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How does the music trade work? Planet Cash began a file label to seek out out

Earlier this yr, a musician named Kinny Landrum despatched PlanetMoney an electronic mail, and he made an uncommon proposal.

Again within the Nineteen Seventies, Kinny defined, he was the keyboardist for an instrumental funk band known as Sugar Daddy and the Gumbo Roux. This was the peak of the “stagflation” period, when stagnating progress and skyrocketing costs had been wreaking havoc on the American economic system. The band collaborated with a singer named Earnest Jackson, who had written a track with lyrics that captured that period’s zeitgeist. The track was known as “Inflation.”

Sugar Daddy and Gumbo Roux recorded a demo of the track in 1975 at a well-known studio in New Orleans known as Sea-Saint Studios. The demo, nonetheless, was by no means launched. The band broke up. And the track disappeared. So did excessive inflation, after the US Federal Reserve hammered it down within the early Eighties.

Quick ahead to 2021. “Inflation” is making a roaring comeback. And Kinny will get a textual content message from a buddy, Arthur Rouse. Kinny had given Arthur a cassette copy of “Inflation” many years earlier than. The surge in costs rekindled Arthur’s reminiscences of the track—and, it turned out, he nonetheless had the copy. Swiftly this dusty recording had resonance once more.

That is when Kinny reached out to PlanetMoney, and requested we do one thing with the track. after all, PlanetMoney just isn’t within the enterprise of publishing information or selling musicians. We make podcasts. However we started to research the story behind the track and brainstorm what we might do with it.

Most of the members of Sugar Daddy and the Gumbo Roux went on to have stable careers within the music trade, taking part in in profitable bands, writing jingles, and scoring motion pictures. Probably the most well-known member, Randy Jackson, went on to be a music govt and co-host of American Idol. However, sadly, regardless of his unbelievable expertise, Earnest Jackson (no relation to Randy) by no means made it. Even worse, he is felt burned, exploited, and forged apart by the music trade.

However now PlanetMoney is making an attempt to vary all of that.

Earnest Jackson recorded his song

Sarah Gonzalez/NPR



The creation of Planet Cash Data

As a result of we love Earnest Jackson — and we love his unbelievable track in regards to the financial pattern of our instances — PlanetMoney you’ve gotten determined to again him (and the band) to attempt to proper the wrongs, and provides him his shot at stardom.

To make this occur, we licensed the track and have become our personal file label. Planet Cash Data has the only function of releasing and selling Jackson’s “Inflation” track. The journey to create that label was a dizzying and intimidating leap into the unknown for us, and it gave us a novel alternative to discover the enterprise and economics of the music trade from the within.

The Planet Money Records logo, the letters 'PM' surrounded by rings resembling a vinyl record or moons orbiting a planet.

Sasha Fominskaya/NPR



In organising our personal file label, PlanetMoney wished to keep away from the shady practices which can be all too widespread within the music enterprise. It is an trade the place artists often get pennies on the greenback for the songs they create. That has at all times been the case, however the loss of life of bodily file gross sales and the rise of digital streaming has solely made issues worse for musicians.

We realized that the standard file contract palms solely about 20 p.c of income to the artist and the opposite 80 p.c to the label. We determined to do one thing radically totally different, which you’ll find out about in our collection. It’s possible you’ll determine we made a horrible enterprise determination, however, to be honest, we’re not within the music enterprise!

In fact, it wasn’t sufficient to license Earnest Jackson’s track. We even have hopes to create merchandise, plan a music tour, and determine how on earth to make this track in style. Within the coming months, we’re seeking to discover matters like how streaming has revolutionized the music trade, how payola works, and tips on how to manufacture a success.

We hope you may tune into our collection. Maybe extra importantly, you must try the track! “Inflation” is a throwback funk tune that speaks to the present state of the worldwide economic system. You will discover it on Spotify and Apple Music.

Greg Rosalsky, Sam Yellowhorse Kesler and Arielle Retting contributed to this story.

Planet Cash explains the financial forces that form our lives. Subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Youtube or wherever you get your podcasts. It’s also possible to sustain with us on TikTok and Instagramand subscribe to our publication!

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