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495 comments

Still getting the raw end of the deal? (4, Insightful)

spune (715782) | about 8 years ago | (#15537151)

Is the RIAA still in charge?

Re:Still getting the raw end of the deal? (2, Funny)

kfg (145172) | about 8 years ago | (#15537323)

New music distribution model. RIAA takes opportunity to insure that arists get paid even more sand in the Vaseline(tm).

Film at 11.

KFG

Re:Still getting the raw end of the deal? (5, Insightful)

Total_Wimp (564548) | about 8 years ago | (#15537405)

Forget the RIAA, Weird Al's record label is definately the entity in charge.

I know you all hate the labels, but it doesn't make sense to assume they're stupid. They may be greedy, exploitive and unfriendly to their own customers, but "stupid" would not be a word I would use to describe them.

Weird Al said that he didn't really "get" the part of his contract that gave him far less money for digital downloads. He signed it anyway. That tells me pretty clearly that what Al didn't really "get" was the business of digital downloads in general. If he had, he woul have realized that paid downloads are increasing at roughly the rate of iPod sales and those iPod sales are through the roof. If he "got" digital downloads, he would have realized that 5 years from now digital could easily be a bigger business than CD.

The thing is, his recording label did get it. They got it so well that they presented him a deal that looks pretty good now, while CD sales are still king, but will totaly bite ass in the near future when downloads are more common than CD sales. Yes, they're little better than the slickest of con men who will tell you exactly how they will get your money in the same breath that they con you out of it, but stupid? Hell no. They're in charge.

TW

Re:Still getting the raw end of the deal? (2, Informative)

kfg (145172) | about 8 years ago | (#15537468)

Forget the RIAA, Weird Al's record label is definately the entity in charge.

Because the RIAA and its subsidiary organizations are the representative of the label.

KFG

Time for a new song (5, Funny)

Flimzy (657419) | about 8 years ago | (#15537153)

Sounds like a good opporitunity to write an R.E.M. parody... "Losing my Commission"

Re:Time for a new song (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15537272)

hahaha, nice.

Re:Time for a new song (5, Funny)

Sentri (910293) | about 8 years ago | (#15537277)

...
That's me on their ipod
That's me on i - tunes
Losing my comission
Trying to keep up with tech
And I don't know if you can do it
Oh no you took too much
I haven't got enough
I thought that I heard price-fixing
I thought that I heard you steal
I think I thought I got ripped off ...

Re:Time for a new song (0)

Attrition_cp (888039) | about 8 years ago | (#15537300)

I'm impressed, if I had the mod points I had yesterday you'd have one.

And if you want to be really charitable (1)

cp.tar (871488) | about 8 years ago | (#15537443)

Just e-mail it to Weird Al.

Re:Time for a new song (3, Funny)

p00ked (982607) | about 8 years ago | (#15537308)

verse 2
That's me on the itunes
My wallet has got light
losing my commision
And I don't know if I can flog them
Oh no I've sold too much
I haven't sold them for enough
I thought that I heard apple laughing
I thought that I heard them say
Wanna sue? id like to see you try!

Re:Time for a new song (0, Redundant)

syousef (465911) | about 8 years ago | (#15537335)

"Losing my Commission"

That's me in the corner,
That's me in the spotlight,
Losing my commission, ...oh no they paid too much,
I didn't get enough

Re:Time for a new song (1)

Basehart (633304) | about 8 years ago | (#15537526)

Or as Yes would put it:

Dawn of light lying between a silence and sold sources,
Chased amid fusions of wonder, in moments hardly seen forgotten,
Coloured in pastures of chance dancing leaves cast spells of challenge,
Amused but real in thought, we fled from the sea whole.
Dawn of thought transfered through moments of days undersearching earth
Revealing corridors of time provoking memories, disjointed but with purpose,
Craving penetrations offer links with the self instructors sharp
And tender love as we took to the air, a picture of distance.
Dawn of our power we amuse redescending as fast as misused
Expression, as only to teach love as to reveal passion chasing
Late into corners, and we danced from the ocean.
Dawn of love sent within us colours of awakening among the many
Won't to follow, only iTunes of a different age.
As the links span our endless commission for the freedom of life everlasting.

Also... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15537155)

He also makes far less money when I don't buy any Weird Al music than when I do. So he can please STFU.

RTFA (5, Informative)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | about 8 years ago | (#15537181)

I am extremely grateful for your support, no matter which format you choose to legally obtain my music in, so you should do whatever makes the most sense for you personally. But since you ASKED

Re:RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15537271)

He's right -- it doesn't make any sense. I can understand (well, barely) the high costs of producing actual CD albums (pressing, printing, distribution, etc) but like it costs them next to nothing to produce an MP3, unless they're renting time on a supercomputer to encode the track. The music industry is probably trying to make up for "losing out" during the early 2000s when Napster was at its peak by screwing the one group of people they can: their own contractually-bounded artists.

eat it eat it (0)

opencity (582224) | about 8 years ago | (#15537157)

He signed the deal he can't beat it.

Wonder about the deal the A Bros signed.
Us little guys go through smaller cos and they take 10c leaving lots to the artist.

Re:eat it eat it (4, Informative)

Sancho (17056) | about 8 years ago | (#15537169)

He didn't seem to be complaining. He merely said he didn't understand why they want to take more out when there are fewer distribution costs.

Re:eat it eat it (1)

Babbster (107076) | about 8 years ago | (#15537306)

He should be complaining...to his lawyer/agent/manager who, presumably, looked over the deal and let that slide by. I would think that one or more of those people would be dealing with the recording executives long before it ever lands under Al's schnoz, and would do the math so that they could tell Al whether it was a good deal or not. Getting 4-5 cents on the retail dollar for his music sounds like a pretty crap deal, whatever the medium of distribution.

Re:eat it eat it (4, Interesting)

PortHaven (242123) | about 8 years ago | (#15537269)

Actually, a lot of artists never got to sign for digital.

For example, with web/digital radio. RIAA bought off Congress so that they could collect royalties for all music played over webcasts. Guess what, my friend's band whom I'm the manager for...never got to negotiate.

RIAA is !@#$% up....

He could pick another distribution channel (1)

CPNABEND (742114) | about 8 years ago | (#15537162)

Or is this just "My Bologna"

Re:He could pick another distribution channel (1)

5, Troll (919133) | about 8 years ago | (#15537258)

What Al needs is to re-negotiate himself out of digital distribution with his label. leave them to handle the physical CD's and hire a 15 year old kid to handle his online presense. That way he wont be losing his poodle hat to online purchases. That and he wont have to deal with the work and maintenance online and can concentrate on making music like he should.

Well duh (1, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | about 8 years ago | (#15537164)

CDs are vastly overpriced.

Re:Well duh (1)

Voice of Meson (892271) | about 8 years ago | (#15537257)

I think most people realise that CD's are very overpriced, but I assumed that was because of the record company profits combined with the cost of getting a physical CD to the store. The point is that the artists profits are 85% down. After hearing all those stories about artists making profits in the cents from a $15 CD, God knows how they will be able to buy beer now. The other option is of course to sell it yourself directly.

LINUX USERS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15537168)

You're being left in the dust, using an inferior operating system.

Cuplrit? (4, Insightful)

Southpaw018 (793465) | about 8 years ago | (#15537174)

TFA seems to blame iTunes, at least at heart. Wouldn't the actual problem here be the messed up, backwards, hacked way the (MP|RI)AA have decided to handle this newfangled technology called the internet?

Re:Cuplrit? (4, Insightful)

Babbster (107076) | about 8 years ago | (#15537341)

Actually, I thought the analysis seemed to blame everybody: iTunes for charging 30+ cents per dollar for their web services (that surely does seem high, which makes me wonder if the mentioned 80/19 split isn't more accurate), the record company for not splitting their cut more fairly with the artist, and the implied blame of Al for signing what seems on the surface to be a pretty lousy deal.

Re:Cuplrit? (1)

EvanED (569694) | about 8 years ago | (#15537518)

Al might not have had a choice. I think almost all that music went up there on iTunes under existing contracts, which, of course, aren't really negotiable anyway.

Culprit (4, Insightful)

Sentri (910293) | about 8 years ago | (#15537426)

If you are going to say something like that, please actually read the article.

"Apple did work, and got paid for it. You did an arguably larger portion of the work, by creating something people wanted to buy in the first place, so Apple got a little money, and you got a good deal more."

He is saying here you did work, they sold your work, they take a cut and pass the rest back. Fair enough. However he goes on to say "Unfortunately, that's not how this version of the universe operates. So Apple sends the check to your record label."

And he then goes on to discuss where the money goes to the record label.

The conclusion he reaches is basically "If all of your fans bought through iTunes rather than buying CDs at the record store you'd be looking at an overall reduction in income of 85%!" however he is quite clear through the article that the record companies take a lions share of that money

Moving from fact into speculation, let's examine what's happening here

Case 1:
Man records songs, Record label puts work into creating CD labeling, packaging, promoting and so on. Record label organizes with Distribution company to sell CD's and gets money in return.
Cost of Final Product: $15-$20.

Case 2: Man records songs, Record label puts work into creating CD labeling, packaging, promoting and so on. Record label organizes with itunes to use all the fancy stuff they created for the CD and sell the product over Itunes.
Cost of Final Product: $0.99 * songs or $10, whichever is less

The same costs are involved in doing both. Until artists only release online, the CD cost will have to be recouped as well anyway, so it shouldn't be a huge shock to anyone that the cheaper product provides a worse return on investment for the same work.

Re:Cuplrit? (5, Insightful)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 8 years ago | (#15537507)

Agreed. Here's what I understand.

A consumer buys a record on iTunes for the flat $10 price. Apple takes its cut (30% or $3.00) but gives the rest to the record company. The record company takes out costs and then gives the artist a small percentage. For our example, let's say 10% or $0.70 goes to the artist.

If the consumer had bought a $10.00 CD instead, the record company would still take the same of costs in terms of percentage but Apple would not have taken the first piece out. The artist would have gotten $1.00 in royalties.

On the surface, it seems contradictory that artist would get less with iTunes and it would seem that Apple is to blame. The real culprit is what the record company considers as "costs." Every contract allows the record company to take out costs before royalties are paid. Traditionally the costs for the record company were things like distribution, marketing, and packaging for CDs and tapes. These were not minor costs.

But in terms of digital downloads, Wierd Al (and other artists) are complaining that the record companies are taking out these traditional costs as if the work had been sold as a traditional CD or tape. What the record companies are doing are simply taking out the same percentages insteading computing the real costs.

If the record companies had computed real costs for distribution and packaging for a download, it would have found that they are next to nothing. The artists should receive more. This is due to either the record companies not updating their accounting to deal with digital medium or purposefully shorting the artists. As a pessimist, I would think the latter.

Payback (2, Funny)

Hao Wu (652581) | about 8 years ago | (#15537175)

That's what he gets for calling me "fat" instead of what I truly am (bad).

Those jokes are hurtful to bad people everywhere.

Re:Payback (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15537204)

You fuckers are just wrong, not bad, or fat or anything else. Go Weird Al.

Vicki

So what's new? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15537179)

Record companies find ways to give artists even less money. You knew it was going to happen. To the record companies, it is not about the music, but the money. Since the early days in the 50's they have been writing draconian contracts, then stealing the copyrights from the artists (remember the "musicians are craftsmen not artists" argument they were throwing around) and now this. Pretty soon, the artists will have to PAY the record companies for the priviledge of getting screwed.

Re:So what's new? (4, Informative)

kimvette (919543) | about 8 years ago | (#15537231)

Pretty soon, the artists will have to PAY the record companies for the priviledge of getting screwed.


They already do, actually. Read up on record contracts sometime. Many artists end up in massive debt due to their contracts and have to tour endlessly to pay it off. Fuck major labels. I'd trust Satan before I trust a record label.

Re:So what's new? (5, Funny)

WilliamSChips (793741) | about 8 years ago | (#15537286)

Satan runs a record label.

Re:So what's new? (1)

jcr (53032) | about 8 years ago | (#15537331)

remember the "musicians are craftsmen not artists" argument they were throwing around

Oh, is that why singers suddenly decided to call themselves "artists" a couple years back?

-jcr

The Shaft (4, Insightful)

Poppler (822173) | about 8 years ago | (#15537186)

Isn't this interesting, after all the noise the industry made about going after illegal music downloads, all in the name of helping the artists. They then turn around and pay the artist next to nothing for the iTunes download you are supposed to buy because you want to 'support the artist'.
Musicians will continue to "get the shaft" as long as they rely on majors.

Re:The Shaft (5, Informative)

Geno Z Heinlein (659438) | about 8 years ago | (#15537407)

Musicians will continue to "get the shaft" as long as they rely on majors.

One of the best references on the subject: Courtney Love Does The Math [jdray.com] .

Re:The Shaft (4, Informative)

Poppler (822173) | about 8 years ago | (#15537467)

I would also recommend Steve Albini's piece The Problem With Music [negativland.com] .

Re:The Shaft (1)

jd (1658) | about 8 years ago | (#15537432)

Major Glory or John Major? :)


Seriously, you are correct. People don't buy music in order to benefit the labels. The labels have a right to make money, I have no problem with that, but I DO have a problem with them guilt-tripping the customers and then (to add insult to injury) ripping off the artists as well.


iTunes takes way too big a slice, but let's be fair on them - look at their role models! Theft is bad - I think we can all agree on that - but that applies to all parties concerned, not just students (and they usually buy the product later anyway, which doesn't kill the claim of theft but does bruise it somewhat). And, of course, it's not just labels. More than a few agents and managers have been sued over unpaid royalties, sometimes in the order of a few tens of millions.


I have nothing but respect for those who want to instill a culture of paying artists a fair day's wage for a fair day's work. It's about time. I've nothing but contempt for those who claim that as a pretext whilst robbing the artists (and customers) blind.

Re:The Shaft (1)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | about 8 years ago | (#15537495)

>The labels have a right to make money

No they do not. Nobody in a free market does. They have a right to compete within the law and to stand or fall depending on whether they offer a service worth the artists's and consumers's money. They do not have a right to turn a profit.

How do you support an artist you like, anyway? Certainly not by buying CDs. T-shirts? Concert tickets? What actually puts money in the singer/songwriter/musician's pocket?

Slashdot is going to hate this... (4, Insightful)

raehl (609729) | about 8 years ago | (#15537450)

There are very few people who actually have any taste in music. The vast majority of music purchases are made by shleps buying whatever is on the radio or MTV. So who is on the radio or MTV?

Whoever the record labels SAY should be on the radio or MTV.

So, no reason to pay the artists anything - if the artist you're talking to doesn't want to take a small percentage of the record sales, then you just find somebody else who will, make THEM the star, and then they can rake it in on concert ticket sales.

People do not understand that pricing has NOTHING to do with what it costs to provide a service. It has to do with what people are willing to pay to get a service. And most new artists are willing to pay the vast majority of their record (or download) sales to have the services of a record label.

Also, the article is wrong about WHO is getting the artist's money. The money the artist isn't getting isn't going to the LABEL, it's going to the CONSUMER:

Price of Al's CD on Amazon: $14.98
Price of Al's CD on iTunes: $11.88

That's a difference of $3.10. Al 'apparently' loses $0.27 per song (not $0.265, article has rounding problems). $0.27 x 12 = $3.24!

So, when Al comes up short $3.24 because a consumer got an album for $3.24 less on iTuns than on Amazon, who got that $3.24?

The CONSUMER did!

Now, I'm not saying this is FAIR. Clearly, the record label is making much more money on iTunes sales since, as mentioned, they don't have to pay for a lot of things they would if they distributed music by physical CD. But... why should Al get any of that? Al has agreed to pay the record company a certain amount for the record company's services. The record company gets the same amount whether the CD is sold online or on the shelves. If Al doesn't want to lose money to his stuff being sold on iTunes, he should renegotiate his contract to not allow iTunes sales. I bet most artists wouldn't do that though, because they make most of their money on concerts, and being on iTunes helps them sell tickets.

The *REAL* problem here is not that Al isn't getting more money. The real problem is that the CONSUMER is still paying the record company CD distribution prices instead of digital distribution prices. In a free market, we would expect digital downloads to be much cheaper than $0.99, because the various distributors would compete against each other reduce the inflated margins the record companies (and iTunes) are getting based on CD priving. But since iTunes is a fairly insulated monopoly at this point, even though the CD *COSTS* of distribution have gone away, the CD *PRICING* hasn't.

So, who is REALLY at fault for the artist getting no money AND the record company and iTunes still getting full price?

APPLE! They've set the $0.99 price and are putting no pressure on the record labels to lower it.

No, Say It Aain't So. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15537191)

Is the news summery suggesting that record companies are screwing their artists out of due income? That's down-right weird!

Read it on "Wierd Al's" actual website (5, Informative)

xmas2003 (739875) | about 8 years ago | (#15537196)

Submitter's (?) blog references this, but here is Weird's Al's website [weirdal.com] where he actually talks about it ... his response on this topic is the 4th bold one down.

Re:Read it on "Wierd Al's" actual website (4, Insightful)

xplenumx (703804) | about 8 years ago | (#15537400)

In cases like this, I'm all in favor of the editors modifying the submitter's links. Not only does Aaron Hockley's blog offer no more information than what he submitted to Slashdot, but in his "Blogging" cattegory he clearly states that he's actively engaging in this sort of activity for his own personal benefit (don't bother, it's not worth the look nor the additional clicks to his 'blog').

Re:Read it on "Wierd Al's" actual website (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15537514)

This is fuckin retarded.... itunes isn't screwing weird al, the labels are screwing weird al. Itunes brokers the agreement w/ the label and the label brokers the agreement w/ the artist. I know a few indie labels that split the label (after ascap/bmi etc cut) 50/50 and thats probably as good as it gets w/ a label. The reason the labels get a cut is because of *promotion* not because of the physical distribution costs. That said, the reasons why the majors are negotiating anti itunes cuts w/ the artists, is they want the artists to promote this myth.

Itunes is a freakin boon for artists, particularly small starting artists who dont get much/any promotion anyway other than their own.

I've lost track of the # of artists who are dropping their label and going the cdbaby route (which gives the artists like 70c directly per 99c download for fronting as a fake label) w/ itunes. Even w/ the indie labels, the bottom line is the artists ends up making a ton more money via itunes than via a real label.

posting anonymously as i know too many labels a bit too closely

Let me put it this way, have weird al work out what his own #'s would be if he dropped his label, dropped his physical cd distribution (and his cut from the physical cd distribution which is like to be $2 bucks a cd) and examine his sales via itunes and what he would have gotten if those sales had been done via cdbaby/itunes. I bet you, he'd make more money via the cdbaby/itunes route.

The problem w/ bands is they dont know math and they sign really shitty contracts as they think they are always arguing from weakness.

apples to oranges? (4, Insightful)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | about 8 years ago | (#15537200)

Even if Al is making less per song, does that mean anyone who bought one of his songs or records from iTunes would've otherwise purchased a brand new CD? Or might they have bought a used one, or none at all?

Re:apples to oranges? (3, Insightful)

jbreckman (917963) | about 8 years ago | (#15537304)

Yeah, but do the math. Lets say someone only wants one song. Online, he makes $0.04 per song. If he sells a CD, he makes $3.74 (after all is said and done) If online distribution wasn't possible, where you could buy one song instead of having to get the whole cd, your argument is that not as many people buy the cd. However, if 1 out of 93 people that would have just bought one song decides to buy the whole cd, he would break even. (93 * .04 =(almost) 3.74) Naturally, as far as concerts are concerned it's better to have 93 fans than 1. But I don't think the OnlyBuyOneSong:BuyTheWholeCD ratio 1:93.

Re:apples to oranges? (2, Interesting)

Flamesplash (469287) | about 8 years ago | (#15537499)

you hit an interesting area. I find myself buying more 'risky' music with itunes pricing, so you could say that I maybe have a music budget, and itunes allows me to purchase music from more artists giving more people money, and maybe in the future giving them even more. However, with the same budget I could buy cd's of artists that I really like giving them more money in the end, and the 'artists' more in the end.

So from my usage pattern, I would still be supporting my favorite bands, but not discovering so many new ones, at least not legally.

I still support the burn a copy and mail the artist $10 method.

Hah (3, Funny)

complexmath (449417) | about 8 years ago | (#15537208)

Nice to know that the distribution medium with essentially no production or distribution costs screws the artist in favor of the distributor.

Re:Hah (1)

Tau Neutrino (76206) | about 8 years ago | (#15537334)

No, not in favor of the distributor. Apple gets about enough to cover its costs, plus a few cents per track. Maybe.

So who's making out like bandits? Same old same old, the labels. There was a story a few weeks ago about how they deduct from the artists' cuts charges for liner notes, warehousing, spoilage, and so on, for downloaded songs.

Scumbuckets.

he isn't loosing money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15537214)

The record company is that he's signed with. He's still living pretty. In fact with the royalties he makes for his music and movies I'm pretty sure he isn't going to die poor any time soon. This is the same with any other signed artist. Besides...I don't think it's the record sales thats hurting his music I think it's the fact no one wants to buy it full price (or at all). This is the same argument you get with over paid sports stars and actors...how much is to much...if I can pocket a couple bucks, and save my ears from bleeding...I think I'll do it.

A solution to this problem (1)

seriv (698799) | about 8 years ago | (#15537216)

Perhaps the solution to the money-hungry amoral music industry is to cut them out of the deal. Perhaps music listeners could start illegally downloading music and giving money to artists. It would never work, but there needs to be someway to actually give money to the people who make the product.

Re:A solution to this problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15537245)

Anything you can think of, the record companies have already thought of. If you illegally downloaded Weird Al's music and then sent him a check, his contract with the record company most likely forbids him from accepting it.

There is no problem (1)

NineNine (235196) | about 8 years ago | (#15537314)

What "artists" are getting paid is in no way mine, or your problem. It's up to the artists to negotiate a deal, just like anybody does when getting a job. Why should I care about whether or not Wierd Al has to buy a new or used jet? Hell, do you worry about whether or not any real people you know get paid "enough"? Honestly, the musicians control that as much as the record companies do. If they're worth money, then they can negotiate. And... just a wild guess here... but I'm guessing that the amount they make from downloads from places like iTunes is in the contract.

Re:There is no problem (1)

pete-classic (75983) | about 8 years ago | (#15537438)

What "artists" are getting paid is in no way mine, or your problem.


Our society, rightly or wrongly, has decided that it is a legitimate function of government to protect people from business practices deemed unfair. Various forms of collusion, price fixing, and monopolistic practices for instance.

I'm not intimately familiar with the music industry. (Or more to the point, the music distribution and promotion industry.) I have seen many accounts of record companies engaging in practices that seem to fall into these categories.

So, to the extent that the courts and the market are "ours" it is "our" worry.

That said, I'm a big fan of the free market and I have problems of my own to occupy most of my worrying time. ;-)

-Peter

Re:A solution to this problem (1)

ClamIAm (926466) | about 8 years ago | (#15537342)

Do whatever you can. Bite the bullet and boycott the RIAA (and the MPAA, and the BSA). Write them letters telling them why. Tell your friends and family. Write editorials and send them to your local newspapers. Buy independent media. Write letters to bands you like telling them why you won't be buying their new album, and encourage them to jump ship as soon as they can. See bands live.

Yeah, I know. A lot of this stuff doesn't sound like fun. But fighting for something worthwhile will bring greater reward in the end.

this is rediculous (0, Troll)

tiberiandusk (894649) | about 8 years ago | (#15537223)

i love weird al and this makes me angry as hell. its a good thing i don't use itunes since i think it sucks. i buy a cd then rip it to whatever format i need.

Help a guy out... (2, Informative)

RyanFenton (230700) | about 8 years ago | (#15537242)

Check out his short-lived TV series:

The Weird Al Show DVD [amazon.com]

It's surprisingly good, if you check out the clips available on youtube [youtube.com] .

Oh, and yeah, can't forget one of the most underrated, quotable comedy movies of all time: UHF [amazon.com] .

Ryan Fenton

Re:Help a guy out... (1)

Ricdude (4163) | about 8 years ago | (#15537441)

Badgers? We don't need no stinkin' badgers!

That may be true... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15537254)

But I don't think Weird Al is hurting for money...

Re:That may be true... (3, Insightful)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 8 years ago | (#15537435)

"But I don't think Weird Al is hurting for money..."

That matters because....?

Re:That may be true... (1)

OmnipotentEntity (702752) | about 8 years ago | (#15537490)

> But I don't think Weird Al is hurting for money...

While this may be true, it doesn't mean that the record labels are morally in the right by screwing him out of it.

And personally, I'd rather see Weird Al with sickeningly large gobs of cash than the RIAA.

Community based business model? (5, Insightful)

Marsmensch (870400) | about 8 years ago | (#15537261)

I remember reading a UNDP [undp.org] report a while back on the development of countries in Africa. The researchers observed that the international market prices of commodities such as coffee or sugar were higher then than at any time in the past, and yet in the last few years the prices payed to the small farmers was at its lowest point in the past 60 years.

The reason for this apparent contradiction was the fact that small farmers can't sell their wares directly to the final consumer who brews coffee at home. Rather, this coffee is bought up by one of a handful of multinationals, who because they are so few, more or less dictate prices to the farmers, and then sell it on to the consumers. The fact that there are few of these middle men puts them in a position of power which allows them to make off with the king's share of the profits, and indeed they absorb the price hikes.

Maybe its time musicians got together and set up an electronic coop to sell their music the way farmers sometimes set up "farmers markets". They could have more control over their prices, and how much of what consumers pay goes to them.

Shouldn't the internet be making it easier to cut out the middle man like this?

CDBaby (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15537333)

Yes, it's called CDBaby http://www.cdbaby.com/ [cdbaby.com] check it out!

Re:Community based business model? (1)

ClamIAm (926466) | about 8 years ago | (#15537364)

small farmers can't sell their wares directly to the final consumer who brews coffee at home. Rather, this coffee is bought up by one of a handful of multinationals, who because they are so few, more or less dictate prices to the farmers, and then sell it on to the consumers.

I love me a good cup of market-based socialism [wikipedia.org] in the morning...

Re:Community based business model? (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about 8 years ago | (#15537388)

Maybe its time musicians got together and set up an electronic coop to sell their music the way farmers sometimes set up "farmers markets".

They did that a while ago. They called it Decca, and Motown, and Arista. There was money to be made, and the suits got involved.
And here we are today.

Re:Community based business model? (1)

Associate (317603) | about 8 years ago | (#15537453)

I think they'd be beter off slitting the throats of the people who screw them.
There's only one thing greedy people understand better than greed. That's violence.

11 cents on the dollar (2, Interesting)

bricklayer (539164) | about 8 years ago | (#15537262)

The folks at Downhill Battle have been saying this for a few years now:
http://www.downhillbattle.org/itunes/ [downhillbattle.org]

Poor Al (3, Insightful)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 8 years ago | (#15537280)

Im curious now if he's talking about the percentage he gets or if he's talking about volume. In other words, is he making less because people just buy the songs they want?

If it's the former, well the RIAA just plain sucks. (I'm sure this will be heavily covered before this topic is closed so I'm not going to bother being more eloquent.)

If it's the latter... sorry Al, I think you're talented and love your music, but that's supply and demand, man. If iTunes means a fairer price for all involved, then I'd ask you to take it in stride. The RIAA had quite the gold mine going there, and I don't blame them for trying to maintain it, but we legit customers were getting gouged.

Re:Poor Al (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15537315)

If you're really so curious why don't you read the fucking article where an entire analysis is conducted on this topic.

Re:Poor Al (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 8 years ago | (#15537404)

"If you're really so curious why don't you read the fucking article where an entire analysis is conducted on this topic."

Heh. I did read it. I want to hear HIM talk about it instead of assuming an analysis that admits it doesn't have all the numbers in place is the unvarnised truth. Sue me.

You'd think we would have learned this lesson with the various TCO 'studies' that have flown by here over the years. Yeesh.

Re:Poor Al (1)

ChrisGilliard (913445) | about 8 years ago | (#15537373)

sorry Al, I think you're talented and love your music, but that's supply and demand, man. If iTunes means a fairer price for all involved, then I'd ask you to take it in stride.

Maybe this will make artists stop making 10 crappy songs to go along with their 2 good songs and instead focus on making 3-5 really good songs that people actually want to download and not worry about those album fillers.

Not surprising (0)

Tester (591) | about 8 years ago | (#15537282)

Its so not surprising. Artists (the real ones) dont create for money, they do it out of the love of the art (well most do..). And the labels know that. Why bother paying them when they can just pocket the money! And that's what they do.. Oh and since artists usualy aren't great businessmen, the labels win. But in the end, its probably going to be good, maybe artists will one day understand that most dont make money off the recordings and give them away for free (and make the money on the concerts instead!).. . In the meantime, I will keep on exercising my right to private copying (I'm Canadian).

New name (-1, Flamebait)

Tablizer (95088) | about 8 years ago | (#15537292)

"Greedy Al"

Re:New name (1)

Mikey-San (582838) | about 8 years ago | (#15537326)

Yeah, because not wanting to get fucked by the industry you [the artist in general] are driving is really greedy, right?

Re:New name (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15537338)

Do you expect to get paid for work? What are you greedy? Why are the artists the evil ones for wanting to be paid for their work? The pirates steal from the artists and the record companies steal from the artists. Ultimately it's the artists that suffer.

Re:New name (0, Offtopic)

Tablizer (95088) | about 8 years ago | (#15537367)

It's a joke. Lighten up. And, it is not like Al is poor. He probably has 5 BMW's, 2 yahts and tons of hot babes. It is a bit hard to feel sorry for somebody like that.

Re:New name (4, Informative)

sketerpot (454020) | about 8 years ago | (#15537424)

Fuck you, asshole. Here's what Weird Al actually said:
Tim Sloane of Ijamsville, MD asks: Al, which of these purchasing methods should I use in order to make sure the most profit gets to you: Buying one of your albums on CD, or buying one of your albums on iTunes? I am extremely grateful for your support, no matter which format you choose to legally obtain my music in, so you should do whatever makes the most sense for you personally. But since you ASKED... I actually do get significantly more money from CD sales, as opposed to downloads. This is the one thing about my renegotiated record contract that never made much sense to me. It costs the label NOTHING for somebody to download an album (no manufacturing costs, shipping, or really any overhead of any kind) and yet the artist (me) winds up making less from it. Go figure.

He's not the greedy one here.

Re:New name (2, Interesting)

sketerpot (454020) | about 8 years ago | (#15537445)

*sigh*, fuck me apparently. Here's the Weird Al quote with non-broken formatting, a fan's question in bold and Al's reply in italics:

Tim Sloane of Ijamsville, MD asks: Al, which of these purchasing methods should I use in order to make sure the most profit gets to you: Buying one of your albums on CD, or buying one of your albums on iTunes?

I am extremely grateful for your support, no matter which format you choose to legally obtain my music in, so you should do whatever makes the most sense for you personally. But since you ASKED... I actually do get significantly more money from CD sales, as opposed to downloads. This is the one thing about my renegotiated record contract that never made much sense to me. It costs the label NOTHING for somebody to download an album (no manufacturing costs, shipping, or really any overhead of any kind) and yet the artist (me) winds up making less from it. Go figure.

Sorry for the double-post.

Well, duh... (1)

kcbrown (7426) | about 8 years ago | (#15537312)

Are all artists getting the shaft like this?

Of course they are. Well, that is, any artist who's stupid enough or unlucky enough to still be using an RIAA member as a label.

What, did you actually think the labels would be taking less money after the transition to online sales? Hah! No, they'll just increase their percentage of the cut and pass the "savings" (in the form of less money) on to the artists that they obviously care soooo much about.

Apple's only obligation..... (1, Insightful)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | about 8 years ago | (#15537355)

I expect to be modded down for this, but there needs to be a reality check regarding Apple. Famously the love of Apple is cultish, but they are a publicly traded company. (Disclaimer: I am fan of Apple myself)

What you need to remember about publicly traded companies is that their only real obligation is to the stock holders. That means it shouldn't be a shock that iTunes screws artists or that Apple will employ sweatshop workers to create iPods.

You know who else is publicly traded? Google. Because of that stockholder obligation you can probably expect their mantra to change from "Do no evil" to "We do less evil than everyone else".

He's not getting ripped off (3, Insightful)

rudy_wayne (414635) | about 8 years ago | (#15537371)

... and I don't feel sorry for him in the least.

I like Wierd Al, and even own a few of his CDs. But today, there is absolutely no reason for ANY musician to be beholden to a record company with a draconian contract that pays them practically nothing. The cost of recording equipment is a tiny fraction of what it was 20 years ago and the internet allows artists to sell their work directly to the public with no need for a record company to handle distrubution and take their 99.9% cut.

There is no reason why Wierd Al (or any other musician) can't record his music in his own studio, have the CDs pressed (there are companies out there that do it for $1 per CD) and then set up a website to sell the CDs as well as digital downloads. He gets 100% of the profits, we get to hear the music and the RIAA goes out of business.

Re:He's not getting ripped off (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15537472)

Wierd Al's been around since what, '70s/80s? Not many of those who would buy his stuff would be the sort buying music over the internet, and CD distribution is an area where established labels/distributors got a chokehold on. Some sort of musicians' collective may be feasible and help out in getting distribution to stores, but that's essentially the idea behind indie labels.

Re:He's not getting ripped off (3, Insightful)

EvanED (569694) | about 8 years ago | (#15537480)

There are a couple possible reasons they can't do what you say.

In Weird Al's case, he very well may be in a "you produce x number of albums for us" contract and only partway through. So he's contractually prohibited from going independent.

In the case of a new artist, you have to admit that the record companies DO do stuff to get you exposure. For instance, it's VERY hard to get on most radio stations if you don't have support from the labels.

Dear Weird Al... (1)

MaelstromX (739241) | about 8 years ago | (#15537379)

I wish Weird Al was reading this thread. I would just tell him that this is one of the reasons why the major recording industry institutions are bad for the consumer, bad for the artist, and bad for music in general. And I would hope that he understands that for this very reason, I can't support the practices of these companies by having nearly all of the money I spend on an album going towards reinforcing their system of screwing everybody involved. I hope he survives without the fifty cents he would have gotten, but I will sleep BETTER at night knowing I didn't finance these morally bankrupt assclowns.

85% loss, holy cow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15537394)

Oh, er, uh, that just means that that other person besides Al's momma who was buying WAY CD's decided to buy one tune instead of a CD.

12.99 + 1.99 < 12.99 + 12.99

Personally, I think one tune is rather optimistic...

Does this surprise anyone? (3, Insightful)

solistus (556078) | about 8 years ago | (#15537398)

CDs cost about $15-$20. The record label takes most of it, and the artist gets a little cut. iTunes CDs cost about $10. Apple gets a moderate cut (only about a third of what you pay), the record label still gets the lion's share, and there's even less of a smaller pie left for the artist. Apple benefits - they don't pay the costs associated with producing the music, their cut is enough to maintain the fairly high bandwidth and server costs to keep the service running and turn a small profit, all while selling more iPods. The record label benefits - they get less money, but still more than half the cost, and it costs them pretty much _nothing_ once they've handed over the digital music to Apple. Plus, a lot of people that buy iTunes music would have pirated otherwise, not paid for a full price CD. The artist, as always, gets screwed - artists have made *some* progress in increasing their share of CD sales, but when it was time to renegotiate to include iTunes sales, the record labels already owned existing artists' music, so it wasn't like the artists could back out and look for a better deal on the digital front.

Piracy is, in most people's opinions, the best option even before price is considered - much more convenient than going to a store or waiting for a CD to get mailed to you, wider selection and no DRM compared to iTMS and similar services... From right at home and in practically no time, one can acquire almost any piece of music and be listening to it, right from just about any internet-capable computer. Factor in free vs. rather overpriced, and it's pretty obvious why piracy is so popular.

So how can we support our favourite artists? For those who tour, the best method is probably to go to live concerts. Artists tend to get a bigger cut from tours than from CD sales, and going to shows gives you an experience you _can't_ replace with a better alternative for free. Put aside all the money you would have used to buy CDs and go to shows instead.

The only big problem left before the music industry can evolve to a more artist-centric process is the prohibitive cost of studio time / recording equipment. The digital age means that any artist can cheaply and easily distribute his/her music, once recorded, but most fledgling artists can't afford to record on good equipment. The one useful function (at least from a market perspective) record labels still serve is to select which artists get time in the expensive studios; there's not enough high-fi sound equipment for every high school garage band to record an album, and currently the labels are the deciding factor in who gets to record and who doesn't. There could certainly be better systems to decide this, but none are in place right now on a wide scale.

Ummm, no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15537487)

The label doesn't take "most" of this. You have conveniently forgotten about the distributor, who the labels sell CDs too. Are you so naive to think that the distributor moves these CDs for free? And wha about the retailer? Remember him? Is you stupidity so profound that you are under the misguided belief that Cats/Coconuts/whoever collects the $15-20 and dutifully turns it all over to the label?

It's quite obvious you have NO understanding of typical business arrangements.

Getting the shaft? (1)

Bryant68 (978283) | about 8 years ago | (#15537415)

You mean like... taking shaft, right?

This just highlights existing problems (3, Insightful)

weedenbc (719416) | about 8 years ago | (#15537425)

If you RTFA Apple is not screwing the artist. They are taking a fairly reasonable share (around 30%), most of which goes to pay for infrastructure, bandwidth, etc. The record labels are taking 65% to pay for advances, marketing, and other "fees". The artist ends up with around 5%.

This is a completely fucked up model. And what is sad is that the record labels have been doing this to artists for DECADES. Why is the only person in the loop that has creativity/talent/unique ability getting 5% of the money while all of the suits, lawyers, and management are sucking up 65%? I can understand some cost in production, but with modern technology you can do it for a few grand in software and hardware in your home.

iTunes/Apple is not the problem. The are just bringing to light the awful business practices of the record labels and the way they treat their slave labor....I mean artists.

Weird Al, an Artist? (0)

joe_bob222 (817341) | about 8 years ago | (#15537434)

Does anyone else find this a little ironic that Weird Al has made so much off other people's popularity for so long and now he complains because there isn't as much money for himself. I know the industry is changing and artists might be losing money by only making a few good songs on an album. That's the artists problem now. Consumers demand more now that we have choice. If Weird Al didn't make gimmicky music he wouldn't have this problem.

Re:Weird Al, an Artist? (4, Insightful)

EvanED (569694) | about 8 years ago | (#15537491)

Would you RTFA?

Al's not really complaining. Someone asked him what medium gets him the most money, and here's what he had to say:

"I am extremely grateful for your support, no matter which format you choose to legally obtain my music in, so you should do whatever makes the most sense for you personally. But since you ASKED... I actually do get significantly more money from CD sales, as opposed to downloads. This is the one thing about my renegotiated record contract that never made much sense to me. It costs the label NOTHING for somebody to download an album (no manufacturing costs, shipping, or really any overhead of any kind) and yet the artist (me) winds up making less from it. Go figure."


He's a little sarcastic about it, but that IMO doesn't come close to "complaining".

Creative Accounting (2, Interesting)

crmartin (98227) | about 8 years ago | (#15537449)

Are all artists getting the shaft like this?

Probably. Record companies are notorious for being creative in the way they account for sales. Googling "records royalties lawsuit" [google.com] will give you an idea of how often.

Message to Weird Al (1)

Arthur B. (806360) | about 8 years ago | (#15537461)

Tell me how much you make on a CD, I'll double it up, send it to you and feel free to download the songs on the net.

Weird Al is a nice guy... (4, Interesting)

tfurrows (541222) | about 8 years ago | (#15537464)

I must say that from my own personal experience, Weird Al is a nice guy willing to watch out for his fans... I wrote him a letter once (when CD's were the rage) and asked him where I could purchase his albums, stating that I had a hard time finding them in local shops. He responded (or his lackeys, whatever- they refelct his attitude IMHO) thanking me for being a fan and shipped me ALL of his albums for free.

Some rare fan treatment if you ask me. Now, it may be that he makes much less on iTunes sales, but I'm sure he's not hurting- hopefully he remembers his bill-paying fans that make him what he is.

Steve Vai said the same thing a couple of years ag (4, Interesting)

melted (227442) | about 8 years ago | (#15537492)

Steve Vai said the same thing a couple of years ago: http://www.vai.com/AllAboutSteve/postcard_040220.h tml [vai.com]

Here's an excerpt about iTunes in particular:

For instance, If you go to Itunes and download a song for $.99, Apple retains about $.34 and the label receives about $.65. Labels then calculate a royalty base price to apply to the artists deal points. Following are some of the deductions:

        a. A packaging fee (container cost) of up to, and sometimes more than, 25%. That's 25% of retail which is $.99 equaling about $.25 (by the way, there is no packaging on a digital download).

        b. A 15% deduction for free goods. That's an additional $.15 or so. (There is usually no free goods with digital downloads unless someone is ripping it from the net.
        That leaves a royalty base price of close to $.60 per track that the artists royalty is calculated against. If an artist receives 15 points in their deal (and remember, that's a very good deal) then he is entitled to aprox. $.09 a track. This is then cut in half because of the "new technology clause" that is incorporated into most deals. The artists royalty is then calced out at $.04-.05 a download and from that, 100% of it is withheld by the label to go towards recoupment of any advances to make the record, advances in general, tour support, radio promotion and other things in some cases. Most managers and producers are paid from record one and are paid regardless of the expenses, leaving the artists with even more of a recoupment burden before they start to see any income.

IOW, freakin' artist needs to be extremely lucky to see ANY of the money, ever, despite the fact that it's his work being sold. OTOH he may be able repay his debt to the label - this is something they won't be able to do if their stuff is sold through allofmp3.com.

Take a minute (2, Interesting)

Sentri (910293) | about 8 years ago | (#15537503)

Before we start abusing Weird Al about his supposed complaints about not getting enough money, read what he said and realise he wasnt money grubbing. Before we start abusing iTunes about stealing too much of Weird Al's Money, lets accept that they are providing a service that they set the price for As for the Recording people, abuse away, they seem to be the main problem here. But again, that is perhaps not the best way. More investigation is needed and should be allowed to happen instead of randomly firing off abuse at any of the involved parties. From reading this article and some of the other /.'ers comments I think the problem can be boiled down to this: The recording companies are treating all income for a certain album as a single income stream that can be used against all of the costs for all of that album's various activities including but not limited to CD art and CD creation, promotion and recording. This may or may be unfair depending on your point of view. I think legally it makes sense, but it might feel like you are getting ripped off

Weird Al (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15537513)

"Weird Al could be losing up to 85% of his record sales income."

What's 85% of 0%?

Why don't the artists take things into their own.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15537523)

hands?

You have naptser, ITunes, MusicNow, etc, etc. Honestly, you don't need the recording studios anymore, unless you plan on putting out physical media.

Setup your contract only on the CD side of things. For the online content, make the stuff yourself, setup a deal with ITunes, etc... and get paid your cut of the profits. If Apple's cut is around 30% now, maybe the "independants" could do a 40%/60% deal, where apple gets 40% but the extra 10% accounts for "ads" on ITunes showcasing their songs, or used in the apple commercials (since that did seem to help jet and the other bands), etc. The guy behind the song still get a nice 60% cut.

There seems to be so many other good options than dealing with the beasts of old. Maybe someone should start and independant "producer/studio/promotor" and cut the artists a better deal. One with less restrictive licensing and that don't go after 11 yr olds or old ladies wearing diapers.

so let me get this straight... (1)

jt418-93 (450715) | about 8 years ago | (#15537527)

record companies are still ripping off the artist? wow, in related news, the sun came up today.

which is why any artist with a small clue is selling thier own product online. weird al is mainstream enough he should be moving cd's from his website and put them on itunes himself.

duh.

i feel no sympathy for any artist that continues to bend over and offer the record companies a running start.

if i can do it with my crappy music, anyone can.
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