Warner Music Group Employee Charged With Stealing $700,000

from the now-that's-theft dept

What is it with recording industry folks getting charged with actual theft these days? First we had folks from the Spanish music collection society SGAE charged with a complicated scheme to divert money from artists to themselves. Then we had the story of IFPI execs doing something similar. Now comes the news that a single employee at Warner Music, Andrew Robertson, whose job was "equipment buyer," may have stolen somewhere around $700,000 over a four year period. The scam involved "the creation of fictitious vendors and over-charged items," in which he diverted the funds to a personal account. Even more ridiculous? The guy didn't even seem to work very hard to cover his tracks. That "fictitious vendor"? It was called A.I. Robinson... and used Robertson's own home address. Tip to Warner Music: perhaps instead of worrying about "piracy" so much, you should pay attention to the folks actually stealing money.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    Jay (profile), Jul 12th, 2011 @ 1:54pm

    Now what was that old saying?

    Something about "don't throw stones when your own house is made out of glass?"

    Why can't Sony, BMG, Warner Bros, ASCAP, SESAC, BMI, the MPAA/RIAA, the USTR, the Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch, the AFL-CIO, Wal-mart, BREIN, ICE and the FBI (among the other groups that would make this gag too long) follow that little sagely advice?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 12th, 2011 @ 1:57pm

    because they feel entitled to all the moneys, even if they have to stab you for it

     

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    gorehound (profile), Jul 12th, 2011 @ 1:58pm

    well 700,00 down hope there is a lot more to come.
    i will not be happy until i see every artist who signs with the RIAA dead.
    frakken traitors.support INDIE music and buy some.do not ever buy anything from a big label.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 12th, 2011 @ 2:10pm

    "What is it with recording industry folks getting charged with actual theft these days?"

    Imaginary theft is a greater crime than actual theft, and it probably holds greater civil penalties as well. Why? Imaginary IP laws protect the rich, and doing anything to threaten the lazy rich is largely unacceptable.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 12th, 2011 @ 2:33pm

    His actions did less damage than what Warner's lawyers would seek in damages for an individual infringing on the copyright of 5 songs for non commercial purposes. How big of a deal could it be.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 12th, 2011 @ 2:43pm

    The reason he didn't get caught for so long...

    ...is because they were probably charging the artists for the alleged "equipment". So it was no money out of their pocket.

     

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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jul 12th, 2011 @ 6:06pm

    Stealing?

    Is this stealing stealing, or copyright-infringement stealing? Will they try to get this guy thrown off his Internet account? Or is this only the first strike?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 12th, 2011 @ 6:40pm

    This is a cheap shot against them. It is like saying an employee was cheating on his wife, or sleeping with another employee.

    Every large corporation deals with this. $700,000 is nothing. They have probably caught others doing the same thing, and just fired the person.

    It has nothing at all to do with the recording industry or tech, etc.

     

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      The eejit (profile), Jul 13th, 2011 @ 12:19am

      Re:

      Then why complain so heavily about preventable losses externally, when they have preventable losses internally? Seems like more monmey is wasted by not going after those who steal fromt he company.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2011 @ 8:15am

      Re:

      Hmmm...are you sure?

      There is an awful lot of that happening specially on Universal, aside from that it appears that every artists out there is always stealing something from someone else.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 12th, 2011 @ 9:16pm

    11.2 mp3's No big deal.

    So according to the RIAA/Capitol this guy stole the equivalent of 11.2 mp3's according to the Jammie Thomas verdict? They should just send him a letter and ask him to settle for a few thousand, or they'll take him to court. 11 mp3's isn't that big a deal.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitol_v._Thomas

     

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    Music Professional, Jul 13th, 2011 @ 8:55pm

    Warner Music Group Employee Charged With Stealing $700,000

    First BMG doesn't exist any longer they folded into SONY Music over three years ago. Second you may have an argument with the major record distributors but you certainly don't have an argument with organizations like ASCAP, SESAC, BMI, the RIAA, NARM, NARAS, NMPA, nor Harry Fox. These organizations protect the interests of music artists" and/or either collect publishing and mechanical royalties for music artists, and/or represent the retail side of the business!

    SONY, WMG, EMI and UMG are the 4 of the former 6 major record distributors still left in the game.

    The RIAA is like any other union that represents it's members, that protect their interests and hard work. Music is hard work, just as a factory worker who punched in a clock at a factory. That is his/her choice to do just that as it is an artist who chooses to be in the music industry.

    Just because doltheads think they have the right to enjoy this hard work for FREE doesn't make it more sane than going to a Sears store and thinking you can walk out of the store with a television or any other appliance for FREE. Not only does the RIAA act in representation of its members, they also host the Grammy Awards every year that recognize the hard work and efforts of each individual artists voted for an award by their fellow peers.

    BMI, ASCAP, SESAC, and SoundExchange all collect publishing royalties (performance royalties) for their artist members. They monitor all performances of said intellectual property and then distribute payments from revenue collected from numerous sources to all those who have an interest in the publishing. They by no means have anything o do with what is going on in the industry or with piracy or did they draft the MAPs agreement between the major record distributors, that is the single most defining reason behind the fall of the "working model" of the industry that led to numerous charges being files against them for fraudulent practices. Id the majors had not drafted this agreement, it would not have led to a number of P2P sites being launched that fought to curb the greed fueled by this agreement, that raised the retail price on music albums tremendously (all formats) among other things. It would not have prevented P2P sites from springing forth, but it would not have caused it to spiral out of control as it most certainly has.

    You want to STEAL? Then pay the consequences when caught! I put out an album with Warner Brothers/Rykodisc back in 01, and before it hit the shelves, it was already being bootlegged online. Now as an artist I am supposed to agree to this? I'm supposed to tell my family, "sorry we can't eat this week, or pay the rent because Joe Smoe wants to get all my music for FREE"! Yes the industry needs to change, because the majors just simply can't hold onto an archaic business model forever, this I agree to, but to hurt artists in the process because you have an issue with the majors is beyond wrong!

    The fact that an artist sells millions of records does not equate to success in the business just because their face and persona is plastered all over global media and a few have proclaimed them as the queen of pop!! How did so many of you fail to miss the story of Miss Lady Gaga filing for bankruptcy?? This is the fourth time as that! http://www.totalbankruptcy.com/bankruptcy-news/personal-bankruptcy/lady-gaga-says-she-went-bankrupt- fr-800522260.aspx Tony Braxton, Willie Nelson, Ronald Isley, TLC, and the list goes on for so many artists that eventually file bankruptcy after selling millions of records. Extravagant spending, not knowing the infrastructure of the music business or how to run a business, and personal problems lead the reason behind these bankruptcies.



    BUT THE BIGGEST REASON IS CONTRACTUAL


    Simply put, artists sign one sided contracts, of which most of the top artists get into these 360 deals that allow the record distributor to realize profit not only from record sales (song royalties), music publishing print rights (sheet music), and mechanical licensing rights, but to also share in the revenue from branding contracts, touring, and other revenue.

    These artists are given contracts that are so one sided it amazes me that any of them sign them. For instance, the majority of artists today are in what is called a non recoupable state". This simply means the distributor will put up millions of dollars for recording, paying producers, videos, promotion, marketing and creating an image for the artist, and advanced royalties to the artist, and often tour support to support the album pre-release appearances on mini tours, special performances on talk shows, in store signings, etc.. All this goes into an "artist account' and this money is held in escrow against future earnings, until the artist's financial obligation to the distributor has been met. Sadly, most never get out of this situation.

    The majority of these artists never earn one red penny because they have to sell an exorbitant amount of albums in order to "recoup" the cost of putting the album out. If the costs are not recouped, then the balance of what was not recouped goes to the next album, and the process starts all over again. Celine Dion, Nas, Willie Nelson, Rick Ross, The Jonas Brothers, and yes even your Lady Gaga finds herself in this situation as well, as well as numerous other artists in the industry.

    A large majority of them never even realize music publishing revenue, because they don't know what it is, and sign it away to the major record distributors, managers, or other deviant folks in their inner circle, when it is the largest source of income for an artist. Music publishing is an artists "performance rights", and only if they contributed to the writing, composing, arranging or producing of the song itself. Royalties are paid for each single performance of the song, on radio, television, in videos, on commercials, in movies, on airplane radios networks, in night clubs, etc. The standard royalty set by Congress is currently 9.1 cents per play. What seems like a small amount of money, quickly can become millions if the artist has a hot song like Lady Gaga surely does have a few.

    To give you an example of the importance of music publishing to an artist, Dr. Dre has not put out an album in years, yet still collects a cool $40-$50 million every year for his past work with artists and his own music.

    Michael Jackson struck a deal in 1995 to merge ATV music publishing which owned a portion of the Beatle's catalog, and Jackson had purchased for 47$ million in 1985, with the SONY music publishing wing, SONY gave him a %50 share (of SONY's share), in all of the music publishing of every single artist on SONY's massive catalog. This meant that Jackson would earn money from every album that SONY released, the back catalog, and future catalogs that SONY would purchase. This was an unheard of deal for any artist in the industry then and even now. Jackson's estate now collects publishing revenue from Gretchen Wilson, Celine Dion, Elvis Presley, Eminem, Willie Nelson, Lady Gaga, the Jonas Brothers, Justin Bieber, etc., etc. http://books.google.com/books?id=MDsDAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA36&dq=Sony/ATV+%22michael+jackson%22& lr=&num=100&as_brr=3&as_pt=ALLTYPES&ei=-JHYSY-XJYbEzQSywKCgCg#v=onepage&q=Sony%2 FATV%20%22michael%20jackson%22&f=false

    The value of Sony/ATV Music Publishing has varied in reports. Industry experts have estimated the company to be worth as much as between $450 million to $1.5 billion. http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2002/0812/054_print.html

    Although some believe that Michael Jackson's Jackson's "so called" financial problems cost him a %50 share of the Beatle's cataog to SONY in 1995, http://www.usatoday.com/life/people/2004-04-27-jackson-finances_x.htm Michael Jackson's estate last year alone will collect in music publishing royalties approximately $300 million, not including another $300-$400 million in revenue from other sources.. This revenue for the MJ estate is not only his music, but a number of elaborate deals the gloved one has made over the course of his illustrious career, not including the infamous purchase of ATV music publishing, which owned a portion of the Beatle's catalog, after being schooled in a studio session by Sir Paul McCartney himself, on the importance of owning and purchasing music publishing catalogs, but numerous other deals that the new SONY/ATV company would realize after the merger. http://articles.nydailynews.com/2010-06-21/entertainment/27067766_1_top-earning-dead-celebrities-yea rly-profits-michael-jackson

    Some of those deals were purchasing Tony Martin's Baby Mae Music catalog of 600 songs, country music publisher Acuff-Rose's music publishing rights to 55,000 country music songs, including the music of Hank Williams, The Everly Brothers and Roy Orbison, Famous Music, a music publishing business with song catalogue of more than 125,000 songs including "Moon River" and "Footloose", and the catalogs of Eminem, Akon, Linda Perry, Bjork, Shakira, Beck, etc. Jackson's other publishing firm, Mijac, which publishes songs written by Jackson himself and which is administered by SONY Music competitor Warner/Chappell Music, is valued to be worth at least $75 million.

    So here most of you are once again as I've witnessed on hundreds of forums, whining about how you are not getting your music for FREE!!!

     

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      PaulT (profile), Jul 14th, 2011 @ 12:11am

      Re: Warner Music Group Employee Charged With Stealing $700,000

      "BUT THE BIGGEST REASON IS CONTRACTUAL"

      I'm fairly sure that's been pointed out, criticised and discussed. You're not adding anything new here. Add that to the licencing model your industry has that seems to be rooted in last century, pre-internet, and we have a lot of the problems with your industry, that has nothing to do with your darling piracy scapegoat.

      "So here most of you are once again as I've witnessed on hundreds of forums, whining about how you are not getting your music for FREE!!!"

      That's not what I'm complaining about, shill. Try reading posts instead of writing moronic essays, you might get somewhere.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2011 @ 8:18am

      Re: Warner Music Group Employee Charged With Stealing $700,000

      Yep that sounds about right if you are not an A type you don't even need to bother with catalogs since they are worthless, how many artists again the RIAA pay royalties to that enable a good living?

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 18th, 2011 @ 4:12am

    A moronic essay!?? First of all you posted about RIAA product which let's me know you have no clue how the industry works just like most consumers and even most music artists that sign hese one sided contracts! The RIAA has nothing to do with the day to day business of the major record labels, nor do they benefit from any proceeds of sales of the product distributed by them! They are a union just like the Teamsters, the UAW, or the Screen Actors Guild that protect the rights of their members! So you say you buy a lot of music, ok why are you on here complaining about the RIAA then? Get a life! You or anyone else on here simply do not have the right to enjoy music for FREE! End of story! I don't care how much music you buy, the argument is not with the RIAA! It is with the major distributors who simply want to maintain the broken model of the business! I have the right to provide for my family as any other artist does from revenue earned from my intellectual property just as joe smoe factor worker does for his family by punching a clock every day! You and anyone else do not have the right to STEAL my music or any other artists intellectual property! If you think so, then walk into Tiffanys, Macys, Walmart,etc., grab some merchandise, attempt to walk out, and see what happens! Artists have the same rights afforded to them through law as these retail stores do, so your reply is moronic!

     

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      PaulT (profile), Jul 18th, 2011 @ 4:57am

      Re:

      In case anyone needed it, here's a great example of why most of the detractors round here get called trolls or shills. Let's see:

      - Ad hominem attacks. Again, note how he stupidly accuses me and other of piracy, even though I do no such thing and have spent years on this very site outlining how I purchase legal goods. Every word of which is available by clicking on my username.

      - Lack of any constructive criticism. None of the words in any of these threads acknowledges the points raised - in this thread, the fact that label employees (not customers) are the ones actually stealing. Just tired talking point, silly abuse and no attempt to discuss anything like an adult.

      - No login or username, the AC allows for someone to come in and make baseless assertions without being called on them in future threads. Is this the same AC as above, or not? The IP address appears to have changed so the snowflake is different and nobody knows.

      - Inability to use the site properly. I assume the comment above is in response to me, yet this AC seems unable to find the reply button, as do so many other shills. Strange how the same faults in both writing and operation seem to affect those who don't log in, huh?

      - Arguments over semantics. Half of this ranting response seems to concentrate on the definition of the RIAA, even though neither I nor the original article mentioned it.

      I hope you're being paid well for this stupidity, because you're a sad pathetic human being if you're doing it by choice for free. I'll continue to buy music thanks, I just hope I've not accidentally paid for music by the like of you - I prefer to support people who have a future in the modern world, not luddites tilting at windmills because their crap didn't sell.

       

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