Sunday, April 12, 2009

Pete Waterman: If you have tears, pretend to shed them now

As the PRS campaign against Google swings into what I suspect they're considering is "action", more of the songwriter's cash has been burned through on holding a press conference to launch FairPlayForCreators.com. And, just to help stress the idea that this isn't about making rich men even richer, they invited Pete Waterman to be the star turn.

Yes, there'd be nothing crocodile-like in tears shed listening to forty-times-over-millionaire Pete Waterman complaining that he only got a few quid from YouTube. You would have thought that if PRS really felt the need to spend cash on an event to promote its pretend-debate site, they might have been better off finding someone to whom a quadrupling, or even dodecarupling, of the YouTube money would make a blind bit of difference to. But they won't find anyone, because they know that there's so little money in individual plays on YouTube it won't help anyone over the poverty line. It's a bit of extra; it's money for jam; it's pin money.

So, instead, PRS invite us to think sad thoughts of a multi-multi-millionaire not making much extra:

"There was I sitting at Christmas thinking, 'I must have made a few bob this year with the old Rickrolling'," he said.

"I rang my publisher and they said 'You'll be all right', until I saw the royalty statement. £11.

"If 154 million plays means £11, I get more from Radio Stoke playing Never Gonna Give You Up than I do from YouTube."

Yes, you're right, Pete - smaller radio stations probably are being strangled by having to play large royalty fees for records. Someone should look into that.

Oh, that wasn't your point, was it?

Firstly, Pete, again you don't mention all the extra royalties that you earned as a result of media coverage of Rickrolling, Astley being invited to turn up and play at places like the Macy's parade, and so on. Earnings that, without YouTube, you would never have seen. Which is at best intellectually dishonest of you.

Secondly: 154 million plays. Where did you get this figure from? The most watched versions of the video seem to be hovering around 15 million plays each - is 154 million a guess?

Third: Even if we take 154 million plays as a fact, doesn't PRS only collect for artists having their work consumed in the UK? Which is why the (limited) removal of music videos as a result of the PRS battle are in the UK, not of UK artists worldwide. So a large proportion of those 154 million views would have been elsewhere in the world, and not subject to PRS royalty collection. It's like having the most-played record on US radio and complaining you've not got any PRS money as a result, isn't it?

Fourth: You're sharing the money with Stock and Waterman, too. You didn't mention that.

Fifth: Yes, it's not very much. But that's because it's not worth very much. And, let's not forgot, that payment was under a deal agreed by the PRS. Shouldn't your wrath be directed at the organisation who - it appears - failed to represent your best interests last time round, rather than suggesting that everyone puts their faith in them again?

Still, no harm done, eh? It's not like you essayed an absurd and offensive position in your defence of demanding more, is it?
"Panorama did a documentary on the exploitation of foreign workers in Dubai," he said.

"I feel like one of those workers, because I earned less for a year's work off Google or YouTube than they did off the Bahrain government."

Waterman failed to explain how everyone else linking to, uploading, playing and enjoying a song he wrote twenty years ago is "work" in the sense that labouring for a pittance in the hot desert sun is, but I'm sure the PRS will be posting an explanation online sometime soon.


3 comments:

Anonymous said...

"There was I sitting at Christmas thinking, 'I must have made a few bob this year with the old Rickrolling'," he said.

"I rang my publisher and they said 'You'll be all right', until I saw the royalty statement. £11.


Yup he's got so much money that looking to see how much he made from that song was pretty much an afterthought whilst he was making turkey sandwiches. I'm so upset about his poverty that I think I might be sick.

Anonymous said...

Wait, did I miss something? I thought being rickrolled was an annoying trap, not "enjoying" something by choice. You click on a link that promises something pleasant or useful and then a traveling window appears with this shit on it, forcing you to turn your speakers down to zero. I understand that it's not he that caused this misery personally, so I forgive him, but still... It's like, if someone steals naked pictures of my grandma and spams message boards with them. She isn't the one who caused you to see it, but she should be at least slightly embarrassed.

Eleanor said...

Minus ten points for Pete for the geography round - Dubai is in the United Arab Emirates, not Bahrain.

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