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Music Media The Almighty Buck

BMI Reports All-Time Profit High Despite Piracy 335

applemasker writes "Arstechnica is running a story chock full of links to other interesting things about BMI's amazing record profit and how the RIAA skews its sales statistics while strangling fair use." Phew, so the artists aren't really starving, but we still can't all go back to "borrowing" music from our friends instead of each purchasing our own copy.
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BMI Reports All-Time Profit High Despite Piracy

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  • What BMI will say (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 04, 2004 @12:26PM (#10157751)
    "If it weren't for piracy, we would've made even more money."
    • by erick99 ( 743982 ) <homerun@gmail.com> on Saturday September 04, 2004 @12:32PM (#10157778)
      This is a typical and specious argument that can't be argued against without looking and sounding shrill. It is an argument of convenience at best. I would counter with the fact that BMI's rate of growth has been steady going back nearly a decade and growth that smooth was probably not affected (much) by piracy or there should have been a bump in there somewhere.

      Cheers,

      Erick

      • Re:What BMI will say (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Commander Trollco ( 791924 ) on Saturday September 04, 2004 @01:38PM (#10158091)
        Whether they are affected or not would be really beside the point, if we were to look at the problem from its root.

        The owners of copyrighted material often say they suffer "harm" and "economic loss"
        resulting from illegal copying. Like most arguments put forth by copyright enthusiasts, it holds little water - for several reasons:
        The claim is mostly inaccurate because it presupposes that the copying individual would otherwise have bought a copy from the publisher. That is occasionally true, but more often false; and when it is false, the claimed loss does not occur.

        The claim is partly misleading because the word "loss" suggests events of a very different nature--events in which something they have is taken away from them. For example, if the bookstore's stock of books were burned, or if the money in the register got torn up, that would really be a "loss." We generally agree it is wrong to do these things to other people. But when your friend avoids the need to buy a copy of a book, the bookstore and the publisher do not lose anything they had. A more fitting description would be that the bookstore and publisher get less income than they might have got. The same consequence can result if your friend decides to play bridge instead of reading a book. In a free market system, no business is entitled to cry "foul" just because a potential customer chooses not to deal with them. The claim is begging the question because the idea of "loss" is based on the assumption that the publisher "should have" gotten paid. That is based on the assumption
        that copyright exists and prohibits individual copying. But that is just the issue at hand: what should copyright cover? If the public decides it can share copies, then the publisher is not entitled to expect to be paid for each copy, and so cannot claim there is a "loss" when it is not.
        In other words, the "loss" comes from the copyright system; it is not an inherent part of copying. Copying in itself hurts no one.
        • by Sancho ( 17056 ) on Saturday September 04, 2004 @02:08PM (#10158240) Homepage
          Of course, the copyright system itself is the reason we have book, media, etc. The system allows for the (supposedly limited) monopoly on ideas so that artists could make a living and produce their content. Without such laws in the first place, it's unlikely that we'd have the variety and multitude of movies, books, television shows, etc. that are out there. Some say it's a bad thing, some say it's a good thing, but in a free society that should be all about choice, it's pretty definitive of our ideals. Lots to choose from.

          Now lots of people, including myself, believe that copyright has gotten out of hand. The extensions, for example, are completely unnecessary to the original goal. I don't think anyone here believes that it will take 70+ years for an author these days to recoup their investment plus make a profit on their book. In fact, since copyright depends upon the life of the author, we're truly just allowing for the estate of the author to live off of their work, something that doesn't jive (in my opinion) with the purpose of copyright.

          But what it all comes down to is that it doesn't matter. We live in a society where copyright is the law. Copyright infringement isn't stealing, but it is against the law. A person doesn't deserve to download to music just because they'd never buy it anyway, so the store+record company+artist isn't going to lose anything. If you don't like the law, work to get it changed. But it doesn't mean it's acceptable to break it and justify it with crap like that.
          • Re:What BMI will say (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward
            If you don't like the law, work to get it changed. But it doesn't mean it's acceptable to break it and justify it with crap like that.

            I am sorry, but that is utter crap. The average citizen or even groups of millions of citizens of low income have zero or near zero hopes of changing the law in the US. You can carry on with your righteous theories all day long, but you're absolutely wrong. It is the duty of citizens who feel that laws are unjust to break them. It is an honor to break laws that are created b
          • Re:What BMI will say (Score:5, Interesting)

            by d34thm0nk3y ( 653414 ) on Saturday September 04, 2004 @04:49PM (#10158843)
            Of course, the copyright system itself is the reason we have book, media, etc.

            WRONG! You shouldn't start your post with a logical fallacy. Creative works were produced long before the notion of copyright ever existed therefore you can never assert that copyrights were the cause without extra justification.

            Really, you should build up to the logical fallacy that way it is more believable.

            This of course is why we will probably never win in this battle. Nobody who cares enough about truth is willing to blatantly lie to take down blatant liars.
          • Re:What BMI will say (Score:5, Interesting)

            by mpe ( 36238 ) on Saturday September 04, 2004 @05:44PM (#10159063)
            Of course, the copyright system itself is the reason we have book, media, etc.

            Books (and libraries) predate the concept of copyright by a very long time.

            The system allows for the (supposedly limited) monopoly on ideas so that artists could make a living and produce their content.

            Actually copyright was invented to give the state control over use of the printing press. Resulting in the business model of the third party publisher. Media invented afterwards copied the same business model.

            Without such laws in the first place, it's unlikely that we'd have the variety and multitude of movies, books, television shows, etc. that are out there.

            Movies and televison postdate the invention of copyright, so it's anyone's guess how they might work without it. Whereas books predate the concept by thousands of years.
            It's very much evident that authors will write books without copyright even existing. It's also far from clear that the existance of copyright does much to encourage authorship anyway.
          • by LuYu ( 519260 )

            This comment by Sancho is just begging for a reply, so here goes:

            Of course, the copyright system itself is the reason we have book, media, etc.

            And no books existed before copyright? You are kidding, right? The Statute of Anne [copyrighthistory.com] was passed in 1710. China managed to get along without copyright for the first 700 or so years of movable type printing (starting in about 1041) and had been producing woodblock prints, in the absence of copyright, since at least the 6th century [printersmark.com]. Are you trying to tell me th

        • Re:What BMI will say (Score:5, Interesting)

          by pyros ( 61399 ) on Saturday September 04, 2004 @02:14PM (#10158269) Journal
          If the public decides it can share copies, then the publisher is not entitled to expect to be paid for each copy, and so cannot claim there is a "loss" when it is not.

          Um, no. Copyright is defined in the Constitution. It grants the creator of the work thr right to control how and when the a copy of the work is created and distributed. If this right did not exist, there would be drastically less incentive to create, and the public domain would become void of artistic works. The problem is that the original terms of copyright have been extended far beyond the point of any usefulness. When you say "if the public decides" you are ignoring the fundamental protection from the tyranny of the majority that the constitution affords us all. Would you sing the sae tune if the public decides they all have the right of prima nupta and line up to have sex with your wife on your wedding night to bless the union? You won't have been robbed of any property or income.

          • by syberanarchy ( 683968 ) on Saturday September 04, 2004 @04:04PM (#10158675) Journal
            People like you are the reason that the RIAA's line of "copyright ends when we say so" stays as the official mantra of the public. I mean, did you really just compare the ownership of an idea to deflowering someone's bride? And I thought the Hitler/Bush comparisons were out there.

            If this right did not exist, there would be drastically less incentive to create, and the public domain would become void of artistic works.

            Good point, except that the public domain IS becoming void of artistic works, and will continue to do so for the next 75+ years thanks to the work of the late Sonny Bono and other "public servants."

            Probably longer than that, actually - I can see it now: the MICKEY II AP act - Money In Copyright Key II American Prosperity act - will ensure that copyrights last for up to 90 years after the corporation that bought them for pennies of the dollar goes bankrupt.

            They (the corporations) are not holding up to their end of the bargain (limited copyright). So why should I hold up to my end by buying their music instead of taking what should rightfully be in the public commons? (I don't listen to music from the current times, thanks.) Because the law says so? You're going to have to give this free thinker a better reason than that, Jack.

            The musicians are in the middle of the battle, and those who keep signing with RIAA labels have shown where their allegiances lie. Thus, they'll get no pity from me.
    • Re:What BMI will say (Score:5, Interesting)

      by BoldAC ( 735721 ) on Saturday September 04, 2004 @12:34PM (#10157794)
      Artists make most of their money from other sources now. Much like atheletes they make money from sponsorships...

      What video these days doesn't push a product or three? Heck, videos contain enough commericals now that I wouldn't be surprised if MTV actually started showing videos again.

      Smaller artists, like many of my friends, make most of their money from live performances... despite being signed to "major labels."

      Sadly, these major labels often sign many artists to keep them from signing with other groups. Paying them a small fee and then "vaporwaring" their music keeps them out of the competition.

      The music companies are bastards, bastards them all.
      • Phew, so the artists aren't really starving, but we still can't all go back to "borrowing" music from our friends instead of each purchasing our own copy. (original post)

        No, we should start purchasing our own copy from our friends instead of the RIAA. That way our friends will remain our friends and we won't be giving our money to monopoly cartels who will be using it to extort us and to put us and our friends in prison for the crime of listening to music.

        There does come a point in every middle-c
      • by bechthros ( 714240 ) on Saturday September 04, 2004 @03:00PM (#10158444) Homepage Journal
        "Heck, videos contain enough commericals now that I wouldn't be surprised if MTV actually started showing videos again."

        dude, videos *are* commercials. They advertise the band's song/recording/performance, depending on the video. They're four-minute long chunks of TV that MTV is *paid*, usually by the bands themselves, to put on. The bands also pay for the production of the video as well. And you'll notice that they tend to come out right before a album relase or tour - they're just commercials to sell a product. That was the whole beauty of MTV when it started - it was basically a channel of 24-hour commercials that people would beg to watch. Same goes these days for M2 and fuse.

        Somewhere along the line, MTV decided to introduce original programming, but keep it as low-budget as possible, hence reality television - no stars, no writers, no directors, no sets. Just producers, assistants, and a dozen or so poor saps ready to humiliate themselves on network television for a chance at a measly half a mil... after signing all the insurance waivers, of course. The budget benefits of reality programming are the reason it'll be around for a long time.
    • Re:What BMI will say (Score:5, Informative)

      by shark72 ( 702619 ) on Saturday September 04, 2004 @01:04PM (#10157951)

      Why would they say that? BMI collects royalties on performance rights, not CD sales. CD sales have nothing to do with their revenue stream.

      Remember, BMI is a non-profit artists' rights agency, collecting royalties for composers and songwriters for performances -- not sales -- of music which was written or composed by their members.

    • Re:What BMI will say (Score:5, Informative)

      by tigeba ( 208671 ) on Saturday September 04, 2004 @01:24PM (#10158032)
      BMI is a non-profit organization that collects royalties for performances on behalf of artists. ASCAP is a similar organization. The money is obtained from entities like radio stations and then is distributed to artists based on statistical sampling of compiled performance data. Artists (songwriters, composers, publishers) select an organization (BMI, ASCAP) and register their works with them, and in return for a membership fee, the organization sends them a check if their performances show up on the radar.

  • by ThisNukes4u ( 752508 ) <`tcoppi' `at' `gmail.com'> on Saturday September 04, 2004 @12:27PM (#10157753) Homepage
    Maybe the BMI could tell us something we couldn't figure out for ourselves. We know the music artists aren't starving, its not too hard to figure out when they are driving around H2's and flashing their bling-bling.
    • Perhaps the recording artists are struggling to recoup, but the songwriters aren't. This shows that the way to make money in the record business is to write songs for other artists to cover, as it's the songwriter who gets paid when a song is played on the radio. However, songwriters run the risk of copyright infringement [slashdot.org].

    • by shark72 ( 702619 ) on Saturday September 04, 2004 @01:08PM (#10157965)

      "Maybe the BMI could tell us something we couldn't figure out for ourselves. We know the music artists aren't starving, its not too hard to figure out when they are driving around H2's and flashing their bling-bling."

      I think you're confusing the performers -- the pretty people whose photos are on the cover of the CD -- with the songwriters and composers who work behind the scenes creating the music that's recorded by the music stars. Sometimes they're the same person (in the case of a singer/songwriter) but often they're not.

      A career as a composer or songwriter is often shitty, backbreaking work for little or no recognition. Very few Hummer H2s for the majority of those who've made this their chosen profession.

      And it's BMI who looks out for these people.

  • From the article:
    Everyone knows that piracy can effect an artist's bottom line

    Perhaps they mean affect. Unless they mean that piracy can bring an artist's bottom line into existence-- an interesting concept.
    • Unless they mean that piracy can bring an artist's bottom line into existence-- an interesting concept.

      Hey, it worked for the original MS Windows... I seem to remember some statistics that show that most people who got hooked on the whole 'windows' thing did so as a result of piracy.
    • Unless they mean that piracy can bring an artist's bottom line into existence-- an interesting concept.

      "They're pirating our records!"

      "How can we get them to buy our records? What's something we can offer that the pirates can't?"

      "Ummm... liner notes?"

      "Bingo. Let's have $TEEN_FEMALE_SINGER get her butt done and put more pictures in the liner notes of her next album."

      So then the label advances $TEEN_FEMALE_SINGER the money for cosmetic surgery on her backside, effecting her bottom line.

      • "How can we get them to buy our records? What's something we can offer that the pirates can't?" "Ummm... liner notes?"

        Funny you should say that. I downloaded Sgt Pepper the other day (I own it twice on vinyl and didn't want to bother with bringing the record player downstairs), and when it finally was done I discovered much more than just the FLACs. There were something like 5 pictures of the front, back, inside cover, cd, etc. Then there was a word document that contained all the linear notes and pictu

      • Remember that:
        Affect is a verb.
        Effect is a noun.

        So then the label advances $TEEN_FEMALE_SINGER the money for cosmetic surgery on her backside, affecting her bottom line.
        Checkout Grammar for Geeks [planetoid.org]

        Recently, I started attending college and made this same fatal mistake several times in a paper. A quick way to remember the difference is "affect the effect" or "When you affect a situation, you have an effect on it." Overall, you demonstrate good punctuation and writing style. :)

        "You are so convinc
    • In some cases, that may be true...
  • by imehler ( 461005 ) on Saturday September 04, 2004 @12:29PM (#10157759) Homepage
    Those Bastards! They did have enough for their 17th corvettes, solid gold diamond encrusted swimming pools and harem full of supermodels after all - that FBI agent LIED to us!
  • Still (Score:4, Interesting)

    by 6169 ( 318124 ) on Saturday September 04, 2004 @12:30PM (#10157764)
    Phew, so the artists aren't really starving, but we still can't all go back to "borrowing" music from our friends instead of each purchasing our own copy.

    I'll stop doing that when I feel the price for an album has settled to a more reasonable price point.
    • How much did a vinyl record typically cost in the early 1980s? Now double it. For one thing, many CD albums first published in the last few years would fit on three or four sides of 12 inch vinyl; for another, the dollar is worth less compared to groceries in 2004 than it was in 1984.

      • Re:Inflation (Score:5, Insightful)

        by shark72 ( 702619 ) on Saturday September 04, 2004 @01:40PM (#10158104)

        You're absolutely correct -- in fact, the price of music has not kept up with inflation. That record on sale for $9.99 in 1984 would cost $17.60 in today's dollars; meanwhile (believe it or not) the average price of a new CD is now down to about $13.50.

  • by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday September 04, 2004 @12:30PM (#10157767) Homepage Journal

    BMI != BMG

    BMG is a record label.

    BMI is a performance rights organization representing songwriters and their publishers. It handles royalties for radio play of over 4 million copyrighted songs. The other major performance rights organizations are ASCAP and SESAC.

    • by starrsoft ( 745524 ) on Saturday September 04, 2004 @12:48PM (#10157867) Homepage
      I think this article was presented a bit out of context. (i.e. "how the RIAA skews its sales statistics while strangling fair use.") This is after all an organization that "handles royalties for radio play". This does nothing to counteract the argument that piracy is hurting music sales. This is the profits of playing music on the radio, which would logically be greater, because of file sharing not less.

      I think the problem the RIAA has with file sharing is that is shifts the profits an artist receives to being funneled through (with usual middleman skim-off) BMI type companies instead of BMG (RIAA) type companies. This article isn't and shouldn't be about RIAA type sales not decreasing; it is about the revenue, that music lovers direct to artists, shifting to other industries as a result of technological evolution.

    • Thank you I read the article and then its reference and I got confused with this last paragraph shown below (http://bmi.com/news/200408/20040818a.asp):

      "Representing more than 300,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers with a repertoire of 4.5 million musical works from around the world, BMI licenses more than half the music performed in America. Founded in 1939, BMI operates on a non-profit basis, paying more than 85% of revenue collected to copyright owners."

      They don't sound "evil". They are no
      • paying more than 85% of revenue collected to copyright owners." Copyright owners = the record company's
        • by shark72 ( 702619 ) on Saturday September 04, 2004 @01:36PM (#10158084)

          "paying more than 85% of revenue collected to copyright owners." Copyright owners = the record company's"

          I'm not sure how you made that connection. BMI is a performers' rights organization. They represent (and help collect money for) songwriters and composers, not record companies. Songwriters and composers, on the whole, make absolutely terrible money, and it's organizations like BMI that look out for them.

          It's covered here [bmi.com].

  • -1, obvious (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rootofevil ( 188401 ) on Saturday September 04, 2004 @12:31PM (#10157771) Homepage Journal
    seriously, when are they going to realize that P2P isnt hurting anything.

    this will likely be spun as "look how well our lawsuits are working, people are actually buying music again"
  • I'm hungry (Score:5, Funny)

    by conner_bw ( 120497 ) on Saturday September 04, 2004 @12:31PM (#10157773) Journal
    Phew, so the artists aren't really starving

    Profits and payday are not the same thing. Just because you are musician on a major label, doesn't mean you get paid. In fact, unless you are Madona, you probably make less than your indy counterparts.

    "Whenever I talk to a band who are about to sign with a major label, I always end up thinking of them in a particular context. I imagine a trench, about four feet wide and five feet deep, maybe sixty yards long, filled with runny, decaying shit. I imagine these people, some of them good friends, some of them barely acquaintances, at one end of this trench. I also imagine a faceless industry lackey at the other end, holding a fountain pen and a contract waiting to be signed." - The problem with music, Steve Albini [thebaffler.com]

    • Re:I'm hungry (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ToasterTester ( 95180 ) on Saturday September 04, 2004 @01:12PM (#10157987)
      Recording companies and contracts are more like insurance companies. They are taking the risks on the artist. They pay for the recording, marketing, manufacturing, and distribution. IF the artist is a flop the recording company has lost the money not the artist. SO the recording companies pray out of all the groups they sign a one or two will make it big. That will help the recording company recoop losses from the failed artist. So while they do make lots of money off off a couple artist they are loseing on others.

      Yes, the artist if they sell have to pay back recording costs before they make money themselve and some only break even. That is why songwriter royalities are so important to artists. The artists may not make money off records themselve, but make money from their song writing.

      When a record is played on the radio, or a CD sold part of the money goes to the record company in the past called mechanical royalites. Then another part of the money go to song writer royalities. Plus we aren't talking about much money a few cents per play. That what many artist have to pay the bills with.

      >>> but we still can't all go back to "borrowing" music from our friends Borrowing from friends sound innocent, trouble is it's long term borrowing, and not alway friends, but strangers on the internet. Theft is theif. In the past the recordind companies accepted so much of this "borrowing" between friends. But when people started sharing with anyone and everyone you blew it for everyone. So don't blame the record companies and artist who want to get paid. You abused the system and now EVERYONE is paying for your greed.

    • Precisely.
      The fact that the controllers are making huge profits does not mean that a fair or even any percentage of those profits are being shared with the content creators. This has been one of the oft-quoted reasons or justifications for p2p sharing - my $18.00 towards the CD means little or nothing to the unfortunately locked-in contract signees, so why fatten the profiteers?
      Check out Courtney Love's (google) screeds on the way the industry does business and how all but the biggest names often end up
  • Is this a high even if you adjust for inflation?
  • by jb.hl.com ( 782137 ) <<joe> <at> <joe-baldwin.net>> on Saturday September 04, 2004 @12:32PM (#10157781) Homepage Journal
    Who still buys RIAA artist CDs?

    Recently I've bought about 4 CDs, totalling about 75 dollars of music (50 gbp). Why? Because I like the artist, I want the included artwork and gimmicks and because it is only fair that the artist, the record company and the music store and anyone else involved in the production of the record get paid. If you like an artist, I mean REALLY like an artist, you will be happy to pay for their music. Can't call yourself a fan of some music if you're not willing to pay for it,

    YMMV.
    • by Shadow99_1 ( 86250 ) <theshadow99 AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday September 04, 2004 @12:48PM (#10157865)
      Um I buy music, but not from any major label... I go out of my way to support bands I like who aren't signed to major labels and I support small 'indy' labels.

      Why? Because I like their music and I can accept it as good music. They write their own stuff. They stick to their artistic ideals. And they will keep doing it as long as they find it interesting to do.

      Why don't I support bands with major label deals? Because most don't have much real talent. Most don't write their own songs. Most submit to the whims of the labels marketing department rather than sticking to their artistic gifts. And finally most are at the utter whim of the labels themselves. One bad record and they may never be heard from again.

      I wish the band Ra (try to search for them, not all that easy) would drop their contract with their label, though they will loose all rights to their work (it's owned by the label as pretty much every artists is). They have talent, but got no exposure and seem to have dropped compltely off the map... That happens all to often with bands with real talent, but aren't the next boy band or talentless bimbo girl that the music label can push around...
    • "If you like an artist, I mean REALLY like an artist, you will be happy to pay for their music."

      Sure, i'll be happy to pay _THEM_. I'm very unhappy to pay a lot of money on a CD and most of it goes to untalented people in suits that take huge sums of money compared to how hard they worked for it, instead of going mostly to the artists.
    • If you like an artist, I mean REALLY like an artist, you will be happy to pay for their music. Can't call yourself a fan of some music if you're not willing to pay for it

      It is not so much that people are not willing to pay for music. It's that people are not willing to pay 75USD for only 4 CDs. And especially when those CDs come with copy protection which prevents people from using them on a number of playback devices. Consider also that a very small fraction of that 75USD goes to your favorite band. A sm
  • No, the artists are still starving. BMI is doing well though.
    • "No, the artists are still starving. BMI is doing well though."

      Remember, BMI is a non-profit performing rights organization run by and for songwriters and composers. They're not a record company and their revenue stream is not related to CD sales. They're the good guys -- if (God help you) you decide to become a professional songwriter or composer, you want to join BMI (or its sister organization, ASCAP) because they look after you and make sure you get paid for public performances of your work.

      • It should also be noted that unlike a record company, performance rights organizations such as ASCAP and BMI do not take a percentage of profits. They charge a yearly fee for their services, and that is all they make. At times, their enforcement of royalty payments has been heavy-handed, but overall ASCAP and BMI are the good guys.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Enough damned RIAA-related posts already.

    We know they are wrong, we know that some music must be sold in order for musicians to survive, and we know that sharing of music will never end.

    The editors of Slashdot need to exercise some restraint. In any case, the signal : noise ratio on this site has become steadily worse in the past year.

    Wake up and provide some more interesting material, kiddies.
  • BMI is not the RIAA (Score:3, Informative)

    by common middle name ( 657525 ) on Saturday September 04, 2004 @12:38PM (#10157813)
    As far as I know BMI handles royalties for broadcast rights and things like "covers" and songwriting credits. It has nothing to do with sales of pre-recorded music which is what the RIAA claims is hurt by piracy. When you buy a cd from a major label band BMI doesn't see any money. They only benefit from the radio station you listen too playing a BMI artist's songs or the local kareoki bar patrons singing along to a recording. This has nothing to do with pre-recorded music or file sharing. Nothing to see here...move along.
    • Those are truly valid points, but how often have we seen a particular band, literally "shoved down our throats" on commercial radio (Clear Channel, I'm looking at you). Companies such as BMI obviously have the leverage to promote bands in such a way such that Creed, for example, sells umpteen million albums, and a band that no one's ever heard of, like Evanescence suddenly appears and sells millions more.

      Maybe it's my circle of friends, but I've never met anyone who actually liked either of these bands, y
      • Those are truly valid points, but how often have we seen a particular band, literally "shoved down our throats" on commercial radio (Clear Channel, I'm looking at you).

        Tell me about it. That was one expensive doctor bill.
      • The parent article is right. BMI has nothing to do with album sales. AND, contrary to the article I'm replying to, BMI does not have the leverage to promote bands. BMI is an administration company...they're like a payroll service for songwriters. Ars kinda screwed up with this one, hinging their whole article on a piece of info that's not really pertinent.
      • by shark72 ( 702619 )

        "Companies such as BMI obviously have the leverage to promote bands in such a way such that Creed, for example, sells umpteen million albums, and a band that no one's ever heard of, like Evanescence suddenly appears and sells millions more."

        While BMI could do something like this, that's not their job. That's largely the job of the record company.

        BMI collects royalties for performance rights and distributes them to composers, songwriters and music publishers. While they (as well as the other artist r

      • BMI does no such thing, and has absolutely no incentive to. It doesn't matter how many albums a band sells, they still pay the same fees to BMI that everyone else does; about $300 per year.
    • Mod this way up.

      People (ahem, Cowboy Neal and applemasker or *coughcough* "Ceasar"), don't submit (or post) stories that do nothing more than 1) foster greater misunderstanding of the issues, and 2) demonstrate your ignorance, which in this case is great.
  • Friends? (Score:4, Funny)

    by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 ) on Saturday September 04, 2004 @12:39PM (#10157820)
    ....but we still can't all go back to "borrowing" music from our friends instead of each purchasing our own copy.

    The entire online community is not your 'friend'.

  • by argoff ( 142580 ) on Saturday September 04, 2004 @12:40PM (#10157824)
    In the next few years, it will be easier to nuke every city in the planet than it will be to reign in the unrestricted flow of information. The Media industries simply can't maintain their monopoly alone anymore, so they're trying to microregulate all the technology industries and fear monger everyone else.

    PS: which executive candidate do you think is in the pocket of the media industries, and which do you think is in the pocket of the tech industries?
  • Artists? Starving? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Saturday September 04, 2004 @12:48PM (#10157868) Journal
    When was the last time Van Gogh collected a royalty check?

    Corporate ownership of music should be outlawed.

    It's unnecessary.
  • by shark72 ( 702619 ) on Saturday September 04, 2004 @12:52PM (#10157892)

    BMI is a performance rights organization. They are not part of the money flow involved with buying a CD. They are non-profit, run by and for artists and composers -- the "good guys" according to many Slashdotters.

    They handle public performances. Not CD sales..

    Again: BMI = good guys. They collect money for artists and performers -- the little guys. And this money does not come from CD sales. It would be a stretch to claim that P2P would have any effect on BMI's revenue stream. It's all explained here [bmi.com].

    This has to be the mother of all straw men, folks.

    • I agree (as I posted elsewhere) that this whole topic is stupid, based on "Cesar"'s (writer of the article at Ars), applemasker's (story submitter), and Cowboy Neal's (Editor and international bon vivant) gross ignorance. BMI has nothing to do directly with RIAA.

      I'm not so certain that automatically gives them a free pass and a clean bill of health. Weren't they one of the groups behind the bill that killed internet radio?
      • Thanks for being a beacon of sensibility in this utterly retarded thread.

        "I'm not so certain that automatically gives them a free pass and a clean bill of health. Weren't they one of the groups behind the bill that killed internet radio?"

        It would make sense that BMI and ASCAP would be behind the push to require that Internet radio stations pay royalties to composers and songwriters as do traditional radio stations. However, since I have an understanding of how hard the typical songwriter or composer

    • by antiMStroll ( 664213 ) on Saturday September 04, 2004 @01:14PM (#10157994)
      From BMI' site:

      " BMI also licenses non-broadcast general music users, such as nightclubs, discos, hotels, bars, restaurants and other venues. While it is virtually impossible to log and make a separate distribution for such performances, they are accounted for by BMI's basic premise that the material used in such venues reflects the songs currently being performed on commercial broadcasting stations. Therefore, royalties collected from general music users are distributed on the basis of performances on commercial radio and television stations."

      They're the same clowns strong arming taxi companies, restaurants, dentists - any commercial venue with a radio on. I'm not sure I'll group them with the 'good guys'.

      • "They're the same clowns strong arming taxi companies, restaurants, dentists - any commercial venue with a radio on. I'm not sure I'll group them with the 'good guys'."

        I'm not sure how the typical Slashdotter would have songwriters and composers make their money. The common Slashdot rationale for piracy is that artists make their money from public performances anyway -- well, it's BMI who makes sure that they get their money this way. Songwriters and composers largely make absolutely shitty money in e

    • The connection between BMI's royalties figures and the effect of P2P on the music industry was misrepresented in the /. blurb. But there is almost certainly a causal relationship between the two: shared music generates greater interest in particular artists, increasing the occurrences of those songs generating performance royalties.

      • "But there is almost certainly a causal relationship between the two: shared music generates greater interest in particular artists, increasing the occurrences of those songs generating performance royalties."

        Agreed 100%. While this in itself is not a rationale for piracy (the revenue stream from CD sales goes, in part, to a different set of underpaid, hard working everyday people), I am certain that unauthorized dissemination via P2P results in more radio and club play.

    • They are non-profit

      So is the RIAA... just because an organization is non-profit offically doesn't mean they're not a greedy organization.
  • by DrSkwid ( 118965 ) on Saturday September 04, 2004 @12:53PM (#10157896) Homepage Journal
    not quite true [dotgeek.org]

  • "Barrowing" music? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CaptainTux ( 658655 )
    but we still can't all go back to "borrowing" music from our friends instead of each purchasing our own copy.

    It always gives me a chuckle when I see someone call outright stealing "borrowing". Let's look at two key differences between the two:

    1: When one borrows something it usually deprives the lender of the objects use until the borrowed item is returned. This is true of borrowing a CD. Your friend no longer has use of that CD until you return it.

    2: When something is borrowed, it is usually returne

    • by HeghmoH ( 13204 ) on Saturday September 04, 2004 @01:09PM (#10157972) Homepage Journal
      It always gives me a chuckle when I see someone call outright stealing "borrowing". Let's look at two key differences between the two:

      It always gives me a chuckle when I see someone call copyright infringement "outright stealing". Let's look at two key differences between the two:

      1: When one steals something, it usually deprives the original owner of the objects. This is true of stealing a CD from a music store. The store no longer has that CD to sell to its customers.

      2: When something is copied against the will of the copyright owner, the copyright owner loses nothing but an abstract potential.

      "Stealing" music from a friend in the form of a copied CD or MP3 or downloading music from strangers on the internet does not meet the definitions of stealing.

      I believe people SHOULD respect copyright, because it causes people to make valuable contributions to society. But let's not muddy the waters to make a point against those who may disagree; it isn't stealing just because you disagree. It's copyright infringement. Let's at least be honest.
      • I believe people SHOULD respect copyright, because it causes people to make valuable contributions to society.

        And people can't ever enjoy those contributions without chains, at least not in their lifetime. If the copyright was shorter people would see the benefits of the copying monopolies, to the society as whole, and probably respected the copyright law. The current system favours only the **AA and it pirates from the public domain.
  • Piracy undoubtedly diminishes sales, but the extent to which this is the case is debatable.

    While I don't agree with stealing music, I would argue with the term "undoubtedly" at least until some decent market studies are done proving that P2P isn't actually generating more music purchases in general.

    Because I've heard more then enough anecdotal evidence to suggest that it's a possibility. It might not be sustainable if the RIAA opened the floodgates and said "download what you want, pay for what you lik

  • ... to pursue the consumer in legal battels...

    For with todays technology there is no need to subsidize a new band for testing success.

    To put it in simple terms, a new band establishes themselves a level of popularity, via the internet, where upon reaching a reasonable level (if they can), becomes into a position of having record companies bid on handeling the new artist. Leaving it up to the artist to prove themselves and in the process not tale away from established artist..

    such a direction will flush o
  • by fermion ( 181285 ) on Saturday September 04, 2004 @01:09PM (#10157974) Homepage Journal
    Phew, so the artists aren't really starving, but we still can't all go back to "borrowing" music from our friends instead of each purchasing our own copy.

    When did we not borrow copies? Before P2P we made tapes. I suppose before recorded records we just stole the music and lyrics and sang it ourselves. To this day we burn CDs.

    I don't think the issue is borrowing or copying or stealing. I think the issue is how much will it cost to do business in prerecorded media, and who will be willing to enter that business with those costs. Clearly small labels have always had a tough time. The big guys are and have been making money hand over fist for a very long time, at least the past 20 years.

    Leakage or piracy or whatever is part of the cost. So is the drugs, prostitution, and violence. Some people are never going to buy a recording. Some always will. The goal should be to encourage the middle to buy without pissing them off and pushing them to the end that never buys. This is a worthwhile goal. P2P and ITMS is part of that goal. I know people that are buying music again because of these services.

  • by twiggy ( 104320 ) on Saturday September 04, 2004 @01:13PM (#10157988) Homepage
    Phew, so the artists aren't really starving, but we still can't all go back to "borrowing" music from our friends instead of each purchasing our own copy.

    Actually, the artists are still starving, it's the labels that aren't... see The Problem With Music [negativland.com], by Steve Albini. The labels are making plenty of money, choking the artist's bankrolls, and then blaming piracy for the supposed industry decline (and convincing artists it's piracy that is killing their bankrolls)...
  • by nnet ( 20306 )
    Just Say No To RIAA Produced Music(R).

    Support independent artists, listen to their music, not the MTV/corporate garbage foisted on the public. Don't accept crap. Tell the RIAA with your dollars that you're fed up with their crappy music, and monopoly. Stop buying/listening to RIAA produced crap.

    Ogg Stream IPv4 [ardynet.com]
    Ogg Stream IPv6 [diix.org]

  • Not for profit (Score:2, Informative)

    by Inv8r Zim ( 748854 )
    Just to take issue with the headline, Broadcast Music International is a non-profit entity, so saying its profits hit a record high is misleading. They collect royalties for musical artists' radio, TV and other media performances, but they do not "Profit!" from them.

    My band, which had a major label deal in the nineties but imploded in a drug fueled haze over a decade ago, still see an incremental uptick in BMI checks every quarter. Go figure.
  • by TheFrood ( 163934 ) on Saturday September 04, 2004 @01:43PM (#10158123) Homepage Journal
    No, it's chock full of 404's. Here are the correct links:

    open and vicious attack on fair use [arstechnica.com]
    bring civil cases themselves [arstechnica.com]
    bends its statistics [arstechnica.com]
  • by werdna ( 39029 ) on Saturday September 04, 2004 @01:46PM (#10158140) Journal
    BMI does not sell records, and its revenues do not depend upon record sales. BMI is one of three main competing performance rights associations (ASCAP and SESAC are two others), who control the exclusive right to publicly perform (as opposed to distribute and reproduce) music. Typical licensees are restaurants, night clubs and radio stations.

    Presumably, even pirates eat, party and listen to the radio.

    Not that I don't sympathize with your position, but BMI is in a different business from the RIAA.
  • by ZackSchil ( 560462 ) on Saturday September 04, 2004 @02:06PM (#10158233)
    In other news, the RIAA is now lobbying to ban friendship, stating that it has lost over 500 billion dollars in profits in the last month alone. Both major political parties have issued public statements that appear to contain 3-4 pages of dog barking. Ralph Nader issued a 10,000 word rebuttal, filled with outrage but no one seemed to notice. They were too busy watching Celebrity Fear Factor.
  • by generationxyu ( 630468 ) on Saturday September 04, 2004 @02:51PM (#10158406) Homepage
    Record companies (not the RIAA) and artists (not Lars Ulrich) coming out against the DMCA and the restrictions against fair use and P2P. Get the artists to say that they make money off of filesharing. This is an old argument, but a true one... I first heard Modest Mouse when a friend of mine burned me a CD of theirs. I fell in love with the band, and bought that and their four other albums. I've also spread the word that Modest Mouse rocks my socks, and gotten several other people into them as well.

Refreshed by a brief blackout, I got to my feet and went next door. -- Martin Amis, _Money_

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