“We are not releasing your album…”

January 18, 2007 | By Tim Kitchen | Creative

These words can be music to an artist’s ears. The latest group to split with their record label over “creative differences” – which usually means the artists want to be creative, the executives don’t – is The Format. Upon hearing the news that their sophomore album would not be released unless the band made some non-negotiable changes, the band said nuh-uh, threw a party and formed their own record label, The Vanity Label; and marketed their music through word of mouth, wild live shows, and this “internet” thing. The album, Dog Problems, features a song called “The Compromise” which wittily details their interaction with their former record label, and the title track is an anthem of grand orchestrations and impressive Freddie Mercury-esque vocals. Here is the “Dog Problems” video, which I think is amazing (and must have been a blast to make)

Not long ago, Fiona Apple started appearing in public with the word “Slave” written on her cheek, and changed her name to Image:prince symbol.svg — no wait, that was Prince, circa 1994, protesting his contract with Warner. What Fiona Apple did recently was enter into a stalemate with Sony over her latest album, until her fans cried “Free Fiona” — somehow a copy got released on the internet, then a reworked album, and finally a happy public and, I’m assuming a happy Sony— Extraordinary Machine was one of the success stories of 2005. The song “Please Please Please” contains the lyrics “Give us something familiar/ Something similar / To what we know already…”, mocking her record label. Here is the video for “Not about love” — again, a low-budget, high-concept, original…

The Format and Fiona Apple are young creative musicians more interested in writing original, personal songs and exploring new genres rather than trying to look like and sound like so many others. I suspect in those record-label executive meetings, they wanted Apple to ooooh and aaaaah and show her belly-button more — skankify may be the word — and they wanted The Format to get aggro on a guitar and ditch the french horns. The race to the bottom, the underestimation of the audience, the striving for the lowest common denominator equals the end of risk-taking, creativity, of originality. These won’t be the last cases of the “creative differences”, but the trend is towards letting the public, the people with the money buying the product, decide for themselves. Who are some new musicians creating original sounds? Let us know…

The Format

Fiona Apple
Related: Atlas Shrugged may actually become a movie, starring li’l Angelina Jolie….

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  • Ross M

    Oh, the guy in that video is a comedian. He was in the Comedians of Comedy movie. Not a terribly funny movie but he was definitely a highlight, only in it part of the time, but hilarious. Maybe he was in the t.v. show too I don’t know, didn’t see it.

  • Ross M

    The Fiona Apple video, that is