The Watchtower of Destruction: The Ferrett's Journal - Dinosaurs Must Die
July 14th, 2010
08:45 am

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Dinosaurs Must Die
Holy crap, I knew the record industry was bad, but I never realized how bad it was:Every time the RIAA sues someone for pirating their music, I expect they'll burst into flames from the evil. Hasn't happened yet. Sadly.

(71 shouts of denial | Tell me I'm full of it)

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From:badlydrawnjeff
Date:July 14th, 2010 02:12 pm (UTC)
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Correct me if I'm wrong, but part of protecting copyright is being vigilant about it lest you lose the copyright claim, no? I'd imagine that was about long term precedent, not short term financial gain.
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From:blarglefiend
Date:July 14th, 2010 12:54 pm (UTC)
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I have, somewhere around the house, a copy of the recording contract between a 90s indie rock band and a small label. Or at least I did have it a couple of moves ago.

Really nasty stuff, and if I remember correctly the label had a reputation for being pretty good to artists.
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From:jadasc
Date:July 14th, 2010 05:53 pm (UTC)
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Was that the Too Much Joy contract? I think I've seen that.
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From:bart_calendar
Date:July 14th, 2010 12:56 pm (UTC)
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It's been like this for years. Almost all the money made by artist is through merchandise and touring (with a high percentage of that coming from the sales of merchandise at concerts.)

There's an interview with Lars Ulrich from a a few months back where he mentions that Metallica - with one of the biggest and most consistent selling back catalog in the business - made less than $1 million from their music sales in 2009 but well over $25 million on their tour. And, interestingly something like 40 percent of the money they made from music sales came from iTunes downloads of "Enter Sandman" and licensing "Enter Sandman" to be used in movies and commercials outside of North America.
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From:andrewducker
Date:July 14th, 2010 01:05 pm (UTC)
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Well, it was pretty much the last song they released.

But yes, albums/singls are clearly not where the money is, for some time now.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:July 14th, 2010 01:07 pm (UTC)
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Not that the RIAA isn't a satanic star chamber second only to (or seconded only by) the MPAA, but I have seen it suggested (http://www.businessinsider.com/2008/7/lyle-lovett-says-he-s-missing-millions-he-should-check-his-bank-account) that Mr. Lovett's oft-quoted statement is something of a misdirection.

I'm not saying he, and many if not most other artists, aren't getting screwed by the record industry. I'm quibbling over whether they leave some money on the nightstand afterward.

-Alex
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From:jeffpalmatier
Date:July 14th, 2010 01:28 pm (UTC)
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Back in 1986/87, I remember my guitar teacher told me that albums were basically just promotion for touring where musicians made their money. He said that artists really don't make any money off of album sales.
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From:xforge
Date:July 14th, 2010 02:43 pm (UTC)
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I've read the *only* money the artists make is from t-shirts and caps sold at the concert venues. That just freaks me the frick out.
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From:almostwitty
Date:July 14th, 2010 01:40 pm (UTC)
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It's not just the music industry. Did you know the last Harry Potter film lost $167m on $900m+ revenue?
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From:sacramentalist
Date:July 14th, 2010 02:23 pm (UTC)
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I seem to recall Stan Lee getting the shaft over Spider-Man, because despite the sales, they said they didn't have any profit to share with him, as per their contract.
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From:xforge
Date:July 14th, 2010 02:42 pm (UTC)
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But but but.... how is that possible when an 8-gig iPod is worth $764,705,882?
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From:theferrett
Date:July 14th, 2010 09:21 pm (UTC)
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My iPhone just exploded in a shower of gold coins.
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From:candiedheart
Date:July 14th, 2010 02:55 pm (UTC)
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That's why I don't feel bad for downloading music.

But if I enjoy an artist, I'll shell out the money to see them in concert, and I always buy a t-shirt at every concert that I go to.
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From:mariadkins
Date:July 14th, 2010 05:03 pm (UTC)
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same here!
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From:bradhicks
Date:July 14th, 2010 03:13 pm (UTC)
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I'm feeling too lazy to pull my copy down, but there was an article in The Baffler (reprinted in Commodify Your Dissent) that broke down the math on a standard 3-album contract, demonstrating that it was flat-out mathematically impossible to do better than break even on the first album, that the band was flat-out guaranteed to lose money on the second album, and that if, and only if, the third album was a million seller would the losses from the second album be recouped. Under the industry standard recording contract, it's not until the fourth gold record, the first one you record on a new, more aggressively negotiated contract, that the artist can make any money.

Since reading that, I've had it explained to me that this is why no record label has ever offered a rapper a 4th album, why every rapper to successfully sell 3 albums ends up having to create their own label in order to get records into stores.

They get away with this because there are just plain that many musicians who are willing to do anything to get in front of a large audience, whether they get paid or not, both because they just plain want to play for that many people and because they hope to someday be a star. If you aren't willing to sign that contract, somebody else will. And in the opinion of just about every record company executive, pretty much all musicians are interchangable, it's not the talent of the musicians but the business savvy of the promoters that makes any particular music popular.
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From:theferrett
Date:July 14th, 2010 09:22 pm (UTC)
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Wow, that does explain a lot.

And it's true in fiction, too, except that since authors have no way of making money on the back end, they kind of have to pay them up front.
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From:cathubodva
Date:July 14th, 2010 05:28 pm (UTC)
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Here's a blogpost by one of my favorite indie musicians, on how he feels about music pirating.
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From:nightingal_echo
Date:July 14th, 2010 11:18 pm (UTC)
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great link, thanks!
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From:cinema_babe
Date:July 15th, 2010 12:57 am (UTC)
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That isn't too surprising; performers don't make much money. They real money comes to the songwriters and producers. The artists make the big change in touring.
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From:cynic51
Date:July 15th, 2010 01:45 am (UTC)
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I saw Iron Maiden a few years ago; the week previously Metallica had been in the news for suing fans for file sharing or some such shit. To which Bruce Dickinson responded on stage with "if you want to steal our new album, go ahead. Unlike some other bands, we know our albums are so awesome that our true fans will go out and buy a copy after hearing it." Hubris perhaps, but it got a lot of cheers.
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From:cynicalcleric
Date:July 15th, 2010 02:08 am (UTC)
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Maiden~!

I know I'm still paying for music from bands that produce CDs that
are mostly/entirely good.
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From:cynicalcleric
Date:July 15th, 2010 02:01 am (UTC)
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I read that iTunes price/song went up from $0.99 to $1.29 to which my immediate response was "WTF?!"
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From:lots42
Date:July 15th, 2010 02:20 pm (UTC)
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IIRC, the RIAA sued a land management employee for a Native American tribe.

Not quite 'suing a broke nun' but close.
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From:cameoflage
Date:July 16th, 2010 01:07 am (UTC)
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Apparently, the RIAA sued a dead woman for copyright infringement. (I can't give you a link, because my source is Uncle John's Bathroom Reader.)
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