Rollins: Downloads, Ginn/SST, Royalties


In his latest column
for the LA Weekly, Henry Rollins unloads on his former bandmate and other
sundry matters…


By Fred Mills


It’s ostensibly a discussion about downloading and how that
has changed the nature of music consumption (not to mention the concept of
paying for music), but buried midway through Henry Rollins’ latest “Henry
Rollins: The Column!”
for the LA Weekly music blog is a pointed j’accuse of
his erstwhile Black Flag bandmate Greg Ginn for withholding royalties dating
back to the venerable punk band’s SST days.


Ginn, who owns and operates SST, is described by Rollins as
not paying royalties or issuing statements – “at least not to me and several of
my old bandmates.”


Rollins continues,” I would love to see an accounting and
even an estimate of what I’m owed over a period of almost three decades. I’m
not good at holding my breath and I am a very busy person, so I’m not exactly
waiting for the man to come to my door with one of those oversized checks
anytime soon.”



So far, no response from the Ginn/SST camp. And there may be
none. At any rate, Rollins, while singling Ginn out, doesn’t belabor the point,
quickly moving the dialogue forward to point out that in a very real sense,
fans who download his music for free are behaving just like “everyone from
venue owners to managers, agents, other band members and record labels” who rip
artists off.


And to his credit, he also concludes the essay on a
generally positive note, talking about the nature of being a lifelong record
collector (to that, I can personally attest: in the ‘80s I traded tapes,
records and fanzines with Rollins through the mail; one of his fave obsessions
was rare Birthday Party and Nick Cave), saluting Record Store Day, and noting
that when it’s a selection of out of print and otherwise impossible to find music
under consideration, making it available online is righteous.


Of course, as Rollins rightly concludes, “How you get [your]
jams and what you think is the right thing to do are, of course, up to you.”




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