My Forum Message To Ben Folds and Sony (in Off-topic)


QBsutekh137 July 29 2005 11:09 PM EDT

I bought a CD today. It wouldn't rip. Pardon my bile, but this is the first time this has happened to me. So I wrote. I wrote this on the Ben Folds forum (sponsored by Sony:

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OK, probably not the most brilliant move on a Sony site, but here goes.

My music library is all digital. All legitimate. I don't steal music, I never have, and I chastise those who do.

I have not used a CD in my car in a couple years. The iPod takes care of that. At home, my entertainment center and computer are close enough together that I can play MP3s though my stereo. I still generally buy CDs so that I have liner notes and feel like I am holding "something", but also grab tunes off iTunes and eMusic. In other words, the bulk of my music library is from good old-fashioned ripped CDs.

I know some CDs are copy-protected. But I have never had any problems ripping any CDs on my iMac (or Powerbook, PC, Sony laptop). Rip, copy to iPod, and my music is where I want it, when I want it.

Until today.

I bought "Songs For Silverman". I didn't read the CD. I got it home, and in both iTunes and iTunes-LAME (a third-party freeware decoder/encoder), I could not convert the tracks from the CD to my iTunes library (yes, I was attempting to rip the CD side, not the DVD side). For whatever reason, track 8 ("Late") would hang, and previous ripped tracks had hisses and pops in them. I finally read the back, and saw I hadn't purchased a CD. "Dammit, Joe, should have known better!"

I purchased this album. I should be able to listen to it as I want. Consider this:

The cubic dimensions of my iPod measure 2.4 inches wide, 4.1 inches long, and 0.73 inches thick. That makes for a volume of about 7.2 cubic inches. A standard CD jewel case measures 4.9 inches by 5.7 inches, and is 0.39 inches thick. That yields a volume of 10.8 inches.

So, here's what a CD that I can't rip means to me: It means the volume of my music collection (spatially, not aurally) goes from being 7.2 cubic inches (my iPod) to being 18 cubic inches (an iPod plus one jerk-ass CD that won't rip). Thats a growth of 10.8 inches -- a 150% increase. The total size more than doubles.

I define petulance. I know this. But the underlying fact is that I want to have what I pay for. I purchased the "Songs For Silverman" content today, and tonight I cannot listen to it. Correction: _could_ not. Past tense.

I just downloaded the album off some torrent site. Don't even know the name, don't even care. It's MY music. I will take it from wherever I can get it. I don't care what Sony or the RIAA thinks. They could never prove whence my music came anyway...because already I OWN IT!!!!!!!

Is _anyone_ else bothered by this? In the slightest? I am only asking because for a couple years now I have poo-pooed the reports of CDs not working or even breaking CD players. "Well, it sure worked fine for me!" was my basic mantra. This time it didn't work, and the feeling sucks. I can't have control over something I spent money on? Money from a job where I don't get to sit back and "license" my toil for years to come and reap the benefits. So, you damn right I want to be able to do whatever I please with that content as long as I ain't selling it or defacing the maker of it.

And I'm not defacing Ben or Sony. But I am disappointed. Gravely disappointed. Don't treat your customers like criminals, and don't treat them like [edited out word that is an expletive version of "excrement"]. Is that too much to ask?

Maybe it is too much to ask. And I've got You...To Thank...for this. [Editor's note: "You To Thank" is a particularly wonderful track on the album. I like irony.]

JoeK
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BrandonLP July 29 2005 11:57 PM EDT

Have you tried any other rippers? I used to use Audio Catalyst by Xing for many years. It's a bit dated, but one of the best.

Windows Media Player has one built-in. I never liked using it until they threw in support for mp3s, but haven't had a problem with it since then.

While I can't say that all my music is legit, 99% of it is. There are a few tracks here and there that I have from a band that I like, but have heard parts of the album and wouldn't let someone give me the CD. I simply use tools such a Bit Torrent and Limewire to research the artist before I commit myself to spending money on 35 minutes of what could be garbage.

But I feel your pain, Chet. You spent your money on something you should be able to use in accordance to law. By not allowing you to make an archival copy of sorts, that's not letting you use the product to the fullest amount as defined by law.

QBsutekh137 July 30 2005 12:18 AM EDT

Fair use, baby!

I am betting I could find a Windows tool that works, but am on a Mac right now... Also, two separate tools both choked at the exact same place on the exact same track -- I am thinking a lot of tools might have issues.

*sigh*

AdminQBnovice [Cult of the Valaraukar] July 30 2005 12:21 AM EDT

Chet: is that Mac OS X? cause I'm sure there is a *nix tool for it.

BrandonLP July 30 2005 12:24 AM EDT

Probably the lamest response that I could ever come up with, but you did check the CD for even the slightest scratch, right?

I've had mixed luck with scratches. I had an old Diablo CD with just a small, small scratch in it and I could never get pass level 2. On the flipside, I've had tons of scratches on a CD ranging from ones in circular patterns around the disc to some going from edge to edge and the disc read fine.

Tezmac July 30 2005 12:25 AM EDT

I totally agree with every word you wrote Chet, but if you wanted the MP3 version, why didn't you just download it legally from one of the many pay MP3 sites and then burn it to CD after the fact so you could have it archived in case of HDD failure? Just to play devil's advocate, you own the content on the medium that you bought. Sony nor Ben have the responsibility to give you the means or ability to transfer it to another medium, especially for free. "But my CD will wear out and I can't listen to the content I paid for until the end of time" the masses cry. CD's aren't diamonds, they don't last forever.

BrandonLP July 30 2005 12:28 AM EDT

But Chet does have a right to an archival copy on any medium he chooses, be it mp3, tape, or anything else.

Tezmac July 30 2005 12:31 AM EDT

Could be the case, but I doubt it. Give me a cite from a reputable source that documents this right.

BrandonLP July 30 2005 12:32 AM EDT

The only one coming to mind offhand is any EULA. ;)

Oh, I forgot to mention another thing, Chet. You biggest mistake was buying that one over "Whatever and Ever, Amen."

Tezmac July 30 2005 12:33 AM EDT

Nevermind Brandon, you're correct! I learn something new everyday. :O)

BrandonLP July 30 2005 12:38 AM EDT

Educating an open mind at a time. That's my policy. ;)

Just to give you a quick quote from an article I found:

" The main issue here of course is that compressed digital music can be easily transferred from person to person without cost, consumption of media, or loss of quality. This makes music swapping an attractive proposition since, as stated before, people love to share, especially when no personal cost is involved.The RIAA's crusade is intended to add that personal cost, and thus discourage generosity.

Commercial music is protected by federal copyright laws which generally prohibit its duplication, except for personal use. There is no law against converting your legitimately bought CDs, cassettes or LPs into MP3 files, however.

Since the introduction of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, some major music distributors have been adding various forms of copy protection to their audio CDs, often designed to make them unplayable in computer CD drives. Though these methods can generally be easily bypassed, doing so would of course be a violation of the DMCA, and thus of copyright. One notable circumvent has the user hold down the shift key while the Audio CD spins up."

So in essence, you're not allowed a legal backup copy of that CD, which is bullcrap in my opinion.

And the shift trick isn't going to work while you're on a Mac. ;)

QBsutekh137 July 30 2005 12:50 AM EDT

Brandon, I am a big BF _and_ BFF fan. My response to you...first BFF album is still the best. *wink* I do the absolute Best Imitation of Myself.

Tezmac, I do buy a fair amount of music on iTunes. Trouble is, it is hard to archive. I need fully free Mp3s as the end result to burn to CD-ROM. You know why? Because people get robbed. I got robbed. And I didn't have everything backed up. Sure, it's insured. Plus, I still had the originals. The point of backups is quick recovery. Convenience.

By using my back-up CD-ROMs, using "piratish" tools to get stuff off my iPod (yeah, that's right, iTunes songs on the iPod are fairly locked down), and then re-ripping the gaps I had left, I recreated my collection -- hours later.

I have the right to space-shift and media-shift my purchased content. That's fair use, and that is why I give my spare dollars to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). I even push the envelope with a bit of time-shifting. I recently bought an Alkaline Trio CD, and while I was waiting for it to arrive in the mail, I downloaded it. Hey, I bought it. My credit card had already been charged.

I also DO believe it should last forever. If not, they should sell time-release disposable media. Tell us their business plan up front. But no. They are selling us content. If I buy software, I get to use that software as long as I want. Should be the same with music. Here's a revolutionary idea...if you want me to shovel out more cash, make me more content. It's what I do in my job. I'd love to see the look on my boss's face: "Yeah, um, Jim. I'm not writing any code today. Why? My code from yesterday is still just fine, and you need to keep paying me for that. How long? Hm, well, as long as I can make you pay. If I had more money, I'd even pay off some Congressmen to make you pay me longer. *smile*"

I tend to believe people are honest. A more ominous undertone to this thread would be the fact that recently I am realizing I am probably wrong. I see a lot of folks saying, "If I can download it, it is fair game." A sort of skewed Manifest Destiny of the new age.

Wake up, people. Play it clean. Play by your own rules, but give the creators of art their due. Otherwise you can expect the jail doors to close and lock us all down. The jail doors might come down regardless, but at least you can tell yourself you took the high road and went kicking & screaming (Cougars!). That has to mean something.

QBsutekh137 July 30 2005 12:59 AM EDT

Cory Doctorow is a decent writer who is, in my opinion, a straight-shooter about content and how to control it (I figure if a content creator hates the control, that might be an opinion at least worth considering).

Here's his take, toward the bottom of this page:

Free Book

You can also download his latest novel...for free.

[T]Vestax July 30 2005 1:05 AM EDT

I think Chet at least explained his reasons for buying the material form of the music. So long as it can be played through the sound card of your computer, there will be at least be a way for you to rip the music you desire. The quality may not be the same as a direct rip, but people usually lower the quality anyhow in order to preserve space.

Granted Sony should not be required to make it easy for you to transfer the music from one medium to the next, however it is also difficult to say that anyone should have rights to something which is infinitely reproducible.

Recorded music can be played over and over again without any difference in quality, tune, or pitch permitting you play it through the same device. It can be copied over and over again without a flaw or without any real skill involved. Makes you wonder what it is you are paying for other then a little plastic and a lot of corporate overhead. Truth be told not a whole lot of your money is going to artist in the first place. It is quite honestly the fault of the cooperations themselves for building an empire around something with such qualities as I describe.

Live music on the other had is not reproducible and is the true form of showmanship and entertainment. You can record it if you want to, but its a whole lot better if you could actually be there instead.

QBsutekh137 July 30 2005 1:10 AM EDT

For larger bands, the ticketing practices are also approaching (or have maybe reached) the ludicrous.

Bought a ticket for Alkaline Trio down here at a small venue... $16 bucks face value. After "processing fee" and "service charge": $25. More than a 50% mark-up.

Damn, I am in the wrong business.

BrandonLP July 30 2005 1:27 AM EDT

Hey hey hey... don't knock studio recordings. I've spent well over $6,500 on gear alone for a small studio to do my own work in. I've sung through mics that cost more than I make in a year. Not only that, but they usually have those mics in pairs and usually have a couple different ones depending on the vocalist. We're not even going to go into the other costs involved, but suffice to say, it can easily be a multi-million dollar venture for a decent studio.

I disagree to a point about the whole thing about the corporation making all of the money. Yes, they make a good portion, but you have to realize the costs of engineers, producers, and everything else. I'm no pro, but I charge $25 an hour for recording and mixing. And unless you sit with me and tell me what you want, if I have to go back and re mix because you want something changed, that's still $25 an hour. That's just the cost of one person. Imagine the costs of recording an album that takes months, even weeks. It's not a cheap venture by any stretch of the imagination.

Just look at all the terrible "rock stars" out there who put out albums that barely sell, yet they live in million dollar homes, drive expensive cars, and never even have to dream of working another day in their life. Do I think artists should get a bit more? Sure, everyone could use more money. Do I feel like they're being amply paid? Of course.

[T]Vestax July 30 2005 2:45 AM EDT

Chet, not all good shows involve you going to see someone with a "big name". (Yes, even Ben Folds just by his lonesome is a big name by my standards.) I must agree that ticket prices can be absurd, however, that is when you go out and find yourself a new favorite band if your don't get your money's worth.

BrandonLP, as far as studio equipment goes, I work with several thousand dollars of studio equipment myself, including a nice 32 channel board. I know what you mean about the cost of the equipment, but you don't use all that equipment to make just one album and then buy all new amps and such all over again.

Given the vast amount of underground independent music I have listened to over the years I have come to know that a multi-million dollar studio is hardly needed for good sound. If the Beatles can do what they did using a single track tape recording, then with the vast amount of digital equipment and multi-channel boards feeding into thousand dollar sound cards should be able to produce music far clearer then it needs to be.

Heck, with programs like Adobe Audition (A.K.A. Cool Edit Pro 3.0) out there I've seen people mix most of the work themselves making what you do at only slightly better quality only that much more trivial. I think a little too much attention has been paid to quality with not enough focus on what it is exactly people are trying to make so crisp and clear.

As for the what I said about the corporations. I did not say that they raked in massive "profit" but rather massive overhead. The same overhead that you are in fact talking about. The point was that people "think" that the money goes directly to the artist or that a large portion of it does. I was simply trying to correct this perception.

As to the many many artist you talk about living it up with hot cars and fancy houses, I would like you to tell me who it is your talking about. The majority of artists don't in fact have a fortune and even the well-off people make up only small fraction (maybe 1%) of all the people that entertain us with music. I'm sure the people you're most likely going to point to are in fact making more money being business men and women then they are being pop artists.

BrandonLP July 30 2005 3:18 AM EDT

Sure, The Beatles did what they did on very limited equipment, but does that mean that we shouldn't strive for more and more clarity? Should we not open up the horizons of 32-bit audio?

We could go round and round for days about analog versus digital, vinyl versus CD, Pro Tools versus self-contained recorders, etc., but it really just boils down to preference. Some people prefer the "warmth" vinyl has while some prefer to hear every single nuance, no matter how slight, with crystal-clear clarity.

You're right. You don't need all that fancy gear and expertise to sound good, but you may need it to sound how you want. I could record every single instrument with an Audix D6 and make it sound good, but that doesn't mean it will be the best it can possibly be or even what I want it to be. That's where the expensive gear factor comes into play. I have at least four (I say at least because I only carry around my four favorites) condenser mics that I try out on each vocalist and drum kit I mic. Certain people (or cymbals) sound better through certain mics and I need to be able to use the right tool for the job. Spending thousands of dollars on those mics may seem irrational when a SM58 can do it "good." But remember that therein lies the difference between good and exactly what you want.

The next issue is the rapid pace at which the technology surrounding recording equipment. That alone will have any good studio replacing gear and training employees on a yearly basis. Think of the rapid advancement from console to HD (MOTU and the likes) to computer-based production (Pro Tools, Sonar, Cubase, etc.) to completely computer-based production and recording (Digi Design 002, FIREPOD, etc.). All that happened in a few short years. Keep in mind that not only are there costs associated with acquiring this new gear and learning to use it, but there are learning curves and costs associated with the software. Two years ago Anatares was selling a simple plug-in that added tube-like warmth to a channel. If I remember correctly, the price for that plug-in was around $259 and it was very basic to say the least. There was a choice of either the "hot" tube or "cool" tube and then a gain slider. I can only imagine the cost of a decent reverb VST.

I do agree that the corporations are getting quite a bit, but watch MTV Cribs sometime and tell me how sorry you feel for those poor, starving artists. ;)

QBsutekh137 July 30 2005 11:11 AM EDT

Brandon, it really doesn't matter how rich the rich folks are getting. The question is to consider the ratio of abject failures to superstars. The failures can fail HARD, because they basically become indentured servants to the industry. Yes, they need to be smarter (like it sounds you are) when it comes to owning their own content and making their own rules, etc. But it isn't all success stories.

Or maybe I just read too many of Courtney Love's rants. *shrug*

As far as money spent, do you ever consider the 90-10 rule? The obscene amount of money you spend to get that 10% extra...an extra that a lot of folks can't hear anyway? Now, I am not sure what kind of music you make -- maybe you are recording 12-piece ensemble classical/orchestral music requiring 24 tracks and multi-thousand dollar microphones. However, if you are doing anything less than that, especially anything techno or looping, you can get by very cheap. It would probably serve you better spending some of those thousands on marketing instead of paying for a $400 mic where a $200 would do.

All professionals have to spend money honing their craft. I spend money on computers, software, services, books, and magazines. You spend money on studio equipment, etc.

Vestax, Alkaline Trio is not a big name. That is why the tickets are only $16. If I were paying a $5 fee on top of $40, that would not be bad. But paying a $9 fee on top of $16, that sucks. It's all in the percentages, man. *smile*

BrandonLP July 30 2005 12:35 PM EDT

I agree whole-heartedly with the first paragraph.

Unfortunately, the 90-10 rule is worth it for me. While my independent projects range from rock to acoustic and the groups I record are anywhere from country to blues to jazz, I feel that I need to capture every single little nuance. It's important, to me, that every recorded sound is exactly like the one produced by the musician. If that costs me a couple hundred extra dollars instead of buying something I can settle on and then buying the better mic, I'm going with the former option. ;)

QBsutekh137 July 30 2005 1:01 PM EDT

Then more power to you. *smile*

Dragon Slayer July 30 2005 1:22 PM EDT

Chet alkaline trio is fairly big. they're just one of those punk bands that doesnt feel the need to charge people $40 for a ticket. i mean heck look at Bad Religion they're big and they still only charge $20 a ticket.

Special J July 30 2005 1:51 PM EDT

You know oddly enough, the band has no say in the cost of tickets and they hardly ever even know what the prices are.

They make the money they do off concerts, but the RECORD LABELS (read : NOT THE BAD ), screw everyone in any manner possible.

QBsutekh137 July 30 2005 1:52 PM EDT

Exactly...mrwuss crystallized my thoughts perfectly...

[T]Vestax July 30 2005 9:18 PM EDT

Wrote this morning and didn't get a chance to post it:
"Yeah, I guess we could go on for a while if we wanted to. I could start to talk about how each additional dollar gives you increasingly lesser results, and you can argue indefinably about the importance of such minor increases when trying to get what you want. I often just think that the further away you get from the sound you can reproduce in a concert setting the more rampant lip-sinking and disappointment becomes."

Chet, I agree with what you say about the riches one sees on MTV, it is in no way the norm. In fact, the people you see on Cribs would again make up only a fraction of the fraction I mentioned up above. I say on average I see 100 to 120 brand new CDs per month with 90% of them being from people I have never heard of before. Mind you that is also just the punk, pop, and progressive rock categories. I was completely ignoring space, techno, trance, blues, country, jazz, hip-hop, R&B, classical, folk, more rock, world music, and so on and so forth. If you made a CD Brandon and had anyone promote it, we might just have it in our library.

In what you say about artist not having any say over ticket prices, this is usually true. Yet, they do get to control the price of their services, as well as require in writing many things such as the price paid for housing of the artists and crew, the equipment required, the amount of security present at the event, and whether or not they get served beer and/or liqueur in their private pre-show ready room. The person putting on the show can then adjust ticket prices from there (usually) in order to pay for the required items in the contract, the cost of venue, and the expected number of sold tickets.

However, there are people like Dave Mathews who ensure that they have complete control over the price of the show, spite the expenses of the show organizers, or else they are not going to show up.

As for the original topic of this post, it doesn't matter what we are talking about now Chet. Me and Brandon still both agree that you ought to have the right to copy your CD to mp3 if you so wish to. :)

QBsutekh137 July 30 2005 11:23 PM EDT

Yay! CONSENSUS!

(well, as close as we are going to get here on Carnage Blender).

Got a nice little conversation going over on the Ben Folds forum. I thought since it is a Sony-run site they may have pulled it by now, but it is still up! Sounds like DualDisc "CD"s have a lot of trouble for a lot of folks. I will definitely be reading jewel cases more carefully from now on (should have been already...)

Grim Reaper July 31 2005 9:47 PM EDT

Oh well, atleast your cd didn't try to destroy your computer. I tried to burn a black eye peas cd which I already bought then copied the songs onto the hard drive and from there I tried to burn the songs on to another cd, problem was when I tried to burn it, there were problems by the songs(first 6 played, the other 9 caused the cd to: basically explode when tryng to play them. And I mean it, it is not like a normal case of trying to read the cd and then it would just not play, this was really some interesting copy right, first time ever I had a cd do this, the cd started spinning out of control in my cd player and tried to self destruct.

[T]Vestax August 1 2005 12:26 AM EDT

My girlfriend bought the Ben Folds album without me even mentioning it. Turns out she was able to rip the album with no problems. So maybe you should blame Apple instead for making a lame computer system that promises to be center around all things media. She also made a backup of the Black Eyed Peas album you talk about Gorilla on her hard drive. She hasn't burned it to another disc, but she hasn't had any problems either.

QBsutekh137 August 1 2005 1:17 AM EDT

And here I was starting to like you, Vestax. *smile*

Through my research, I have learned there is a "deluxe" CD version (non DualDisc) of the Ben Folds CD that rips just fine. Perhaps that is what your girl friend ripped? An actual CD, not this crazy Dual Disc garbage I purchased?

I have also learned that, by and large, the Mac rips things better than a comparable Windows system, mainly because the Mac has no "auto play" for CDs as even a possibility. Many CDs want Windows folks to install DRM software and tools before even listening to a CD, while the Mac just rips it. As I said in my OP, this is the first CD I have _ever_ had that didn't rip on my machine. It has been, what, two years since the first protected CDs came out? And this is the first time I have had trouble.

Please do not refer to my computing platform as "lame". I was never intending to start a holy war, but if need be, I will most definitely bring it. Ask anyone.

[T]Vestax August 1 2005 3:01 AM EDT

Sorry Chet, I didn't mean to lose your favor. I don't think Macs are actually lame. In fact I have studied operating systems and quite honestly Mac systems are much more user friendly for people who have never used a computer, not Windows. Plus we can't ignore the tremendous advantages Macs have in the field of media. The new operating system, MAC OS X, is a revised version of NEXTSTEP, a micro-kernal based operating system. I like the micro-kernal over the monolithic-kernal that systems like windows and linux use for various technical reasons. The other great advantage of Macs is based on security. The fact that each operating system ends up being radically different from the last makes the system a much faster moving target leaving little room for exploiting old security gaps.

I do regret to inform you though that my girlfriend got the DualDisc version, so her success must have been for some other reason.

Grim Reaper August 1 2005 3:24 AM EDT

Vestax I have no problem burning the black eye peas to the harddrive, the problem with it happens when I burned it onto a cd. So please warn your girlfriend to NOT burn the black eye peas onto a cd and just let it play and have her walk away :)

[T]Vestax August 1 2005 3:28 AM EDT

I apparently need to brush up on my operating systems. Spite NEXTSTEP's relation to FreeBSD, MAC OS X is also based on the monolithic kernal design. Oh well, It's just a choice of stability and security over speed so it really isn't a big issue.

Grim Reaper August 1 2005 4:46 AM EDT

well actually macs always used to be fast compared to windows pcs in mhz, windows required 500mhz to do something and a mac only need 250 to do something at same rate.

[T]Vestax August 1 2005 7:03 AM EDT

That would be fitting of a monolithic kernel architecture Gorilla. The point is to put anything that could possible be in the core of the operating system into the kernel space rather then the less privileged user space. This would include things like drivers. The end result is less bottle-necking and therefore faster responses. This would then agree with what you said up above.

Counter-intuitive to your thinking the micro kernel is in fact slower. The idea is to strip the kernel down to only what needs to be in kernel space. This ends up being things like memory management and processor scheduling. Drivers and such are then placed on top of this layer in user space where they have less direct access to hardware. The advantage to this is increased security, protection, and stability. Many researchers of operating systems are in favor of this system since speed is becoming less of an issue. The problem is that there is a lack of a mainstream operating system that supports this design.

But what the heck are we talking about way over here in off-topic land. Good luck with the CD Chet.

QBJohnnywas August 1 2005 7:14 AM EDT

Back in the day when I worked for Virgin Records Uk I was given a breakdown of where the money you spend on a cd goes. It may have changed since then, ten years is a long time but I'd say it's probably still quite accurate.

At the time a cd cost on average 10 pounds sterling. 9.99 if you want to be picky. Of that amount 6.50 per cd was store markup. Profit in other words.

Of the remaining 35% 2% went to the artist and 33% to the label. And although labels will say that 33% is what pays for their investment in new talent I don't think they spend that much money in that area...of course I may be too cynical there....


So the artist got approximately 20 pence per CD. 20 pence doesn't even buy you a daily newspaper. If an artist sells a million copies of an album then they would be able to buy a lot of newspapers, but in reality very few UK artists sell that many copies.

Recording artists get an advance - advances obviously have to be paid back to the company from that 20 pence per cd. And, out of that advance come all costs for recording, wages for the band/artist and various other costs that promoting an album incur.

Most major label contracts are either single album contracts - the equivalent of a temporary job where the company can decide after one release if they are going to retain the artist; or they are the multi album deals that generally cover about 5 albums. 30 years ago a 5 album deal could be over in 5 or 6 years. These days that same deal could tie you to a company for 30 years. And the company generally owns the rights to all the recordings so can do with them as they choose.

For instance some labels – EMI in Europe – sell cheaper compilations of popular artists. The packaging is normally nothing more than the name of the band, a photo and a tracklisting. They sell for about half the price – if not more – than a regular release.

Now most people would see that on the shelf and think that’s a bargain, I’ll buy that. What most people don’t realise is that none of the artists see a penny from those, except maybe in songwriting royalties. EMI’s cheap compilation series are covered by a nice loophole in the contracts that allows them to release them this way.

So when your labels start talking about illegal downloading, copying and all the evils that stop the ‘artist’ getting what’s their right never forget that that same company is probably screwing the artist just as much!

Zoglog[T] [big bucks] August 1 2005 10:35 AM EDT

Jonny in reply to the album deals if 10 years ago a 5 album deal would last about 5 or 6 years looking at new trends they wouldn't even last 2 :/.
Too many bands getting away with successive albums and re-releasing the same track a 2nd time and the same people buying the same record, although yes I do blame the idiots who buy it again for that one.

QBJohnnywas August 1 2005 10:40 AM EDT

You're right there Zog, a lot of bands get dropped after one album these days, sometimes not even getting that far if the sales of preceding singles didn't do well. Once upon a time companies would invest in a band, hoping that the long term development would result in sales. Back then bands may have had two or three albums out before they saw any major success and those days of you discovering a band to find that they'd been around for several years and had a great back catalogue are mostly long gone. Which is one of the reasons the old favourites - Rolling Stones, Beatles etc etc - keep getting pushed. No point in trying to sell some one hit album wonder band from 1995 when you've got 10 or more albums you could sell by the Stones...

AdminQBVerifex [Serenity In Chaos] August 1 2005 10:47 AM EDT

Hey Chet,

If you like iTunes, but don't like the protected audio limitations. Try this: http://www.hymn-project.org/

I've used it myself a number of times. It gives you a clean mp3 from a protected mp4 file. Works great too :)

QBsutekh137 August 1 2005 11:46 AM EDT

Yes, hymn is a nice utility.

I just downloaded some nice VBR MP3s for the album as a torrent I found. I'm a pirate! Gar!

Zoglog[T] [big bucks] August 1 2005 12:57 PM EDT

Johnny I was actually saying that a 5 album deal would last 2 years as in most bands seem to just push them all out as quickly as possible and don't concentrate on any quality in them.
Most of the bands I like have been around for many years and don't even release albums annually but get their money from doing the right thing and touring constantly allowing people to enjoy their music for a while before loading them up with even more and it being rubbish.
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