Lester Chambers, Screwed Over For Decades By The Recording Industry, Goes Direct Via Kickstarter

from the with-help-from-alexis-ohanian dept

Earlier this year, a picture posted online by musician Lester Chambers of the Chambers Brothers — a successful act from the 1960s — went viral, telling the story of how the recording industry never paid him money he was owed.

Now, with help from Reddit & Breadpig founder Alexis Ohanian, Chambers is raising money for a new album on Kickstarter, called Lester’s Time Has Come Today. This is being done in association with Breadpig, which has helped a number of content creators sell their goods, while also doing social good as well.

The music industry may have screwed Lester Chambers for decades, but we the internet public can right their wrong.

Thanks to the open internet (things we fought for against SOPA, PIPA, ACTA, etc.), sites like Kickstarter and other innovations that are being worked on by entrepreneurs right now, we have the opportunity to do right by artists and cut out those who’d mistreat them. We have the opportunity to create solutions that will support artists in the digital world.

The money will actually go to Lester via Sweet Relief Musicians Fund, an organization that provides financial help to career musicians who are struggling financially, due to age, illness or disability.

In looking over this, I’m reminded that earlier this year, during a debate with Jonathan Taplin, Alexis similarly offered to help struggling career musicians launch Kickstarter campaigns, and was mocked for his offer. It raises questions, yet again, as to who is actually helping musicians out these days? The people whining about how copyright laws must be enforced… or the people actually setting up and creating new services to help musicians make money?

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Companies: breadpig, kickstarter

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Comments on “Lester Chambers, Screwed Over For Decades By The Recording Industry, Goes Direct Via Kickstarter”

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Anonymous Coward says:

‘The music industry may have screwed Lester Chambers for decades, but we the internet public can right their wrong.’

if he had been treated as he should have been by the labels, we shouldn’t have to do this. if all the bull shit that they put out was true, it would be a different story, but it isn’t. so why, when there is evidence like this in front of their eyes, do politicians ignore it, immediately condemn these people as wasters or worse and go straight to the ‘let’s make another law to protect the industries’ room? pathetic!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

What I have heard from the music industry has been acceptance that it was how it worked and that it is not how it should be. Basically Lester Chambers is being cast as the exception that prooves the rule of record companies helping artists. Furthermore they are arguing that he is a perfect example of what happens when not enough money is earned by the music industry and they are therefore arguing that we need stronger copyright protection to make him able to earn money.

It is disgusting, but they can get away with it simply by choosing the right microphone holders among journalists.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Which of course is why there has never been a case of an artist having to sue, or threaten to sue, their label to get the money owed to them, because as everyone knows, labels always pay the musicians what they are owed, and would never pull dirty tricks like treating a song either a license, or a purchase, depending on which gets them the most money and the artist the least.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Which of course is why there has never been a case of anyone in the world having to sue, or threaten to sue, anyone to get the money owed to them, because as everyone knows, people always pay people what they owe, and would never pull dirty tricks to get them the most money and the other party the least.

There. I FTFY to show your stupid ass how you can say the same thing about anyone, anywhere.

Now, let’s see if you’ve got the berries to go steal something besides music. Pussy douchebag.

The Real Michael says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Just this year, I read about various artists such as Eminem taking their labels to court to sue over stuff like unpaid royalties.

The problem is that most artists cannot afford to take labels to court, otherwise you’d see it happen a lot more often.

Labels cheat artists out of due pay and get away with it all the time, yet a little girl who downloads a song on her Winnie The Pooh laptop prompts the feds to bust into her home. Our justice system is so blatantly biased towards the elites that it’s sickening.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I didn’t know you knew me? I think you are confusing me with the otter otter anonymous coward with a fullstop…

What I did was referencing what was said pretty fair. I then commented on said reference. Both things completely after the book of journalism.

What I called disgusting is how they can go from denouncing what happened to him and then to use him as an example for what happens when you do not pay for music. The coupling is ironic/moronic since what has happened is that the guy has been cheated out of royalties by his label and not the listeners. The real problem is that cutting out the record label and donating directly to the artist was in no way possible at the time. Any decent journalist should have been able to catch that ball.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

A swift lesson: The record labels that ripped off Lester are essentially the same labels “ripped off” by pirates today. Any such “ripping off” is only extant if you assume that the pirates would have bought a copy if piracy was not an option. Yet, since the labels who ripped off artists like Lester have not only not changed their ways, but are often the very same labels, Lester’s spiritual descendants are losing nothing if they have the same deal! Even if every pirate bought a copy, anyone with a similar deal to Lester would still have nothing.

It’s amazing that people like yourself will still attack Mike even of reports of the music industry ripped off the same people it pretends to protect, but I’ll forgive people like you for not having the intellectual capacity to see this. It just amazes me that you’ll attack someone for a potential, unproven, potential sale but not similarly attack those who directly rip off artists from real, collected income.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Because the argument is moronic.

Do you know what label ripped Lester off?

Do you know for a fact that all labels rip off artists?

The answer of course is no.

You choose to use an ugly example to paint everyone with a broad brush and then use that as a justification for piracy.

You’re a joke.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“Do you know what label ripped Lester off?”

Yes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lester_Chambers is a good place to start, and it’s been written about many times if you’re intellectually honest enough to read about a subject before attacking other peoples’ knowledge of it – which of you’re not.

“Do you know for a fact that all labels rip off artists?”

No, nor have I claimed such a thing.

“You choose to use an ugly example to paint everyone with a broad brush and then use that as a justification for piracy.”

Yet again, you lie about me because you can’t address my real opinions and positions. Pathetic.

“You’re a joke.”

You’re the one lying your ass off and attacking fantasies.

Anonymous Coward says:

You know what’s sad in addition to what happened to Lester? Watching the opening to the video on Kickstarter. What with that age old question, “Tell me how can I make my $100 million dollar movie?! Who is going to pay for it?!”

I hate that I’m broke right now, but you know what I’ll get paid at least once before the Kickstarter project ends. Opportunity to hear a new album from Lester whose shown he can deliver? Hell yes! I will totally drop some cash for that.

As for the bobs/OotBs of the world, you can get bent as far as your $100 million movie goes. But I for one can’t wait to see you dismiss/hand wave this article/Kickstarter project. An artist truly and royally screwed over by YOUR kind of people being “forced” to turn to the internet and my kind for help. I bet that just galls you guys. But if me and my kind are the “pirates” and bad guys, what are you and yours (the ones who’ve taken every opportunity to avoid NOT paying royalties to Lester Chambers)?

anon says:

copyright changes

The more i hear and talk to people about copyright the more i believe that the new copyright laws should go something along the lines of, every business that makes money from content created by an artist must without exception give the content creators 85% of all profit, There must be a 3 yearly audit to see if there are ways the industry is playing dirty , by paying there own companies money so they can say they made no profit.
Then secondly everyone has the right to download any content for personal use free of charge, everyone.

Let the artists get there work out there and spread around the world, then if they want to make a new album just go to a kick-start like site just for musicians.

If anything most of the money will go to the artist and be used to create content and pay them a fair amount, if they are popular enough, if not then they need to look into another career.

Lets get rid of the greedy monopoly that is in fact doing everything they can to grab as much of the artists money for themselves as they can. I for one would love to donate towards a campaign to take the offending studio and collection societies to court, this man worked hard and they made all the money, that is just not fair and copyright law must be changed to stop this now!!!!

Zakida Paul says:

Re: copyright changes

Hear hear.

Too many artists are being screwed over by record labels and their brainwashing bullshit about how they will never ‘make it’ without them.

What does ‘make it’ even mean? In my mind, it means having as many people as possible listening to their music while making a good, honest living (not millions). That can be done without the aid of monopolist record labels whose only concern is making as much money as possible and as quickly as possible. They do not give two shites about culture.

Rob Stringer (Channeled) says:

Lester is Ungrateful

I just don’t understand what Lester is complaining about. Columbia has been promoting the heck out of his Back Catalog. Just as soon as we make some profit, we will of course give him his share. Just last month I personally made a trip to Hawaii on a chartered jet with the other company officers to promote “The time has come”. We played the song at various poolside bars on 4 different islands in the chain. Sure those costs had to be charged against his residuals, but I think it was money well spent. He just needs to take time to see the “Big Picture”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Lester is Ungrateful

Yeah. I agree. Lester also has to realise, with all the weak copyrights we had back then, and even today, means that we lost millions, billions and even trillions of dollars to “piracy”.

I think the music industry must put Lester up as a symbol that we need to strenghten copyright laws even more, so that we can finally recoup our money and start paying artists like Lester.

To all you people who say that copyright laws are too strong and that we should abolish copyright… Your stand is making artist like Lester suffer!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Clear conscience...


I don’t know whether there is a right to own the ideas you’ve invented, or not, but because of the realities of digital copying, I am sure that supply chains will look very different in the future.

Artists will distribute their work with the help of firms that never own the work but only provide services. At worst they will take a clearly visible cut like Apple Store. Classical middlemen will all but disappear. Artists on the whole may stay poor, as they are now, despite the optimism on Techdirt, but there will be more art. Personalities, not artists as such, but hustling, savvy artists, will be the big winners. Not just bigger celebrities but more of them.

jameshogg says:

I used to think that copyright was justified simply because I had grown up to assume it unquestionably. Even in the pirate-prone world, I thought it was just to reward creators for their works. I was half right. Creators do deserve reward, but we deserve liberty more. However, with virtual ticket models like Kickstarter we can get the best of both worlds, and copyright has absolutely no place in the world of common sense anymore. Its philosophy of treating services as goods has inherent contradictions. We no longer have to put up with it.

All it took to change my mind was somebody asking me “just why exactly should the whole world give up so much liberty simply because of the assumption, based on no evidence whatsoever, that copyright is the only way to solve the free rider problem for funding artists?”. I did not have a clever answer to this, and it caused me to reconsider a lot of things indeed. I had read 1984 recently and I knew that the consequences of what copyright was really asking for were to be innately distrusted. Indeed, the country that ironically no doubt has the lowest levels of piracy in the world right now is North Korea. You can use that as a powerful comeback towards anyone who tries to passive-aggressively slander copyright abolitionists with the claim that China’s “Communistic” ideology, as opposed to North Korea’s Communistic ideology, causes 80% of the world’s piracy (the reason for this rate – assuming that the rate is not so high simply because of China’s high population – is because China blocks free trade especially when it comes to iTunes and other services, forcing people to pirate and hide under the country’s strict trade and free speech laws… sounds like a certain industry that tries to make content as unavailable as possible, doesn’t it?) It is no different to the “Hitler was an atheist!” slander I get in religious debates.

And speaking of 1984 and the piracy in China caused by trade blockades, I have heard of some stories about the Soviet Union’s underground opposition. People would pass around pirated copies of 1984 (and Animal Farm, too) to read and copy for one another. They had to be pirated because the Soviet Union, just like China, would not tolerate any trade from the West, which meant very few printing presses. The proles would keep any notice of 1984 copies being passed around off the record, and would give them an instinctive knowledge that would help them ease the difficult fall of the Soviet Union. So my question to any copyright maximalist/apologist is this: should the publishers of 1984 or George Orwell himself (I can guess HIS answer to this question) have been in a position to forbid the proles from obtaining such important literature for their resistance simply because they were not in a position, let alone any kind of liberty at all, to reward the author for his works? The implications are important – copyright economics at their very core have more Communistic potential than non-copyright economics. They must do, because copyright by its definition restricts trade.

I must say, reading the sign by Lester Chambers made me angry. It sums up everything about what is so horrible about copyright: eventually the buck of power gets passed to an unwelcome party who can overrule an artist’s rights on his own works, even although that party took no part whatsoever in the creative process. I have similar rage over what I heard about EMI preventing the Beatles from letting Carl Sagan use “Here Comes The Sun” for his Voyager Golden Record project.

This is tyranny by the way. There is no other way to describe it. A gross accumulation of power that reveals the worst possible aspects of unchallenged corporatism. These labels do not just have “a” monopoly – they have numerous monopolies consisting of every artist who ever signed with them. The concept of self-publishing or even self-management will never truly have a fair shot against this. These labels will always have unjust power as long as copyright exists, and have the ability to crush random innocent people in a “Go Postal!”, draconian fashion by bankrupting anyone who does the equivalent of letting their friends borrow DVDs over the internet.

People who laugh at this common sense… people who insist that this transparent stupidity is the best thing possible for both creators and audiences, and that anyone who even asks gentle questions about it are on par with car thieves and terrorists are just flippant. I cannot tell you how finished I am with people who talk like that. How fucking sick and tired I am of their absolute refusal to accept responsibility for the dangers that copyright poses to modern communication technology and, indeed, creativity as a whole.

Anything done in the name of copyright is okay, apparently. I hear that attempting to restore French Colonialism in Vietnam was justified in the name of fighting Communism, too.

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