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RIAA argues for basing songwriter royalties on revenue

Written by Rich Fiscus (Google+) @ 04 Mar 2008 2:40 User comments (9)

RIAA argues for basing songwriter royalties on revenue The RIAA is trying to convince the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board (CRB), which is responsible for setting the mechanical (automatic) royalty rates paid for music publication, that the flat rate calculations ($0.91 per song) used to pay songwriters should be changed to a percentage of the label's revenue. It was about the same time last year that the CRB made headlines by adopting a controversial proposal by SoundExchange, who collect royalties for a number of labels including every RIAA member, setting a flat royalty rate for webcasters.
In the wake of last year's CRB decision a number of webcasters have indicated that the royalties would quickly exceed revenue, resulting in the near demise of the entire industry in the U.S. This argument fell on deaf ears in the CRB, as they chose to adopt the SoundExchange proposal without amendment.

Ironically this mirrors the RIAA's argument. They claim that due to a failing CD industry, and lower revenues from online distribution, they should only be charged based on what they earn. Of course, as the artists who are waiting for their cut of the hundreds of millions of dollars collected last year when various online services settled copyright infringement lawsuits can tell you, in the entertainment industry every project officially loses money until the artists' lawyers and accountants prove otherwise.

If the CRB decides to go along with the RIAA proposal they risk a backlash from Congress, who have so far not had the resolve to overturn webcaster royalties through legislation. However, if the RIAA's request is granted they'll effectively be giving CRB critics ammunition.

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9 user comments

14.3.2008 4:39
nobrainer
Inactive

We work around the clock for the good of the Artists! No fat cats in this business creaming all the milk from the top, by exploiting every means possible!

ppl please do NOT purchase any of the four main RIAA members music or MPAA films, or any crippled by DRM hardware, the only way to stop these anti consumer companies is to boycott them completely.

There is loads of talent out there from independent artists, producers ect, Big media's grasp at being gatekeepers is reaching the final chapter and its up to us all if we want a world of manufactured crap with 200+ years copywrite or a fair deal for all with a thriving culture building on current works without the fear of Big Media locking you up in prison or spying on you with the likes of blu-ray profile 2.0 phone home tactics.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 04 Mar 2008 @ 4:41

24.3.2008 8:41

A better balance could be struck,once you remove the RIAA it chews through to much money to be worth while.

A certain percentage of the song/album pie goes to the writers the band as a whole and then the publishers.

something like
40% publisher
30% band/singer
30% writer

Pubs do need alot of money to sale music however they do not need so much they can prop up bad singers.

35.3.2008 9:29
Icanbe
Inactive

.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 11 Mar 2008 @ 15:30

45.3.2008 21:03

Quote:
The RIAA is trying to convince the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board (CRB), which is responsible for setting the mechanical (automatic) royalty rates paid for music publication, that the flat rate calculations ($0.91 per song) used to pay songwriters should be changed to a percentage of the label's revenue. It was about the same time last year that the CRB made headlines by adopting a controversial proposal by SoundExchange, who collect royalties for a number of labels including every RIAA member, setting a flat royalty rate for webcasters.
So even The RIAA Begs Like A Dog, if the CRB is worth there grain they would Slap the RIAA down were it belongs.
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 05 Mar 2008 @ 21:04

56.3.2008 22:35

Originally posted by ZippyDSM:
A better balance could be struck,once you remove the RIAA it chews through to much money to be worth while.

A certain percentage of the song/album pie goes to the writers the band as a whole and then the publishers.

something like
40% publisher
30% band/singer
30% writer

Pubs do need alot of money to sale music however they do not need so much they can prop up bad singers.
Sorry to inform you, but royalties for artists are nowhere near close to the numbers you posted... Let's put it this way: there's an independent record label here in Georgia (who I cannot mention unless I had permission) who pays an artist around .50 cents to $1 for every CD of theirs sold. Of course, keep in mind these are death and black metal artists... CD's normally (in his distro) are sold for anywhere from 10 - 12 bucks a piece, and this is considered a VERY GOOD deal for the artist... Compared to what most major labels give their artists, and that's after they got gouged for recording costs, and in some cases (like Scott Wino from The Obsessed, who got all the band expenses from CBS/Columbia records jacked onto his individual tax I.D. number, leaving him owing Columbia over $30,000 U.S.) screwed over after the label dropped the artist without giving them the opportunity to even try and make any of that money back... Most major labels give their artists well below the .50 per disc that is a good deal for the artist on an indie... How do I know this? I'm in the music business... Sorta... Read the interview with Scott Wino/The Obsessed in issue #27 of Vibrations Of Doom Magazine to see just how bad things can get for an artist on a major label (especially if said label in question doesn't know how to deal with a type of music they're trying to "promote.")

You wanna buy indie? Import labels too also have good quality bands and musicians... I can recommend some (keep in mind this is mostly metal however). For a good indie label that's as close to being a major as you can get without sacrificing quality, Century Media and Nuclear Blast here in the U.S. consistently sign a good deal of quality bands. Bands I've grown up enjoying, like Carnal Forge, Witchery, Bal Sagoth, Tad Morose, Angel Dust, The Haunted, and many more are on those labels. They had good business sense too: Century Media and Nuclear Blast (both with head offices in Europe as well as the U.S.) teamed up and are now sharing office space out in California. The model of the future for indies??

Overseas, if you're into good quality doom metal, I HIGHLY recommend three labels: Firebox Records (responsible for amazing diverse and unique acts like Withering, Tyranny, Swallow The Sun [Mmmm, tastes like Chicken!], Doom:VS, Saturnus, Depressed Mode and more), I Hate Records (Isole was on their roster until recently, good stoner rock with Pale Divine, Wall Of Sleep, The Gates Of Slumber, and more), and Spinefarm/Spikefarm Records, who is responsivle for the three amazing Shape Of Despair records. ALL three record labels are based out of Scandinavia, who in my opinion is responsible for about 90% of my favorite bands worldwide... Though Austria's Napalm Records (also with a U.S. base) puts out some very unique and amazing bands as well: many of these bands like Summoning (Tolkien inspired ambient/black metal, these songs SHOULD have made up the soundtrack to ALL of the Lord Of The Rings movies), Asmegin, gothic/doom/death band Draconian (some of the most emotional music ever put out), Tyr (from the Faroe Islands, true innovators of Viking metal with clean sung vocals), Falkenbach and more)

Of course, there are other great labels around the world: Russia has quite a few good labels where unique music can be found: Dark folk/ambient on Bad Mood Man Music, a sublabel of Solitude Productions (where doom metal is the usual order of the day), I recommend bands like Kauan (NICE and beautiful folk/ambient music with authentic Finnish style folk instrumentation over black metal styled vocals), and of course bands like Worship and Intaglio. Stygian Crypt Productions is another source for good doom, though they have the band Folkearth which is a very interesting Viking inspired project with over 30 guest musicians from many different countries. And for good quality, diverse black metal the likes of which you probably haven't heard before, bands like Walkyrjia, Fen, and Haive and intense are emotionally fulfilling (on the Northern Silence label from Germany, a label that is unusually high in quality content).

So to recap, there's TONS of hidden gems from labels all around the world. Soulseek should get you started, and then you'll find that when someone says "Hey, have you heard that new Korn Record, or other such nonsense, you'll go, "Nah, I've got about 30 bands that sound way better and are more original than anything else in your collection." Of course, instead of being all 'l33t and tr00 you offer to share your knowledge of underground music with the rest of the population. That's what Vibrations Of Doom Magazine has been doing for over 15 years...
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 06 Mar 2008 @ 22:39

66.3.2008 23:01

About 12 Cents a song thats about it. Sales usally arn't based on cd any more, thats what iv been told by my freind trying to start his own band. he said he gets more revenue going on a tour than selling 100 cd's. he looked in to the label deal and shok his head and left.
even asked me to keep a book of recored sales for him. he's even asked me to become a Sales Rep for him. I told him to buy a cd press witch he now curenlty has. it can churn 100 discs 20 minutes.

76.3.2008 23:23

Originally posted by DXR88:
About 12 Cents a song thats about it. Sales usally arn't based on cd any more, thats what iv been told by my freind trying to start his own band. he said he gets more revenue going on a tour than selling 100 cd's. he looked in to the label deal and shok his head and left.
even asked me to keep a book of recored sales for him. he's even asked me to become a Sales Rep for him. I told him to buy a cd press witch he now curenlty has. it can churn 100 discs 20 minutes.
No, labels usually give a base price per CD, but most of the money you make (which is why it's so small) comes from sale copies of each CD, MINUS label expenses FOR YOU (like if the studio pays for your recording time, which is why it's best to find a friend who has a good production studio, or make friends with band members turned record producers like James Murphy, Peter Tatgren, etc.) Bands make MOST of their money on tour from selling merchandise, which is why ANYONE signing to a record label, I HIGHLY recommend that said band handle ALL Their secondary merchandising rights themselves. Tshirts can be printed far below what you can sell them for on the tour (shirts can be printed for about 6 - 8 bucks a piece, while you can sell them for $20 or $25 a piece, lots of profit there). And of course a band is given X amount of copies of the CD for their own useage (some bands sell their own CD's at shows from first initial pressings from the labels, which are usually sent out to us publication people for review copies. These are written off at a much lower rate than the normal "storebought" CD's, but are usually the same product).

I ALSO HIGHLY, HIGHLY suggest that bands do NOT lock into a "multiple album" contract with ANY labels... Try and negotiate a one or two album deal with a label, that way if the label isn't promoting your release, or helping you out the way they should, you can opt out without having to slave yourselves away to an unsupportive label. Trying to get out of these contracts early is disastrous for a band, as greed can kick in and you'd be responsible for the other albums you DIDN'T bring to the label, which means they in turn can sue you for invisible costs of recording those albums (if they had to pay for your studio time in the first place), and anything else they feel like grabbing you for (Scott Wino, for example, was "itemized" by CBS/Columbia for every sheet of toilet paper, every pen and piece of paper he used while there... Use your imagination!).

Harsh realities, but that's why it's good to be VERY well versed in record label contracts. If you're not, FIND SOMEONE WHO IS... Record labels like Cruz Del Sur Music and in some cases Nuclear Blast will negotiate somewhat fairly for artists, in fact Cruz Del Sur is a great label that no one has been disappointed with (from an artists' perspective). Many of the bands there have one or two album deals, with contracts being re-negotiated as each album comes through it's fulfillment cycle. Try and find THAT kind of "major label deal."
If you know bands in your area, try and get their help... Believe me, experienced musicians know how it is, and may be more than willing to help you out (especially if your local music scene isn't cut throat and everyone gets along).

820.3.2008 14:06

Let me get this straight - they're trying to make it so their artists earn less if they earn less. Essentially, they're telling their artists, "If we're going down, we're taking you with us." Nice RIAA, nice.

921.4.2008 23:44

I think a percentage of the overall sales per week or month is a great idea for the singer/songwritters.

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