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Don Henley’s Testimony

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hey gang


Don make an excellent job of presenting the case of songwriters







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listening to that now


my first introduction to him "as a person" was during the napster hearings, all his did was cry about his perceived lost revenue(can't lose something you don't have yet).... I was pretty disgusted.  I see he hasn't changed his tune much upon realizing how many people that would never of heard his stuff otherwise have bought albums and gone to shows, other than by deflection saying he's doing this now for others :)


He does make some good points though.....I wonder who wrote his talking points for him? He sure is having to read a lot :)  They weren't credited hahahah

I was instantly suspicious when he felt he had  to clarify he isn't doing this to be contrary or for personal gain..........why even have to say that? ;) 


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I didn't know that was going/went on either :) and yeah it is funnily suspicious how Don Henley is somehow the mouthpiece for musicians every time something goes to congress.......I must of missed the voting for that :) ............now I got take it easy stuck in my head hahah going to have to fix that.  

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I think if it isn’t addressed, music as a profession is deader than dead.


@Cody he might have sounded like he was whining at the Napster hearings, but that didn’t mean he was wrong. Also, there’s a good chance he brought it up precisely because “he’s rich, he’s got nothing to complain about” was levelled at him last time. It wasn’t exactly a secret lol.


A little context, back then half the staff of Songstuff owned or co-owned indie record labels. I know one of them was an electronica label with 25 acts on the roster, another was jazz and blues with 18 acts on the roster, so not huge, but not tiny.


Pretty shortly after the dust was settled both labels closed as a direct result of the new settlement negotiated with Digital platforms and the nosedive in sales due to non-payment of licenses and unchecked piracy.


During the pro-Napster campaign, and later the Pro-YouTube campaign, the general public were told by leading campaigners that artists and writers were being ripped of, with large labels profiteering, charging $15 for an album that cost 50 cents to press. Of course it was a lot of rubbish. At the time the raw unprocessed, blank Cd was about 60 cents, but the pricing omitted the cost of pressing, printing on the CD, printing the booklet, the jewel case, the cost of the bar code, the plastic wrap, the cost of cover design, photographs, mastering, recording and mixing, rehearsals, admin, distribution, marketing and promotion and a load more besides.


Campaigners also pushed the story that their campaign targeted only major labels and big artists. This wasn’t true.


The main reason the public were swayed to Back Napster and later YouTube, was because they only heard the Napster/YouTube side of the argument. Why? Because the top results in Google were all pro Napster/YouTube. Pro-music Industry articles were all below page 10 in the search results.


Similar happened with stories about YouTube videos not being available due to the RIAA and PRS... but it was simply a strong arm negotiating tactic to force the acceptance of extremely low License fees and cancellation of back money.


Of course at that point people didn’t realise that Google had bought YouTube and faced a massive bill for copyright licenses and the prospect of big law suits. I will let you draw your own conclusions.


As a result those labels closed, and the owners left the music industry. Most professional members of Songstuff also lost their jobs including session musicians, producers, audio engineers, managers, marketers etc. Almost all were not involved with majors.


Wind forward to today. It is impossible to make a living from streaming. For example, Pharrell's, "Happy" made $2,700 in publisher AND songwriter royalties from 43 million Pandora streams in the first quarter of 2014, according to an email from music publisher Sony/ATV CEO Marty Bandier. That means Pharrell only saw half of that. Most writers would be lucky to see 50 cents per quarter.


For someone earning money in another job, pursuing music as a hobby, giving their music away for free is a luxury. Sadly I don’t see plumbers, carpenters, drivers, bakers, mechanics feeling obliged to do the same. A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work and all that.


I remember reading somewhere that due to those rulings and the DMC some 80% of the Industry left or went semi-pro.


Back to today, the main way to earn as an artist is through live. As a songwriter, many are still semipro. As the industry switch to making money from gigs and merch, songwriter deals of the past were geared to sales and sync. Only sync still made money for writers and for many artists the music itself was now a loss leader. 

So now Live has evaporated, and with it merch. So what, artists are left with pitiful download income and donations from livestream, and songwriters have sync.... 


but wait... big movie companies are re-negotiating with Songwriters, no ongoing royalties, 90% reduction in fees. Don’t sign? We’ll replace your music.


You see, it is perfectly ok for Spotify etc to make loads of cash, or Microsoft or YouTube... creators aren’t meant to make a dime. It’s ok for the advertisers to sell their products all made possible by our  ideas and hard work, but woe betide you if you want a slice.


For too long artists have willingly undercut each other to “make it”, knowing that there were other opportunities to make a good living further down the road.


Trouble is we’re at the end of the road now. If this isn’t addressed properly there will be no music industry.

Companies from venues, to management, labels, advertisers all make money exploiting that desperation, time after time after time.


Listeners feel ENTITLED to listen for free, to download, happy to let artists work for free, happy to let artists invest in gear, rehearsals and time... initially because of misinformation, later because they can. It’s a right now, isn’t it?


Right now in entertainments, because of COVID 19, I know about 30 people directly with no income at all. Because of being classed self employed they can’t get state benefits. Because contracts were short they can’t get the help given to self employed. Online, I know hundreds like that. Make no mistake entertainments has been smashed. For music, for must they had already used savings and sold what they had to sell before COVID game along.


So, I agree largely with Don. Why him?


Well, it dawned on Don ;)

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@Patchez what Guerrilla ebook? On our boards? (I was doing some work in prep for launching it, and I do have some info about it out there) I’m now wondering if I made something available by mistake lol

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Yup why weren't you invited to speak? That's an excellent post! well...Scotland, so not necessarily for congress :), but yeah I know quite a few people, who(around that same time napster, then years later the youtube debacle) lost their small studios, couple of them still empty just rented out for rehearsal space, equipment all sold off in last ditch efforts to stay afloat,  a lot who lost life-long held session recording jobs, etc....I agree with him as well, it's just hard for me to take him in particular seriously. 


I also know too many people that are just in it for money, and will do anything to keep that "just for the love of music" facade up that it makes me sick to think about. 

Just search Oklahoma born country artists.....I won't have to name any names :) and this COVID pandemic has done nothing to damper their revenue, local broadcast stations have no problems live streaming from their house for an "intimate" look at blah blah blah blah blah.....A lot of them could teach a masterclass on undercutting ;) and how to rob anyone unwilling to hire a lawyer to go after copyright infringement ;) (that's just smart business right?) :) One relative in particular, been playing live for 60+ years.....I hope he makes it through this summer of no music, I'm in no position to help him out. 


Great point about it's all expected to be free now by anyone with an internet connection too btw. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

To this day, we still make many thousands of dollars a year from a song that I won't mention, which was published by an artist that you know extremely well.  These checks come from "publishing."


Every two or three years or so, another $50-or-so check comes in.  This one is from "mechanicals."  The physical sales of a physical product that happened to contain a copy of any of the songs in question.  (We've already checked: an Internet download is not "mechanical.")


Since the two things happen to overlap, it doesn't really take much to understand why the author of "Coal Miner's Daughter," who does not own the publishing rights to her own work, and who lost(!) a lawsuit to recover them, still runs a tourist-trap beside the Interstate.

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