Tuesday, May 02, 2006


You'll recall - mainly because we keep banging on about it - that the RIAA and its constituent four major labels insist they're only doing what they do to protect the artists; that they have to take a strong line, suing people for downloading songs because how else will the musicians get any money? Legal downloads are the way to make sure the people who make the music get paid in full.

Oddly, though, the artists aren't entirely convinced by this. Cheap Trick and the Allman Brothers have filed papers against Sony-BMG claiming the label has been attemting to rip them (and, by implication, other artists) off by unfairly applying physical sale terms to internet downloads.

Aware that the labels used the advent of CDs to help themselves to a larger share of the revenue (even after CD sales overtook vinyl sales, some labels told their musicians that, as it was a "risky new format", they'd have to receive a lower royalty rate as the companies kept back more to cover the cost of pressing, distribution, packaging and so on), artists reps made sure new contracts recognised the lower costs of providing music online, and carved a fairer split.

However, Cheap Trick and the Allmans signed with Sony a long time ago and haven't signed a new contract in the digital era. So, instead of a 50-50 split of the download revenues, they're still being given their cut based on the assumption that each song they sell online incurrs costs for the label of a jewel case, being driven round the country, stored in a warehouse and so on.

They don't think is very fair.

Worryingly for Sony, the bands are hoping to turn this into a class action, which would mean any act signed to Sony prior to the new, iTunes era contacts, could be in for a payday soon.

The other labels might be running a finger round their collars, too.

[Thanks to Donald S for the story]