Friday, September 19, 2003

Long RIAA Rant
The RIAA puts forth the most immense, steaming pile of bullshit for their arguments, it's hard to contemplate.

Your band has been playing local clubs and selling your little EP's at your shows for a year. You work at the Plaid Pantry down the street, where you had to fight your boss to get Friday nights off so you could play shows. Your drummer is living off his unemployment checks. The bassist's girlfriend just got pregnant and has no health insurance. Your band, though, is pretty damn good, and you get some nice revenue from your shows and cd sales. Enough at least to buy that new amp and get some studio time. Enough to support your hobby.

Your dream of being a big rock star is on the verge of coming true. Atlantic records is calling and wants to produce and distribute your first major label CD. They can get you radio time (which is bought exclusively for signed bands under collusive deals) they can get you into the newspapers and magazines, which will deem you cool (because they all are owned by the same small group of people: the TV stations, the magazines, the newspapers, the record labels - yes, even the "alternative" ones.)

They offer you a royalty advance of $100,000, which sounds like more money than you could ever dream of making at the Plaid Pantry! What a deal - money and fame and... "Just sign here on the dotted line, son."

The negotiating positions are ridiculously imbalanced. For your advance of $100,000, you owe them five albums over the next seven years. Everytime you write a song, it's their's. The $100,000 is split four ways, amounting to $25,000 each. After taxes and recording expenses for album #1, you get about $10,000, which pays off some credit card debt and a few months rent, in addition to a new computer for your music production.

But hey, you get royalties, right? That's right, and if your album goes gold (one chance in hell) then you will have almost sold enough albums to have paid back your advance! Atlantic will let you know when you've cought up. The checks will come after that.

Now let's look at this seriously. The RIAA controls the method of distribution. They are not, despite what they'd have you believe, "creative." They do not make art. They buy art at horribly unfair terms. They then distribute the songs (that real artists have created) and sell cd's at preposterously high prices. When cd's first came out, the industry promised congress that while the $12 prices were high, after a period of time, the production would become cheaper, and the prices would go down under $10. (And after several million dollars in bribes... err, I mean "campaign contributions", Congress has "forgotten" to hold them to that promise.) In return, Congress granted them all of the legal rights they now weild with such ferocity on "immoral" sixth graders.

CD sales have dipped because no one wants to pay the $18 sticker price. If movies on video still cost $85 like they did in the 1980's would you ever buy a DVD? Well, that's what the $18 cd has wrought. No sales. But it's not the industry's fault no one buys their shit, is it? Of course not! It's the consumers' fault! Not buying their shit is ILLEGAL.

The RIAA is a bunch of unnecessary middlemen who have paid off your government to legally ensure their unjustified cut off the top of music sales. Their practices negatively impact both the artists and the artists' fans. File sharing via personal computers eliminates them as the middleman, and that's why they are pissed. We have found a way to work around their unjust system. The legislature has granted them the right to bilk you, and they are now pressing those rights.

This is no different then the mafia charging a "street tax" to resteranteurs for the right to buy wholesale meat. Their presence is unnecessary and unwelcome. If they did not have the money to buy off Congress, they's all be looking for other jobs. (or selling drugs)

When the printing press was invented, the people who previously controlled that information freaked out and persecuted people. But they could not stop it. When VCR's were invented, the movie industry freaked out and tried to block their sales ("but no one will ever pay $85 for a copy of a movie, so how could we ever make money off this horrible technology!?"). When the next method of distributing information is invented, the wealthiest, most powerful people in society will be beside themselves trying to figure out how to stop it.

The argument that really makes me sick is that the RIAA wants you to believe that they are on the side of "artists being fairly compensated for their creations." Bullshit! They are the number one culprits in artists not being compensated fairly for their work! They screw the artists. They are upset because the middleman's role is becoming obsolete!

Grr, I'll rant more on these shitheads later.

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