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RIAA Math: Sell 1 Million Albums, Still Owe $500k 355

Posted by Soulskill
from the must-be-that-new-math dept.
An anonymous reader writes "For all the complaints from the RIAA about 'pirates,' who are the real pirates in this scenario? Through a variety of contractual tricks, it's nearly impossible for artists signed to major labels to get paid. The article and video detail how an artist who thinks he's getting a 10% royalty is actually getting closer to 2.5% through various tricks placed in the contract. The labels, then, end up with 97.5% of the gross revenue, and anything they 'spend' on the artist continues to come out of the royalties, not the labels' cut."
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RIAA Math: Sell 1 Million Albums, Still Owe $500k

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  • Shysters all (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dosius (230542) <bridget@buric.co> on Friday July 08, 2011 @09:33AM (#36693592) Journal

    This is why I say fuck the MAFIAA.

    -uso.

    • by vlad30 (44644) on Friday July 08, 2011 @09:50AM (#36693772)

      This is why I say fuck the MAFIAA.

      -uso.

      I wouldn't fuck them with your dick !

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Soilworker (795251)

      When Oink Pink Palace died, someone posted a REALLY good article about the subject, a must read really:

      http://www.demonbaby.com/blog/2007/10/when-pigs-fly-death-of-oink-birth-of.html [demonbaby.com]

    • Re:Shysters all (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LordLimecat (1103839) on Friday July 08, 2011 @09:53AM (#36693824)

      Given that weve seen similar stories for years (hollywood accounting, unfair contracts, better off going alone), 2 questions spring to mind:

      1) Surely enough people have been burned to set up a class action lawsuit and /or lobbying for new regulation/legislation towards Hollywood / the recording industry for their accounting practices; Im generally gun-shy of unnecessary regulation but this seems to be an area where audits would be helpful, and the odd multi-million-dollar judgement might not hurt either

      2) If these contracts are known for being so bad, why do people continue to sign them? I sympathize if the contracts are simply not being honored, but if it continues to happen and people continue to sign the contracts, my sympathy begins to wane. I do NOT want to get into a situation where contracts are no longer enforceable because of legislation protect people from sneaky contracts; people DO bear responsibility for contracts that they sign if they are upheld to the letter of the contract.

      Articles like this make me really nervous because they may have a valid point, but I am terribly worried about the results of overambitious and overreacting legislation.

      • by bhtooefr (649901)

        Well, there's the factor that, right now, to make it big, you have to do it through the established system - all major media is controlled by the established system. So, if your goal is to make it big...

        • Just a dumb idea... Get musicians, authors, artists, coders, and other digital work creators to join a new Digital.coop cooperative designed to eliminate the middle man. Users pay $5 to join, but then any profits are split between users and the artists. It gets around Apple's agency model problem, so you save 30% on all digital stuff right there. I write more about the idea at Ebooks.coop.

          • Re:Shysters all (Score:5, Insightful)

            by bberens (965711) on Friday July 08, 2011 @10:39AM (#36694498)
            98% of all media are owned by less than 10 conglomerates. Where do you suppose you'll be advertising?
            • by smelch (1988698)
              Uh.... The internet?
            • Wait, ClearChannel and company own 98% of the internet?

              Last I checked, getting on Pandora, Grooveshark, GoogleAds, etc didnt require you to be signed on with ANYONE. Get on pandora and all of a sudden you have a lot of exposure to your very demographic.

        • by scubamage (727538)
          Except you don't. There are a growing number of musicians who have completely avoided the "big labels" and done just fine.
          • by SharpFang (651121)

            Of course the RIAA still collects royalties from radios, pubs etc, for music by artists who don't belong to them. The amount of jumping through hoops to opt out is rarely worth the money you save. And they could sue you into ground before you can prove your innocence.

        • Re:Shysters all (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Artifakt (700173) on Friday July 08, 2011 @01:28PM (#36697168)

          There are a whole hell of a lot of people who want to make it big big! BIG!!. Just look at all the people who are waiting for their big break in Hollywood while waiting tables or washing cars - there are literally a million people jockying for those few '10 Million a picture' jobs, and 99.something % of them have no chance at all by any objective measure. A person who gets a screen credit in a single motion picture during their acting career is in the top 1% of screen actors guild members. People most viewers think of as middle of the line actors (i.e. Whoopee Goldberg), are statistically in the top 1/100th of 1% by earnings, number of films or shows they have appeared on, recognizability and similar measures.
                    This goes for somewhat lesser extent for pop musicians, athletes (particularly football players) and many others. There's really no point in asking If these contracts are known for being so bad, why do people continue to sign them?, because it's like asking these same people why they took that triple dog dare and got their tongue stuck to a pole. An actor/rockstar/celebrity is either an idiot who has let his dream of being big enough to overcome the emptiness in his soul overwhelm everything else, or he has some actual understanding of the odds, some actual understanding of his own worth, and (by the time he's done a few contracts) knows that all those idiots aren't just competition, but a thing that keeps the real actors down come contract time. Any serious actor is aware that the producers can always find somebody who will do the job for a pittance just to break in. He or she is aware that the producers have a generalised contempt for the actors they deal with that seems fundamental to their business models, and that he or she has to negotiate every deal through that. He or she swiftly hires an agent to handle that part.

      • If these contracts are known for being so bad, why do people continue to sign them?

        People want to be signed by a big label so bad, they'll do anything to get that contract. Often, they won't even hire an independent lawyer or will ignore the legal advice they're given, because they want to be signed so bad. The label knows that even if this group turns it down, there are 20 more waiting in the wings, itching for that contract. You either accept it or it goes to the next group.

        It's just like the people you see on Jerry Springer or whatever. They don't care that they look like idiots, th

      • by Joce640k (829181)

        Why do people sign up? You can lead a pretty good rockstar lifestyle for a few years if you sign up with the RIAA, but:

        a) It's not all S&D&R&R - expect a lot of mundane days, long hours, jetlag, etc.

        b) The letdown when they move on to the next great thing can be hard.

        c) There's a possibility that when it's all over you owe *them* money, not the other way around - keep one eye on the accounts!

      • by houghi (78078)

        Why do people sign? Because they are not lawyers. They are also asking the wrong questions to their lawyers. They will say to their lawyer that they want to sign and see the contract. All the while dreaming of gazillions of dollars.
        Instead they should ask IF they should sign or not. It means the moment they check the contract, they have already committed themselves.

        The dream of stardom is as blind as love. I knew a band and I knew the manager they hired. The manager was all hot air and talk and no connectio

        • by bberens (965711)
          I think it's simpler than that, even if you take the advice of your lawyer. WRT making it big, you need the big labels more than they need you. Your tiny cut with them may still be orders of magnitude more than what you're currently getting on your own. The exceptions to that rule are very few and far between.
      • Re:Shysters all (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mooingyak (720677) on Friday July 08, 2011 @10:12AM (#36694096)

        If these contracts are known for being so bad, why do people continue to sign them?

        Lets say 95% of people are smart enough not to sign one. If you work for a record company, it means you only sign up people who fall in that 5% category. The pool of people who could actually make money for them will always be large enough that they can afford to ignore the rest.

        And it gets worse. Let's say I started a record company today, and I genuinely want to do right by my artists. If I don't employ the same money squeezing tactics that the existing labels do, then my margins suffer and the only way to succeed is to have a much higher success/flop ratio with the acts I sign than everyone else. And that's not trivial to pull off.

        • by geekoid (135745)

          Except you your logic, you would sign the other 95% and make more money. The fact of the matter is that 'smart' has nothing to do. It's about experience, desire, presentation, and how poor the musician is when presented with the contract.

        • Re:Shysters all (Score:5, Informative)

          by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Friday July 08, 2011 @10:40AM (#36694514) Journal

          Everybody here seems to be missing a big factor....THEY ARE A CARTEL and as such control the gateway to the airwaves!

          The little 5 piece I was playing with was quite popular in the region, and had been asked several times by local DJs to come onto their shows and play. But they couldn't play our albums, not a single track, why? "Because we are only allowed to play what is on the list and that is passed down from corporate" which is why they'd have to invite bands they liked to play live, as it was the only loophole that let them keep their jobs.

          And it is THAT, that right there, that gives them the power to fuck kids over on contracts. I actually held one of those contracts in my hand and not even being a lawyer could smell the stench. We hired a lawyer who was like "Yeah...if you don't mind not owning any of your songs, having zero control of anything, and probably owing them money when its all done? Go right ahead" so needless to say we walked away. our opening act signed, what happened to them? They had to break up to get out of their contract after the label decided to "change direction" before the first album was even released, they got left holding the bag to the tune of $100,000 for an album they had paid to record themselves for "various promotion expenses" which believe me, they didn't get shit for promo.

          So yeah its a scam, but they own the radio, they own the TV, and the fact that they do NOT own the Internet is why they want to shut it down. These are the same pricks that claimed with a straight face that Bat Out Of Hell I, an album that actually set a world's record for length on the top 200, didn't make a cent. Meatloaf ended up filing for bankruptcy while fighting them because he didn't get shit.

          So please, rip them off. Copy your asses off, don't pay for shit, because they certainly aren't! Why they aren't busted for RICO is only because of the bags of money they pay congress critters.

          • well written post.

            I have already been doing my part to DENY income to anyone formally attached to riaa (and mpaa as well).

            buying used cd's (amazon, etc) is one way to stick it to the man, fully legally, too. not a single cent goes back to anyone connected with the industry when you buy used.

            then again, if you look at amazon prices, often the new and used cd's are within a dollar or even pennies of each other. wonder how THAT happened. hmmm.

            artists: the time has come to stop depending on 'art' to make a

            • by mooingyak (720677)

              artists: the time has come to stop depending on 'art' to make a living. do it because you love it

              Here's the problem with that. Let's say I'm an artist, and I make good quality music/art/books/whatever, and I do it because I love it, and people want more of it. If I do it in my spare time while working another job to make a living, that's less time I have available to create art. I currently have a number of hobbies that get neglected because I just don't have the time for them. We should pay artists enough for them to live on (and maybe a little more if they're that good) so that they can spend all

          • by tompaulco (629533)
            So please, rip them off. Copy your asses off, don't pay for shit, because they certainly aren't!
            That is absolutely the wrong approach. By downloading or copying those songs you are reaffirming that you want their music. DO NOT BUY! DO NOT DOWNLOAD! DO NOT COPY. Avoid them altogether.
      • by geekoid (135745)

        1) People signed a contract they didn't understand; which is understandable when some is waiving a bunch of money in your face and you don't realize that's your money they're waving at you.

        2) See 1

        When people are throwing things at you (Limos, recording studio time, food, nice rooms) It become very easy to forget it comes out of your cut plus most people have no real idea how much that stuff costs.

        I wonder what would, happen if the musicians had to sign a piece of paper that says : This item comes out of yo

      • Your comment is based on the false assumption that the music business is about selling music. Since the artists provide the music, they are entitled to the lion's share of the profits.

        In reality, the music business is more of a chump matching service. The music companies match up chumps who are willing to pay for music with chumps who are willing to sign away their rights to music. Since the music companies provide the chumps, they are entitled to the lion's share of the profits.

      • Re:Shysters all (Score:4, Interesting)

        by QuantumPion (805098) on Friday July 08, 2011 @11:02AM (#36694826)

        2) If these contracts are known for being so bad, why do people continue to sign them?

        Because while they may get ripped off on the record contract, they still get fame and recognition which allows them to make money on concert gigs.

      • Re:Shysters all (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Hatta (162192) on Friday July 08, 2011 @01:19PM (#36697004) Journal

        Surely enough people have been burned to set up a class action lawsuit

        They tried that in Canada. Out of $6 billion owed to artists, all they were able to get was $50 million.

        If these contracts are known for being so bad, why do people continue to sign them

        Mostly because it's their only shot at stardom. They don't pick people with talent who could hack it on their own. They pick kids from podunk towns just dying to get out and be famous.

  • The rise of indie (Score:5, Insightful)

    by theillien (984847) on Friday July 08, 2011 @09:33AM (#36693596)
    With the ability to distribute online so easily these days, I don't know why artists even bother with major labels anymore. I'm sure with a little investment even the smallest artist can attain a decent marketing campaign. Word of mouth and social networks are a wealth of free publicity as well.
    • by bsDaemon (87307) on Friday July 08, 2011 @09:39AM (#36693652)

      Unlike self-publishing, indie labels and self-sales/recording have never had the same stigma of lack of legitimacy. However, I think there is still an impression, even among the artists, that getting signed to a major label is what "success" means. It might be due to confusion in that success and slavery both start with an 's'.

      • by KDR_11k (778916)

        It's easier. Distributing and advertising your album yourself is hard work that pays off but if someone goes "I'm an artist, I'm above such worldly matters" they sign up to let someone else take care of that and get screwed for it.

        • by jedidiah (1196)

          This is simply a myth. Unless you are one of the lucky few that gets pushed to the front by your label, you will likely need to do your own marketing anyways. This also applies to other things like books. The gatekeeper system is not all that it is cracked up to be.

          Also the bands that tend to make it are the ones that have some industry saavy and a bit of a clue. It takes a lot to stick out from the crowd and making your own opportunities can be of considerable benefit. You can't just wait for A&R men t

    • Re:The rise of indie (Score:5, Informative)

      by Moryath (553296) on Friday July 08, 2011 @09:45AM (#36693720)

      - The MafiAA control the booking for 99% of the performance venues that seat more than 50 people. Get yourself to a large enough following, and you'll have problems. Piss off the MafiAA by being independent too long and they'll have you blackballed from performance venues.

      - The MafiAA control the vast, vast majority of sound studios. Want to rent time and the equipment to record your album? Their response will be "fuck you, you're not under contract, get lost till someone signs you."

      - Likewise, the vast majority of record producers, sound mixers, etc... are under MafiAA control.

      - The MafiAA control the "top 40" lists and radio playback. Your music will never get onto the radio or onto satellite radio without them, let alone onto the pre-show movie screener reels or any other of the "combined marketing" channels. And like it or not, that is STILL how most people get exposed to new music these days.

      I have several friends who've gone the indie route. Some of whom are merely good, one of whom is a fucking virtuoso, can pick up almost any instrument and give a good accounting, is phenomenal on the guitar, and has a killer instinct for writing earworms. The most he's ever been able to earn in a year, despite these talents, is about $20k - not bad for a part-time gig, but when he didn't have a day job, making a living as an indie was a matter of Just Barely Breaking Even month to month living in the crappiest, cheapest possible apartment and scheduling band practices at - you guessed it - the drummer's garage.

      Note I don't say he wasn't being paid well, by most standards, for the gigs (and they had a decent number). But once you count in fuel costs, equipment costs, instrument maintenance, and split the remainder four or five ways, the money for "indie" bands to perform isn't really all that much at all.

      • by vegiVamp (518171)

        How about giving the name of that virtuoso? Always good to find new things to listen to.

      • by KDR_11k (778916) on Friday July 08, 2011 @09:54AM (#36693830)

        And yet even with all those roadblocks you're likely getting more money by staying independent than by selling yourself to the labels and living in slavery. Only the overproduced stars that are pretty much a disposable cog in the music industry and chosen to be advertised big get big money to keep the dream of being a rock star alive and musicians willing to sign up despite getting screwed.

        • Re:The rise of indie (Score:5, Interesting)

          by smellsofbikes (890263) on Friday July 08, 2011 @12:04PM (#36695808) Journal

          And yet even with all those roadblocks you're likely getting more money by staying independent than by selling yourself to the labels and living in slavery. Only the overproduced stars that are pretty much a disposable cog in the music industry and chosen to be advertised big get big money to keep the dream of being a rock star alive and musicians willing to sign up despite getting screwed.

          Another consideration is that when you have a contract you have a budget, even if you're not taking home a hefty salary. I have one friend who is a genuine rock star, and another who is independent (and really good: he's won Guitar Magazine's 'best guitarist in the world' annual competition once.) They both make about the same amount of money from playing music, which is to say not very much, at all. However, the genuine rock star gets flown to Europe to perform, and their band travels around the US in enormous comfortable buses and has hotels everywhere they stay, whereas the independent guy drives around the US in an old beat-up van and stays in my basement for all the gigs he does in this state. Comfortably poor beats uncomfortably poor, and the record companies are willing to keep you in comfortable servitude to keep you making music for them.

      • by scubamage (727538)
        Agreed with other poster, whats his name? I'll check out some of his stuff.
      • by maztuhblastah (745586) on Friday July 08, 2011 @10:37AM (#36694466) Journal

        - The MafiAA control the booking for 99% of the performance venues that seat more than 50 people. Get yourself to a large enough following, and you'll have problems. Piss off the MafiAA by being independent too long and they'll have you blackballed from performance venues.

        Indeed. This is why artists such as Dispatch were never able to play venues such as Madison Square Garden [wikimedia.org], and were unable to get more than a few people [wikimedia.org] at their show at the Hatch Memorial Shell.

        Oh. Maybe not...

        • Re:The rise of indie (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Whorhay (1319089) on Friday July 08, 2011 @11:16AM (#36695038)

          I'm a Dispatch fan. I have a bunch of their albums on CD, and went to see them at the Garden when I lived in Alabama.

          I can't speak to whether or not the MAFIAA controls booking in 99% of the large venues or not. But when Dispatch played at Madison Square Garden they had already contracted with a major label to distribute their old albums. That may or may not have had anything to do with them being able to book three consecutive days of sold out shows there.

      • Advise: your sig is empty, why not putting your virtuoso's page on your sig? They do have a page, don't they? Even a MySpace (or should I say My____ :P) will do, as long as their songs are being heard. Also, if they have there some means to receive cash, they can, as people here say, at least beat inflation.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        No they do not own 90% of the venue over 50.

        We have the internet, musician can distribute. It can take longer, but the pay off is higher.

        The RIAA is losing control. Can the 'virtuoso' write catchy music? if not then he will never make big dollars.

        I would like to point out the that 20K is 20K more then he would make with the RIAA. The article is about selling a million and STILL OWING money.

        Seem like what your friend needs is a good manager. Someone who know technology and can get music out there and on iTun

    • Re:The rise of indie (Score:4, Informative)

      by Eraesr (1629799) on Friday July 08, 2011 @09:46AM (#36693744) Homepage
      It is still incredibly hard to become a successful (read: profitable) artist without the help of a (major) label. Big artists like Coldplay and Nine Inch Nails can afford to publish their own albums online without a label coming in between because any product with their names tied to it is guaranteed to sell. Starting artists just don't have the budget, the connections or the know-how on promoting their own music or landing gigs in large venues.
      • by Methuseus (468642)
        Many people seem to forget that successful non-label artists generally were once label-signed artists. They just finished off their contract and then went on their merry way. The problem is that most artists are signed to make X number of albums over Y years, and they either can't come up with enough good stuff so they peter out, or the label vetos the music they want to put on an album. Many artists have their creativity tied down when signed to a label, as well.
      • by houghi (78078)

        Starting artists need to be known and heard. It is the greedy mentality of the artists to sell, sell, sell that drives them in the hands of the RIAA in the first place.

        Play and play well and the record companies will come to you. If you are not good enough, they won't come.

        Once THEY come, you have much more to bargain with, because then it is THEIR greed, not yours.

        Yes, this means that 99.9% of the bands won't get a label and that is a good thing.

    • With the ability to distribute online so easily these days, I don't know why artists even bother with major labels anymore.

      Publishing != Marketing.

    • by jimicus (737525)

      With the ability to distribute online so easily these days, I don't know why artists even bother with major labels anymore. I'm sure with a little investment even the smallest artist can attain a decent marketing campaign. Word of mouth and social networks are a wealth of free publicity as well.

      Tell you what, why don't you ring up a few concert venues and get yourself booked into them? Get yourself into the big online music stores - iTunes and Amazon would be a good start, get airplay on some major radio stations, get your music into adverts and in TV shows. Call up the agent for a reasonably well-known musician you admire and ask if they'd be interested in a supporting act for their next tour.

      Setting up a website is relatively easy, but if you think that all you need is a website and some musical

    • I've actually started to see/hear this. On my local radio, there's an ad to download what I would call a "painfully indie" track from iTunes. So, while I have my doubts as to the success of this particular campaign, it's interesting to watch the tide turn.

  • Don't sign it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Neil Watson (60859) on Friday July 08, 2011 @09:35AM (#36693614) Homepage

    The RIAA is not fully to blame here. If I don't like a work contract I get it changed or walk away. If someone is too eager to be famous to take the time and negotiate I can hardly feel sorry for them.

    • Re:Don't sign it (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice&gmail,com> on Friday July 08, 2011 @09:43AM (#36693702)

      I agree.

      If you don't like the contract, don't sign it.

      If you don't like the contract someone else has signed, don't buy their music.

      If you want to make a statement, go without . Nothing gets my back up more than the people here on Slashdot who says "this has pushed me to piracy" - grow a pair and go without if you aren't willing to pay for it otherwise you are part of the problem, not part of the solution. Yes, the RIAA and MPAA have onerous terms and conditions, if you don't like them then find something you do agree with and support that.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        Except your solution doesn't actually fix anything. I fact, in a lot of ways it hurts.

        Download music that someone else is illegally distributing is the only way to give information the the artist(how many poeple like the music) and to the RIAA (You suck).

        This informs the parties that the bands quality is not the issue.

        "then find something you do agree with and support that."
        I ALSO do that.

        How I am supposed to know the details of contracts I'm not involved with I'll never know.

    • Re:Don't sign it (Score:4, Informative)

      by Eraesr (1629799) on Friday July 08, 2011 @09:44AM (#36693706) Homepage
      You as contractor have a bargaining position. You can afford to walk away. Most artists cannot afford this, simply because in most cases the alternatives are just as bad or worse.
      • by Abstrackt (609015)

        You as contractor have a bargaining position. You can afford to walk away. Most artists cannot afford this, simply because in most cases the alternatives are just as bad or worse.

        What alternatives? How are they worse? Is the artist going to get kicked in the head for not signing or will they just have to rely on themselves for marketing?

        We live in an age where musicians don't even need instruments to make music anymore! Don't tell me artists can't afford to walk away from a contract they don't agree with; they always have a choice, even if it means paying the bills by working at Starbucks until they succeed on their own terms.

        • by Eraesr (1629799)
          Ok, that's really not what I meant and frankly quite a retarded thing to say.
          Sure, anyone could go work at Starbucks but that's not what this is about is it? The difference is that anyone with an "ordinary" job will have plenty of other companies that can offer him a similar job at better terms. In the music industry, all major labels will screw you over. In that section of the market, there aren't any alternatives. Indie labels are fine and everything, but possibly usually not capable of getting you a cha
          • by geekoid (135745)

            No, it's a perfect legitimate thing to say. If you don't like the terms of the contract, then do it yourself.

            The old chart methods have become so useless they might as well be dead.

      • by houghi (78078)

        The alternative is not being a slave. The alternative is not making a living from music. So fucking what? I am sure the majority of people would rather do something else then they do now for a living.

        We have a group. We meet after work in every bar around the world.

    • by Moryath (553296)

      If I don't like a work contract I get it changed or walk away.

      Now imagine that the "work contract" includes a no-compete clause that you can't look for other employment or even strike out on your own. One way the MafiAA keeps "artists" in limbo is by forever delaying an album. They sign you to a 4 record deal? Three records down, you're a fairly popular band, working on the fourth... they'll start exercising a "discretion clause" to keep sending it back and disapproving it over and over and over until you f

    • by KDR_11k (778916)

      A problem is that these contracts are likely so obfuscated that you'd need a lawyer to even notice you're about to get fucked six ways to Sunday.

    • by Garwulf (708651)

      Well, it's not that simple. From what I remember reading of this (which, granted, was at least five years ago, so perhaps...HOPEFULLY...some of this has changed), the recording industry is set up to shaft recording artists upon entry.

      Let me put it this way - I am an agented author. So, when I deal with the publishers, I have an agent on my side who will play hardball if she sees the need. My agent works for me - she gets a cut of what I receive, so it is in her best interest to ensure that I get the best

    • "It's easy to maintain your integrity when no one is offering to buy it out."

      - Marc Maron

      When your band has been eating pigeons and ramen noodles 3 meals a day, and you're offered a record contract, it's really hard not to buy into it.

    • but it also delves into some of the sneakier aspects of record label contracts with musicians -- things that many musicians simply won't know about or understand when they sign their contract.

      Musicians are musicians, not lawyers. I'm pretty sure they have to hire someone to read these things and explain them to them. Let's face it, people DO get famous and rich even by signing with the RIAA. No, I think the RIAA is to blame here. Just because someone gets conned doesn't mean they deserve it.

  • This stuff has been known for a long time

  • by CowboyBob500 (580695) on Friday July 08, 2011 @09:40AM (#36693666) Homepage
    http://www.negativland.com/albini.html [negativland.com] Major labels have always screwed their artists, which is why I've always attempted to go it alone - even though I've so far been fairly unsuccessful, that's still better than going with the majors.
  • It ain't just for Hollywood.
  • Most of us are happy to pay artists who have done good work. Very few of of are happy to pay thieves. Those labels are the very reason that so many people happily copy movies and music.

    I really do think that everyone (probably inlcuding the labels) would do better if there was more decency and respect in the business, as much more people would be willing to pay for products if the money went where it was well deserved.

    • Absolutely correct, and they have been doing it for decades. Back in the late 60s one of the biggest bands was Credence Clearwater Revival. They sold a lot of albums and made a lot of money for the record company. Then Fogerty asked why they weren't making any money and the record company explained it was all in the contract he (and the band) had signed. Their manager basically owned all the rights to everything they had recorded and they were only entitled to a pittance of the money being made. He demanded
  • So there appears to be no reason to sign with the RIAA now that small artists are able to quickly make a profit by being independent.

    The accounting should become as public as possible so that anyone who retains a lawyer to sign the RIAA contract should be advised by their lawyer not to sign the contract. If despite the public information the lawyer stills says sign then you get "paid" out of the lawyers insurance as the lawyer was not acting in your interests.

  • Between the 1930s and 1960s the major labels also were money laundering companies for the US mob, guess nothing has changed.

  • Hollywood's been doing this for years, they call it Hollywood Accounting. For instance, Rain Man, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Batman (1988), and Forrest Gump all lost money on paper, despite the fact that they took in HUGE amounts of money at the box office.

    Why it's allowed, I have no idea. Just another sign of corruption in our regulatory bodies and government...

    • Remember all those films lost money only when someone complained about how their cut of profits didn't match what they were supposed to get based on box office receipts. That's why most actors/directors have their contracts in terms of gross percentage not profit percentage. Even then Hollywood will try to screw you. One reason Peter Jackson isn't directing The Hobbit is his dispute with New Line in that he didn't get the agreed amount based on gross points. Their response was something to the effect "W
  • Rapmasta F-U the lunchbox, Rapmasta F-U the colouring book, Rapmasta F-U the flamethrower.

    Well, t-shirt sales at concerts anyway, books, movie rights, that jazz. If you're too dumb to know that before you take an "advance" from a label, then you're going to get ripped off by a 419 scam sooner or later anyway.

  • is actually getting closer to 2.5% through various tricks placed in the contract

    Of course- this is just one of the reason they have armies of lawyers. And they also lobby to not give you a chance to go elsewhere. Unfortunately as far as I can tell, this has been the norm for all things publishing; also applies to book authors, not just music artists. And this "artist==poor as f**k" common perception further encourages an "2.5% nets more than I could do on my own" attitude.

    If the system ever works, and these corporate asswipes start being taxed the hell out of (as they should, but they

  • by Kirgin (983046) on Friday July 08, 2011 @10:10AM (#36694078)
    I've worked as an IT professional on an royalt processing system for the 3 of the biggest labels. The project failed because the royalty processing algorithms needed are so convoluted and the backlog of unprocessed royalties so large that you would need supercomputer level processing to get through it. Fact #1: Royalty processing systems of today are 25 years old, based on midframe/mainframe technology and would take 3 months to process the monthend of all their artists. What does that mean? They selectively choose what artists they calculate royalties for (read new artists) and shunt the others to their backlog of billions of unpaid royalties. Fact #2: Current system is album based, even a per song sale requires an album in their system, this adds to the complexity. Fact #3: Because they've already collected money for royalty but not processed the artist portion, they are sitting with billions and billions of unpaid royalties...A lot of artists have to sue their own labels for their royalties and the ARTISTS have to prove the royalties were owing. Only then will the label get off its ass, do an emergency processing of royalties for that artist and then pay it out.
  • by MarkvW (1037596) on Friday July 08, 2011 @11:28AM (#36695196)

    I read a very good book called "Confessions of A Record Producer" by Moses Avalon.

    This book breaks down and explains the contracts involved in music production. It is quite informative. It left me with the clear impression that the labels are incredibly greedy and rapacious, but so are the producers and the artists. The only difference is that the labels have all the bargaining power.

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