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(@noteboat)
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I don't buy that argument, Rahul - and I think it's naive to say the 'online community' has any say at all in this.

Individuals do control most of the content of the internet - there are billions of websites out there. But we don't control the delivery system at all; every single web page must find its way through a hanful of servers in order for you to view it, and all those servers are owned by large corporations.

To this point, the internet has remained relatively free - not because of the choice of the 'online community', but because parties (like the RIAA) have not been successful in holding the pipeline accountable for the content. That may be changing.

We've already seen effective limitation of delivery - look at the deal Google has with China. Legislation is pending in the US to block all access to gambling sites, by forcing the telecommunication systems to screen them out. If other countries follow similar lines of logic, the information will still be there - but delivery will return to methods of the early 90s: dial-up bulletin boards.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


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(@rahul)
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Post edited (Please delete) - I don't want to lose my peace of mind.From now on i would keep myself out of the copyright debates.


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(@ignar-hillstrom)
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Joined: 19 years ago
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If each and every thing , including all tabs , chords ,lyrics are to be bought by the people who just want to enjoy themselves , wonder what will happen to the learning community...

What would happen? People will have to get off their butt and learn to play music instead of hitting the correct frets in order. People will have to listen to the album and create their own version. People might actually get some kind of accurate hearing and will suddenly notice that there is more to bending then pushing the string up to a random location. People will understand *why* they are playing what they are playing. Maybe, just maybe, guitarists will become musicians instead of inaccurate robots. All this nonsense about how important tab is is just that, nonsense. Like noone was able to play guitar before the mid-nineties.
But what both are doing is simply sharing their knowledge and experience.

And reducing sales of songbooks. I'm not saying it's evil or bad, that's a decision we must all make for ourselves. But it might be interesting to think a tad harder about this instead of seperating the entire world into 'good free people' and 'evil bad persons trying to ruin the music'.
Why should i pay for a song , i just want to learn for my fun.I am not performing to get money or else , i may get a copyright.

Why you must pay? Because some dude spend time writing the song and wants to get payed. I want a ferarri, just for my fun. I won't perform in races with it nor earn money with it. And guess what? I can't have one for free.


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 Faza
(@faza)
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[...] the record companies [...] rob both consumers and the artists who record for them)

How's that?

I originally planned to answer in some depth, but then I found that A-J Charron had done a much better job of it than I probably could here and here.

Viridian on MySpace


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(@ignar-hillstrom)
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Faza: I don't read anything about robbing or stealing. You might not agree with what labels give the artist, but it's all agreed upon by both parties, and it's a conscious choice made by musicians who don't feel like publishing themselves. And if you want other people to turn your music into a commercial succes, you'll be paying a price for it. Besides, after A-J is done with the math the musician in the example is still walking home with more money then most people around me make in a year, while having a job that's far better then what most people around me have. So what's up with all the crying?

Or in other words: why on earth should anyone expect to earn $750,000 (as in the example) just by playing some music, espescially if you can't be bothered to do the advertising and all the sidecrap yourself? And if you don't want to do it yourself and still feel you're supposed to earn the Big Bucks, then don't sign the contract and go someplace else.


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 Faza
(@faza)
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There are two matters to consider here: the legal and the moral.

You have a valid point about the contracts being freely agreed between the parties. However it should not escape notice that:
a. the parties have unequal bargaining power,
b. the major companies have done all in their power to force the smaller independent labels out of business - by buying them up or raising stakes so high that they are unable to compete,
c. the industry in general does not exist without the artists, who are all too frequently on the raw end of the deal.

Furthermore, A-J does not go into the specifics of packaging deductions, controlled compositions clauses, royalty reductions for format and territory etc. He does make an important point, however: recording contracts are formulated in a one-sided manner, that totally favours the record company. Under a standard contract, the company is obliged to pay an advance and perhaps - at some time in the future - some royalties. The company exercises various methods of reducing the money payable to the artist - most of which cannot be defended from any rational standpoint (like packaging and new format deductions in the case of CDs). The majority of costs (including all recording costs) are paid from the artist's money (by way of recoupment), but the company owns the copyrights to all recordings and imposes re-recording restrictions. Obtaining copyright reversion - even in the case of highly successful artists - is well nigh impossible. There is usually no commitment by the company to release the recordings within any sensible date or to put any valid effort into marketing the release (I've seen an album released by Universal Records and nominated for a Polish recording arts academy award flop because the company did nothing to promote it). At the same time the company retains full discretion as to how long it wants to maintain the deal (it might take the best part of two years for a band to be freed from their contract after the company loses all interest - I've seen that happen as well).

All the above is perfectly legal. Is it moral? I don't consider the term "rob" too strong, given the fact that very often artists that are earning a profit for the record company remain unrecouped and earn no money from the sales of their recordings.

As for the consumer side of the matter: CDs now cost about a dollar to produce, maybe less. Given the bulk of the release, recording costs per unit may amount to another dollar. Mechanical royalties might be something like 80 cents, probably less. The artists royalty is maybe another dollar (except he isn't getting any until the recording costs are recouped, so the two costs cancel each other out ;) ). How much do CDs sell for? Who takes the money? Need I say more? In all fairness, the fault does not lie solely with the record companies; the distributors and retailers also do what they can. :)

This is not whining on my part. It is a rather incomplete image of a very ugly side of the music business. Think about how many majors there are. There's a word for such a market situation: oligopoly.

Perhaps I did not make my previous point clearly enough: the present recording industry - as represented by the majors - is a greedy middleman. It feeds on imposing unfair terms on both consumers and artists. This does not however justify wholesale piracy as practiced by users of the p2p networks. In particular - the p2p phenomenon is primarily hurting the artists concerned. I hope this clears it up.

P.S. A-J's article does not mention the fact that the money made by the musicians in the example (about $25,000 Canadian dollars each) might be earned over a period of say 5 to 10 years (by the time the royalties work their way through the system). Two to five thousand dollars a year does not sound that attractive anymore. If you get anything at all.

Viridian on MySpace


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 Anonymous
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I agree that the record company execs are getting more than they diserve. What right do they have make that kind of money off of someone else's work when firemen/women, police, teachers, and other public servants make pennies...

On a side note...the question that needs to be asked is: Why are people stealing __________________ (fill in music, software, eBooks, etc.) to begin with? The answer is because the prices of these items were (and in some instances still are) being jacked up to unbelievable prices! The music industry finally started getting smart and offering $0.99 songs for download and started lowering the prices of their CD's. I think $10 is a fair price for an album but not all that long ago cd's were almost $20! Software is beginning to get it as well (except microsoft!) that pricesneed to be fair in order to curb stealing...Yes there will always be people who are going to go the free route. But Napster go big because the public got sick of the continuously esculating prices. EVERYTHING is being jacked up these days. That's why eBay is so popular. Why pay for something that is overpriced when there is a fair deal on eBay.


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(@ignar-hillstrom)
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Faza:
a. the parties have unequal bargaining power,
c. the industry in general does not exist without the artists, who are all too frequently on the raw end of the deal.

1) If the industry would not exist without the artist then clearly the artist has plenty of bargaining power. He just isn't using it.
2) The industry as we know it would not exist without the labels either. No way Britney would have sold millions of albums without some help.

So both sides have something to bring in: music versus financial experience. No surprise who is going to get the biggest cut during negotiations. Again: musicians have plenty of options in distributing their music. Now if you still want to go for the MTV-dream and knock on the door of the big labels you should now what to expect.
On a side note...the question that needs to be asked is: Why are people stealing __________________ (fill in music, software, eBooks, etc.) to begin with? The answer is because the prices of these items were (and in some instances still are) being jacked up to unbelievable prices!

No, we steal because it's easy and we can get away with it.


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 Faza
(@faza)
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I agree that stealing is easier and cheaper. ;) However I am inclined to believe that more people would buy music if it wasn't ridiculously overpriced and it is for the most part.

And no - the artist has no bargaining power. It is foolish to believe that he/she does, unless there's fierce competition to sign him/her or he/she has a proven track record. Even then, they cannot change the formulation of their contract in any significant way. The best that may be achieved is either improvement of the financial terms or the removal of some of the most unfair clauses. Since a lot of these contracts are signed for lengthy periods of time (several albums at least), it is likely that by the time the artist is in a position to renegotiate, the company has already bled him/her dry and changing tastes may well be pushing his/her style of music to the backburner.

The above does not in any way affect the fact that the music industry cannot exist without artists' services. Just as eighteenth- and nineteenth-century factories could not exist without the labour force, which was exploited to the utmost and still kept coming for work. Did this make it right? I don't think so.

To close this rather tedious discussion: I am aware of the realities of the music business as seen by the majors, just as I am aware of the way Microsoft runs its business. I think it's a scandal and saying "love it or leave it" isn't much of an argument. I'm certain that if the RIAA found some way of charging users every time they listened to a CD they bought, they'd endeavor in all ways possible to do so. What annoys me is the indignation with which they pursue anyone who'd slice anything off their handsome profit margins instead of looking for ways in which the largest amount of music could be brought to consumers at fair prices. To top it all off, the majors are offering us increasingly inferior products (in terms of the quality of music on offer), which is selling quite simply because the average Joe on the street remains blissfully unaware that there is anything else being released. This too is a direct result of the business model imposed on the market by the majors by way of their financial power.

Just as a side-note: I am in no way implying there is no need for music labels. I'm simply saying that the majors have turned the music business into grand-scale larceny. There is nothing fair about the way they do business and I have no qualms about saying so.

Viridian on MySpace


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(@noteboat)
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I'm not so sure the 'larceny' aspect can be justified.

As a business, the entertainment industry isn't like any other - I don't know of any other business where the majority of the products they produce lose money.

So there are two paths...

1. The artist raises his/her/their own capital, either by investing in a project themselves, or by selling shares to others. They do this with the realization that 99 times out of 100, there will be NO profits for the investors.

2. Sign with a label, with the understanding that if you're in the 99 out of 100 that loses money, you're coming out ahead - somebody else paid to produce and market your release, and you might even have some money left from the advance. Or, if you happen to be in that 1 out of 100 that makes it big, you realize that you'll be subsidizing all the other acts that don't make money.

Face it, if you're a record label, you're responsible to giving a return to your investors, the shareholders. And if most of your projects lose money, the only way you'll do that is by raking it in off the ones who succeed. Any record label that offered a 'fair' deal to all the artists it signed would put themselves out of business in a heartbeat.

It's not true that artists have no negotiating power. Of the 1 in 100 who make money, they have at least a bit of power; when a label realizes they have a marketable talent, they'll renegotiate early, sweetening the pot a great deal to avoid the risk that the artist moves to another label after the original deal is finished. And of the 1 in 10,000 who consistently make money, release after release, have a remarkable amount of power - because they have a realistic option of locating private investors for their next release (after contract obligations are fulfilled). These flagship acts - the Rolling Stones, etc. - get signed by labels under almost whatever terms they demand.

The funny thing about the really successful acts is that the labels don't hope to make a ton of money off them - they'll be happy breaking even. That's because when they're approaching new acts (where on average they'll make money) they have an ego card to play... signing with a label that also has the Stones is a big deal.

The movie business is no different. Top talent gets top bucks, partly for the publicity value of signing a 'star' for $20 million or so. Nobody talks about all the other folks sharing the same screen for scale - as little as $500 per shooting day for credited speaking parts.

I don't think the bit part actors get ripped off any more than musicians. The big leagues of entertainment offer you a chance for fame and fortune, not a guarantee.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


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 Anonymous
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Face it, if you're a record label, you're responsible to giving a return to your investors, the shareholders. And if most of your projects lose money, the only way you'll do that is by raking it in off the ones who succeed. Any record label that offered a 'fair' deal to all the artists it signed would put themselves out of business in a heartbeat.

Forgive me Noteboat but your statement is only true in the IDEAL world. These executives at places like Sony, BMG, etc. are ALL making more money than their investors. If they REALLY cared about their investors THEY would take a pay cut. They live in multi-million dollar homes, drive $100,000 cars and their investors get the scraps as well as the musician's. I agree they the companies have watch the deals they give the musician's and that it is a risk...but that is not where the argument lies...it's the salaries of these exec's theat are bloated and unfair. It EXACTLY like the oil companies these days...Can they really justify $3.00/gallon of gas? They are stuffing their OWN pockets and could honestly care less about the investors or anyone else for that matter. Who is the average person that buys the majority of CD's these days? Teenagers. They can't afford $20 an album. $10 is a fair price and they will make up the difference in volume sales. Let's face it GREED is the controlling force WHENEVER it comes to money.


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(@twistedlefty)
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Topic starter  

not wishing to hijack the thread any further than it already has, i think "stealing" is an inacurate description of what we are discussing here.
what we are discussing is this particular foray by the RIAA into this aspect of "copyright infringment"
please keep to the topic at hand or we will no longer be able to discuss our opinions as the mods will be forced to lock this and other threads on this topic.

many believe that the RIAA's battles on this and other related fronts have never had anything to do with the artists or anything other than control over a horse that has long since left the barn (see the sony betamax case)

in fact the statistics and sales records state quite clearly that the battle the RIAA claims is robbing their clients, has actually had the opposite affect on sales and has increased revenue in many long dead portfolios by resurecting interest in all but dead portfoilios.

my frequent posts on this and related topics are only intended to inform and bring to light the current evolution and how aspects of it may or may not affect us as artists and/or recording hobbyists in this and related fields.

#4491....


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(@noteboat)
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Forgive me Noteboat but your statement is only true in the IDEAL world. These executives at places like Sony, BMG, etc. are ALL making more money than their investors.

Check your facts, Mike.

First off, Sony and BMG are the same company - they merged in 2003. Profits for 2005 were $95 million, operating profits were substantially higher - but let's use the lower figure, after their accounting writeoffs.

Last year, the CEO was Andrew Lack. Bertlesmann recently shuffled him off to another position, unhappy about the contract he made with Springsteen (reportedly for $100 million, backing up what I said about flagship acts).

Now I don't know what Lack made as CEO, but as far as I can tell the highest paid record exec last year was Edgar Bronfman of Warner - $7.25 million. Not peanuts, but nowhere near top executive salaries in other fields. Oh yeah - and analysts project income of 22 cents a share for this year... that's a little over $3.2 billion for the shareholders of Warner. About 440 times what the top exec makes.

Also backing up what I said about labels, Sony BMG singled out three albums (from two acts) for 'driving' their profits, and three others (from three acts) for 'significant' sales. The Sony/BMG umbrella has 17 record labels - and an awful lot of acts. Only two 'drive' profits, and only five make enough money to be singled out.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


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(@davidhodge)
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Joined: 14 years ago
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Echoing TL's thoughts, let's keep on track. It's been (for this type of discussion) fairly civil and informative so far (*crosses fingers* )

There are obviously a lot of sides and viewpoints to this matter (like pretty much everything in life) and a discussion of these various views can be both enlightening and educational. Notice the word "discussion," which implies that you're listening (reading) to another's viewpoint rather than simply getting up on a soapbox.

Carry on!

Peace


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 Anonymous
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Forgive me Noteboat but your statement is only true in the IDEAL world. These executives at places like Sony, BMG, etc. are ALL making more money than their investors.

Check your facts, Mike.

Last year, the CEO was Andrew Lack. Bertlesmann recently shuffled him off to another position, unhappy about the contract he made with Springsteen (reportedly for $100 million, backing up what I said about flagship acts).

Now I don't know what Lack made as CEO, but as far as I can tell the highest paid record exec last year was Edgar Bronfman of Warner - $7.25 million. Not peanuts, but nowhere near top executive salaries in other fields. Oh yeah - and analysts project income of 22 cents a share for this year... that's a little over $3.2 billion for the shareholders of Warner. About 440 times what the top exec makes.

Also backing up what I said about labels, Sony BMG singled out three albums (from two acts) for 'driving' their profits, and three others (from three acts) for 'significant' sales. The Sony/BMG umbrella has 17 record labels - and an awful lot of acts. Only two 'drive' profits, and only five make enough money to be singled out.

I still stand what I said...you just grouped ALL the investor's profits and compaired them to ONE MAN's salary. Each invester is NOT making $3.2 Billion. If you divide up that $3.2 billion amongst ALL the investors it doesn't come NEAR $$7.5 million. So again I say that these execs make MORE than their investors do...and continue to do so. Oil companies are doing the same thing. The CEO is NOT worth $7.5 million per year...for BOOKING MUSICIAN"S! Don't you think a fireman is worth AT LEAST that amount? How about our soldiers fighting for OUR freedom in Iraq? Do they deserve $7.5 million for what they do?

I am sorry for highjacking this thread but this really hit a nerve. I don't think ONE person is worth that much money for being in a cushy job like a CEO. Even if the guy flopped his first year he is set for LIFE with what he made. A policeman works their whole life and doesn't come close to making that much! I DO NOT feel sorry for these record people (except for the musician's) when they cry that their copywrite was violated. If it were the musician standing up and complaining I could understand. But the RIAA is NOT fighting for them. They are ONLY fighting for themselves. If the RIAA sues some teenager for downloading music and fines them let's say $10,000 per song...The musician see's NONE of that money!

I am sorry Noteboat but even though I have always respected everything you say you could NOT convince me that a CEO of a record company is worth or deserves to make that much money.....not at all.

I also apologize to the original author of this thread for using it as my personal soapbox...


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