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Thursday, May 10, 2007


Those were the last public words spoken by Johnny Rotten as a Sex Pistol. Surely he did, but whose fault was that?

Say you went to Vegas and lost a grand in a night. Were you cheated?

Say you gave a dubious person fifty bucks for a bag of something, and it turned out to be something else. Were you cheated?

Say you bought a new Chrysler, and the day after the warranty expired, the thing started to fall apart. Again, were you cheated?

"Remember when we all had record deals that gave us $1.40 a record in 1977? Good deal when records cost 6-7 bucks but THEN, when everything went to CD they charged 15-20 bucks and gave NO increase in royalties but managed to congratulate each other on their amazing windfall of profits! Oh, they said "We are re-tooling, that costs money." Well, almost 30 years after "re-tooling" I didn't get a fucking dime more. Did any of you ??" - Steve Lukather (Toto) on a recent Bob Lefsetz post

Steve feels cheated. Was he?

If, indeed, the recording industry scammed the public into paying more for CDs; into replacing their vinyl, and they had cut Steve in, wouldn't that make him an accessory? Wouldn't that be collusion?

What Steve leaves out of the story, which shows he's an out of touch rock star who has no place in the complaints department, is that vinyl wasn't going for '6-7 bucks' when the industry went digital.

I remember paying $11.99 for 'Green' by R.E.M. on vinyl in 1989.

It's called inflation, I blame Republicans, but that's my choice. Certainly I blame myself for being a fool before I blame Warner Bros. for cheating me.

Caveat Emptor.

I leaned that from the Brady Bunch.

You have no idea what you're talking about. Collusion? Artists as accessories? Artists had no control over the release of their products because they sign over the right to do so. That's a basic stipulation in a record contract.

If record companies paid the same royalty rate on CDs as they had on vinyl and cassettes, you could perhaps argue that the new format also benefited the artist (although collusion is still completely out of the question). But they didn't. Before calculating the artist's 12-15 % royalty, they'd deduct a 'production cost', (so that the artist, not the label, was footing the bill for production). This deduction was generally 10% of retail for vinyl ($1.00 for a $10 record), but they arbitrarily pushed it up to 20-25% for CDs ($3-4 on a $15 cd), even though CDs are much cheaper to produce.

Flash forward to iTunes. If you or I submit songs to iTunes through, say, CD Baby, there's a nominal setup fee (<$50) and they keep 9%. iTunes pays 70 cents on the dollar, so you end up with 61 cents. Very, very reasonable.

What does Sony pay the Allman Brothers and Cheap Trick for their iTunes downloads? 4.5 cents per song. They keep 95%. Why? because they're big business, owned by shareholders, only concerned about profits.

Look, if you want to argue that digital downloading hurts artists, there are compelling arguments on both sides, and I don't want to get in that here. But if you want to argue that major labels don't screw over artists, crack a goddamn book, there's no argument whatsoever.

Furthermore, I could understand if you supported Warner Brothers over Toto if you were a card-carrying, big-business loving conservative capitalist who supported the concept of a corporation pursuing profit-maximization whether it served the interests of musicians or not.

The irony of calling a guy from Toto an 'out of touch rock star' while you psyche yourself up for a Kix reunion concert is ha ha funny. (Ok, that was cheap.)


Mike, see the word "if" at the top of paragraph seven of my post - it means something. Once you re-read what I said, and understand the word "if" in it's context - I know I'm asking a lot here - you may find that what I said makes compltete sense, and that I do know what I'm talking about.

In your second paragraph you use the word "if" correctly, so it should be easy for you.

As you probably know, usage of the word "if" is iffy buisiness.

My sole point, if I may, was that in allowing yourself to be ripped off, are you indeed being ripped off, and (again) if (not that it was ever considered) you were given a share of profits in a scam, weren't you (not you personally, mind you, but "you" in the figurative general sense)then party to it?

The music business atracts the worst sort, they will screw anything they can.

I think that was on one of the tablets that Moses dropped.
"In allowing yourself (aka, the artist) to be ripped off (by, aka, the corporation) are you indeed being ripped off?"
My answer: yes.

"And, if you were given a share of profits in a scam..."

Artists aren't, so your point is moot. They get a criminally low percentage for creating the product that labels get rich off of. Correct me if I'm wrong, but artists do not get a cut of the bottom line. Not in major label deals.

Finally, you suggest "weren't you (the artist) party to it?" Yes, absolutely. What other choice did the artist have?

I know you don't have to respond my points on your blog, but to me you clearly suggest that the guy from Toto has no business complaining, meaning, by default, that the label is in the right. Is that how you feel? Just curiosity, not animosity.

Sorry you paid $12 for green. but how about that untitled track at the end of side 2?
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