A week or so ago, a whole bunch of folks started submitting variations on the story of Lester Chambers, of the successful Chambers Brothers band, for the dramatic photo he posted to Facebook explaining how he didn't receive any royalties
To be honest, we've seen so many stories like this that I wasn't even sure it was worth posting. Contrary to what some of our critics insist, I don't seek out every anti-record label story out there. But where this gets interesting is that in that interview with Vice (linked above), he indicates that he's planning to sue over this:
Was it a spur of the moment decision on your part to post the letter?
No, no, no. My friends and my son, we've been working on this for the past eight or nine years. We have all the contracts, all the record labels, all of that information together. It's a good time because of Occupy. My wife is a paralegal, so she's been able to do a great job preparing all of the paperwork.
So you're going to sue them directly? This isn't just a press campaign?
We're gonna correct our situation.
Do you think you'll succeed?
I hope so. I'm gonna do it for every musician who's been treated the way I have.
Major labels playing RIAA accounting
tricks are nothing new, but you rarely see lawsuits over it. Yes, there have been some cases recently -- such as Kenny Rogers' lawsuit
-- but those are usually more focused on the question of whether or not iTunes revenue is counted as a sale (small royalty) or a license (big royalty). Some of those are uncovering other accounting irregularities in the process, but a lawsuit focused on lack of royalty payments could get more interesting. We've seen how musicians have discovered that the royalty statements that the major labels keep on them are more or less works of fiction
, but it would be interesting to see such accounting practices directly challenged in court.