Down on the Farm
The Internet may be a revolutionary means for musicians to gain financial and creative power, but until last week it was the same old song at Farmclub.com, an online record label. Founded last November by Interscope Geffen A&M cochairman Jimmy Iovine and Universal Music chairman Doug Morris, the company invites unsigned acts to upload their music to the Farmclub website and compete Star Search-style for a TV slot and a chance to get signed. But free-agent rookies the Rosenbergs were so miffed at the label’s ”reactionary contract” that they canceled a performance on USA Network’s Jimmy and Doug’s Farmclub.com and forfeited their shot at a six-CD deal.
Rosenbergs singer David Fagin says the band felt misled by Farmclub’s progressive posturing. Among the terms they objected to were a loss of ownership of their masters and website and a 60-day option period, which he says would have — if Farmclub opted out — killed any buzz the band might glean from its TV debut.
Farmclub prexy Andy Schuon calls the uproar a ”publicity ploy,” asserting the Rosenbergs never attempted to negotiate (a claim the band doesn’t deny). But perhaps it’s not mere coincidence that since the flap, Farmclub reduced the option period to 30 days, then killed it outright. Artists can now do the show without signing the contract, which Farmclub insists was fair and reasonable, but ultimately too cumbersome for weekly TV.
So did David slay Goliath? Farmclub cochairman Iovine denies backing down. ”What’s important to us is the interaction between the show and the website,” he says. ”This company is morphing every day.” Capitulation or not, sounds like it might have morphed into a more artist-friendly label.