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PressPlay and MusicNet vs. Artists 448

gilroy writes: "According to a New York Times article (free registration, yadda yadda), despite taking the moral high ground (that they want to see artists compensated, as opposed to all those evil downloaders), the record companies have actually set up pay schedules so as to -- wait for it -- rip off the artists who record the music. Some figure they will earn less than $0.0023 per download -- yes, that's hundredths of a penny. Best quote from the article: 'For many acts, suddenly there appears to be little difference between the illicit file-sharing system and record-label services.' Good to see they're fighting for the artists, n'est-ce pas?"
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PressPlay and MusicNet vs. Artists

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  • They're only honest and fair when they can make/save more money by doing so.
    • I wouldn't even call it that... for years they've been ripping off the artists... did we really expect them to suddenly become generous? Like any big coperation they will not change until they have no choice.. for now atleast they hold all the legal balls (and enough money to buy new ones). Until the Artists who create the music can own and control their own music this will never die...
      the Funniest part of the whole RIAA BS is how evil they claim the downloaders are and how the riaa is protecting th eintrests of the artist... and then they turn around and start trying thing slike "work for hire"
  • by Sixyphe ( 313087 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @02:24PM (#3032966) Homepage
    The greedier the industry gets, the better it is for the artists and the public in general, simply because it will eventually reach the point where everybody (and, hopefully, Metallica too) will just want to bypass them. The nice thing is, we now have the means to do so. It's much easier to convince a judge that a publisher does not deserve protection if it's obviously ripping everybody off.
    • You can bypass distribution, you cannot bypass recording and marketing costs. I don't know about you but I know very few independently wealthy artists who are just starting out.
      • by Znork ( 31774 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @03:12PM (#3033349)
        Guess who pays for it today? The artist.

        The recording industry forwards an advance to the artist, which is then used for recording and marketing costs, and the artist gets to live on whatever is left (a helluva lot less than what you make on most computer industry jobs). This money is then recouped out of the artists share of the profits (the few cents they get from the record, or in this case out of the 0.00fraction cent they get per download). When an albums sells about half a million records, the artist will begin getting any money at all. Needless to say, artists getting paid doesnt happen very often.

        End result for most artists: An interesting adventure in getting screwed that makes them less money than a job asking if people want fries with that.

        With the costs for recording and marketing getting much lower with cheaper technology and the net, it's likely that the artists would make very much more money by going independent. You dont have to be independently wealthy anymore.
    • Well, it's not called "ripping people off," it's called investing. Record companies put up a huge amount of capital to produce records, market bands, and finance tours. Because there's a great deal of risk involved in promoting musicians, the recording industry demands a very high rate of return. Yes, the musicians create the content, but without financial backing, you never would have heard of Metallica. Remember the Golden Rule, that whoever has the gold makes the rules.

      Band contracts last for a set number of years, and during that time, the record company will spend a gratuitous amount of capital promoting them. Once that contract expires, the band typically retains the band name, for which a tremendous amount of branding work has been done. They can take their brand and cash in on it themselves. The end result is that bands that have longevity will eventually get to live a fairy-tale existence, riding off into the sunset with millions and millions tucked away into their mutual funds.

      Let me just say that, while I sympathize with people like Courtney Love, I won't shed a tear if she ends up with $15 million in the bank instead of $35 million. She can probably have her chauffer start clipping coupons out of the Sunday paper to help her make ends meet.

      Personally, I'm looking forward to the internet and technology advances equalizing the revenues of the entertainment industry, as high-quality audio and video content becomes ridiculously cheap to create and distribute.
      • Well, it's not called "ripping people off," it's called investing. Record companies put up a huge amount of capital to produce records, market bands, and finance tours. Because there's a great deal of risk involved in promoting musicians, the recording industry demands a very high rate of return. Yes, the musicians create the content, but without financial backing, you never would have heard of Metallica. Remember the Golden Rule, that whoever has the gold makes the rules.

        Agreed. I've always argued if you're dumb enough to enter into that bad of a contract then you deserve everything that you get (or don't get).

        *But* I will say record industry contracts seem top be a HELL of a lot worse than any other artistic/content type of contract. Book authors don't give away anywhere near as many rights as a musician. Book publishers also front money and marketing to authors, and the author has to pay back it back with their revenue, but the author retains the copyright on their material. Not so with the record industry. Work for Hire is the norm there, and it reeks. Book publishers take on just as much risk in terms of recouping costs as the record industry, but they don't demand ownership.

        But like I said, if you're dumb enough to agree to both pay for the recording and marketing of your record and still give up ownership, you deserve to be shit on.
      • by anonicon ( 215837 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @04:45PM (#3034015)
        Well, where do I start?

        Well, it's not called "ripping people off," it's called investing. Record companies put up a huge amount of capital to produce records, market bands, and finance tours. Because there's a great deal of risk involved in promoting musicians, the recording industry demands a very high rate of return. Yes, the musicians create the content, but without financial backing, you never would have heard of Metallica.
        Investing my ass, if anyone but the record labels did what they do, they'd be hauled into court for loansharking and racketeering. Oh wait, that's already happened to them...

        Per the high risk of modern music and need for a high return, you're right. In fact, just like small businesses, they're quite risky. Guess what? If I get a loan for my small business, I make 100% of the money that customers pay me, and then I repay 100% of my loan from my proceeds. If I'm a signed musician, I get 7% of the money that customers pay for me, and then I repay 100% of my record company loans from my proceeds. Do you see a problem with this equation??

        Band contracts last for a set number of years, and during that time, the record company will spend a gratuitous amount of capital promoting them.
        WRONG. Contracts last for a set number of *albums* - there is absolutely no year limit. Also, the record company will *not* necessarily spend a given amount of capital promoting the artist - they will typically have X$$ to promote 10 groups out of the 20-30 they signed that year. The others will be cut at the end of the year.

        Once that contract expires, the band typically retains the band name, for which a tremendous amount of branding work has been done.
        If you're one of the 10 out of 30, some branding work has been done. Also, most contracts don't expire, the artist is flat out dumped from the contract. For those contracts that do expire, sure the band retains their band name, but they have no rights to their music or lyrics - the label owns those for at least 35 years at the minimum unless they auction them off to the highest bidder - who then keeps the copyright on the artists' material for the life of the auuthor plus 95 years.

        They can take their brand and cash in on it themselves.
        Riiiiight, you're talking about less than 2% of all acts signed to the major labels by this point. By the way, if they play their songs in concert, they have to pay the label for the rights to play their songs - because the songs don't belong to them. They belong to the label. If they create a Greatest Hits album, 90-93% of that money goes to the label. That's cashing in, right?

        The end result is that bands that have longevity
        You're on a roll now. Through la-la land.

        will eventually get to live a fairy-tale existence, riding off into the sunset with millions and millions tucked away into their mutual funds.
        You mean Waylon Jennings? Merle Haggard? TLC? Guess what, between all of them, they have never received a royalty check despite selling tens of millions of records and CDs.

        Let me just say that, while I sympathize with people like Courtney Love, I won't shed a tear if she ends up with $15 million in the bank instead of $35 million. She can probably have her chauffer start clipping coupons out of the Sunday paper to help her make ends meet.
        Are you a record company shrill? You speak like one. Courtney Love and Hole are not mega sellers, and likely will make less than $1 million net for their careers, divided by 4 members *and* 8-10 years. That comes out to $25,000-$31,000 per year per member before taxes - if they're lucky. 99% of all artists signed to the labels will not see a royalty check - coupons will be a necessity for them.

        Personally, I'm looking forward to the internet and technology advances equalizing the revenues of the entertainment industry, as high-quality audio and video content becomes ridiculously cheap to create and distribute.
        In theory, technology and the internet should force prices down, but many of us know they won't. It will be ridiculously cheap for the LABELS to create and distribute, but those savings will not see their way to either the artist or the consumer. Those ever-cheapening prices *will* help the independent artist who avoids the labels like a plague, thank God.

        What a troll.
  • by night_flyer ( 453866 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @02:24PM (#3032968) Homepage
    Purchase tickets for their concerts, they recieve very little in the way of compensation from CD/tape sales.
    • Purchase tickets for their concerts, they recieve very little in the way of compensation from CD/tape sales.

      Do you think that the artists charge too much for their concerts?
      I work for a large concert production company and over 40% of all sales go to the recording industry anyway. So by buying tickets you are actually putting even more money into the recording company's pocket anyway.
    • Of course, doing this would only further extend the Clear Channel monopoly [everything2.com].
    • I've started writing to artists and asking them directly for copies of their music. We generally work out a nice deal and then exchange money for music. No record company.
    • by oyenstikker ( 536040 ) <slashdot.sbyrne@org> on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @03:43PM (#3033605) Homepage Journal
      Burn the CD from your buddy. Mail a couple dollars to the artist. The artist makes more money. You save money. The CDR makers make money. The CD burner makers make money. The USPS makes money. Everybody wins. Except for the RIAA, they gain and lose nothing.
  • It's a sad thing.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Marx_Mrvelous ( 532372 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @02:25PM (#3032971) Homepage
    It seems the only way that we'll break out of the cycle of recording companies ripping off artists are to bancrupt them. And that means hard times for recording artists while a new economy is built to support them.
    I do think that file sharing is a good thing, but it is also destructive to the current economic structure of the music industry. But, with change comes pain.
    • by night_flyer ( 453866 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @02:28PM (#3033002) Homepage
      I do think that file sharing is a good thing, but it is also destructive to the current economic structure of the music industry.

      It needs to be destroyed, with a LARGE number of people on the net, there is NO reason a new promotional system cant be set up. I hardly listen to the radio anymore, but I do check out new music on the net...
    • Hi, I don't have time to repeat this, but it bears repeating...

      Here. [slashdot.org]

      I invite your comments on the form that the new pay structure should take.
  • by gpinzone ( 531794 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @02:25PM (#3032972) Homepage Journal
    So when someone get's busted for illegal copies of mp3s, is that the value the MPAA will use to calculate damages?
    • You mean RIAA right? MPAA is the movie people.
  • Someone has to (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SilentChris ( 452960 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @02:25PM (#3032978) Homepage
    "Good to see they're fighting for the artists, n'est-ce pas?"

    I'm glad someone is. Though I agree with the idea that record companies aren't the elite "doers of good" in the industry, the fact remains that many geeks (myself included) have basically been fucking over the artists by downloading free music. Admit it. The first time you saw someone download something from Napster/GNUtella/whatever, you had a pang in your gut that said "Isn't there something wrong with this?" It's called guilt.

    There are hundreds of record labels that get screwed over by these practices - there are millions of artists who get the same. Unfortunately, without a massive revamping of the entire industry, you can't fuck one and not the other.

    • > The first time you saw someone download something from Napster/GNUtella/whatever, you had a pang in your gut that said "Isn't there something wrong with this?" It's called guilt.

      More telling is that, those who didn't, obviously dont value what they're downloading. (IE, even if they enjoy it, it still tells us that music is too expensive these days.)

      I see my prediction regarding how ill suited economy of scale is to cultural commodities is holding true ....
    • Re:Someone has to (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Well, I agree I've been downloading music. But I look at what I've downloaded, and almost all of it is music I purchased once on LP... some of it I purchased a second time on Tape.. and now I'm supposed to pay the same artist again to listen to the same tune as an MP3?

      I might even be willing to pay again if the pricing were reasonable. $18 bucks for a CD? Whacky.
    • Re:Someone has to (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CmdrPinkTaco ( 63423 )
      as far as Im concerned, if anyone deserves to get fucked it's the labels. Think about it - they are the ones who are responsible for paying the artists - and they aren't. They are a huge conglomorate (sp?) and their primary interest is in looking out for themselves. Plus by fucking over the labels you can effectively get rid of the artist that they "manufacture" (Brittney, n'sync, BS Boys et al). You are left with people who want to make music, and get paid for it. You can get rid of the people who want to make money, so they make music.

      The only way for the artists to stand a chance against such an inbred monster as the MPAA or any largeish record label is for them to stand together, not have a bunch of disparate lawsuits that only create trivial damage at best. They need a knock out punch by flexing their collective muscles.
    • "the fact remains that many geeks (myself included) have basically been fucking over the artists by downloading free music"

      With the way the system has been set up, the Recording Industry has always taken most, if not all, of the money made from sales of recorded media, be it CDs, tapes or legally downloaded MP3s.

      There are several articles, available online through a few quick searches, which show that the best way to support the artist through a method in which they actually get a fair share of the profits from their work is to attend live performances.

      Legal downloads of MP3s or not, the artist isn't going to get your support unless you give it through the method that works best for them. This is why I've never felt guilty for "trying out" new music genres and bands I've not heard of before by downloading illegal MP3s, as I'm more likely to go to a concert of theirs then and see them in person.
      • Most geeks I know have several thousand MP3s of several hundred bands. Do you think they're going to go to each and every one of these bands' concerts?

        Or, more likely, they are going continue to save their money by not paying for anything at all?

    • Re:Someone has to (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Jon Howard ( 247978 ) <howard...jon@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @02:47PM (#3033169) Journal

      I disagree, but let me explain why:

      I don't have a lot of money to spend on CDs, and even if I did, purchasing music which you haven't heard is a total shot in the dark. In the past, I would hear music my friends listened to and buy CDs from the artists I liked, if I had the money to do so. With the advent of the big P2P networks, I was able to check out a much wider variety of music, though I still only bought what I could afford. When I was exposed to so much music which I liked, I found myself making greater allowances in my budget for music - though you would be correct in the assertion that I downloaded much more than I paid for. I purchased what I found to be most interesting, rewarding the musicians which I felt deserved it most - many of whom I would never have heard if I had continued learning about new music through my peers. I now spend more money on music than I ever have in the past, though I listen to more music than I could afford to purchase - and at the same time, I have diversified my cultural input by stepping outside of the clicques my friend have ordered themselves into.

      Who is this hurting? Musicians whose music I don't like who were relying on name recognition for shot-in-the-dark sales.

      How is this good? It helps create a more evolving music market which can function via natural selection (ie, survival of the fittest) rather than survival of the best-funded (advertised).

      I spend more money on music now than I did before, nobody is losing sales to me - I can't buy any more music than I do.

      • Re:Someone has to (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SilentChris ( 452960 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @03:30PM (#3033514) Homepage
        I'd consider you more the minority than the majority. Most prior Napster users were teenagers who simply didn't want to shell out a few bucks to get the latest Britney album. Most aren't adults, and most certainly DO NOT share your view of expanding one's musical horizon.

        It's almost answer a realistic problem with a philosophic argument. It looks nice on paper, but real life dictates otherwise.

        • Re:Someone has to (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ToLu the Happy Furby ( 63586 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @03:58PM (#3033691)
          Most prior Napster users were teenagers who simply didn't want to shell out a few bucks to get the latest Britney album. Most aren't adults, and most certainly DO NOT share your view of expanding one's musical horizon.

          There were upwards of 60 million Napster users when it got shut down. "Most" of them were not anything. ("Most" of them were certainly not teenagers; there are only ~12 million teenagers in the US total!) And, as there were something like 40 million unique mp3s floating around Napster, I guess "most" of them actually were listening to more than just the latest Britney album. (Otherwise that's a pretty long album...)

          If you want a "most", here it is: most Americans with Internet access in early 2001 used Napster. The overwhelming majority of those who could feasibly use it (i.e. those with broadband connections) used Napster. And while I can't speak for all or even "most" of them, I know I have never, not once, felt guilty for downloading music from the Internet, nor has anyone I've spoken to about the subject.

          And, like the original poster, I most certainly increased my CD buying as a direct result of Napster. I can't say whether such behavior reflected the majority or minority of Napster users, but considering the almost precise correspondence between growing (then suddenly falling in spring 2001) online music trading and growing (then suddenly falling in spring 2001) record sales, the statistics strongly support the former.

          Laws are supposed to arise from the consent of the governed. When most of the governed are engaging in an activity with a clear conscience, it probably shouldn't be illegal, unless it carries some hidden negative consequences unseen by the uneducated majority. In the case of Napster, though, there were two hugely positive consequences: free access to the largest cultural repository the world had ever seen, and increasing CD sales to boot.

          The argument that we should suddenly rewrite and reinterpret the past 200 years of copyright law (in which noncommercial infringement was generally held to be inactionable) just to kowtow to what the misguided oligopoly trying to retain their control over mass expression and culture mistakenly feels is their own self-interest is utterly absurd. The fact that you feel "guilty" about it (and project that guilt onto 60 million others) is just pathetic.
        • by raresilk ( 100418 ) <raresilkNO@SPAMmac.com> on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @04:41PM (#3033987)
          Every time music IP rights come up in discussion, I notice that most of the posts fall into two categories:

          (1) those who admit they download or rip music, but claim they either own all the CDs they rip, and/or that they buy more CDs, or more diverse CDs, as a result of downloading; and

          (2) those who claim they never download or rip music, but insist that those who do are simply opportunistic freeloading teens downloading or copying Britney/N'Sync, and deny that category (1) exists.

          What is striking about this duality is that the people who actually do rip/download would seem to be in a better position to report why they are doing it, as compared to those who have never opened a Gnutella window or ripped a CD. Personally, my girlfriend and I exemplify both classes of category (1) very clearly - she rips our CDs so she can make us mix CDs for the car/gym; I try out mp3s of new music, and buy the CD if I like it; we both rip some CDs so that we can play the tracks on our computers with visual displays such as I Tunes and Winamp plugins. And we would jump at the chance to convert our large (approx. 3000 CD and 500 LP) music collection to a high fidelity, all digital format that could be databased, searched, and easily played on our audio gear as well as the computer. Ironically, although such capability would enable us to buy even more CDs than we already do (we are running out of CD room in the house - seriously), the music industry seems determined to ensure that this never can happen.

          Isn't there some way to obtain empirical data to determine whether (1) or (2) is the most valid world view? For example, could a program be devised to crawl out over Gnutella and track and compile download frequency data of file names, to see whether most downloading is focused on the big money pop groups as the industry claims? If that's too scary, could some university department with expertise in such things conduct a reliable blinded survey, or arrange a study of this behavior? When the two sides of the debate have such different perceptions about what is actually occuring, it's difficult to see how progress can ever be made.

          And if I'm right (as I suspect) that category (1) users actually predominate, and that many category (1) users are actually serious music buffs like us (and are the industry's best customers, I would think), it is possible that the RIAA and its government backers would be given pause. I mean, I was a teenager once, and how much music could I afford to buy then? None. I admit that in those days I shoplifted a few 45s and LPs I desperately wanted and couldn't hear on the radio, and even though I would gladly have paid if I'd had the money, it still wasn't right. But I have paid that back with thousands of legitimate purchases as an adult. One would think that the music distributors would look at downloading the same way - it is the soil in which their best future customers grow. I find it hard to believe that teens who get their jollies downloading Britney (or other such slop) and copying it for their school clique are ever destined to become music nuts such as myself. The industry would be better worrying less about squeezing the last penny out of Britney drones who will probably never buy a single piece of music after they leave college, and worrying more about how much money they'll lose when people who purchase hundreds of CDs every year swear off Universal and other labels that cripple our music. My girlfriend and I have already done so.

    • Pang of What? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Srin Tuar ( 147269 )


      Admit it. The first time you saw someone download something from Napster/GNUtella/whatever, you had a pang in your gut that said "Isn't there something wrong with this?" It's called guilt.


      I think you are overestimating guilt here; the only ones feeling it are the misguided "moral" prudes who feel pangs of guilt when they fast forward commercials.


      In reality the first thing most people thought when they meet napster et. al. was "man those downloads are kinda slow, and some of the songs are truncated or low-quality"


      Non-commercial private sharing poses scarce threat to copyright holders if the would JUST MEET DEMAND. How long does it take for someone to offer affordable high quality-low hassle subscriptions to digital media? Simply on the books copyright law is enough protection, more than enough- all this SDMI crap is a collosal waste.


      Until someone steps forward to meet demand, there is little room for "guilt". The longer they delay, the more effort is put into filesharing regardless.

      • Re:Pang of What? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Chiasmus_ ( 171285 )
        Non-commercial private sharing poses scarce threat to copyright holders if the would JUST MEET DEMAND.

        This is way too optimistic.

        I'll be honest. I have a lousy job. I don't make very much money. There's a temp agency taking $4 an hour from me just for finding this lousy job for me. I am absolutely not going to pay for music (or software, or movies) unless I absolutely, absolutely have to.

        I believe that there are a lot of people like me. Those of you here on Slashdot who are saying that people are willing to buy all their CDs from Tower if they were only $6 are, I'm convinced, a vocal (and affluent) minority. $6 is still too much to spend on a CD when you're searching for loose dimes to pay the rest of your DSL bill.
    • Though I agree with the idea that record companies aren't the elite "doers of good" in the industry, the fact remains that many geeks (myself included) have basically been fucking over the artists by downloading free music. Admit it. The first time you saw someone download something from Napster/GNUtella/whatever, you had a pang in your gut that said "Isn't there something wrong with this?" It's called guilt.

      Er, nope. Every song on my hard drive is also in my CD collection.

      Now, do I feel angry over the practices of the record labels -- and dirty by association? Ubetcha.

      • "Every song on my hard drive is also in my CD collection."

        I'm cool with that. I'm cool with copying all my music to my hard drive for easy searching. I'm also cool with people making custom CDs with these songs.

        I'm not cool, however, with the general practice of downloading. Chances are that if you're downloading you music you don't own it (otherwise, you'd just stick the CD in your drive and click rip).

    • No, we have NOT been screwing the artist. I don't know if you noticed but the numbers show that last year more CDs were sold then all other years combine d (if I remember my numbers correctly, at the very least it was a record setting year).

      The quote you hear about the companies loosing money is loss of sales from CD SINGLES not albums. The industry has never made significant money from CD Singles.

      So, that can only point to Napster HELPING CD sales not hurting them. Studies I have seen show that CD sales INCREASED last year with the exception of near college campuses. Well, college students don't have a lot of money for luxury items such as CDs anyway and the working public is a better (more stable, more money) market for the industry anyway.

      So, no. I didn't feel bad when I downloaded an mp3. If I didn't listen to it again after listening too it for a while I knew I didn't want the CD. However, I bought several CDs after constantly listening to certain mp3s. Not only that I tended to buy more CDs from the same artist when I listened to their mp3s a lot (I knew the one album I had of them wasn't a fluke)

      So, no. Both incidental and studies show that we HAVEN'T been screwing the artists.
    • I didn't get into Napster, but some time a long time ago somebody gave me a compilation tape.

      Due to having listened to that compilation tape, I've probably purchased 30 CD's and LP's all told, of The Residents and Yello, and I still look in every record store I see for a copy of anything by The Flying Lizards (so far unsuccessfully).

      Now, how exactly does this amount to screwing over either the artists or the record companies? They recieved considerable money from me that they otherwise would not have, had someone not given me an illegal compilation tape.

  • No Reg URL for NYT. (Score:5, Informative)

    by thesolo ( 131008 ) <slap@fighttheriaa.org> on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @02:26PM (#3032988) Homepage
  • I wonder how this compares to a music acts usual compesation? (after the riaa takes it's cut, ect.)

    Fuzzy
  • 91% of the Revenues? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheMatt ( 541854 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @02:26PM (#3032991) Homepage Journal
    Holy Hannah, the labels and Pressplay get 91% of the revenues? I want in that racket. And think, after 1000 downloads, the artists will have a shiny 2 dollars 30 in their pocket...reasonable compensation.

    Even better is this tidbit: Another irritant for the artists, several lawyers and managers say, is the distribution of the $170 million settlement from MP3.com, an Internet company that offered a music storage service in violation of copyright law.

    The labels were to share that money with artists whose music was put online without authorization, but several artists' representatives said nothing had been distributed.


    Raise your hands, who here didn't see that coming.
    • the best tidbit (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Tenebrious1 ( 530949 )
      The arguments the labels are using, said Jill Berliner, a leading music lawyer, are exactly the ones Napster made. "And, from our perspective, if the technology is going to be out there and the artist isn't really going to make money, we'd prefer that our fans just get it for free," she said.

      Hmm... I wonder. It sounds like a threat just to get the labels to share, but could we really see artists coming out and endorsing free music sharing? Well, I doubt we'll see Metallica doing a 180 on free music downloads.

      The main problem as I understand it is that the labels pretty much controls the major arenas. Bands that grow beyond club size need the labels or they won't ever see the stage of a major arena. Flaunting the major players will assure that a band, no matter how many CDs they sell online will never get to play before the big crowds and make the big money. Perhaps this will prompt more of the big bands to take on the labels and change the way the whole industry works and break the control the labels have over the arenas. For the sake of the small bands, I hope so.

  • by lemonhed ( 412041 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @02:27PM (#3032997) Journal
    He added that it was "beyond logic" that artists would choose to leave their music off Pressplay and "effectively encourage the use of illegal services."

    In other words, why would an artist give his/her music away for free when they can make money using pressplay?

    Think of pressplay as another broadcast source. Just as each time an artists gets dinore when their song is heard on the radio, they will get money each time their song is downloaded from pressplay.

    I think that once the kinks are worked out so that the artists feel as if they are getting their "fair share," this system will become very very popular.
  • Such hypocrisy... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Archie Steel ( 539670 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @02:28PM (#3033001)
    ...who really believes that the Record Companies have their artists' best interests at heart? Miles Copeland III can tear up his shirt all he wants about how Napster is infringing on musicians' rights, the only thing members of the RIAA care about is keeping their stockholders happy.

    We need more artists like George Clinton and media-whore Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit to support file sharing of their music, and give the (record) Man a big finger. When artists agree to file sharing, perhaps we'll see a real shift in the industry's exploitative business model.
  • Royalties (Score:5, Informative)

    by PowerTroll 5000 ( 524563 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @02:28PM (#3033012)
    As one rock manager computes it, if a consumer buys the standard Gold Plan on Pressplay, paying $19.95 for 75 songs downloaded to a hard drive and 750 streamed so that they can be heard only once, an artist, after these deductions, gets $.0023 per song downloaded. To earn a penny, more than four songs must be downloaded.

    Aren't the artists getting shortchanged? According to copyright law, the current statutory rate for a U.S. copyright is 7.1 per song. (See, 37 C.F.R. 255.3(h)) This minimum rate is effective until January 1, 2000, after which it will go up every two years until 2006, at which time it will remain at 9.1 per song until changed.

    There's a lot more to royalty calculations as well. More info on Freeadvice.com [freeadvice.com].
    • by Anonymous Coward
      This is the Mechanical Royalty which is paid to the songwriter, not the performer, and is a publishing royalty. The minimum is 7.1cents/song, if the song is long (I think over 5 minutes) they are paid even more. This, I presume, would be paid on top of everything else, because they are not necessarily paid to the same people.
    • Hands up, who thinks that that rate will be achieved by shifting the percentages artists receive?

      And who thinks it'll be by jacking up the price of the service to unconscionable levels?

      Ah, I see. You've all decided that the people who have been cranking CDs from $10 to $20 slowly, as an industry, will just give the artists a better slice of the pie. How cute.
  • No, it's thousandths. ;)
  • Some figure they will earn less than $0.0023 per download -- yes, that's hundredths of a penny.

    A penny is one hundredth of a dollar so the figure shown above is .23 cents or 2.3 tenths of a penny not hundredth. But still it's a rediculous compensation for the charge.

    Sorry, couldn't resist.

  • So, it wasn't really coding or encryption work that delayed these services so long. It was getting all the $500,000/year business people to figure out how to optimally screw both consumer and artist at once.

    Never doub the ability of a business school grad to screw a large number of people when they put their mind to it.
  • by donglekey ( 124433 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @02:32PM (#3033050) Homepage
    Because when my one hit wonder song goes platinum and recieves 1,000,000 downloads, I will have made a wopping 2,300 dollars, almost enough to compensate the recording studio for greeting me. I think I will stick with the 'making money from my computer' SPAM I get from my joecool@aol.com email address. I'll bet Scientology wishes they thought of it first.
    • As an attorney for the churh of ScienKookery,

      We herwith and forthto demand an immediate retraction.

      Any use of the very word ScienKookery is expressly forbidden due to copyright violations.

      Blah...Blah Blah....
    • Wouldn't it be pretty easy to rig some kind of machine (or beowulf cluster) to keep downloading your own song, over and over? It couldn't cost 23 cents in bandwidth and hardware to download one MP3, could it? How many of your own 2.5 meg MP3s could you reasonably download in a month over a T1 that was costing you $450?
  • by south ( 35469 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @02:34PM (#3033060)
    Well now we know how much songs are worth, I figure my 11gigs of mp3s work out to around something in the range of $5.33. I can afford that, where do I send my money?
  • by Waffle Iron ( 339739 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @02:34PM (#3033062)
    They just need to shed their glamorous images and spend more carefully. By my math, if they choose cost-effective food such as a McDonald's Value Meal for $2.79, it would only take 1213 dedicated fans downloading their song to pay for lunch.

    Even better, the fans have to download broken formats that will be unplayable in a few years, so the artists can have another Big Mac later on, courtesy of the same 1213 fans!

  • by Aexia ( 517457 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @02:34PM (#3033066)
    We've written them letters and put them on notice up front, as did most managers and lawyers, saying, `Don't put our artists' music up.' But they'll do it anyway. They're so arrogant. They're taking the position of: `We don't care. Let's just do it without asking.' They're ignoring their contracts. It's ridiculous.



    The manager also expressed shock that the Pope is Catholic, it rains in Seattle, and that Bill Clinton is no longer President.

  • by boa13 ( 548222 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @02:37PM (#3033078) Homepage Journal
    Recording companies offer the artists a service they often like: "Don't bother with the business, we've got all the skilled marketroids to ensure your genius will reach the masses. Just keep doing you art". This comes for a price, of course. But truth is, managing your own musical business while doing art is a real pain. I hope such incidents will entice more and more artists to try alternative ways of ditribution and earnings.

    Giving away the music and being paid through Paypal seems a bit overoptimistic, giving away the music, or making it very cheap, and being paid through concerts is something some bands are actually doing, trusting small companies that essentially work through the web is something I'd like too see develop in the future.

    MPAA has a monopoly they don't want to lose. It's not only against MP3-sharing they are fighting, but also against any possible alternative to the way they make business. Because they can't afford to stop to grow.
  • Liars! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @02:37PM (#3033084)
    That sucks. I really thought that as soon as the music industry eliminated illegal filesharing, world culture would gain tremendously from a steep increase in high-quality content made by well compensated artists. What a let-down.
  • by Sc00ter ( 99550 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @02:38PM (#3033088) Homepage
    Most bands have already signed their rights away to the music to the record company for the record deal. So the stuff that you're download still belongs to the record company, not the band. So when you download something that the record company owns, and pay the band, the person that actually owns the rights to that music you just downloaded isn't getting anything.

    Yes, it sucks for the band/artist, but they're the ones that signed the contract. Nobody is screwing the band/artist, except themselves. It may not be morally right, but it's true.
    • > but they're the ones that signed the contract.
      > Nobody is screwing the band/artist, except
      > themselves.

      Not true. For the vast majority of bands, the choice was: sign the contract OR don't get published, don't make any money at all, and don't become professional musicians.

      This is the oldest trick in the book when it comes to "rights". Yea, you have rights, and we'll defend them as long as they're useful. But as soon as you actually want to achieve anything - bam! You have to sign your rights away, and then everyone can say it's your own fault because you "chose" it.

      What this would require, of course, is strengthening the rights granted by copyright law so that the rights granted are actually protected - ie, cannot be signed away in agreements, and cannot be blocked from exercise by practicality. But, of course, that would have a VERY interesting effect on software licenses..
      • What's stopping them from touring themselves, selling CDs themselves, finding an independent label to take them on and give them a decent contract? Set up a website to give away their mp3s to make them popular enough to have some push when they do sign with a big label?

        They can still be a band and make money.. They sign their rights away because they want big money NOW, they don't want to wait. They see big dollar signs in their face and they sign the paper that gives away their rights to their music, and somehow, that's the record companies fault. If the bands/artists didn't become the whores of the record company and just wait or do things on their own to build their popularity, they wouldn't be getting so screwed
    • by mblase ( 200735 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @03:10PM (#3033336)
      Although Pressplay and MusicNet license the music, the bands are not paid a licensing fee. Instead, the labels pay their artists a standard royalty for each song accessed by a fan, as they would for a CD sold. This means that the artist gets on average less than 15 percent instead of 50 percent. But, out of that, 35 to 45 percent is deducted for standard CD expenses like packaging and promotional copies -- expenses that obviously don't exist in the online world.

      And:

      To try to avoid future protests, most major labels have added a clause to their standard recording contracts allowing the label to sell an act's songs on the Internet, including all subscription and pay-per-use services. It is very difficult, said Mr. Stiffelman, for a new band to have enough leverage to remove this clause from its contract.

      In other words, the bands' lawyers are arguing that the music label contracts give a royalty for each copy of the song sold, and a license payment for each instance of the song used but not sold. Future contracts will probably alter this, but the bands feel they deserve a higher license fee instead of a tiny royalty -- which is cut further by CD packaging expenses which the online world doesn't have.

      Bands do not "sign away" all the rights to their songs when they record with a label. They retain the right to a cut of the profits. The argument here is that the cut they're getting is unfairly and possibly illegally small.
    • False. That's precisely the point of the article. The record companies DO own the right to publish and promote the music, but only in traditional formats. They do NOT have the right to publish those songs online, which is what gives a lot of the artists the ability to send out cease-and-desist letters (and, as some will, hopefully, start lawsuits.)

      A lot of established artists are doing precisely those things, because the record labels legally don't have the right to prevent the distribution. There have been a lot of slashdot articles on this subject, and it's part of Napster's defense, to which a coalition of artists signed on.

      I'd never purchase a subscription to the record labels' services, for multiple reasons beyond principle. Now, if only someone would start negotiating a system where the artists could sign on for 70% profits on song downloads and allowed you to do whatever you wanted with the music ... I'd be more than happy to pay for that!

      Problem is, most companies are too scared to get into that mess, because the record labels will do everything in their power to prevent the loss of that market--even though their case is nearly indefensible, since it's not supported by contract.
  • This was foreshadowed when the record companies took all those nasty music pirates to court for "ripping of the artists".

    These same companies felt no need to share the money they won in court with the same artists they were "defending" and "fighting for".

    The music industry's main complaint seems to be "You're shearing _our_ sheep! Only we get to do that!"

    From the artists POV at least alot of people were listening to your music under the old system. Now you don't get squat AND no one's listening. Is that a net win or loss?

    Sheesh,

    =tkk

  • Did you ever notice? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nesneros ( 214571 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @02:39PM (#3033101) Homepage
    Ever notice how entertainers often champion the anti-corporate causes out there, or at least bemoan the politicos who support the big "traditional" corporations like oil, steal, chemicals, etc. I'm talking about Alec Baldwin, Barbara Streisand, Rob Reiner, etc.

    Don't you think its funny that, in terms of basic business ethics, their industries are about the most atrocious as far as supressing individual rights?

    Then again, bad practices by the music/movie industry probably never killed anyone, whereas Union Carbide has a death count worse than Ted Bundy. Then again, its easy to point to the sludge in your backyard and say "The Exxon plant next door put this here" and get a positive public reaction than "The RIAA won't let me share my music online."
  • Article Text (Score:4, Informative)

    by TheFrood ( 163934 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @02:40PM (#3033104) Homepage Journal
    My Karma is maxed out, so no, I'm not whoring.

    Record Labels' Answer to Napster Still Has Artists Feeling Bypassed

    By NEIL STRAUSS

    In their bitter battles against Napster and other free music downloading services, record company executives have wielded one moral argument that has placed their position beyond self-interest: the fans take the music without proper permission and don't pay the artists a dime.

    Last December, the major record labels responded with two Internet services of their own where fans pay monthly fees to download songs. Under this arrangement, however, the performers still don't get a dime: for each song downloaded, they stand to get only a fraction of a cent, according to the calculations of disgruntled managers and lawyers.

    And, artists and their managers say, the labels, like Napster, aren't putting the music online with proper permission either.

    "I'm not an opponent of artists' music being included in these services," said Gary Stiffelman, who represents Eminem, Aerosmith and TLC. "I'm just an opponent of their revenue not being shared."

    Because the sites are new, no payments have been made yet, but the payment plan has so infuriated scores of best-selling pop acts, including No Doubt, the Dixie Chicks and Dr. Dre, that their lawyers have demanded their clients' music be removed from the sites, with some even sending cease-and-desist orders. Only in some cases have the major record companies complied.

    Since Napster was born on college campuses in the late 1990's, peer-to- peer file sharing services have become the bane of the established music business, with, at their peak, some 60 million Napster users sharing nearly 40 million songs illicitly. Even after a federal district court shut Napster down, other free services proliferated, with Kazaa and Morpheus attracting an ever-growing base of users sharing not just music but movies and software as well.

    In December, the music business responded with Pressplay and MusicNet, both pay-to-use subscription services where users can listen to or download a specified number of songs each month. Pressplay is a joint venture between Universal and Sony Music, and MusicNet teams BMG, EMI and AOL Time Warner (news/quote) with Real Networks.

    "All of my clients had their attorneys advise the labels that if they did use my clients' music on Pressplay or MusicNet, they would be in breach of contract," said Simon Renshaw, who manages the Dixie Chicks, Mary J. Blige and others. "Some artists they took off, but some they didn't. It's becoming very obvious to me and my peers that we're becoming victims of what is a huge conspiracy."

    Representatives of the five major record labels would not talk on the record about the payment system or their rights to use the music. But in comments not for attribution, several executives at labels and their subscription services did not dispute the accusations regarding the payment plan. They said their first priority was to make the services attractive to consumers and that the details of compensation could be worked out afterward.

    In a letter responding to a lawyer who is trying to remove an artist from Pressplay, the head of business affairs for several Universal labels, Rand Hoffman, set out a company position. It is a view shared by other record executives, who say they are investing heavily to fight piracy and develop a fair compensation system for artists who are ungrateful.

    "We are now spending tens of millions of dollars to help launch Pressplay in the hope that a legitimate response to the illegitimate services will provide an attractive alternative to consumers," Mr. Hoffman wrote in the letter. "Pressplay is committed to making music available on the Internet in a manner that is legal and that ensures that artists and publishers will be paid. This is truly a time for artists and record companies to be working together."

    He added that it was "beyond logic" that artists would choose to leave their music off Pressplay and "effectively encourage the use of illegal services."

    Though the two new services don't appear to be widely used, what worries artists and managers is that a precedent is being set, so that if the labels finally come up with a viable online music subscription service, they won't have to share a significant portion of the proceeds with artists and can claim that this is the way business has always been done.

    The crux of the debate over artists' compensation involves whether they should get a licensing fee or a royalty payment.

    When their music is used in movies, in commercials and on Internet sites, artists are paid a licensing fee, which, after payments to the producer and the publisher, is split 50-50 between artist and label. Although Pressplay and MusicNet license the music, the bands are not paid a licensing fee. Instead, the labels pay their artists a standard royalty for each song accessed by a fan, as they would for a CD sold.

    This means that the artist gets on average less than 15 percent instead of 50 percent. But, out of that, 35 to 45 percent is deducted for standard CD expenses like packaging and promotional copies -- expenses that obviously don't exist in the online world.

    As one rock manager computes it, if a consumer buys the standard Gold Plan on Pressplay, paying $19.95 for 75 songs downloaded to a hard drive and 750 streamed so that they can be heard only once, an artist, after these deductions, gets $.0023 per song downloaded. To earn a penny, more than four songs must be downloaded.

    "I did the math with several other managers and lawyers, and the labels and Pressplay get just under 91 percent after they've paid all the artists for all the downloads," said Jim Guerinot, who manages No Doubt, Offspring, Beck and Chris Cornell. Other managers come up with other figures that they say are even worse for the artists.

    The artists' managers and lawyers say the record companies have not committed their payment system to writing.

    Representatives for Pressplay and MusicNet said that the payment schedule was a decision made by the labels. "Pressplay licenses its content from record labels and in turn packages the music on our service," said Seth Oster, a spokesman for the company. "The compensation of artists takes place at the label level."

    "Pressplay was developed as a legitimate service to make sure artists' rights were respected and artists were compensated," he added.

    A spokeswoman for MusicNet said, "We are deeply committed to artists' rights and to ensuring that copyright holders are compensated."

    Another irritant for the artists, several lawyers and managers say, is the distribution of the $170 million settlement from MP3.com, an Internet company that offered a music storage service in violation of copyright law.

    The labels were to share that money with artists whose music was put online without authorization, but several artists' representatives said nothing had been distributed.

    Spokesmen for Sony (news/quote ) and BMG said those companies were arranging to distribute the money. According to Warner Brothers and Universal Music, the money has been distributed, although it may not have been spelled out exactly in the accounting statements artists received. EMI did not call with a comment.

    For many acts, suddenly there appears to be little difference between the illicit file-sharing system and record-label services.

    The arguments the labels are using, said Jill Berliner, a leading music lawyer, are exactly the ones Napster made. "And, from our perspective, if the technology is going to be out there and the artist isn't really going to make money, we'd prefer that our fans just get it for free," she said.

    Another complaint is that the labels are licensing music to the subscription services without seeking permission from the musicians.

    "All of a sudden this thing launches," Mr. Guerinot said, "and myself and a lot of other managers and lawyers had never even been asked about it. We have coupling rights in our contract, which means they can't just take our music and put it wherever they please. When I try to talk to them, they say that they don't have to discuss this."

    Mr. Guerinot said he sent cease- and-desist letters on behalf of Offspring, Beck and No Doubt. As a result, he said, music from No Doubt and Offspring was removed from Pressplay, but not the music of Beck.

    One manager of million-selling acts, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: "We've written them letters and put them on notice up front, as did most managers and lawyers, saying, `Don't put our artists' music up.' But they'll do it anyway. They're so arrogant. They're taking the position of: `We don't care. Let's just do it without asking.' They're ignoring their contracts. It's ridiculous. Obviously it will be litigated."

    Some managers, however, said that they felt bullied into including their music on the services and were powerless to do anything about it. "Of course we're upset about it," said the manager of one male artist. "But he hasn't even turned in his record yet, so what leg do we really have to stand on?"

    To try to avoid future protests, most major labels have added a clause to their standard recording contracts allowing the label to sell an act's songs on the Internet, including all subscription and pay-per-use services. It is very difficult, said Mr. Stiffelman, for a new band to have enough leverage to remove this clause from its contract.
  • Business plan (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Watts Martin ( 3616 ) <layotl@g3.1415926mail.com minus pi> on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @02:41PM (#3033113) Homepage
    Obviously someone is going to have to do what MP3.Com tried to do--just figure out a way to do it right. A plan might be for such a company to approach independent record labels unaffiliated with major labels for distribution, and to approach "known" artists currently without contracts. Not big names, necessarily, but people who are falling through the cracks of the system to start with--Americana, roots rock, alternative country, folk rock. And of course, some 'middle name' artists lose their contracts, for various reasons.

    Start the "label" with the knowledge that records are primarily promotional tools for bands, and design the business with as little overhead as possible and to be as artist-friendly as possible. A real "internet-only" record label wouldn't make a whole lot of money, but it might be able to attract a fair amount of attention from artists if it played its cards right: sharing small profits generously might well work out better for most artists than sharing miniscule fractions of large profits.

  • Push != Pull (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SirSlud ( 67381 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @02:53PM (#3033215) Homepage
    Record companies are making one simple mistake. People who like big name artists need their music 'pushed' onto them, a la radio and charts, and MTV and yadda yadda.

    There is no way the artists that make it big with the casual listeners, those who need to be told what to like, what is next, who is big, will make it big in an evironment where the listener must go out and 'pull' music from interactive sites.

    We should have gotten some stats from Napster .. like, how much of the music they were pushing around were big label artists. I'd venture that big names didn't do to well in an environment that encourages the discovery of new music.

    Discovery and self-education, is, of course, the bane of media big business.
    • Re:Push != Pull (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rupert ( 28001 )
      Sorry, but Britney was always the most searched-for artist on Napster. I always thought that was a symptom of being in a transition period between the MTV generation (being told what to like, and bringing those preferences to the new medium) and the bright and glorious Napster future, where people could actually find music they like for minimal promotional expense on the part of the band. Unfortunately we never got to find out.
  • DMCA raid? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Animats ( 122034 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @02:58PM (#3033260) Homepage
    Maybe the artists who want their music off can arrange a DMCA raid on Pressplay.
  • by Krelnik ( 69751 ) <timfarley AT mindspring DOT com> on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @02:59PM (#3033265) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, I know, its pointless to post this, but I guess I like tilting at windmills.

    I submitted this yesterday and it was rejected:
    2002-02-18 15:32:33 Record Companies Facing Revolt of Artists (articles,music) (rejected)

    I've read all the FAQ's on submitting (several times) and try as I might I cannot get a story accepted on this site. It makes one wonder what other stuff gets overlooked in the submission queue.

    More to the point, it makes me wonder what issues are important to the editors of this site but which are not being clearly articulated in the FAQ's on submitting. I.e. I must be doing something wrong, but for the life of me I can't figure out what.

  • music tax (Score:2, Insightful)

    by f00zbll ( 526151 )
    I wouldn't mind the music tax so much, if the record labels put more towards programs like save the music or other programs designed to increase/improve music studies in public schools. The labels are such hypocritical money hoarding sharks. The legal system needs to seriously slap the labels upside the head.
  • 1) You're all against this, it rips off artists.
    2) Previous article is about shortening copyright limits so that artists work become public domain sooner and everyone is for that.

    (I'll concede the possibility of their being two completely separate sets of people replying to each)

    But it seems to me that between the users that pirate, the record companies that take 99% of profit and the open sources that think "14 years of copyright on an artistsic work is enough" that absolutely everyone is out to rip off the content creators! It's a univers of succubus.

    Well (pardon my french) but screw you all! Someday (god, government and geeks willing) artists and content creators will actually obtain real power over their work. They'll say who can have access and at what price. If they seem unfair then people will tell them to fuck off. If not, people will buy their product. If you don't like their terms on their own creations then there is only ONE thing you can do about it (morally), and that's to walk away. Anything else is just plain wrong.

    • Just a quick reply, but the true figure is "90+ years of copyright is [more] than enough". Everything is in degrees, and I, along with many other /.'ers, think that the current system of copyright law is screwed up. To take the artist's pov, if they are a phenom, and create something (art, music, movie, whatever) when they are 10 years old, in the current system they would be 100 years old before that passed into public domain. Does that seem excessive? When patents expire in 20 years, that is, ideas that can advance the human race are given 20 years of protection, but if you write a short story, you are protected for the rest of your natural life? Do you see the discrepancy? Now that that is agreed upon, it comes down to degrees. Whether I think the artist should get the same years as patent holders or not is irrelevant, and can be discussed in another forum. Combine all that to the fact that when we talk copyright, we aren't actually discussing the artist, but instead the copyright-holder (in almost all cases, that is their label or ditributor), and you see where your correlation between the two topics (artist's being screwed vs. copyright protections) is flawed. If the artist *wasn't* screwed, for the 14/20/whatever # of years they should be protected, then we would both be happy (all 3! the artist would be happier as well).

      Sorry for the formating, I'm in a hurry...
  • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @03:19PM (#3033413)
    Sure, the record companies are ripping off the artists. But isn't that exactly what happens with filesharing, only more so? How does that make filesharing acceptable? To me it looks like people engaging in filesharing are just as bad, if not worse than the record labels. And hypocritical about it too. After all, at least the artists can try to negotiate with the record labels (as this article describes). Not mention that the artists are free to set up a co-operative or their own labels, or whatever. Of course the filesharers will just rip the product of the cooperative too.

  • by asv108 ( 141455 ) <(asv) (at) (ivoss.com)> on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @03:20PM (#3033426) Homepage Journal
    Their dependence on record companies. There was a time when bands needed to a hit record in order to hit the "big time" but that day has long since passed. Serious musicians can always embrace live touring as a way to build word of mouth. Look a band like Phish [phish.com] who built a huge cult following by live touring before they even signed a contract with a record company. Having touring revenue can give a band the ability to negotiate favorable terms since they are not completely dependent on record sales.

    Besides touring, you can use alternate methods of distribution such as: net downloads or you can even cut your own CD's and sell them through an online store. Basically, there is no reason for artists to be so dependent on record sales.

  • "I did the math with several other managers and lawyers"

    Never trust lawyers to do math...

    Managers either.

  • Wake Up Call (Score:2, Interesting)

    The record industry STILL doesn't want an online distribution method. They have done this KNOWING that the artist will protest and that it will not make money. They will then take it down. They then will have successfully stoped p2p sharing (napster) AND not have to distribute music online.

    It's just a red herring.

  • "...He added that it was "beyond logic" that artists would choose to leave their music off Pressplay and "effectively encourage the use of illegal services." ..."

    Or, Record Companies can leave it on Pressplay despite cease-and-desist orders, thereby effectively encouraging the use of illegal services.

    As one poster has already mentioned, at least with Napster somebody was listening.
  • For many acts, suddenly there appears to be little difference between the illicit file-sharing system and record-label services.

    This one line really stood out for me. I think that it means the revival of Napster in all its glory. At least with Napster, artists can actually connect with their audience without the intermediary of a bunch of real pirates.

    For most artists, the real threat to their attempt at a livelyhood aren't the people swapping 64kbit MP3 files, its the recording industry.

  • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @04:03PM (#3033735) Homepage Journal
    This is just crazy!

    I've been using OMDs (internet Original Music Distributors) for some time now- was with mp3.com for a while until they got bought out by Vivendi and changed their contract in really negative ways, have stuff on BeSonic, and now I'm setting up shop on Ampcast.com. [ampcast.com]

    I get FIVE CENTS per full download from Ampcast. (This is why they have you register- otherwise artists would cheat)

    That is more than twenty times the royalty the RIAA is willing to pay...

    Why, how? First, Ampcast really wants to be selling its CDs (a primary reason I like them so much is that they burn-to-order from genuine (rippable) Red Book CDs. The one I have for sale there is a Red Book, full 44.1/16 from high-resolution masters (done with my GPL mastering software Mastering Tools [airwindows.com]), I'm trying to negotiate a cooler tray-liner artwork but it's 'live' and buyable right now. If you buy one, I get a few bucks, and Ampcast gets a few bucks, and the RIAA gets absolutely fscking nada, zip, zilch, zero, thank you for playing. Secondly, Ampcast ain't a free OMD or trying to be one. It charges a fee like a hosting service, and that's where those five centses come from, plus from the CD sales. They're good that way- they have sense and have managed their budgeting intelligently so they have control of their business.

    I'm still putting up other work and remastering my back catalog, but go check out 'Full Day', buy the CD (with a little bonus track not listed on the page) if you like it. And then ask yourself: is it fair that RIAA major label artists get a less than a twentieth of the download-royalty I'm getting from Ampcast? That _stinks_. The RIAA has _more_ money than Ampcast! They could well afford to do a HELL of a lot better than that. It's pathetic, outrageous, insulting. I'm not saying my music isn't as good- I put a lot of work into it- but TWENTY times as good? I think NOT... yet that's the discrepancy in pay.

    By the way, if you don't like the idea of me getting paid off downloads, the streaming plays don't pay anything, you could check out those. Or, if there are people who've bought the CD, I write right on it "please copy this CD for your friends" and it's totally rippable, so you could look for the tracks on Gnutella or something- I hope people do share my music that way. If someone has a problem with dealing with Ampcast registration etc. and wouldn't buy my CD anyway, they should still be able to have mp3s of it... I don't need their nickel that badly that I should insist on putting them through a hassle...

  • Linkin Park (Score:5, Informative)

    by cybercuzco ( 100904 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @04:44PM (#3034004) Homepage Journal
    I think the best example of what MP3's can do for the music industry id Linkin Park. Las year, guess who sold the most records and CD's? Britney? Outta synch? Backdoor boys?, nope it was Linkin Park, a band that formed ::Gasp:: on their own! But surely Linkin Park Must have been spotted by some smart record exec and signed immediately. Nope, in an intrerview in the jan 28 issue of time, the band says that WB turned them down the first time they tried to get a deal, so what they did was plaster their MP3's all over the internet. They would go into chat rooms and pretend to be random people, saying "hey, have you heard the great new band linkin park" or something to that effect. Eventually they built up a legion of loyal fans through mp3's and the net, and THEN they were signed by WB. Would they have been able to do this without MP3's? maybe, but they sure made it easier. And WB certainly wouldnt be sitting on the goldmine they are neow, afte rall they turned down the band the first time!
  • by gdyas ( 240438 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @06:15PM (#3034646) Homepage

    This is a wonderful example of why vertical marketing sucks in the entertainment industry in general and in the music & movie industries in particular for the consumer.

    Vertical marketing, for those more familiar with a Unix prompt than corporate strategy, is the positioning of your company such that you control all aspects of production & distribution for the life of your product, from soup to nuts per se, or from artist to consumer. For example: in the beginning of the movie industry in the 20's - 30's, Edison had a vertical lock on motion picture production and distribution. Through patents he controled both the ability to make movies and the ability to show movies. There were Edison theaters, and you had to have Edison cameras to make films (at least in the US). The result was that he could charge the movie companies whatever he wanted to make a movie, then he could force them to show them only in his theaters, and at prices he decided. In a free market the owner of the technology (Edison) and the owners of the talent (studios) needed each other. but because Edison had a lock through patents the studios had nowhere else to go. Eventually he was forced to divest the theater business to people like Loews, etc.

    How the story ties into the music industry is thusly. The music industry has been vertically integrated for a LONG time. They find the talent, produce the product, and control the distribution to retailers. Only what's hapenned to them is that because of innovation the nature of the product has changed in people's minds. People now know that music isn't a piece of magnetic tape or a little plastic disc. It's a piece of information.

    Crushing Napster/KaZaa/Morpheus is vital to the future of the big 5 companies for this reason. It's has nothing to do with "piracy", because there's never been any evidence of a hit to their bottom line -- in fact, they've been raking it in over the past 5 years. It's about crushing your competitors and bad-mouthing the very innovation that's threatening you (thus you get the MP3 = piracy thing), introducing your own service that essentially does the same thing, and thus staying vertically integrated. Hell, my bet is they don't even care about downstream sharing as long as they're controling the original source.

    Fucking over the artists is just a sideshow - icing on the cake. It's really about staying a small group of very big companies who make money by controling what you listen to.

  • by Sabalon ( 1684 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @07:14PM (#3035089)
    I wonder how far we are from an artist that has a breakthrouh hit that is on a CD produced at home?

    Get Cakewalk or any of the current audio tools, a decent sound card, and decent mics, fix your garage up a bit, and there you go. Cost of probably around $2,000 total.

    Going with a big company, you get a fancy studio and a producer, who will help you make your track sound just like everything else out there. (Okay...where would Def Leppard be without Mutt Lange - I'll concede that!)

    Then again, some of the stuff I listen to on a regular basis either a) was recoded on a shoestring like this, or b) was recorded a while ago and the recording quality is probably the same as what can be done at home now.

    Then again, I am also sick of all the overpolishing done on most modern stuff.

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