May 9, 2001
12:58 AM   Subscribe

Remember Remember how settled up with the major music distributors for a whole bunch of money? Looks like the smaller fish are trying to get their share. Rights, royalties, blah blah blah, what I'm curious about is, will this hurt Tom Waits's remarkable credibility.
posted by alana (9 comments total) is the biggest swindle around. As an independent artist they used to pay you change everytime
someone listened to your songs. This earned them the support of thousands of artists.

Now, they have changed the system:
You must pay them
$20 a month, something they call Premium Artist Service, in order to have a chance at earning royalties.
posted by brucec
posted by brucec at 5:07 AM on May 9, 2001

Well, Bruce, I'm not sure changing their business model makes them a "swindle" since they pre-announced it and anyone who wants to remove their tunes is free to do so. As for the Tom Waits et al. thing, I don't see how asserting your property rights makes you lose credibility. If you take your music seriously and try to protect it then what's the problem.
posted by Outlawyr at 5:59 AM on May 9, 2001

The "royalties" they offer are arbitrary anyway, and no one not already getting the clicks is going to pay the $20. It's more or less a phaseout of the original pay-for-play system. It's amazing they're still around, considering the huge settlements and the fact that 99.9% of the bands left on there suck (including mine. Though there are some gems up there too). Regarding the lawsuit, though, it's just a VC tap now; the distribution network is already effectively killed.
posted by greensweater at 6:38 AM on May 9, 2001

maybe swindle was too strong. bait and switch is more appropriate.

as independent artists collectively contributed to the success and traffic of mp3 when it started, the ability for individual artists to remove tunes if they don't like the new policies isn't enough..a grandfather clause for exisiting artists then charging new ones would have been better.

As to Waits suit: well, is a seperate business and was a very bad idea. I think it is well-known that only launched to get a lawsuit, so they could get publicity out of it and be put in the Napster category. In the strange algebra of 1990's business, inviting a lawsuit was helpful for them. So this is probably no surprise.
posted by brucec at 6:39 AM on May 9, 2001

Sorry bout the bad link to the "gem," stuff can be heard at Audiogalaxy. loses another good band.
posted by greensweater at 7:28 AM on May 9, 2001

>As for the Tom Waits et al. thing, I don't see how
>asserting your property rights makes you lose credibility.

Well this isn't as clear cut a case of royalty thieving as Napster. For one, MP3 was doing checks to make sure you owned the cd (or, er, borrowed it from a friend).

Secondly, what lost them the original case was the fact that they built the database of MP3's. If they had created a (less useful) service where the database was created from user uploaded songs, they wouldn't be in this mess, (although the RIAA and crew would have found somethng else to sue them about), and thirdly, there's legislation pending (I have no idea on it's status) that would make what MP3 did completly legal and royalty free.

Of course, all that said, I don't think Waits is doing anything wrong, but if you consider the meat grinder Metallica went through for trying to protect their royalties, being right and being credible in the eyes of the public are two different things. (of course, for a lot of people Metallica going after Napster was the last straw in a long list of 'offenses')
posted by alana at 9:09 AM on May 9, 2001

Seeing as how Tom made a mint nailing Chester Cheetah to the wall a few years ago, I say go for it! (Waits sued Frito-Lay for a blatant rip-off of his Step Right Up and made a pretty penny). I think the issue is clear cut. They stole. They give back.

Rollin down the gutter to the blood bank

posted by Kafkaesque at 9:29 AM on May 9, 2001

I don't think there is literally any combination of factors in our universe or any other that could reduce Tom Waits' credibility. I would personally rather see go bankrupt, their headquarters catch on fire, and their CEO be covered head-to-toe in boils than ... What was I talking about?

Oh yeah, Waits, et al. have every right to demand complete control over their songs. My personal opinion on file-swapping is that, yes, it's obviously stealing, but when you're doing it from massive record companies who've already stolen the songs to begin with (sometimes from arists who are exceedingly eager to get rid of them for a quick buck) it's no sin at all. But with artists like Waits who have fought tooth and nail for artistic control, even when it's all but removed the possibility of mainstream success, misuse like the kind perpetrated by should be punishable by a good, old-fashioned horse-whipping.
posted by Hildago at 9:57 AM on May 9, 2001

What I want to know is, will it prevent Tom Waits from singing any more?

The man sounds like ten pounds of wet gravel being shoved through a rusty trombone.
posted by Skot at 10:48 AM on May 9, 2001

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