Tom Waits On … The Music Business

I think you should fight for your independence and freedom at all costs. I mean, it’s a plantation system. All a record company is is a bank, and they loan you a little money to make a record and then they own you for the rest of your life. You don’t even own your own work. Most people only have a small piece of their publishing. Most people are so happy to be recording, which I was—you like the way your name looks on the contract, so you start signing. I got myself tied up in a lot of knots when I was a kid.

Tom Waits on Tom Waits: Interviews and Encounters (p.275)

The big print giveth and the small print taketh away.

The record companies are like cartels. It’s a nightmare to be trapped in one. I’m on a good label now that’s not part of the plantation system…Most people are so anxious to record, they’ll sign anything, it’s like going across the river on the back of an alligator.

Tom Waits in Lowside of the Road: A Life of Tom Waits p.456

My label [Anti/Epitaph] a bit of an asylum for damaged artists. It’s also very just and sane and fair. You know, you take your suit to the cleaner’s and you actually get your suit back.

Interviews And Encounters (p.302)

Showbiz is the only place where you can actually make money after you’re dead.

Interviews And Encounters (p.359-60)

More Tom Waits wisdom here

(you can find a lot of the interviews online at

About mattblick

Songwriter/Singer from Nottingham, UK. My 2nd EP, Everything In The World Is Fighting Everything In The Sky, is out now. I'm blogging (& podcasting) through the entire Beatles catalogue at Beatles Songwriting Academy. In my spare time I wish I had some spare time.
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