A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity

Billion Dollar Deals and Still No RESPECT for Pre-1972 Artists

How would you feel as a musician and as a creator today as you hear and read about all of these board room deals taking place between technology companies and the record labels?

Millions upon millions are exchanged from a technological company to the record labels.

WHY?

Because if a technological company wants to offer a music service they need to license the music catalogue that the record labels hold. And the music catalogue that the record labels hold is music created by artists, songwriters and producers, including those same artists that are supporting the PRE-1972 RESPECT ACT. So where is the windfall for the artists from all of these backroom deals. In a nutshell it is their music that the record labels are using as leverage.

The RESPECT ACT says that some of the biggest digital radio services in the world have decided to stop paying royalties to artists who recorded music before February 15, 1972. It looks like the record labels never paid any royalties to these artists.

The Allman Brothers have sued Universal Music and Sony Music for unpaid iTunes royalties. The Temptations sued Universal for not paying iTunes royalties properly. The Beatles sued EMI over unpaid royalties. Martha Reeves sued Motown for unpaid royalties. Roger McGuinn, from the Byrds, has never received royalties (beyond a “modest advance”) for the 15 albums he recorded with the band.

The RESPECT ACT says these companies believe that they can use pre-1972 recordings for free, forever. It looks like the record labels use these pre-1972 recordings to negotiate licensing deals, without any compensation to the original artists and the writers.

The RESPECT ACT says that while the artists of today are paid royalties every time their songs are played, the inspirational artists who came before them — Motown acts, the legends of Jazz and Blues, and the musicians who gave birth to Rock n’ Roll — all get nothing. Um, those acts never got nothing in the first place from the record labels. Modest advances maybe.

The RESPECT Act states that the decision by these companies to cut off royalties for pre-1972 recordings caused artists and record labels to lose an estimated $60 million in royalties. Music is how artists pay the rent, provide for their family, and plan for the future.

Um, what about the estimated millions of royalties that the artists have lost due to creative record label accounting.

And what about all of the producers and songwriters that worked on those music catalogues that the record labels now own and use as a bargaining chip. Based on all of the research funded by the RIAA, producers and songwriters are the ones that are hurt the most because of piracy. It looks like they are really hurt by the streaming licensing deals.

Seriously think about it.

SPOTIFY had to pay a hefty license fee to operate and in the US they had to give up half the company.
BEATS also had to pay a license to the record labels and give up some equity.
APPLE also paid the labels to license their music.
GOOGLE, AMAZON and PANDORA also have paid the labels. The list just goes on.

Some could argue that the artists, producers and songwriters got paid a decent advance for their music. And the norm in the past has been to give the songwriters and the producers a modest advance for their work in exchange for any future royalties earned. But at that time when the advance is paid no one knows how big that potential song or album could be. Or vice versa, no one knows how bad that song or album could be. But if the song or album does blow up, it doesn’t mean that the producer or the songwriter will start getting some decent royalties.

Because then the maths start to get more complicated due to that record label black hole formula known as RECOUPED. When that formula starts to be applied to any money earned from royalties there is a 99.9% chance that the artists will not receive a cent.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit, Unsung Heroes

The “Respect Act” Does Nothing For The Artists But Everything For The RIAA and SoundExchange

I have been doing some reading on the “Respect Act” that is being pushed by SoundExchange the performance rights organization in the US that collects royalties. So the 1976 Copyright Act, made sound recordings from 1972 and after covered leaving all pre-1972 sound recordings in legal no mans land. Proponents for these recordings have suggested that one way forward is to retroactively say that all pre-1972 sound recordings are under federal copyright law.

BUT….

The RIAA has battled tooth and nail against this. Here are the reasons why;

Did you know that the copyright under state laws lasts so much longer. So in turn the record labels get to keep the copyright for a longer period. So the Record Labels and the RIAA like this.

Did you know that the copyright under state laws does not have any termination rights. The Record labels and the RIAA like this. In the 1976 Copyright Act, the original creator is allowed to take back their copyrights for all recordings released in 1978 and after. The Record Labels and the RIAA don’t like this and this is one of the main reasons why the RIAA has battled hard to not put PRE-1972 Recordings under FEDERAL COPYRIGHT.

Did you know that the copyright under state laws does not have a public performance right. That means that there are no necessary licenses for the streaming of such works. And it has been accepted in this way for over 40 years. And the “RESPECT Act” would only extend the performance rights part of the state laws to pre-1972 sound recordings, while leaving everything else about those works uncovered by federal copyright law. So the RIAA with SoundExchange is putting only the parts of copyright law that it likes on pre-1972 sound recordings, while keeping the remainder under state laws.

Yep it sure sounds like some RESPECT for the artists. This is from the press release;

“Project72 kicks off with an open letter, signed by more than 70 recording artists, calling on digital radio to treat all sound recordings equally and to “pay for all the music they play.”

I like how they emphasise the “pay for all the music they play.” So who will actually get paid? History has dictated that it will not be the artist.

I remember reading a statement from Roger McGuinn that he made before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on July 11, 2000. And yes he is a supporter of “Project 72”.

Hello, my name is Roger McGuinn. My experience in the music business began in 1960 with my recording of “Tonight In Person” on RCA Records. I played guitar and banjo for the folk group the “Limeliters.” I subsequently recorded two albums with the folk group the “Chad Mitchell Trio.” I toured and recorded with Bobby Darin and was the musical director of Judy Collins’ third album. In each of those situations I was not a royalty artist, but a musician for hire.

My first position as a royalty artist came in 1964 when I signed a recording contract with Columbia Records as the leader of the folk-rock band the “Byrds.” During my tenure with the Byrds I recorded over fifteen albums. In most cases a modest advance against royalties was all the money I received for my participation in these recording projects.

In 1973 my work with the Byrds ended. I embarked on a solo recording career on Columbia Records, and recorded five albums. The only money I’ve received for these albums was the modest advance paid prior to each recording.

In 1977 I recorded three albums for Capitol Records in the group “McGuinn, Clark, and Hillman.” Even though the song “Don’t You Write Her Off” was a top 40 hit, the only money I received from Capitol Records was in the form of a modest advance.

In 1989 I recorded a solo CD, “Back from Rio”, for Arista Records. This CD sold approximately 500,000 copies worldwide, and aside from a modest advance, I have received no royalties from that project.

The same is true of my 1996 recording of “Live From Mars” for Hollywood Records. In all cases the publicity generated by having recordings available and promoted on radio created an audience for my live performances. My performing work is how I make my living. Even though I’ve recorded over twenty-five records, I cannot support my family on record royalties alone.

In a Ultimate Classic Rock interview, Roger McGuinn mentioned the following;

“In my case, I recorded ‘So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star’ with Chris Hillman and the Byrds. Chris and I wrote it in ’67 and it was on our ‘Younger Than Yesterday’ album that came out that year. Then Patti Smith covered it in the ‘70s and Tom Petty covered it in the mid-‘80s and they both get paid royalties for performance but the Byrds don’t. It doesn’t seem fair.”

The RESPECT Act would still not change the part about getting paid royalties from the cover versions that people made of the song and the unfortunate part is that most of the royalties paid for digital streaming would go to the record labels who only paid him a small advance.

Did you also know that George Holding, the American Representative that is bringing in the legislation used to work for a law firm called Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton that is well-known for its intellectual property practice. Sure sounds like a lot of RESPECT for the artists.

Did you also that John Conyer, the American Representative that is also supporting the legislation was involved in a copyright controversy when he opposed a bill that would make federally funded research freely available to the public. Conyers was influenced by publishing houses who contributed significant money to him.

Did you also know that Mark Farner, of Grand Funk Railroad would still not get a cent from his pre-1972 songs because after a dispute with the band’s manager over his $350 a week employee payments, he had to give up all the rights to the music.

I am all for artists getting paid. BUT in this case they are being used. They will not see a cent of these monies.

Another great article on the subject.

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