based in Europe and not the USA: annual sales by both PolyGram and EMI had topped $1 billion and CBS Records Group was only in a strong third position with sales of $946 million.[3] However, the domestic markets which mattered most - the USA, Japan, the UK, the Federal Republic of Germany and France - were no longer large enough for their local majors, which now became increasingly reliant on exports. In the mid-1980s, EMI had 32 subsidiaries in 29 countries and 28 licencees in as many countries, while PolyGram had 48 operations in 30 countries and a total of 182 other companies working for them as licencees in most parts of the world.

There were serious risks involved in overseas investments, especially during slumps. When the huge US domestic market began to contract EMI's US subsidiary made an $8 million loss. Heads rolled, but the parent company's continued dependence on a roster of rather highly-paid and worryingly ageing individuals, its expensive world-wide organisation, plus a serious cash-flow problem meant that in 1979 EMI's profits sank to a mere 0.4%, one-thirtieth of what they had been in 1972, in spite of its 10% share of the US domestic market.

[4] This made EMI highly vulnerable to take-over, yet it was absorbed for the equivalent of $348 million not by another music industry major but by the UK-based Thorn Electrical Industries, a conglomerate with interests in consumer electronics, white goods, television-rental and government 'defense' contracts.

Size in the international music industry was now crucial, and the tendency was towards fewer and larger concentrations of capital. EMI paid 23.5 million for Screen Gems/Columbia. Gulf and Western purchased Stax Records. Transcom established itself as the leading US rack-jobber before buying MGM Records. ABC was bought by MCA, which also took over ABC-Dunhill, and Arista was bought by the Germany-based Bertelsmann company, Ariola-Eurodisc. Thorn-EMI made an agreement with Japan-based JVC and bought Liberty Records and United Artist Records. PolyGram secured Decca's chunk of the UK domestic market and bought the second half of Casablanca. Consequently, by 1980 there were only five major record companies based in the USA - CBS, Warner, RCA, Capitol-EMI and MCA - all pushing for increased market-share to justify their enormous pre-slump investments, but with a collective strangelhold over domestic record-manufacture and distribution.

Top of document(b) Bumping along the botttom: the mid-1980s

If the majors were to survive and increase market-share in an upturn they had to prepare themselves during the slump. As ever, workers paid: in 1982-84 there were losses, industrial disputes and mass sackings by Polydor in India.

[5] The risks were now so high that, as the slump eased, the increased pressures of international competition led the majors to think of large-scale cooperation. In the USA, Warner and PolyGram planned to merge their recorded music interests, since PolyGram took a $200 million loss trying to buy its way into the US market whereas Warner was still flush with profits from its Atari subsidiary. Had the nature of capitalism changed? Had a 'global' economy taken control completely out of the hands of domestic ones? In fact the German Cartel Office and the US Federal Trade Commission were very closely involved. Other majors began to take appropriate precautions. RCA, for example, (which had earlier acquired a half share in the US operation of the Bertelsmann-owned Arista Records) merged its record, music publishing and music video interests with those of Ariola-Eurodisc. Again, this dash for 'synergy' came at the workers' expense: in 1980-86 CBS sacked three hundred workers, closed nine sales branches and chopped its overseas workforce from 17,160 to 10,110.[6] MCA 'let go' of all but five of its forty-six contracted acts and unloaded 4.7 million 'cut outs' of acts so famous as Elton John. But in spite of all this, US-based majors' profits remained chronically low by their own standards, at $200 million on a turnover of $4.5 billion, or just over 4.4%, and in 1985 four of the US-based majors made a loss or scraped a bare profit.

In the UK, a traditionally exporting industry became significantly reliant on imports. Between 1977-82 annual UK imports of singles exceeded exports by as many as twelve million units. From 1980, UK imports of albums began regularly to exceed exports, doubling a net deficit of 8.4 million units in 1980 to one of 16.9 million in 1985. (Ironically, only vinyl-pressing-plants remained profitable, since they supplied the poorer parts of the 'world' market.) Yet while the return on capital employed by UK-based record- and tape-producers rose from 6% in 1980-81 to 36% in 1981-82, between 1978-82 no major UK record company made a profit in the domestic market.

[7] Yet again, workers paid: in 1980 there were estimated to be 10,700 people working in the UK music industry, but by 1984 there were only 8,002, and of the 2,698 jobs lost 2,200 went from manufacturing and distribution but only 498 from marketing and administration. And for all this, at least until 1984, the UK market was 'declining in both volume and value'. Moreover, the character of that market was changing fast. By 1985, 95% of all UK-based manufacturing and distributive capacity was in the hands of majors who had the power to cut retailers' average credit period from one hundred days to sixty. In turn, this policy tended to push up the 'stock turnover ratio' (how much is sold in a year, compared to how much is held in stock) by over 50%,[8] benefitting retail chains which achieved the largest volumes, but undermining the profits of the rest. Capital was concentrating here, too.

Top of document (c) Scratching vinyl

Developments in playback technology had happened often enough before the 1980s, but the adoption of a new format could be painfully slow. EMI issued its last new 78rpm record in the UK domestic market in 1960 and by by 1962 the company had withdrawn all 78s from its catalogue, but 106,000 78s were still being produced in the UK in 1970. In the USA there had also been consumer-resistance. 'Because of a simple lack of money, the black record audience was slower to make this switch than the white', and 'as late as 1956, rhythm and blues records were still sold in the black community as shellac-based 78s'.

[9] New formats sometimes failed: production of tape cartridges began in the UK in 1967 and peaked in 1974, but by 1979 thy were extinct. Sometimes events in the world economy in general played a crucial part: cassette-production began in the UK in 1967, but in spite of the fact that tape-manufacture, like that of vinyl, was based on oil, the 1973-4 'oil crisis' provided a convenient cover for phasing out vinyl. Technological development obviously also remained crucial: in 1980 the Sony Walkman quickly sold five million units and consolidated the market for cassettes. US cassette sales rose undramatically until 1988, when they outpaced those for vinyl LPs, though cassette sales in the UK domestic market had overtaken LP sales three years before. UK production and sales of vinyl LPs peaked in 1978 and vinyl singles sales in 1979, so by 1985 every seven-inch single lost five pence and every twelve-inch single lost seven pence, but 'pop' LPs produced fifteen pence profit while cassette albums made thirty-one pence.[10]

There was no guarantee that the next format under development, the CD, would succeed, even though a massive investment had to be recouped. Philips proceeded cautiously: CD technology was available in 1982 only in Japan and went on the market in the USA, the UK, the Netherlands, France and the Federal Republic of Germany in 1983. What made the launch less worrying was that only one 'software' pressing-plant was on stream, in Hanover, and for a time this monopoly gave Philips enormous profits. (The earliest manufacturing plants outside Hanover were in Japan, the USA and - by 1985 - the UK.) Even so, the CD format met with consumer-resistance. For example, in 1984 the UK had the highest household figures in Europe for access to a tape-recorder - 77% - and in 1985 there were an estimated three million hi-fi systems in UK homes.[11] So while CD-players were on the UK market in March 1983 and only 19,000 units had been sold by the end of the year with a further 33,000 in 1984, the price came down from around 500 in 1983 to about 200 in 1985.[12] UK market research then suggested that CDs were for actual or would-be 'yuppies', cassettes were mainly for the over-35s, while vinyl albums were for the youth and the poor. CDs were selling to a minority of affluent males, typically aged 20-24, and largely in the then-booming South-East of England, together with better-off people in the 25-34 age-group across the country. According to BPI, as many CD units were sold to the members of the Registrar General's social categories A and B as those in C and D, even though the latter groups contained twice as many people as the former. The market was splitting on a class basis.

Top of document (d) Corporate nationality and international capitalism: the later 1980s

The question of nationalism versus internationalism in the music business became problematical. What was 'US' about Warner's 1988 sales of $2 billion? What was there of 'Japan' in CBS's sales of $2 billion? In what sense were PolyGram's sales of $1.7 billion 'Dutch', or BMG's $1.5 billion sales 'German'? What was there about EMI's $1.2 billion sales which was 'British'? A few artists - people like Bob Dylan with 'Union Sundown' and Slow Train Coming', Bruce Springsteen's in 'My Home Town', and Leonard Cohen on 'Coming Back to You' and 'Tower of Song' - were aware something was going on. But amongst academics only born-again market-internationalists seemed to care,[13] and not many US citizens saw any of the profits from RCA's $644 million sales and not many Brits benefitted from Virgin's sales of $255 million or Chrysalis's sales of 137 million. Did it matter which passport Branson held, or whether he was sitting in the UK, in the Bahamas or in his jet when the deal went through to buy back control of Virgin for 248 million in 1989, or when he sold a quarter of the business for 100 million later?[14]

The country of manufacture began to split from that of distribution: between 1978-85 the total productive capacity of UK pressing-plants had declined from 250 million units to 150 million, so the UK was unable to meet any large upturn in retail sales, especially in the CD format. A chunk of EMI's 1982-83 profits came from selling-off manufacturing plants in Scandinavia and maintaining regional production with forty (rather than the original one hundred and twenty) workers at its remaining Swedish plant, yet by 1984 EMI shared 70% of UK disc-pressing-plant capacity with two other majors - CBS and PolyGram - and these three companies also controlled 35% of cassette-duplication facilities.[15] Their main aim, after slashing the workforce by five thousand people in 1978-83,[16] was to keep their distribution 'pipelines' full at whatever price, including 'offering dealers boxes of albums by major stars - the number of free copies depended on the chart position achieved by the singles being promoted.[17] Around ten million recordings were imported into the UK in 1985, but this did not trouble the majors since manufacturing produced relatively low profits.

Even so, when the deep slump eased the situation of most majors remained perilous, and the only solution seemed to be further conglomeration. RCA was bought by General Electric, and then part of it was sold (along with half of Arista Records) to Bertelsmann, now trading as BMG. In 1988, Sony agreed to a hiked price of $2 billion for CBS, virtually guaranteeing a slice of the US domestic market and the additional returns from Japan and Western Europe, though it seems unlikely that 10% profits on a turnover of $1 billion was the main attraction. (At that rate, even at constant values, it would take Sony twenty years to break even, and the future productivity of many artists was limited: Bob Dylan, for example, was already approaching fifty.) In the longer term Sony stood to benefit not only from economies of scale and from vertical integration but also from massive 'invisible' earnings from copyright-ownership - 'back-catalogue'.

The relative importance of recorded music-sales inside such monsters' portfolios and balance-sheets lessened. Before the take-over, EMI's music sales had been half of their business, but by 1982 they were only 18% of Thorn's total.[18] By 1992, music sales represented only 28% of the turnover of Thorn-EMI, 25% of Time-Warner's, 21% of BMG's, and only 11% of Sony's, 10% of Philips' and 8% of Matsushita's.[19] Was the market now irretrievably 'global'? From the workers' point of view, the geographical location of an employer's Head Office didn't make a great deal of difference when PolyGram closed its UK plant at Chadwell Heath and moved CD software-production to Hanover, or when Warner/WEA shut its major UK factory at West Drayton in 1988. In 1987-89, when the slump was supposed to be over, another thousand jobs were 'lost' from manufacturing and distribution in the UK, while eight hundred were 'created' in marketing and administration, mainly because the copyrighting, distribution and retail sales of CD software were becoming more profitable, irrespective of where the units were manufactured.

Top of document (e) Heavy networks

The majors' general strategy also had effects on their attitude towards 'independents'. According to EMI's Roger Lyttleton:

What the independents can do, often better than us, is produce extremely sound marketable material. I think there's room in the world for both of us. But, as has happened over the past five years, they won't be able to attain total independence. We'll see creative satellite companies being born, retaining their artistic integrity, but using the larger companies for distribution. I don't think anybody can distribute records from scratch, on a world-wide basis, more efficiently than the large multinationals can. We've been doing it for a long, long time, and we've built up heavy networks.[20]

The idea of genuinely independent distribution was effectively dead, and the majors now had a virtual strangle-hold over the production-consumption process in the major domestic markets. The majors also gave some thought to product-distribution and to retailing. In 1966 UK shops could get three deliveries a day, but in 1974 that went down to two a week, with a surcharge on all orders of under 75. At around the same time big UK retailers such as Boots and Woolworths entered the record-selling business, putting pressure on smaller shops and smaller chains. During the mid-1980s, Pinnacle - a sizeable company which specialised in the distribution of records by 'independent' labels - crashed. One week later, so did IDS. On the other hand, Record Merchandising (jointly-owned by EMI and PolyGram) now distributed between 15% and 20% of all records in the UK in 1985, and Laren For Music controlled no less than 60% of the UK juke-box market, representing 24,000 boxes of singles a week, or 10% of the UK singles market.

The slump may also have helped to bring about a change in retail purchase patterns. In the UK domestic market average expenditure rose from 1983 to 1988 (though it still had not reached 1974 levels), and what mattered now were not singles, whose sales' value halved in 1984-89, but albums. Between 1984-89 the value of the UK album market doubled to 1bn and 150.4 million units were imported from overseas manufacturers, over 53 million of which were CDs. By 1988, UK singles imports also exceeded exports, and more cassette albums were being made than vinyl LPs. However, the value of CD album sales in the UK outstripped that for vinyl albums in 1988, and in 1989 they exceeded those for cassette albums, as well as selling more units than LPs. So the tight control over CD technology, plus the concentration of capital helped drive 'inefficient' vinyl-record plant, equipment and workers to the wall, but it also threatened the fixed capital and jobs in cassette-manufacture. In 1988 EMI had a base in thirty-seven countries, but manufacturing was concentrated in one place in each region;[21] and fears about this degree of concentration seeming boring to young people led an even larger conglomerate, PolyGram, to issue recordings on eighty-two different labels in 1990 so as to give the effect of diversification - perhaps even of 'independence'.

Top of document 2. Sh-boom? - the early 1990s

(a) The UK market

Oligopoly was not new in the UK domestic market. In 1984-89 only six companies - EMI, Virgin, PolyGram, CBS, WEA and BMG - collectively increased their market-share of singles' sales from a low of 63% to 70% and their album market-share from 61% to 73%. What changed were the proportions taken by each conglomerate, and the most noticeable slippage occured in the share taken by those with head offices in the USA. Between 1984-89 that share had halved from 39% to 19.7%, and then almost halved again to 10.9% in 1993. Conglomerates with head offices in Europe, notably Polygram, took up most of the slack, but Sony and MCA (who had taken 2% of the UK domestic market in 1984) reached 13% in 1989 and 17% in 1993. For all that, by 1993, with exports worth almost 1.6 billion, the UK-based music industry was as important to the UK economy as the steel business, yet most net earnings came from 'invisibles': 222 million from royalties, 146 million from music publishing, 73 million from musical theatre and other factors, 54 million from performance income but only 101 million from software-sales.

By the early 1990s, most so-called 'independent' production companies in the UK were either wholly owned or controlled by a major. In 1992 five giant corporations controlled the production and manufacture of around three-quarters of all singles and albums available in the UK domestic market. For a time, the business was increasingly profitable: for every worker employed in the UK music business in 1984 there were retail sales to the value of 69,000; in 1988 that figure had risen to nearly 123,000 and by 1992 it stood at over 154,000. The capital concentration and jobs massacre of the 1980s was paying enormous dividends. The largest domestic major was Thorn-EMI, which had 50,000 employees, a Stock Exchange valuation of 3.9 billion and the Queens' Award to Industry for pushing up its exports from 38 million to 70 million in 1991-93. In 1992, Virgin had been sold to Thorn-EMI for $560 million; and, after paying off 50 million of Virgin debts, sacking 450 out of 1200 staff and cutting the artist roster almost in half, the EMI Division alone was now valued at between 2.5 and 3 billion, and was on a par with majors such as PolyGram and Time-Warner. Yet while Thorn-EMI/Virgin still held on to the bulk of the 35% of the UK domestic market share controlled by companies with UK head offices, most of its sales income came from subsidiaries overseas. A managing director in London admitted that investments were 'so high that we wouldn't dream of existing on UK sales alone. We have to have international sales. I have to think globally all the time'.[22]

Other political factors were also at work. Thorn-EMI's long-term connections to the UK state through war-related technology meant that its major problem was the collapse of the Soviet Bloc and the ensuing 'peace dividend'. Thorn-EMI rapidly divested itself of arms-related businesses, but it also used the opportunity to restructure its music interests: in 1995 the 'Music for pleasure' division was shut down, giving one hour's notice to staff who had worked there for twenty years, and the closure was announced of its Rumbelows electronics-retailing chain, at a cost of 2,900 jobs and 116 million in redundancy pay. Four days later the company announced profits up by 40%, to 343 million, a UK Stock Exchange valuation of 4.4 billion and a workforce of 34,570. EMI Music alone made profits of 252 million, up 19% on the previous year, yet a number of artists who had asked 'too much' for the renewal of their contracts had been let go. The head of the EMI division, Jim Fifield, was evidently not asking for too much: profits from his division represented a return of 15%-17%, compared to Thorn-EMI's overall rate of 12%, and he had a basic wage of 2.1 million a year and a total earnings package of 13 million, making him the second highest-paid executive in the entire UK domestic economy. However, the strategic problem here was that the conglomerate was becoming dependent on its star division.

Top of document (b) Heard it on the 'pipeline'?

By 1993, almost 97% of all singles and 91% of all albums in the UK domestic market passed through the distribution 'pipelines' of six companies' - PolyGram, RCA/BMG, WEA/Warner Music, CBS/Sony Music, Thorn-EMI and the 'independent' specialist, Pinnacle. PRT, which distributed nearly 9% of singles in 1986 and Cartel which distributed 7% of singles in 1988 had been squeezed out by 1989, as had virtually every bit of competition for the distribution of albums. The majors exercised further control over retaling through credit-restrictions and by arbitrary measures such as the withdrawal of EMI's record-token without any consultation with the six hundred 'independent' retailers to whom it had been an important source of income. Profits were high: even in the mid-1980s Virgin had expected to recoup the costs of a shop in two to three years and Our Price was getting a 40% return,[23] but in 1988 W H Smith bought the Our Price chain followed by most of Virgin's shops in 1989. This conglomerate retailed around one in five of all singles, one in four vinyl albums and better than one out of four cassette albums. By 1990 W H Smith sold 30% of all albums in the UK and together with Woolworths and HMV sold 54% of all singles, 55% of all full-priced vinyl albums, 49% of all cassette albums and 45% of all CD albums. A company the size of Boots had been virtually squeezed out of this market.

As the next recession began to bite W H Smith's strategy to retain market-share was paid for not by shareholders but, as ever, by employees. The rate of exploitation quadrupled in 1980-92. In 1994 W H Smiths' Stock Exchange valuation stood at 1.6 billion and it employed 30,000 people, but three-fifths of them were part-time and nobody's job was secure. Six hundred shop managers were replaced by 'customer service leaders' plus a further four hundred part-time sales' assistants. In other words, currently-employed staff were to contribute 2.4 million a year in lost wages to their employer for the privilege of hanging on to a worse job and so cover the 6 million redundancy costs of those former colleagues who wouldn't accept such exploitation. Even this was not to be the end of the workers' misery: the severity of the downturn in retail-spending led to a lower Stock Exchange valuation of only 1.3 billion, to the closure of forty W H Smith branches and to the insecurity brought about by the planned joint-venture with Virgin, which was aimed at securing 28% of all music sales.

Far from the concentration of retailing capital given greater consumer choice, as ever it gave less: in 1988-93 the oligopoly which controlled UK record-production and manufacture cut new releases of seven-inch singles from 3,120 to 1,826, of vinyl albums from 5,631 to 2,087 and cassette albums (after a peak of 6,055 in 1990) to 4,884. They simply forgot about their previous interest in three-inch CDs, but doubled new releases in the five-inch CD format from 4,767 to 10,686 in 1988-93. Given that customers are not free to buy (legally) something that is not stocked in the capitalist market-place, they had either to choose what little new and interesting material got through or give up shopping altogether. Unsurprisingly, in 1988-92 the proportion of UK spending on recorded music went down by 20%, and though there was a slight upturn in 1993 it could hardly be accounted for by wider consumer choice.

What was happening in the USA was remarkably similar. So far back as 1977 both CBS and RCA had drawn half their sales from their international divisions (Garofalo 1993:19), but as the early 1990s slump looked set to ease five of the six majors in the US domestic market were owned by overseas corporations, three based in Europe and two in Japan. The sizes of the capitals involved, the concentration of ownership, the diversification within conglomerates, the levels of investment in new technology and the shareholders' heightened expectations made the majors more vulnerable than ever. Moreover, problems of profitability at the consumer electronics end of the market were linked to those at the software end, inside and outside the US domestic industry. With another downturn threatening and with every major music conglomerate trying to be active in at least every major domestic market world-wide, whatever one corporation did affected every other, inside and outside US borders. In 1991, BASF closed a tape-manufacturing plant in the USA, Sony made its first-ever trading loss of 86 million and worried about its huge investment in MD technology, and profits at Hitachi, Toshiba and Pioneer also fell. MCA bought Geffen, but was then bought by Matsushita for over $6 billion, and Bang & Olufsen held the US domestic market accountable for what then looked like its impending bankruptcy.

The tendency towards oligopoly continued. In 1992, Philips bought one-third of Grundig and then delivered a fall in profits, the loss of 15,000 jobs, and the promise of 4,000 more redundancies. Philips made a return to profitability in 1993, but as this came partly from the sale of subsidiary companies, like its part of a company jointly-owned with Matsushita, and from the sale of shares in its own highly-profitable PolyGram division, which reputedly made 50% profit from its CD technology. At Time-Warner nobody was safe: the Board was cut from twenty-one to twelve, and both NEC and Sony managers agreed to a pay-cut. Meanwhile, Toshiba was steadily buying-into Time-Warner, which in turn mopped up the largest record company in Finland (Gronow 1995:48). The search for a safe home for massive chunks of capital encouraged the majors to look outside the music industry: the US domestic music business had not yet fully recovered from a ten-year slump when money from Japan-based corporations went into Hollywood.

Inside the music industry the stakes were now enormous. MTV was a particularly rich prize because it had links with 204 million homes in forty-one countries and the potential to reach into the millions of homes in the other one hundred and forty countries without the need for terrestrial infrastructure and with little opportunity for state interference, and so bidding in the take-over battle involving Viacom, owner of MTV, started at $8.2 billion and rose to over $10 billion. Ironically, Viacom acquired Paramount, not the reverse. Somewhat down-market, the concentration continued: PolyGram gobbled up Motown for $300 million. But the pressure to keep up a high rate of profit on such enormous lumps of capital got harder, and this may explain some of the joint-ventures, divestments and diversifications which took place in the mid-1990s. Time-Warner bought Cablevision Industries for $2.6 billion to add to Houston Industries, for which it had paid $2.2 billion a month before, and even considered selling its stake in the Warner/Chappell music division for $3 billion to ease the overall debt of $15 billion and to help satisfy shareholders. Yet though Warner Music brought in revenues of $4 billion, its Chairman's reward was the sack. In 1995, with PolyGram buying Sam Goldwyn's film studio and the remaining 51% of the Go! Discs label, Seagram buying MCA from Matushita for $5.7 billion and Disney buying the Capital Cities media conglomerate for $19 billion, even Time-Warner feared standing alone, and so combined with Turner Broadcasting at a cost of 7.5 billion.

Record-retailing in the US domestic market also concentrated, and large chains like Tower Records, Music Land, Sam Goody and Kmart presented problems for the record companies, since they represented an unprecedented level of concentrated buying power, aided by the latest stock-control technology. So it made sense to increase the volume of retailing business, and these US-based chains opened shops in Japan and across Europe, only to see the US domestic market being nibbled at by UK-based conglomerates: W H Smith found a niche in over seventy US airports, but HMV had failed in its bid for the US's third-largest retail chain, Camelot Music and EMI had a major embarassment with Rent-a-Centre, which it had bought in 1987. (Its 50 million profits were alleged to have come from rates of interest up to 230%, extracted mainly from low-income families, and the scandal battered EMI's Stock Market price so much that a former US Senator was hired for the public-relations counter-offensive.)

Really independent distribution in the USA was virtually dead, since six majors had bought large pieces (or all) of every sizeable company. From the US customers' point-of-view, things had rarely been so bad. In 1978, there had been 4,170 new album releases: by 1984, that figure was down to 2,170, and in the so-called 'boom' of 1990 it had was nearer 2,000.[24] At this point, sales of 40,000 for an album were considered to be a disaster, yet only 5% of US-originated albums made any kind of profit. At many concerts, T-shirts brought in more revenue than tickets, and it was reported so early as 1985 that Frankie Goes to Hollywood had sold more T-shirts than records.[25] If profits were to be reinvested profitably in the industry, what the conglomerates required were ways of improving the sales of recorded music.

Top of document 3. Massaging the medium: the mid-1990s

(a) Stacking the tape-deck

The dominance of the CD format over cassettes came very slowly and unevenly. By 1987, CDs outsold cassettes in Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland, and the year after this happened in Austria, Denmark and Japan. France followed in 1989, and a year later Germany (as it then was), Hong Kong and Sweden made the change. By 1991, Australians, Norwegians and Portuguese made the transition, but it was not until 1992 that the domestic markets of the UK and the USA followed, at the same time as those of Brazil, Canada, Finland, Iceland and Italy. In 1993 the markets of Argentina, Greece, Israel, New Zealand, Nicaragua and Spain switched to CD, and those of Panama, Singapore and Venezuela did so in 1994. Overall sales of CD albums in the International Federation of Phonographic Industries' (IFPI's) known 'world' outpaced those for vinyl albums by 1988, but they did not outpace cassette album sales until 1993.

Within domestic markets, the cassette/CD changeover was highly uneven: by 1993 only 43% of UK houses contained a CD-player. In poorer countries, resistance was formidable: up to the mid-1990s, China, India and Nigeria showed no signs of abandoning the tape-cassette: Indonesia, Poland, Russia and Thailand showed few CD sales, while Pakistan sent in nil returns and Bangladesh failed to appear in the listings. As late as 1991 - by which time India had become the leading cassette-manufacturer - the five rich domestic markets of the USA, the UK, Japan, France and Germany took 76% of all CD recordings legitimately sold in IFPI's known 'world', and in 1994 those same five markets still took over 72%. In the richer domestic markets saturation looked to be about to set in, while in the poorer ones market-penetration was less and less profitable, and in both there were stubborn hundreds of millions, perhaps billions, who refused to get rid of cassettes, cassette-players or even vinyl albums and record-players.

In spite of this resistance the 'logic' of capitalist accumulation and reinvestment meant that the rate of technological development could not stand still, so the worldwide economic crisis of the early 1990s produced a technological and retail log-jam. By the late 1980s digital audio technology (DAT) was available in the form of eight-track recorders. In 1990 the vinyl album was pronounced obsolete in Japan and within a year Sony announced the development of a recordable mini-CD (MD). Meanwhile - partly in response to consumer resistance, especially in the USA - Philips were busy developing their Digital Compact Cassette (DCC). Such competition amongst the very largest capitals cut into short-term dividends and encouraged cooperation because few dared risk such levels of investment alone. 1991 saw an agreement between hardware and software manufacturers about the standardisation of the DAT format, under pressure of the fear that the peak of CD software sales might arrive in the mid-1990s with no apparent successor, since DAT, MD and DCC appeared to have sunk virtually without trace.

The conglomerates' strategy in these difficulties was to try to manage the market, and the slump of 1992 seems to have been the turning-point. The value of CD album sales in the UK outpaced those for vinyl albums in 1988 and those for cassette albums in 1989, and by 1993 highly profitable CD albums accounted for almost three-fifths of UK retail sales' value, while cassettes brought in 25% profit and vinyl albums only 2%. (Singles refused to die: in 1992 trade deliveries of cassette and CD singles were higher than those for vinyl singles and by 1993 CD singles represented 53% of the value of all single trade deliveries.) Wholesale CD album costs fell from 5.10 to 4.81 in 1995-96, as those of vinyl albums rose from 2.40 to 3.93, but vinyl albums refused to go quietly, causing major retailers some concern: CDs, like cassettes, took up less expensive display-space than vinyl, and stocking three or more formats meant that the overall range of material in the shops was getting smaller. Yet 75% of UK homes still had a record-player, so the major UK retailer decided to help the process along. However it is important to note that W H Smith's 1992 decision not to stock vinyl albums in their stores was preceded by the production and manufacturing companies' determination to cut releases in the single format, above all in vinyl, and that orders had been going out for some time from major retailers for display-racks with no space on them for vinyl albums. So by the mid-1990s cassette albums took the place of virtually extinct vinyl records at the back of the shops and upstairs or downstairs in the megastores.

The industry did not have everything its own way. In 1994 BPI admitted that in the UK singles were generally non-profit making, but competitive pressures saw the average number of formats per release rise in 1993, including a significantly disproportionate number on seven-inch and twelve-inch vinyl discs. On the other hand, whereas in 1989 one UK album sale in six was a compilation, by 1993 compilation sales had risen to almost one album in five, and the only sector of the domestic market which showed orderly growth was that for so-called 'Classical' music, which doubled in value in 1983-93 and was 85% dominated by the CD format. Sales of what BPI insisted on calling 'Rock' music had gone from 40% of the vinyl LP market, to 20% of the cassette market and then to around 6% of the entire album market by 1989, but they rose to 24% in 1993. After 'punk' there was no Next Big Thing, and yet given the logic of capitalist accumulation, part of the sizeable profits from CD sales (if it was to be retained inside the industry) had to be ploughed back into research and development, and so the rate of potential technological turnover accelerated through the mid-1990s. In 1993 Philips introduced the CD-Interactive (CDI) technology, and in Florida it became possible to get CDs made from a library of half the majors' catalogue on demand. By 1994 the profits of MTV Europe indicated that for some leisure-uses, shops were far from necessary. Dead labour continued to replace the living.

Top of document (b) Playing Jurassic Park

Back in 1975 launching a new band on a US major was estimated to cost up to $25,000, and a tour cost up to $20,000.

[26] In 1971, a rock group album cost between $20-80,000 to make, but by the later 1970s a fairly 'modest' album cost $50,000 and some reached $200,000.[27] In 1989 costs of producing a Tears For Fears album were also reported to have topped the 1 million mark. By the mid-1990s, launching a new band on a major label cost between 250,000 and 1 million. Then there were the advances. In 1983, David Bowie commanded an advance of 10 million, and by 1990, a company the size of BMG blamed its 7 million UK loss mainly on the need to pay huge sums up front.[28] The casualty-rate was enormous: music industry executives believed that 'approximately one in eight of the artists they sign and record will achieve the level of success required to recoup their initial investment and start to earn money for both themselves and the company', since new acts were seen as 'broken' onto the market only after they had sold 100,000 albums, and even a 'niche' album had to shift 40,000 units. With 100,000 in advances, 150,000 in recording costs, and 80,000 in 'basic promotional expenses', an album needed sales of 60,000 units simply to break even. Little wonder, then, that artists could be 'finished after one single'.[29] The situation deteriorated further: by 1996, first album royalties of 150,000 were likely to be swallowed by production costs and sales of 100,000 units were required before an album could rate as a success, though it now took sales of 200,000 in order to break even. It made much more financial sense to plough large amounts of money into making videos or otherwise advertising older, road-tested performers.

The key problem was that such people were thin on the ground. Even in the 1970s 'rock's inner circle' had consisted of 'less than a hundred people worldwide', and though many of them remained in the late 1990s they did not come cheap: Elton John could still bring in receipts of nearly 8.5 million for his 1987 world tour. The comparatively youthful George Michael outdid this with ticket sales of 40 million on his tour in 1988, and got another 1 million from Diet Pepsi, the tour's sponsors, to contribute to his 14.5 million year.[30] Paul McCartney could afford to turn down 2.5 million to play with the other two remaining Beatles on the Isle of Wight, though his two concerts in the Giants' New Jersey stadium had grossed almost $3.5 million. In 1994, Elton John pulled in 10.1 million, Eric Clapton got 8.2 million and Mark Knopfler took 6.9 million. There was still a lot of money to be made on the road: for part of 1993 the top-rating touring band in the USA was the Grateful Dead, who took over $1.2 million from one performance at Richfield Ohio. Steely Dan, Rod Stewart, Aerosmith, Santana and Bob Dylan had successes, and the second-highest receipts in this period came from the First Annual George Strait Country Music Festival in San Antonio, Texas. In 1994, Pink Floyd sold 2.2 million advance tickets for their concert-tour. A few people became very rich. In 1993, Tom Jones was said to be worth 252 million, just ahead of Andrew Lloyd Webber, whose 240 million was added to by dividends of 13.3 million in 1994. But Paul McCartney was sitting on 420 million, the Rolling Stones and Rod Stewart were in tax exile, and one of the few comparatively youthful high-earners, Wet Wet Wet, operated through a series of small companies.

The amounts of capital available to a few individuals became enormous. In 1971-86 Michael Jackson accounted for a substantial share of Columbia's profits. His 1988 estimated income was $97 million and his 1987-89 tour grossed over $120 million. For every unit of Thriller Columbia sold they paid him $2.10, bringing in $35 million in domestic royalties and a further $20 million from overseas sales. His 1991 contract was said to be worth $890 million for twelve years, plus a 42% royalty on album sales, which meant that he took around $4.60 on each copy of Bad or Dangerous to add to what he had already got from the forty million units already sold. In turn, this meant that Jackson had even greater general contractual leverage: he reportedly got 30 million for a Pepsi advertisement appearance and he received $154 for every second he appeared on stage in his 1993 world tour. But evidently this wasn't enough, and he tried to get out of the CBS-Sony contract after one year. To date, Thriller alone has brought Jackson upwards of $100 million, but he also got $150 million from publishing revenues before the end of the 1980s.

This pattern began to generalise. Prince, who had a ten-million seller with Purple Rain, signed a $100 million deal with Warner Music guaranteeing him $5 million per album plus 25% of royalties, not including revenue from touring, merchandising, videos, television, films or book publishing. Films and videos earned Prince another $10 million a year and he made millions more when Tina Turner, Sinead O'Connor, Simple Minds and Madonna recorded cover versions of his songs. Madonna got a $700 million deal with Sony-CBS's rival, Time-Warner, in 1992, but this contract was set to last seven years, when Madonna would be in her early forties, as would Jackson and Prince-squiggle. They were an ageing cohort and could not last forever, but the safer bet (especially during a depression) was that their royalty-earning power might. From a consumer's point of view this led to a reciprocal shift. Concert tickets routinely cost 20 and more by the mid-1990s, so the idea of saving that cost - plus the costs of travel, food and maybe accomodation and a babysitter's wages - could look attractive, and shelling out 50 for a boxed set of your favourite artists' repertoire could seem a better deal than getting cold, tired legs and a one-off distant view at the far end of a roofless stadium. In any case, since the early 1980s people aged 15-24 bought fewer and fewer recordings:[31] so if the market was ageing, it made sense to get hold of as much as possible of their youthful favourites' copyrights.

Top of document (c) All we got to look forward to, the past?

Copyright became particularly important to the US majors in the mid-1950s when the future of music-publishing looked bleak,[32] and the copyright of individual songs can be very valuable indeed. White Christmas had shifted over one hundred and seventy million copies by 1987, the earnings potential for Happy Birthday seems endless. In 1980, in the middle of a slump, UK-based royalty-holders received $350 million. By 1983 that sum had gone up to $455 million. The UK Performing Rights Society receipts almost trebled in 1975-80 to nearly 27 million, while those of UK Mechanical Copyright Protection Society almost doubled in 1975-81 to almost 21 million.[33] By 1988 UK-based royalty-holders were getting $800 million, over a quarter of the world total and equivalent to two-fifths of the sales' value of recordings that year in the UK. In 1991 they received the bulk of a reported half billion pounds' worth of 'invisible exports', and in 1993 they got $750 million - equivalent to 38% of recorded music sales' value and nearly two-thirds the value of all trade deliveries.

Unsurprisingly, some of the largest deals in the 1990s involved a search for such 'guaranteed cash flow'.[34] Sony's purchase of CBS involved one of the most valuable back-catalogues in the world, including Thriller. But most of the activity came as the slump eased. PolyGram paid $272 for Island Records and another $460 million for A&M, while JVC invested in David Bowie's Tin Band and made enquiries about the cost of MCA, including the recently-acquired Geffen Music. MCA bought Motown for $61 million. EMI bought SBK (a specialist record-company with substantial music-publishing interests) for $295 million, plus half of Chrysalis Records for $75 million - the rest of Chrysalis came to EMI in 1991 for $16.9 million. Warner Brothers combined with Chappell to form what was then the world's largest publishing company, with a catalogue of 800,000 songs. But when EMI bought Virgin in 1992 the addition of Paula Abdul, Phil Collins and Simple Minds made EMI's collection of 825,000 copyrights the largest and most valuable on Earth.

There was now an established tendency for music industry majors to move capital investment away from production, manufacturing and distribution towards licensing deals and rentier status. In 1989, the National Music Publishers' Association of America estimated that publishing revenues from 'major global markets' (thought to be four-fifths of the total) were in excess of $3 billion, and the UK trade magazine Music Week maintained that the music publishing sector accounted for one-third of the total known turnover of the world's recording industry.[35] An international coordinator in the Los Angeles office of a British owned company reported:

You can sell, potentially, from two, to five, to ten million records overseas and it's a heavy source of income. If you consider that you have no promotional overhead, no marketing overhead, you don't even package it. All the marketing and promotion costs are covered by each territory. The only thing you do is supply the tape, and the money you make is on your royalties basically. It's an internal company licensing deal, which is a great source of revenue. Say you make two or three dollars on the licensing, that's 20 to 30 million dollars. It's phenomenal.[36]

Ironically, the City of London financial markets remained aloof from such matters, even though UK-based acts were responsible for a quarter of all known record sales[37] and there was the fate of Northern Songs to look back on. In the six months up to October 31 1963, Northern Songs made a profit of 17,000 and by the same period the following year this had risen to 239,000.[38] When ATV bought the company in 1969 Lennon and McCartney had a stake of 3 million, yet when they sold their share-holdings in 1973 they received $5 million apiece.[39] They were all extremely short-sighted: between 1978-84 Northern Songs pulled in 2-3 million a year,[40] yet when ATV put their shares up for sale in the mid-1980s McCartney bid only $40 million, so the copyrights of 3,500 and more songs went to Michael Jackson for $47.5 million.[41] The Beatles copyrights alone were sold on to Sony in 1995 for 60 million - after the use of one song in an advertisement brought in $250,000 - and the subsequent Beatles Anthology sold 1.2 million units in one week in the USA alone.

By the mid-1990s there were very few copyright bargains or opportunities left. The last sizeable UK independent music publishing company, Campbell Connelly, was bought in 1982, though since Bob Marley died without leaving a will Island Records (with the help of the Jamaican government) secured his copyrights for only 5 million.[42] From then on, the majors had to diversify in order to grow. They noted that Pavarotti had shifted upwards of fity million records since 1967; and in 1994 276,000 was paid for twenty-one Purcell manuscripts and 1.5 million for Schumann's Second Symphony and EMI bought 'Christian music' in the form of Star Song Communications, which represented a $200 million chunk of the US domestic market. Soon after, EMI quietly paid 53 million for a firm called Intercord Tonggesellschaft, and a deal with Verlagsgruppe Gorg von Holtzbrink was kept secret for four months. These purchases raised EMI's copyright holdings to over one million songs. Also in 1994, Gaylord Entertainments - a corporation owned the Grand Old Opry Theatre, two 'country music' cable channels, Country Music TV, The Nashville Network, three 'independent' TV stations in Dallas, Houston and Seattle, TV cable franchises in California, radio stations, Nashville's Opryland theme park, plus ten per cent of the Texas Rangers baseball team - was put up for sale. The company also owned the rights to most of the US 'country' hits of the previous half century, including much of the work of Roy Orbison and the Everly Brothers, which must have made a serious contribution to profits of $63 million on sales of $623 million in the last financial year. Outside interests took note: the 'phone company, US West, built up a $2.5 billion stake in Time-Warner and the Canada-based spirits giant Seagram followed suit. Time-Warner, meanwhile, had been negotiating with another giant, General Electric's subsidiary NBC, about a $2.5 billion deal. Such concentrations of capital could not be contained within the music business, and capitals of that size could not be adequately protected by just one state.

Top of document (d) Jazz police

There is, of course, a way of presenting the capitalist music industry as a model of orderly competition, production and consumption. In 1990 there were some fifty-eight CD-pressing plants on the planet, and it all looked very orderly, even in regional terms. Twenty-eight plants were sited in Western Europe and one in Eastern Europe, nineteen in North America (all but two in the USA) and one in South America, ten in the Pacific Rim (all but one in Japan) and one in Australia. Productive capacity was also regionalised. Europe could produce 489 million units, North America some 308 million, the Pacific Rim 149 million (plus the output of five plants not then known to IFPI) and the Australian plant could make 10 million. However, what this data also means is that Africa, the Middle East, the Subcontinent, Central America and the former Soviet Empire (with one exception) had nil capacity, while the United States plants produced at least ninety million units a year above current US domestic market consumption and possibly up to twice that figure. Japan had a nominal domestic deficit of thirteen million units, but those five other plants almost certainly wiped that out and left some over, and Western Europe produced 270 million units more than it currently sold in the region. Perhaps half a billion legally-manufactured units of CD 'software' were, therefore, available for export.

In the early 1990s, when the majors were trading at a loss, the Keynesian perspective became more attractive to the international popular music industry than the free-for-all of 'classical' economics. IFPI acknowledged that Eastern European entrepreneurs had 'brought Western culture to youth against the wishes of alien communist regimes' and had 'played a crucial role in weakening governments' holds over the minds of their people', but after 1989 this philosophy 'had to change' via 'a sustained educational process to emphasise that the pirate is now the enemy of the infant independent record producer who has a crucial part to play in the development of the national culture of the countries concerned'.[43] IFPI began a campaign against 'piracy' in Singapore, where the legitimate market allegedly represented 5% of the total market for recordings, and then moved on through Central and South America, the Subcontinent and Asia, gathering momentum as it went. (IFPI affiliates rose from 599 to 980 in 1980-91.) The Indian market had been dominated by 'pirate' cassettes since the 1980s, and IFPI's efforts, including financing a huge campaign by the state, reduced that to around 30-40% by 1991. But that same year IFPI discovered 'pirate' tape-manufacturing equipment in Thailand said to be worth $2 million and capable of producing seven million cassettes annually. In 1992, in Malaysia, a similar raid turned up tape-making gear worth $100,000, plus 25,000 cassettes.[44] And even lobbying of governments was not foolproof: in Greece anti-'piracy' legislation encouraged entrepreneurs to buy into private radio, where they played IFPI affiliates' product in such a way as to make home-taping easy. Africa, with its continued reliance on cassettes, seems to have been left alone, even though the 2,700 Ghanaian dubbing shop were selling two million cassettes a year and most Nigerian households had managed to get a cassette-player/recorder on the strength of the 1973-74 oil boom, which made the scope for home-taping enormous.[45]

There were problems in the developed countries, too. The number of CD-rental shops in Japan had risen to five thousand by 1988, allegedly leading to a loss of $1 billion to royalty-owners, two-thirds of them not based in Japan: 29% of all royalties went out of Japan whereas under 0.5% came in.[46] IFPI claimed that 45 million 'pirate' cassettes and 38,000 CDs were being sold in the USA in 1989. Another 78,000 CDs were discovered in the USA in 1990 and a quarter of a million illegal CDs in the Netherlands - more than the annual legal sales in that market - plus another 14,000 in Germany. In Mexico, following promptings by five majors' joint anti-piracy lobby organisation, APDIF, the Attorney General's Department seized 7.5 million illegal cassettes, and a further 30,000 were confiscated in Israel. In 1993 in Poland 60,000 'pirate' cassettes were unearthed in Poznan and Katowice, plus another 90,000 in Warsaw, along with tape-masters which had been produced from CDs. Rumours were now circulating that 'pirates' operating in Singapore were thinking of switching to CD, to add to all the other concerns about recordable and erasable CDs, home-taping and so-called 'parallel imports' (IFPI code for free competition), so IFPI was necessarily becoming an organisation whose priority was to seek international political solutions for matters such as the 'harmonisation' of copyright law.

What focussed the minds of majors everywhere was the threat posed in China - until recently the largest-known market for vinyl recordings. Even when Western capital was cut off after the Tiananmen massacre of 1989, capital flowed in from Macao and Taiwan, and overall Chinese growth reached 12% a year by 1992. When the first three Chinese mainland CD-pressing plants were opened (not far from the Hong Kong border) the average street price of a CD sank to around $1.20. In 1993 23,000 'pirate' CDs were seized from thirty shops around the Shenzen Railway Station (on the Kowloon-Shenzen border with Hong Kong) after extensive investigations revealed that every popular Cantonese and Mandarin title was being pirated and/or counterfeited in CD format as well as CD releases by major international artists. These CDs were being sold at about $3.20 each, with a further reduction on sales over 10 copies, and the price was falling: a later visitor to Guangzhou discovered CDs selling at between $2.30 and $2.85. Yet there were limits to the number of CDs which could be sold inside mainland China. In 1992, IFPI had estimated that the legal Chinese domestic market was worth around $310 million, consisting of 250 million cassettes, eighteen million vinyl albums and only two million CDs. In 1993 they believed the 'pirate' market consisted of 215 million units worth $380 million, but by 1993 there were twenty-six Chinese CD-pressing plants with an annual capacity estimated in 1994 at sixty-five million units and in 1995 there were thirty plants capable of making seventy million. However, with a quarter of the Chinese population - 300 million people - earning less than $1 a day, China's excess productive capacity represented 8% of GDP, so a crisis of CD over-production loomed to which political solutions were required.[47]

Politics and economics were connected in the way IFPI gained access to China. By 1996, there were thought to be a million Chinese millionaires, yet Maurice Meisner reported that 'the private economy is still under the control of officials - everything must be done through them', and Liu Binyan (an expelled Chinese journalist) claimed that 'Many of the foreign trade projects were monopolized by children of high-ranking officials' in the Chinese Communist Party. [48] Ironically, the Shenzen raids had been carried out by twenty officers from the Shenzhen Cultural Inspecting Team and the Lowu office of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce together with investigators acting on behalf of IFPI and its national group in Hong Kong. This 'Task Force' was set up by the Guangdong Government, was part-financed by IFPI and was intended to be permanent. It comprised a main Provisional Culture Supervisory Task Force of about thirty to fifty people, overseeing culture task forces in Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Pan Yu, Zhong Shan and Swatow, employing twenty to thirty people each, whose job was to monitor the activities of the growing number of CD plants and conduct raids and maintain day to day checks on the audio piracy situation. Cooperation with the Chinese national and provincial governments meant that, though these massive raids were announced on Guangzhou City television, no further reports were given out. Helped by this censorship, and ignoring its use during the events of Tiananmen Square, IFPI could now police the 'free' market, backed from 1994 by a Chinese state law against copyright infringement which provided for fines and for prison terms of up to seven years.

Chinese police were, of course, ineffective elsewhere. In September 1993 Chinese-made CDs had found their way to Singapore, and next month a seizure of 4,000 Thailand-made CDs from a house in Singapore caused panic because they bore fictitious names and addresses of companies based in US and Germany. The prospect of someone putting together cheap software and the most profitable markets represented a strategic threat to the interests of the music industry conglomerates, and so both IFPI's political lobbying and police raids were stepped up. In Guangdong province in 1994 a thousand 'officers' made a thousand raids in twenty cities, netting 200,000 'pirate' CDs, 100,000 'pirate' cassettes and even 'pirate' LDs and video cassette tapes, which would have been worth $5 million in nearby Hong Kong and much more in Japan. Raids continued into 1995: 60,000 CDs were seized in January and more than a hundred illegal plants were closed down. Yet it took a threat by the US government to withdraw Most Favoured Nation trading status (allegedly because of human rights violations) before a notorious 'pirate' could be closed down in 1995. 'Piracy' was now a highly-political business, internationally.

Top of document (e) Towards community policing

Super-profits on CD technology now depended on a series of nation-based legal agreements which had to be policed locally, and even in IFPI's heartland there were serious problems. In 1993 DM5 million's worth of 'illegal' material was seized in Germany. But while IFPI focussed on CDs and on the interests of the mainly Western affiliates who made the largest profits out of that technology, the illegal market for cassettes was thought to have outgrown the legal one. IFPI was getting worried about the next technology: in 1993 Dr Thurrow of IFPI's German affiliate stressed that 'We have to be prepared to meet the dangers of uncontrolled and uncontrollable cross access to our product, and to try to eliminate this possibility'. Consequently, IFPI was pushed closer towards the monopolists of legitimate violence. In 1994 IFPI cooperated with governments in Italy, China, Hungary, Nigeria, the Netherlands, Mexico, Russia, Thailand, India, Bulgaria, Belgium, Singapore and Korea, in order to promote, enact and enforce copyright laws. There were, however, unevennesses. In Italy copyright lasted only twenty-five years and it was legitimate to give away nineteen million recordings as freebies on magazines, yet the Italian 'pirate' trade remained healthy enough for one raid in 1994 to turn up 60,000 illegal CDs and cassettes. And in 1995, 80-90% of Russia's domestic market was estimated to be controlled by 'pirates' whom Yeltsin could or would not crush.

IFPI began to lobby trade organisations of a supra-national character. It encouraged regional organisations in Eastern Europe and in Asia, via the World Trade Organisation and the World Intellectual Property Organisation, and nagged national governments to sign up to the Berne and Rome Conventions. The key was the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, but IFPI's joy at the inclusion of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights in the 1993 negotiations was not because it promised to further technological development or reward entrepreneurial endeavour. On the contrary:

Taken as a whole...the enforcement provisions represent a significant body of law with which to shape the exercise of intellectual property rights and their defense throughout the world...[T]hese standards may affect not only the central fight against international phonogram piracy, but respond, not always well, to a rapidly changing, global legal environment being driven by breakneck technological and marketing innovation.

For IFPI CD technology had become a problem. What they needed were 'harmonised protection regimes' since performance rights were now 'the key to the very survival of the record industry as we know it today'. IFPI claimed to be deeply involved with democracy so long as 'illegals' (like the former leading Party members in Poland, Hungary, the Czech and Slovak Republics, and Russia, who were busy trying to climb out of the Stalinist frying-pan into the capitalist fire) appeared to change their ways. Yet if IFPI had to join forces with Presidents who had arranged for the deaths and torture of musicians - in Chile, say, or Turkey - or who had crushed the first signs of democratic resistance - as, for example, in Beijing - so be it. Any political connections helped: in 1991 IFPI appointed Sir John Morgan as President, fresh from his experience in the Maxwell Communications Corporation and with invaluable knowledge of Mexico, Korea and Poland - states where IFPI just happened to be having particular trouble with 'pirates' at the time - derived from his days as Her Majesty's Ambassador in all three countries.

In the absence of a single world cop, the local police had somehow to be policed. In the mid-1990s, CDs were being sold in China for about $1.75 apiece, or $5 for three, and a single 'pirate' plant was pumping out two to three million units a year. The entire Chinese domestic market for legally-produced CDs was thought to be between three and five million units, selling at the equivalent of one-eighth of the annual income of a Chinese market-stall-holder, after paying the rent. The political stakes were raised very high indeed: on New Year's Eve 1994, the US government announced its intention of beginning a trade war with China for both domestic and international purposes. (Clinton wanted the domestic benefits of letting in $29 billion's worth of Chinese cheap-labour imports in 1995, whilst appearing to tackle the political difficulties caused by an estimated $3.4billion trade deficit with China, and he also ensured the USA kept pace with political agreements other governments had reached with the China.) This proved ineffective not least because some Chinese 'pirates' were politically well-connected in Beijing and some factories were reported as having links with local high-ranking Chinese officials. For example, the Shenzhen laser-disc factory was closely linked to the Shenzhen Municipal Government. After all, who else could find the equivalent of 350,000 for CD-manufacturing equipment or make the necessary import arrangements with foreign capitalists?

Clinton was obliged to threaten $3 billion's worth of trade sanctions against China once again in 1996, as 60,000 illegal CDs were seized in one raid at the border with Hong Kong, but the problem did not remain neatly within China. Chinese 'pirates' also undercut the legitimate CD business of mainly Cantonese singers in China Towns from the Pacific Rim to Manchester, which used to be 10% of EMI's business; and with potential Chinese CD exports worth $325 a year, with profits up by 20% to 282 million on sales of $3.3 billion and with sizeable historic interest in Far East markets, PolyGram also had a lot to lose. PolyGram's parent company, Philips, had 'lost' 70,000 employees in 1989-94 and paid out fifty million guilders because of currency fluctuations, so PolyGram's consistent profitability - 68% of all the group's sales in 1994 - was strategically crucial to Philips. Higher profits were required, so in 1996 PolyGram paid 6.2million to present and recent Board members, but sacked 550 workers.

IFPI seemed unaware of a practicable solution to its general problems Its 1994. The Recording Industry in Numbers focusses on extremely short-term periods, offers even shorter-term perspectives and does its best to marginalise or even to ignore incipient slumps. For example, the most promising market in 1994 was Saudi Arabia, with a half-year-on-half-year growth of over 66%: in second place was Honduras, fourth was Hungary and fifth was El Salvador. On the other hand the markets of Australia, Denmark, Norway, the UK, the Netherlands, France and Sweden actually went into reverse in US dollar value terms in 1993-94, so the fact Honduras' market went up by 54% or Hungary's by nearly 35% would hardly excite the executives or shareholders of conglomerates the size of Seagram or Bell Atlantic, which were now stalking music industry copyrights for use on their piece of the Information Superhighway, whatever individual state's anti-trust laws might formally outlaw. The hard fact was that the logic of capital concentration in an almost totally international 'free' market made one-state legal systems a potential source of serious political difficulties, since there was and is no International Jazz, Pop or Rock Police Force. If this is a 'global village', as the IFPI publicist claimed, then it is a village at war with itself.

In any case how serious was IFPI's rhetoric about a 'free' market, and what does 'gross excess production capacity' actually mean? Take the sixty-five million Chinese-made CDs which IFPI panicked about in 1994. At that rate of production, and even assuming a static population being paid adequate wages and an immensely sophisticated distribution system, it would take seventeen years for every Chinese to get one item of CD software. In places where $1.20 represents a day's purchasing power - such as Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Niger, Sierra Leone and Uganda - or two and a half days' - as in Zaire - the idea of 'over-production' seems ludicrous since many people in such places don't have access to mains electricity or expensive batteries, let alone to a CD-player which would cost them the equivalent of a year's income. IFPI launched a publicity campaign against 'piracy', allegedly for the benefit of struggling new artists, yet the reality for struggling artists in the early 1990s was no contract at all, no renewal of an existing contract and no audition, wherever they were. (Even in the UK in 1996 most bands were reported to get 500 for a new single, and in 1997 Lush's drummer was taking home 150 a week.) In any case, most wealthy African musicians had emigrated to Europe between 1975-85,[49] so the protestations of Salif Keita, Phil Collins and Elizabeth Schwartzkopf in support of IFPI's attempt to protect of property rights look more like a disingenuous attempt to put a spurious moral gloss on their own class interests.

Top of document 4. Milennium doom?

(a) The lost highway?

Like most leisure-oriented businesses the music industry is particularly dependent on general economic prosperity. Consequently, after a slowdown in the 'world' market to only 0.2% growth in the first half of 1996, and as the crisis deepened during the winter of 1996-97, Time-Warner, PolyGram, Sony, BMG and MCA got a mauling in the US domestic market. Moreover, without allowing for inflation, overall 1997 'world sales' were up by only 2%, and the same five major domestic markets still took over two-thirds of all software sales, and even IFPI could not disguise the fact that the value of sales was down by 2% in the UK, by 3% in the USA and by over 30% in the 'Asian Tiger' economies, while Japan's growth rate had sunk to 2%. There had been slumps before, but given the now unmistakable universality of capitalism and since the search for new markets is a condition of its further growth, the current world crisis represents a strategic threat to the majors' profitability, shareholder-loyalty and future survival.

On the face of it the UK music industry was very successful in 1998. Domestic music sales had risen to 3.6billion, exports to 1.5billion and employment to 160,000, but even the largest majors were becoming vulnerable. In 1994-95 Thorn-EMI shares rose in value by 70%, and overall profits rose from 271 million (152 million of which came from the Music Division on sales of 1.6 billion). In 1995-96 EMI profits rose to 477 million but most of that came from the Music Division, which employed 17,500 people, produced profits of 363 million on sales of 3.5 billion and was now valued at 5.6 billion. However, share-holders of both Sony and Time-Warner were understood to be doing even better, so EMI's Bill Southgate was still under pressure: 'people don't seem to understand that you can't maintain a 13 to 15 per cent profit rise every year'. In order to placate share-holders, de-merger followed in 1996, but within months EMI's sales began to stagnate. 1996-97 profits were up at 380 million on sales of 3.6 billion, but 500 million went to appease shareholders rather than back into the business, and then EMI tried to get Seagram to pay $7billion for the business. (Seagram, meanwhile, went on buy PolyGram - 75%-owned by Philips, and with an annual sales volume of 3.5billion - in spite of competition from two leverage-buyout funds based in the USA. Predictably, one of the new owner's first strategic decisions was to fold many of its labels into each other, cut artist rosters and cut release schedules.) When the sell-out failed, EMI's Stock Market valuation slipped by 400 million: its 15% share of the Japanese market had been rocked by recession and the Spice Girls - who accounted for 17% of EMI's profits in 1996-97, or some 64 million - split. In only six weeks in late 1998 EMI's valuation was down by 60% and profits were predicted to be 30% down to just over 50million.

The small number of super-rich artists got richer, but there seemed to be very few newcomers. In 1997 Blur took in 2 million a year, Noel Gallacher probably received more than 25 million and the four Spice Girls had 48 million between them, but all the top twenty wealthiest UK artists were white, male, and into their middle years. Live performance was not always profitable: plans for a U2 tour in 1997 flopped because of projected costs of 12 million and in 1998 a change in the UK tax laws led to the Rolling Stones cancelling all their UK performances. But in any case, the really big money was not in performing: Jim Fifield's payoff from EMI brought him over 14 million, Paul McCartney was reputedly worth 500 million and Richard Branson had 1.7 billion. For these few super-rich artists the logic of the market proved irresistable. In 1997, Iron Maiden was floated as a company on the Stock Exchange. Soon after David Bowie raised 55million on the security of his future royalties. In 1998, Rod Stewart put up his future royalties for a one-off payment of $10million and Michael Jackson attempted to raise $100million with Jacko Bonds'.

Another key problem for the majors in the late 1990s was that the CD format looked to have saturated its restricted markets. In 1996, BPI announced that whereas 65% of new releases in the UK in 1989 had been available on cassette by 1997 that figure had come down to 23%, but such market-massaging failed to reverse the general trend. According to IFPI 1997 'world sales'of cassette were flat, and vinyl LPs were virtually extinct, but those of CD were almost flat too, and may even prove to have peaked. Consequently, the marketing of Philips CD-recording hardware in 1997 for 600 probably heralded the demise of the format. In the UK, Barclays Bank offeed customers the chance to listen to new CDs before they decided whether to buy them, and Levi Straus installed machines capable of producing customised CDs from a choice of only four thousand mainly lesser-known tracks for 4.99. Piracy also remained a problem: in 1997 135,000 CDs were seized in Oxfordshire another 100,000 at Dover, and Bulgarian plants were thought to be manufacturing twelve million CDs a year for the illegal European trade, and in 1998, 94,000 CDs and manufacturing equipment worth 160,000 were seized in Belgium. And then there was the 'problem' of technological advance. Even IFPI understood that this cannot stand still:

at some time in the future, recorded music will be widely available on-line, interactively, and as a major part of multimedia products, but at present we rely almost exclusively on retailers for the revenue which drives the industry. Our challenge, in developing rights for producers, is how to get from here to there, with an industry intact.

Those were now openly the stakes.

In 1998 the launch of the Rio, a tiny machine costing $199 and capable of storing 77 minutes' worth of music downloaded from the Web caused further panic at RIAA, who measured more than 20,000 unlicensed songs available for downloading on 80 MP3 Web sites. It has been predicted that the current Big Five US music industry conglomerates - Seagram, Sony, Warner, EMI and Bertelsmann - will see their market share fall from 78% of US ales to 64% by 2008, and that Internet sales will rise from 1% in 1998 to 37% in 2007, when 20% of all music will be sent directly to well-to-do consumers' computers. There are some countervailing factors: for example, in 1998 a thousand mainly un-heard-of artists signed up with MP3 sites, and one site - paid for by advertisements, and providing free access for artists who could bypass the majors' A&R people - recorded over one and a half million visits and over two million electronically-delivered songs.

Not too far down the Information Superhighway it seemed to some observers that a massive write-off of obsolete capital equipment in pressing-plants, warehouses, lorries and High Street or Mall square-footage, display racks, packaging and so on was imminent. In the UK for example, by 1995 W H Smith's stock market value had shrunk to 1.2 billion and its workforce had been more than halved to only 11,500. In 1996, the company paid Boots 50 million to take responsibility for the loss-making Do It All chain, sacked a thousand more workers and cut the number of lines in its shops from 49,000 to 35,000, but still made the first annual loss in its 204 year history. Its value was then estimated at 1.4 billion, but its market situation was inherently unstable, since larger capitals based in other market sectors could organise to cream off the most profitable business. By 1997 an increasing share of recorded music retailing was in the hands of supermarket giants like Asda - which was rumoured to be thinking of buying W H Smith in 1996 - Tesco and Sainsbury's, which were thought likely to have 25% of all UK music sales by the year 2000. So while the head of W H Smith felt sufficiently confident to turn down a 135 million bid for the Virgin/Our Price retail chain in 1997, the emergence of on-line distribution companies which can hold a stock of 250,000 titles as compared, say, to 100,000 in a Virgin store, suggests that the future for W H Smith's retail shops looks very bleak indeed. W H Smith had only to look across the Atlantic: in 1997 - with a stagnant US domestic market having risen only 1% in unit sales and 2% in value in a year, and with loss-leading CD sales by the Walmart chain - a retailer the size of Record Giant went bankrupt.

Top of document (b) Everybody knows the state we're in

The state has long had an interest in music industry majors. In 1970 CBS was

involved with multifarious operations around the world (about sixty of CBS's eighty subsidiaries are foreign), many of which are defense-related. In addition, by virtue of directors held in common, CBS can claim links with numerous multinational corporations, the Rockefeller Foundation, Atlantic Refining Corporation, the Council on Foreign Relations, the CIA and so forth.[50]

And in the late 1990s the state continues to play a crucial role in relation to the music business. In fact, the general struggle over the division of surplus value (in the context of a long-term decline in the average rate of profit) is forcing the inter-penetration of the music industry and the state, within national borders and, increasingly, beyond them. For example, IFPI used its influence with politicians in the USA and the UK to help defuse the row about CD over-pricing in the UK, though the price differentials remain. Several 'international' artists went before a UK Parliamentary Committee to denounce their employers' greed (if not their own), though the talk of something like a trade union to enable bargaining to take place between groups of artists and music conglomerates predictably broke down on the rock of petit-bourgeois individualism. (The UK government-appointed Monopolies and Mergers Commission was hardly more perceptive.) On the other hand, the British state took care to criminalise certain kinds of music-related behaviour under the inaptly-named Criminal Justice Act, giving police the right to seize, impound and destroy sound systems if they believe them to be being used 'illegally'. That same state also ensured a 9.6 million Lottery grant went towards the building of a pop music museum in Sheffield in 1996, and from 1997 the official British Tourist Authority began running 'pop' tours to places such as Liverpool and Marc Bolan's 'shrine'. In 1998 the Labour Government got even more closely involved with music industry capital, setting up a committee to help the industry to build on its economic success.

The state is also crucial to the music industry because of its control over the domestic legal system.In the UK, George Michael used the courts to try to tackle Japan-based Sony's contractual hold over him but, because of the interests of international large-scale capital in the bourgeois law of contract, he lost. Robbie Williams challenged the legality of his BMG contract after he left Take That. Interested parties took out an injunction against 'Maxwell the Musical', after the media tycoon's death, and there was a dispute about the legality of Bob Marley's legacies, nicely timed to coincide with a record-release. Sting had to sue his accountant to get back 6 million. In the USA the Paramount/MTV saga got so far as the Senate, and rap lyrics about what to do to police can become both headline news and sites of political debate at the highest levels. The state's law-courts also hear many copyright disputes. In the UK, for example, there was a court case of the right to use the name of the Glitter Band: Mal Evans' widow was served an injunction by McCartney to get back a song-lyric his former employee had kept, and the Smiths' drummer got a High Court judgement which brought him 1 million in unpaid royalties. In 1997, the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors sued EMI for the alleged loss of royalties on songs written in the 1960s and 1970s. Sony and fifty-four US-based recording companies have been sued for $520 million by artists as recompense for unpaid pensions. Super-rich songwriters continued to sue small-fry, as both George Harrison (and EMI) and Bruce Springsteen did in 1998. In the USA, Meat Loaf took Sony to court claiming for 9.3 million in lost royalties, while libel cases and squabbles about copyright (as with 2 Live Crew) can get to the Supreme Court. Sony were involved in a four-year law suit with the Clark Entertainment Group of New Jersey over the ownership of up to 20,000 songs, including work by Sinatra, Presley and Dylan, valued at over 100 million. The French state interests itself in popular music and song-lyrics to an extraordinary extent, going on about something known to them (but nobody else) as 'le pop francais', in spite of the alleged supremacy of the French consumer. And in 1998 nine record companies sued a Japanese digital satellite broadcaster - part-owned by Australian-born but US-passport-holding Rupert Murdoch - to prevent the broadcast of terrestrially-recordable digital quality CDs.

Litigation looks set to intensify, now that copyright-consolidation is now almost complete. In 1997 VCI bought the one thousand rock 'n' roll songs in the Ace catalogue for 2 million. At this point, EMI's copyright ownership of over a million song-titles - one of which was worth $150,000 for use on a Disney film - was valued at 700 million, so paying 79 million for half of Berry Gordy's Jobete Music Co Inc in 1997 and getting access to its 150,000 copyrighted songs (plus a five-year option to buy the other half) was hardly a major purchase. UK-based Boosey also added to its holdings by buying the US publisher Carl Fisher for a reported $55million in 1998. This conglomeration meant that copyright disputes now also appeared at international levels. The EC and the US government lodged a complaint against Japan at the world Trade Organisation for refusing to harmonise its copyright time-span to fifty years, since this was allegedly costing copyright-owners of 1960s songs 80 million a year. In 1995, the UK pushed up its copyright period from fifty to seventy years. And for all the rhetoric about access, David Geffen swiftly took 250 MP3 Web site-owners to court in 1998 to protect his copyrights, while RIAA employed three people to patrol these sites permanently and BPI closed another three.

The state has an interest in all these matters, since it 'cannot forget that its own revenues, and its own ability to defend itself against other states depends, at the end of the day, on the continuation of capital accumulation' by capitalists who pay taxes. So, whether it is privately or publicly controlled, capital 'cannot operate for any length of time without having some state to do its will':[51]

The four functions the state has fulfilled for capital in the past continue to be important to each individual capital - the guaranteeing of supplies of skilled labour power and of some degree of protection of local markets, the orderly regulation of commercial relations with other capitals and the provision of a stable currency, the taking of measures to protect firms against the sudden dangers presented by the collapse of large suppliers and customers, and the provision of military might as a last resort protector of interests.[52]

This means that, for the time being at least, capitalists are forced to compete in a messy half world which has begun to go beyond the era of national state capitalism but which has not yet set up genuinely 'regional' state capitalisms or achieved full internationalisation.The acknowledgement of this messiness is no doubt why 'Globalisation' had been 'a rallying cry' for capitalists during the 1980s, but after the sobering effects of the US budget deficit and its growing trade deficit in the 1990s, and in a world which makes protectionism self-defeating, 'globalisation' is 'now a dirty word' except amongst a few academics.

Top of document (c) Warring brothers

So there is no substance to the sub-Adornian argument that big capital has recently made a qualitative change into a 'post-marxist' form. It is true that capitalism is now unmistakably international, but this has been the case since the 1940s or 1950s, and only the unwillingness to recognise the fundamentally state-capitalist character of the Warsaw Pact regimes prevented most writers from understanding that the death of Stalinism is not at all the same as the death of Marxism. (The analysis of Russian state capitalism from a classical marxist perspective dates back to the 1940s[53] but was widely accepted only after 1989.) Marx did not and could not spell out in any great detail how the system he analysed so carefully in the 1860s and 1870s would work in the future. After all his data on the UK came from the 1840s and 1850s and the size of the world working class in his day was smaller than that of the South Korean working class alone in ours. What Marx analysed were general tendencies, including the tendency of capital to concentrate, the rate of profit to fall - leading to stagnation and crisis - and of dead labour to replace the living:

the relative decline in the variable capital, and thus the development of the social productivity of labour, means that an ever greater amount of total capital is required in order to set the same quantity of labour-power in motion and to absorb the same amount of surplus labour.[54]

This, in turn, has the effect of creating 'Relative Surplus Population', who become (or remain) too poor to buy what they may even have helped to produce, hence further crises of 'overproduction', and, paradoxically, a further fall in the rate of profit, which comes about not 'because labour becomes less productive but rather because it becomes more productive'.[55]

Marx never believed in anything as static and monolithic as 'world capital'. To him, '"Capital in general, as distinct from the particular capitals' is 'only an abstraction"'.[56] For him the whole capitalist process is determined

neither by the absolute power of production nor by the absolute power of consumption but rather by the power of consumption within a given framework of antagonistic conditions of distribution, which reduce the consumption of the vast majority of society to a minimum level, only capable of varying within more or less narrow limits.

For capitalism to survive the market 'must be continuously expanded, so that its relationships, and the conditions governing them assume ever more the form of a natural law independent of the producers and become ever more uncontrollable'.[57] Therefore while some capitalists can function in a rentier capacity, not all capitalists can do so at once, since profit can continue to come only from productive capital and the exploitation of workers in the labour process there cannot be rentier states.[58] And even if production were comparatively orderly, consumption rarely is, so in a world system with interlocking capitals a serious problem in one part often has serious consequences for every other, possibly with serious political implications.

The truth is that there is a war going on for control over production and markets of musical commodities as much as anything else, and given the political involvement of the most powerful states on Earth, and in the context of a long-term crisis punctuated by short-term boomlets, this is potentially very dangerous indeed. What, short of a military attack, can the USA, Germany, Japan, the UK or France actually do if its domestic capitalists' newer technology is physically located outside its borders? And how, short of military annexation, could the Chinese state's tight control over massive amounts of comparativly cheap labour-power be loosened, let alone broken, especially by states whose political and economic interests are apparently different and even divergent from those of China? And the crunch is lieliest to come in times of slump. Marx pointed out that in conditions of boom, 'no matter how little love is lost between them [the capitalists] in their mutual competition, they are nevertheless united by a real freemasonary vis a vis the working class as a whole', but as soon as it is no longer a question of division of profit, but rather of loss, each [capitalist] seeks as far as he can to restrict his own share of the loss and pass it on to someone else. For the class as a whole, the loss is unavoidable...and competition now becomes a struggle of enemy brothers [translated in other editions as 'hostile brothers' or 'warring brothers'].


In a world hegemonised by capitalism competition between capitals is in constant danger of spilling over into competition between states, yet, without those states Sony, Time-Warner, BMG, Seagram, Bell Atlantic and the managers of the Chinese CD plants would be more vulnerable than ever. Guangdong may get 80% of the foreign investment in China, but it also accounts for 80% of Chinese exports,[60] so any threat to those exports and to the profits that accrue is very dangerous indeed. After all, the last Chinese boom peaked just before the Tiananmen Square massacre and Chinese workers' expectations cannot easily be suppressed by an attack on a whole province's population. Nobody is in control:

Precisely because capital depends on national states to do its bidding while having no national allegiance itself, there is no rational, predictable order to the system... [T]his year's economic miracle is next year's basket case, this year's star is next year's cash strapped invalid.[61]

Boom, bust and stagnation are built-into the capitalist system. Marx argued that 'if capital formation were to fall exclusively into the hands of a few existing big capitals, for whom the mass of profit outweighs the rate, the animating fire of production would be extinguished'.[62] That seems to be what we are seeing as we approach the millenium, and so Rosa Luxemburg's prediction that we are heading either towards socialism or barbarism may become true. In October 1997 a raid by police in Kiel, Germany, netted 30,000 neo-nazi CDs.


I would like to thank Paul Brook and Geoff Brown for going through all these numbers and arguments with me. Thanks also to Coriun Aharonian, Richard Holland, Elaine Scanlan, Philip Tagg and Peter Wicke - and to many of my students - for criticism and encouragement.

Top of document Notes

NB. Data and quotations about IFPI and 'world sales' which are not attributed derive from periodical IFPI publications.Other empirical data derives from the press.

1 Manuel 1993:8,256,262; see also Middleton 1990:292

2 Eisen 1970:128

3 Sanjek 1991:238

4 Wallis & Malm 1984:88

5 Manuel 1993:69

6 Burnett 1996:45

7 Qualen 1985:1

8 Qualen 1985:1,4

9 Garofalo 1990:72-73

10 Qualen 1985:10

11 Qualen 1985:1,20

12 Qualen 1985:5

13 Burnett 1996:50

14 Tremlett 1990:30

15 Garfield 1986:15,17

16 Qualen 1985:8,9.31

17 Hammond 1985:20; Garfield 1986:124

18 Qualen 1985:34

19 Burnett 1996:58

20 Wallis & Malm 1984: 92

21 York 1991:204; Tremlett 1990:139

22 Negus 1992:8

23 Qualen 1985: 26,27

24 Garofalo 1993:20

25 Qualen 1985:16

26 Denisoff 1975:57-58

27 Karshner 1971:68; Stokes 1977:52

28 Tremlett 1990:16,248; Negus 1992:83,136

29 Negus 1992:40,135-36,138

30 Tremlett 1990:89,90-96,139,208; Harker 1994:243-45

31 Qualen 1985:5

32 Harker 1980:39-41,51-58,105-6; Eliot 1990: passim; Garofalo 1990:71-73; Harker 1994:247

33 Qualen 1985:36-37

34 Tremlett 1990:30

35 Negus 1992:13

36 Negus 1992:8

37 Qualen 1985:13-14

38 Tremlett 1990:28

39 Eliot 1990:132-33; Tremlett 1990:210; Harker 1994:246

40 Tremlett 1990:121-22

41 Garfield 1986:20-21

42 Wallis & Malm 1984:80; Tremlett 1990:30

43 Kingston 1991:2

44 Manuel 1993:30, 31,63

45 Graham 1988:25

46 Mitsui 1994:126,142

47 Shawki 1997: pp.31,34

48 Shawki 1997: pp.27,33. See also Gittings 1996

49 Graham 1988:19

50 Eisen 1970:128xx

51 Harman 1991:15xx

52 Harman 1991:34xx

53 Cliff 1988xx

54 Marx 1981:328xx

55 Marx 1981:338ff,347xx

56 Callinicos 1987:104xx

57 Marx 1981:352,353xx

58 Harman 1991:9xx

59 Marx 1981:300,361xx

60 Harman 1993: 104xx

61 Harman 1993:111xx

62 Marx 1981:368xx

© 1998 Dave Harker