Korn At The Krossroads: Band Explores Options In 'Dying' Music Biz

Band ponders releasing albums on its own through the Internet.

Jonathan Davis calls Korn's next single "a very personal song," but it's not as different from the anti-music-industry tirade "Y'all Want a Single?" as one might expect.

"It's about feeling like you've ... lost everything," Davis said of "Everything I've Known," the third single from Take a Look in the Mirror. "I was having problems with my girl, problems with my family, problems businesswise — not problems within the band internally, but things going on outside. I just felt like I was losing everything I'd known around me, because basically, I am. I mean, me and my girl made up and everything's fine, but the music business is dying."

While "Y'all Want a Single?" is a smartass response to the commercialization of music (see "Korn's Attempt To Not Write A Single Backfires"), "Everything I've Known" is, at least partially, an emotional reaction to the ailing music business. "I feel so enslaved," Davis sings at one point. "F--- my pride."

"It's a scary time for us in the music industry," Davis said, sitting behind the board at his home studio. "It is going to die. There's no way around it. A new model has to come out, things have to change. It's not like, 'OK, spend a gazillion dollars on making an album, go shoot a video, put it on MTV' — that's just not happening anymore. So that's a big, scary jump for us, and we've got to think of different ways to do this."

In the fall Korn will release a greatest-hits collection, which will fulfill their seven-album deal with Epic Records. The album may include the band's forthcoming collaboration with Lil Jon, slated to be recorded next week (see "Lil Jon Bangs Head, Creates 'Crunk-Rock' "). It's unlikely the band will re-sign with Epic or any major label.

"We're assessing things," Davis said. "Basically, all our record company ever did was box and ship, and now we're at the point with the Internet where we can basically do that ourselves. I mean, we don't have that endless supply of money from the record company, but if we do it smart, we might actually be able to make some money and not rip our fans off by charging 25 bucks for a CD. [Instead, we'd charge] $7 or $8 and try to make it better for the fans, 'cause kids will go buy music if it's good and at the right price. But if they feel like they're getting ripped off, why not download it?"

Davis said that no major band has so far created a model business plan for functioning independently, but he thinks Orgy are on the right track.

"They're doing it on their own," he said of the band, which just released an album on its own label after leaving Warner Bros. (with whom Orgy first signed via Korn's Elementree imprint, no longer affiliated with Warner). "They're getting all of [the profits from album sales], and they're out on the road right now touring. I think that's great."

Davis has grown even more disenchanted with the music industry through trying to sign the Drama, a new band whose album he just finished producing (see " 'Dark' Drama Newest Children Of Korn's Elementree Label").

"I'm trying to get them not to fall into that, 'Oh, we want to get the big money' [attitude] because that's all owed [back to the record company that paid it]," Davis said. "It's like, 'Let's do this album cheap, let's get you out on the road and forget about the album sales until the new model comes out. Let's get you big so you can make some money on T-shirts and concerts.' That's how we make our money. We never made money on our records. That's the biggest scam in the world."