Big Name Musicians Threaten To Strike Over Parlophone Sell-Off After Discovering They're 'Just Assets'

from the should-have-read-that-contract dept

An interesting story over at Hypebot highlights how some "big name" musicians are threatening to "strike" and withhold new albums if they're not happy with how the sale of the label Parlophone goes down. As you may recall, with Universal Music getting approval to buy EMI, it has to sell off Parlophone, the iconic label that's home to a bunch of well known artists. And while Hypebot's title says that they're striking over the sale of EMI to UMG, that doesn't appear to be the case at all. The concern has to do solely with the sale of Parlophone:

Many of the label’s artists are unhappy being viewed merely as “assets” or “pawns” in a game that is set to be in the best interest for the powers that be. To protest this move, the rockers of Blur have joined forces with a number of Parlophone label-mates to collectively lobby potential bidders for the company and calling on them to place the interests of artists first, as reported by The Independent. If the musicians don’t find the new Parlophone owners to their liking, they could withhold all future releases and effectively go on "strike". 

"Artists are the only people currently being left out of the conversation, which is unfortunate,” said Blur drummer Dave Rowntree to The Independent. “If the staff at the label are unhappy with the new arrangements they are free to leave, but the artists are not."

I'm sympathetic to the artists here, because it almost certainly does suck for them... but I'm not quite sure what they're expecting here. For the labels, they are an asset and have always been just that. That's why they signed a contract in the first place. If they didn't like it, they shouldn't have signed a contract. Threatening to void the contract because they don't like some completely unrelated piece of business doesn't seem like a particularly reasonable response.

To be honest, it seems like in selling off Parlophone, the label might actually wind up somewhere more progressive and open to a future that embraces what technology allows, rather than holds it back. Perhaps the artists shouldn't make a big stink until they see what results. But, either way, if this was such a big concern, why didn't they write into their contracts that the deals were null & void should the label be sold?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 5:15am

    They signed the contracts, and yes, as a result, they are assets. They may not like it, but that is what they signed up for.

    It's funny as hell when people wake up and realize they signed a record deal and that doesn't just mean hookers and coke (or is that massage therapists and X these days)?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 5:30am

      Re:

      It's the typical artist feeling of entitlement.

      Everything must go their way, or else they throw a tantrum.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        John (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 5:44am

        Re: Re:

        What the hell is entitled about worrying who your company is going to get sold to?

        When a company merges or gets sold off, what's the first thing that always happens? Layoffs.

        Being worried about your career is not entitled you insensitive prick.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          icon
          Cdaragorn (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 7:39am

          Re: Re: Re:

          No one said anything about worrying who your company is getting sold to. Of course that is a perfectly legitimate concern.

          What is not ok is fussing and whining like some 2 year old and throwing a tantrum because it's not going how you want it to. The artists here are choosing to be dishonest by intentionally breaking a contract they willingly entered into.

          Whether you agree with your employers decisions or not does not give you free license to be dishonest with them, or in any way make that kind of behavior justifiable.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          •  
            icon
            John (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 7:41am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Dishonest? In no way is anyone being dishonest.
            Look it up in the dictionary and try again.

             

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            •  
              icon
              Cdaragorn (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 7:55am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              So not doing what you promised you would do is not dishonest? Funny, what dictionary are you using, please? I'd like to make sure it's on my blacklist.

               

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              •  
                icon
                JMT (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 5:51pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Dishonest:
                1. Disposed to lie, cheat, defraud, or deceive.
                2. Resulting from or marked by a lack of honesty.

                Deciding not to honour a contract is not dishonesty by the dictionary definition. That's not to say it's acceptable, but you need to find a better word to describe it.

                 

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        Zakida Paul (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 5:54am

        Re: Re:

        It's the typical gatekeeper feeling of entitlement.

        Everything must go their way, or else they throw a tantrum.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Zakida Paul (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 5:54am

      Re:

      Record deals which were signed decades ago in some cases when there was no other alternative.

      I suppose you think aggrieved employees should not have the right to strike either?

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 7:09am

        Re: Re:

        The poroblem is the lenght of the contracts. I think the artists are worried about the quality of the postproduction, marketing and distribution. If the new owner decides to fire the regular employees it is almost guaranteed that there will be something to that fear. The question of what is in the contract should be a reminder of the weakness of binding yourself to a specific sequence of happenings in the future without knowing its obstacles.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        Cdaragorn (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 7:44am

        Re: Re:

        While we all agree that the contracts record labels put out are incredibly one sided, the fact is, yes they did have an alternative. They could go get a different job. Make music on the side in their free time.

        No matter how powerful the record labels might have been, there was always another choice.

        Also, comparing what these artists are doing with a contract they signed that agreed to release albums, vs aggrieved employees who are almost always on a contract that openly allows either party to terminate in whenever they want without care or concern for the reasons, is mixing 2 completely different things.

        These artists are breaking a contract they willingly entered into, and in doing so, breaking the law. Aggrieved employees would not be breaking any laws by choosing to break a contract that says they can terminate it anytime they want.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        anon, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 12:48pm

        Re: Re:

        The artists have been reaping in a few dollars here and there while the labels have been making billions, and they do not understand that it is them and there music that created all of that money, where did they think the money came from to send them on tours and pay themselves tens of thousands to record an album,charging that to the artist.

        Artists are assets just as a shop has goods on a shelf, they are sold and used to create profit, nothing more, if they think the execs are interested in them as people I think they need to go back to school.

        I would also treat my assets well if I was making billions off them, but they are just assets. nothing more, they lost the right to call there music there own the moment they signed on the dotted line.The assets of any business are bought and sold all the time, artists are no different.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Lowestofthekeys (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 6:06am

      Re:

      "They signed the contracts, and yes, as a result, they are assets."

      This is the same issue with a lot of actors, for example Mickey Rourke got butthurt because the studios wouldn't allow him to develop his Ivan Vanko character from Iron Man 2. He forgot to realize it wasn't in his contract to do so.

      Frankly, a lot of musicians who don't want to deal with this kind of crap start their own labels too. These guys should take a clue from that.

      T

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 5:26am

    'they are an asset and have always been just that. If they didn't like it, they shouldn't have signed a contract.'

    exactly! they have only just realised what they are? must be as thick as fuck then! while they were getting the good bits, it was ok, then, was it? perhaps this will show up-and-coming artists what their future could be and convince them to give the 'go it alone' option a try!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    John (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 5:45am

    "Assets"

    So.....patents and copyrights should be distributed freely but people should have no rights whatsoever?

    Does the author support slavery as well?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 5:55am

      Re: "Assets"

      This comment makes as much sense as your previous one. That is: none whatsoever.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 5:59am

      Re: "Assets"

      Given the documented history of how the recording industry has treated its signed artists, I'd say the recording industry loves slavery.

      Does their contact allow for this sort of protest?

      Are you one of the protesting artists? What is your insight to this particular case?

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Michael, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 6:15am

        Re: Re: "Assets"

        "Given the documented history of how the recording industry has treated its signed artists, I'd say the recording industry loves slavery."

        In industry lingo: indentured servitude.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Ed C., Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 6:00am

      Re: "Assets"

      Since you're new here, it would be best to point out that Mike has repeatedly reported about how one-sided label contracts are. Many people outside the industry know this. But artist still keep signing them anyway, and they are legally bound to uphold them.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      PaulT (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 6:38am

      Re: "Assets"

      "So.....patents and copyrights should be distributed freely but people should have no rights whatsoever?"

      You seem to have an active imagination. Nothing in the article suggests that its author supports their situation, only that it should not be a shock for them. They should have rights, of course, but if they chose the Faustian deal that enriched them in return for waiving those right, who do they have to blame?

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Michael, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 5:52am

    Gee, did the artists just arrive at that revelation? Knowing is half the battle. Of course it would've been better had they known before they signed along the dotted line.

    To whom it may concern, DON'T SIGN WITH A RECORD LABEL. Even if they're a small label, DON'T SIGN because they might get bought out sometime later.

    I can't wait for the termination clauses to go into effect in 2013. Grab some popcorn and enjoy the show.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Zakida Paul (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 5:58am

      Re:

      It is NOT a matter of DON'T SIGN WITH A LABEL. It is a matter of enter negotiations with open eyes, know your options and ALWAYS read the fine print.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Michael, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 6:13am

        Re: Re:

        Yes, it absolutely is a matter of DON'T SIGN WITH A LABEL. I don't know how it works in other countries but here in the US the deck is stacked against the artist no matter what. The labels would never agree to a contract which didn't leave them in a position of control. Why do you think that many major label artists who've gone platinum are dropping their labels, suing labels for cooking the books in order to withhold on royalties and utilizing their termination clauses?

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          icon
          Zakida Paul (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 6:19am

          Re: Re: Re:

          That's where going into negotiations knowing all your options helps but I will also add that a willingness to walk away is also needed. Anyone who has ever done a business deal knows that being aware of all available options and being willing to walk away puts YOU in the position of strength.

          That is much easier now than just 20 years ago.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          •  
            identicon
            Michael, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 6:32am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            So how about instead of making artists sign long-term deals, commission them on a per-album basis? The label pays up-front to distribute (which today costs practically nothing) and make money on the album with the artist taking 40-50% share in the profits (it is his work, after all). That seems only fair. Why should the label/distributor take roughly 88-90%? That's just absurd and you know it.

             

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            •  
              icon
              Zakida Paul (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 6:41am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I agree, I'm all for fairer deals for artists and I believe that at the very least they should get half of the money for sales (and even that seems low). The labels aren't going to look out for the artist interests though so they need to help themselves by knowing their options and negotiating a better deal for themselves.

               

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              •  
                identicon
                Michael, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 6:59am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                A work-by-commission would be far more preferred to the standard record deal. Even though it would essentially be a work-for-hire, the artist would recoup far more in the long term. For starters, the artist wouldn't need to be financed by the label and thus wouldn't owe them anything out of their share. The artist would secure the rights to their work and not be dictated to. The artist would have leverage to pick and choose what, if anything, they wanted to have the label finance, be it studio overhead, working with X producer, MVs, etc. and then hammer out a seperate working agreement. This gives the artist much breathing room so that he can decide whether he wants to take the financial risk or go it alone, thereby negating any risk to either party.

                As it stands, it's unfair for a label to spend a million+ on one artist and then expect them to pay it all back via a 10-12% cut on album/song sales.

                 

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                •  
                  identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2012 @ 12:52pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Sounds good... except as 'work for hire' the labels would control the copyrights by default (as anything produced as a work for hire is owned by the one doing the hiring)...

                   

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        John Fenderson (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 9:07am

        Re: Re:

        It is a matter of enter negotiations with open eyes, know your options and ALWAYS read the fine print.


        No, it's not. The record labels are not honest brokers, and it is essentially impossible to understand the contracts they want the artists to sign, whether you read them or not.

        If you enter into a contract with these companies, you will almost certainly get screwed no matter how conscientious you are.

        Don't sign with the mainstream record labels. They'll eat you alive.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    eric e johnson, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 6:01am

    That just begs the question, why, with what technology allows, did they sign with a label in the first place?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Zakida Paul (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 6:05am

      Re:

      Well, in the case of older artists (even Blur) there were no other options available at the time to achieve anywhere near the level of success they have achieved with the label. We know, nowadays that the Internet gives a wealth of options to new artists but back then the technology was not good enough.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        PaulT (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 6:47am

        Re: Re:

        Yes. I'm certainly more sympathetic to Blur and other older bands who had little choice at the beginnings of their career.

        But, Blur's first album was in 1991 and they've experienced massive success since then. Were they really not able to renegotiate their contract to something more beneficial in the intervening 20 years?

        For newer artists, I have less sympathy. Really, did Tinie Tempah not realise that this could be a bad deal when he signed in 2009? I could have told him that even if I wasn't aware of the bad situation EMI was in at the time - and I did know that...

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      John (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 6:47am

      Re:

      Because it seems like most of those artists signed their deals long before said technology was around. It's not like they signed the deals a year ago.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      anon, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 12:50pm

      Re:

      They were promised fame and fortune, so sold there souls to the devil, I think someone wrote a song about that actually.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 6:02am

    Before the trolls

    Before the trolls come in to point out and yell about how Mike is pointing out that the artists signed a contract and this in any way contradicts his previous statements, it does not.

    The difference here is that there is no direct threat to the artists, just a little bit of sucktitude. What Mike usually rails against with the contracts and how they shouldn't sign them is how the contracts are unfair when the labels use them to avoid paying the artists anything over extended periods of time. This article does not address this. It focuses simply on the fact that the contracts can be sold. In both this and other cases, Mike points out that the artists should go over the contracts in a very detailed manner to try to avoid such situations.

    So, normally, direct harm done to artists by labels, which is bad. This case, no direct harm and possibly no harm by the time this is done anyways. So to all the Mike bashers, pay attention!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Ima Fish (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 6:09am

    And in other news, the members of Blur are still together and feel they're relevant, somehow.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 6:28am

    'Artists are the only people currently being left out of the conversation, which is unfortunate'

    now they know how the paying customer feels when they are the only ones left out of deals (but without them there would be nothing!) that are struck by the entertainment industries and whoever else they want involved, but are always, without exception, the only ones that are adversely affected!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Nathan F (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 6:35am

    Only one side can change?

    Usually contracts are entered and both sides agree to the terms. If one side suddenly up and changes the terms (Parlophone getting sold to another company) shouldn't that make the contract null and void or at the least force a review of terms with the new contract holder? In this instance I am going to have to side with the artists.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      TasMot (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 7:05am

      Re: Only one side can change?

      Look at the fine print, normally the contracts will include a "successor and assigns" clause which means they can assign the contract to someone else and the band will go along with the contract to whomever it gets assigned.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Call me Al, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 7:12am

      Re: Only one side can change?

      Except that the contract would be with Parlophone and likely would not include any reference to the parent company. There is no new contract holder, it is still Parlophone.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      anon, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 12:53pm

      Re: Only one side can change?

      The owners of the assets the artists in this case have a right to sell there assets, yes they are people and should really have an input but as soon as they sign on the dotted line they give that right away.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Graham J (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 6:36am

    Bye

    This is a great start. Now if only all the other commercially signed bands would stop releasing albums we could finally start improving the signal-to-noise ratio of today's music.

    Support your local indie.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    John (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 6:45am

    Since the "experts" in this thread seem to know more than the artists themselves, I suggest you take a look at the list of artists on the label.

    A lot of those artists have been on the label for a long time. It's not like they had a choice back in the day of where to go.

    But no, no, the experts are right. You all know more than the artists.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Violated (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 12:18pm

      Re:

      I would not be uncaring to the musicians and bands involved but this is really the era of the lawyers and accountants now where those said musicians really are an assert to be bought, sold, traded or reworked as their new masters see fit.

      Having UMG buy your label is enough to make anyone very concerned and just maybe a strike threat can win them a few concessions. They do need to be very careful though when if they give UMG too many headaches then they may decide to just close Parlophone and sell off the assets. You can also bet the lawyers already have all the tools they need to goad these musicians into their new roles.

      I am also doubting that UMG would want to appear soft early on by giving away concessions when if they do other labels may want to get strike ideas as well. Better for them to pick out the trouble maker in order to punish them harshly so the rest are fearful, respectful and compliant. UMG can get away with being nasty as well when they are the Devil of the music world.

      So good luck to them but their best hope is to show to UMG how valuable Parlophone can be to them if correctly nurtured but they would be lucky to even get that voice.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    John (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 6:53am

    Union bashers

    Interesting that a site and a group of people that claim to "stand up" for people's rights suddenly come across as a bunch of union bashers when they don't feel the people getting screwed over have a right to defend themselves.
    Shouldn't it be a level playing field for everyone?

    I sincerely hope everyone working for a corporation commenting here has to go through a merger and gets canned. Then we can talk about how you're just whiny and entitled.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Zakida Paul (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 6:58am

      Re: Union bashers

      "I sincerely hope everyone working for a corporation commenting here has to go through a merger and gets canned"

      That seems a bit harsh. I would never wish that on anyone as it is so unpleasant.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        John (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 7:06am

        Re: Re: Union bashers

        Considering they're all acting like no one should have the right to stand up for themselves in an employment situation, I think they deserve to see the situation when the shoe is on the other foot.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          icon
          Cdaragorn (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 8:28am

          Re: Re: Re: Union bashers

          Of course we would, if that was in any way what we were saying.

          The contract they entered into is not even remotely like an employment contract, so I have to tell you yet again, you're mixing 2 completely different things.

          The contract they signed was along the lines of one a contractor would sign. Once signed, they are bound by it's terms until they've fulfilled them, period. This is not the same thing as signing a contract for a job where you get paid for showing up every day.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 7:06am

      Re: Union bashers

      I think you need some help.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        John (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 7:21am

        Re: Re: Union bashers

        I think you need to learn some human empathy instead of being a supporter of slavery.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          icon
          Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 7:37am

          Re: Re: Re: Union bashers

          Slavery? C'mon! They could always break contract and deal with the consequences. It seems like so many don't want to deal with the consequences of their decisions. Somebody works hard, is smart, and gets rich, he didn't do the work, it was thanks to the government. If somebody takes the pointless, easy degree from the university and ends up un(der)employed it isn't his fault either. Bailouts for the rich. Bailouts for the poor. Bailouts for the ignorant. When does it ever end? Are people ever going to take responsibility for their own screw-ups?

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          •  
            icon
            John Fenderson (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 9:11am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Union bashers

            Slavery? C'mon! They could always break contract and deal with the consequences.


            And slaves could always run away and deal with the consequences. What's your point?

            Somebody works hard, is smart, and gets rich, he didn't do the work, it was thanks to the government.


            You do realize that nobody ever said that, right? Not even the President.

            Are people ever going to take responsibility for their own screw-ups?


            Most people do. It tends to be the big corporations that do not.

             

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            •  
              icon
              Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 11:44am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Union bashers

              And slaves could always run away and deal with the consequences. What's your point?

              Of course, slaves didn't voluntarily sign into a contract.

              You do realize that nobody ever said that, right? Not even the President.

              Well, no the President did say that exactly. This is what he said in full context:

              "If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business—you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen."

              Which was surely twisted to say something he didn't mean. Unless, of course, your business was road and bridge construction. =]

              Although my statement was more based on what many believe that the rich don't deserve what they worked for. That is the main point of OWS. I don't disagree that there are problems with the system of corruption allowed by the government/corporate partnership. On the flip side, all the people who took out $40k in student loans to get a graphic art degree shouldn't expect an engineering salary straight out of college. OWS opposes government bailout of the rich while asking for a bailout from their student loans.

              Whoa! This is way off topic and probably better for some other website.

               

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              •  
                icon
                John Fenderson (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 1:02pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Union bashers

                That is the main point of OWS.


                I think very few people believe that rich people don't deserve what they worked for, and that is most definitely not the main point of OWS. The issue of wealth disparity is not an issue of envy or people thinking that the honest rich don't deserve their riches. It's more about the strong tendency of the rich to shirk the societal responsibilities that come with being rich.

                But you're right, this is pretty far off-topic. :)

                 

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Michael, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 7:14am

      Re: Union bashers

      This isn't even an argument. It's understood that a record label is not a union in any way, shape or form.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Cdaragorn (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 8:31am

      Re: Union bashers

      Quit pretending that signing a contract where you are bound to accomplish something in some set period of time is even remotely the same as signing a contract for a job that says either party can terminate it at any time for any reason and maybe we'll care what you have to say.

      Until then, I'm beginning to think that obvious troll is obvious.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Rick Smith (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 9:15am

      Re: Union bashers

      I have been through a merger before. I had no say in anything about who the new owners would be or about my position within the company after it was sold. Just like nearly everyone else at the company.

      So sounds like a normal situation. What's your point? Why should musicians be any different from any other non-executive level employee?

      You go with it or quit. Several of the higher level employees for my company had non-compete clauses in their employment contracts, so they couldn't quit unless they wanted to find a new industry. Sounds pretty much like these musicians to me. Stay and deal or quit and do something else.

      So again, what are you looking for? No one’s treating these guys any different than millions of other employees are treated every day of the year.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Gwiz (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 1:24pm

      Re: Union bashers

      I sincerely hope everyone working for a corporation commenting here has to go through a merger and gets canned. Then we can talk about how you're just whiny and entitled.

      Been there, done that. After investing 16 years of my career into that company - here's your severance pay, have a nice life.

      On top of that, the corporation that took over made some really stupid decisions and devalued my 401k by 90% when their stock prices tanked and never recovered.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        John (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 9:49pm

        Re: Re: Union bashers

        Oh complaining about your 401k losing value?
        You're just entitled.

        See how that works?
        It's not very nice, is it?

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          icon
          Gwiz (profile), Oct 3rd, 2012 @ 7:45am

          Re: Re: Re: Union bashers

          Oh complaining about your 401k losing value?
          You're just entitled.


          Not complaining at all. Just stating fact. Mergers and corporate decisions that impact employee's wellbeing happen all the time. It's business. Shit happens. Not sure how a merger that impacts artists with signed, binding contracts is any different.


          See how that works?
          It's not very nice, is it?


          It really doesn't matter how I feel about it. It is what it is.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 7:28am

    Many of the label’s artists are unhappy being viewed merely as “assets” or “pawns” in a game that is set to be in the best interest for the powers that be.

    Welcome to our world!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    John (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 7:38am

    So is Mike going to address the fact that he's supporting slavery, or what?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 8:08am

      Re:

      Pipe down a bit, sir. You are responsible for far too many comments in this section.
      I, as part of the omnimind known as anonymous coward, am threatened in terms of having most comments on this piece.

      You are far too consistent on this issue. Consistently deranged and estranged.
      He writes that he is sympathetic to the bands, but point out that It is too early to pass a judgement on the new owner since they are not found yet!. Trying to accuse him of supporting slavery on that standpoint is not even close to intellegtually honest.

      If Mike answered every strawman of this type in his comment-section, he would never be able to write new pieces...

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        John (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 8:11am

        Re: Re:

        Maybe he could just dictate to his slaves.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 8:19am

          Re: Re: Re:

          You are definately original and good for you, but you are not as smart as you think.

          I give you 5/10. To improve you need to keep the swearing down a bit more. Also, you need to slow down your paranoia since it is so brick and mortar. Follow the time, man. Learn to troll!

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          identicon
          Michael, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 8:27am

          Re: Re: Re:

          If anyone's a slave, it's definitely the artists under the corporate rule of the labels. If the system were fair, artists wouldn't speak out like this, yet they do on a rather frequent basis.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          •  
            icon
            John (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 11:25am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            But it's okay that they just sit back and accept they are assets? That is contradictory and ridiculous.

             

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            •  
              identicon
              Ed C., Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 1:06pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Yes, it sucks, but that's the nature of the business they entered into. They are free to complain and rally, but they are still stuck with the contracts. If they want to change their situation, they need to renegotiate the terms of their agreement. What is this so hard to understand?

               

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 10:19pm

      Re:

      Now you are just trolling. Contracts are the key, here. The artists are not being treated as slaves. Their contracts are being sold. (contract, NOT the musician). You can object to your contract being sold, but they are under no obligation to take your worries about it into account. Put another way, I own half stake in a property, and our agreement says nothing about you having any say whatsoever in how I dispose of my half of the title, then I can sell my stake to anyone without concern for how you feel about it. These artists do not have a voice because (surprise!) that isn't in the contract. Calling this slavery is about as dishonest as you can get.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Karl (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 7:44am

    why didn't they write into their contracts that the deals were null & void should the label be sold?

    You're assuming the artists actually have the power to write stuff into their contracts. Generally speaking, they do not.

    In order to even start the negotiating process, artists have to sign a "deal memo" with the label. This means that, no matter what, the artist will sign with that label alone. If they want to sign with another, that other label will have to "buy out" their contract - something most labels aren't willing to do with new talent, and if they do, it leaves the artists in an even worse bargaining position.

    The only way concessions will be made by the label, is if they're willing to give up those concessions in order to end the negotiation process sooner, so they can put out the album faster. This works with small stuff - a point here, a point there - but not with something as big as a "null & void" clause. The label would simply reject the clause, and wait until the artists were forced to accept it.

    That's the way it worked in the pre-360 days, at least (and I have no information that it's gotten any better). I know that many of the artists on Parlophone (e.g. Blur) signed during this time.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      dennis deems, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 12:15pm

      Re:

      This, this, this! For some reason a lot of people have difficulty grasping that artists negotiating with labels are rarely if ever acting from a position of power. That's precisely why the current internet landscape is so attractive. Doesn't do much for bands that signed in the early 90's though.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Lord Binky, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 7:49am

    The label owns the music/group/image, not the people. I don't know the specifics,but I would think that if a band truly hated this, they could just say fine, we're disbanding and going to find new musical ventures. Then after they'll all done with the paperwork saying they're not part of _____. They suddenly form a new group, not under that label. Tada!

    From what I understand, the contract with the label basically always reads, we own everything you make. So the worst part of quitting the label is you give up access to your former work, but hey, if your a good musician your fans follow you and not the label right?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Michael, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 8:34am

      Re:

      But to do so would be to risk breach of contract, regardless of name/personnel change. Basically once the artist signs the dotted line, they're an indentured servant -- the *property* of their parent label. This is just one of many reasons why the labels are going out of vogue. The rampant abuse of the artist has become cliché.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Lord Binky, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 9:34am

        Re: Re:

        Is it a non-compete clause or what? Why is it a label can drop them, but they have to remain with the label no matter what? If you're a 'work for hire' after you've performed your work,'the album', how is it you're required to continue working indefinitely?

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 12:20pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Maybe a core fan base will follow the band as they break up and reform with a different identity. But beyond that they will have to find their audience all over again. Building an identity takes time, and flushing all that work away would be a massive risk.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 8:13am

    But, either way, if this was such a big concern, why didn't they write into their contracts that the deals were null & void should the label be sold?

    Geezz if I sign some slavery contract with some bullshit label I could get sold to another bullshit label if the label gets sold...

    WHY WASN'T ANY OF THE ARTISTS THINKING ABOUT THIS!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 8:17am

    I am quite surprised the argument of "if you don't like it leave it, stop whining" type of argument is seriously considered in the article. Those who have signed are stuck, as many comments rightly pointed at.

    The artists are legitimate to voice their worries on who will buy them out. It may change a lot to them. There'll likely be new profitability studies and roster slashing/trading, a possibly more hostile context and financial control, and many other things effecting.

    That's exactly what happened when EMI bought Virgin out in the 90's. The latter had a significantly more (though not unlimited) A&R and artistic respect for which artists came to sign to begin with. And the move to EMI and the tightening on budget-control had disastrous effects on the label quality and added value (from the artists' perspective). The key manager re-created labels (V2 / Richard branson...), etc...

    So I agree with the artists here that yes, even within the evil mega-major world there are differences, the new parent company they'll end up will have a significant impact on the artists. Why wouldn't they be vigilant and want to be taken into account in that situation ?

    I find it hard to consider this to be wining, and quite legitimate for the artists to worry about not being screwed up any further in the process of this sale.

    Actually the irony is that Parlophone will lose a lot of it's value with artists leaving whenever they can, hence it's even the buyer's best interest to build such guaranties in the deal's engineering.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 8:25am

      Re:

      I other words I could easely side with an angle along the lines of "young artists, here's another risk and good reason to seriously consider not signing a deal with majors or potetnitally bought out label".

      Much less so the "they should stop whining as they signed the contract, so they got what you deserve now" kind of punitive stance. I got more accustomed to see our trolling AC/AJ friends overuse that sickening "argument" all over these very site's comments threads.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      John (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 11:28am

      Re:

      Your type of thinking requires common sense, which is apparently lacking on the part of the author and most of the forum.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 9:03am

    Contracts should not be transferrable

    This is a pet peeve of mine. I think it should be illegal to transfer contracts to third parties without the explicit approval of everyone who entered into the original contract.

    This case is a little tangential to the point, as it's not the contract being sold, but the company, but we see this issue arise time and again: selling mortgages to other companies, etc.

    When I make a deal, a big factor in my decision is who I'm making the deal with. When my contract is sold to someone else, it completely voids that part of the decision-making process, and I can find myself doing business with an entity that I don't want to touch with a ten-foot pole.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Tom Anderson, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 9:03am

    The artists are often in early stages of their careers when they sign their contracts. Although they could propose to add clauses such as was suggested, it's in fact up to the lawyers of the labels. They would never in fact accept such a clause. Stop the madness!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    gorehound (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 9:11am

    I have no sympathy at all towards any Artist who is stupid enough to be signed to the RIAA/Big Label Scene.
    Do that and you already crossed the line and you are now just a Sell-Out.
    That is how I live and I have the same attitude I have had since around 1975.I am a 56 year old original punk rocker and I care about Small Label Music and say Screw Big Labels.
    Last Big Label Vinyl LP I bought must of been the 3RD or 4TH Ramones LP.I have been a great supporter of the Obscure.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      John (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 11:22am

      Re:

      "I have no sympathy at all towards any Artist who is stupid enough to be signed to the RIAA/Big Label Scene.
      Do that and you already crossed the line and you are now just a Sell-Out.
      That is how I live and I have the same attitude I have had since around 1975"

      Wow. You're so hardcore. You're right.
      *No one* should be able to make a living off of what they want to do! /sarcasm

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Ed C., Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 1:16pm

        Re: Re:

        You do realize that there are other ways to make money off of your music that doesn't require signing a label contract?

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 9:20am

    I simply don't understand why musicians who are generally young enough when signing contracts with labels to have immense legal experience combined with complete prescience did not force the inclusion in the contracts of stipulations for completely unforeseen events that should render the contract void. They have only themselves to blame and to complain about it only now when the event is happening, just because they happen to now be aware of it, is clearly ludicrous.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 10:09am

      Re:

      Stop having (sarcastic) compassion for people, that is not allowed. Everyone needs to have all knowledge of everything because we all have hindsight of every situation before it occurs.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Lord Binky, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 10:14am

      Re:

      Signing with labels has been known to be making a deal with the devil for so long it has become the basis for many jokes and 90's movie plots. Should it be taught in elementary school that signing contracts that you don't understand each part of is guaranteed to contain something that will come back to bite you?

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Violated (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 11:44am

    The meaty one

    In this case they can only bend over and take UMG's meaty wedge into a very sensitive place. It is true that they once signed a contract and now they have to live through a painful part of that.

    This is not to say that I am not sorry for musicians when such sales can leave so many of them f**ked over. Keep in mind that the labels own the copyright on the music and artists are only left with a contract that tends to end when the music label company ends.

    UMG are certainly the biggest and badest of the group where free music income is of course tempting to them should they want to shut down a label and to sell the assets (the copyrights)... to themselves. They get all the music income and the musicians now don't.

    At least active and profitable labels are more likely to survive but if UMG can modernize them is a good question. In any case just not a happy or pain-free time.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 12:32pm

    I wonder how long artists are going to take to realize the anti-piracy efforts aren't for their sake either.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 2:48pm

      Re:

      They should have already realised this when they never received cuts from settlement letters. The RIAA, IFPI and other alphabet organisations have already made it clear that all profit from settlement letters is going into more enforcement and lobbying efforts, not to the artists that were allegedly robbed from.

      Either the artists are too stupid to notice, or they have enough money to blow such that piracy was never a problem.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    David (profile), Oct 3rd, 2012 @ 2:15pm

    Why don't they buy it

    Why don't these artists get together, form a consortium and buy Parlophone... Then they have control...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Nick Ashton-Hart, Oct 4th, 2012 @ 3:51pm

    A bit simplistic

    I guess it is my night to be contrary.

    The idea that artists have the bargaining power to insert clauses about what happens to them if a major label is sold is absolutely a total non-starter. This is just never, ever possible.

    People need to realise that labels have all the bargaining power when signing an artist that isn't already a massive success; even the most succesful spend many years trying to negotiate even the most rudimentary elements of fairness into any part of their contracts. This is why so many artists are not going with the majors any more.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This