Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

How iTunes Hurts Weird Al 495

Posted by samzenpus
from the eat-it dept.
Johnny X writes "Weird Al Yankovic recently said he makes far less money when you buy from iTunes than when you buy an actual CD. This guy did the math and showed that Weird Al could be losing up to 85% of his record sales income due to the 'weird' ways the record companies compute digital sales. Are all artists getting the shaft like this?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

How iTunes Hurts Weird Al

Comments Filter:
  • by spune (715782) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @10:37PM (#15537151)
    Is the RIAA still in charge?
  • Well duh (Score:1, Insightful)

    by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @10:39PM (#15537164) Homepage Journal
    CDs are vastly overpriced.
  • Cuplrit? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Southpaw018 (793465) * on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @10:40PM (#15537174) Journal
    TFA seems to blame iTunes, at least at heart. Wouldn't the actual problem here be the messed up, backwards, hacked way the (MP|RI)AA have decided to handle this newfangled technology called the internet?
  • So what's new? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @10:41PM (#15537179)
    Record companies find ways to give artists even less money. You knew it was going to happen. To the record companies, it is not about the music, but the money. Since the early days in the 50's they have been writing draconian contracts, then stealing the copyrights from the artists (remember the "musicians are craftsmen not artists" argument they were throwing around) and now this. Pretty soon, the artists will have to PAY the record companies for the priviledge of getting screwed.
  • The Shaft (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Poppler (822173) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @10:43PM (#15537186) Journal
    Isn't this interesting, after all the noise the industry made about going after illegal music downloads, all in the name of helping the artists. They then turn around and pay the artist next to nothing for the iTunes download you are supposed to buy because you want to 'support the artist'.
    Musicians will continue to "get the shaft" as long as they rely on majors.
  • apples to oranges? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheSHAD0W (258774) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @10:45PM (#15537200) Homepage
    Even if Al is making less per song, does that mean anyone who bought one of his songs or records from iTunes would've otherwise purchased a brand new CD? Or might they have bought a used one, or none at all?
  • by Marsmensch (870400) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @10:56PM (#15537261)

    I remember reading a UNDP [undp.org] report a while back on the development of countries in Africa. The researchers observed that the international market prices of commodities such as coffee or sugar were higher then than at any time in the past, and yet in the last few years the prices payed to the small farmers was at its lowest point in the past 60 years.

    The reason for this apparent contradiction was the fact that small farmers can't sell their wares directly to the final consumer who brews coffee at home. Rather, this coffee is bought up by one of a handful of multinationals, who because they are so few, more or less dictate prices to the farmers, and then sell it on to the consumers. The fact that there are few of these middle men puts them in a position of power which allows them to make off with the king's share of the profits, and indeed they absorb the price hikes.

    Maybe its time musicians got together and set up an electronic coop to sell their music the way farmers sometimes set up "farmers markets". They could have more control over their prices, and how much of what consumers pay goes to them.

    Shouldn't the internet be making it easier to cut out the middle man like this?

  • Poor Al (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @11:00PM (#15537280)
    Im curious now if he's talking about the percentage he gets or if he's talking about volume. In other words, is he making less because people just buy the songs they want?

    If it's the former, well the RIAA just plain sucks. (I'm sure this will be heavily covered before this topic is closed so I'm not going to bother being more eloquent.)

    If it's the latter... sorry Al, I think you're talented and love your music, but that's supply and demand, man. If iTunes means a fairer price for all involved, then I'd ask you to take it in stride. The RIAA had quite the gold mine going there, and I don't blame them for trying to maintain it, but we legit customers were getting gouged.
  • by jbreckman (917963) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @11:03PM (#15537304)
    Yeah, but do the math. Lets say someone only wants one song. Online, he makes $0.04 per song. If he sells a CD, he makes $3.74 (after all is said and done) If online distribution wasn't possible, where you could buy one song instead of having to get the whole cd, your argument is that not as many people buy the cd. However, if 1 out of 93 people that would have just bought one song decides to buy the whole cd, he would break even. (93 * .04 =(almost) 3.74) Naturally, as far as concerts are concerned it's better to have 93 fans than 1. But I don't think the OnlyBuyOneSong:BuyTheWholeCD ratio 1:93.
  • Re:Cuplrit? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Babbster (107076) <[aaronbabb] [at] [gmail.com]> on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @11:10PM (#15537341) Homepage
    Actually, I thought the analysis seemed to blame everybody: iTunes for charging 30+ cents per dollar for their web services (that surely does seem high, which makes me wonder if the mentioned 80/19 split isn't more accurate), the record company for not splitting their cut more fairly with the artist, and the implied blame of Al for signing what seems on the surface to be a pretty lousy deal.
  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @11:12PM (#15537355) Homepage Journal
    I expect to be modded down for this, but there needs to be a reality check regarding Apple. Famously the love of Apple is cultish, but they are a publicly traded company. (Disclaimer: I am fan of Apple myself)

    What you need to remember about publicly traded companies is that their only real obligation is to the stock holders. That means it shouldn't be a shock that iTunes screws artists or that Apple will employ sweatshop workers to create iPods.

    You know who else is publicly traded? Google. Because of that stockholder obligation you can probably expect their mantra to change from "Do no evil" to "We do less evil than everyone else".
  • by rudy_wayne (414635) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @11:16PM (#15537371)
    ... and I don't feel sorry for him in the least.

    I like Wierd Al, and even own a few of his CDs. But today, there is absolutely no reason for ANY musician to be beholden to a record company with a draconian contract that pays them practically nothing. The cost of recording equipment is a tiny fraction of what it was 20 years ago and the internet allows artists to sell their work directly to the public with no need for a record company to handle distrubution and take their 99.9% cut.

    There is no reason why Wierd Al (or any other musician) can't record his music in his own studio, have the CDs pressed (there are companies out there that do it for $1 per CD) and then set up a website to sell the CDs as well as digital downloads. He gets 100% of the profits, we get to hear the music and the RIAA goes out of business.
  • by solistus (556078) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @11:21PM (#15537398) Homepage
    CDs cost about $15-$20. The record label takes most of it, and the artist gets a little cut. iTunes CDs cost about $10. Apple gets a moderate cut (only about a third of what you pay), the record label still gets the lion's share, and there's even less of a smaller pie left for the artist. Apple benefits - they don't pay the costs associated with producing the music, their cut is enough to maintain the fairly high bandwidth and server costs to keep the service running and turn a small profit, all while selling more iPods. The record label benefits - they get less money, but still more than half the cost, and it costs them pretty much _nothing_ once they've handed over the digital music to Apple. Plus, a lot of people that buy iTunes music would have pirated otherwise, not paid for a full price CD. The artist, as always, gets screwed - artists have made *some* progress in increasing their share of CD sales, but when it was time to renegotiate to include iTunes sales, the record labels already owned existing artists' music, so it wasn't like the artists could back out and look for a better deal on the digital front.

    Piracy is, in most people's opinions, the best option even before price is considered - much more convenient than going to a store or waiting for a CD to get mailed to you, wider selection and no DRM compared to iTMS and similar services... From right at home and in practically no time, one can acquire almost any piece of music and be listening to it, right from just about any internet-capable computer. Factor in free vs. rather overpriced, and it's pretty obvious why piracy is so popular.

    So how can we support our favourite artists? For those who tour, the best method is probably to go to live concerts. Artists tend to get a bigger cut from tours than from CD sales, and going to shows gives you an experience you _can't_ replace with a better alternative for free. Put aside all the money you would have used to buy CDs and go to shows instead.

    The only big problem left before the music industry can evolve to a more artist-centric process is the prohibitive cost of studio time / recording equipment. The digital age means that any artist can cheaply and easily distribute his/her music, once recorded, but most fledgling artists can't afford to record on good equipment. The one useful function (at least from a market perspective) record labels still serve is to select which artists get time in the expensive studios; there's not enough high-fi sound equipment for every high school garage band to record an album, and currently the labels are the deciding factor in who gets to record and who doesn't. There could certainly be better systems to decide this, but none are in place right now on a wide scale.
  • by xplenumx (703804) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @11:21PM (#15537400)
    In cases like this, I'm all in favor of the editors modifying the submitter's links. Not only does Aaron Hockley's blog offer no more information than what he submitted to Slashdot, but in his "Blogging" cattegory he clearly states that he's actively engaging in this sort of activity for his own personal benefit (don't bother, it's not worth the look nor the additional clicks to his 'blog').
  • by Total_Wimp (564548) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @11:22PM (#15537405)
    Forget the RIAA, Weird Al's record label is definately the entity in charge.

    I know you all hate the labels, but it doesn't make sense to assume they're stupid. They may be greedy, exploitive and unfriendly to their own customers, but "stupid" would not be a word I would use to describe them.

    Weird Al said that he didn't really "get" the part of his contract that gave him far less money for digital downloads. He signed it anyway. That tells me pretty clearly that what Al didn't really "get" was the business of digital downloads in general. If he had, he woul have realized that paid downloads are increasing at roughly the rate of iPod sales and those iPod sales are through the roof. If he "got" digital downloads, he would have realized that 5 years from now digital could easily be a bigger business than CD.

    The thing is, his recording label did get it. They got it so well that they presented him a deal that looks pretty good now, while CD sales are still king, but will totaly bite ass in the near future when downloads are more common than CD sales. Yes, they're little better than the slickest of con men who will tell you exactly how they will get your money in the same breath that they con you out of it, but stupid? Hell no. They're in charge.

    TW
  • by weedenbc (719416) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @11:25PM (#15537425)
    If you RTFA Apple is not screwing the artist. They are taking a fairly reasonable share (around 30%), most of which goes to pay for infrastructure, bandwidth, etc. The record labels are taking 65% to pay for advances, marketing, and other "fees". The artist ends up with around 5%.

    This is a completely fucked up model. And what is sad is that the record labels have been doing this to artists for DECADES. Why is the only person in the loop that has creativity/talent/unique ability getting 5% of the money while all of the suits, lawyers, and management are sucking up 65%? I can understand some cost in production, but with modern technology you can do it for a few grand in software and hardware in your home.

    iTunes/Apple is not the problem. The are just bringing to light the awful business practices of the record labels and the way they treat their slave labor....I mean artists.

  • Culprit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sentri (910293) * on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @11:25PM (#15537426) Homepage
    If you are going to say something like that, please actually read the article.

    "Apple did work, and got paid for it. You did an arguably larger portion of the work, by creating something people wanted to buy in the first place, so Apple got a little money, and you got a good deal more."

    He is saying here you did work, they sold your work, they take a cut and pass the rest back. Fair enough. However he goes on to say "Unfortunately, that's not how this version of the universe operates. So Apple sends the check to your record label."

    And he then goes on to discuss where the money goes to the record label.

    The conclusion he reaches is basically "If all of your fans bought through iTunes rather than buying CDs at the record store you'd be looking at an overall reduction in income of 85%!" however he is quite clear through the article that the record companies take a lions share of that money

    Moving from fact into speculation, let's examine what's happening here

    Case 1:
    Man records songs, Record label puts work into creating CD labeling, packaging, promoting and so on. Record label organizes with Distribution company to sell CD's and gets money in return.
    Cost of Final Product: $15-$20.

    Case 2: Man records songs, Record label puts work into creating CD labeling, packaging, promoting and so on. Record label organizes with itunes to use all the fancy stuff they created for the CD and sell the product over Itunes.
    Cost of Final Product: $0.99 * songs or $10, whichever is less

    The same costs are involved in doing both. Until artists only release online, the CD cost will have to be recouped as well anyway, so it shouldn't be a huge shock to anyone that the cheaper product provides a worse return on investment for the same work.

  • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @11:27PM (#15537435)
    "But I don't think Weird Al is hurting for money..."

    That matters because....?
  • by raehl (609729) <raehl311@@@yahoo...com> on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @11:30PM (#15537450) Homepage
    There are very few people who actually have any taste in music. The vast majority of music purchases are made by shleps buying whatever is on the radio or MTV. So who is on the radio or MTV?

    Whoever the record labels SAY should be on the radio or MTV.

    So, no reason to pay the artists anything - if the artist you're talking to doesn't want to take a small percentage of the record sales, then you just find somebody else who will, make THEM the star, and then they can rake it in on concert ticket sales.

    People do not understand that pricing has NOTHING to do with what it costs to provide a service. It has to do with what people are willing to pay to get a service. And most new artists are willing to pay the vast majority of their record (or download) sales to have the services of a record label.

    Also, the article is wrong about WHO is getting the artist's money. The money the artist isn't getting isn't going to the LABEL, it's going to the CONSUMER:

    Price of Al's CD on Amazon: $14.98
    Price of Al's CD on iTunes: $11.88

    That's a difference of $3.10. Al 'apparently' loses $0.27 per song (not $0.265, article has rounding problems). $0.27 x 12 = $3.24!

    So, when Al comes up short $3.24 because a consumer got an album for $3.24 less on iTuns than on Amazon, who got that $3.24?

    The CONSUMER did!

    Now, I'm not saying this is FAIR. Clearly, the record label is making much more money on iTunes sales since, as mentioned, they don't have to pay for a lot of things they would if they distributed music by physical CD. But... why should Al get any of that? Al has agreed to pay the record company a certain amount for the record company's services. The record company gets the same amount whether the CD is sold online or on the shelves. If Al doesn't want to lose money to his stuff being sold on iTunes, he should renegotiate his contract to not allow iTunes sales. I bet most artists wouldn't do that though, because they make most of their money on concerts, and being on iTunes helps them sell tickets.

    The *REAL* problem here is not that Al isn't getting more money. The real problem is that the CONSUMER is still paying the record company CD distribution prices instead of digital distribution prices. In a free market, we would expect digital downloads to be much cheaper than $0.99, because the various distributors would compete against each other reduce the inflated margins the record companies (and iTunes) are getting based on CD priving. But since iTunes is a fairly insulated monopoly at this point, even though the CD *COSTS* of distribution have gone away, the CD *PRICING* hasn't.

    So, who is REALLY at fault for the artist getting no money AND the record company and iTunes still getting full price?

    APPLE! They've set the $0.99 price and are putting no pressure on the record labels to lower it.
  • by EvanED (569694) <evaned&gmail,com> on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @11:38PM (#15537480)
    There are a couple possible reasons they can't do what you say.

    In Weird Al's case, he very well may be in a "you produce x number of albums for us" contract and only partway through. So he's contractually prohibited from going independent.

    In the case of a new artist, you have to admit that the record companies DO do stuff to get you exposure. For instance, it's VERY hard to get on most radio stations if you don't have support from the labels.
  • by EvanED (569694) <evaned&gmail,com> on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @11:41PM (#15537491)
    Would you RTFA?

    Al's not really complaining. Someone asked him what medium gets him the most money, and here's what he had to say:

    "I am extremely grateful for your support, no matter which format you choose to legally obtain my music in, so you should do whatever makes the most sense for you personally. But since you ASKED... I actually do get significantly more money from CD sales, as opposed to downloads. This is the one thing about my renegotiated record contract that never made much sense to me. It costs the label NOTHING for somebody to download an album (no manufacturing costs, shipping, or really any overhead of any kind) and yet the artist (me) winds up making less from it. Go figure."


    He's a little sarcastic about it, but that IMO doesn't come close to "complaining".

  • Re:Cuplrit? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by UnknowingFool (672806) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @11:44PM (#15537507)

    Agreed. Here's what I understand.

    A consumer buys a record on iTunes for the flat $10 price. Apple takes its cut (30% or $3.00) but gives the rest to the record company. The record company takes out costs and then gives the artist a small percentage. For our example, let's say 10% or $0.70 goes to the artist.

    If the consumer had bought a $10.00 CD instead, the record company would still take the same of costs in terms of percentage but Apple would not have taken the first piece out. The artist would have gotten $1.00 in royalties.

    On the surface, it seems contradictory that artist would get less with iTunes and it would seem that Apple is to blame. The real culprit is what the record company considers as "costs." Every contract allows the record company to take out costs before royalties are paid. Traditionally the costs for the record company were things like distribution, marketing, and packaging for CDs and tapes. These were not minor costs.

    But in terms of digital downloads, Wierd Al (and other artists) are complaining that the record companies are taking out these traditional costs as if the work had been sold as a traditional CD or tape. What the record companies are doing are simply taking out the same percentages insteading computing the real costs.

    If the record companies had computed real costs for distribution and packaging for a download, it would have found that they are next to nothing. The artists should receive more. This is due to either the record companies not updating their accounting to deal with digital medium or purposefully shorting the artists. As a pessimist, I would think the latter.

  • Re:Cuplrit? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @11:52PM (#15537549) Homepage

    It's not messed up and backwards, it's just the record companies purposefully taking advantage of the fact the artists didn't have digital distribution in mind when negotiating their contracts.

    Think about it; really, it makes some sense that Apple would be charging some money for their portion of the process. They're storing all the files. They're providing the bandwidth. They're developing the storefront. They're doing the QA on all the data. They're running the customer support. They're promoting the thing.

    Now what does the record company do? They have a one-time investment to collect the songs and album art, and send them to Apple in digital form. Once that's been done, the record companies do pretty much nothing.

    So why is anyone blaming Apple? Apple takes a relatively small portion to cover their costs, and the record companies make a bundle off of virtually no expense. Out of whose cut do you think the artist should be paid?

  • by Have Blue (616) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @11:56PM (#15537568) Homepage
    One of the major obstacles to Apple directly signing their own artists for the ITMS is their deal with Apple Records, which prevents them from taking the role of a record label.
  • Re:The Shaft (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jd (1658) <imipak AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @11:58PM (#15537584) Homepage Journal
    I don't believe in a free market, because "free markets" invariably transfer control from a (largely) unrepresentative ogliarchy of politicians to a (totally) unrepresentative ogliarchy of corporations. Yeah, I know, vote Cthulhu - why go for the lesser of two evils? The "free market", as implemented, needs so many constraints and so much oversight in order to prevent it from degenerating totally that it's not meaningfully free anyway. It's better than a lot of alternatives, but that's only because the alternatives would make a satanist green with envy.


    Really, there is almost no real way of supporting an artist. There are way too many hands dipping into their pockets. That's possibly why labels were so keen on artists getting high on drugs in the 60s and 70s - easier to steal from, if they're not concious. Even adding a token of appreciation in fan mail would be unlikely to get through. Whoever has been hired to answer the mail would be more than able to lift it without anybody being any the wiser.


    If there's a workable solution, then it will require some major restructuring of how things are done. The existing mechanisms don't cut it and cannot be patched to cut it.

  • by Sathias (884801) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @12:13AM (#15537660)
    Or even better, tell him you are going to download one of his CDs and wire 10 bucks to a Paypal account of his choice.
  • by cp.tar (871488) <cp.tar.bz2@gmail.com> on Thursday June 15, 2006 @12:22AM (#15537693) Journal

    What if he licensed it under the BSD?
    Then Weird Al couldn't have any legal problems, could he?

    Almost wrote GPL first, but I'm not certain OpenSourcing the rest of the song wouldn't be a problem for Weird Al...

    If I'm incoherent, it's the lack of sleep.

  • by TEMMiNK (699173) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @01:09AM (#15537888) Homepage
    If Al, or Weird, or whatever he wants to be called didn't understand the contract there is no 'meeting of the minds', a requirement of contract law, at least in Australia and probably UK since most of our law is derived from ye olde english law. Basically Al could get out of the contract because his label failed to ensure he understood his rights and obligations before he agreed, basically you cannot agree to something if you don't understand it. That's why alot of business contracts take days to go through even after they have been negotiated to ensure the 'meeting of the minds' so that the contract is valid. There is probably a reasonable person test in there somewhere, I can't think atm but yeah, if he is getting shafted there may be a way out for him.
  • by SvnLyrBrto (62138) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @01:17AM (#15537920)
    ..... no really. He should.

    He puts on such an insanely great live show, and his fans are so... well... fanatic, that when he does go on tour, people crawl over each other to get tickets. I've never seen a show of his that wasn't sold out.

    cya,
    john
  • by robertjw (728654) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @01:53AM (#15538007) Homepage
    Exactly. If the artist submits his stuff directly to iTunes he can pocket the $.63 directly rather than giving it all to the label. Any wonder why the RIAA is nervous?
  • Re:Well duh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lasindi (770329) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @03:54AM (#15538298) Homepage
    If people don't like the price they can go without. That's your system is it? How about competition?

    Um, I didn't say go without music. I'm saying go without the artists whose music you think is too expensive. Go with artists who are cheaper. Competition is there; artists compete with each other for fame and fortune. You have a choice between them, and you base your decision on (A) the quality of their music and (B) the price of their music. How is this any different from other industries where competition thrives? You might think that a Ferrari is a nicer car than a Toyota Camry, but you "can go without" the Ferrari because the Camry is cheaper.

    If the record companies were required to license their songs to multiple manufacturers and you had a choice between which of them you bought the CD from you don't think the prices would be lower?

    What would be the point of this? Record companies would simply license the songs at "high" prices, and then the CD manufacturers would pass the cost on to consumers.
  • by Znork (31774) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @05:45AM (#15538520)
    'but "stupid" would not be a word I would use to describe them.'

    Of course, by engaging in the rampant exploitation they do they undermine any reason for the law to protect their monopoly rights, effectively proving that the artists and creators would be better off with a pure taxation/incentive construction, and letting the free market drive prices on distribution, marketing and production.

    Sawing off the branch you're sitting on falls squarely under the heading "stupid", in this case, greedy-stupid, as their long term prospects arent particularly good.
  • by Ohreally_factor (593551) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @07:08AM (#15538659) Journal
    For good or for ill, the RIAA has come to stand for the music cartel in many people's minds. Call it the flexibility of language or the laziness of human mind, but when someone says RIAA, I don't just think of the lobbying organization, I think of the cartel.

    I commend you for fighting for precision, but in this case I think you're trying to piss into the wind.
  • by Conanymous Award (597667) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @07:16AM (#15538679)
    If I was Weird Al Yankowich, I'd skip the record label stage and distribute my music straight via iTunes and likes and get my fair share of the revenue. Music is and will be increasingly sold thru the Net, CD's are an outdated business model. (However, I don't want CD's to go the way of the dodo; I still want the booklets with their artwork and uncompressed, high-quality sound for my hifi systems.)
  • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @07:41AM (#15538735) Homepage

    Price of Al's CD on Amazon: $14.98
    Price of Al's CD on iTunes: $11.88


    you spelled with and without DRM wrong.

    Price of Al's music without DRM: $14.98
    Price of Al's music with DRM: $11.88

    and that is how it should be. I want non DRM music so I am willing to pay a premium. Although I dont buy new CD's except at concerts where 100% of the sale price goes to the artist and his/her/their team.

  • by geoffspear (692508) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @08:26AM (#15538889) Homepage
    For good or ill, "stealing" has come to represent copying music in many people's minds. Call it the flexibility of language or the laziness of human mind, but when someone says "stealing", I don't just think of shoplifting, I think of copying a song from a friend.
  • by jedidiah (1196) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @08:29AM (#15538902) Homepage
    When you can point to any of the record labels that exist under the RIAA umbrella and demonstrate the same sort of "red state vs blue state" divide then you will have a point. Otherise, you're just being remarkably dishonest.

    The RIAA is a cartel made up of a small group of companies rather than the hundreds of millions of diverse interests that make up the USA. The labels that make up the RIAA are in a much better position to direct policy and make their values more manifest.

    The RIAA is infact representative of the associated parts of the record industry.
  • by MyNameIsEarl (917015) <assf2000@@@yahoo...com> on Thursday June 15, 2006 @08:46AM (#15538986)
    For good or for ill, the RIAA has come to stand for the music cartel in many people's minds. Call it the flexibility of language or the laziness of human mind, but when someone says RIAA, I don't just think of the lobbying organization, I think of the cartel.

    I commend you for fighting for precision, but in this case I think you're trying to piss into the wind.


    The music labels want people to think of the RIAA when they hear bad things about the music industry, it is a lot easier to boycott Sony or Warner then it is to boycott the RIAA, that name doesn't appear on CD covers does it?
  • In America, where I'm pretty sure he signed it, the responsibility is on you, not anyone else, to make sure you understand your contract. Unless he is mentally handicapped and they were clearly taking advantage of him (which is not the case for him) then he had every opportunity to keep asking them until they explained, or hire a lawyer to explain it to him.

    He makes more money than most people ever will, I don't feel bad for him because he's too dumb to make shitloads more.
  • by j_snare (220372) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @09:16AM (#15539148)
    Even a successful musician is unlikely to be able to afford more than one lawyer and one accountant. The labels on the other hand have vast teams of people insuring that they squeeze every cent out of their talent and customers.

    Why does this always become an explanation? I don't get it. I'm not a lawyer, but when I signed an employment contract, I read it over first, line by line. When I signed a loan contract, I read it over first. When I have *any* contract in front of me, I take the appropriate amount of time to read it over, mark *anything* I don't understand, and then research it. It takes a ton of my time up, and people even get pissed at me taking too long sometimes. But you know what? I know what I sign, and I agree with what I sign. If I don't, at the end of the process, I won't freaking sign it.

    Do the damn research before you sign a contract. I have no pity for anyone who's signed into a bad contract. I've done it once, because I was in a hurry, but my one rule is that the contract is either limited, or there's an acceptable way out.
  • by russellh (547685) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @09:39AM (#15539329) Homepage
    but when someone says "stealing", I don't just think of shoplifting, I think of copying a song from a friend.
    or, lord knows, whistling a tune, or even sitting in silence.
  • by Golias (176380) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @10:58AM (#15540042)
    The RIAA is a cartel made up of a small group of companies

    No, it's not, and that was the whole point of the nitpick.

    The RIAA is a industrial trade group made up of a very large group of companies. [wikipedia.org] It was originally formed in 1952 to standardize the eq device used for playback of phonograph records. They were later assigned the responsibility of certifying "gold" and "platinum" records, and also streamline the collection and administration licensing fees & royalties.

    It is because of this last role that they have recently been the front face of anti-piracy lobbying.

    This particular issue has nothing whatsoever to do with the RIAA. Al Yankovic chose to sign a record deal which shafts him on downloads. He probably did so because they fronted him an assload of cash and/or are paying him enough for CD sales that he decided it was worth it. He's certainly enough of a big-shot that he could have said "no" and found another label with a better deal if his people told him he was going to get screwed.

    But let's all feel bad for how much iTunes is hurting Weird Al. The poor bastard might have to sell off one of his mansions or something.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 15, 2006 @11:22AM (#15540246)
    All three of his albums in the last ten years have hit at least 17 on Billboard, he has three Grammys, and six of nine studio albums have gone platinum, the rest have gone gold. That's a far better record than most music acts.

    As for talent, musically he and his band are incredible. Much like Zappa, his choice of novelty act has caused his artistry to be overlooked. His original songs are much better, comically and musically, than the more popular parodies.
  • by soft_guy (534437) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @11:34AM (#15540357)
    That's funny, when I hear the word "stealing", I think of someone watching TV without paying much attention to the commercials.

    By the way, my name is Jamie Kellner.
  • I've got the perfect solution -- we'll swap Weird Al's songs online, and not pay a dime!

    That way, the record companies get nothing for their treacherous ways, and neither does Weird Al.

    Hey, waitaminute...

  • by Catbeller (118204) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @01:37PM (#15541520) Homepage
    Here. It would be nice if the NPR music program on Saturdays after Prairie Home Companion had downloadable archived programs, so I could provide a link, but no.

    On that program, an artist explained that the record label was providing him, and this was his old, out-of-payback music mind you, that he was making less than five cents for every dollar of downloaded music sold. He explained that they STILL were contractually charging for breakage, for stamping, and for a new line item, "new media technology charge" which was around ten percent of the total. In his words, they were charging for the switchover to a digital format. Mind you, they don't do a thing after the AAC or MP3 is cut, but they are charging for research and noodling new tech. He and some other older, wiser artists are suing the crap out of their labels to force contract changes.

    Musicians DO NOT make music when they sign up for labels. Oh, the very successful ones make money after the first two hit albums -- if they are smart and get good lawyers. But the labels are smarter than any young band and will filet them for the rest of their lives, give any chance.

    Two reasons to download music from file sharers: One, artists (almost) never get paid. The labels steal everything except concert take, and they are working hard on that. Two, the copyright contract that was stipulated in the Constitution, limited time copyright for eventual release to public domain in order to stimulate works, was broken by the new "IP" owners. Labels are cancers which have maneuvered themselves between the artist and their cash, and now have created a police state to maintain that status quo. Music now is eternal property protected by a fledgling corporate police state monitoring all communications. Deal's off. Starve them.

    Pay the artists DIRECTLY by sending them cash, if you care; do not provide a single dime to the labels. I've boycotted industry music since Napster was meddled with, and I hope y'all will join me.
  • Re:Well duh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lasindi (770329) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @06:13PM (#15544353) Homepage
    I need apples for my apple pie. You are telling me to go with grapefruits because of an artificial government granted monopoly with the distribution of apples. After all there is competition in the fruit market....

    Your analogy is flawed because you cannot create a fruit by yourself from scratch (i.e. without an existing fruit). This means that the people growing apples didn't "design" apples (they evolved naturally), and thus apple growers cannot claim that, without their creative/intellectual work, no apples would exist. Also, if you don't like existing fruit, you cannot go off and create your own X-fruit to compete with other fruit.

    In the music world, however, new songs are constantly being produced. If you don't like the Rolling Stones, or you think their music is too expensive, there are lots of other rock bands you can buy music from. And you can even start your own band make your own songs if you like. You can call copyright a "monopoly" in the sense that you have complete control of your *own* music, but similarly you have a "monopoly" over your own house because it's your own property. The fact is, the monopoly you have over your own copyrighted work doesn't prevent anyone else from competing with you (i.e. producing their own songs), which is the problem that monopolies like Standard Oil and Microsoft create.

    We aren't talking about competition of artists here but true competition of distribution. An artist isn't allowed to have multiple distributors FOR THE SAME CONTENT because they are required to sign the rights to the content to the label. No competition == high prices.

    No one is required to sign the rights of their content to a label. Artists are free to keep the copyrights of their songs all they want, or they can license it through multiple distributors. Many artists, however, choose to sign with only one record label, and that is their choice.

Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must be first overcome. -- Dr. Johnson

Working...