This Is What's Wrong With The Music Industry: Musicians Have To Pay To Pay Themselves
from the bureaucracy dept
Let's tell one such story. Before we get started, why not hit play on this musical widget from Uniform Motion, a band from France we've written about a few times. The story is about them and the insanity of collection societies -- but you might as well use their music as the soundtrack for the post:
BUT.... what most people don’t know is that the music venue is legally obliged to pay public performance rights to SACEM (France’s Copyright Collection Society) in order to have bands play live music in their venue.Oh, you thought it stopped there? Nope. He notes that even the CD sale involves SACEM.
So we often have to fill out a form, providing details on all the songs we played to ensure SACEM can find the songwriter and pay them their money.“But we are the songwriters” we cry! “Just give us the money directly, why don’t you? It would save everyone a lot of time (and money) wouldn’t it”?But that would be far too easy.
So the venue pays SACEM and SACEM tells us we can get the money back (minus some reasonable administration fees of course, like their President’s €750,000 annual salary for instance!) if we pay them a member’s fee.
In order to have CD’s made in France, you’re legally obliged to fill out an SDRM form (which is handled by SACEM). CD Manufacturers won’t press your CD’s without prior authorization from SACEM.Yes, you read that right. They have to pay SACEM to make their CD... because SACEM insists that it needs to pay the songwriters. Since they're all original songs (and quite good ones too), they have to pay SACEM so that SACEM can make sure that money goes to... er... them. The summary:
If the songs are not listed in their database, you don’t have to pay them anything but if they are (because maybe you became a SACEM member in order to get your public performance money from your live performances) they’ll make you pay a Mechanical Royalty.
So we fill out the forms and they tell us we have to pay the mechanical royalties to them so that they can pay the songwriter for the privilege of having their music on our CD.“But we are the songwriters dude! So why don’t we just give the money to ourselves?!”Again, that would be too easy!
Let’s summarize what just happened here. The Copyright Collection Society makes the artist pay them to have their own CD’s manufactured, takes a portion of their live revenues and then uses the money to sue the guy who came to the gig and bought a CD!Ah, right. Did you miss that part? SACEM is involved in some lawsuits against file sharing sites.
This is what is wrong with the music business.
So, look at this from Andy's perspective. He's fine with his music on The Pirate Bay because it builds a fan base, which helps him attract fans to shows where they buy merch. All that works great for Andy and Uniform Motion. And yet, SACEM forcefully inserts itself into nearly every step of that process -- taking a cut of the live revenue to "pay" the band, taking a cut of the CD manufacturing to "pay" them again... and then using the money it collects to try to take down the platform that the band uses to promote its works.