Feeds

How the digital revolution screwed songwriters. Twice.

Slicing the pie

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

DMF This may not be news to most of you, but in light of DiMA's Jonathan Potter blaming music publishers for the sorry state of digital downloads, it's a topical reminder.

Music companies - and we blur the distinction deliberately for the moment, for the sake of simplicity - paid songwriters in two ways. For what they called 'licensing' - for masters and movie soundtracks, for example - the artist took home 50 per cent of the deal. For 'royalties', the artist typically gained or 20 per cent of wholesale or 10 per cent of retail. Along came the digital download services. When the labels cut deals for their catalogs with third parties, they considered it a royalty, rather than a licensing deal. That reduced the amount of money going to songwriters overnight.

Now many of these deals were with wholesalers such as Iris, or Orchard, who are essentially intermediaries in the distribution chain.

To you, a deal between a label and a distributor may look like a wholesale deal, and walk like a wholesale deal, but it doesn't quack like a wholesale deal. The labels regarded it as a retail deal.

So overnight the artists' cut fell from 50 per cent to 10 per cent. Attorney and author Steve Gordon, who was at Sony Music at the time, put it quite succinctly: "It's all about fucking the artist." ®

De-obfuscation: By law, the music collection agencies who operate on behalf of songwriters in the US cannot refuse a license. Getting money from the deal is another question. The big four labels own the major publishers, although this is in a state of flux, with the third and fourth biggest labels (EMI and Warner) looking to merge: they own the two largest publishers, and divestment is a possibility.

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.