It’s now 20 years since Steve Albini, the legendary rock music producer best known for Nirvana’s last studio album In Utero, penned a seminal essay for the literary magazine, The Baffler.
It was titled “The Problem with Music,” and detailed how the entire food chain of the music business was set up to profit from the end product, except for the artists who actually conceived and made it.
He offered the example of a band, “pretty ordinary, but they’re also pretty good” that signed to a moderately sized independent label. They sold 250,000 copies of an album—considerable success by most standards—making the music industry more than $3 million, yet still ending up $14,000 in debt. “The band members have each earned about 1/3 as much as they would working at a 7-11, but they got to ride in a tour bus for a month,” he famously wrote.
Many aspiring musicians (and music journalists) of…