So Eminem's old producers sued Universal over royalties. For those of you who have never been signed to a record contract, they are shadier (pardon the pun) than you probably imagine. The whole point of getting a record deal is to try and make some money off of selling your recording, right? Well, over the last decades, the industry (and by industry, I mean the lawyers and label heads in charge of finding ever more inventive ways of scamming inattentive rock stars (which is generally easier than shooting fish in a barrel)) has come up with some novel ideas about how your royalty rate should be calculated. They subtract the cost of all manner of promotional charges for the posters you see in the window of the record store, and then things like "breakage" (which hasn't been a real issue since records were made of shellac), and then just arbitrarily lop off another 10% for this, and 10% for that, until by the end you're not getting paid for the 1 million records you sold, you're getting paid for maybe 500k of them, if you're very lucky. Then they charge you back for some more (usually bogus) stuff. The whole game is to keep you, the artist, in the hole. It's easy. Oh, the label is sending a limo to pick you up at the airport and take you to the Grammy's! Great! Do I need to tip the driver?

Add into this that their lawyers have seen fit to jump on digital distribution by making your royalty rate 75% (again, if you're lucky) of what it would be if there were a physical medium being sold through a store (and this is in addition to subtracting for "Breakage", etc.), and the margins for the artist get even lower. It's pathetic, honestly. Even more pathetic is that artists are usually in a big hurry to sign these pieces of shit.

So, when I read things like this, it really makes me wonder. To sum up, Em's old producers sued over the fact that there were so many absurdly non-justifiable, pre-royalty charges added up before they got their cut. They argue, and rightly so in my mind, that since you can't "break" a digital download, and the distribution costs are virtually nil, and that the labels aren't paying for in-store promotional material to market the download, that those charges shouldn't apply to their royalties. They argued that the deals should work more like commercial and movie licensing agreements work. That'd bring their cut up, as producers. It'd also bring down the labels' cut, obviously. The jury found for Universal, unfortunately...

So when I read articles like the one that I posted earlier today, I wonder why music label execs think we're all so stupid. By "we", I don't just mean artists because there's plenty of empirical evidence that we are in fact, but the entire music listening populace. Why do we want to consume the crap that they sell, ripping off artists in the process, ignoring or suppressing good music along the way?

Time to get back on my musicTech thread...