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The RIAA has squeezed $105M USD out of the P2P giant Limewire.  (Source: Mexican Foodie)

Don't expect that windfall to go to artists, though. The RIAA says it will "reinvest" it in its antipiracy efforts, which include maintaining a mass threats program against U.S. citizens and trying to pay off politicians to outlaw burning backup copies of content people own (pictured).  (Source: Google Images)
Parasitic nature of music industry's big labels continues

In today's market many independent musicians view the big record labels as a parasitic entity of sorts, exploiting talented musicians, inflating undertalented pop stars and lavishly spending, while crying over "dropping" profits.  Of course, not everyone feels that way, but a recent settlement between major label copyright watchdog group the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and filesharing service LimeWire does little to convince observers otherwise.

You may recall that LimeWire was smote down by the RIAA in federal court over copyright infringement claims.  The site's appeals fell on deaf ears, and the service was ordered shut down.

The case has finally been wrapped up with a jury deciding on damages against the service.  The jury in this case opted to arrange a settlement between LimeWire and the RIAA legal team, which would call for LimeWire to pay $10,808 USD per track for the 9,715 tracks the RIAA claimed LimeWire infringed, for a total fine of $105M USD.  

While that may sound like a lot, it's actually significantly less than the maximum fine of $150,000 USD per track the jury could have awarded for willful infringement.  That would have resulted in a fine of $1.46B USD.  The RIAA originally sought $150B USD in damages from LimeWire -- approximately15 times the music industry's total reported yearly income -- but was deterred by the minor triviality that LimeWire had nowhere near this amount of money.

RIAA Chairman Mitch Bainwol hailed the decision, commenting, "The resolution of this case is another milestone in the continuing evolution of online music to a legitimate marketplace that appropriately rewards creators."

The settlement will do little to improve the major labels' image, though, as they may not give any of the record windfall to the artists that actually had their work infringed.

Instead, the organization has previously promised to spend the money to reinvigorate its unprofitable campaign of threats and lawsuits, in addition lobbying politicians to offer greater enforcement of copyright infringement at their constituents' tax expense and outlaw consumer practices like creating backup copies (which the RIAA contends is "stealing").

RIAA spokesman Jonathan Lamy previously stated, "Any funds recouped are re-invested into our ongoing education and anti-piracy programs."

The RIAA would surely argue that artists would eventually benefit by reducing piracy.  However, the organization's past efforts have proved only marginally effective at best as piracy rates have waned and waxed with the years passing years, always remaining relatively high.

Recent studies have also shown that pirates are the biggest legal purchasers of music.  This makes sense, as many view piracy as a "preview" of sorts, which they use to decide which artists are worth supporting.  They might not buy that Lil Wayne track they downloaded, but they might end up buying an album from a smaller artist they discovered, like The Antlers.

At the same time major labels in the U.S. and Britain are accused of committing mass infringement and stealing millions in revenue from independent musicians.  The labels have convinced politicians and the legal system to give them the right to sell any track that they "can't find" licensing information for.  

In effect this means they can go out and steal copyrighted work of small independent labels and musicians.  A compensation system is in place, but it's notoriously bad -- many musicians have struggled for years to get repaid, only to find their pleas fall on deaf ears.

At the end of the day the major labels' campaign of infringement and campaign against infringers in the public have a surprising amount in common.  Both generate big money for the labels -- and both give nothing to artists. 

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I struggle...
By zozzlhandler on 5/13/2011 11:55:44 AM , Rating: 5
I struggle to find something good to say about the major record labels - and fail. They support lawyers by taking money recovered in the name of artists, and "invest" it in more lawyers. They steal from artists in the same way that they collect money in lawsuits from others for stealing.

If there is a God, surely some kind of heavenly punishment cannot be far away.

Maybe we can arrange some kind of earthly punishment. A boycott? Protests? I don't know. Suggestions?

RE: I struggle...
By ClownPuncher on 5/13/2011 12:27:00 PM , Rating: 5
Artists just need to drop the RIAA and big labels, self publish online.

RE: I struggle...
By AssBall on 5/13/2011 12:55:03 PM , Rating: 5
I agree. The only artists here benefiting are the scam artists at label companies and the RIAA.

RE: I struggle...
By OoklaTheMok on 5/13/2011 1:22:01 PM , Rating: 5
After seeing how the internals of the music industry works, it is easy to say that it is clearly one of the most corrupt industries around. It literally is like a mafia.

I remember when new bands would get all excited about getting that big record contract. And after it's been signed it sinks in that all the money that the record company is throwing at them isn't a gift or an investment, it is literally a loan. The bands have to pay the record company back. And the biggest scam is that the record companies tell the bands how they will spend the money. You will deal with these agents, these lawyers, these marketers, etc. And of course, all these people are part of the record company's "family".

And if the band doesn't play ball, well the record company will shelve the album and then good luck ever paying the company band with the proceeds from the album. Only established artists have the ability to negotiate a reasonable contract, because they record companies aren't able to squeeze them quite so hard.

It is a completely rigged system, and the house always wins.

RE: I struggle...
By Solandri on 5/13/2011 9:08:20 PM , Rating: 5
And if the band doesn't play ball, well the record company will shelve the album and then good luck ever paying the company band with the proceeds from the album.

It's worse than that. Usually the contract is an exclusive agreement to produce X number of albums. If you've agreed to produce 5 albums, and they decide to shelve you at album 3, you're stuck. You cannot legally sell your music on your own nor can you shop around for another label, because they have an exclusive contract with you. Until you fulfill that contract (which they're not allowing you to do), you're off the market.

If you're making music, self-publish. Stay as far away from the major studios as you can.

RE: I struggle...
By Xcpus on 5/14/11, Rating: 0
RE: I struggle...
By priusone on 5/16/2011 11:37:23 AM , Rating: 2
And with as little oil as Iraq has, how will theb poor Iraqi's ever break even. They would have been better off letting Saddam just kill whoever he wanted, like Jim Jung.

RE: I struggle...
By semiconshawn on 5/19/2011 10:39:58 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly. the artists are getting screwed by the Iraqi US multinational corporations with the infastructure of pipelines....Wait what?

RE: I struggle...
By MozeeToby on 5/13/2011 1:22:45 PM , Rating: 5
I'll add to that one thing, established bands need to identify and support bands that they like. Things like donating studio time or bundling an unknown's music with your new album. Helping with advertising and lining up larger gigs than the new band would be able to land on their own.

The only thing the labels provide are up front capital for studio time and advertising; both of which are absolutely essential for mainstream success on the music scene. It's easy for established bands to move to their own labels, they have the money and the following to ignore the record labels entirely if they so choose. If they were to in turn use their money and fame to support up and comers, you could eliminate the major labels while also promoting music that's actually good (as identified by the established bands instead of record company execs).

RE: I struggle...
By callmeroy on 5/13/2011 2:02:29 PM , Rating: 2
yep. I have a good friend who is I'd say semi-professional musician for like 20 years now has a professional grade studio in his house that he spent a mint on -- but its every bit as capable of recording on the quality of a major studio.

His band writes, produces, records, edits and does the bulk of all their own advertising/scheduling of gigs all on their own. Heck even one of their friends gf's does all the ablum cover art for them.

Their style isn't "IN' here in the USA -- because its more of like an 80's rock van halen kind of style....but they've toured Europe and Asia several times and actually have recorded 10's of thousands of record sales over there....

On the side my friend sometimes does contract sound work for game sound tracks...please he gets jobs just doing the recording / editing and producing of other artists....

So yeah I'm long winded on this..but its because yeah I'm proud of my friend (plus long story but the guy has been thru tons of personal tragedy as well and still remains positive through it all).....

that and I friggin hate the RIAA with a passion for crap like this story outlines.

RE: I struggle...
By Gzus666 on 5/13/11, Rating: -1
RE: I struggle...
By Gzus666 on 5/13/11, Rating: 0
RE: I struggle...
By Skywalker123 on 5/13/2011 8:46:12 PM , Rating: 5
If all the coked up retards died, how did you survive?

RE: I struggle...
By Reclaimer77 on 5/16/2011 9:52:29 AM , Rating: 3
Yeah what an idiot. After spending five minutes on a modern music station, anyone with half a brain would long for the days when "coked up retards" made music.

The 1980's was the last gasp of musical creativity left in this world. The 90's had a few weak pulses, then the music industry flat lined.

RE: I struggle...
By Gzus666 on 5/16/11, Rating: 0
RE: I struggle...
By Gzus666 on 5/16/11, Rating: 0
RE: I struggle...
By Reclaimer77 on 5/16/2011 10:39:54 AM , Rating: 3
Yes because I said that "all music in the 1980's was big hair Van Halen type"? Or that it was the epitome of end all...

I'm speaking, obviously, about pop music. Yes, there is good music today, but you have to dig VERY DEEP to find it. In the 60's,70's, and 80's the amount of talent in the popular charts simply crushes what you find today. It's not even a contest. The talent pool is shrinking, period.

Music has declined, and if you can't see that then you're being ignorant. It has nothing to do with age. Jesus, I'm only 34 you presumptuous prick. Electronica, trance mainly, is one of my favorite things to listen to. NOT Elvis.

OH and thanks for the link, because you know, I didn't know DMC existed? Condescending ass. Turntablism is nothing new. And while it's very interesting, I find it creatively un-fulfilling. It's merely duplicating existing sounds in new and interesting ways. That isn't creation or expressing any emotional depth.

Besides, DJ A-Track has more talent for it in his finger than all 4 of these guys combined.

Why don't you read this and get a clue;

RE: I struggle...
By Gzus666 on 5/16/2011 11:04:58 AM , Rating: 1
You said I was an idiot cause I had negative things to say about Van Halen, Kiss and Jimmy Buffet. If you call me an idiot for those things, a logical conclusion is because you think the opposite. If you think that Van Halen and Jimmy Buffet was listened to religiously by people who weren't coke heads, well, I worry for your sanity.

I like a considerable sum of 80s music, but bands like Van Halen represent the worst of that generation much like Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga represent the worst of this generation.

The statement that all music sucks now is pretty sweeping when in reality, the music played on the radio just sucks more cause there is big money in manufactured music that they play to death. If your statement was more akin to "music they play on the radio is awful and uncreative", I would concur. To say that all music after 1980 is terrible is a sweeping statement of insanity as it is clearly not the case.

Music played on the radio is mostly pretty bad, but that will change soon enough anyway as Internet radio becomes part of vehicles. Once people make their own choices rather than radio conglomerates like Clear Channel making the decision for them, it will probably change.

RE: I struggle...
By Reclaimer77 on 5/16/2011 11:19:29 AM , Rating: 2
The statement that all music sucks now is pretty sweeping when in reality

Coming from a man who accused millions of being "coke heads" because of their music choice lol. You're no stranger to generalizations yourself.

To say that all music after 1980 is terrible is a sweeping statement of insanity as it is clearly not the case.

The vast majority is, sorry. Fact.

Again this is a conversation and article about major labels. Digging deep for indie bands doesn't really encompass the discussion imo.

RE: I struggle...
By Gzus666 on 5/16/2011 11:39:05 AM , Rating: 2
Coming from a man who accused millions of being "coke heads" because of their music choice lol. You're no stranger to generalizations yourself.

Considering the percentage of people who use cocaine in this country, probably not far off. Have you met a Jimmy Buffet fan? They are either drunken frat boys or coked up retards. Only way anyone could stand such terrible music.

RE: I struggle...
By semiconshawn on 5/19/2011 10:55:50 PM , Rating: 2
Ill say it. Gay. New and cutting edge do not always = good. Not going to argue that Van Halen is Mozart, but I cant think of much I want to listen to less in my car on my commute than four French DJs playing turntables as instruments....It sucks, I promise.

RE: I struggle...
By YashBudini on 5/14/2011 4:08:17 PM , Rating: 1
Probably cause most of the coked up retards died in the late 80s, early 90s.

Is that a proven stat or is it anecdotal?

No need to respond, we all know hypocrisy when we see it.

RE: I struggle...
By YashBudini on 5/14/2011 4:15:00 PM , Rating: 2
Apparently some rater is not familar with Gzus666's comments.

RE: I struggle...
By Gzus666 on 5/16/11, Rating: 0
RE: I struggle...
By SoCalBoomer on 5/13/2011 2:56:08 PM , Rating: 3
Problem is that the labels will then "steal" that music and do what they want with it using the excuse that they couldn't find the copyright info . . . they've done it before, they are doing it again. . .

RE: I struggle...
By SoCalBoomer on 5/13/2011 2:57:08 PM , Rating: 2
RE: I struggle...
By Samus on 5/13/2011 2:17:24 PM , Rating: 5
What I find absolutely amazing is the failure of a multi-billion dollar global industry to adapt over the last decade. They're still using the same tactics they used against Napster in the 90's!

Ok, so you made 105M after fighting Limewire for 5 years. Coolbeans. How many tens of billions in sales have you lost over the same period? Get your priorities straight you clunks!

RE: I struggle...
By Solandri on 5/13/2011 9:14:15 PM , Rating: 5
Ok, so you made 105M after fighting Limewire for 5 years. Coolbeans. How many tens of billions in sales have you lost over the same period? Get your priorities straight you clunks!

This is the industry which convinced Sony to put severe DRM on its MP3 players in order to protect Sony's music studio branch. Partly as a consequence, Apple came to dominate the MP3 player market (prior to MP3 players, Sony was synonymous with portable music players).

In 2009, Sony Music had $5.25 billion in revenue.
In 2009, Apple sold $8.1 billion worth of iPods, representing about 75% of the MP3 player market.

So to protect their $5 billion music division, Sony gave up potential market leadership in the $11 billion MP3 player market. It's literally the tail wagging the dog.

RE: I struggle...
By Reclaimer77 on 5/16/2011 9:55:33 AM , Rating: 2
Great point. I wonder what 5 years worth of high powered lawyers fees were? I wonder if they made any money at all...

RE: I struggle...
By eggman on 5/13/2011 2:41:02 PM , Rating: 5
I have only bought CDs directly from the artist for the last 8 or so years. Usually after I hear them at a concert. Most are small unknown bands. I suggest others do this as well.

RE: I struggle...
By JediJeb on 5/13/2011 6:32:20 PM , Rating: 3
I haven't bought a CD or downloaded any music in probably 15 years. I did pick up a tape of a friend back about then, he is blind and did an entire Bluegrass album by himself, playing all the instruments and mixing the tracks with a little help from his buddy. That money went straight to him, and honestly it was awesome work. Knowing a little about the record industry I haven't been able to justify buying music other than that.

RE: I struggle...
By casteve on 5/14/2011 1:03:13 AM , Rating: 5
I keep waiting for the music execs in LA to march over and join their relatives in the La Brea Tar Pits. It hasn't happened, yet. Too bad.

They decided to bail on the supply/demand curve a long time ago (when CDs became popular) by charging what they thought they could get, rather than charging market value. When your production costs drop from $5 a CD to much less than a dollar, and you keep the price artifically high, alternatives will prosper.

Digital studio build costs have also dropped quite a bit. You don't need a label for that. Digital distribution is also easily found. So, an artist/group can get produced and market an "album" for a fraction of what was previously needed. Go independant - send the dinosaurs to their final resting place.

RE: I struggle...
By casteve on 5/14/2011 1:06:23 AM , Rating: 2
Sorry - replace "production costs" with "manufacturing costs".

heh - tried to post this correction and the dailytechbot said "This comment is apparently spam and we do not allow spam comments.".

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