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At the CMJ New Music Festival in New York City last fall, Loud and Clear Records owner Brad Lee got a rude awakening after trying to explain to industry execs why music sales are down. Lee was part of a panel discussion about independent music labels. To his left he saw John S. Hall (King Missile's singer), and to his right was Steve Gottlieb, owner and founder of TVT Records, the largest indie label in the country. Lee took note that he, at age 25, was dwarfed by the industry folks that surrounded him, all of whom had at least 10 to 20 years of age and experience on him.

"Gottlieb was going on and on about how music sales are down because of ripping, burning, and file-sharing," Lee says. "I piped in and said I thought music-industry sales are down because music is really bad these days. I made some comment about the Ying Yang Twins [who are on TVT] and said that if labels would start signing bands with actual talent maybe sales would go back up again. [Gottlieb] didn't take too kindly to this and pretty much tore me a new one. Needless to say, he had the upper-hand when it comes to industry smack-talk session.

"John Hall kind of got my back by agreeing that music is pretty weak these days," Lee continues. "But all I could think about when he was talking was [the King Missile song lyric] 'I saw my penis lying on a blanket next to a broken toaster oven.' "

On February 25, Lee's Loud and Clear Records celebrates its fourth year at the Casbah with Adam Gnade, Goodbye Blue Monday, Via Satellite, Manouk, and neonthief.

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