Monday, December 07, 2009

Shrinking royalty

You might have seen this last week on Gizmodo, and at the time James M pointed it out to me but it fell off my 'to do' list - Tim Quirk from Too Much Joy shares his digital royalty statement from Warners.

It's best read against the backdrop of that repeated mantra from the majors, insisting that everything they do they do for the artists:

Our IODA royalties during that time had totaled about $12,000 – not a princely sum, but enough to suggest that the total haul over the same period from our major label material should be at least that much, if not two to five times more.
[...]
So I was naively excited when I opened the envelope. And my answer was right there on the first page. In five years, our three albums earned us a grand total of… $62.47

Quirk's conclusion is that Warners aren't evil, just too busy with larger sums to be able to cope with providing the information and keeping an eye on the detail. Which might be true, up to a point.

But don't all companies have a duty to be careful with money? Especially since Warners treats Too Much Joy as unrecouped, and so the money goes towards paying off an irredeemable debt. If a bank managed to mislay money from a customer instead of setting it against a negative balance, the bank would have questions to answer. Warner's attitude of 'it doesn't really matter, you owe us' isn't good enough.

There's a connected question of how come IODA is sending cheques in five figures while Warners is offering sums barely into double-digits. There's an obvious answer, isn't there?


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