Dave touches on some good points in his essay on piracy, I can’t imagine the industry every giving up their license to make money, i.e., their old catalogs. However, his observations of the industry’s improprieties are accurate. The industry treats its customers like the enemy, and its artists like farm animals. While they are productive you feed them enough to keep them alive, and when production drops they get a bullet to the head and sent off to the meat packing plant. Some are mercifully sent out to pasture, and if they are lucky, maybe find new “owners” who will start the exploitation process all over again.
Here in Hawai’i, there are only a handful of artists who are able to support themselves with their CD sales and concerts. Nearly all of the others I know work full-time “real jobs” to support themselves. The number of people at labels, distributors, and other parts of the industry who make their livings off of these artists music is considerable.
What the industry needs is a good faith estimate, just like the banks do, as part their contracts. Artists will know that if they sell X albums that they will make X dollars. Right now, there is simply no way to know, and if you have a dozen lawyers and accounts look at any recording contract, it’s highly doubful if any two would agree as to how much an artist would make from it, if anything.
As far as the customers go, I can’t speak for everyone, but I would feel a whole lot better about buying music if I know more went into the artists pocket. Would that mean I would buy more? I don’t know. I do know that as the industry’s revenues decline, the slice of the pie that does go to the artists is only going to get smaller and smaller.
If I was doing a recording today, I would do it myself, and hire a distributor under my terms simply for distribution and advertising. They get a percentage for each CD they sell and that’s it – no royalties, mechanicals, or any other rights at all. As long as artists contiue to sign on the dotted line of an label-concocted contract, they will continue to BOGU.