Dear Morrissey: Stop Whining About Labels and Do a F*%king Kickstarter!

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Morrissey has been bitching about his major label (Harvest/Capitol) and all the ways they screwed him over.  But, why is someone as huge as Morrissey even working with a major label at this point?

Here’s an open letter penned by Amanda Palmer to Morrissey last year – before he signed the deal — urging him to run a Kickstarter to make the album he wants to make — and get the money he needs to do it (the much longer version is here).

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I know you don’t use Twitter, but I’m sure you probably understand the basics of how it works. I tweeted a link to the article about your canceled tour, and then asked this simple question of my followers (I have about 850,000 of them): “How many people out there would pay $5 to crowdfund/pre-order a digital-only Morrissey album?”

There were many, many answers. You were discussed, anecdotes were shared….and I said very little. People, not surprisingly, said both super-worshipful and super-critical things about you, as you’d expect.

But the point is, after a few hours, somewhere upwards of 1,400 tweets came in saying that they’d gladly pay $5 to fund a digital album.

So 1,400 of the Amanda Palmer fans who were looking at my Twitter feed over those few hours said they’d be happy to fund a digital recording. That would only yield you about $7,000.

But you…you’re actually Morrissey. You have some of the most fanatical fans in the world; caring and devoted people from countries far and wide who would be really, really happy to support you at levels far beyond $5 just to have the songs in their ears.

You’re possibly one of the best candidates on the planet to use crowdfunding, because of who you are and what you mean.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot.

What does one need a record label for nowadays?

To put albums in stores? The stores are closing.

To make all the phone calls, so that radio plays the album? The radio stations are closing. The good outlets with human beings programming them (non-commercial radio, college, the BBC) will probably just download the record if it’s good, and play it.

To get into the charts? Who cares anymore? Do you? Do I?

To arrange tour promo and buy commercial space to inform people that the album is out? Well…if you’re not going to tour, and if people have already pre-ordered the record, maybe it’s not necessary.

And if you’re not putting out a physical record…it’s all moot.

So: what if you simply went into a studio, cut a record, and uploaded it to the Internet to those who backed it? And didn’t tour? And didn’t do any traditional promo? And didn’t release it commercially? And didn’t do anything else?

Just…emailed the songs out to the people who love you and paid for them?

What would happen? I’m not sure. But, dear Morrissey, I wish you could have read my Twitter feed.

The most inspirational responses were along these lines, again and again: “The simple fact is I would like to hear new Morrissey songs. For that privilege I would easily pay $5 for digital only.”

This was a constant refrain, and it made me very happy: People just want music, and are happy to pay for it to be created, even if it’s just a file they receive.

They want songs. They want to hear, and feel. And this sounds simple, but it’s an important point: They want to help. Help me, and help you. Make music.

The Internet is now at the point where your fans will basically do the work of spreading the existence of your project for you, especially once they’ve hopped on to support it. All you need to do is launch it on a site like Kickstarter or Pledgemusic and let it spread.

You could avoid the agony of physical manufacturing, shipping, traditional distribution and promotion….and have only one option for backers: $5 digital (it’d be tempting to add CDs and vinyl, but this is, indeed, where you start “needing a record label” and where the old-school problems start to tear away at your life and energy).

Given your record sales and history, let’s make a very conservative guess that 500,000 people back you (i.e., pre-order a digital album) at $5 each.

That’s a total of $2.5 million.

Assumptions galore, but at a guess: Subtract the 20 percent you will need to pay out to commissions (to your management and digital team) and processing (to the crowdfunding platform) and you’ll be left with about $2 million. If your album costs half a million to record, you’ll earn about $1.5 million. I don’t know what kind of advances and royalties you were getting from any of your previous labels, but I doubt they could compete with that. And if there’s no label you can find to work with, anyway….is there even a point in making the comparison?

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 Image of Morrissey by Artiquities; licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0.

20 Responses

  1. jim

    “wise words” from a famous musician which made his money/fanbase before the breakdown.

  2. Anonymous

    “my followers (I have about 850,000 of them) […] 1,400 of the Amanda Palmer fans”

    This woman makes me sick.

    But the initial question is important: “why is someone as huge as Morrissey even working with a major label at this point?

    Not (necessarily) to turn this into a Google discussion, but it won’t make sense for artist to work with a major label when Google launches YouTube Music Key:

    If you sign with a major at this point, you also sign with Google — and if you do that, you won’t ever sell a record again (you are forced to make your entire catalogue available on YouTube for free on release day).

    • Anonymous

      …and that should read:

      It won’t make sense for any artist to work with a major label when Google launches YouTube Music Key.

      We need to take that discussion: Can Kickstarter really finance all professional music production in the post-major world?

  3. Andre

    And the best part is, once you’ve pocketed a cool mil or so, you can try to pay your touring musicians with pizza and beer — but also offer “hugs”, that will make you look less like a money-hungry miser and more like a post-ironic websavvy “artist”

  4. Jaded Industry Dude

    Moz has stated several times in the last two years that he truly doesn’t know, understand, or care to understand, the intricate workings of a label, he simply wants to write and release music. Given his recent rants, it is disheartening that he both says he wants to be hands off, while also being so hands on the label discontinues working with him.

    However, I don’t disagree with his logic of “let me make the music, and let you release the album” – If he does both, or ‘his team does both’ (does he have a team capable of this?) it could feasible tap into his creative resources, which as a Moz fan, I am opposed to. I want him to simply focus on music and not the business side of it.

  5. Londonmusicmapp

    he should do a PledgeMusic campaign miles better than kickstarter and all about music.

  6. Anonymous

    Moz is way to much of a ponce to leverage the panhandling of a kickstarter campaign.

    He wants to be treated as the king that deems himself to be, and that’s fine, except that he’s running out of options in today’s climate.

    Even some of the most successful artists run out of management teams and labels who refuse to deal with their incessant bullshit due to “artistic tendencies”, substance abuse/dependency issues, and of course psychological incapacity/illness.

  7. cmonbro

    How THE FUCK did Amanda get from 1,400 ppl to 500k? That was a hell of an assumption..

    I agree that at this point someone like Moz could do well on his own but does he have the infrastructure for PR, video production, digital marketing, radio promo, touring etc??

    • Anonymous

      They’re called label Services. Kobalt is a lovely one.

      A management team worth their salt could also piece meal all of those services together for a release…even one of this capacity. It’s 2014.

      • Cmonbro

        But is he willing to spend his own money for it?

        The thousands for music videos? PR? radio promo?

        Even if Kobalt’s label services have infrastructure I’ve never seen them break a radio record

  8. Anonymous

    Hey Morrisey old chap, is your tail still tucked between your legs?

    Well fear not, im hear to make you feel better about your entitled superiority, old sport!

    Here is one of Capitols latest signings, oh yeah, shes working a bit with Ron Fair, so obviously has a good sized budget.

    Check her out here

    Keep selling your deluded dreams to people old boy. Just another guy who would be well served to spend some time in the fucking gutter! Make that guy strum his guitar on the corner with his hat on the fucking ground for a bit!

    Cause theres a ton of us out there that can’t get a fucking thing from anyone… Asshole!


  9. Anonymous

    so sick of that amanda palmer chick… got who damaged her in her youth to make her like that?

  10. Anonymous

    $32 Milly??

    Fucking douchebag!

    I cant afford to put together a $4k video and that piece of dirt is whining as hes sitting on Millies of net worth?

    Fucking asshole!

    Honestly, its time to take all those fuckers back to being broke as fuck, pricks!

    The fuck people helping people like that for?

    Forget Kickstarter, that asshole needs to fund his own shit! Anyone that sends Morrisey a fucking dime deserves a slap in the face,

    People out there homeless and starving…


    • Anonymous

      “$32 Milly?? Fucking douchebag!”

      Because he makes money and you don’t?


      • Anonymous

        couldn’t care less that he makes money!

        the self entitled whining is the problem. $32 milly and buddy owns his own Masters and he feels he deserves and is entitled to money for something?

        Its poor business.

        Hard to make that kind of money in music, hard to get that many fans, regardless whether it was due to being on a label, nothing but respect for that no doubt!

        Seriously, its the shit he pushes and his peace thing and then this? Its a bad look for him, means hes really just selling what he says.

        Especially cause theres people starving, people homeless, all these problems in the world that need money, and hes acting like a fucking whiny little baby rattling his crib rails! Hes got $32 milly net worth, or whatever it is these days, he owns his own Masters, FUND THE FUCKING SHIT YOURSELF MORRISEY!


        • Anonymous

          cause really $32 Milly is just a piss in the wind, its chump change, who would be jealous of that?

          its the principal of the matter.

          He owns the Masters, he has the money, its up to him to fund the shit and yet hes out there pissing on labels? The same labels that gave him his fucking career and his net worth?

          i mean seriously…

  11. Anonymous

    This was a constant refrain, and it made me very happy: People just want music, and are happy to pay for it to be created, even if it’s just a file they receive.


    What world you living in?

    Cause in mine i have a TON of people after me all the time, its ridiculous, its like im swimming in a pool of piranahs always after me for more and more music. Yet none of them want to pay me a fucking thing for it, ever!

    Where are all these people happy to pay for music?

    Maybe if you some damaged pseudo rocker imaged up chick who can get peoples sympathy they will come out their pocket but man its not like that for all of us. Stop spreading advice like what worked for you is going to work for anyone else and let everyone know what you really doing already!!!




  12. Anonymous

    so sick of those people being looked at and marketing themselves as fucking Superheroes and Jesus and shit…

    the REAL heroes of the world ARE the working class! Cause working shitty jobs is suicide inducing and miserable shit, these guys get to make fucking MILLIONS for strumming their guitar and acting like self entitled douchebags…



  13. darknesss

    Shut up Morrissey. Just shut up! I am so over you and your ego, I am so over the Smiths and your solos stuff. When I was i High school you were there for me and I will never forget it but I have grown up now and moved on. I don’t need your incessant whining about everything holding me back. Even when other people die he has to make it about himself. Everything is about himself.