Sunday, July 04, 2004

RIAAOBIT: Stanley M Gortikov has died in California. He was 85. Originally a music business executive - he was with the Capitol team who took the Beatles to America - he rose and rose, dominating the RIAA under his fifteen year leadership between 1972 and 1987.

It was Gortikov who fought proposals to introduce a movie-style certification scheme being imposed on the music industry during the wilder years of Tipper Gore's influence, although his complaint was that the proposed system was "unworkable" and he happily signed the music industry up to the supposed "compromise" of the Parental Advisory Label, thereby happily embracing the self-censorship he claimed to reject.

Gortikov played a major role in turning the RIAA from a benign trade association into a powerful lobby group, relocating its headquarters from New York to Washington, signalling a group less interested in the making of music and more focused on power for its own sake. It's arguable his decision worked in the best interests of all involved, giving a loud voice to the interests of musicians at the heart of the American government; equally, though, it took the biggest players in the recording industry away from the people who make music - a fracture which still leaves the RIAA looking a lot like a bunch of lawyers and accountants rather than creative people today.

Gortikov was a trenchant critic of the cassette tape, predicting - totally wrongly - that it would kill sales of prerecorded music; he was unseated by an RIAA in 1987 in search of stronger leadership.


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