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Musicians vs. RIAA At USA Today

Hemos posted more than 11 years ago | from the the-battle-lines-grow-deeper dept.

The Almighty Buck 615

An anonymous reader writes "USA Today has an article about the growing friction between recording artists and the 5 major labels which make up the RIAA. Many issues are covered, including copyright reform, fraudulent accounting on the part of record labels, and how selling a quarter million albums can leave you owing your label $14,000."

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615 comments

RIAA (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4265455)

can bite my ass.

Wait a minute... (5, Insightful)

Levine (22596) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265457)

So, if the musicians don't like them, and we don't like them... why do they still exist?

levine

Because... (4, Funny)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265500)

Non-musicians, like Brittany Spears, are the ones selling millions of records to people NOT like us.

Re:Because... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4265619)

Well, I buy Britney Spears CDs...to masturbate at them *harhar*.

Re:Wait a minute... (-1)

l33t j03 (222209) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265503)

Because all you people do is whine on web sites, and all the musicians are too stoned to bother getting rid of them.

Re:Wait a minute... (-1)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265531)

Don't forget to mention that the RIAA uses Windows and the musicians / Slashdot lemmings use Linux/Apples.

Advantage: RIAA.

Re:Wait a minute... (5, Insightful)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265521)

That's a wildly stuipid question. It's because they have unfair control of the market. Come on now, I would figure that most people that read slashdot can understand monopoly.

And since they also control and finance their own bands, and control the content, and distribution and sales, and on and on. I'm sure you get the picture, they exist because yes they do control it. And they will continue controling it until the average consumer(not us) realize that this isn't good. Or we can convince the goverment that these guy are out to hurt us.

Labor unions and the mob. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4265534)

Why do labor unions and the mob (some say one and the same) still exist?

Re:Labor unions and the mob. (1)

Kr1ll1n (579971) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265770)

Labor unions are just that. They are out to protect you and I, the laborers, from situations like - showing up at work with the door locked, made to work without pay, and other such "bottom-line" economic decisions. The Mob, however, kills it's own when they screw up. Not to mention the labor union doesn't demand money from you for YOUR protection....

Re:Wait a minute... (5, Interesting)

Rader (40041) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265536)

Maybe it's just taking the artists longer to figure out what's going on. And definately a while to figure out what to do about it.

It's like being screwed by your landlord. You know you don't like it. You should leave. But where will you live?

It should be interesting as these multi-year contracts start to run out, and artists start to look for other solutions. (Unfortunately there aren't any other great solutions. Most of the good ones lack any real marketing) With sales not increasing, and artists speaking up, the Big-5 might actually have to do something.

Or maybe not. I'm sure there's always another "Korn" willing to sign their lives away for fame.

Re:Wait a minute... (2, Insightful)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265574)

> It should be interesting as these multi-year contracts start to run out

I believe one of the problems in the industry is that multi-year deals are actually kind of out of flavour. Labels used to look for career musicians. Now they rent you for an album; if you sell, you might get one more album. Rince, lather, repeat.

That is to say that we might not have to wait that long ..

Fear the Parrot! (5, Interesting)

gunnk (463227) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265605)

If Jimmy Buffett has his way (and looks like he is attracting some takers), the RIAA has more to fear from J.B. than from P2P. Check out this article [sfgate.com] on Buffett leading the charge against the big labels. With CD's cheap and easy to make, the RIAA and the big labels that make it up are going to have a harder and harder time justifying their existence. They can keep blaming P2P, but they'd better wake up to the fact that they can't keep treating their artists and customers like dirt -- the artists and customers CAN and WILL get together with or without them. I'm mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take it anymore -- from Fruitcakes by J.B.

Re:Fear the Parrot! (2, Insightful)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265769)

CD's are dirt cheap to make, and what really shocks me about the price is two things.
The first is that tapes still cost less then CD's, with very small quantities made, and a cost increase to the companies that is almost an order of magnitude.
The second is that cheap DVD's are cheaper the cheap CDs. Why the hell are old movies in the bargin bin 2 for 10 dollors, and semi old ones 10 to dollors each.
I got Blazing Saddles for 8.99. A CD from that era would still cost me 14.00 at the same store.
Why? is the MPAA really that much easier to deal with then the RIAA?

somebody just defined the RIAA in a sentence (2, Informative)

hype7 (239530) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265648)

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, once stated that the record business is the only industry in which the bank still owns the house after the mortgage is paid.

bingo!

-- james

Re:Wait a minute... (1)

pwtrash (593047) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265651)

Oligopolies on distribution, including promotion. Anyone can make a record - that just costs money. Getting that record in Best Buy or played by Clear Channel often requires a _lot_ of money unquestioned but still illegal business practices. Only the big 5 (used to be big 7) can get away with this.

Re:Wait a minute... (3, Interesting)

tmark (230091) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265669)

Moreover, if they're really getting shafted like they think they are, why doesn't such a glittering roster of blue-chip stars get together and finance their own record company, where they can control things ? SURELY, together they could do something like Spielberg/Katzenberg/Geffen did when those guys cut out their middlemen ?

It does make one wonder. We're not talking about dime-store independent artists here.

Re:Wait a minute... (2, Interesting)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265726)

Probably because they are under 7 or 8 album (read lifetime) contracts and their older music is being held hostage by the record companies (both the recordings and the songs themselves).

It could also be because these musicians don't nearly have the selling power of the pop-crap that has infected today's music scene and the pop-crap musicians aren't yet motivated to leave the labels.

It's the record LABELS (2, Redundant)

cornice (9801) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265710)

From the Slashdot article...

5 major labels which make up the RIAA

RIAA exists to further the interests (as they perceive them anyway) of the 5 major record labels that created it. The odd thing is that the record labels would rather legislate and sue themselves into further power and existance rather than deliver any sort of value to the customer. It seem to be a loosing strategy to me.

Just power, oligopoly and distribution control (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4265727)

same as Microsoft, Film Studios, etc, etc, etc.

For example, in Europe if you want the rights to play a good movie, you have to buy the rights of
crap films. So cinemas have freedom to choose if they want to show teenage crap or die. And this
doesn't help to our own industry neither.

Re:Just power, oligopoly and distribution control (1)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265762)

I hope you threw Microsoft in there just to Karma whore. Truth be told, Microsoft is just a drop of water compared to the ocean of influence that the RIAA, MPAA, etc. have on Congress (and other international legislative bodies). Microsoft's hold on the PC industry is tentative at best. Just as IBM eventually lost its stranglehold, Microsoft could as easily lose theirs.

FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4265461)

FP! (maybe) Word-up, everyone!

Steal Music! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4265462)

Just another reason to trade music on p2p networks. If music artists are having to pay the record companies, what's the point of selling it? Just give it away for free and screw over the head lesbian in charge of the RIAA [advocate.com] .

fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4265464)

suckas

KARAZOOOOO (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4265466)

NaveWeiss SUCKS hairy palestinian cock

Hmmm.... (0)

thoolie (442789) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265476)

As they say, they have enough rope to hang themselves....

It has been pointed out that most of the /. community can download just about any song they want, but what is really key, is that most of us (90%+) will buy the CD anyway. That is a testament, now think about all of those people that are still clueless.....And tell me that these companies arn't making any money....

-I don't even belive in Jeebus-

Easy (3, Insightful)

Quasar1999 (520073) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265477)

Take a look at P.Diddy (or whatever the hell he calls himself), he's sold millions upon millions of CDs, and yet he was dropped by his label for spending more money than he was making. Lavish demands... I agree the RIAA is evil, but these artists aren't that much less evil themselves... Especially the POP/RAP superstars... they are insane when it comes to their spending habits...

Re:Easy (2, Insightful)

zenasprime (207132) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265507)

I think that is a small percentage of the musician population. Most musicians have second jobs and drive to their gigs in big ugly, dented up vans. We only see the Lavish "rockstar" musicians because those are the one that the Industry want to push. :)

z(p)

http://www.zenapolae.com

Re:Easy (5, Interesting)

pyite (140350) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265561)

Short anecdote: This June, I'm driving to Connecticut from Jersey in ridiculous rain. I stop at a Mobil gas station and go inside to get a coffee. It's dark, rainy, etc. I walk up to the door and look at the guy leaving as I'm going in. I go, "Mike?" He says, "Yup" and walks away. It happened to be Mike Gordon (coincidently look at my sig) from Phish, driving himself somewhere in a ragged T-Shirt and jeans. Now, here's a band that has untold gobs of money and yet still drive themselves around and don't really care what they look like. Here's also a band that gives away its music to any who would want to hear it. This is the kind of band the RIAA is scared of because they don't act greedy like the RIAA themselves.

Re:Easy (4, Funny)

Rader (40041) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265606)

Cool that he didn't bother giving you the time of day

Re:Easy (2, Insightful)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265691)

I liken it to how I am when I am on my way out the door and somebody grabs me to ask a question. Sometimes people just want to live their lives. The other day I met Nigel from the Discovery channel in Central Park. He actually came up to me and my friend and asked directions. I acknowledged knowing who he was, told him I enjoy his show, and gave him directions. Famous people don't mind being acknowledged and complimented but they do have lives to live.

Re:Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4265658)

Mmmyeah... good example. He's probably too drugged up to know how much money he has or what he looks like, or to notice that he has no musical talent whatsoever, and is riding on the coattails of a dead Jerry Garcia.

The Grateful Dead had horrible music too, but at least they made up for it by being very technically proficient musicians.

They're all on drugs, whaddya expect? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4265513)

All these rapsters are nothing but a bunch of crack addicts. They all belong in treatment hospitals and/or jail... not on the airwaves.

Re:They're all on drugs, whaddya expect? (-1, Offtopic)

BobMcGrae (469093) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265546)

Nothing wrong with a couple of rocks in the morning. Helps you get prepare for the day.

Re:Easy (1)

josh crawley (537561) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265515)

Oh come on... I think we know why rap stas spend money out the wazoo. It's also the same reasom soo many of them are "capped". Drug trades, bad deals, and gang rivalries.

If they were _just_rappers, they have nothing to worry about. Still, why do soo many of them have bullet proof cars.

Re:Easy (4, Insightful)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265556)

Yeah but you can thank suburban white CD buying 18 year olds for demanding the image and lifestyle you describe.

They don't do this stuff in a vacuum - the image sells, so blame your kids for wanting a Puff Daddy instead of a De La Soul, or wanting a Wu Tang instead of a Del tha Funky Homosapien.

There are plenty of positive, concious rappers out there who do not condone the "thug life". But the CD buying public drives the demand for the thug life .. thank the protected coddled white masses in the 'burbs and the execs who market the image.

Re:Easy (5, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265641)

Yeah. Nothing like walking by a yuppie bar and seeing a bunch of rich white guys standing around outside and saying things like, "Whazzat? Watchoo sayin?" "Yo, I said, Wassup, bitch?" "Mofo, I'm gonna bust a cap in yo ass!" Makes we want to drag them down to the nearest ER (where I used to work) and shove their faces in a convenient pool of blood. "That's 'wazzup,' you idiot."

Re:Easy (1)

josh crawley (537561) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265781)


---There are plenty of positive, concious rappers out there who do not condone the "thug life". But the CD buying public drives the demand for the thug life .. thank the protected coddled white masses in the 'burbs and the execs who market the image.

To me, positive rappers is an oxymoron. I think of Eminem, and other trash. I'm absolutely sure there's non-riaa rappers, but you just don't see them in a Sam Goody (or walmart, or ...).

What I found funny was when the Daily Show (comedy central) did a story on crime prevention brought to you by Ice-T. He said how good policemen and women are. The comedy show then proceeds to show the music video "Kop Killa" by Ice-T. When I say Rap, everybody I know thinks of Gangsta Rap.

YOu could consider Jazz Scat to be a form of rap, but that takes talent. Just like the rest of jazz, if it doesnt have that swing (and groove), it just isn't jazz.

Re:Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4265540)

Yes but the "superstars" are not the vast majority of artists living under the shadow of the RIAA. The actual MUSICIANS--the ones that care about their art--are getting squashed and destroyed. These are the ones that are most likely to fight the RIAA--not "P.Diddy", Britney or NSYNC. The darlings-of-the-month are the least likely to rock the boat.

Re:Easy (2)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265568)

Well Greed is in every indrustry. And some people get more corupt with fame. But there are also a lot of good artest out there as well.

Re:Easy (1)

Kourino (206616) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265761)

Because everybody's like P.Diddy. UGH! :P Seriously, go listen to some Einstürzende Neubaten, or KMFDM, or Björk, or Pig, or Kate Bush. You'll feel better. ^_^;

RIAA = obsolete (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4265504)

Its a shame the RIAA won't accept its fate. Just like the typewriter gave way to the computer, they are steadily becomming obsolete. Artists will find ways to distribute their music cheaper and to a larger audience through the internet.

I hope that legislation doesn't allow a big dying industry to survive longer than it should.. it impedes both artists and consumers from moving forward and finding the best way for musicians (not the associated industry) to succeed.

Re:RIAA = obsolete (2)

Rader (40041) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265565)

I hope that legislation doesn't allow a big dying industry to survive longer than it should..

Considering that legislation is being bought and new laws supporting the Big-5 keep coming out, it doesn't look like your wish is working.

Time to seek alternatives. (5, Interesting)

OrangeSpyderMan (589635) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265509)

An interesting article by all means. Perhaps the time has come for all artists, new upcomers or old timers, to seek an alternative distribution model. I have often thought, considering the very slim royalties most performers receive from CD sales, that simply selling tunes direct to the customer on a website could put the power back where it belongs - in the hands of the people who have the talent.

Re:Time to seek alternatives. (2, Interesting)

zenasprime (207132) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265601)

Even with a web presence, it is very difficult to sell anything on the internet. One must constantly be selling themselves and their product at every step. For the musician, this requires getting out and doing shows. Small shows are relatively easy to come by, but larger venues are not. What musicians need to to work together to promote themselves and others that they feel promote their style of music. In otherwords, it requires a lot of hard work and ass kissing, which might not be something most people are willing to do. However it is possible, the Offspring are evidence to that. Unfortunately, most musicians suffer from "rockstar" syndrome, and do not want to work and instead only think about the trappings that stardom will give them rather then producing music that moves people.

z(p)

http://www.zenapolae.com --- our independent record label

Re:Time to seek alternatives. (1)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265746)

What musicians need to to work together to promote themselves and others that they feel promote their style of music. In otherwords, it requires a lot of hard work and ass kissing, which might not be something most people are willing to do. However it is possible, the Offspring are evidence to that. Unfortunately, most musicians suffer from "rockstar" syndrome, and do not want to work and instead only think about the trappings that stardom will give them rather then producing music that moves people.


One example of this sort of thing I've seen recently is that a local band chartered a bus for a show they were doing about 2 hours away. The show had a total of 10 bands playing, and the band offered up the remaining seats on the bus at a fairly low price for anyone in the area that wanted to see the show. I'm not sure how it went for them, because I couldn't make the trip that weekend, but they seemed to be selling the tickets fairly quickly. Of course, the added effort was that they showed up at other shows in the area with similar music (which is admittedly few, as in most areas, given that it's death metal) and handed out cards with their website info, so that people would even know they were doing this in the first place.

Re:Time to seek alternatives. (2, Insightful)

xphase (56482) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265674)

The problem with that is, I like CD's, I like records, I already buy from the artists and indie labels.
I'm not going to pay money for the bands MP3's or ogg's.
I want a physical object. I don't want a CD-R, I want an actual physical disc of some sort.
I enjoy the artwork on the CD's/Records.
I don't enjoy the sound quality of MP3.

Above and beyond that, you can't get rich and famous from selling songs off of a website. You need people to promote you, to put you all over the place, etc. Why does this matter? Because many people get into the business to make money! Yes that's right, most of the acts on major labels who make money want to keep it that way.

Yeah, sorry about the rant, I'm just a little tired.

--xPhase

Re:Time to seek alternatives. (1, Offtopic)

gilroy (155262) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265712)

Blockquoth the poster:

I want a physical object. I don't want a CD-R, I want an actual physical disc of some sort.

Um, last time I checked, a CD-R is physical. You're really saying, you want someone else to press/burn it for you. I can understand that, but it doesn't change the physicality of a CD-R.

Re:Time to seek alternatives. (1)

hype7 (239530) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265684)

Perhaps the time has come for all artists, new upcomers or old timers, to seek an alternative distribution model.


I agree. And it's gonna take a lot of artists (and influential ones at that, too) to get something done about it.

I thought this was going to be more hot air, then I saw the list of who was backing the Recording Artists Coalition: ...whose diverse roster of 150 members includes Bruce Springsteen, Sting, R.E.M., Bonnie Raitt, Madonna, Eric Clapton, Dave Matthews, Billy Joel, Elton John, Linkin Park, Aimee Mann, No Doubt, Puddle of Mudd, Staind and Static-X
There's a few heavyweights in there, and a fair few middleweights too. They will be heard - I just hope they don't get a whole heap of concessions but still leave the consumer out in the cold.

I would seriously love to see the end of the RIAA, but there's so much money involved, it ain't gonna be easy to get rid of them. Who would roll over when you have one of the most lucrative monopolies in the history of mankind?

Ditto for MPAA.

-- james

You know... (3, Insightful)

GearheadX (414240) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265512)

In the modern business environment, with folks looking for corporations to decapitate and place heads on pikes so that they look busy, the RIAA's games just *might* get them into trouble...

Re:You know... (2)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265599)

I wish that were likely in this case, but I don't think it is. The corporations whose officers are getting their heads put on pikes (one of my favorite images ;) are those that are screwing the shareholders by reporting false profits, not those that are screwing the customers by overcharging for crap product. As long as the RIAA's member companies make money by shocing pablum down teenagers' throats, everybody* will be happy.

*"Everybody" being defined here as the shareholders, who own the government, which is the only body legally empowered to put people's heads on pikes.

Re:You know... (1)

awfwal (596968) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265621)

One can hope.

Irony (5, Insightful)

Lothar+0 (444996) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265519)

Though accused of conniving tactics behind the scenes, Rosen publicly extends an olive branch to detractors. "I'm glad the artists are organizing," she says. "It's good for the industry. We want to resolve our disagreements and move on to other critical matters, especially piracy. We're on the same side in 99% of the issues.

But isn't your piracy of their talent 99% of the problem?

RIAA and MPAA Jews scheme to steal your rights (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4265523)

RIAA and MPAA Jews are at the forefront of those trying to restrict your rights.

Know your enemy. Study this list of Jews trying to destroy your freedom:

  • Rosen
  • Coble
  • Berman
  • Eisner
  • Redstone
The Jews never create anything. They are the parasites who wedge themselves between the producer and the consumer. The Jew takes a slice of every pie that passes by. What the Jew hates is that the Internet is cutting him off from his host. The artists can now distribute directly to their fans.

The Internet has made the Jew irrelevant. So the Jew tries to buy the politician to do his bidding. The Jew tries to get bought politicians to pass bogus regulations in order to maintain Jew hegemony over the consumer.

Listen and learn about the Jew in this mp3 [natvan.com] .

Learn the Truth about the Jew [natvan.com]

Aha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4265526)

As long as they have control, the artists will see their way as the only way to success. They fight file sharing, not because of losses but because the want to maintain control over the distribution.

Clear Channel / Payola (5, Informative)

floppy ears (470810) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265528)

Labels sidestep payola laws by hiring independent promoters to lobby and compensate radio stations for playing certain records. Opponents say this quasi-legal system stifles creativity and limits diversity.

The Clear Channel / Payola problem is one of the most serious issues in the music industry today. It is one of the primary causes of the crap that's coming out of the major labels.

If you haven't read it, you should check out Salon's great series [salon.com] on this issue.

Printer-friendly (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4265539)

Click here for printer-friendly version [clickability.com]

http://usatoday.printthis.clickability.com/pt/pr in tThis?clickMap=printThis&fb=Y&url=http%3A//www.usa today.com/life/music/news/2002-09-15-artists-right s_x.htm&title=USATODAY.com%20-%20Rights%20issue%20 rocks%20the%20music%20world&random=0.3066060538251 999&partnerID=1663&expire=

Copy-paste-remove-space...

Michael Jackson (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4265541)

Michael Jackson's recent high-profile leap onto the bandwagon was met with skepticism. In rallying support for his financial grievances against Sony Music, he asserted, "If you fight for me, you're fighting for all black people."



Sorry, I may have missed something. Why the link between Michael Jackson and black people?



Re:Michael Jackson (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4265597)

C writes:
Sorry, I may have missed something. Why the link between Michael Jackson and black people?
Michael Jackson? He used to be black, but he's still a Negro.

Re:Michael Jackson (0)

oval_pants (602266) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265678)

C'mon. The issue is clear as black and white...I mean...He's clearing supporting his...

Oh forget it.

Re:Michael Jackson (2)

haggar (72771) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265773)

The probelm with Michael Jackson is that he's a hypocrite: he is obviously ashamed of his African American origins, yet, when it suits him, he calls upon the support of his black brethren.

The hypocricy of this act is so blatant that I wonder how could Jackson even look into the mirror afterwards.

Re:Michael Jackson (1)

jasonditz (597385) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265789)

And lord knows nothing is more important than supporting theoretically black millionaires with pedophillic tendancies. Who speaks for them, after all?

Harm or revolutionize? (4, Insightful)

AtariKee (455870) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265570)

"Miles Copeland, chairman of Ark 21 Records, predicts that passage could significantly harm 'the entire music business because of the very visible complaining by a few successful recording artists. If the mega artists succeed with this effort, I feel strongly that it would be at the expense of those artists who have not made it yet.'"

This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Sure, it might be bad to an executive like Copeland, who relies on sub-talented "artists" like Britney Spears to generate income for that new yacht. But this actually be the wakeup call needed to actually *develop* new artists, rather than toss them out there like so many Big Macs for huge immediate profits.

The whole industry needs an enema, and I am very happy to see some *real* artists starting to voice their concerns. There may be hope after all :)

Are the USA Today editors asleep? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4265575)

Key concerns from the broad range of byzantine conflicts

Did I just see the word byzantine in a USA Today article?!? That word is *way* too hard for most Americans! I insist that they break out the thesaurus immediately and use a word we *all* understand.

Re:Are the USA Today editors asleep? (1)

TheConfusedOne (442158) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265645)

*putting on my middle-america editor's hat*

"Major problems from the many things that just don't go together"

or, *putting on my talk show editor's hat*
"Hillary Rosen: RIAA peace maker or victim of child abuse?"

I'll have to agree with you though - that sentence required at least a high school level reading ability.

Original Steve Albini article (5, Informative)

Herbmaster (1486) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265577)

You can read the original piece by the brilliant Steve Albini here [negativland.com] , and probably lots of other places [google.com] . Thanks to some slashdot comment I read last week but have since lost.

Hmm, never thought of it like this... (5, Interesting)

daoine (123140) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265583)

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, once stated that the record business is the only industry in which the bank still owns the house after the mortgage is paid.

I never thought of it like this before, but that's really what happens. What's worse - there's nothing more frustrating than a band changing labels -- the old label still owns all the band's old music, which unfortunately means that they take some pretty good stuff and stick it in a basement somewhere. This is where Janis Ian's suggestion of letting artist re-release their out-of-print stuff would really be of use. Of course, that would require the RIAA to give up some control...

Re:Hmm, never thought of it like this... (1)

SN74S181 (581549) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265791)

This is where Janis Ian's suggestion of letting artist re-release their out-of-print stuff would really be of use.

Suggest away. Then get that worded into the contract. Otherwise, deal with the contract that you signed. Or were you proposing the gummint come in and nullify the contracts somehow?

Leann Rimes (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4265586)

Boy, did she get screwed.

First, her parents signed her up with Curb Records for TEN albums when she was 12. She grossed over $300,000,000 for Curb Records. That's right, a third of a billion dollars.

When her parents got divorced, her mom got to ride horses with the WalMart heirs, her dad lives in luxury, and Leann has enough to buy herself a used car.

There are laws that are supposed to protect child stars from getting fucked like this. There isn't a single honest judge to enforce them, though. Leann is suing her dad, her label, and probably her mother, agents, and promoters. It's the judges that will do her in.

Re:Leann Rimes (2)

Darth RadaR (221648) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265626)

There are laws that are supposed to protect child stars from getting fucked like this. There isn't a single honest judge to enforce them, though. Leann is suing her dad, her label, and probably her mother, agents, and promoters. It's the judges that will do her in.

ITYM Lawyers. That's the only part of this little food chain that's guaranteed any dosh.

it doesn't always turn out this way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4265695)

Frank Sinatra once stepped in and demanded a black artist get his royalties. Can't remember the artist's name? Who was it?

source of bad music? (2, Interesting)

jeffy124 (453342) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265607)

the article says that labels tend to contract 6-8 albums for an artist to produce. I wonder if this is a source of the poor music that has been coming out in recent years. Some artists may simply have one or two hits at the start of their career, getting the attention the labels, thus signing the artist. Then it turns out that the artist, having to roll out that many albums, does not have the talent in them to come up with enough good tunes that people want, leading to a decline in CD sales. All the one-hit-wonders are the ones getting signed by the big labels before the realization that they are one-hit-wonders.

Re:source of bad music? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4265670)

this is the Meriah Carey effect. She made several albums for one label, then signed on with a new one (for much more money). Her first album (iirc, Glitter) with the new label was complete crap, so bad that the label bought out the rest of her contract, releiving them from having to go through the pain 7 more times. The label lost (iirc) millions buying out the contract because of Carey's sudden inability to produce good stuff.

hmmm ... I wonder if that's where some of the losses come from... Artist's second or third album becomes a piece-of-shit, label buys out rest of contract, losing money to the artist .... Label blames piracy for lack of CD sales....

Re:source of bad music? (3, Interesting)

jolshefsky (560014) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265675)

One of the things to consider is that these contracts also limit the artist from changing at all. They have to play the same kind of music and still produce hits. They can't change styles, or replace members with someone who sounds different, or change the instrumentation of the band, or change the sound of the lead singer ... all these things can really stifle creativity.

Imagine if Vincent van Gogh got stuck in a contract where he had to produce 6-8 paintings but all of them had to look and feel just like Starry Night. The guy probably would have become depressed and killed himself.

Re:source of bad music? (2)

Graymalkin (13732) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265786)

Record companies exist to milk every ounce of talent out of people before casting them to the wayside. A one hit wonder is not a loss to a record company, a no hit wonder is. One hit wonders and megastar bands are both money makers. A record contract works like this:

Record company Scheiße Records sends out scouts to find up and coming bands. A scout comes back with this new find from Orange County in California. Scheiße writes up a contract that has several provisions in it. The first is the band signs over all rights to their music to Scheiße with royalties paid to them from distribution (record sales, radio airplay, miscellenous things with their band name on it they license to sell) in return. There's also a provision in there saying the band is contracted for X number of records which is usually an insanely large number all things considered. Then there are things like promotion of the record which entails tours and other such stuff.

The kicker is the small print, besides the record company owning your work and thus having you by the balls, they include what are called recoupables. The record company recoups all expenses involved in your contract. Everything from production cost of your CDs to the studio time of your recording sessions to your new guitar is taken out of your bottom line. The record company can't lose money on you even if you only have a single hit ever because everything they shell out comes back to them, usually with a bit of interest.

A record companies doesn't care if you don't have the talent to produce 6 albums. They usually set the number exceedingly high so a band faults on their contract bot having enough creative energy to produce that much work. Like I said, they don't lose money on one hit wonders. If you're that band you come out with the sore ass because your portion of the money made is being picked at by all the expenses you incurred. Poor music is just a result of a record exec needing a quick fix for a couple quarters so they can gouge radio stations and the CD buying public wanting their craptacular album. One hit wonders are all part of the scam in fact. Without them a record company would have lean periods between the Nivanas, Pearl Jams, and Aerosmiths rearing their musical heads.

Pay back Bo Diddley! (5, Informative)

Rader (40041) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265630)

...Soul legend Sam Moore and other artists are suing record companies and the AFTRA Health and Retirement Funds (a separate entity from the union) for pension benefits. Atlantic, which has sold Moore's music since 1967, never deposited a nickel into his pension because of convoluted formulas tied to royalties. Not surprisingly, labels are balking at paying roughly 20,000 artists up to 30 years of back pension and health benefits.....

I wonder if this includes the artists who died penniless. (Back pension to the widowed families)

What would be nice is if they could reverse the law that lets the Big-5 keep the copyrights forever. Retrieval of copyrights back to the family of deseased artists could be a form of income for them.

Although it's possible the Big-5 think of these as revenue for themselves, the fact is, they sit on them without re-releasing songs because it's not "profitable" to them. These families have smaller overhead, and it could be profitable for THEM.

Preserving career structures (1, Insightful)

panurge (573432) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265644)

Deep coal mining (unions)
Hot metal composited printing (print unions)
State controlled television and radio
Sauropod dinosaurs

Of course the RIAA will fight for its privileges. If you were a talentless hack with a big salary and no other legal way of earning a living, what would you do?
However, based on the examples above, this probably only has a few years to run.
And then, perhaps, back to the golden age of music when people like Wagner, Strauss and Beethoven managed to make a good living throughout long careers without needing the RIAA, a swarm of hangers on, or piles of coke in the dressing room.

Ahh, Hilary - always good for a laugh. (5, Insightful)

schon (31600) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265653)

OK, accepting the old razor about ascribing actions to ignorance instead of malice, I have to wonder why Hilary Rosen is head of the RIAA, when she's so woefully clueless about the business.

In particular, is this gem:

"While the record company could keep an artist under the old contract, they never do," RIAA chief Hilary Rosen says.

Uhm, yeah.

Tell that to Tom Petty.

Or John Fogerty.

Or Prince.

Or many others.

I'm sure they'll get a good bellylaugh out of it.

NOW is the time (2)

erroneus (253617) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265657)

Now is the time to start up a new company that fosters digital distribution.

I think there would be enough prominant artists getting involved (investing and performing) that a large popularity could be created rather quickly without even trying very hard.

I'm sure a lot of the digital distribution means would require some sane consideration that really hasn't been considered deeply, however, as most of our thought is simply "get away from RIAA." So while we're thinking of running away from RIAA, we're forgetting to think about where we run to.

Now is the time to consider that and make a move.

People will jump on the opportunity to download a 56k quality version for free and probably will buy the 128k version if they like it. Selling digital music might turn a pretty penny without much of the publishing costs.

*I* haven't thought this through but I'm sure there are many who have some really good ideas right off they top of their more experienced and thoughtful heads. But if the strength, numbers and influence of the artists protesting the RIAA's tactics, then it's high-time that competition to the RIAA is formed. Anyone else a little weary of hearing complaints without solutions?

riaa/freedom of speech (5, Insightful)

jukal (523582) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265671)

have you ever read the "freedom of speech [riaa.org] " page at RIAA [riaa.org] .

I find this rather sarcastic:

In difficult times, it is easier and quicker to look for handy scapegoats than to search for viable solutions. Banning certain kinds of music is not the answer. RIAA continues to fight hard on both federal and state levels to block well intentioned, but seriously misguided, efforts.

But banning certain kinds of delivery mechanisms is the answer? That seems like a well intentioned, but seriously misguided effort. Instead, they should maybe search for a more viable solution.

The greater evil (2, Interesting)

Rader (40041) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265682)

.....Though accused of conniving tactics behind the scenes, Rosen publicly extends an olive branch to detractors. "I'm glad the artists are organizing," she says. "It's good for the industry. We want to resolve our disagreements and move on to other critical matters, especially piracy. We're on the same side in 99% of the issues....

Oh great. That will be the solution. Blame the pirates for all their problems. Yet another act of misdirection.

I feel that this will all get settled over one small addition to the contracts (like limiting their indentured servant status to "only" 7 years) and then it'll be business as usual. (Basically buying more legislation so that in a few years we're at a pay-per-play market)

Slashdot poll (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4265683)

Do you like or dislike the taste and smell of pussy?

=D (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4265689)

Finally!!! This is how things get changed...not stealing from them but not selling the music to them in the first place. God bless the net and frictionless distribution channels...their (RIAA)usefulness is coming to an end, and hopefully fast.

Copyright reform (5, Insightful)

tmark (230091) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265697)

Interesting how 'copyright reform' gets thrown into the excerpt of the original post, when the real issue of copyright reform referenced in the source article has NOTHING to do with the kind of copyright/IP issues that are normally argued about here. A regular reader might assume that these artists share more with the P2P/IP sympathies that characterize much of the opinion on this site than they actually do.

Yes, they're arguing with the RIAA about copyrights, but these artists are striving to reassert their OWN ownership over copyright, and you can bet that the majority of them will seek to protect their copyrights as vociferously and aggressively as they can.

Life, Fairness, and the dollar (4, Insightful)

Vodak (119225) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265700)

"It's about profit, profit and more profit that always comes at a cost of principles. The predicament the record industry finds itself in is of its own making. They've alienated consumers and artists, and whether the rights movement succeeds, the house will fall under its own weight."

Welcome to capitalism.

Most shocking part of article (5, Funny)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265703)

"We're on the threshold of a whole new system," says Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards. "The time where accountants decide what music people hear is coming to an end. Accountants may be good at numbers, but they have terrible taste in music. I don't know how I'm going to get paid, but I'd rather go out into the brave new world than live with dinosaurs that are far too big for their boots."

Someone UNDERSTOOD something Richards SAID!?

He talks like Prince writes.

Financing Bands Through IPOs/stocks (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4265707)


And today on NYSE, NOFX is going public...

but seriously, why not? Just like you buy stocks if you feel a corporation will strike gold, would it not make sense to do the same with music ?

Re:Financing Bands Through IPOs/stocks (2, Funny)

aerojad (594561) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265748)

...the nasdaq lost 5% today after the merger between Brittney Spears (BOOB | -19.5%) and Justin Timberlake (NSUK | +2.3%) suddenly came to an end, with Justin now in talks for a future merger with Janet Jackson (VOLD | -4.6%) while it appears Brittney will attempt to go on her own...

Re:Financing Bands Through IPOs/stocks (3, Insightful)

streetlawyer (169828) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265764)

Yeh, brilliant. And then, after your favourite band sells a quarter of a million albums, they find that they're left owning ... well, nothing, because they sold off all the rights to their profits in the IPO. Then we get the same dull article about whiny stars who thought they could have their cake and eat it, except instead of "recording companies" insert "shareholders".

Keith Richards (5, Funny)

tmark (230091) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265711)

I'd rather go out into the brave new world than live with dinosaurs that are far too big for their boots.

Anyone else get a laugh out of the fact that Keith Richards is derisively calling anyone a dinosaur ??

An idea... (2, Insightful)

aerojad (594561) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265713)

The price of CDs themselves is way too outrageous. In many cases, the cd isn't worth the 20 dollars you have to fork over to buy it with. Somewhere, some place down the line, someone is making a fat profit on these cds. Does it really cost that much money to get a plastic case, a little booklet, and maybe a bit of paint on a cd? In this mass-producing-touch-of-a-button world? Say the most expensive CDs would only cost 9 or 10 dollars. Sales would surge since you could buy double as many disks. I for one would love to buy more cds, espically if they cost less. Sure you can find cds that are that price already online, or maybe in the bargin bin of your local Best Buy, but I mean major new releases. Don't you think more copies would fly off the shelf if the new pop hit cd came out at $9.99 instead of $18.99 in your local mall? Sell 10,000 copies at a lower price, and make more than you would if you sold 5,000 copies at a higher price. Of course from the industry's point of view, if you can sell 10,000 copies... sell 10,000 copies at the highest price possible. Got to get that gold plated Lexus, after all.

Stricter laws will not solve the problem. (1)

oval_pants (602266) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265715)

What is going to finally solve the dillema though? I mean, if you enact tougher laws in the United States against certain practices of the RIAA, what is stopping them from moving offshore to a more "business" favorable country?

In my opinion, the artists themselves are the only ones able to remove this threat, as they are the bread and butter at issue. If the top stars pseudo-unionized, there would probably be a better control over the Cartel^H^H^H^H^H^H RIAA.

RIAA GRRRRRRR (1)

Anonym1ty (534715) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265717)

Why don't we just get all our music on Kazaa, or Gnutella or what not... freely trade it and if you like the some song, mail money directly to the artist?

support the artist not the label(if you like them) (2, Interesting)

intermodal (534361) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265718)

Many issues are covered, including copyright reform, fraudulent accounting on the part of record labels, and how selling a quarter million albums can leave you owing your label $14,000."

Meanwhile, at the bottom of the article page, it says "Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed. -- Alexander Pope"

very fitting.

See, this is why i don't buy anything from the RIAA anymore, aside from the fact that I don't want my money going to fund copyright laws that I don't want. If i want to hear them bad enough, I'll go see them when they come to town, if I hear about it, since I don't listen to the radio...but thats what band websites are for.

Tactful wording. (3, Insightful)

altgrr (593057) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265732)

"And these renegotiated deals don't tend to tack on a lot of extra albums or dramatically increase the artist's obligation"

Which is to say that they could tend to tack on a few extra albums or moderately increase the artist's obligation, in addition to tacking on a lot of extra albums and/or dramatically increasing the artist's obligation in a smaller proportion of cases.

What it comes down to is this: If they're conning the artists who have been in the business a long time, they're hardly going to tell it to USA Today straight, are they?

Whose Fault Is This? (4, Insightful)

goldspider (445116) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265733)

"Industry studies point out that for every hit the business scores, it loses $6.3 million on albums that tank. Fewer than 5% of signed artists deliver a hit."

That's not the artists' fault, so don't make them pay for the labels' poor decisions. It's the fault of the labels for signing every jackass garage band it 'discovers' to multi-album contracts.

Perhaps they'd lose less money (and maybe make some?) if their tastes and qualifications were a little more discriminating.

Re:Whose Fault Is This? (3, Insightful)

altgrr (593057) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265763)

Or, to put it more bluntly, stop overpromoting sh!t. IMHO, it'd work a lot better if they were banned from subsidising and promoting any tracks, and just let the radio stations decide what they want to play, while releasing the track simultaneously to radio stations and the public, so Joe Public doesn't get fed up of every new track before it's even released.

Sad news ... Stephen King dead at 54 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4265735)


I just heard some sad news on talk radio - horror/fiction writer Stephen King was found dead at his Florida home this morning. There weren't any more details. I'm sure the entire slashdot community will miss him, even if you're not a fan of his work there's no denying his contribution to popular culture. Truly an American icon, he will be sorely missed.

What ever will they think of next? (2, Funny)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265736)

"They face challenges from increasingly vocal performers.."

Well duh! Hello! They're performers, they're supposed to be vocal, or instrumental or something. I bet the writer was saving that one up for years.

Problem is of consumer's making (2, Interesting)

ndvaughan (576319) | more than 11 years ago | (#4265740)

I feel for the artists--especially the ones who have a steady following and are great musicians but get dropped because they don't appeal to the "MTV generation". But it's our own fault. We rely too much on radio and TV to influence our tastes and who we listen to. I once thought there was a big, untapped resource of music-lovers who really want to hear the stuff that's not on the radio--people who want only quality musicianship and a unique sound, but things like jazz (the only truly American music form) and classical have never been big sellers, even with the older demographic.

Face it, most people want to hear the stuff that's on the radio-- over-produced, simplistic, commercialized goo, and we can't stand if it's not a singable tune. That's why only 5% of the artists have a hit-- because the record companies know they can't make money unless they find a musician who happens to fit that (very rare) formula. Even if they do sign an innovative group or individual, they know hardly anyone will buy the record, because they know we have horrible taste, or that we, for whatever reason, are less likely to buy it.

I work at a music store, and 99% of the requests I get are for musicians who they heard on the radio or TV. People want to be hand-fed good music, then complain when it's not good. The record companies are only trying to feed the customer what they seem to want, which is not necessarily good music.

Interesting math (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4265767)

If they lose $6 Million for each hit you'd think they'd want to minimize the chances for hits.
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