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ARSCLIST  August 2008

ARSCLIST August 2008

Subject:

Re: Buy e-Music and get busy again...

From:

"Steven C. Barr" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 9 Aug 2008 20:28:44 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

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text/plain (54 lines)

> Bob Olhsson wrote:
>> -----Original Message-----
>> >From Tom Fine: "...The idea is that a wide variety of
>> deep-catalog content, if made constantly available in a medium that costs
>> little to distribute (ie digital downloads) will, in sum, be profitable 
>> over
>> time. The key is over time."
>> Let's not forget the major labels have only just come out from under a 
>> cloud
>> that left who will own what very much up in the air. I understand a huge
>> problem has been determining what royalties are involved and even the 
>> actual
>> ownership of masters. Contrary to what one reads, royalty agreements and
>> master ownership have always been all over the map. Another issue has 
>> been
>> an appropriate file format so that everything doesn't need to be 
>> re-encoded
>> every year or so.
>>
For recordings cut before (I think) 1948, the concept of "artist royalties" 
did NOT
exist (unless royalties were specifically defined in the artist's 
contract...i.e. Caruso
with Victor and Louis Armstrong with Columbia*). Thereafter, artist 
royalties were
defined in standard AFM contracts (although higher royalties could be, and 
often
were, negotiated...?!).

The "ownership of masters" is also dependent on contract details...but, 
about 99%
of the time, they belong to the record company who cut them, since in 
virtually ALL
78-era cases, the performances were considered "works for hire"...! In the
"increasing craziness" of the post-WWII record industry, with labels having
lifespans of a year or two, there were artists (most notably, Eddy Howard, 
vis-a-
vis Majestic...?!) whose contracts guaranteed them ownership of their
recordings, even after the demise of the label in question...?!

These days (at least until fairly recently...?!), the pattern of "rock-star-
wannabes"has been to sign away EVERY right to which they might be
entitled...just for the glory of having a "major-label contract"...?!
It goes without saying that most of such artists are VERY lucky to
sell more than, say, a thousand copies of the recording which they
naively assumed was their ticket to "stardom...uncountable millions...
and groupies at their beck and call"...?! Usually, they wind up owing
the "major label" HUGE sums of money...while still stuck gigging in
local "cheap beer joints" for slightly over minimum wage (if that...? !)

...?!

Steven C. Barr 

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