Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
The Internet

Sony claims of Artist's Name URL For Life 152

Effugas writes "Apparently displeased that individual artists might try to contact their fanbase All By Themselves(TM), Sony has been inserting clauses in their contracts that assign eternal ownership of any URL that even slightly references the artist's name to The Company. " Sent some shivers down my spine.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Sony claims of Artist's Name URL For Life

Comments Filter:
  • This is why a ton of good bands that arent popular stay with their tiny labels when they get big. Mustard Plug is sticking with Hopeless Records, and damn it, they probably get more money per CD than the label. I normally thought of sony as a company that actually though things through...oh well. All hail the little guys.

    ---------------------------
    "I'm not gonna say anything inspirational, I'm just gonna fucking swear a lot"
  • ...shall have the exclusive right, throughout the world...

    Right then. We all stump up some cash for a satellite and a Linux box, and start selling .orb domain names.

    Not only does their wording preclude orbital hosting, but who would they find to have juristiction so they could sue?


  • The last couple of days we've all heard some pretty scare things with domainname lawsuits and link lawsuits. The latest case (today on ./) was in Sweden, and just the day before yesterday I read an article about a Danish boy who's also getting sued for linking to .mp3 files.

    The question is - who's there to judge? How can I get sued in America (I live in Denmark) for using a domainname of an artist who Sony has published a record with?
    It's gonna be very interesting to follow these cases and see how things will work out.
    Hopefully for the best so the internet can keep on beeing this wonderful anarchistic fenomenon we all like so much.
  • Suppose I'm a new artist. Signing the contract lets Sony control *my* use of my name as a URL. It'd be as easy as hell to have a friend go and register the relevant domain names in advance, and for the sake of typicality control them on my behalf. He hasn't signed any silly contract with Sony, so they can't really do anything about it.

    Nick Moraitakis

  • The overhead for a gig in a stadion is nothing like 30000 x $35 = ~$1000000.

    In smaller venues (200-1000 seats), with your own promotion , you can get like 60-70% of the ticket price. Most smaller venues (round here at least) work with a fixed price anyway.

  • A similar (but different) situation with any kind of domain name which uses references from Douglas Adams' books: in particular the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Adams work is being "controlled" by a company called The Digital Village (which he partly owns - so it isn't as bad as Sony). The TDV Lawyers have issued a general request for everyone to cease using domains mentioning characters or places or things from any Adams book.

    Now of course this seems to be just posturing on the side of TDV lawyers as people in the company itself seem to be quite nice and reasonable but it has led me to start the move changing a domain: megadodo.com [megadodo.com] to galactic-guide.com

    Ok - not quite the same thing as Sony but connected non-the-less.

    Alex Mc

  • whether we like it or not, they deserve to get a much bigger share of the money that you spend in your local record store than Hootie and the Blowfish do.

    I don't like it, and what I think they deserve is to get their sorry asses competed out of business now that you don't need major capital to be in the music industry.

    And anyway, just putting up a bunch of capital doesn't necessarily mean that you should automatically "deserve" a big return -- if that were true, airlines would be among the most profitable companies in the world. We have a saying in my industry (consulting), which we repeat whenever the PHBs come around telling us to do this that and the other in the name of "our shareholders".

    It goes:

    "Our skills are a scarce good. Shareholders' equity is not a scarce good. That's why we get the big rewards, and they don't"

    (all geeks should repeat this mantra three times a day to create the correct mindset for dealing with employers)

    Applying it to the music industry, it seems to me that musical talent is a scarce good, and will stay scarce forever. Distribution networks for music are currently a scarce good, but are getting much less scarce every day. Sony should be very scared (and, by its behaviour, almost certainly is).

    It's all about da scarcity ^H^H^H^H Benjamins.

    jsm
  • The standard contract with a major label (or a large independent if there is such a thing) is for 5-7 albums. If the band get dropped from the lable then they are usually free from this restriction, but it prevents the situation of first album being a big success and then the band leaving for who ever offers more.

    With very small labels it is often a case of persuading the artist to let the label release the album, and the contract signed will usually just be for that album.

    The point someonw made earlier about how the large record companies do spend huge amounts when they sign new bands and how they spent $200,000 on a band that wasn't a big success just shows how poor they can be at choosing bands to sign and then marketing them.

  • If it's anything like the Sony portable CD player I used to have, you should have been embarassed even before this -- the damn thing skipped more than a playground full of kids playing hop-scotch.
    /.
  • Contrast that to any of the pop stations, where you'll hear the 'song of the week' three times in one day...

    Only three times?

    Wow. I've heard radio stations that play some song once every HOUR. Imagine what that'll do to people that are at work where they have the radio on all day. You're going to hear that bloody song 8 times a day!

    And people wonder why I don't listen to the radio.

  • Let me rephrase that: if what is desirable is possible, though denied due to the lack of resources, it is a fantasy. So what you're saying is, that it is up to those with the power to set the standard for what is fair and acceptable? How would you respond to that assertion in a political context?

    Besides, if the market will fix it, why hasn't it already? CD prices have gone up, yet the cost of production has gone down. Maybe promotion costs have gone up, but why has that increased the price of my favorite, relatively unpromoted, artists? Why does it take such a revolutionary advance in technology like the internet and MP3 for people to even begin to consider the possibility that the music cartel may break down? Do you not believe in cartels? Then why aren't the big labels in a price war, rather than colluding to force SDMI on us and rallying behind the RIAA?

    And why will the clause be laughed out of court? Like the original poster said, no one's putting guns to people's heads... for the court to revoke the clause means they basically agree with me, that it's disguised coercion, or consider it unenforcable.
  • It sounds like Sony has got a racket that makes Lucifer look like a used car salesman. People actually sign that stuff?
  • host any and all Web sites relating to the artist

    This is also part of the included clause...

    I can imagine them using this part of their contract with the band to say that any web site ABOUT the band is trademark infringement. I can only imagine a record company telling every fan of JoeBloeTinyBand who has a website to cease and desist, or face fines, because despite JoeBloeTinyBand's general happiness at having fan sites scattered about the internet, only the record company has a right to publish web sites ABOUT the band.

    Actually, the more I write/think about this... the less likely I think it is to stand up in court... I guess at least in the US there are still some freedoms of the press. *shrug*
  • One of the fascinating things about contract law is that sometimes, the courts decide that a clause in the contract is unreasonable and will refuse to enforce it (or, will order one of the parties involved to disregard it). With that said, I should add that I know almost nothing about contract law.

    Still, this sounds like it's on shaky ground. Obviously, it's a revolting contract provision whether it stands up in court or not, but it goes to such basic questions of free speech (shouldn't a group be able to use its own name to voice its opinions?) that I can't believe it would withold a serious court challenge.

    In any case, I hope that artists (and buyers - this means you!) will see this as the flagrant attack on artist's rights that it is and boycott the label.
  • Better yet, you own and run www.websitename.com and it is a music site. Then Sony signs a contract with websitename and the higher ups decide to sue you because they think they now own the name (they've just shown they don't have a clue). Now they're writing a check instead of cashing one. :)

    -funcused
  • Sure, musicians should focus on music... obviously.
    However... some musicians have hobbies, *gasp* and in some cases these hobbies include Internet savvy *gasp*, and in some cases, somebody thinking about things to write a web page about might want to include a bit about the band they're in. *gasp*

    And, since I haven't quite figured out a practical reason for Sony to claim this right as integral to the business of pressing music onto CDs, I'm a bit... dismayed that they are including it in their contracts.

    Thankfully, musicians do have other companies to sign with, and I hope to god this attempt at a shameless filching of rights will cost Sony a lot of contracts. Unfortunately I don't think it will. *shrug*
  • Sony is a business and they are out to make a buck. If the bands don't like it they can go to another label. There are lots of labels that don't try to fsck over the bands that they sign. (esp. the electronic music labels) You probably haven't heard about them because they make good music that just doesn't get radio play. Go to Sony Music [sonymusic.com] and browse through the list of bands that they have signed. I think you will notice many of the worst bands in existance. You know the ones (Bill Hicks talks about them all the time. Who is Bill Hicks [billhicks.com]? Only the wisest man to ever live.) that really suck! They make trite soundbites and pass them off as music. Anyways, back to the point before I get moderated down... A lot of these bands suck. They know it so they take any contract they can get. The good artists go elsewhere. Most of them will be at coachella [coachella.com]. (That concert will have the best bands ever! Buy your ticket quick.)

    So my point is this: what do we care? Let them get screwed over. These bands will do anything for their 5 minutes of fame. I for one will keep the radio off and the CD player blaring lots of music that does not contain the word "sony" anywhere on the disk. (Except for all my Pink Floyd CD's but they signed with sony a long time ago.)

    <SIG>
    I think I lost my work ethic while surfing the web. If you find it, please email it to crispy@crotch.caltech.edu.
    </SIG>
  • If I read this correctly:

    Sony and its licensees shall have the exclusive right, throughout the world, and shall have the exclusive right to authorize other persons, to create, maintain, and host any and all Web sites relating to the artist and to register and use the name '[artist name].com' and any variations thereof which embody the artist's name as Uniform Resource Locators (or 'URLs'), addresses, or domain names for each Web site created by Sony in respect of the artist... All such Web sites and all rights thereto and derived therefrom shall be Sony's property throughout the territory and in perpetuity."

    That means that an artist cannot have any website of their own, even if they are quits with Sony. Forever. Whee. Makes software licensing terms look like a bargain, eh? If the future is what a lot of people think, music will primarily be distributed over the net. No webpage means no income.

    I do doubt how enforceable it would be in reality. After all, clauses in employment contracts that require people not to work for a potential competitor for a year or so after leaving the company seldom seem to hold up. Even so, though, the threat of having to fight a major lawsuit before you can even start publishing your music again seems so daunting that it would keep artists in line. Which is really what Sony wants.

  • That's interesting, I didn't know there was a 26 character limit.

    You can get around this limit with subdomains.

    the.artist.formerly.known.asprince.com

    (asprince.com is available right now! - and I doubt prince has trademarked it) :)

    This is one of the strategies to find buffer overflows in servers. Create a really long subdomain name and surf around the net and you'd be surpised at how many cgis you crash. Is there a limit to how long a subdomain name can be or how many deep you can go?

  • But... maintainers of fan sites won't have signed the contract, so they aren't violating the terms of the contract by maintaining the website, since they weren't a prty to it in the frist place.

    Fan site webmasters wouldn't get sued unless there was actual trademark infringement. Does Sony have a clause requiring the artist to register their name as a trademark?

    I suppose Sony might be able to accuse an artist of violating their contract if they have 'aided and abetted' the production of fan sites, ie, by releasing song lyrics to them, or images perhaps, or even providing any sort of comment, possibly in a guestbook &c.

    It looks to me like it's more of a gag on the artist rather than the fan base, at least, this time round.
  • Once a week they tell the hundred radio companies which bands they think are going to be popular next week. They are usually right.

    And the reason they are right is because the hundreds of Program Directors for these radio stations listen to them and add these artists, so it's a self-fulfilling prediction.

    This will change if radio ceases to be the primary means of promoting artists

    But if the Internet were to replace radio, you'd still see a similar situation because the artists have to eat, and the promoters need money to promote, etc. Artists running MP3 sites just won't cut it.

  • The clause will be laughed out of court because a band doesn't own the rights to related URLs, and so couldn't sign them away.
    The labels aren't in a price war because people don't choose their music based on price. The labels compete by bringing "better" music -- and especially better promoted music -- to the market than their competitors. And they believe, right or wrong, that their business model is threatened by mp3s. Very few people with the vision to re-think their way of doing business would rise to an influential position in record companies. Thus, there is an opportunity for someone with the intelligence and the resources.
    Lastly, about the fantasy thing. Would you rather that those with power were at the mercy of every nitwit with a dream, every beggar with a burning desire? Now, not all dreamers are nitwits -- but those that aren't will be able to attract the interest of someone who can help them realize their wishes. Having power gives you the right to exercise it as you please. Within limits of morality, of course. Respect other people as they respect you, et. al.
  • Sony is the MS of the consumer electronics world..though not quite as successful. They do have quite a few good artists signed, and make some damn fine stereo systems [their ES line], so it's...sad to see this.
    I hope other companies don't follow suit
  • Near as I can tell the contract applies only to the band (They are the ones that signed the fscking contract). I don't see how it can apply to John Q. Random guy that makes a fan site. He never signed anything. If they use a bunch of trademarked symbols they could force them to remove them but they can't possibly make them take the site down (unless they crumple under the lawyer's pressure).

    And yes, of course, I've heard of Tool. They led me to Bill Hicks! And they are one of the best bands around right now.

    <SIG>
    I think I lost my work ethic while surfing the web. If you find it, please email it to crispy@crotch.caltech.edu.
    </SIG>
  • Most drivers sign their namesake away. Dale Earnheardt is one of the few who didn't have to, but a lot of the new guys...
  • by Graud ( 89155 ) on Wednesday September 15, 1999 @10:37AM (#1679638)
    If the artist in question hasn't registered that domain name (with InterNIC, or whomever) how does Sony actually expect to hold up that contract? The artist in question doesn't have rights to it, just by having the name. We've been through this here before, and I think most of us agree that just naming a band doesn't give rights to .com.

    So, this contract asks the artist to say "Hey, this thing I don't own... you now have rights to it!!"

    sounds like BS to me
  • ...for an artist to take the initiative and define their presence online right from the start.

    On a related note, I got an autographed copy of Vanessa [daoumusic.com]'s Plutonium Glow album by ordering it directly from her (website) and asking for the autograph. I thought that was neat. :-)
  • by KuRL ( 13889 ) on Wednesday September 15, 1999 @10:38AM (#1679641) Homepage
    It's amazing how backwards a company like Sony is thinking. Record labels will soon lose their grasp on being "the only way for an artist to get distribution," especially with major artists like Bowie and the Beastie Boys embracing the net.

    Record companies, in addition to taking the vast majority of profits (getting $0.70 per CD sold is very difficult to do for a major artist), nevermind the fact that the label handles distribution and virtually nothing else.

    If trucking companies charged 85% of the value of the goods to ship, there'd be no way that one would use them, yet labels do the same thing, acting as a cartel, stifling artistic talents, while looking to cash in on the next big thing.

    But I digress, the last thing labels need to do is place more restrictions on artists, in any form. With advancing technology, soon it won't be so difficult for artists to handle their own distribution, and the labels need all of the leverage they can get.

    In summary, I forsee the death of labels within the next 15 years, and that's pretty damn conservative.
  • That will hurt. Trouble is, I imagine there are plenty of artists that are willing to sell that part of their soul (along with all the other bits in previous contracts) just to get published.
  • Well, despite having hoped for change I can't say I'm utterly surprised at this. The record companies have shown themselves to be really really paranoid about everything open that's been developing in their areas in the last year. The idea that Sony would own the domain forever is a pretty interesting distinction though, since they can't own the name of the band/artist in the same manner. It's another example of a need for clearer definitions of how domain names are linked to trademarks and the like. You can bet this is going to hurt them in the long run though.
  • I think by owning their artists websites, they hope to be less severely hit than other record companies if internet/mp3 gradually make record companies obsolete like some people predict.
    Frank zappa suggested an idea like this in his (great, hilarious, informative fun even if you can't stand zappa) autobiography. He didn't like record companies at all, and hoped artists would one day be able to distribute their own music via the internet. Sadly he died before mp3, or he might have been the first famous artist to release albums on internet...
  • by treilly ( 70916 ) on Wednesday September 15, 1999 @10:40AM (#1679645)
    To me, this represents an Enigma. If Prince is legally no longer known as prince, I would think that domains such as:

    prince.com
    and
    theartistformerlyknownasprince.com

    should not be covered by this restriction.

    However, since his name is not currently part of any ISO Standard character set, and thus can not be a part of a url, I would think that this means that any website devoted to prince would not be covered by this restriction.
  • by bink ( 87998 ) on Wednesday September 15, 1999 @11:43AM (#1679646)
    It amazes me how differently corporations (in this case Sony) view the internet. If they're not trying to patent banner ads (ala Doubleclick) then they're trying to wrest away our first Amendment right to freedom of speech. What does Sony think the difference is between a fan web site and a fan magazine? I think ultimately the problem is that "big business" sees the internet more like television than anything else. That's why we saw the channel paradigm a few years ago, and that's why we see portals today. Sony thinks that if it cuts off competition, it will get more viewers. What they don't get is that the internet is meant to be an active medium, and that active participation produces far more buzz than a passive medium does (witness /.). Ultimately, if Sony were to try to shut down fan website, they'd fail...but it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
  • right so really if a band had someone outside the band that was the legal owner of the website, but the band did business through it, would sony then have the authority to sue them? since the owner of the site never signed a contract with sony all should be good eh? or is it.
  • All of you "imminent death of labels" people need to get a clue.

    Picture this scenario:
    There are a million bands - some good some bad, some famous some not, but basically interchangable, in the long run.
    There are a thousand radio stations, owned by a hundred companies. The more similar you are to the other stations, the more money you make.
    There are ten record companies. Once a week they tell the hundred radio companies which bands they think are going to be popular next week. They are usually right.

    When will the record companies go out of business? Obviously, the record companies will go out of business when they stop being able to predict what's going to be popular next week.

    When will that be? I don't know, but never would be a good guess.

    The really ironic thing is that the recording industry is so hung up on distribution that they are starting to believe the "imminent death of labels" hype. One day they'll realize that they're in the artist promotion business, and all of this nonsense will stop.

    Shaun
  • It seems like Sony is putting a clause in their contract that is in the shady part of the law. There is no law governing domain names except the InterNIC. As court cases are won and lost, the laws governing domain names will be defined by precident until the US Congress and other international law making bodies pass legislation.

    To take to issue bands and music, I am of the (albiet unpopular) opinion that popular music is a comodity. It is not "Art." Art music is not made by a bunch of guys in a garage who band on guitars. Neither is it made by bands struggling in clubs.

    Sony would never in their life get away with a clause like that with composers like Phillip Glass or Steve Reich, or performers like Yo Yo Ma. They would tell Sony to kiss their ass and go home and write some more music. With The Spice Girls or Green Day, they would sign it in a minute...because they are interested in business, not art. In the end, a small percentage of bands make a profit off of their records. The others get dropped. Smaller serious composers and performers would not sign either, though they would never be asked because they would never be seen.

    On the fringes, you do have bands like Dead Can Dance and the Indigo Girls who take their music seriously and are not interested in business, more than making a living. They are both successful underground bands playing around the world. They didn't need PR because they live on the strength of their music which proliferates itself through its powerfulness and grace.

    In the end, it is the music that matters. Fuck Sony and their stupid fucking domain names. The smart artist would register "SonySucks.com" as their domain name--doesn't have anything to do with the band:)

  • But they never specified the URL as being a top-level domain. For instance, if Bandx was with Sony and immediately quit after hearing how Sony was trying to ream them and joined (to give an example from the article) Maverick, would Sony claim they owned www.maverick.com/bandx? That is, after all, a URL. How about bandx.maverick.com? How about bandx.net and bandx.org? How about bandxsucks.com?

    Too bad Sony already owns sonysucks.com.
    Too bad for them they don't own sonysucks.org, though. I'd register that one first even if sonysucks.com wasn't already registered by Sony.
    So what grounds would Sony sue under if Bandx set up a site (with E commerce, etc) at bandx.sonysucks.org/bandx? Think of the implications.

  • > That presence would become the property of Sony once a contract was signed. To
    > prevent Sony from obtaining ownership, the band would have to transfer ownership
    > of the domain to a (friend|family member) prior to signing the contract.

    Or... simply don't sign with Sony. There are many other record companies out there, and they compete for talent, and if Sony is offering you a deal you've probably got a real good chance of interesting another company. So far Sony is the only ones with such a BS policy, no? You can bet if they run into resistance on this, if they start losing talent to other companies on this issue, the other companies will take a hint and NOT follow suit. Next step will be Sony backing off on this as soon as they see that they are losing talent because of it...
  • Well, it either can't stand up in court or is meaningless. The context of the quote you mentioned is:

    Sony and its licensees shall have the exclusive right, throughout the world, and shall have the exclusive right to authorize other persons, to create, maintain, and host any and all Web sites relating to the artist and to register and use the name '[artist name].com'

    Sony can only claim rights through the contract that the artist had to begin with. Since the artist did not have the right to prevent anyone else from registering URL's based on the band's name, Sony can't claim that right through the contract. They can insist that the artist never register such a URL, but any 3rd party could.
    ---
    Thales

  • i share your distaste for the labels but i think they add a LOT of value in the form of branding/image-making. essentially all those nice personas you see on mtv are the result of serious marketing dollars; that component of the middleman in the music biz is not going away...major labels are the leaders in this although the net will reduce their strangelhold on distribution.
  • Most labels won't sign new acts to short-term contracts.

    Witness the R&B/Pop group TLC, they signed a massive seven-album contract with LeFace Records, for so little money, because they were the only label willing to take a "chance" on them. Nevermind the fact that they would profit even if TLC's CDs made it only halfway to gold.

    TLC's second album, "Crazy, Sexy, Cool," sold 10 million copies, but TLC went bankrupt. They had basically signed the contract from hell, rigid guidelines, and 6% of album sales to split between the three of them. The 2% each wasn't nearly enough to pay back the label for all charges incurred during recording, but the label, which had probably made millions off of that album alone, still hounded their top act for a relatively small amound of money.
  • by ua ( 20502 ) on Wednesday September 15, 1999 @12:02PM (#1679655)
    When I was dealing with non-compete/non-disclosure issues at a previous job, my contract lawyer told me about Sony's non-compete.

    Most of the non-competes that I've seen prevent the employee from working in the same geographic area (usually the city, possibly the state) for a period of time (I've seen 1-5 years).

    The lawyer told me that Sony's non-compete goes far beyond that: they include the phrase "the solar system" quite often. Scary, eh?

    IANAL, but I understand it's unreasonable, and probably unenforcable to put such wide geographic limitations on a person's career. I know that it's unenforcable to prevent somebody from working in the tech field for five years. The courts may permit up to one, but five will be laughed at by the judge. An intelligent judge anyway. :-)

    WRT Sony's URL-grabbing, I would assume all stage names are Sony's, period. If the signee became famous with their real name, that /may/ be arguable in court.

    I searched a bit, but can not find any Sony NDAs or non-competes on line. A lucky virtual nickel (5c) to the person that can reprint one!

  • the.artist.formerly.known.as/prince
  • I don't think labels will totally die. There will probably always be a place for an industry that will forge teen candy (ala Spice Girls, Milli-Vanilli) from the talentless void. But people who seek out music, instead of waiting for it to be drilled into them, won't need record companies or the RIAA much longer for anything.

    I don't know the statistics, but to throw this out: how does what the artist makes from CD sales compare to what they make from concerts, etc? A band just giving away music and making money off gigs I think is the future. A record company is totally useless in that scenario.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    > Sony and its licensees shall have the exclusive right ... to register and use the name '[artist name].com' and any variations ... for each Web site created by Sony in respect of the artist

    Read the last phrase. If it qualifies the entire sentence, then it appears that Sony is claiming exclusive and perpetual ownership only to the domain names of those sites which it created.

    If this is a correct interpretation, an artist (or anyone) could register a new domain name, but they could not wrest control of an existing domain name from Sony in the way that some businesses have used the courts to recover their names from squatters.
  • by Dan B. ( 20610 ) <slashdot.bryar@com@au> on Wednesday September 15, 1999 @12:12PM (#1679661) Homepage
    A record deal isn't just about distribution. It's a lot more to do with the marketing than anything else. Anyone can press out thoushands of CD's for about 25c each, but you need to advertise to sell them.

    In Australia we have 200 "chart" stores that are the record industries worst kept secret. All the major labels put ultra marketing dollars in to these stores (and very little in to any others) in order to pump up the album on the charts. Once they're in the top 20, the CD moves to the chart rack and will be carried by ALL the stores. The label will also release your singles to the radio stations for air play. Where else are the general public going to here your music?

    The only saving grace is that once you've got a hit, people may actually look for your album (It took me a week to track down "The Living End" EP before their album release). If people look on the 'net, well, what more needs to be said.

    I suppose if you use the net to advertise/market your album, you can bypass the misguidings of a record label, but... You absolutely have to have a fan-base/name/history/etc before you can go it alone. When you're that big, you can delete items you don't like from a contract. Just put a line through it on the contract, then it's legally deleted from the contract.

    For this reason. I don't think we will see the death of the record label for a long, long time.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If you want to know how the record industry works, check out www.disciplineglobalmobile.com. Fripp tells it like it is. And, rather than just complaining about the current state of the industry, he has founded DGM to be the "anti" record company . . .
  • > But they never specified the URL as being a top-level domain. For instance, if
    > Bandx was with Sony and immediately quit after hearing how Sony was trying to
    > ream them and joined (to give an example from the article) Maverick, would Sony
    > claim they owned www.maverick.com/bandx? That is, after all, a URL. How about
    > bandx.maverick.com? How about bandx.net and bandx.org? How about bandxsucks.com?

    If they left Sony at this point they would never have signed a contract with the objectionable language so it wouldn't affect them. More than likely they wouldn't actually be able to leave Sony *today* but they can leave when their current contract (without this language) expires and refuse to sign any offered extension containing this language, to the same affect.

    On the other hand if they sign tommorrow a contract with the objectionable language it would indeed seem that Sony would have grounds to bar them from using any of those URLs. Enforceable? Maybe. I'm not a lawyer, just a layman with a little experience... at any rate Sonys lawyers would be able to cause them trouble. Just reinforces the main point, as I see it... don't sign with Sony. If you have a contract with Sony, don't renew it. At least not until this is changed.

    General rule that any musician with a clue follows - don't sign anything without reading it yourself and having your lawyer read it too. Don't have a lawyer? Get one. If necessary sleep with one, or con another group member or a groupie into sleeping with one. I'm serious - lawyers suck but if you are a musician without a lawyer you *will* get screwed in the long run - better to choose the way you get screwed straight up.
  • by XiRho ( 91952 ) on Wednesday September 15, 1999 @12:21PM (#1679665) Homepage
    Think about it, Microsoft could create a band called "The Slashdot," get published by Sony and have /. wiped off the map. Heck, why stop there? Imagine the pack of new groups that Microsoft will be "encouraging" Sony to publish, The Linux, The FreeBSD, The RedHats, The Kernel.Org, the DepartmentOfJustice. And you thought Wintel was bad, wait until the Unholy Triumvirate Of Technology starts having all non-Microsoft promoting websites shot off the web!

    "If you don't use windows then what do you use?"
    "FreeBSD."

  • by Skevin ( 16048 ) on Wednesday September 15, 1999 @12:31PM (#1679666) Journal
    Hmm, you have a few good points, but consider that most musicians don't have the kind of funding to back themselves the way a megacorp does. I see it more of a loanshark mentality - "We'll pay for all your promotions, and we'll give you a very small cut of what we make off of you..." Strange, but that's the mentality I grew up with... and I subconciously accept it as being equitable!
    The actual cost of promoting oneself is surprisingly little... For a little more than $20k you can actually get your own music up on the listening stations at Tower Records (back in 1996). I never went through with it because when I was writing music prolifically, I was still a poor student who never even knew what 20k looked like.

    DEVIL'S ADVOCATE MODE ON
    I don't think you can compare a record company to a trucking company: an artist has indeterminate outcome value - his/her ultimate dollar sum is reliant on the popularity of his/her music (or image, in the case of Artists That Suck). From the record companies' point of view, they are making an investment which they hope will turn out well for them. I'm sure that for every Brittany Spears, a record company has lost money on dozens of no-name people who labels never made it to the record store.
    In a nutshell, the general outlook on money here is, "I put up most of the capital, so I should reap most of the profits." IMHO, that's a very healthy capitalistic mentality. "If you, the Artist, don't want my funding, find it elsewhere, or do it yourself."
    DEVIL'S ADVOCATE MODE OFF


    Admittedly, most artists don't have money, and along those lines, the Web is a wonderful way to distribute one's own music without much starting capital, provided you have a product that stands up. In my experience, I have noticed that if there is anything bad about putting one's music online, it's trying to get noticed above everyone else who's trying to do exactly the same thing, which is why I'm now going to go into...


    PLUG MODE ON
    What better place to plug my music! I write a lot of symphonic/orchestral stuff, and have full MP3s of some of my works here [necroerotic.org], all of it for free! (assuming you don't try to use it for commercial stuff, for which I'll want a royalty.:) ) Unlike a lot of artists, I don't expect to make income off of this, since I prefer not to sell my soul (SMS) to record companies, and believe you me, I have some... interesting, contracts on file that I never got around to signing.
    PLUG MODE OFF

    Okay, I'm going to pray I didn't just start a /. effect on my server...


    S. Kevin Chang
    DBA / Programmer / Composer
    [Insert Large Evil LA-based Entertainment Company here]
    [Hint #2: it's in Burbank]
    malusdei@pacMAUSHWITZbell.net
    [to email, rem all caps from address]

  • I know for a fact that if Sony came to us with a contract wew would probably sign our lives away on the spot.

    [snip]

    A good friend of mine up in Seattle knows Kim Thayil from Soungarten. Kim came by his house and my friend quipped, "Boy, it must be nice to have all that money." Kim answered, "I should have a bunch of money but I am not sure what the hell happened."

    And knowing that, you would still be willing to sign your life away and make yourselves become a corporate product instead of an artist? You'de give away all your creativity to a guy in a suit, even when you know you're still going to get financially fucked anyway?! Please explain. :-)

    I just don't get it. The guy in the suit has nothing to offer. The Internet has made his distribution network obsolete, and it's starting to erode the promotional network (i.e. his control over radio and mtv) pretty much too. All he has left is a cash advance that he might tempt you with if he thinks he can get it back, but you'de get a better deal from a banker.

    Yes, there's still the chance that he might completely turn his promotional machine loose and make you into the next media circus, an overnight Sony-trademarked success story. Turn on MTV and you'll see that it really can happen. You've got better odds with a lottery ticket, though.

    Don't do it, dude! Don't do it! Put up MP3s, and they will come...


    ---
    Have a Sloppy day!
  • What in christ's name is Sony thinking? They really should not have the right to do this, especially if the artist leaves Sony either to go somewhere else or just because they realized that the record industry is the biggest bunch of greedy @&%*@#$'s in the entire world.

    Seriously, signing a contract with any major record company these days is suicide. You get less than 10% of cd sale profits, and you're the one making the product. How fair is that?
  • The Indigo GIrls who were paid >10k to play the greater than 10k capacity arena on my campus last year. Those underground Indigo Girls, eh?

    Popular music has little to do with what is actually going on in clubs/ basements / garages/ etc. I'm afraid you have selected the bands/ artists you like, and have since formulated a theory around them that suits you.

    matt
  • Concerts make very little money compared to album sales. Especially for smaller name bands.

    Picture this:

    Big name band puts out new album, sells 500,000 copies with an income of about $1.00 each. That's half a million dollars, plus what the label paid them to record it in the first place - Probably about another $500,000 - Total, $1 million.

    Same band goes on tour, plays to, say 30 concerts at 30,000 people each - 900,000 people and charge $40 per ticket. Of this, it costs about $35 per person to put the concert on in the first place, plus tour expenses, plus this, plus that. The promoter takes a cut, the label takes a cut and eventually the band may end up with about $500,000 after 30 concerts. Not bad but...

    They just advertised their music in a major way and reeled in a few new fans. "Liked the concert? Buy the album." That is the pupose of touring for the bigger name bands.

    Hey presto album sales dollars again. Usually more than before.

    Now look think about a little band that get's little support from their record label.

    They record a CD, sell about 20,000 copies (maybe!) and get about $0.60 per copy. To get more sales, you need to get more fans, so...

    They have to tour to advertise and can only charge about $10 so people attend. Nearly all of the money received on touring is spent on tour!

    It only serves as a marketing tool to sell albums.
  • by BLiP2 ( 54296 ) on Wednesday September 15, 1999 @12:33PM (#1679671)
    This shows just how scared record companies are of the possibility of MP3. The whole idea of them losing fortunes through Internet piracy is complete nonsense. Go to just about any pirate MP3 site and you'll find low bandwidth, limited selection, broken links, and ratio servers. With these conditions it's impossible for the pirates to move anywhere near the amount of music as the major record stores.
    A legitimate artist, however, can easily set up a high band-width web site to distribute MP3 files and sell CD's, cutting out the record company completely. By using this contract clause, Sony can prevent that possibility from ever occurring. Giving them complete control over the electronic medium of the artist, even if things fall out later on (i.e. the artist get angry, and decides to go independent). Expect other record companies to follow suit now that the precedent has been set.
  • Now THAT is stupid.

    (slightly tangental and off topic, but I couldn't resist.)
  • But they can't use that. M$ would file a trademark suit.
  • Dude, I'm pickin up what yer throwin down...

    I also played in a band for several years and know all about getting shafted by club owners. We even played one club that was a front for a coke dealer and luckily weren't playing the night everything hit the fan. Ahh, but I digress...

    I believe the disempowerment of record companies will ultimately be a good thing for music in general. Through my rose-colored glasses I see a day when it is SOP for artists to release their music freely on the internet, simply because it is impractical to attempt any secure online for-profit distribution. Instead, artists PERFORM for their bread and butter (and beer). This is the best thing, because much of what is marketed today is Milli-Vanilliesque garbage. So we have a musical environment where the cream rises to the top, the flash-in-the-pans get reduced notoriety, naive young artists learn the value of performing thereby giving consistenly better live concerts (which we WILL pay for BTW), and musician self-destruction is reduced because the Big5 no longer smother them with huge amounts of money.

    It's about efficiency when you come right down to it. Is it really practical and efficient to expect $xx for each utterance of your song, for each ounce of enjoyment it produces? The per-copy fee is just a convenient way to extract the fee. Any real artist with music in their heart will write the song for free and profit by seeing people enjoy it. Corporations have no part in this equation.
  • Yeah, lot's, at pub's and the like. Stadium gigs are about $35 to $50 though, not $10 or $12.

    Oh, one more point. Australian Dollars.
  • The characteristic that I have used to define Dead Can Dance and Indigo Girls as borderline art music is that both groups experiment with music and build their music on a heritage of other music. Their music is not sentimental or trivial. For example, I like Melissa Ethridge alot, but her music is very sentimental and very simple. I would never consider it art music, though it is great rock n' roll. The Indigo Girls are well aware of advanced tonal harmony and how to use it. They incorporate many key changes and modulations in their music, as well as some very interesting chord progressions. Most popular artists have trouble with a secondary dominant.

    The Indigo Girls started out underground and have moved into the mainstream. The were introduced to the world because of REM and are now a Sony artist--Sony bought their record company CBS (AKA Columbia). (Shows how out of touch I am with pop--thought they were still underground;)

  • That's only a one-off case.

    A lot of acts get their contracts based on performance. "Your album does well, you'll do well" type thing.

    The label will pay for the first album, don't expect any more favours if it's shit though.
  • Microsuck [microsuck.com] - I typed this after trying to fix another stupid M$ problem on our network. (Again, I'm offtopic yet again!!!!!)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Colombia House Music Clubs = SONY. Stop giving them money.
  • They cannot register a domain name with a variation on their band's name- Sony has the exclusive right. This does not extend to people who don't sign the contract, eg. J. Random Webmaster- though through use of trademark law, they could conceivably achieve the same ends. Basically, this is just that Sony wants to owns the name as well as the music.

    Could they fire all the band members and hire replacements?





    Surfing the net and other cliches...
  • Well, what I found interesting about the article was that CNET used some kind of definition of HTML that made Opera 3.50 unreadable. And IIRC, Opera is one of the few browsers that makes a serious attempt to be compliant to the version 4.0 standard.

    I'll have have to look at the source & figure out just WTF they were doing to my browser.


    Geoff

  • Do you honestly think that artists are going to STOP signing with major companies like Sony because of this? I doubt it. If consumers stop blindly handing their money to Sony and company, this kind of leverage will fall by the wayside, presenting ample opportunity for someone else to start calling the shots (the artists themselves, for example).
  • The big shakeup of the RIAA cartel and stores full of $18 CDs cannot arrive fast enough

    :)

    That's what the Australian government and competition watchdog [accc.gov.au] told us about legislation [aph.gov.au] introducing parallel importing of CDs.

    We're still paying AU$30 per CD. Don't hold your breath for cheap CDs.
    Best to keep relying on MP3.
  • oh yes. We own the url (who the heck is interNIC, screw them) and so no more mp3.

    Uhm, no. I meant they probably hope they can still make some money off music distributed via the internet, if the artists want to advertise/provide it on a webpage with a URL that resembles their name. Stopping the mp3 format would be like stoppinf the use of long divisions, so the next best thing for a record company would be to find ways to squeeze some money out of the mp3 format too.
  • This reminds me of the baseball reserve clause.
    Untill the 70's any ball player who singed with a club had to stick with them for life. Now the major difference was that there was only one Major League baseball where as there are a number of record companies (OK a small number) so there is some posibility that a court would rule this at least partialy un enforcable.

    Ofcourse I could be wrong. Depends on your jurisdiction.
  • Yes but trademark law applies to domains. If I have a trademark on foo then I can claim it applies to "foo.com". I bet you that if you tried to register cocacola.com that coke would come after you under trademark law.
  • Why is it that every corporate apologist portrays the idea coercion must equate to guns to peoples' heads?

    I mean, you live, or you die... but you still have a choice! How can there be coercion when you have more than one option?

    Do you see the point here? Choosing between limited options, where those limitations are artificial, is not freedom. An artist can sign to a big label and make money, yet practically forfeit their firstborn, or go independant and live in obscurity. There are exceptions, of course, but this is the way it is for most artists, and the record companies collude to keep it that way. They have even manipulated government to give them unique priveledges, such as taxes on recording media! What was that about guns...

    Besides, suppose the free market fairy does make everything all right in the end, it won't happen unless artists resist this kind of bullshit, and consumers don't buy from companies that do it.

    Either way, our resentment toward Sony is justified.
  • An agreement between Sony and a performer doesn't impose any obligations on anyone else. The first amendment still applies, so if you or I want to put up a "J. Random Singer ROCKS" page, or a "Spice Girls SUCK" page, that's still our prerogative.

    This is really only an issue for people who want to get a record deal, and it's up to them to say: "Standard contract, my ass. Here's what I will and will not agree to."

    -jcr
  • It would be nice if some of the big name artists would get riled up about the way these companies treat lesser known artists that are on the same label. I suppose that most of them either don't care, or already are under some kind of restrictive contract themselves. A lot of these people could get together and fund their own label. There's really no reason to stick around with labels like Sony if they're going to try to pull this shit. For some, there's a financial reason not to leave the label, but if you're a household name you can pretty much call your own shots.

    --

  • by fornix ( 30268 ) on Wednesday September 15, 1999 @01:04PM (#1679695) Homepage
    Concerts make very little money compared to album sales. Especially for smaller name bands. Picture this: Big name band puts out new album, sells 500,000 copies with an income of about $1.00 each. That's half a million dollars, plus what the label paid them to record it in the first place - Probably about another $500,000 - Total, $1 million.

    Sounds plausible, but not really accurate. Record companies give artists miniscule royalties from each CD sold, and they recoup the cost of recording/producing/etc from the artist's tiny fraction of the royalties. The overhead for live performances is not as high as you suggest above, and live concerts are indeed a major source of income for artists. Although they had it worse than the typical band, the Goo Goo Doll's plight with their record company, as recently aired on VH1, really illustrates how badly the labels will try to screw the artists. Their "A Boy Named Goo" CD was selling like mad, the cut "Name" was all over the airwaves, and they were on top of the world. When they got home from their tour, they got their first royaly statement in the mail. After sales of the CD (selling really well) and recording/production costs were considered, the band owed the label something like $100,000. Ridiculous. They sued and settled out of court to nondisclosed terms. They toured some more so that they could pay for the ongoing legal battle.

    The point? Touring pays well, royalties from CD sales are usually quite unfair to the artist.

    Artists will take more control of the process: Prices for quality digital recording workstations (PC based, or machines such as the Roland VS1680) are falling. Distribution, traditionally a stumbling block for artists who were able to get over the recording/production hurdle, is being solved by the internet with sites such as MP3.com and the like. Promotion & advertising? Well, in the "old days" it was word of mouth around town. Now it will be word of mouth around the world.

    Artists will become "overnight sucesses" when a critical mass of people on the net who like their stuff spreads the word. There will be a lucky few whose mp3 archives will be slashdotted one day by a link or story in a highly visible forum, and their careers will be catapulted. We will need record companies about as much as we will need travel agents.

  • " In a nutshell, the general outlook on money here is, "I put up most of the capital, so I should reap most of the profits." IMHO, that's a very healthy capitalistic mentality. "If you, the Artist, don't want my funding, find it elsewhere, or do it yourself." "


    This is the reality of the current state of the world. That doesn't make it good or moral. The reaction of record companies to mp3 technology has shown the bad side of capitalism very well (if it even has much of a good side). Any system that puts money before people is immoral. The music industry is a great example. Music is one of the greatest forms of human expression, and here we have all these record companies using it as a commodity.

    Now we have this great, democratic technology called mp3. It has the potential to give all the power back to the artists and listeners. It's interesting that in a so called democratic society, there would be such a backlash against this technology, by companies and the gov't, to some extent.

    You also mentioned the fact that cd's need to be marketed. In todays world they do. But what I would like to see, and I think the internet can do, is help create a big change in our culture.

    Right now you sit down, blindly stare at your TV, see some commercials, and passively go out and buy the products you saw. I'd rather see people actively seeking out clips of music on the internet and buying cd's right from the artist. No more middleman, no more fabricated artists with no talent on MTV.

    Everything as far as technology is in place for this, people just need the desire to do it. People aren't taught to embrace change though...big suprise.

    It all boils down to whether companies will be able to turn the internet into one big commercial, with push formats, etc. But the internet can't be controlled.

    We win by default.
  • >That's only a one-off case

    Sorry, you're wrong.
    This happens ALL the time, to many different bands in different genres.
    To wit: The Stone Roses.
    Signed to (small, totally indie) Silvertone Records for a 99 Year contract.
    1st album shoots through the roof. Major label wants to sign them, give big cash advance, make expensive second album based on super sales of first album.
    Silvertone turns around and says "No, we own your ass for 99 years, remember? You signed this here contract in good faith and we're sticking to it. Next record, please."

    Major Label (uh...Sony?) hires Big Laywers on band's behalf.
    Lot's a suing left and right.

    Major Label gets Stone Roses out of contract by giving Silvertone rights to first album and singles and lots of $$$.
    Band goes back into studio for 4 friggin' years, Major Label apparently makes them scrap the whole thing twice, album finally comes out, doesn't do as well as Major Label thought (cuz, really, it was such a departure from the first one, and most people had lost interest), band breaks up for good.

    Question: WHY THE HELL would ANYONE sign a 99 YEAR contract???!!!
    Don't give me the desperation BS answer.
    Many indie/small bands have survived without major label involvement.
    The smartest thing to do is form your own company, and get a major to distribute it. Then you can call a LOT of the shots on behalf of your band.

    my 2c
    pope

  • Well, sure, but how do you prevent script kiddies from bootlegging the pie with MP3?

    Besides, that one pie will never pay for studio or touring costs :P

    pope
  • I would take exception to the idea of "artificial limitations", as you say.
    That you can conceive of an option doesn't mean you have a right to exercise it. If you can't bring it about yourself, and you can't find a willing partner (company, individual, union, whatever) to help you bring it about, then it was never an option in the first place: it was a fantasy.
    Government involvement is a different story, however, and I don't know the details in this case. Wouldn't be surprised to find that recording companies had some or even quite a few privileges sprinkled throughout the Congressional Regiester.
    The free market, when it's allowed to work, gives people what they want -- to the great consternation of those who would rather dictate other's desires. I personally think this clause will be laughed out of court, but even if it were cast-iron, Sony would only hurt itself in the end, because of the direct, active nature of the medium, as pointed out elsewhere here.
  • While I think most record companies are hideous monsters, let's give credit where credit is due:

    Typically the record company arranges to have you recorded professionally, often to the tune of $100,000 to $250,000 to much more if the folks in attendance believe it's worth the money for the extra time. They handle national promotion, including booking tours and getting you to them. And, of course, they handle distribution to distributors, unless they are their own. Most aren't, because it's too annoying to make and keep millions of local contacts.

    On the flip side, It is basicly correct that most band gets about $.65 a copy, but it takes a while to get that. After all, you need to pay for the promotion and recording.

    If you are doing it all yourself, you can expect to get about $3.00 a copy, when all is said and done. How many copies you sell will be a function of how well it is promoted, as well as how popular it is.

    It cost about $.75 to press the cd's, $.50 to package them, Add a quarter for shipping handling to stores. Add in production, and promotion. If they ship 100,000 copies, you might recover this money. The record company adds on a markup, probably 100%. You get paid out of that, if the promotions and production have been paid. The distributor adds a markup, the retailer adds a markup.

    In the end, the record company gets the $3.00 and gives you some of that.

    Never the less, bands should not sign contracts assigning their copyright to the company, and should not sign any assigning the company anything in perpituity. That's asking to be screwed. See http://www.digitalglobalmobile.com

  • Look, I'm sure bands get f*cked over by labels all the time, but... Would you sign up for 99 years for anything? Put you business hat on for a minute - how long are building leases? Not 99 years. Even a life sentence is only 20 years these days.
  • Why does everyone always assume that a website name has to be 'companytrademark.com' or 'bandname.com' ?

    What if you had to type bunnypeople.com to get to Intel's website? "I'd never find it!" you scream at my comment. I say if Intel decided to use bunnypeople.com and leave intel.com out in the rain, people would know it. The hell gets promoted out of intel.com anyway.. why not bunnypeople.com?

    That all being said, I hate these companies that register a billion domain names and stick a bunch of stupid "sections" of what is really just one site all under one domain. Get a clue corporate america! one domain; one domain name. You don't get two unless your company has two divisions that do highly different things. imagine if you had to go to pentiumII.com to find out about the p2 but you couldnt find out about the p3 without going to pentiumIII.com. That's what it's like. STUPID!!!!

    It's all about marketing and I'm about to puke my guts out. Big money thinks they can make the net into what they want it. They seem to want it to be a mess. Man, I wish alternic.nic had taken off. I supported them whole-heartedly. The Internet would have a much different (and I believe better) structure today if they had 'made it' so to speak. Everyone wants "DOT-COM" what a load of bunk!

    ~GoRK
  • I recently bought a Sony portable CD player. I know Sony is a souless machine with no morals and no humanity, but I bought it anyway. I didn't really think about it, it was just the easiest way to fullfill my immediate desires. And now I feel like shit.
  • It's a name for a server, a computer, a box of hardware! It's not a trademark name! ick!

    If Compuserve had been the dominant network, would companies be able to trademark "GO IBM" or "GO MICROSOFT"? How about GO TAKE A FLYING LEAP?

    I guess they won't be able to do Motley Crue, because DNS doesn't like spaces, or umlaut characters.

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
  • Obviously, this doesn't by itself allow Sony to sue J. Random Webmaster for using the domain name -- but it does allow Sony to sue the band if the band tries to later use such a domain name without Sony's permission.

    It looks like it's primarily intended as an end-run around the recently proposed U.S. legislation that would allow ex-band-members to use the band name in promotional materials. This way, Sony doesn't have to worry about the legislation allowing an ex-band-member from getting a URL that looks like an official-legal one.
  • by tilde ( 41568 ) on Wednesday September 15, 1999 @10:47AM (#1679709)
    I've worked for a major record company, and this doesn't surprise me in the least. A lot of newer bands will do just about anything to 'get the deal' since they're usually very young, eager and sometimes naive. They're so taken with being catered to and treated like stars that they don't realize the reality of having it all yanked away from them when their next CD fails to move enough units.

    I'm really hoping that the whole MP3 thing (or whatever format is next) will serve to stick it to the major record companies in a big way.

    ~
  • by Apuleius ( 6901 ) on Wednesday September 15, 1999 @10:48AM (#1679710) Journal
    1. make a cream pie.

    2. take bookend from living room, place on kitchen table.

    3. lean pie against bookend, at 45 degrees.

    4. take 5 steps back.

    5. run into pie, head first.

    6. go to step one.

  • Disclaimer: all names portrayed here are fictional!

    Say I have a web site called, for the sake of the argument, umh..whatevername.com. All is well, but after four years, Sony comes up with an artist called "whatevername". Where do I stand? Do I have to get license from them to continue running my (preexistent, mind you) website, or get sued by them? The way I read the terms, they would think I do. Pure madness!

  • by Wanker ( 17907 ) on Wednesday September 15, 1999 @10:49AM (#1679713)

    This is not a particularly surprising inclusion. Media companies put all kinds of language in their standard contracts assigning ownership to The Company.

    For example, cartoon companies routinely have the creator sign away rights to the characters and style, allowing The Company to continue to publish the strip even if the creator quits. I'm sure some of us remember how bitter Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin and Hobbes [dmoz.org] was...

    Unfortunately, people go ahead and sign these contracts since their only other alternative is to be forever consigned to oblivion. Without a publisher, these artists would never have been noticed.

    With the advent of cheap (or even free [netscape.com]) web publishing, this is all changing. Anyone can make their art readily available-- witness the popularity (for both consumer and supplier) of mp3.com [mp3.com], User Friendly [userfriendly.org], and others.

    The Internet is starting to force media publishers back into the role of promoters rather than controllers, and they are understandably upset and/or scared. Consumers will still need publishers to help pick out what is good, but they no longer need be restricted to only what the publishers wish to promote, so the publisher will no longer have the same power over the artists they once had.

  • Do you crash your instruments onstage?
  • Only replying to this to get it at the top but...

    On every contract you ever sign, you can legally cross out anything that you don't agree with. That's why both parties sign it. You pick out what you don't want, and sign. They either agree and counter-sign, or disagree and write up a new contract.

    Any artist considering signing with Sony would be advised to dlete this from their contract.

    Just my 2 bob.
  • I don't know a whole lot about music industry contracts, but I know something of publishing contracts, and I expect they're similar.

    In an ideal world, the artist sits down with his/her/its/their agent, goes over the contract line by line, and approves or disapproves of each clause, making changes to the contract as necessary. Then it goes back to the publisher (or, presumably, record label), which can accept or reject the proposed changes. The back-and-forth continues until both sides accept the contract and everybody starts making money. Nobody has to accept any clause in the contract if they don't like it or don't want to.

    The article did in effect note, though, that a lot of artists (especially first-timers) are naive in the ways of the music business and have no idea what the things they're signing away, like T-shirt licensing deals and URL control, are really worth -- and the standard contract is designed precisely to give the publisher/record company/whoever as much control of the product (read, band and music, or writer and books) as possible. It's much like a negotiation where one side names its wildest pie-in-the-sky offer, expecting to be haggled down to something sensible. When Big Mama Sony is dangling a six-figure check and a contract in front of The Garage Fish, whose biggest gig to date has been the American Legion hall, as the article says, it's hard to say no, and often they sign, giving Sony control over their entire artistic lives. (This is not to pick on Sony. It's the same with Warner Brothers, or Columbia, or anybody else. YMMV)

    It's also possible that if Sony wants control over an artist's web presence badly enough, they can say, "Well, sorry, if you don't include this clause we won't sign you."

    Personally I think the artist should keep as much control over his/her/their product as possible. You never know when it's going to mean a few (or a lot of) extra dollars. Just as an example, an obscure newspaperwoman and novelist named Irene Kampen made sure the contract for her first book, "Life Without George," gave her the television rights instead of the publisher. At the time the book was published television was still in its infancy, so the publisher probably didn't even notice -- but until her death last year she was collecting residuals for a TV show based on her book. You might have heard of it. It was called "The Lucy Show." It ran in prime time for 12 years and is probably still running somewhere at this very moment.

    Artists, think twice before you sign away those satellite, holodeck and telepathy rights!
    --
  • by Anonymous Coward
    That's not how it works, tho.

    Sony is making this language a "deal breaker," as in "take it or leave it." And Sony knows if you're a young artist who has been working for years to get "a break" then you would sell your soul, let alone a lousy URL, to get a deal. That's why artists let labels take 25% off the top of retail for "packaging deductions" when calculating royalties AND "breakage costs" that harken back to the days of shellac records, NOT TO MENTION taking 25% off the statutory rate set by Congress for mechanical royalties owed to publishers just because, as a cartel, they can.

    Make no mistake, the big 5 major labels are an oligopoly that rips off artists big time!

  • He signed a 5 album deal with Sony when he went solo (Probably becuase they did a good job promoting Wham!). And everyone reaped the benifits of Faith. But he released Listen Without Prejudice the same time that Mariah Carrey came on the scene, so Sony did almost nothing to promote it (let's keep in mind that Mariah went on to marry the Pres of Sony Music). This pissed Mr. Michael off to no end (and judging by the responces here, it'd piss any of us off too), so he demanded to be released from his contract. A team of lawyers couldn't help him. So he just stopped releasing anything. All his music was done in collaboration with other artists and released on their labels (remember his stints with Queen and Elton John?).

    Then, and I'm not quite sure how this happened, he released Older on DreamWorks SKG Records. Let's keep in mind that the S in SKG is Speliburg (sp?) and the G is Geffen. So the point I've been leading up to is it's possible to get out of a contract with Sony, but you should have a good idea by now what it takes.

  • > There are ten record companies. Once a week they
    > tell the hundred radio companies which
    > bands they think are going to be popular next
    > week. They are usually right.


    But are they right because they actually can predict what "the masses" want, or are they right because what they predict is *automatically* what "the masses" want, because it's what they're being given?

    I live just at the edge of WXPN, in Philly -- member-supported public radio. And I almost never hear the same thing twice in a month from them. Contrast that to any of the pop stations, where you'll hear the 'song of the week' three times in one day...

    Is it that the mega-successes are *good music*, or is it just that they're pushed down everyone's throats until a demand is created?

    (Is Windows good software, or is it just that "everyone uses it"...?)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Well, my band "Microsoft" is still battling its way through the courts, and we are still determined to get what is rightfully ours away from those stupid domain squatters!
  • Nope, because you did not sign a contract with Sony. You might get sued by them (cf: Hasbro vs. Clue Computing over clue.com), but as long as you're not impinging on their trademark area of business (music), you should be fine.

    A contract is an agreement between two parties. If you didn't sign the contract, then you're not part of the agreement.


    ...phil

  • (Observe as I am moderated down for being offtopic)

    AFAIK, this is an InterNIC (AKA Network Solutions, the dot commie people) restriction, so you might be able to get theartistformerlyknownasprince.to, for example.
  • by BirksNCap ( 53917 ) on Wednesday September 15, 1999 @11:02AM (#1679742) Homepage
    In addition, Sony has the distinction of being one of the most anti-taping labels around, if only through their WORK nameprint, which services folks like Jamiroquai and Fiona Apple. They also control Ben Harper and Barenaked Ladies. Many of these artists treat fan not-for-profit/fair-use taping as free advertising. David Schools of Widespread Panic [widespreadpanic.com] was astonished when they first began to play Colorado after playing small clubs in the southeast as a "Dead Covers band" and people at the concerts would mouth/sing the lyrics to the songs.

    Artists like Phish, Dave Matthews Band, and of course, the Grateful Dead, took the example of early bluegrass artists and allowed folks to bring in their own recording equipment and record concerts for their own archives. People like me [csoft.net] would take these recordings and trade them at no profit for either other recordings or blanks and postage to our friends or others who request them. It's a concept I've been involved in for several years, and what initially attracted me to Open Source.

    At any rate, Sony fights all taping, and generally throws in language in artists' contracts forbidding even recording themselves for their own archival and study[never hurts for a band to be able to bone up on old material or see how they sounded x years ago.] We can only hope that other labels like RCA [ granted, they're a BMG label, but they have a clue on taping, with artists like Bruce Hornsby, DMB, Agents of Good Roots and Vertical Horizon, which are all pro-taping and have it in writing in their contacts from what I understand!] have some effect on the industry as a whole and discourage Sony from more restrictive ideas like no taping, SCMS [ bleah! ], or SDMI, not to mention the opposition of artists to control their own destinies with regard to their operations on the net.

    "Who are you?What do you want?Why are you here?Where are you going?"-JMS

  • I know for a fact that if Sony came to us with a contract wew would probably sign our lives away on the spot.

    Making music in America simply does not pay very good at all. It is not just the record companies, but the club owners, promoters etc.

    Even the NXNW event in Portland, Oregon which is drawing mp3.com's CEO as well as other music and record company people requires the bands to PAY THEM to perform for nothing. [nxnw.com]

    Basically we are all broke and the smell of money, even a little, will blind us to these contracts.

    A good friend of mine up in Seattle knows Kim Thayil from Soungarten. Kim came by his house and my friend quipped, "Boy, it must be nice to have all that money." Kim answered, "I should have a bunch of money but I am not sure what the hell happened."

    Somehow, in America, we simply do not support the arts.

    In Germany it was different. Bands got paid enough that a friend of mine after leaving the army to play music full time, he now owns a house and and just lives there.

    Anyway most of us play just because we like it. ( Or for girls *wink* )
  • So, this contract asks the artist to say "Hey, this thing I don't own... you now have rights to it!!"

    No... The article appeared to be stating that Sony will, by default, now own the rights to all URLs related to an artists name - but that's just FUD.

    As an added bonus to what they're really doing, they're also scaring fans, name sakes etc. away from those URLs by asserting ownership even though they may have no legal basis for such a claim.

    IANAL, but I think the real situation here is that Sony is telling the artists, by way of contract, that "the artist" will never be able to register those URLs. ie. Sony is blocking the artists ability to contact its fan base directly on the net.

    I assume Sony will use the usual trademark/copyright route through the courts to hassle anyone else who happens to lay claim to a particular URL.

    M@T

Successful and fortunate crime is called virtue. - Seneca

Working...