Steve Albini Explains Why Royalties Don't Make Sense

from the get-paid-for-your-work dept

Beyond being a world famous musician, engineer, producer and journalist, Steve Albini has long been pretty outspoken about the music business itself -- and while I don't always agree with him, I appreciate that he speaks his mind and often presents his arguments in ways that make me think and reconsider some of my own positions. herodotus points us to the news of some comments Albini recently made at a conference about the music business, with a great quote about the focus of so many on royalties:
"Royalties are a means to pay producers in the future -- and in perpetuity -- based on record sales," said Albini, who is also a music journalist. "If a band does a show, blows a whole bunch of minds and a bunch of people become fans and go out and buy millions of records, the producer gets paid. I think that's ethically unsustainable.

"I don't think you should pay a doctor extra because a patient doesn't die. I think the doctor should be busting his ass for every patient. I don't think I should get paid for someone else's success."
I'm guessing that we'll get a fair amount of disagreement in the comments, but I think it's a point worth considering. So many creative industries get really hung up on royalties and collective licensing and other aspects -- when those are basically lottery tickets, relying very much on what other people do, not on the work you actually do. And it leads to this entitlement mentality that we see all the time, where certain content creators feel they need to get paid every time their content is used -- even if they didn't do any additional work on it. This is what all the ongoing legal battles about collective licensing and royalty rates are about. This is what the Hollywood writers' strike from a few years ago were about. They're ongoing attempts to keep getting paid over and over again for one thing you did in the past. Most jobs don't work that way -- and that's the point that Albini is making.

Now, some will argue, of course, that the entertainment industry is "different," because it involves more speculation: no one knows if the content you create will be a hit, so the concept of royalties is a way to deal with that. But that assumes a rather static market, and pays little attention to the entitlement mentality that it creates. If you have a hit, charge more for future work -- rather than focusing so much on getting paid over and over and over again just for that one piece of work you did in the past.


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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Mar 18th, 2010 @ 12:01pm

    Good luck selling this

    I know people in *AA industries, and they view royalties as potential bonuses. (Potential b/c it's unlikely to be noteworthy, but they may just hit that lottery show...)

    I've despaired of trying to convince these people that they're better off getting a little more upfront. Probably because Vancouver/New Zealand/etc. are giving "Hollywood" a run for their money. Nebulous royalties are the ultimate carrot.

     

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    Ima Fish (profile), Mar 18th, 2010 @ 12:11pm

    "If a band does a show, blows a whole bunch of minds and a bunch of people become fans and go out and buy millions of records, the producer gets paid. I think that's ethically unsustainable."

    What if millions of people are blown away because of the awesome production of a band's CD and go out and buy millions of tickets to the band's live shows. The producer doesn't get paid a bit from those ticket sales. Is that ethically sustainable?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2010 @ 12:14pm

    royalties are no different from a company making money in the future for selling a product. rather than paying the full cost up front they are able to pay the developers a percentage and thus avoid high up front costs. it is a very functional way to get people to work towards a good and sellable product with motivation to do a good job because their pay depends on it.

     

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    crade (profile), Mar 18th, 2010 @ 12:16pm

    I see royalties more like the stock market than the lottery. The "rights holders" trade them around kinda like stocks and hope to make a buck of em.

     

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    pixelm, Mar 18th, 2010 @ 12:29pm

    Huh!

    The issue is what musicians have the RIGHT to do and what Only in IP do people think that if they don't like the business model, they can steal it. Both models work and are fine. It's just like software: there's open source software and proprietary software and both models make sense and compete. if a musician would prefer to make less up front and only get paid if the public loves the music . . . that's great. And if a musician prefers to take less risk and get paid up front . . . that's great, too. Both models can coexist - the problem I have is when people say "let me take the content for free because I don't like the business model" - it's no different than stealing a car because you think BMW is charging too much.

     

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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Mar 18th, 2010 @ 12:34pm

    Re: Huh!

    Ah, trolling. Either you've never been here or you're firing off comments in the hope of inciting replies.
    Well, I've replied. Now kindly go look up the difference between "physical" and "virtual" before commenting again.

     

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    Tom Anderson, Mar 18th, 2010 @ 12:38pm

    Re:

    Also, how about this question:

    What if an ad agency's ad is used to start advertising the CD and/or concert, and this dramatically boosts sales?

     

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    AC, Mar 18th, 2010 @ 12:39pm

    i disagree

    pimpin' ain't easy.
    the **AA gotta get paid.

     

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    RobTheBold, Mar 18th, 2010 @ 12:42pm

    Re: "Awesome Production"

    What if millions of people are blown away because of the awesome production of a band's CD and go out and buy millions of tickets to the band's live shows.

    The first thing that crossed my mind was that it seems pretty unlikely that a well-produced album (I know, "LP" made that term obsolete) would translate into ticket and t-shirt sales. The production/packaging/engineering/etc. should be invisible (inaudible?) for the most part. Only bad production should be noticeable , right?

    And then I thought of pop music, and auto-tune and DSP and digital editing and companding . . . And I thought, maybe you're right. Maybe a band could be so well produced that what sounds like crap on the studio monitor comes out a glorious polished turd of a record. And millions of people buy tickets to a completely unlistenable -- or lip sync'ed -- concert.

    In that case, I suppose you would be right. And it wouldn't be sustainable: ethically, practically or any way

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 18th, 2010 @ 12:55pm

    Re: Huh!

    Pixelm, odd that you would be here today. I would think that you would be having a busy morning. Or were you looking for my most recent post instead? :)

    The issue is what musicians have the RIGHT to do and what Only in IP do people think that if they don't like the business model, they can steal it.

    You and I have had this discussion, and you know, quite well I should add, that infringement is not stealing. As someone intimately familiar with the issues, I find it odd that you would make this argument.

    Both models work and are fine.

    But are they sustainable? Hence the question in the post.

    And if a musician prefers to take less risk and get paid up front . . . that's great, too. Both models can coexist - the problem I have is when people say "let me take the content for free because I don't like the business model" - it's no different than stealing a car because you think BMW is charging too much.

    But can they really coexist over the long haul? That's the question that's being asked.

    And, you know damn well that the situations being discussed are entirely different. Stealing a car means one less car.

    What if, instead, you could easily make a copy of a car? What's your position then?

     

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    Ima Fish (profile), Mar 18th, 2010 @ 1:11pm

    Re: Re: "Awesome Production"

    "And then I thought of pop music, and auto-tune and DSP and digital editing and companding . . . "

    Thanks for explaining my comment better than I did. I was thinking about those boy bands from the 90s, any blonde female singer who had hits prior to reaching the age of 18, and any "musician" signed to Disney's label.

     

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    jdub (profile), Mar 18th, 2010 @ 1:13pm

    Re: Huh!

    it's no different than stealing a car because you think BMW is charging too much.

    BMW's are getting stolen cause they charge to much. What exactly is your argument.

     

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    Tom The Toe, Mar 18th, 2010 @ 1:50pm

    A great producer needs no royalities

    Take for instance one of the greatest producers of all time, Tom Dowd. He produced Ray Charles, all the Van Zant brothers, Derek and the Dominoes,Charlie Parker, J. Geils, The Allman Bros., the list goes on and on. He worked for a salary, he called it a hired gun. He did his work and moved on to the next project. The great work he did got him more money on each job. He never collected a royalty. He brought out the best in the artists he produced. Check out the award winning documentry, "Tom Dowd,The Language of Music".

     

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    Michael Lockyear (profile), Mar 18th, 2010 @ 2:02pm

    Producer royalties are a way of sharing the risk - much like lawyers charging contingency fees.

    If doctors were rewarded based on success (i.e. patient survival) maybe campaigns like the "100 000 lives" campaign and the more recent "5 million lives" campaign would not be necessary!

     

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    David, Mar 18th, 2010 @ 2:06pm

    Royalties

    I am not a big-time producer who owns a private jet or even a sportscar, however, I do produce small local bands/rappers and make my money several ways in the music business.

    Some artists come in to the studio and all they want is a recorded album and they pay per album, per song, or sometimes per hour. After i'm paid, that is the end of the contract. They have their artwork which, they performed, combined with my service(mixing, mastering, providing mics, etc.) which they paid for in full.

    Other case: i'm out and about in a piano bar, night club, or concert (all small, local venues) and hear a real ARTIST who has potential, i will invite them to the studio and provide everything it takes to get an album or ep created. while in this process, i send singles to bar/club/venue owners and let them know a new talented artist is around. This gets the musician larger gigs (more $) as well as more frequent gigs (more $). So, i charge a royalty fee for actually producing the artist.

    my reasoning, if i had not stepped in and produced the artist and made him/her more available to the public, he/she would still be struggling to get started.

    (i only have royalty agreements (between the artist and i) dealing with certain sized venues (if i set up the gig) and with record sales (such as iTunes).

    Can an artist do without a producer. YES, but some do not possess the will-power or know-how.

    sorry this was so long.

     

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    Ben, Mar 18th, 2010 @ 2:08pm

    I think Albini is a moron a lot of the time, but he is a moron who is right about this. I'm an audio engineer myself, and I've mixed hundreds and hundreds of musical acts to audiences of thousands - and broadcast audiences of millions. I've allowed bands to gain fans. Where's my cut of the band's income from those new fans? Should I be making a buck off of every album sold at a live show by a band that I just mixed? No. Of course not. I show up, do my job, and get paid for it. I sleep, and then do it again.

     

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    reechard (profile), Mar 18th, 2010 @ 2:10pm

    Work for hire is fine with me (and what Tom The Toe said)

    I have no problem with "work for hire" even though I didn't always realize those were the terms I was employed under.

    Almost all salaried employees and consultants are "work for hire." Having your name attached to a job (producer of record, software product, website) is optional, and so is arranging "points" (royalties, stock options) in lieu of better up-front pay.

    It is risky when some startup or other project offers you NO salary or up-front pay in exchange for lots of (potentially worthless) stock or future royalty (10% of zero dollars)

    The "royalty" gamble should be the exception, and the norm should be good up-front pay with your role/title and choice of name - none/pseudonym/real name

     

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    herodotus (profile), Mar 18th, 2010 @ 2:19pm

    I think that Albini's statements actually stem from his rather militant beliefs concerning the roll of a recording engineer. He believes their (his) job is a service position: to record a band sounding as much as possible like what they sound like on stage: no more, no less.

    As an engineer, he is the absolute opposite of self-important jerks like Rick Rubin.

    I also find it interesting that he is perfectly willing to embrace the internet, even though he doesn't like digital audio as a recording medium.

     

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    Joe, Mar 18th, 2010 @ 2:32pm

    For comparison to the royalty issue - I'm currently developing an application that uses financial data from the stock market. In dealing with the companies that deliver the data feed, I am blown away by the shameless leeching that goes on. They deliver raw data, I work hard to add value to the data by processing, refining, analyzing and then outputting that data. Their response is "we look to where you find value in our data and price it accordingly". It's like a grocery store charging different prices to a pizza shop and a high end restaurant based not on the market price of the ingredients, but on the finished value of the product after others have added value. ok - rant over.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2010 @ 2:46pm

    I don't see much difference between a producer working for royalties and an employee getting equity or stock options as part of their compensation.

    If the company I work for goes public and I get rich, is that a problem for you?

     

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    Trish, Mar 18th, 2010 @ 2:47pm

    Hey I participated in creating training documents for my employer- i should get paid every time someone gets trained with those documents! I brought in a new customer- I should get paid every time that customer buys something from us, even if I didn't make any subsequent sales! I guess a lot of people in the arts world feel they just want to work til they've got enough 'royalty' income to then retire and never have to work again while raking in the cash, and guaranteeing their kids never have to work either. Hey, who wouldn't...

     

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    eb, Mar 18th, 2010 @ 2:48pm

    royalties are like patents

    you patent something, you can live off of it forever and never have to work a day again. friend i know in biochem research...this is their holy grail. some of it is altruistic...it funds more research, but, it's also to kick back and reitre young.

    what about books? if i write a book, should my editor not receive compensation for effectively helping to craft it? the piece could not have been so without the editor. if producers don't matter so much...then why do big name bands notorious stick with some, and fire others?

     

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    Philip Nealey, Mar 18th, 2010 @ 2:56pm

    Context

    Just from reading the quote it seems Albini is talking about royalties for producers not musicians in this article. Seems taken out of context.

     

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    reechard (profile), Mar 18th, 2010 @ 3:14pm

    Re: royalties are like patents

    No. Patents last ~15 years, after which competitors can release knock-offs. And they have instructions... the patent. You are missing the point here. Ask your "friend" if he is "work for hire," who owns the patents he develops, and where the buckets of cash come from... investors? licenses? sale of research patents to Pharma?

    On second thought, forget it. Enjoy your "live off it forever" kick back fantasy. I can't even make sense of your "if I" "should my editor not receive" "could not" "why... fire others?" bit of speculative free dis-sociation.

     

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    reechard (profile), Mar 18th, 2010 @ 3:18pm

    Re: Context

    Not really, "musicians" can mean hired-gun session musicians. Work-for-hire is the norm.

    Touring band members and musicians who collaborate on the songs and deserve credit -- are different from hired-gun producers and musicians.

     

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    NAMELESS.ONE, Mar 18th, 2010 @ 4:24pm

    open source

    for everything

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2010 @ 4:27pm

    Re: Re: Huh!

    What if, instead, you could easily make a copy of a car? What's your position then?


    Car companies would be screwed. Service companies would prosper.

    It may be the case that the service side of the industry could adapt to make up for the loss in sales but that eventuality is by no means apparent.

    And unfortunately, this sort of scenario is not very congruous to most forms of IP, that require no service, mechanical, technical, or otherwise.

    Which is why examples like Red Hat are such red herrings.

     

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    eb, Mar 18th, 2010 @ 4:30pm

    Re: Re: royalties are like patents

    yes, i was off the cuff. i understand patents, 15 years and so on. the point is, it's an intellectual property discussion. so it's not actually dissociation when you take a broader view of who, exactly, participates in and benefits from the creation of something that becomes valued. anyway: other than not agreeing with my point and the snarky quotes, what's your take on the royalty question?

    all i'm saying, badly i suppose, is that if there's collaboration, the outcome is a result of that—some will have had more responsibility than others, in most cases, but all are deserving of some proportional reward for success. that could mean royalties, that could mean stock options...different industries have their respective models. but in this case, as long as the royalty system is in place, and the producer's input warrants it (subjective in and of itself), it seems that cutting them out of the cash loop--for that specific effort--is not ethical.

    what if the reason people went to see a band in the first place is because a good producer made a crap band sound good, and one track got circulated or placed into rotation...and that blew their minds, so they bought concert tickets, and that was the catalyst that made the band famous enough to yield royalties?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2010 @ 5:09pm

    Re:

    royalties are no different from a company making money in the future for selling a product. rather than paying the full cost up front they are able to pay the developers a percentage and thus avoid high up front costs. it is a very functional way to get people to work towards a good and sellable product with motivation to do a good job because their pay depends on it.


    Precisely.

    Royalty owners (of which there are many, many, more than lottery winners) are like stock holders, property owners, company owners, or any other kind of asset holders who (sometimes) make money with minimal to no additional work after the initial expenditure.

    If you are against royalties on their very principle, so too should you be just as vehemently opposed to the very idea of an "appreciating asset" or ANY financial arrangement that is not salaried, hourly, or for-hire.

     

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    reechard (profile), Mar 18th, 2010 @ 6:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: royalties are like patents

    Yes, off-the-cuff. This one is much more thoughtful. But, I'm a "hired gun" and you've wasted your freebie :)

     

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    herodotus (profile), Mar 18th, 2010 @ 9:55pm

    "Royalty owners (of which there are many, many, more than lottery winners) are like stock holders, property owners, company owners, or any other kind of asset holders who (sometimes) make money with minimal to no additional work after the initial expenditure."

    I tend to agree in theory.

    One thing that sometimes gets neglected in these discussions is the fact that musical art is not consumed in a rational or predictable fashion. Whether or not someone has a hit or becomes a celebrity of any sort is infinitely fortuitous. A short look at the career of Alex Chilton is all that is needed to confirm this. And I have to say that I really don't think that it was a bad thing that 'That 70's Show' had to pay him royalties every time they aired. It was a small recompense for a disastrously mismanaged career.

    The problem is that the way musical royalties are administered is needlessly complex, involving a handful of agencies that have very little competition, and therefore very little inducement to improve the quality of their services. They're like the IRS: huge, clunky machines that no one quite understands or knows how to fix.

    All of which has nothing to do with the ridiculous notion of Engineers and Producers getting royalties along with the musicians. Engineers and producers are paid for their work, paid out out of the advance given to the artist, which the latter has to pay back to the label out of 'their share' of the proceeds from unit sales. They make their money whether the artists 'recoup' or not. They take no financial risks.

     

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    Michael Lockyear (profile), Mar 19th, 2010 @ 12:32am

    Re:

    Actually Trish some courseware developers DO work on a royalty or "per performance" basis. This of course means that they carry the risk of not being paid or paid poorly for their work...risk and reward! Clients (professional trainers) are prepared to accept this as it reduces their own up-front costs and risk. Dare you to start working this way!

     

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    PaulT (profile), Mar 19th, 2010 @ 1:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Huh!

    Not really. Virtually every industry - including the entertainment industry - has primary and secondary markets and functions. The recording industry's folly is ignoring said secondary areas and believing that their primary function is the only one that can make money...

     

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    PaulT (profile), Mar 19th, 2010 @ 1:55am

    Re:

    "They take no financial risks."

    Erm, that's kind of the argument. Artists and labels are often "playing the lottery" by taking/paying advances in the hope that there's a greater sum of money on the horizon. Most major label artists never recoup their advance, let alone make a profit afterwards. It's their own pay structure that causes the risks, because they hope to hit the jackpot later on.

    In no other field than entertainment does this kind of payment happen. Everybody else gets paid for the work they do, when they do it. Why not musicians?

     

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    PaulT (profile), Mar 19th, 2010 @ 1:58am

    Re:

    Oh, and:

    "It was a small recompense for a disastrously mismanaged career."

    So? I know of sportsmen who had similar careers, but they don't get paid unless they play. I know programmers who didn't go where they should have done, but still have to code for a living. I know of middle managers for corporations who managed to torpedo their own careers, but they still have to turn up at the office. Why can Chilton just sit on his laurels and collect money for work he did a few years ago when others have to earn their pay days?

     

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    Unliscensed Sow, Mar 19th, 2010 @ 2:23am

    Re: Re:

    "Why can Chilton just sit on his laurels and collect money for work he did a few years ago when others have to earn their pay days?"

    Alex Chilton passed away on March 17, 2010.

     

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    Julian Moore, Mar 19th, 2010 @ 3:56am

    'If you have a hit, charge more for future work'

    That is, if you were paid in the first place.

    When everyone is putting their time and effort into a project that may yield no results whatsoever, creating a 'royalty split' where the producer 'gets some of the action' is a simple way of just sharing revenue.

    Albini is coming from his own 'producer for hire' angle, which is somewhat privileged. If he were to become the 'fifth beatle' on a project, with no money involved for anyone unless the project actually took of, he'd be taking some percentage or split of the product, which is fine.

    He's talking in broad strokes, and all productions are different, so I find it strange that he's doing that.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2010 @ 5:48am

    Re: Re: Huh!

    the model where nobody makes anything from a product is not likely sustainable. requiring a second or third optional product to be sold to pay for the first isnt exactly a sturdy business model.

     

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    Richard (profile), Mar 19th, 2010 @ 6:33am

    Re: Huh!

    The issue is what musicians have the RIGHT to do and what Only in IP do people think that if they don't like the business model, they can steal it.

    Because Only in IP do people assert the right to stop their customers doing what they like with their legally purchased goods.

    If you were to abolish copyright law (for new works) then there would still be nothing to stop those who wished to continue in the old model from attempting to use contract law to enforce their "rights". The probalem they would face however is that they would have to negotiate the deal with their customers (against a background of various other laws designed to ensure that contracts have fair terms and conditions). I suspect that in today's marketplace most consumers would be reluctant to sign up to the default T's and C's as currently laid out by copyright law.

     

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    herodotus (profile), Mar 19th, 2010 @ 6:46am

    "Erm, that's kind of the argument. Artists and labels are often "playing the lottery" by taking/paying advances in the hope that there's a greater sum of money on the horizon. Most major label artists never recoup their advance, let alone make a profit afterwards. It's their own pay structure that causes the risks, because they hope to hit the jackpot later on."

    Historically, musicians had no other choice. It's not like the labels offered them various options. If you wanted to record in a decent studio and get a decent distribution deal, you accepted the ridiculous wheel of fortune payment system and hoped for the best.

    "In no other field than entertainment does this kind of payment happen. Everybody else gets paid for the work they do, when they do it. Why not musicians?"

    In the past, again, they had no choice. Today they do. Hooray.

    "So? I know of sportsmen who had similar careers, but they don't get paid unless they play. I know programmers who didn't go where they should have done, but still have to code for a living. I know of middle managers for corporations who managed to torpedo their own careers, but they still have to turn up at the office. Why can Chilton just sit on his laurels and collect money for work he did a few years ago when others have to earn their pay days?"

    I think that many people have no concept whatever of the extreme fortuitousness of being a musician. It's not like there is anything like a reasonable work to reward ratio. You can be the hardest working band in the world: touring incessantly, writing constantly, sleeping in the back of a van and doing everything in your power to promote yourself and economize, and still end up with nothing at the end of it.

    It's not a simple matter of 'if you are good, they will come'. Look at e.g. the Melvins: a seminal band to the point of being almost legendary; they influenced, worked with, and recorded with everyone from Tool to Nirvana, and yet when they came to my city 6 years back about 10 people showed up to see them. The next time they came through town, you couldn't find a place to stand.

    This sort of thing is true no matter who you are and no matter how hard you work. It's a total crap shoot.

    Finally, let me get this straight, are you saying that Alex Chilton shouldn't have gotten paid when That 70s Show used his song as their theme song? Should he just have been happy about the free advertising? Even though hardly anyone knew that he wrote the song?

    Really?

     

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    Richard (profile), Mar 19th, 2010 @ 6:59am

    The missing ingredients

    In this discussion are:

    1) What is the criterion for allowing some workers to collect secondary income for the rest of their lives for what they did once?

    At present it seems to be arbitrary - and largely based on historical accidents stemming from the Staioners Company

    2) Is it morally acceptable to collect secondary income for the rest of their lives for what you did once?

    My reading of what most religious and secular moralists said about "usury" in the period up to about 1200 AD would have applied to copyright too - if it had existed then.

    3) Can you justify the costs and collateral damage to other industries and activities caused by futile attempts to enforce copyright law outside the large scale commercial sphere.

     

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

  42.  
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    Craig Leon, Mar 19th, 2010 @ 7:54am

    Steve Albini and Royalties Quote

    In Steve's case I would agree. Steve has always championed himself as being more of recordist which is a producer who records the moment and captures what an artist does in the studio with a minimum of musical input.

    However there are other types of producers. Some, like myself, who contribute more than a small amount of musical content and sometimes even more in other areas in establishing an artist's recorded identity.

    I am not here to argue which of these types of producers is the more "creative". But in the case of the latter type they are certainly correct in obtaining royalties on a pro rata basis with the band members who they are working with.

    Using Steve's analogy the band should also share a percentage of their live revenues, merchandising, etc. when they become more successful due to the creative production work of a producer who is collaborating with them on a CD that increases their fan base and profile. A bit of a flaw here.

     

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  43.  
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    Gene Cavanaugh, Mar 19th, 2010 @ 11:31am

    Royalties

    "Now, some will argue, of course, that the entertainment industry is "different," because it involves more speculation" - total BS; any single operator of any business faces such speculation - especially restuarants, home rehabs, etc.

     

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

  44.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2010 @ 12:52pm

    Re:

    Finally, let me get this straight, are you saying that Alex Chilton shouldn't have gotten paid when That 70s Show used his song as their theme song? Should he just have been happy about the free advertising? Even though hardly anyone knew that he wrote the song?


    That's the same sort of parasitic bullshit that Masnick believes.

     

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

  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2010 @ 1:07pm

    Re: The missing ingredients

    2) Is it morally acceptable to collect secondary income for the rest of their lives for what you did once?


    You can only ask this question once you've given up work bonuses, paid vacation, and sold any assets you might currently have.

    Until then you're a hypocrite.

     

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

  46.  
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    PaulT (profile), Mar 20th, 2010 @ 1:39am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Well, that's how much attention I pay to "celebrities", I suppose.

    But, the point stands. A lot of other people passed away on that day as well, and most of their families will not be receiving royalty cheques for work that person did while alive. That Chilton happened to stand in front of a camera for a living instead of working in an office or factory should not give him special status.

     

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  47.  
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    indie guy, Mar 20th, 2010 @ 9:40am

    I run a medium sized studio and, thing is, the rate I charge is way less than expenses I have.

    It's like the server at a restaurant that needs the tips to pay the bills.

    Also, like the server, I can't possibly work for as long (in such a high stress job) as the average office worker.

    An official session runs 10 hours per day, often going late. Being exposed to very loud sounds, managing a group of artists, and dealing with a host of technical issues while trying to make sure everything sounds good, is draining to say the least.

    A small indie record usually means about 80 hour of work crammed into a week. I'll often stay late to edit all the drums, and tune the bad singing. The expectation on the producer is very high. A lot of bands today come to the studio unable to play their songs. They count on the producer to transform them into something great, a time-consuming and expensive endeavor. If it were simply a matter of hitting the record button, it might be a different story.

    Most upcoming producers I know have an incredible work ethic. A good producer friend of mine worked all through last Christmas (editing the drums on a now successful album), while the band was at home eating with their families. The producer is often spending twice as much (or more) time on the project than anyone else.

    I do it with the hope to one day be paid back through a good, ongoing relationship with a successful band.

    I see no problem with me and the band entering the project as a team. We're both struggling, but together we might be able to get somewhere.

    Sure the band has to tour, which is rough, no doubt. But I also have to do a lot work that is unpaid. The producer has to cultivate his image much like a musician.

    Besides, no producer is asking for more than the artist can afford. Production points only help a producer if the song or album becomes a really big hit. By then the artist and label can afford to help the producer, so why not?

    Albini is obviously in a different situation than most. He may not take royalties, but he can charge around $1000 per day; way more than most struggling bands can afford.

     

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

  48.  
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    herodotus (profile), Mar 20th, 2010 @ 2:50pm

    "But, the point stands. A lot of other people passed away on that day as well, and most of their families will not be receiving royalty cheques for work that person did while alive. That Chilton happened to stand in front of a camera for a living instead of working in an office or factory should not give him special status."

    I realize you don't give a shit, but Alex Chilton didn't stand in front of a camera for a living, he wrote songs.

    And the 'special status' you are talking about wasn't chosen by him, but rather forced upon him by the industry that he had to work in. I assure you he would rather have been payed an hourly wage, but that option isn't really open to songwriters.

    And you never did answer my question: Should that 70's show have been allowed to use his song without paying for it? And if so, why?

     

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

  49.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2010 @ 9:41am

    Re: Royalties

    This is not meant to offend directly, but I do not understand why somebody like yourself gets to claim royalties on their work. Your job seems to be just a service, after all. Since there are other services of a similar nature/position that do not harvest royalties on other people's creativity/artistry I do not understand why you would suppose you should, other than "because you can" and "it's the way it is", which wouldn't really be an acceptable answer. What is so different to what you do with someones music to be able to claim an ongoing stake in it?

     

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

  50.  
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    Boris (profile), Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 11:50pm

    re: royalties

    As a musician who makes barely enough to survive and produces his own work - I can honestly say, if someone was to come in and produce my work for me the way I do it, I would want them to have royalties on the album for sure...

    However, I've worked with producers before who have no vision and are absolutely useless who charge too much upfront and want royalty fees. I've also worked with producers who are brilliant and love the work, love the songs - will work on them for a good fee and not expect royalties... so many variations...

    I think these variations can definitely change whether or not royalties are paid to the producer.

    If the artist/band themselves are terrible, and the producer makes it sound good - then what's the point of the band? Who put them into the studio, what dumb ass A&R guy brought them in, who authorized it, what retarded producer decided he would produce them? These are the questions I'm asking, who cares about royalties at this stage of the game. When you're making a band/group/artist do something they actually can't, to sound like they don't, then it ceases to be their work and they shouldn't even get royalties on it... it shouldn't even be released...

    It's like getting an old rusty car, fixing it up and making it look like the BMW - ethically, you can't sell it - but they do, all the time - ALL THE TIME!

    Peace

     

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

  51.  
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    David Browne, Sep 5th, 2010 @ 11:54am

    Royalities

    I'm 70yo, I have an opinion on your stance that for example, writers should not be paid on a continuing basis for a particular work. I don't know if you've considered the fact that the vast majority in that market seldom write more than a handful,or far less, of saleable works. Why would someone knock themselves out for a year or more creating a work and only get one check for the effort? It ain't like fixing your car. That guy does that work and gets paid ONCE each time, day in and day out, for years.If you wrote a best seller, and got one check,you'd spend your later years living under a bridge. My point is; IT'S NOT THE SAME KIND OF WORK!

     

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


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