In an appearance with New York civil rights leader, Reverend Al Sharpton, the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, 43, has lashed out at the music industry’s treatment of black artists, himself included.
“The record companies really do conspire against the artists. Especially the black artists” said the singer to an adoring crowd of around 350 people on Saturday inside Sharpton’s National Action Network headquarters in Harlem.
The former boy wonder of the Jackson Five said generations of black musicians have been hurt and manipulated by profit-grabbing record companies, and called attention to his own dispute with label Sony Music.
“When you fight for me, you’re fighting for all black people, dead and alive” Michael said.Michael has called on Sony to release music recorded in a charity effort that followed the September 11 attacks. There have also been charges that Sony Music, owned by Japanese media and electronics giant Sony Corp, failed to properly promote his latest album, ‘Invincible’ which has had disappointing sales.
The dispute has won sympathy from Al Sharpton and lawyer Johnnie Cochran, who have started an initiative against what the two say is the mistreatment of artists of all races and colours by record companies.
The man, who made the “moonwalk” look so cool back then, also targeted Sony Music Entertainment chief, also known as Mariah’s ex-husband, Tommy Mottola, calling him a racist and “devilish”. He accused Tommy of using the “n-word”, which is a highly derogatory racial slur.
“We feel that they are sabotaging the album” said fan Chantal Obrist, who flew down to New York from Switzerland to join the protest.
So what have the Sony people have to say about all this? A Sony spokesman said later on that Michael’s comments were “ludicrous, spiteful and hurtful”. The spokesman said “It seems particularly bizarre that he has chosen to launch an unwarranted and ugly attack on an executive who has championed his career, and the careers of so many other superstars, for many years”.
Charges that record companies have exploited minority artists are neither new nor limited to the King of Pop. Many have argued that African-American musicians have been withheld the riches generated by their creativity and performances for more than a century.
The industry has protected itself by emphasizing the financial risks taken on by record labels when they sign new artists, many of whom fail to make money.