I got something in the mail last week I’d been wanting for years: a Too Much Joy royalty statement from Warner Brothers that finally included our digital earnings. Though our catalog has been out of print physically since the late-1990s, the three albums we released on Giant/WB have been available digitally for about five years. Yet the royalty statements I received every six months kept insisting we had zero income, and our unrecouped balance ($395,277.18!)* stubbornly remained the same.
Now, I don’t ever expect that unrecouped balance to turn into a positive number, but since the band had been seeing thousands of dollars in digital royalties each year from IODA for the four indie albums we control ourselves, I figured five years’ worth of digital income from our far more popular major label albums would at least make a small dent in the figure. Our IODA royalties during that time had totaled about $12,000 – not a princely sum, but enough to suggest that the total haul over the same period from our major label material should be at least that much, if not two to five times more. Even with the band receiving only a percentage of the major label take, getting our unrecouped balance below $375,000 seemed reasonable, and knocking it closer to -$350,000 wasn’t out of the question.
So I was naively excited when I opened the envelope. And my answer was right there on the first page. In five years, our three albums earned us a grand total of…
What the fuck?
I mean, we all know that major labels are supposed to be venal masters of hiding money from artists, but they’re also supposed to be good at it, right? This figure wasn’t insulting because it was so small, it was insulting because it was so stupid.
Why It Was So Stupid
Here’s the thing: I work at Rhapsody. I know what we pay Warner Bros. for every stream and download, and I can look up exactly how many plays and downloads we’ve paid them for each TMJ tune that Warner controls. Moreover, Warner Bros. knows this, as my gig at Rhapsody is the only reason I was able to get them to add my digital royalties to my statement in the first place. For years I’d been pestering the label, but I hadn’t gotten anywhere till I was on a panel with a reasonably big wig in Warner Music Group’s business affairs team about a year ago
The panel took place at a legal conference, and focused on digital music and the crisis facing the record industry**. As you do at these things, the other panelists and I gathered for breakfast a couple hours before our session began, to discuss what topics we should address. Peter Jenner, who manages Billy Bragg and has been a needed gadfly for many years at events like these, wanted to discuss the little-understood fact that digital music services frequently pay labels advances in the tens of millions of dollars for access to their catalogs, and it’s unclear how (or if) that money is ever shared with artists.
I agreed that was a big issue, but said I had more immediate and mundane concerns, such as the fact that Warner wouldn’t even report my band’s iTunes sales to me.
The business affairs guy (who I am calling “the business affairs guy” rather than naming because he did me a favor by finally getting the digital royalties added to my statement, and I am grateful for that and don’t want this to sound like I’m attacking him personally, even though it’s about to seem like I am) said that it was complicated connecting Warner’s digital royalty payments to their existing accounting mechanisms, and that since my band was unrecouped they had “to take care of R.E.M. and the Red Hot Chili Peppers first.”
That kind of pissed me off. On the one hand, yeah, my band’s unrecouped and is unlikely ever to reach the point where Warner actually has to cut us a royalty check. On the other hand, though, they are contractually obligated to report what revenue they receive in our name, and, having helped build a database that tracks how much Rhapsody owes whom for what music gets played, I’m well aware of what is and isn’t complicated about doing so. It’s not something you have to build over and over again for each artist. It’s something you build once. It takes a while, and it can be expensive, and sometimes you make honest mistakes, but it’s not rocket science. Hell, it’s not even algebra! It’s just simple math.
I knew that each online service was reporting every download, and every play, for every track, to thousands of labels (more labels, I’m guessing, than Warner has artists to report to). And I also knew that IODA was able to tell me exactly how much money my band earned the previous month from Amazon ($11.05), Verizon (74 cents), Nokia (11 cents), MySpace (4 sad cents) and many more. I didn’t understand why Warner wasn’t reporting similar information back to my band – and if they weren’t doing it for Too Much Joy, I assumed they weren’t doing it for other artists.
To his credit, the business affairs guy told me he understood my point, and promised he’d pursue the matter internally on my behalf – which he did. It just took 13 months to get the results, which were (predictably, perhaps) ridiculous.
The sad thing is I don’t even think Warner is deliberately trying to screw TMJ and the hundreds of other also-rans and almost-weres they’ve signed over the years. The reality is more boring, but also more depressing. Like I said, they don’t actually owe us any money. But that’s what’s so weird about this, to me: they have the ability to tell the truth, and doing so won’t cost them anything.
They just can’t be bothered. They don’t care, because they don’t have to.
“$10,000 Is Nothing”
An interlude, here. Back in 1992, when TMJ was still a going concern and even the label thought maybe we’d join the hallowed company of recouped bands one day, Warner made a $10,000 accounting error on our statement (in their favor, naturally). When I caught this mistake, and brought it to the attention of someone with the power to correct it, he wasn’t just befuddled by my anger – he laughed at it. “$10,000 is nothing!” he chuckled.
If you’re like most people – especially people in unrecouped bands – “nothing” is not a word you ever use in conjunction with a figure like “$10,000,” but he seemed oblivious to that. “It’s a rounding error. It happens all the time. Why are you so worked up?”
These days I work for a reasonably large corporation myself, and, sadly, I understand exactly what the guy meant. When your revenues (and your expenses) are in the hundreds of millions of dollars, $10,000 mistakes are common, if undesirable.
I still think he was a jackass, though, and that sentence continues to haunt me. Because $10,000 might have been nothing to him, but it was clearly something to me. And his inability to take it seriously – to put himself in my place, just for the length of our phone call – suggested that people who care about $10,000 mistakes, and the principles of things, like, say, honoring contracts even when you don’t have to, are the real idiots.
As you may have divined by this point, I am conflicted about whether I am actually being a petty jerk by pursuing this, or whether labels just thrive on making fools like me feel like petty jerks. People in the record industry are very good at making bands believe they deserve the hundreds of thousands (or sometimes millions) of dollars labels advance the musicians when they’re first signed, and even better at convincing those same musicians it’s the bands’ fault when those advances aren’t recouped (the last thing $10,000-Is-Nothing-Man yelled at me before he hung up was, “Too Much Joy never earned us shit!”*** as though that fact somehow negated their obligation to account honestly).
I don’t want to live in $10,000-Is-Nothing-Man’s world. But I do. We all do. We have no choice.
The Boring Reality
Back to my ridiculous Warner Bros. statement. As I flipped through its ten pages (seriously, it took ten pages to detail the $62.47 of income), I realized that Warner wasn’t being evil, just careless and unconcerned – an impression I confirmed a few days later when I spoke to a guy in their Royalties and Licensing department I am going to call Danny.****
I asked Danny why there were no royalties at all listed from iTunes, and he said, “Huh. There are no domestic downloads on here at all. Only streams. And it has international downloads, but no international streams. I have no idea why.” I asked Danny why the statement only seemed to list tracks from two of the three albums Warner had released – an entire album was missing. He said they could only report back what the digital services had provided to them, and the services must not have reported any activity for those other songs. When I suggested that seemed unlikely – that having every track from two albums listed by over a dozen different services, but zero tracks from a third album listed by any seemed more like an error on Warner’s side, he said he’d look into it. As I asked more questions (Why do we get paid 50% of the income from all the tracks on one album, but only 35.7143% of the income from all the tracks on another? Why did 29 plays of a track on the late, lamented MusicMatch earn a total of 63 cents when 1,016 plays of the exact same track on MySpace earned only 23 cents?) he eventually got to the heart of the matter: “We don’t normally do this for unrecouped bands,” he said. “But, I was told you’d asked.”
It’s possible I’m projecting my own insecurities onto calm, patient Danny, but I’m pretty sure the subtext of that comment was the same thing I’d heard from $10,000-Is-Nothing-Man: all these figures were pointless, and I was kind of being a jerk by wasting their time asking about them. After all, they have the Red Hot Chili Peppers to deal with, and the label actually owes those guys money.
Danny may even be right. But there’s another possibility – one I don’t necessarily subscribe to, but one that could be avoided entirely by humoring pests like me. There’s a theory that labels and publishers deliberately avoid creating the transparent accounting systems today’s technology enables. Because accurately accounting to my silly little band would mean accurately accounting to the less silly bands that are recouped, and paying them more money as a result.
If that’s true (and I emphasize the if, because it’s equally possible that people everywhere, including major label accounting departments, are just dumb and lazy)*****, then there’s more than my pride and principles on the line when I ask Danny in Royalties and Licensing to answer my many questions. I don’t feel a burning need to make the Red Hot Chili Peppers any more money, but I wouldn’t mind doing my small part to get us all out of the sad world $10,000-Is-Nothing-Man inhabits.
So I will keep asking, even though I sometimes feel like a petty jerk for doing so.
* A word here about that unrecouped balance, for those uninitiated in the complex mechanics of major label accounting. While our royalty statement shows Too Much Joy in the red with Warner Bros. (now by only $395,214.71 after that $62.47 digital windfall), this doesn’t mean Warner “lost” nearly $400,000 on the band. That’s how much they spent on us, and we don’t see any royalty checks until it’s paid back, but it doesn’t get paid back out of the full price of every album sold. It gets paid back out of the band’s share of every album sold, which is roughly 10% of the retail price. So, using round numbers to make the math as easy as possible to understand, let’s say Warner Bros. spent something like $450,000 total on TMJ. If Warner sold 15,000 copies of each of the three TMJ records they released at a wholesale price of $10 each, they would have earned back the $450,000. But if those records were retailing for $15, TMJ would have only paid back $67,500, and our statement would show an unrecouped balance of $382,500.
I do not share this information out of a Steve Albini-esque desire to rail against the major label system (he already wrote the definitive rant, which you can find here if you want even more figures, and enjoy having those figures bracketed with cursing and insults). I’m simply explaining why I’m not embarrassed that I “owe” Warner Bros. almost $400,000. They didn’t make a lot of money off of Too Much Joy. But they didn’t lose any, either. So whenever you hear some label flak claiming 98% of the bands they sign lose money for the company, substitute the phrase “just don’t earn enough” for the word “lose.”
** The whole conference took place at a semi-swank hotel on the island of St. Thomas, which is a funny place to gather to talk about how to save the music business, but that would be a whole different diatribe.
*** This same dynamic works in reverse – I interviewed the Butthole Surfers for Raygun magazine back in the 1990s, and Gibby Haynes described the odd feeling of visiting Capitol records’ offices and hearing, “a bunch of people go, ‘Hey, man, be cool to these guys, they’re a recouped band.’ I heard that a bunch of times.”
**** Again, I am avoiding using his real name because he returned my call promptly, and patiently answered my many questions, which is behavior I want to encourage, so I have no desire to lambaste him publicly.
***** Of course, these two possibilities are not mutually exclusive – it is also possible that labels are evil and avaricious AND dumb and lazy, at the same time.
If you sign with a record label, you’re buying into the business model of all the (very few) successful bands underwriting all the (many) non-successful bands.
On the plus side, you aren’t charged interest on the recoupable “debt” and you don’t get three phone calls a day from debt collectors the way you would if you’d paid for making an album with a credit card and…then stopped making any payments.
Same exact thing happened to my band which was signed to a NYC-based indie label. I had the audacity to request the contractually-bound annual sales figures for 1 record, 18 months after its release. All I wanted to know was how the record fared. I assumed we did not recoup (although the piddly PR push made that assumption questionable). I was not asking so we could make any money. I just wanted to know. The contract states they are to inform us. That’s all.
I wound up getting berated for daring to point out contractual language and “I was just after money”. I said I ASSUMED we did not recoup. I just wanted to know the numbers. I failed to get a response. We ditched em after that 1 release and I’m glad we did. I only self-release on MY label AND I get every bit of press, if not more by doing it myself. Merch sales + pay from clubs cover tour expenses. It requires a lot of work, but labels need artists more than we need them.
Sounds like loan sharking to me… At least they don’t break your kneecaps if you don’t pay them back.
One thing that worries me is that if they are unconcerned about taking $10,000 from you because of a “rounding” error, how can you say that the things they charge you for (in the $400,000 unrecouped) aren’t rounded up? You’ve already experienced them sticking it to you on one end, what’s to say they aren’t sticking it to you on the other?
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hilarious indeed! gave you a mention here: http://uzine.posterous.com/even-local-heroes-want-their-piece-of-the-cak
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Yeah man respect for putting this up, self release it is then!
Not sure, but I think it is definitely shopped.
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Thanks for sharing this. I do not see why Warner Bros should not be subjected to the same accounting standards as the rest of us. Their treatment of you and any others who are earning less than “material” amounts is downright criminal. By the time each of the unrecouped (I have no idea what that means btw) bands’ earnings are added up, I am sure it is way over their “petty” 10k mark. For every Red Hot Chili Peppers there are likely thousands of TMJ’s. If they each earn 62 bucks a year which is not being reflected in their earnings, then they are definitely in serious default. Good for you for bringing it out there!
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I find it ironic that you work for Rhapsody, a company that is guilty of being the lowest paying to indie artists of all the major digital distributors. I beleive that they use a model similar to the old mp3.com, whereby they make the bulk of their money off the long tail but they cut special deals with ‘famous’ bands who are the only ones who get paid, usually in a lump sum for endorsing Rhapsody.
I have CDs distributed digitally by CDBaby and Rhapsody pays .001 dollars (one tenth of a cent) per download. Conversely, I get .87 dollars (eighty-seven cents) per download from Itunes. In a month, if Rhapsody and Itunes sell roughly the same amount of downloads, I’ll typically get $20 per CD from Itunes, and SEVEN CENTS per CD from Rhapsody. I opt out for Rhapsody now, but unfortunately I can’t remove previous CDs that were sent to Rhapsody, before I knew what a scam they were, from their database.
Itunes rules, Rhapsody sucks.
Chevdo, your figures are simply wrong. Rhapsody pays roughly the same for each download sale as other online music retailers.
You are probably confusing payments for on-demand plays at Rhapsody with download sales. The per-play figure is what you get every time somebody plays one of your tracks, and is separate from what you would earn each time somebody purchases an mp3.
Hi Tim, I stumbled across this tonight and loved it. I’ve been in many a band with the major label record contract “dream,” but I’m more glad with each passing year that it never came true.
Oh, and I love the “Cereal Killers” album — I don’t know what made me take a chance on it, without knowing anything about your band, in the summer of (could it have been?) 1990 or 1991. It was unlike anything else I was listening to then, or now, but it’s always held a special place in my music collection, and it still entertains me. Really well-crafted, witty, exuberant, and fun.
Thank you for making such great music, all those years ago!
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Interesting article. I really enjoyed it and have some thoughts.
Hooray for silly bands! Everybody should discover the fun in collecting them with their family.
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Tim, my reaction to your response is very similar to the reaction you described yourself having when reading your Warner digital-revenue accounting and compared it to your digital-revenue accounting from your IODA digital-revenue accounting. It is as ridiculous to claim that I earned 5 cents from Rhapsody over the same amount of time that I earned 50 dollars from Itunes as it was for Warner to claim that you earned $62.47 over the same amount of time that you earned $12000.
You say I must be confusing downloads with on-demand streams. No, I’m not confused, I know exactly how this scam works inspite of your attempt at obfuscation. Does Rhapsody even sell downloads? Because I don’t see any on my accounting statements, just a bunch of worthless streams. And when I see a Rhapsody television commercial, they certainly don’t say anything about buying downloads, they go on and on about how fabulous it is to not have to pay for downloads because for a flat rate fee you can get as many high-quality streams as you want, and that flat fee can be so low BECAUSE RHAPSODY DOESN’T PAY THE ARTISTS. Who is going to buy a track to download when they can stream the same quality any time they want to, from any location? The consumer doesn’t even have to waste storage space on mp3s, since Rhapsody is doing that for them. Big win for the consumer. Big win for Rhapsody. BIG SCAM FOR THE POOR SUCKERS PROVIDING THE CONTENT.
I stand by my claim that you are a hypocrite. And if being a hypocrite bothers you, then I guess you’ve got your own ethical hangups. Personally I find hypocrisy to be ubiquitous and ordinary. And while most people are probably hypocritical frequently, I suspect there are more potent skelletons in the closets of most people. Unless you’re supposed to be somebody’s hero, I wouldn’t worry about it, just keep cashing those Rhapsody paychecks – at least somebody is extracting cash from those scumbags.. if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, right??
Chevdo, I’m sorry you think I’m a hypocrite, but the numbers you cited in your first comment were wrong. You stated, “Rhapsody pays .001 dollars (one tenth of a cent) per download.” That is false. Rhapsody does sell downloads (http://mp3.rhapsody.com), and as far as I can see from my IODA statements pays the owners of sound recordings the same wholesale rates on those downloads as most every other service.
If you think the royalty rates for on demand streams are too low, that’s a different argument, but again, my IODA statement confirms Rhapsody is paying the same thing for on demand streams as most other services, and the market rate for those tends to be in the pennies.
Your argument is not with Rhapsody, it is with the phenomenon of online streaming in general. You’re free to call it a scam; personally, I think it’s the future of the music business, and we’d all do well to stop insisting it earn the exact same amount as sales used to, and start figuring out how to make it earn more.
My argument with Warner isn’t that they’re not collecting enough from services like Rhapsody on my behalf. My argument is that, however small the amounts they’re collecting might be, they have the ability to report those amounts accurately (just as CD Baby is doing for you), and they are failing to do so.
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Would like to know if you ever received a final outcome to your requests on royalty statements from Warner. We are trying to work out how to follow sales of one of our own artists and match them to royalty statements
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Dear dear hilarious Rant Person, You speak for all of us and brought
joy to my holidays just to see the truth so magnificently laid out. Bless you!– Sue Mingus
Some happy new year music below from our band’s CD– (released independently)
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In my every-couple-o-years attempt to retrieve at least enough money from Def Jam Recordings to purchase a Burger King combo with, I ran across your article. All I have to say to you “Too Much Joy” is my sentiments EXACTLY!!!! Never an intelligent answer, paper trail, or a informed person answering the phone at any of the companies they scramble you around too when artist call with accounting questions. Even if we only contributed in a minor way to the billions of revenue that record companies make on a daily basis, I want my just pay and I WANT MY FUCKING COMBO!!!
p.s Great article…. LET THE REVOLUTION BEGIN!!!
And now Tim is working for the man at Google which does more to promote piracy than any other company and does not respect artists royalties.
And is now even shilling for them with this tripe:
Oh how the times have changed. I liked Tim more when he wasn’t a corporate douche. But I hope, if there is still a market for his work, that not a single person pays one red cent for it.
If anyone deserves to be Torrented it’s Tim.
A douche shilling tripe? But how do you really feel?
And how does Google not respect artist royalties? Play is putting money in copyright owners pockets, and it allows anyone who controls their own stuff to set their own price. My rant about the royalty statement was based on my label’s inability or refusal to detail what they were taking in from digital services, which I’ve been working for and advocating on behalf of since ’99.
A few less generalizations and a few more specifics would help me take you a little more seriously.
You tube does not pay much in the way of royalties.nor does it do a good job of policing content that violates copyright.
And don’t get me started on Google’s role in piracy. If I wanted to get a copy of every single Too Much Joy album I’d do a search for a Too Much Joy bit torrent, and the site I’d go to would be powered by Google.
Meaning Google is making money off of selling advertising to people who are stealing YOUR work and then profiting from it.
If I were a legitimate company selling a product and I wanted to use the Beatles song Good Day Sunshine to advertise my Hydroxy cookies, I’d have to go into business with the Beatles or their publishing company. I couldn’t just appropriate their content to sell my cookies. Could I?
Yet that’s what Google does with it’s advertising. It is in the business of distributing music without paying the artist for that distribution. Actually it’s in the business of selling ads, but it’s selling ads to people who are distributing music in ways that are not paying anything to artitsts for said distribution.
And Google is making billions off of it.
If file sharing were truly free, then I wouldn’t have a problem with it. But it’s not free. companies are doing it for charity. They are making billions. And what has Google given the world? And what has the file sharers given the world? Other peoples music?
If I want someone to profit it’s the artists who’s music I value not some corporation like Google that is exploiting the artist for its own benefit.
Google play can go screw itself. Now that it’s exploited artists to the degree it has it wants to go into business to screw them further?
And of course YouTube is paying lip service to piracy when it comes to their own You Tube.
You complained about getting 60 bucks in royalties from Time Warner. But Google is FAR worse for the artist than Time Warner ever was. When the old blues artists got screwed out of their royalties that was bad. But at least their was the concept of royalties. Google is FAR worse.
More generalities, this time with the added bonus of being bullshit.
Look, if you want to dismiss what I say and impugn my character because of who I work for, it’s a free country and I can’t stop you. But rather than hurling bogus accusations about Google at me, why don’t you tell me what, specifically, in my presentation you disagree with? I didn’t say any of it because I work at Google; I’ve been saying similar things for years, as you can read here, here and here. More importantly, the stuff I say has borne out in my own experience, as Wonderlick funded our second album thru fan donations where fans could name their own price. And you know what happened? Nobody paid below cost (lowest payment was $5), many bid above cost (highest payment was $500), and the average price per album turned out to be $30. Never in a gazillion years would I have had the chutzpah to ask anyone to pay $30 for my record, but by adapting to the reality of online distribution rather than shouting that it’s an awful conspiracy foisted on us by mega-corporations, that’s what wound up happening.
The point of my presentation is simply that the 21st century is making an old fact seem new: the same music is worth different things to different people in different contexts, and figuring out how to respond to that fact is a far better expenditure of energy than insisting it isn’t or shouldn’t be the case. It’s not automatically good or bad — though I personally see more upside than down, whether I’m right about that is irrelevant. The important thing is figuring out how to deal with the reality.
So what about that makes you so angry, beyond the fact that someone who now works at Google is saying it?
“The point of my presentation is simply that the 21st century is making an old fact seem new: the same music is worth different things to different people in different contexts, and figuring out how to respond to that fact is a far better expenditure of energy than insisting it isn’t or shouldn’t be the case”
That is true.But irrelevant. Google is in business to sell advertising. Bit torrenters make money off of their site not from the torrent itself but from Google advertising. No one would go to the site if they weren’t offering free music.
Did google or the torrenters go into busineess with the artists before profiting? Nope. So, it’s a given that there is value for artists work. And that it’s worth something to those trying to exploit it, including your employer. So what? There is value for goods in the black market for those selling those goods. When would it ever be otherwise.
And what makes me angry is that you’re a hypocrite complaining about 60 bucks denied to you as an artist when you are now working for Google and are saying simply accept the change in reality as the company you work for does the shafting on a global scale.
“More importantly, the stuff I say has borne out in my own experience, as Wonderlick funded our second album thru fan donations where fans could name their own price. And you know what happened? Nobody paid below cost (lowest payment was $5), many bid above cost (highest payment was $500), and the average price per album turned out to be $30. Never in a gazillion years would I have had the chutzpah to ask anyone to pay $30 for my record, but by adapting to the reality of online distribution rather than shouting that it’s an awful conspiracy foisted on us by mega-corporations, that’s what wound up happening.”
Just because Kick start models can work doesn’t mean it will work for most artists. Especially up and comers. And its not the point that you were wrong to try to sell your music a different way. The point is you as the artists should be able to profit from your work the way you see fit. So, in your case, if it’s a Kickstarter program to have fans fund your work, great. But if some bit torrenter decides that your music should be free, despite the agreement that was set up between you and Wonderlick and posts it online or links to it, Google will get it’s cut and the bit torrenter will get his cut. But you wont.
Not exactly fair since you are the artist who set up how you want to distribute your work. And other companies, especially a billion dollar company like Google, shouldn’t be able to profit off of your work unless you cut them in on the deal.
and your presentation above seems to fly smack in the face or your other presentation now that you’re working for Google. Here you’re complaining about being nickle and dimed, THere Google doesn’t even give the courtesy of nickel and diming the artist and you say “accept the reality”.As a musiciian arguing for your royalties I’m totally with you. As a Google employee arguing that arttists should stop whining you are a douche.
The point of my presentation is true, but it’s irrelevant because I work for Google? You’ve lost me.
I didn’t complain about being denied $60; I stated early on I don’t expect ever to be recouped. My complaint was that I had perfect clarity on what the albums the band controls were making from online services, but no real view into what the albums Warner controls were making from those same services, and that I feared such obfuscation was intentional rather than merely incompetent. My argument was that the label owed me an accurate accounting, even though they didn’t owe me any money, and that I knew for a fact such accountings were being provided to them.
The day you hear me say Google or any other digital service provider doesn’t owe copyright owners from whom they license content similarly detailed accountings is the day you can call me a hypocrite.
License content? I hear ya. Artists should be paid for licensing if people want to use their work in any way. And even moreso if they want to distribute it. The problem being that Google essentially provides profits for those who are distributing that music without paying the royalty fee. And the pirater is making the profit, and Google is making the profit (from advertising, not from the song itself)at the expense of the artist.
It’s just funny seeing you, the artist, arguing somehow that other artists need to get used to the reality now that you’re working for “the man”.
How is Google, faciilating piracy distorting what artists SHOULD be making from online services. And do you care?
When Time Warner denied you royalties, you were at least in business with Time Warner. Even if you didn’t ever expect them to honor their agreement, there was in fact an agreement. And you were in the right, and they were in the wrong. Because of said agreement.
Google distorts that whole agreement by setting up a side business whereby they profit off of the distribution of the same work without having to go into business with the artist.
And that’s wrong. I’d take Time Warner any day over Google and the bit torrenters.
Bit torrenters make their money from advertising on their site. The hook is “Too Much Joy” bit torrents. That’s why the “Customer” would click on the link, not because of anything the torrenter would offer other than your content. Why is he/she able to distribute it? Did he/she go into business with Too Much Joy?
And the money they make is actually because of Google. Think of the millions of bit torrents downloaded daily all funded by Google.
And Google never once went into business with a single artist and asked if that’s how they’d like their music to be distributed OR offer them a cut of the advertising profit, which are going to Google in the place of royalties to YOU as the artist.
Google is the worst company for the artist in the history of companies that screwed over artists. And that’s not even hyperbole.
I have zero interest in debating Google’s benefits or detriments to society on my band’s website. Sorry you hate where I work. Obviously, I disagree. Bye.
I bought some TMJ songs off iTunes last month. That’s a Lie and Crush Story. Man, I wished I’d read this first. I would have just paypal’d you direct for them. I’m in a similar boat myself for a different industry in which I earn royalties. I just got my first quarter statement from Dec (it’s May as I write this) for $18, so of course it doesn’t get paid out because it’s under $25. But what kills me is I sell my other intellectual properties through my site (like you do with your later albums) and make $200-$400 a month. WTF do these labels, publishers, movie studios, etc, do to make it so hard to get your money?! Anyway, saw you guys so many times in New England in the 90s….you rocked every time.
I am at this moment dealing with Mary Farrell at Sony Music. She just emailed me at 5:33 AM. We’ve been corresponding for about 2 to 3 weeks. I am still trying to get full accounting on Bill’s Grammy nominated albums done in the 70’s. I have asked for full cost of projects from day one thru completion of both projects. They have been re-issued by Sony and Wounded Bird, Columbia Jazz and Titan Direct. We have never seen one pennie and several of the tunes on the album are his original compositions. They’re asking us to wait 2 weeks so they can look into the situation.. I have hope but after reading all of this its
‘very discouraging. Keep in touch, Maryann Watrous
Great article Tim.
My thought when reading this is that the label has their “unrecouped” bands on their loss ledger…and anything paid into that ledger would no longer be able to be written off as a loss. They are hiding money from the IRS as much (or more) than they are hiding it from bands.
Also, I want to thank you for the memorable shows we played with y’all in Milwaukee. For a “Major Label Band,” you guys were really cool and nothing but kind and encouraging to the opening band. Those memories mean everything to the “never-were’s.”