Kenny Peng Liu

My personal notes for navigating the modern world.

Steve Albini On Royalties

I've been a fan of Steve Albini's ethos (and a lot of his music and production) for years. I just listened to Marc Maron's WTF interview with him. He's a super sharp, experienced and sensible man. (No suprise.) The following quote was instructive for me: (To note: he produced one of Nirvana's records and refers to it in the quote)

There’s a fundamental thing that I’ve noticed about the music scene which is that whenever anyone wants to be paid a percentage — for whatever it is, management, booking agent, promoter, whatever — whenever somebody wants to be paid a percentage of what would otherwise be your income, that person is being overpaid. I feel like not participating in that system makes it easier for me to get to sleep, and also means that the differential — the money that would otherwise have gone to me — that’s going to the band. And I feel good about that. I feel good about knowing that the members of Nirvana, for example, are a couple million dollars richer as individuals. It’s their music, it’s their record. They deserve that money. They made those records, and they lived that experience. It’s not like I’m hurting; I can still make rent. I just keep doing my job and I keep getting paid…

Other people maybe have not realized that they’re exploiting other people. It’s easy to either feign ignorance or prefer ignorance in a situation like that.

I intuit that this observation is fair, and could apply in most any other creative field, where artistic vision and commerce have to tangle.