Do Songwriters Deserve A Cut Of Yahoo Search Revenue?

from the highway-robbery dept

You may recall a couple weeks ago that a judge set new rates to be paid to ASCAP by AOL, Yahoo and RealNetworks. ASCAP represents the songwriters, and those three companies and ASCAP could not agree on licensing terms for music streamed online. While ASCAP ran around touting the (somewhat made up) $100 million owed, there was plenty more in the decision that deserved discussion. At last week's San Francisco Music Tech Summit, I got into an interesting discussion with a few folks who had read through the 153 page decision thoroughly, and noticed a variety of problems. You can read the whole decision (pdf) yourself, if you want, but there are a few key points that are extremely disturbing, and could spell a lot of trouble. Basically, there's a meaningless "formula" that's applied to a very large segment of these companies' revenue, taking a huge chunk of money that seems beyond reasonable.

The judge seems to consider what AOL and Yahoo do somewhat equivalent to the way TV stations use music, and refers back to the rate agreements set up with various TV networks, despite vast differences in the way these websites operate. It suggests a misunderstanding between the difference between broadcast and interactive content. But what's really troublesome, is when you look at the overall formula for how the royalties are set. It clearly overvalues the music, and undervalues just about every other part of these three companies' businesses. The formula is, basically, the total revenue made by any business unit (minus a few specific costs) multiplied by a bizarre fraction (called the music-adjustment fraction): total number of hours that music is streamed, divided by total number of hours used on the website. Then, you take the result of that and multiply it by the "rate fee" of 2.5%.

This formula is applied to revenue coming in from any business unit that is considered to have used music. This includes things like Yahoo's search engine. That's because Yahoo (smartly, from a consumer perspective) allowed users who searched on a musician or song to stream that song directly from the search results. But, in making that so user friendly, the company has now opened up its cash cow search revenue to this formula, despite the fact that it's incredibly difficult to think that music has anything to do with nearly all of the revenue Yahoo makes from this site. Similarly, RealNetworks has almost its entire consumer division revenue included in this formula, despite the fact that it makes a ton of revenue from its gaming business. Wondering why RealNetworks decided to spin off the gaming business a week after this decision was announced? Maybe because a rate court judge just chopped off a huge chunk of revenue from it and handed it over to songwriters who have nothing to do with these games.

As for the formula itself, it makes little sense. The "music-adjustment fraction" is a totally meaningless number. The number of hours music is streamed is hardly an indicator of how much of a site's revenue is actually music based. If I have music streaming in the background all day, but am still using the site for other purposes, it seems ridiculous to include all of that as music-based revenue. The denominator of the fraction is "total number of hours on the website" which is also a totally meaningless and unrelated number. Even worse, since the court notes that none of these sites actually track that information, the judge ruled that everyone should just use Comscore's numbers instead -- the same Comscore that most people admit is not particularly accurate. So, basically, you're dividing a meaningless number by an even more meaningless number and multiplying it by the total revenue of units who often have very little to do with music, and then taking 2.5% of that. If anything, this ruling should make any site think twice before including any streaming audio from any ASCAP-affiliated songwriters.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    John, May 13th, 2008 @ 10:56am

    Judges are techno-idiots

    Most judges are old and out of touch with the reality of todays technological soceity. It scares me and should scare any sane person that ignorant people are deciding the future of a technological soceity.

     

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    some old guy, May 13th, 2008 @ 11:10am

    of course not

    of course they don't deserve a cut, they don't deserve a cut of anything. The fact that they do continue to get a cut long after they complete the job is fucking ridiculous.

     

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    Tony, May 13th, 2008 @ 11:23am

    Holy shenanigans batman!

    That's just amazing! I want somebody to be forced to give me money I don't deserve. Sounds like a great way to make a living.

     

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    Alimas, May 13th, 2008 @ 11:40am

    Wow

    When I fix computers, maybe I should be charging for all the time the computer spends working properly after I'm done with it. Send them a monthly bill.

     

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    Appreciative, May 13th, 2008 @ 11:47am

    Parasites

    I never ceases to amaze me that comments such as these are no doubt posted by those who can't think, much less think creatively.
    I for one am appreciative of the joy and texture that music adds to my life and don't mind paying for it.

    It's those who never wrote, painted or created anything from whole cloth that display their dismal
    under-appreciation of the "blood, sweat, toil and tears" that go into the search for just the right note, the perfect turn of phrase, or the most eloquent brush stroke...

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2008 @ 11:47am

    Re: Wow

    Oh man, that'd be great -- I'd never need (or get) another call again!

     

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    Drax, May 13th, 2008 @ 11:48am

    Wal-Mart Owes Me.

    I wrote a song today. I stood out front of Wal-Mart and sang, and sang, and sang.

    By the reasoning found here, I believe Wal-Mart owes me a substantial chunk of all sales while I was outside singing because it's totally okay to just assume those profits had even the slightest bit to do with the fact that I was outside singing.

    Kinda like those shitty artists really have very little (wait, let me rephrase, NOTHING to do) with the money being generated by a bloody search engine.

    It's a dice roll with these judges man. Either they don't have the slightest idea what the hell is going on or they're tech savvy, but it's usually the former. We should just have Tandy's installed in all of their offices. If they notice within the first two minutes they can keep their gavel.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2008 @ 11:50am

    Re: Parasites

    Oh, I'm quite happy to pay for music. Once. Same with art: I pay for a painting at one time, and do NOT continue paying for it each moment I continue to enjoy it. Yes, not everyone is an artist, and their work has value, but the systems set up for compensating them are ridiculous. Not everyone can fix a computer when the hardware fails, but I still only charge an hourly wage.

     

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    del harris, May 13th, 2008 @ 12:35pm

    ascap post

    just wondering: is there EVER a time when you might agree that content creators deserve a cut? ever? your point of view is so predictable. sometimes, you're right. other times, however, you're way out to sea

     

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    Nobody, May 13th, 2008 @ 1:09pm

    Another Point Of View

    So, when are they going to start changing all the other fees associated with music and other companies profits?

    According to this formula:

    If a song is used during an a television advertisement, then the artist should be compensated with fees from every sale of every product the company running the Ad makes as long as that Ad runs, plus money from the actual broadcast show, since they made money selling the time slot for the commercial, plus money from the production company that made the show since...

    My brain hurts!

     

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    Paco, May 13th, 2008 @ 1:19pm

    Re: ascap post

    The issue is not if they deserve a cut but if that cut is fair to both the consumer and the artist. I am all for paying for music but streaming audio is a different realm than radio or TV. I would just stop stop streaming ASCAP artists if I had to pay like that. What about the streaming songs that are not ASCAP artists? They count overall streaming so they are getting paid for nothing during those times.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2008 @ 1:22pm

    I think YOU'RE the parasite

    Do you pay Robert Moog every time you write a song that uses a synthesizer? Does he make royalties every time a song is played that uses a synthesizer?

    A songwriter should be paid a fee. You want more money? Charge more money then.

    If you're talented enough to write an amazing piece of work then guess what....you'll be in demand to write more and you can charge more for your work. Just like the rest of the world.

     

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    Killer_Tofu (profile), May 13th, 2008 @ 1:35pm

    Watch out poster #12

    Logic doesn't work on creators like those.
    They have been brainwashed by the companies that license out their stuff.

     

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  14.  
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    Muffin Man, May 13th, 2008 @ 2:08pm

    ASCAP is in my ass

    I'm a small-business owner and ASCAP is up my butt about royalties. Since I play the radio, ASCAP has decided I owe them $900 per year. Never mind that the radio station has already payed them. And the radio may play artists not represented by ASCAP, so I have to pay those agencies, too. Just in case.
    I feel bad for the honest musicians represented by these un-holy dickwads.

     

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    Earl, May 13th, 2008 @ 3:00pm

    What if all radio stations decided to do talk radio so they dont have to pay ASCAP fees. Then ASCAP would be begging them to play the music for free so that people hear the music and want to buy the CD

     

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    sonofdot, May 13th, 2008 @ 3:09pm

    Re: Parasites

    Ah, another ad hominem attack from someone who believes they can think, but the rest of us can't, simply because you took a guitar lesson once. Most of us only under-appreciate the absolute crap that's passed off as "just the right note, the perfect turn of phrase, or the most eloquent brush stroke." I guess we'll give you a discount for your poor punctuation and grammar, since you are such an "thinker."

    I'm all for paying artist for what they do. But as was pointed out, the "formula" used in this case so grossly overvalues the music that it's nearly comical. Artists deserve to get paid for their work, but they don't deserve to get paid absurd amounts, for absurd lengths of time, for every tiny snippet of their product.

    For those of us in IT, I agree, it's time we start charging all musicians, songwriters, lyricists, publishers, producers, writers and everyone else in the copyright racket for each and every time they attempt to use a computer or software. And we should charge them for simply having the computer continue to work. "That repair will be $45, plus another $1 for every hour it continues to work after that, until 75 years after my death." Then we'll see who shouts "You're all parasites!" the loudest.

     

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    Appreciative, May 13th, 2008 @ 4:55pm

    Re: Re: Parasites

    "ad hominem"? I'm sure I've heard that somewhere. So very familiar...

    Oh Yes! Ralph Kramden and the oft spouted "Ad hominem, ad hominem"

    Bus drivers & IT guys. Birds of a feather.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2008 @ 5:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Parasites

    Songwriters and Welfare Queens....birds of a feather....

     

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    Rose M. Welch, May 13th, 2008 @ 6:09pm

    Re: Parasites

    The blood, sweat, tears and toil needs to decide what it's worth. It's either worth the royalties promised for albums and downloads, or it's worth an imaginary ever-changing number. You can't tell me that it's worth 99 cents on Amazon, where it's mine forever to play as often as I like, but it's magically worth more when it streams over the Internet once.

    And exactly how much of that money do you think is going to the artists?

    Personally, I don't feel like someone creating music is anymore productive than someone who say, creates web site designs, or jewelry designs. How about someone who 'creates' clean dishes after you use them at a restaurant?

    How about someone who 'creates' hot dogs at a Bar-S factory? Should they get a royalty when you enjoy a hot dog? Should everyone attending a barbecue pay a tax? How about someone who drives by and smells the hot dogs? Do they owe a tax, also? Or if the next door neighbor's kid snitches one from you. Should you pay even more money because you made that hot dog available to steal?

    Roflmao, as an audiophile, I love music. I pay more for music each month than I do for gas and I drive a frickin' mini-van. But some of the things these companies do 'for the artists' are despicable and should be ridiculed as such.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2008 @ 8:15pm

    I've been in the need for some money of late. Maybe I should write some songs.

     

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    Tee, May 14th, 2008 @ 2:33am

    From a real songwriter.

    Songwriting is an art, not a tech job. Artist should be compensated for their work proportionate to it's sales and play. If a business is using a song, or songs, to bring in customers, the person(s) are entitled to some form of compensation.

    With that said, I don't see how any artist deserve a cut from a search engine. That search engine isn't streaming any music. So, how is that adversely effecting my income? If anything, it seems like it would help because if someone is looking for my music, the search engine would bring them to it quicker.

     

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  22.  
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    Tee, May 14th, 2008 @ 3:49am

    From a real songwriter Pt.2

    You guys are right on some points, but on others, you just don't understand. Here's where you're wrong:

    1. -"Wow by Alimas on May 13th, 2008 @ 11:40am

    When I fix computers, maybe I should be charging for all the time the computer spends working properly after I'm done with it."

    Wrong: You didn't create that computer, the operating system or anything on it. You fixed something that was broken. Nothing more.

    2. -Wal-Mart Owes Me. by Drax on May 13th, 2008 @ 11:48am

    "I wrote a song today. I stood out front of Wal-Mart and sang, and sang, and sang.

    By the reasoning found here, I believe Wal-Mart owes me a substantial chunk of all sales while I was outside singing because it's totally okay to just assume those profits had even the slightest bit to do with the fact that I was outside singing."

    Alimas, if your song brought customers to the store who would otherwise not have come, you would be entitled to compensation. Because, in this case, there is no true way to find out who is there and why, a flat fee for the day would be more appropriate. This would be agreed upon before you start your "performance." That is usually how it's done.

    4. -Re: Parasites by Anonymous Coward on May 13th, 2008 @ 11:50am

    "Oh, I'm quite happy to pay for music. Once. Same with art: I pay for a painting at one time, and do NOT continue paying for it each moment I continue to enjoy it..."

    Art is different. You pay for it and hang on your wall. It's the same as music that you buy for your own personal use. Once you buy it, you're not making money from it. You are just enjoying it.Broadcasters, whether they are on the web or over the air, derive revenue from the advertisements they sell time to because of the traffic (or listeners) that are generated from the music. If it were not for the music, they would have no demographic to sell time to the advertisers.


    5. - Re: Parasites by Rose M. Welch on May 13th, 2008 @ 6:09pm

    "How about someone who 'creates' hot dogs at a Bar-S factory? Should they get a royalty when you enjoy a hot dog?"

    No. That worker didn't "create" anything in the same sense of the word we are talking about here. He or she simply followed his or her employer's direction. However, that hot dog is branded. It is created by the company, "Bar-S." That means no one may make any money off of that brand name unless they have permission from the company. Which, for the most part is a lot stricter than the copyright laws governing music.
    If I wanted to remake an existing song there isn't much the copywrite holder can do to stop me. All I have to do is make sure that person(s) gets his or her royalties.
    Now, try that with with a Bar-S hot dog. In other words, take their recipe, add your own twist, then try to sell it as a new style of Bar-S hot dog without the company's permission. Betcha' they sue the "S" off of you "Bar" quick, fast and in a hurry.

    6.- I think YOU'RE the parasite by Anonymous Coward on May 13th, 2008 @ 1:22pm

    "Do you pay Robert Moog every time you write a song that uses a synthesizer? Does he make royalties every time a song is played that uses a synthesizer?"

    Robert Moog created a piece of hardware, like Dell creates a brand of PC. However, he gets a share of anything bearing the "Moog" name.

    "A songwriter should be paid a fee. You want more money? Charge more money then."

    If no one really knows what song is going to be a million seller and which one will flop, how do you come up with an appropriate fee? Do you just pay everyone a couple mill and hope for the best? Or, does everyone get a grand or two just for trying. Talk about affirmative action gone wrong ...lol

    Also, what if sometime down the road another artist does a remake and the song becomes popular all over again? That artist and his record company get's millions. Should the person who wrote song get something? Or, what if the song is used in a commercial to help sell millions of shoes or iPods, or whatever? In this scenario, by your reasoning, everyone involved with the song except the songwriter(the person who created the song) makes huge amounts of money from it's exploitation. The artist gets paid for his performance, the record company gets paid because they own half(or more) of the publishing rights, and the shoe company (or whatever) makes money from the additional sales of their product because it been paired with that "hot" new song. How is it fair that the person who actually, literally created the work from thin air, get nothing from this transaction?

    "If you're talented enough to write an amazing piece of work then guess what....you'll be in demand to write more and you can charge more for your work. Just like the rest of the world."

    You're right on that. And for the most part, thats how it works. If you get a hit record you can command bigger advances and percentages from future projects. Except, the advances are just that: advances. Money that is given to you against any potential profits. Think of it as a pay day advance. Except, if the song flops, you don't have to pay it back. So, hopefully that advance was a big one. Because, your career is more than likely, officially over.


    Hopefully, I've cleared up some misconceptions of how and why songwriters get compensated the way we do.

     

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    jl, May 14th, 2008 @ 10:01am

    Songwriters Deserve a cut

    Do you get paid for everything you get published? It's their property - if someone wants to use it, they should be getting permission & compensating the creator of the composition - 'nuff said.... No one else works for free- why should the songwriter?

     

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    Rose M. Welch, May 14th, 2008 @ 2:32pm

    When I create a web design, I do so with no compensation. I display it in the hopes that someone will like it and buy it. Generally, the prospective buyer wants changes made, just as producers wants changes made. Once the buyer buys it, it is theirs. Sometimes they use it to create a website that ends up generating zero revenue. Too bad for them, just like it's too bad for the producers that produce music that doesn't sell, even though they've already paid the songwriter and the vocalists.

    They might, however, use my creation to make a website that makes a million bucks. If they do, I can't ask for a larger fee than the one I already quoted and accepted.

    Songwriters, producers, and vocalists shouldn't either. No one is saying that they shouldn't be paid. Just that they shouldn't be paid over and over and over again, and demand more money everytime someone listens to what they made, just as I cannot demand a fee everyone someone uses a website that I have created.

    Although the Techdirt people get my two cents everytime I use thier website, roflmao.

     

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  25.  
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    Tee, May 14th, 2008 @ 3:02pm

    Think about this...

    by Rose M. Welch on May 14th, 2008 @ 2:32pm

    "When I create a web design, I do so with no compensation. I display it in the hopes that someone will like it and buy it. Generally, the prospective buyer wants changes made, just as producers wants changes made. Once the buyer buys it, it is theirs. Sometimes they use it to create a website that ends up generating zero revenue. Too bad for them, just like it's too bad for the producers that produce music that doesn't sell, even though they've already paid the songwriter and the vocalists.

    They might, however, use my creation to make a website that makes a million bucks. If they do, I can't ask for a larger fee than the one I already quoted and accepted.

    Songwriters, producers, and vocalists shouldn't either. No one is saying that they shouldn't be paid. Just that they shouldn't be paid over and over and over again, and demand more money everytime someone listens to what they made, just as I cannot demand a fee everyone someone uses a website that I have created."

    One thing you're not realizing is that a website is a tool. It's something that sells content or provides some sort of service. Most people don't spend their money at a website because it's nicely designed. They do so because of the products or services that site offers. Even sites that don't sell anything to it users aren't popular because of there design. They work because of the service they provide. The site is just the tool to deliver the service. A good example of this is Myspace. It really had (and in a lot of ways still does have) poor, buggy design. But, we all know how popular it has become. Why, because it delivered a service. The page was just a method for that delivery.

    As long as a company or artist is deriving income from a song, then so should the songwriter. J.K. Rowllings(sp) gets money from everything Harry Potter. She created the character. Every movie, book, or piece of merchandise that is sold with the Harry Potter brand puts money in her pocket. Why should it be any different for a songwriter?

    Also, producers and vocalist get paid up front and are only compensated for the version of the song they worked on. Keep in mind, producers, vocalist, and musicians get paid whether the song sells or not. The songwriter is generally the last to get paid and if the song flops, he or she will not receive much at all.

    I've known of people who've had hit records but were still poor because they hadn't received their first royalty check. If you owe the bank money, you have to pay extra for the time it takes you pay that money in full. It's called interest and it's fair. Thats part of the reason we are compensated in the way that we are.

     

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    Tee, May 14th, 2008 @ 3:16pm

    A previous post that should be re-read.

    This was originally posted in Feb. But it applies here.

    Songwriting is all I do. No day job, no school, just writing songs. I wake up, I get clean, I eat and then I get to work. Some songs almost feel like they write themselves. Some are like pulling teeth. But, they require real work and a passion to do that work. And this work is done 9 - 12 hours a day. Every day.

    One must be talented to do this work. It's not something you can go to school to learn. You are born with it or you're not. It's just that simple. Couple that with all the years of sacrifice we put into our craft to actually turn our natural talents into a honed skill, and you have something that should be compensated for. And our compensation should be handsome.

    Without us, there literally would be no music. Of course there are artist who can write for themselves. But most cannot. As a matter of fact, a lot of artists who you think are writing their own material, aren't. They have ghost writers. And those ghost writers are paid well because they are giving up the rights to their compositions. If I'm going to be paid a one time fee for my work, it's going to have to be in the six figures per song. Which, if one thinks about it, isn't a lot. Some writers only have one or two good songs in them. So, if a songwriter gets one hit and that brings he or she $100,000, but that person has been writing for 10 years and never has another hit, that writer has really only made around $10,000 a year. Less after taxes.

    Contrast that with the artist that records that song who will continue to make money from it through touring and what not. Why would I except some measly one time fee, while the person who didn't write it continues to make money as long as they are able to perform it? In other words, the artist makes a living, but the writers starves. I don't think so.

    Writing songs isn't writing code or assembling a car. I'm not trying to down anyones job or abilities. But, if one goes to school, make decent grades, and is a reasonable hard working person, he or she can get a job and make a nice living. And, can expect to do better as that person gets older and more experienced. As long as one is healthy, the average person can work well into their old age.

    Songwriting is the exact opposite. Some of the best songwriters I've ever known can't get arrested let alone a hit record. These are men and women you may never hear of because they don't "know" the right people. So, if you are lucky enough to get your song(s) covered by a chart topping artist, you have a huge problem; time. As you get older, styles change, and your songs begin to loose their appeal. Your still good, but you begin to sound "dated." A prolific songwriter can expect a span of 10 years in the "game." Maybe less.

    Songwriters step out on a wing and a prayer. We take a huge chance with our lives while everyone else takes the "safe route." No health insurance, no 401k matching funds, no severance pay or unemployment "net" should things not work out. That's why we get royalties. That's our retirement plan. So, to all those saying we should get a one time payment for our work, I say to you; quit your job and leave your security blanket behind. Step out on faith and struggle for a few years for no other reason than believing in your talent. No school, no day job, no back up plan. Do that for 5 years. Be a real artist for 5 years. Then, come back and we'll have this conversation.

    See, this is what's wrong with the music biz. Too many people who, are not artist and don't understand or respect the art of making music run the industry. Just a thought.

     

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    Rose M. Welch, May 14th, 2008 @ 4:16pm

    Factually wrong makes your argument wrong.

    If your facts were correct, your argument would hold alot of weight. But they're not.

    Warner Bros. holds the copyright to anything having to do with with movie versions of Harry Potter, including merchandise. Other comapnies, including her publisher, own rights to different parts of the HP empire. On most of those items, J.K. Rowling got paid just as I do, one time. One big check and nothing ever again. With the books, she received one paycheck to cover expected royalties and she only gets paid more if the books sell more than the anticipated royalties. So that kind of makes sense. Instead of demanding a flat fee, she's taking a smaller fee and a percentage of future sales. But she does NOT get a portion of everything HP everywhere, just as songwriters shouldn't get a portion of everything everywhere.

    Next, you're saying that we should pay you tons of money because your employer didn't pay you tons of money. Huh? If the compensation isn't high enough, you shouldn't accept the offer. It's not our fault that your employers treat you like crap. If you're so intrical and irreplacable to the music process, then you should be able to demand more money, and get it upfront like the vocalists and bookwriters do. If you're not that important, then you can keep on going the way that you are. Either way, you shouldn't be able to hold people hostage later because of your contribution to the process.

    If you believe that you should get paid as long as your employer does, then you need to make that agreement with your employer and make sure that they pay you and not try to make the public pay you for thier lack. That's just silly. I'm certainly not your employer.

    In addition, no one is using Yahoo! seach engines because they might be able to stream music. They use it because it's a tool, because of the service that Yahoo! provides. So please explain why you deserve their revenue.

     

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    Rose M. Welch, May 14th, 2008 @ 4:24pm

    If you don't like what you get paid...

    ...then demand more. Don't take less than what you're worth and then try to hold the public hostage for it later.

    Furthermore, web design is an art. Jewelry design is an art. Hell, jewelry repair is an art by your standards. So is teaching or public speaking or any type of sport. It all starts with an inner talent that you either do or do not have, and it honed to a fine, marketable skill by education and experience. Writing is the same way, as is event planning and managing groups of people well. And photography and painting and architecture.

    In addition, there are a ton of people who own small businesses like me, who also have no safety net. What I can make and save is my retirement plan. (Or dying young. Either way.) I opened my business on a wing and a prayer. I took a huge chance with my life and I guess now I should wait until one of my clients makes it big with a site I design and then sue the hell out of them for money.

    Oh, I get it. THAT'S the retirement plan I'm supposed to have...

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 14th, 2008 @ 4:27pm

    Beauty......

    Beauty (art) is in the eye of the beholder. Just because you may consider a website a tool doesn't mean everyone does.

    I do in fact consider a beautifully designed website or program a work of art. They take code just as a songwriter takes notes and create with it. The notes and code are the tool, the song and the website are the art.

    Based on the arguments that have been presented....because I like to play devils advocate...couldn't Britney Spears consider her songwriter to be just a tool? If not....why isn't the songwriter out there playing the songs they've written?

     

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  30.  
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    Tee, May 14th, 2008 @ 6:49pm

    My argument must be very heavy indeed ...lol

    Factually wrong makes your argument wrong. by Rose M. Welch on May 14th, 2008 @ 4:16pm

    "If your facts were correct, your argument would hold alot of weight. But they're not.

    Warner Bros. holds the copyright to anything having to do with with movie versions of Harry Potter, including merchandise. Other companies, including her publisher, own rights to different parts of the HP empire. On most of those items, J.K. Rowling got paid just as I do, one time. One big check and nothing ever again. With the books, she received one paycheck to cover expected royalties and she only gets paid more if the books sell more than the anticipated royalties. So that kind of makes sense. Instead of demanding a flat fee, she's taking a smaller fee and a percentage of future sales. But she does NOT get a portion of everything HP everywhere, just as songwriters shouldn't get a portion of everything everywhere."

    You kind of made my argument for me. Here's how; Now, none of us know the exact details of anyone's movie deals. But, I can say Warner Bros. "licensed" the right to be the only movie studio to be able to make HP films. Rowlling still owns the character and receives residuals from those films' profits. The same goes for any merchandising (also known as ancillaries). These companies "license" the rights to use the HP "brand" for their merchandise. Those licenses are also temporary, non transferable and she has the final say over how her characters will be portrayed (WB can take creative liberties but it can't be too drastic). No entertainment lawyer in his or her right mind would allow anything less. Any money she received upfront was an advance in lieu of potential profits. This is the standard industry practice. Anyone saying anything different doesn't know the facts of the business. So, she is, in fact getting a portion of HP everywhere and this will go on for at least 75 years.

    What percentages she receives? I don't know. But I do know how things like this are done. Also, any money she is paid upfront for any of her books is also an advance plus, she still owns the rights to HP. Writers aren't paid once for a novel, then receive nothing more. Thats just not how its done. "She gets paid more only if the books sell more than the expected royalties." Hello, thats what an advance is. Anything past what they expected she gets MORE MONEY. That doesn't exactly sound like a "one time payment" to me. If you have any evidence to the contrary, I would love to see it. I'll admit I'm wrong if I'm shown the facts.

    Your arguing on opinion, but I'm just relaying the facts. If you ever write a successful book, I hope you get a good lawyer to handle your movie deal. Because you'd be "frakked" if you tried to handle it yourself.

     

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  31.  
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    Tee, May 14th, 2008 @ 6:57pm

    The Devil is in the details ...

    Factually wrong makes your argument wrong. by Rose M. Welch on May 14th, 2008 @ 4:16pm

    "In addition, no one is using Yahoo! seach engines because they might be able to stream music. They use it because it's a tool, because of the service that Yahoo! provides. So please explain why you deserve their revenue."

    Quit arguing opinion and use facts. If you'll go back to me original post, you'll see I said the following;

    "With that said, I don't see how any artist deserve a cut from a search engine. That search engine isn't streaming any music. So, how is that adversely effecting my income? If anything, it seems like it would help because if someone is looking for my music, the search engine would bring them to it quicker."

    You're so caught up in being right or wrong, you can't see the points where we may agree.

     

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  32.  
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    Tee, May 14th, 2008 @ 7:32pm

    The difference

    If you don't like what you get paid... by Rose M. Welch on May 14th, 2008 @ 4:24pm

    "...then demand more. Don't take less than what you're worth and then try to hold the public hostage for it later.

    Furthermore, web design is an art. Jewelry design is an art. Hell, jewelry repair is an art by your standards. So is teaching or public speaking or any type of sport. It all starts with an inner talent that you either do or do not have, and it honed to a fine, marketable skill by education and experience. Writing is the same way, as is event planning and managing groups of people well. And photography and painting and architecture."

    You are correct. All of those take talent. However, none of those continue to make profits after the initial sale or agreement is made in the same way songwriting does. In other words, once I "buy" your website design from you, I don't turn around and resell it to millions of other people for them to use. I suspect if that were the case, you'd feel differently than you do now. Let's see, I pay Rose $1000 to design a website. Then I turn around and sell her design for $10 a pop to 100,000, or a million other people. That would work great for me, but I think she'd be a little pissed.

    I think people should take the time to really educate themselves about topics before forming such strong opinions one way or the other. What you don't realize is thats the way it used to be (in the early days of pop music). Songwriters would get paid a flat fee per song and everyone else involved (except them)would get rich. And, no one would pay them much more because the industry as a whole was crooked (still is) and collectively decided they were not going to pay songwriters fairly. Sure, there were rare instances, but for the most part these songwriters got ripped off. If you took the time to study the topic, you would know that.

    What you guys are proposing is just as outlandish as some of the judges' rulings on theses matters. The judges make these faulty rulings because they don't understand the technology. You guys are forming faulty opinions because you don't understand the craft or the business of songwriting. Both groups are the same because both are content to remain ignorant of the specifics of the subject. Thats kind of sad, really.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 15th, 2008 @ 7:18am

    Still confused....

    "Some writers only have one or two good songs in them"

    Then they are not a songwriter. They are an amature who got lucky and they should probably pursue another line of work. If I write one awesome poem in my lifetime I don't declare myself a poet and quit my job.

    "Let's see, I pay Rose $1000 to design a website. Then I turn around and sell her design for $10 a pop to 100,000, or a million other people. That would work great for me, but I think she'd be a little pissed."

    This happens all the time. Do you actually believe these titan sized companies pay their developers royalties, hell...that's if they even employ them. Most of the time it contracted out for a flat fee which usually ends up being one bazillionth of the profits generated from the product.

    Seems like the vast majority of the time people want to be paid forever for one job is when that work actually has no value or function besides entertainment. Harry Potter books aren't curing cancer and Wish You Were Here isn't carrying me to work in the morning.

    The biggest mystery is why don't songwriters perform their own songs?

     

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  34.  
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    Tee, May 15th, 2008 @ 11:05pm

    Starting to see

    Still confused.... by Anonymous Coward on May 15th, 2008 @ 7:18am

    "Some writers only have one or two good songs in them"

    "Then they are not a songwriter. They are an amature who got lucky and they should probably pursue another line of work. If I write one awesome poem in my lifetime I don't declare myself a poet and quit my job."

    No, thats not true. It's not that they got lucky in particular. Although, luck plays a big role in it. Some people spend hours upon days upon years making songs that are very good. They just don't catch the right person's ear or are only popular for one particular "fad" or current "sound." See, when you do finally get a hit record, you have a choice to make; 1. Stay at your current job and not capitalize on all of the offers to write for more artists or 2. run with the ball because you have your foot in the door. You can't do both. The demands of writing more professional quality material in the quantities needed to get that next hit won't allow you to. No matter how good you are, not every song you write will be something that people will want to use. Much of what you do will get rejected. That means you don't get anything for it. Once again, this isn't a tech job when you can schedule your hours of work. You must work when the inspiration is upon you for the best results. With all that said, you may only have one hit in you. Doesn't mean you're not good, just means your stuff isn't what they're looking for. But, you will never know unless you take that chance. Would you take that chance or play it safe?

    "Let's see, I pay Rose $1000 to design a website. Then I turn around and sell her design for $10 a pop to 100,000, or a million other people. That would work great for me, but I think she'd be a little pissed."

    "This happens all the time. Do you actually believe these titan sized companies pay their developers royalties, hell...that's if they even employ them. Most of the time it contracted out for a flat fee which usually ends up being one bazillionth of the profits generated from the product."

    You are still missing the point. Developers are creating "tools" or pieces of a larger application. They aren't creating content. Content is king. But, if someone where to make a website(because that is what Rose does) and someone else resold that very same site, exactly as she made it, over and over again without cutting her in, that would be wrong. If that's the way it is in your industry, then I understand why you feel the way you do.

    You guys think just because you're getting taken for your labor, that everyone else should too. Sorry, the world doesn't work that way. Don't try to bring your fellow man (or woman) down because the industry you choose to be in doesn't compensate you fairly. You get paid once for something you created while someone else make millions from it? And you think that's fair? Keep thinking that way and you will always be the rat, while people, who couldn't care less about you, have the cheese. I'm not trying be mean or put anyone down, I'm just asking that you really think about all sides of the argument.

    "Seems like the vast majority of the time people want to be paid forever for one job is when that work actually has no value or function besides entertainment. Harry Potter books aren't curing cancer and Wish You Were Here isn't carrying me to work in the morning."

    For centuries people have valued art, music and literature. Why? Because the people that can make it, and make it well, are far and few between. Not only that, but whole movements and ways of thought have been started or influenced by books, art, and song. But, for the sake of argument, let's boil it down to a simple pop tune. A song can make a person feel something that he or she didn't know was there or hasn't felt in years. Music can lift someone's mood from depression to happiness then slam them back down again and leave them wanting more. No matter how rock solid or cleanly written, I don't think there has ever been a piece of code that could do that.

     

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  35.  
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    Tee, May 15th, 2008 @ 11:12pm

    Still confused.... by Anonymous Coward on May 15th, 2008 @ 7:18am

    "The biggest mystery is why don't songwriters perform their own songs?"

    Because some songwriters suck at singing or playing an instrument. Songwriting is a different skill than performing. Just like some performers can't write good songs. There are tons of very great musicians who can play anything anytime, perfectly the first try. But, they suck as songwriters. Just cause you can do one, doesn't mean you can do the other. Or, do the other well enough to make a living from it.

    That's why some bands suck after certain members of the group leave. The rest of the guys are still just as good as they always were, but the guy that left, he was the one writing the good songs. They were just playing them.

     

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  36.  
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    Ryan Diederich, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 6:03pm

    MISSED POINT!!!

    Everyone here is missing the entire point. How can you tell me that as a consumer I can buy a song for $1.00, but I cant play it to anyone else? Come one!

    There are several tiers of pay that are being discussed here, and its important to keep them sepparated.

    1. Royalties for play on the radio

    2. Performance fees for play anywhere else

    3. Performance fees for play online

    Each of these tiers of royalties are neccessary in some situations, but really annoying in others.

    If you, the artist (I am addressing every songwriter/content creator who has posted here) create something of value, I will buy it. The entire point of radio is that if I here it, and I like it, I might just buy it.

    Now if I play that radio with my friends, you deserve NO extra fees (as my friends could have just turned on their own radios).

    If I play that radio in a store, you deserve no fees for the same reason.

    If I play that song on TV, you should be lucky that I just put your work in the ears of thousands of potential buyers.

    If people wont buy your stuff when they hear it, and you need to derive your income from invasive and pervasive fees and royalties, maybe you should consider creating better content and giving me an ACTUAL REASON TO BUY.

    Maybe offer a discount to your next concert, a free piece of merchandise, let me into a club that gives me VIP access to info and previews and whatever. Give it a try.

    Royalties and these fees are for artists who dont want to do anything after the fact. I cant just build a store and open the doors and expect money to fall in my lap. Do whats expected of you and every working, investing, business-running person out there; get to WORK!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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