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May 18, 2016


I recall reading/hearing maybe 20 years ago, or more, that if you had a single #1 hit as a song writer you were pretty much set for life. Seems that is correct from those articles.

It would be nice if one thing that came out of this kind of rejiggering is a more sane copyright period, like 25 years. But more likely it seems we will have a perpetual copyrights on the installment plan.

Terrestrial radio is already dying. I'm not sure it benefits anyone to impose more costs and speed that along.

I've been watching some recent efforts at crowdfunding with some interest. Industrial/electronica duo, Kidneythieves, used Kickstarter to raise money for recording their upcoming album "The Mend." They needed $45,000 to get it done to professional standards and ended up raising $75,000 by the end of the campaign. It's not a living, but it's at least a gig, and the residuals are no worse from that than what anyone gets going through a label. It saves a lot of debt on the front end with uncertainty on the back end. They get it all paid and they have a good idea of how much demand there is based on pre-order support.

Ne Obliviscaris, an Australian progressive extreme metal band, took it a step further when they ran into a spot of financial trouble and set up a Patreon account where fans could pledge a flexible monthly donation. Currently they are getting around $7.7k a month from that -- a little under $5k less than minimum wage when split six ways, but still a great deal more than the numbers you see cropping up in all these "streaming sucks" stories. And the money all goes to the musicians/songwriters rather than to the record label overhead. Not too bad for a fairly niche band in a non-commercial genre.

to me, the bottom line is that if anyone is making a living off of musicians' work, some of those folks should be the musicians.

writing a number one song will, in fact, probably make you very wealthy. 'every step you take' famously makes sting about $2k a day, 7 days a week, 30 plus years after he wrote it.

I know a guy who had a tune that charted in the top 30, staying there for a week or two in the early 90s. it was worth about $80k to him.

most journeyman songwriters make $30-40K, and they probably make most of that via channels other than publishing royalties.

music is a damned hard way to make a living.

music is a damned hard way to make a living.

Not exactly relevant to the post, but I find it interesting to see how some musicians make a living aside from the writing-recording-publishing-selling track as a member of a band or a solo artist.

For example, Mark Mothersbaugh, of the utterly fantastic Devo, shows up repeatedly in the credits of movies and TV shows my kids watch. I can't even guess how many times I've seen his name (not to mention his face on Yo Gabba Gabba!).

How many people have heard his stuff while having no idea who he is?

hsh, also: Danny Elfman.

I'm embarrassed to say that, while I've noticed Danny Elfman over the years for his film work, I didn't know he was in Oingo Boingo. Wow.

Not exactly off-topic, but an interesting and unintended side-effect of writing (or performing) a song that blows up can affect other media who incorporated that song to the accidental detriment of that other media.

Season 1 of the television show "The Profiler" is not available on DVD (at least in the US), because the episode heavily references the song 'Every Breath You Take' by the Police, and while the producers could afford broadcasting rights, they couldn't afford the subsequent home video license. Editing the episode to remove the music or replace it with another song simply isn't an option, so we're SoL when it comes to episode 4.

"Married With Children" took forever to get a DVD release because the popularity of the theme song skyrocketed due to the popularity of the show. The rights owners for the song were then able to ask far more on a home viewing license than they were for broadcasting rights, and I bet those negotiations were all kinds of fun for all involved. :)

Similar problems plague shows like "WKRP in Cincinnati" (all the incidental music tracks playing in the background as one would hear at a radio station and "Cold Case", which uses multiple pieces of music from the year the crime took place. Paying all of those artists the additional royalties to which they'd be entitled would guarantee a lack of profit for the studio, so fans of these shows are stuck hoping to record them off TV in syndication, turning to quasi-legal ways of acquiring them off the internet, or being unable to watch the show.

Sunday Night/Michelob Presents Night Music is another show that will never get a DVD release because of the cost of licensing the music. Which is too bad, because it was an amazing show.

Thank the music gods we have YouTube.

"I didn't know he was in Oingo Boingo"

He was Oingo Boingo. He wrote nearly every bit of their music.

I've only been aware of that for...lemme see...35 years.

Primordial Oingo Boingo. From the Gong Show.

We'll be right back with more sssssstuff!

I've only been aware of that for...lemme see...35 years.

Hey, I already said I was embarrassed. Kick me while I'm down, why don't you?

I'll have to check out your link from home. The geniuses in our IS department recently put youtube on the naughty list.

I was planning on checking out videos on setting transformers in place using a Jack N Slide system, and not just for my own amusement. But now I can't do that, because youtube might be for fun.

They won $516.32. Good for them.

Yet another reason to steal your TV off the internet. If the owners can't actually make the product available for sale, is it any surprise it gets pirated?? Between ShowBox and Kodi/Genesis I'm amazed anyone pays for TV at all anymore, when the free open source alternatives not only have everything under the sun, they're also way easier to use, and have all their content in one place, with none of this nonsense from Netflix where they are constantly *removing* shows from their catalogue.

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