Here is an old transcript of Courtney Love’s views of musicians’ rights and the “new economy” that grew from the era of Napster.
Back in 2000, it was a pretty big deal when people found out about Napster and mp3 sharing. However, a big fuss came over the copyright violations that entailed this music sharing. The RIAA blamed Napster and other file sharing services for stealing away profits from the musicians pirates were supposed to be supporting, and they continue to crack down on music piracy today with the same mantra.
However, Courtney Love’s transcript is quite insightful as she breaks down where the profits go. From her breakdown, it’s appalling to see just how little musicians actually keep—most of it is paid to major record companies! What’s more surprising is how manipulative these record companies contracts are. There is no easy way for artists to leave, short of declaring bankruptcy, and new policies these companies and the RIAA have lobbied for make even that harder.
To artists, owning the copyright to their work is one of the most essential aspects of creating. When artists sign up with these major labels, the copyright is taken by the recording company. CDs will usually state copyright to a label, not a band or artist.
Recording artists have essentially been giving their music away for free under the old system, so new technology that exposes our music to a larger audience can only be a good thing. Why aren’t these companies working with us to create some peace? Why aren’t record companies embracing this great opportunity? Why aren’t they trying to talk to the kids passing compilations around to learn what they like? Why is the RIAA suing the companies that are stimulating this new demand? What’s the point of going after people swapping cruddy-sounding MP3s? Cash! Cash they have no intention of passing onto us, the writers of their profits.
In fact, the RIAA is the true pirate of musicians’ works—they fine kids for downloading an artist’s songs, but the artists don’t retain any of the money taken. Many artists see music enthusiasts downloading their music as a great way for more exposure, and they see nothing wrong with trying to learn about different music genres and styles. The direct communication artists can have with fans through the internet is authentic and better, and musicians don’t NEED record labels to market and promote their songs to the radio anymore.
If you’re a musician, what do you think of the RIAA’s policies, and how they deal with file sharing? Does the RIAA protect or hurt you? Have views about major recording labels changed since this transcript was released?