I maintain that they should have allowed me to collect Unemployment Insurance after me being fired again from that sorry assed company for the third time in my life. And moreover, if those royalty people thought for a mili second that I was not gonna bite back 1,500,000 times worse than a measly 300 dollar a week collecting and paying out unemployment insurance money accordingly, well they are NOT only the group of idiots that i knew them to be in this industry, they are also very simple minded people that have worked doing royalties for that corrupt company.
Regardless, here is how it all started when i wrote about that situation in my first book that was written in 2007 before being released everywhere in 2011:
CHAPTER ONE (I): FRIDAY IN JUNE
“Any time we declare a war on something in this country, it seems to improve; I wish the government would declare a war on hot chicks because there would be ten of them on every corner giving themselves away”
I have just been fired from a job for the third time in my life. All of those times have been by Warner Music companies. I have had so many jobs since I was in high school. I am not even sure if getting fired three separate times from the same company is as bad as actually getting hired three separate times by that same company. This could now be the perfect time for me to relocate to Hawaii to report on a gonzo-styled account of a marathon run held on that island. Although it is an election year, I could spend time travelling on a “campaign” trail covering the Democratic Party primary selection. If it were January, I could head out to Las Vegas to write about the Super Bowl, however, we are in June today, and I have three weeks of vacation time….
………..I close the guide book placing it in my lap as I lean my head back against the back seat cushion on the plane. I am realizing that I have no clue what I am going to do with my professional life today. As it stands for the next 3/4ers of this year, I cannot go back to work at any major record company. Besides, I have stagnated in a very bad way at my jobs; my last one has been so bad that I had been sent to Human Resources written up by a supervisor for doing too much work. Not only have I now been canned from Warner companies three times in my life, there is also a document on record in their legal files stating that I am forbidden from doing any work at my house, and after normal business hours. I was also forced to take at least a half an hour lunch break every work day. I was also not allowed to work for more than a seven hour and thirty minute period every day. And, that company does not like to pay its artist their earned royalty money. If you have ever heard an audit settlement happen at a label, let alone at a Warner Music Company, you realize that after one sentence and a few giggles amongst those executives, they settle for hundreds of thousands of dollars less than what is truly due to the artist. There are also so many conflicts with that same lawyer handling the audit for the artist, and the same lawyer is the so called legal representation for the president of the label, so to speak, let alone for 20 other acts on the label. Once an audit is settled, whatever money on top of that settlement is 100% for the label. As a matter of fact, that company is so bad at paying royalties today; it uses the Universal staff, royalty and accounting system. They are so bad at doing royalties today; they are using the staff people at a competing company, to do their royalty statements every pay period………
……….Regardless of how I found out about the workings of the criminal justice system in the United States, I really want to buy the company I was just fired from the other day. I would literally fire everyone that works for the company, and work that catalog my way. When I took this last job, I was broke number one, two and three, but I was also so excited to help work on clearing licenses, and paying royalties for their catalog artists. I thought right away about being able to work legendary bands like The Grateful Dead, Genesis, Janes Addiction, Led Zep, however forgetting about how that company felt about Ice T and black people. This one woman had been working at that company since the Sinatra years and since the start up of Reprise Records. I remember in the early 00’s, I walk in her office to see her doing royalty statements on those long green accounting sheets. I think they stopped using those accounting ledger forms 20 years ago but also, I saw at least 25 storage boxes that had been filled with folders with paperwork, marked the Grateful Dead Litigation, in the file room. They just do not like paying their artists their royalty money and they even fight it. The way they pay artists their digital sales today is a scam. They lump those sales into being licensed material and therefore by traditional contract and what is standard for the entire industry, every artist gets paid 1/2 their rate or even a 1/4 of their full rate for any licensed songs. They (WMG) take your full rate right away cutting it down in half or to a quarter of that total sale amount. Then, they pro rate it by dividing that one song download amount by the total amounts of songs on that particular full length album. If an artist gets paid .70 cents for a digital download, and they have 15 songs on that album, at Warner Music, they not only cut it down to that half rate or quarter rate, they also then pro rate that sale with the total amounts of songs on that album giving every artist a penny rate for that sale. That would mean that an artist with 15 songs on their album, gets paid .00223 rather than .70 cents for that exact sale. Now multiply that by the catalog of recorded music they have the rights to work that way. They are using an antiquated system to do modern day royalties. Anyway, this flight is very smooth today. The slight rumbling is the start of the wheels being lowered from the bottom of the plane to get us ready for the landing into the city of Las Vegas. I think this is the loudest noise I have heard on this entire two and half hour flight. I zip up the main part of my small bag which is still set underneath the seat in front of mine. I place the guide book back in the same slot I took it out from earlier on the flight, and I use both of my feet to push the bag even further in front of me but under the seat in front me. I lean my head back onto the upright seat thinking that “you get up to live or you lie down to die” and that’s where I am at today. I have to hope that all this change in my life over the last few years, will allow me to open up to eventually start, accomplish and then execute my true goals in life.
The question of how artist payouts from digital downloads should be classified has become an ongoing issue. The classification of items such as MP3 downloads and ringtones especially affects legacy artists, who didn’t have this technology included in their contracts.
Weird Al recently settled a $5M case with Sony, he said the label was improperly treating downloads as “sales” instead of “licenses”. Because of this, Weird Al was being paid 15 percent instead of 50 percent.
Warner Music Group is facing the exact same issue. A lawsuit was filed against them in February 2012 by Gary Wright, Ronee Blakely, and Kathy Sledge Lightfoot of Sister Sledge. These artists say WMG underpaid royalties because they also classified downloads as sales and not licenses.
WMG has agreed to settle the case for $11.5 million (minus attorney and court fees).
The settlement is still subject to court approval. It covers sales from January 1st, 2009 through December 31st, 2012. The $11.5 million would be split among artists who opt-in, with producers getting a percentage of the artist payout.
Artists that signed a contract before January 1st, 2002 are eligible. So, the money could potentially be split by thousands of artists. According to the settlement these artists actually generated $381 million in digital sales during the specified time period.
Those who opt-in would also see a change in royalty rates. Artists would get a 5 percent royalty increase, raising them to at least 10 percent and no more than 14 percent.
These settlements come to no conclusion on the digital download classification issue. We’ll continue to see these cases until a decision on “sales” vs “licenses” is made.
In this classic story that takes place on a road trip throughout the United States, Don Lichterman tells of his experiences at an Indian Reservation, the country’s largest music festival and a band’s final tour. During his journey all around America, Lichterman talks about his relationships gained, and lost, along the way while commenting on important issues facing the U.S, such as the upsurge in government spending, the job market, the state of the economy, religion, the criminal justice system/laws, the War on Drugs, the War On Terror, the housing bust, the health care system, private prisons and private jails. Commanding and convincing, with his unique style, Lichterman details these facts about American policies, which have been set in place over the past couple decades, together with today’s government policies, in a fun and adventurous way, by sharing his opinions on what is necessary for the U.S. to flourish again.
The Authors (me) Next Book, “A Diary Of A Ram Fan” is Out next Month!
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