Sunday, August 08, 2004

THE PEOPLE WHO REPRESENT YOU ARE BEST AT REPRESENTING THEMSELVES: It's perhaps telling that the organisations who call in cash from royalties on behalf of writers and artists and then pass them on are known as "collection agencies" rather than "distribution agencies", since they tend to put more effort into getting hold of the monies than passing it on. The American collection agencies have got a bit of a rocket recently from songwriter Don Rollins, who's sent this open letter out about how he feels he's being shafted:

I am a writer on "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere" which spent eight weeks at #1 last year. To make a long story short, here is the history of the royalty payments on that song:
January 2004-ASCAP $6K/BMI $20K(ASCAP matched)
April 2004-ASCAP $119K/BMI $135K(ASCAP matched)
July 2004 ASCAP total $99K/BMI $60K(drum roll please)
BMI REFUSED TO MATCH!!!!!!! I have received some vague and nonspecific mouthings about making the difference up next quarter, but I will believe that when I can spend it. In the meantime my cowriter has$39K that I don't have, and may never have, for the same song, same writer's share, no publishing, etc.
Its extremely difficult to get to the point in this business where a writer can have a hit, still less one like this, and it is hard to discribe the feeling when you are SCREWED out of just compensation for your work. The best weapon of the PRO's is secrecy, so I feel it is my duty to let as many people in our business as possible know about this. Do I think ASCAP is any better? No I don't. There is a long and ugly history of underpayments on their part as well.
We as writers and publishers need two things to happen. First, we need a scale of pay for performances that is understandable and accountable, so that we can look at spins reported on the charts and know how much our pay will be. Second, we need the right to be members of any or all PRO's at the same time, JUST LIKE OUR PUBLISHERS.
We should be able to designate which group will administer our performances on a song by song basis, and if the PRO's want us to be exclusive, they can pay us a signing bonus.
Please let as many people as possible know about this, those of you with contacts in Congress please let them know as well. Advice is appreciated(anything except "shut up Bo and take the Cadillac and be grateful").
Silence will only let them do this to all of us.
Thank you,
Don Rollins

Great at collection, poor at distribution. Who do the Performing Rights Organstions actually represent?

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