Whiny nu-metalheads Korn are about to give nu meaning to the term "commodity."
According to an article (registration required) in today's New York Times, the Bakersfield, Calif., act is set to float a 6% share of the revenues it will derive from, among other things, CD sales and merchandising for its current and next albums.
For its part, Korn will clear approximately $3 million in the transaction, but the band isn't trading itself publicly. Rather, this is an institutional deal, with concert promoter Live Nation
So is this a sign of the times?
Could be. Years ago, the ever forward-looking David Bowie sold bonds tied to sales of his pre-1990 music catalogue, ushering in the age of the securitized rock star. Now, with CD sales still moribund even after the industry's post-Napster and Grokster file-sharing clampdowns -- and with legit downloaders cherry-picking individual songs rather than albums from services such as Apple Computer's
Ergo, Korn has lived up to its name and packaged itself as a commodity.
You have to admire the band's sense of timing. And it's tempting to think of the arrangement as an example of capitalism's capacity for creative destruction: When your outmoded business model fails, devise a new one that works.
Still . call me old-fashioned, but shouldn't a band that trades on a rebellious stance be, well, rebellious? I mean, what's next? Using the Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop" to sell Anheuser-Busch's
Oh, wait. Those things have already happened. And major labels, of course, have long treated their acts as product, hyping them up the charts until some bright and shiny Next Big Thing comes along. (Kelly Clarkson, meet Carrie Underwood.)
With that as a backdrop, Korn's alliance with Live Nation is less a novel approach to the business side of making music than it is a new verse in the same old song. To paraphrase a line from The Who -- whose music has been used to sell everything from automobiles to computers -- you might even say that Korn's new deal is a case of meeting the new boss and finding, alas, that he's the same as the old boss.
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