We live in a capitalist society. The wealthy dominate us and anyone who gets in the way gets their dues. Don’t believe me, then tell my why copyright laws are at their most protective.
Once upon a time in a galaxy far far away, the copyright length was set at 14 years with an option to renew it for another 14 years after which the work falls into the public domain. This was enough incentive for the people of that era to enjoy the profits from sales of their works and be encouraged to write more. What was made clear back then was that the ultimate beneficiary in all of this was the public. Then copyright was expanded to 42 years, then 56 years, then life plus 50 years and now it is life plus 70 years. Throughout all of the copyright term extensions, each passing was heavily supported by the ones that held the power, like book publishers, film studios and record labels.
“I worked half of my life for free. I didn’t really think about that one way or the other, until the masters of the record industry kept complaining that I wasn’t making them any money…. As I learned when I hit 30 +, and realized I was penniless, and almost unable to get my music released, music had become an industrial art and it was the people who excelled at the industry who got to make the art. I had to sell most of my future rights to keep making records to keep going.”
Iggy Pop – John Peel Lecture 2014
So what went wrong with copyright.
MONEY is what went wrong.
When people in the recording/entertainment business got very rich for doing absolutely nothing, they decided that they needed to pay their local politician a visit, send them some money and get laws enacted that helped to protect their monopolistic business models.
Don’t you just love how the powerful lobby groups like the RIAA and their stooges talk about “piracy” and how “piracy corroded the livelihoods of musicians who put blood, sweat and tears in creating those works”.
Don’t you just love how they seem to forget how the labels employed creative accounting to ensure that almost no album ever recouped.
And isn’t it funny how the RIAA and their stooges don’t want to talk about the antiquated recording contracts that the labels still get artists to sign. Maybe back in the day it was okay for record companies to keep 80% of the revenues as it was a costly exercise to produce, distribute and promote their fledgling talent’s works. But in 2014, especially with all of the different ways that music is monetized, aren’t these old contracts really out of touch with the real world.
So while the old breed of artists like the top 1% who accounted for at least 80% of the recording business revenue bemoan the new recording industry, the new modern breed of artists understand that online music is essentially a promotional vehicle for live performances. I also predict that these modern breed of artists will end up making more money than their heroes.
I seriously believe bands like Avenged Sevenfold, Shinedown, Five Finger Death Punch, Volbeat, In This Moment, Halestorm and so on, will make more money in the long run than Metallica, Motley Crue, Kiss and so on.
The new breeds have leaner organisations than their counterparts and they are more knowledgeable than their counterparts.
What I mean by this is that the new breed of artists don’t have to deal with expensive recording budgets like the artists of old. They don’t have to deal with distribution and breakage costs like the artists of old. They have a better understanding of economics and accounting principles. The new breed is more diversified. Their business is not all about recording and touring. They are branching out into different industries and they are finding interesting and innovating ways to connect with their audiences.
So watch out for the new breeds.