Songwriters, composers, and music publishers are making preparations to one day collect performance fees from Apple and other e-tailers for not just traditional music downloads but for downloads of films and TV shows as well. Those downloads contain music after all.
These groups even want compensation for iTunes’ 30-second song samples.
At a time when many iTunes shoppers are still fuming over Apple’s first-ever increase in song prices, the demands by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI), and other performing-rights groups, would likely lead to more price hikes at iTunes. For many, this would also undoubtedly confirm their perception that those overseeing the music industry are greedy.
For those reasons, composers and songwriters will struggle to sell their case to the public. But these royalty-collection groups say they’re at the bottom of the music-sector food chain and aren’t trying to gouge anyone. They say their livelihoods are threatened and wonder why movie studios, big recording companies, TV networks, and online retailers are allowed to profit from their work but they aren’t.
“We make 9.1 cents off a song sale and that means a whole lot of pennies have to add up before it becomes a bunch of money,” said Rick Carnes, president of the Songwriters’ Guild of America. “Yesterday, I received a check for 2 cents. I’m not kidding. People think we’re making a fortune off the Web, but it’s a tiny amount. We need multiple revenue streams or this isn’t going to work.”
Bonkers, honestly … The 30-second samples? Those are to sell your songs, friend.
I have to believe that’s some kind of negotiating tactic to overextend and yield in the hopes of gaining more ground in the final settlement. It just sounds so crazy.
How is it Apple’s fault these guys make 9.1c on a $1 song (or whatever the current price is in the US). Perhaps they should go talk to the guys hosting the cocktail parties and paying for Britney’s rehab, or whatever.
The price point for songs right now seems ideal. It is enough to make some folks some cash but not so much to make pissing about with torrents worthwhile (at least for me). Break this abs they will lose out even more. Gah. You guys know all that though…
There are a number of RIAA labels that actually own fairly substantial publishing stakes, so I’m not yet discounting their invisible hand in this nonsense.
30-second promos … That’s just insane. Can you imagine writers asking the same for people browsing books in the store before buying them?
If book publishers had an easy way to determine the number of times someone cracked open particular books while browsing at Borders the way music publishers can determine the number of times someone clicks on a sample on Itunes, then yes, I can damned well imagine it.
Something tells me that what the root of this might be is that ASCAP/BMI are suspicious of purchase numbers being reported by iTunes/Amazon etc., and this is their own pissy way of saying “we’re on to you and we’re watching.” I know there are troubling discrepancies here. A friend who is both a record label owner AND an artist/musician with a separate publishing entity tells me that the monies paid to his label side for sales units far exceed the units reported to his publishing for royalty purposes. In other words, he’ll get a check from iTunes/Amazon/Emusic saying “You sold 100 copies of album X last quarter”, but then get a royalty check from ASCAP check saying these same download services report 60 albums sold over the same period. That’s been happening for years, and behind the scenes wheels have been in motion to demand more transparent accounting from these folks, and I think this is just the first shot over the bow in what might be a pretty nasty battle.
The problem with the browsing and sample scenario is there is literally no revenue there for them to be cut in on. Apple should just say, “sure, you can have 50% of all the revenue we take in from song samples”. Cause 50% of zilch is still zilch. There is nothing to be won on that front.
I remember reading about how ASCAP is a thorn in the side of nightclub and bar owners, since it seems almost impossible to avoid having to pay them. Some clubs try to cut costs by only hiring local musicians with their own material, but still get hit with ASCAP fees because some undercover agent for them thought he heard something commercial being played. Or so they claim, and there’s little recourse to fight it and it’s not worth the cost to contest it in court.