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Thu Sep 26 11:36:30 MDT 2002
NY Times, Sept. 26, 2002
Artists Fight Music File-Sharing
By LAURA M. HOLSON
WHEN it comes to musical styles, Britney Spears, Luciano Pavarotti and Sean
Combs, lately known as P. Diddy, do not appear to have much in common. But
in a series of advertisements that begin running today
(http://www.musicunited.org), they are joining with 86 other recording
artists to speak out against unauthorized music file-sharing, claiming it
threatens the livelihood of everyone from recording artists and writers to
sound engineers and record-store clerks.
"Would you go into a CD store and steal a CD?" asks Ms. Spears in one
commercial to be shown in coming weeks. "It's the exact same thing, so why
In a print ad, Shakira, the hip-swiveling Latin pop star, urges the public
to just "Say no to piracy." And Mr. Combs in a statement released by the
Recording Industry Association of America, which is largely financing the
multimillion-dollar campaign pleads with consumers to "Put yourself in
The new campaign, which officially runs under the auspices of a coalition
of music professionals called Music United for Strong Internet Copyright,
was developed by Amster Yard, a division of the IPG Sports and
Entertainment Group, which also represents the Recording Industry
Association of America. It comes at a difficult time for the recording
industry. Sales of CD's fell nearly 7 percent during the first half of this
year, largely, the industry claims, because of Internet piracy and
The campaign breaks the same day as the House of Representatives
Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property begins
hearings on piracy and the Internet. The recording industry has long been
criticized for failing to assuage disillusioned consumers who want cheaper
and more accessible music over the Internet. The Department of Justice,
meanwhile, is investigating whether the paid on-line music sites developed
by the record labels violate antitrust provisions by hampering smaller
The recording industry, too, has been criticized by artist rights groups,
who complain that the industry's accounting rules favor the labels and that
the standard seven-year recording contract is akin to indentured servitude.
On Tuesday, in fact, representatives of the Recording Artists Coalition,
which include the former Eagles singer Don Henley who is not included in
the new campaign, were at a California State Senate hearing testifying
about the industry's accounting practices. But mutual interests have
brought them together for this campaign against file-swapping.
What will be interesting to watch, industry executives say, is whether
consumers are alienated by a campaign that speaks of the travails of
wealthy artists like Mr. Combs, who has some fans who are hard pressed to
afford not only his shoes but also the suits and jackets he sells under his
Sean John clothing line.
"This is not a campaign created to engender sympathy," said Hilary Rosen,
chief executive of the Recording Industry Association of America. "We are
saying there is a significant problem and it is affecting us and it is
David Munns, the vice chairman of EMI Recorded Music, added, "There is a
whole generation of people that don't know illegally swapping files is
Not everyone agrees that the most pressing problem facing the industry is
theft. In a study released yesterday by KPMG, the tax and financial
accounting firm, media companies were chided for spending too much time
combating pirates instead of tackling the more difficult issue of finding
new ways to profit by distributing music and movies online. And other
critics say that the industry's poor performance in finding new artists
that appeal to consumers is more responsible for the malaise than any
threat from the Internet.
Courtney Love does the math
The controversial singer takes on record label profits, Napster and "sucka
Editor's note: This is an unedited transcript of Courtney Love's speech to
the Digital Hollywood online entertainment conference, given in New York on
- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Courtney Love
June 14, 2000 | Today I want to talk about piracy and music. What is
piracy? Piracy is the act of stealing an artist's work without any
intention of paying for it. I'm not talking about Napster-type software.
I'm talking about major label recording contracts.
I want to start with a story about rock bands and record companies, and do
some recording-contract math:
This story is about a bidding-war band that gets a huge deal with a 20
percent royalty rate and a million-dollar advance. (No bidding-war band
ever got a 20 percent royalty, but whatever.) This is my "funny" math based
on some reality and I just want to qualify it by saying I'm positive it's
better math than what Edgar Bronfman Jr. [the president and CEO of Seagram,
which owns Polygram] would provide.
What happens to that million dollars?
They spend half a million to record their album. That leaves the band with
$500,000. They pay $100,000 to their manager for 20 percent commission.
They pay $25,000 each to their lawyer and business manager.
That leaves $350,000 for the four band members to split. After $170,000 in
taxes, there's $180,000 left. That comes out to $45,000 per person.
That's $45,000 to live on for a year until the record gets released.
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