Music Industry Lawyer Complains Both That Musicians Don't Get Paid… And When They Do

from the i'm-confused dept

There’s a music industry lawyer named Chris Castle who we’ve mentioned a few times on this site in the past. He’s the guy who used to (don’t know why he took it down) have a blurb on his website that referred to Creative Commons supporters as “self-serving shilling for the self-absorbed on the short con.” He once complained that next time he wrote a contract for licensing music to a website, there would be a clause that once the contract was over, the website wouldn’t be allowed to tell anyone why, because just having the music disappear and pissing off all the users is such a good solution. He’s also, on multiple occasions predicted that “free culture” was dead. Lately he’s been focused on running a bizarre and hilarious series of black-helicopter-type conspiracy theories about people pushing for copyright law that actually takes consumers into account. And I won’t even get into the nicknames he has for everyone. He’s a really fun read.

And, it should be noted, he’s no fan of the record labels. From what I can tell, he’s a lawyer who represents musicians and songwriters for the most part — and seems to think that the business models that got them paid back when he was a child should somehow be forced by law into never changing and staying that way forever. But since he’s so focused on getting musicians paid (and has been known to pat himself on the back when he wins lawsuits for certain musicians) you would think that reports showing new business models that work and help get musicians paid — while doing so in ways that allow musicians to rely less on the hated labels would be a good thing.

But, no, apparently not. The only acceptable way for a musician to get paid is via copyright, I guess. He recently put up a a rant about the evils of musicians getting money from corporations in the form of sponsorship or advertising.

Why is it bad? Well, something about the purity of music the old way. You know, where instead of taking money from corporations to make commercial music they… took money from corporations (record labels) to make commercial music. Oh wait…

We’ve seen this argument before. A few months ago, someone insisted that Jimi Hendrix never would have chatted with fans on MySpace. In Castle’s world, he sees something similar. Would Bob Dylan ever take sponsorship money, he wonders?

It doesn’t take a lot of prescience to see where this leads. Ask yourself this–is an advertising-driven model likely to produce the next Leonard Cohen or Bob Dylan? If presented with this reality, what would the next Bob Dylan do? Would he still be attracted to the music business or would he write it off as yet one more corporatization, more McMusic? Would popular music become like the jingles in Demolition Man? (Not to mention the cross-cultural issues.)

Really? First of all… last I checked, Dylan himself had no problem with an ad driven model:

But, more to the point, the myth that those musicians became successful in an anti-corporate way is a joke. Dylan signed to Columbia Records very early in his career, and they didn’t do it “for the music.” They signed him because they thought he’d make them money — and, famously, when his first album didn’t sell well, almost resulted in him being dropped from the label and caused trouble for John Hammond, who had signed him. Hammond, by the way, also signed Cohen to his first major label contract… also at Columbia. I’m sure in both cases, it was purely out of the kindness of his heart and the love of music… and the commercial prospects had nothing to do with it. Hell, wasn’t Columbia Records run as a charity back in the 60s?

What this comes down to, in the end, is the absolutely worst kind of revisionist history. It’s people who pretend that “back in the old days” the industry was about something other than money, and that anyone who talks about money now is creating a problem. And, then, at the same time, they’ll turn around and bitch about how musicians won’t make music any more because they won’t get paid. Contradiction much?

If Mr. Castle really wants to move away from musicians scared away from music because of “more corporatization, more McMusic,” you would think he would actually be a huge fan of many of the business models we’ve written about, because they allow those musicians to go direct to fans and make money in ways that get away from the corporatization — including the exact corporatization of music that Dylan and Cohen needed back in their day — but which musicians today no longer need if they want to avoid it.

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Comments on “Music Industry Lawyer Complains Both That Musicians Don't Get Paid… And When They Do”

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R. Votre (profile) says:

Hubris Unlimited

Mr. Castle is an attorney, not a working musician.

His attitudes, theories, personal beliefs and comments are all those of an attorney – and not those of a working musician.

Why is it that attorneys, who live in their own legal virtual reality, feel they have anything to say that could be of any possible relevance to those of use who live in the real world?

I’d be very happy if Mr. Castle would just bugger off.

Hulser (profile) says:

"strange doctrine" indeed

[Chris Castle] seems to think that the business models that got them paid back when he was a child should somehow be forced by law into never changing and staying that way forever.

I read a quote last night that seems to fit perfectly the attitude referenced in the quote above (and frequently on TechDirt)…

“There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or a corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years , the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute nor common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back, for their private benefit.”

– Robert Heinlein

Auditrix (profile) says:

Chris Castle, Esq.

I have heard Chris speak at many events and I am impressed by his ability to articulate dynamic analysis from a variety of domestic and foreign perspectives. For example, Mr. Castle is one of the few people in the US who is knowledgeable enough to speak on the different interests at play in Europe in connection with Pan-European licensing. Also, he was involved with Snocap, so it is not fair to characterize him as an attorney who solely represents musical artists and songwriters.

I do not agree with everything Mr. Castle has said, but if you listen to him speak at length, I believe you would interpret his statements in a different context.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Chris Castle, Esq.

I took your advice and read a number of random entries on his blog. All I can say is… wow. Each entry was an amazing example of hate, ridicule, misrepresentation of opposing views and statements, straw men, and logical misfires.

My sampling tells me that Mr. Castle has as much credibility, insight, and maturity as your standard YouTube commenter. I think I can safely disregard his opinions.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Chris Castle, Esq.

Whoa, I just read some more of his posts. You’re right, he is bad, he makes the RIAA look sane and rational.

Asking him about copyright is like asking a Teabagger about Obama.

Well, he can spell, but otherwise it’s the same level of unreality, straw men, weasel words, and unbridled hatred. I haven’t read so much self-righteous invective and alarmist conspiracy theorizing since I stopped reading Loompanics books.

His latest post says all copyright minimalists are being controlled by “The Shadow.” No, seriously.

Matt L says:

A recent trend?

“…one of the most alarming trends that we see in the recent music business is the increasing dependence on corporate sponsorship and advertising revenue…”

Does Mr. Castle really believe that dependence on corporate sponsorship in the music business is a recent trend? And does he really believe that it cannot produce anything more than corporate jingles?

I would have to agree with other posters that Castle has little credibility or insight.

Karl (profile) says:

RIAA blog

Isn’t he just recycling these ideas from the RIAA’s Music Notes Blog from a few weeks ago?

Maybe the RIAA should sue him for infringement.

If anyone cares, I debunked (I hope) the RIAA blog on my own website. (Forgive the self-aggrandizement.)

I do have some additional thoughts about this article:

I love how he picks on Google, as if it owns the internet or something. Whenever an industry apologist mentions their name, it’s only to blame them for stuff they’re not even connected with, with a side order of hypocritical anti-corporate FUD. This is obviously just sour grapes at an organization that was smart enough to succeed.

I also love how he thinks that record labels promote “noncommercial” music. Because, y’know, Brittney Spears’ music has too much integrity to be in a car commercial. Whatever crack he’s been smoking, I want some.

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