More Creative Fiction In Warner Music Royalty Statements
from the going-backwards? dept
With Tim Quirk’s story about his fictional royalty statements from Warner Music, more people are beginning to talk about these kinds of things. Bob Lefsetz points to another report of a royalty statement of an unrecouped artist (and former major label exec), David Bach, who notes with some surprise that on his last royalty statement from Warner Music, the amount the band owed had gone up. In other words, the royalties that the band had accrued had somehow decreased:
In May of 2007, I wrote a post about the wacky world of record company royalty recoupment.This week (Nov.-2009) – I received another royalty statement.
Wow!…we’ve gone backwards!
In May 2007, we were unrecouped to Warner Brothers to the tune of $174,073.84
Now…our balance is up to $174,717.56!
Talk about “pushing forward back!”.
How is this possible?
Now, to be fair, Bach still says that he was happy with his major record deal, in noting that it was effectively an “unsecured loan” in that he doesn’t lose his house if it never gets recouped. He conveniently leaves out the clear explanation that the label is still making money based on the wholesale price of the album, which is many times over what royalties are due to recoup the advance. He also leaves out the fact that while it was an “unsecured loan,” it also involved him giving up basically all rights to the music created under that deal forever (or, as the industry prefers, forever minus a day). Not sure that’s really that great a deal. With a real loan, you don’t also give up the lender something to keep forever. That’s not a loan, it’s a transaction.
Still, the bigger issue is this idea that the amount that still needs to be recouped has gone backwards over time. It again raises serious questions about how Warner Music accounts for what it owes bands, whether they’re recouped or unrecouped. I recognize that accounting may be a boring topic, but it’s an important one that Warner has contractual obligations to keep accurate. And… plenty of other businesses with similar challenges seem to be able to keep track of what royalties are owed to whom. Why can’t Warner Music keep it straight?