Saturday, March 21, 2015

It is tough to be a musician these days and actually earn money from your recordings. Even old broads like Madonna need to go on tour again just to earn big money. There was a time when music was actually a business and artist’s earned good money from their recordings. Not anymore. Everything is stolen or being broadcast for free especially concerts. Will anyone even bother to record that great new song buzzing in their head?

Over the past 2 decades there have been $7 billion dollars missing from the music industry and that comes from the climate of the industry. The musicians are not succeeding in getting any of that money back. The money has all gone to the producers and Spotify and not to the songwriters. According to Aloe Blacc,  a singer/songwriter who wrote the song called Lift Your Spirit,  the laws do not protect songwriters in order to be able to negotiate. One of his songs was the most streamed songs on Spotify and Pandora had 168 million streams and to the 3 writers to split was a little over $12,000.  Jot enough cash for them.
Let’s look at the song Happy that everyone sings to themselves of all ages and has been seen on TV just about everywhere. It had 43 million plays and the songwriter made only $2,700.  If you are lucky enough to have a song with that much exposure, you should be able to be rich from it. Bill Gates is still making money from something he created decades ago. A few songwriters are fighting for change.  Again, we need Congress to get off their old tanned asses to change the law and leave Hillary’s old phone alone.  For example, a loved song like John Lennon’s Imagine is worth the same amount of money as the stupid phrase, Who Let The Dogs Out. We love them both but they should not be in the same category.

The industry is worth $7 billion dollars. In 1999 the music industry was worth $14 billion. Even if we are down by half the money, it sounds like there should be enough money to pay people. Taylor Swift got off Spotify and refuses to go along with the idea that they make membership money and she doesn’t get any revenue from that. However, she is now filthy rich from all the money she brings in from her concerts that fill up mega stadiums with her fans. AC DC was off I Tunes years ago. They have tribute bands there that sound almost like the original band. So, not much of a boycott there. The copy write laws for songwriters do not restrict who can take your song and record their own version of it. Where is the control of artists over their own artistry?

In 1909 when the player piano was invented and in everyone’s living room with the large scrolls of paper with holes in it that magically made practically every note play by itself, it was the musical players of the day. In order to how a copy of a song, a roll of paper sold for the instrument to play, they had to pay a 9 cent royalty. When artists began recording songs, the same law transferred to them. No law has changed since then. The only control a songwriter has over his work is when it comes to a visual context. They can refuse or accept that their song be used in someone’s movie or TV commercial or video.  Now you are hearing great old songs being used to sell cars or something because it is the only way an artist can still make money on their song.

Madison Avenue in New York City years ago was the place to find advertising. Musicians were employed by companies to compose Jingles. Short songs that sold products like the Chock Full of Nuts Coffee song. Not anymore. The industry for that is gone now too. Give more control to the songwriter Congress! A painter or sculptures have the control to give permission to the situation that their art is to be used. The painter can sue a fake of his work. Taylor or AC DC can’t sue a tribute band stealing their work and making money from their performance.  

There is freedom and then there is free. Two entirely different things. The consumer has no problem with free. The artist loves the freedom of their music getting around from all sources but there should be compensation, royalties paid to the original artist first before others get a cut of the action. Now there isn’t even any money to go around. Free is free. Music is a product like anything else and probably has more longevity than most of the crappy products you buy that breaks down into junk within a year.  I still listen to songs that were produced 40 years ago and they still give me pleasure. The artist needs to get paid money when the old song goes from 8Track, to cassette, to ITunes and now to Apps on your phone. Let’s get Congress off their crusty old asses that stay in their seats till they die and propose laws so that American Music gets distributed properly.

1909 was a long time ago for the last law to be written in this matter. I am sure our current President Obama will dig into his pants   and take out his big black hard Vito pen and use it to pass a law for musicians. 

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