Right On Cue! “Musicians Sing for a Cause That’s Their Own”

As if they felt the burning need to respond to my last post about musicians and royalties, The New York Times joined the chorus of those complaining about how darn unfair royalties are.

You can read their blurb here, but I’ll give you a couple of my favorite lines.

Marc Ribot declares that “[the creation of the Content Creators Coalition] is possible now because musicians and artists are fed up.” No mention of listeners being fed-up with tyrannical companies and organizations that treat them like criminals even when they aren’t breaking any laws.

Blake Morgan shares this original trinket of thought: “The U.S. has the distinction of standing on a very short list of countries — including awesome ones like Iran, North Korea and Rwanda — in this particular policy.”

With a straight face, John McCrea says, “It’s not about Spotify. It’s about what’s coming in five years if we don’t have a collective voice.”

Mega-star David Byrne warns that “the Internet will suck all the creative content out of the whole world until nothing is left.” I almost feel bad for joking about it.

So, there you have it. If you don’t start emptying your pockets for musicians then all creativity may come to a screeching halt in five years. And worse.

Just for kicks, what if we applied the same standard to everyone in the name of fairness? If a mechanic repairs your car should he continue to receive royalties every time you drive the car? After all, without his work you wouldn’t be able to drive it. If you buy a sculpture for your home should you continue to pay royalties to the artist every time you look at it? What makes musicians so special that they should be able to make money in perpetuity for work that was done one time? It doesn’t make sense.

I would also like to know how much writers are paid for music sales. How is the money divided between the artist, the writer, the record company, etc.? The argument is that music played on broadcast radio only pays royalties to the writer of the music and not the performer. So how much of the cut goes to the writer for concerts performed? There is a very simple solution, which none of these genius musicians ever mention: If you would write your own songs this wouldn’t be an issue.

I’m all for people earning money and being able to keep it; however, when they treat you and I like criminals and then complain about how unfair it is that they aren’t being fairly compensated, I think it’s worth at least mentioning that David Byrnes is worth $40 million and Mike Mills is worth $245 million. Is this close to your net worth? Do you think you should continue to pay them over and over for work only performed once? If this isn’t a good reason to bring up the issue of intellectual property then what is?

As I mentioned before, this is a complicated issue and these people are not giving it the respect it deserves. There are lots of things to read, but for fun try watching some of these videos.

Thanks to Drepa Rugl for encouraging me to look for some new ideas about intellectual property. There are multiple good arguments on several sides of the issue. Honest debate can only help.


  1. Drepa Rugl   •  

    So then, let’s debate ths!

    I feel strongly that IP s really another tool of the state. When seen from the smple perspectve of property rghts, IP becomes everythng but property and ends up as a way for someone else to control my property and property rghts.

    Artsts of all knds need to be pad for the product of ther labor. That doesn’t mean they should be pad over and over agan. Many book authors already know ths, as they fnd that publshng companes pull n the lon share of all sales. So authors fnd themselves makng tme for speakng engagements, lve readngs, and, of course, follow up books.

    There are a few ndustres that do not have IP at all, and they do more than fne. Jeffrey Tucker spoke once of the fashon ndustry’s lack of IP. Ths s a bllon dollar ndustry that s extremely compettve and s constantly changng. It also seems strange that you can fnd the same hgh-end style at Walmart (for pennes on the dolllar) a few months after the artcle of clothng came out for hundreds of dollars. Ths s another beneft for consumers, and the creators of these fashons are multmllon dollar enttes – so they’re not hurtng.

    Great post, Brad!

  2. NevadaBrad   •     Author

    People should realze the scam when they buy musc or moves that can only be used n a very lmted way. I’ve been concerned about the move to procure other tems dgtally, such as books. When you “purchase” a book from Google’s store, t comes wth the followng notce: “You may not lend or co-own any of your Books on Google Play purchases wth another person.” So, what dd I buy? At least Amazon has a mechansm for loanng and borrowng, sort of lke a prvate lbrary.

    These “artsts” love to talk about how Aretha Frankln was never pad anythng for performng “Respect” snce she ddn’t wrte t. Yet, accordng to CelebrtyNetWorth.com, she s worth $60 mllon. Congratulatons to her, but I fal to understand how they thnk they are somehow beng cheated of ther far share. It feels lke they aren’t only demandng to be pad for IP, but multple tmes for the same thng.

    I’m stll strugglng to formulate an opnon on ths. Your pont about the fashon ndustry s a good one, though.


  3. Drepa Rugl   •  

    The soluton to ther “not pad enough” ssue s contract negotaton. The complant that an artst ddn’t get pad enough for some chart topper s testmony to poor agent representaton, poor negotatng sklls, or 20/20 hndsght (I should’ve asked for more than that!) – all of whch are pathetc excuses that the consumer need not pay for.

    When t comes to dgtal books, the only way I lke to go s .pdf or Gutenberg.org. Both of whch are free an easy to use, share and pass on to others for free.

    Speakng of whch, Gutenberg.org s on the sde of ncreasng the dssemnaton of knowledge through shortenng or kllng the copyrght restrcton outrght.

    Wth many dgtal meda, what s sold s a glorfed rental contract. Ths s wrong and should not be, but that s what they are peddlng. I lke physcal books. Then I at least have physcal property to hold onto.

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