“Every musical era finds a way to screw the artists – and they’ve succeeded yet again”: Jennifer Batten on the challenges musicians face today 

“There’s probably 1000 releases every single day. How do you sift through all that crap?”

Jennifer Batten on stage. She is looking directly at her fretboard as she is playing and has vibrant pink in her hair.

Image: Alberto Gandolfo / Pacific Press via Getty

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Jennifer Batten, solo artist and former guitarist for Michael Jackson and Jeff Beck, says the music industry was “a lot more vibrant” back when she was starting out in the 1980s compared to now.

Arguing that over-saturation of music releases and low compensation for artists has led to a more bleak musical landscape, Batten feels that “every musical era finds a way to screw the artists”.

Across the ’80s and ’90s, Batten played with Jackson on three of his world tours before later joining Beck’s live outfit in 1999. She also played on recordings for both artists, and began releasing her own material amid her work as a session player in the early 90s.

Appearing on the Guitar Hang podcast, Batten says (via Ultimate Guitar): “Honestly, I think it was a lot more vibrant back then. Because you weren’t glutted with everybody in their home recording studio putting out [music] – there’s probably 1000 releases every single day. How do you sift through all that crap? I mean, there are people who rise to the top – YouTube and Instagram stars, and that kind of stuff.

“But there was a vibe back in the day, when you actually got the album, and you knew who the producer was, and you could see the art, and really touch and feel what the whole thing was. And there was the mystery of, ‘Who are the people behind these recordings?’ You had to subscribe to Rolling Stone to find out, rather than just [look it up] on Google.”

She expands, “And the ownership of the music, when you actually put out cash to buy a record, and you own it. And like, I just put up a post, I think Bandcamp is the only place you can pay anymore.

“I was the stickler that [thinks] if [a piece of music] is on iTunes, I will pay for it. I’m not going to steal it from YouTube. Every musical era finds a way to screw the artists. And they’ve succeeded yet again.”

Listen to the full episode below:

Find out more about Jennifer Batten.

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