Maryann Bowers maryannbowers at
Thu Feb 15 13:25:43 MST 2001

I actually need to focus on some work now, so if you guys are interested in
continuing this dialogue, which doesn't seem to be of much interest to
anyone else in the list, please feel free to email me directly
(maryannbowers at and I'll respond when I can.

Quickly before I must go though, Adam, there are a number of points you
brought up which are obviously close to you emotionally, and I respect your
position, but I don't think you're reading my posts carefully, and your data
is a little murky.

First, there is in fact a sales plateau at which artists receive income from
record sales, it varies according to what they demand in advance from the
label in terms of signing bonuses, tour support, etc. This is a reality
which can be documented by record label balance sheets.  Artists who do not
recoup their costs are never, never asked to repay their recording and
promotional debts, which can span into--literally--millions of dollars.
Yes, the record label takes that risk willingly.  And, like any business
that incurs risk, profit-losing risks are dropped.  This is as true in soft
drinks as in music.  So yes, artists who cost a lot and don't sell records
tend to lose their contracts.  Labels are not in the business of providing a
public service.

You are absolutely entitled to your opinion that recording, pressing,
manufacturing, artwork, promotion, distribution, tour support, and PR is not
"getting something" from a record label, and I don't see much point in
trying to make you understand how hard and expensive it is to do those
things oneself.

I'm not ignoring anything you say, frankly I'm not that sentimental on the
topic.  I'm just trying to bring you back to the point.  Napster, if it paid
artists, would be fantastic.  If it paid artists and no one else, it could
be the salvation of the state of music in America.  However, at this time,
it's just stealing, from everyone, including Dock Bogg's family (and yes, I
know he died--I think it was the late 60's.  The beauty of paying royalties
is that they go on into perpetuity to his estate.)  The way it stands now,
Smithsonian Folkways paid his estate a nice little chunk of change to
license his recordings.  If you're really interested, I could give you the
name of someone there who could tell you how to get his family a check for
the music you downloaded.

As for selection, I say again, yes yes it's beautiful to have variety, and
if artists want to willingly sign away their royalties, more power to them.
But those who want their income protected (and, incidentally, there are a
number of recording artists who have spoken out vehemently--nay, in
court--against Napster) should be entitled to do so.

This is it for me today.

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