Feeds

Apple screws songwriters (again)

Threat to silence iTunes

High performance access to file storage

Remember how the digital music revolution was supposed to tip the balance away from big record companies, and towards the people who actually create the music? A vignette being played out behind closed doors suggests that digital music companies are only too keen to ally with Big Music when it comes to screwing creators.

At issue is the revenue split between composition and sound recording royalties. Typically, this has heavily favoured the owners of sound recordings by about 85:15, 90:10, or more - a number which astonishes outsiders. Why isn't closer to 50:50?

Well, the record companies argued, with large investments needed to create and manufacture the recording, and few outlets for promotion and retail, the music wouldn't get sold without the major label muscle. In other words, the revenue split simply reflected the the dominance of production, distribution and marketing in a world of physical goods. Songwriters, composers and publishers would have to be satisfied with the crumbs that were left.

Fast forward to the Brave New World, and you may expect to see the creator's value proportionately increase. Alas, the digital music companies are doing little to redress the balance - even though they can afford to. According to Fortune magazine, Apple threatened to close down its iTunes Music Store if the composer's share rose from nine cents per song to 15 cents per song. The threat was made in a submission to the US Copyright Royalty Board, the arbitrator which sets the rate for statutory licences.

Apple and the Digital Music Association had wanted to screw composers even harder: pushing for a reduction in the rate to 4.8 cents per track, or six per cent of "applicable revenues". Since Apple barely makes a profit on its iTunes store, that would be six per cent of bugger all being returned to the people who actually make the music.

Cheering them on are the major record labels.

"The record companies are in no mood to pay the proposed royalty increase out of their pockets," Fortune's Devin Leonard notes. They've pushed for a rate of eight per cent of wholesale revenues of music sales.

Instead of creating a new settlement, the digital music companies are riding a wave of antipathy towards the music business to do what big record labels have traditionally done: diddle the creators out of a fair share of the value created by music. The new boss looks very much like the old boss, as we've noted here many times before.

But they couldn't have done this without the "Boycott the RIAA" crowd, characterised by their dumb inability to distinguish between majors and indies, and composers and record companies. Such sloppy thinking is endemic, and means that any economic activity around music is met with jeers.

This not only helps prop up a lot of non-viable new digital companies that don't have a prayer, and wouldn't even if they paid their main suppliers zero, as the Web 2.0 wish. But more importantly, it validates decades of music business inequity.

"See?" the major record companies can now say. "To survive in this business, you should pay the songwriters as little as you can. That's what we've said all along!"

The Freetards are proving to be the best friend a dying business model could ever have. As an exercise in joined-up thinking, this is one epic Fail. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Nokia offers 'voluntary retirement' to 6,000+ Indian employees
India's 'predictability and stability' cited as mobe-maker's tax payment deadline nears
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
It may be ILLEGAL to run Heartbleed health checks – IT lawyer
Do the right thing, earn up to 10 years in clink
France bans managers from contacting workers outside business hours
«Email? Mais non ... il est plus tard que six heures du soir!»
Adrian Mole author Sue Townsend dies at 68
RIP Blighty's best-selling author of the 1980s
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Analysts: Bright future for smartphones, tablets, wearables
There's plenty of good money to be made if you stay out of the PC market
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.