Musicians fight back against the hands that (kind of) feeds them

by Jason Gross

2 May 2006


Can it be?  Are artists standing up to labels?  Do they sense a consumer backlash that will ultimately effect them or have they come down with a case of morals?

Unlike the FCC, it looks some artists from the Great White North have figured out what a bane on humanity copy protection is: Canadian Music stars fighting DRM.  If you’re gonna have your name on a CD, you’re gonna be embarrassed if your fans can’t play, can’t copy it to their digital player or get an f-ing virus on their computer because of it.  That is if you do care about your fans which ultimately effects your career which ultimately cuts into your self-esteem.  Of course, major labels don’t have to worry about this, insisting that they’re trying to protect their own assets at your expense.  When artists are caught in the middle of this, they can side with the labels, shut up or speak out.  Good for these people who are taking a stand now and saying “this sucks for consumers so stop it.”

And then there’s the matter of digital royalties: Sony BMG Sued Over Artists’ Digital Rates.  It seems that despite all the huffing and puffing, the majors ultimately knuckled under to Apple and kept their pricing for song downloads at 99 cents.  That still means slim margins for Apple but they’re OK with it since they’re ultimately in the business of selling i-Pods.  That’s not good news for the labels who want a bigger slice of the online music pie though and they’ve obviously realized that it ain’t smart this early in the game to take on a market leader that leaves its competition in the dust.  And now they’re getting squeezed by the artists who figure that their contracts entitle them to a bigger cut than they’ve been given for downloads.  If Sony loses this battle, expect more suits to come against the other labels.  Not a great time to be a major…

Now if only more artists came out and said “stop suing people in our name…”  The RIAA is plowing ahead with more college crackdowns, likely in lieu of more lawsuits, probably unconcerned with any bad press or backlash.  Artists should be concerned about this though.  It comes back to that fans/career/self-esteem thing…

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