Million $ contract or work at 7-11 = same pay

This is a fascinating article by, of all people, Courtney Love who clearly has a hell of a head for business when it’s clear of drugs and who knows what else.

Courtney Love does the math

What is piracy? Piracy is the act of stealing an artist’s work without any intention of paying for it. I’m not talking about Napster-type software.

I’m talking about major label recording contracts.

I want to start with a story about rock bands and record companies, and do some recording-contract math:

This story is about a bidding-war band that gets a huge deal with a 20 percent royalty rate and a million-dollar advance. (No bidding-war band ever got a 20 percent royalty, but whatever.) This is my “funny” math based on some reality and I just want to qualify it by saying I’m positive it’s better math than what Edgar Bronfman Jr. [the president and CEO of Seagram, which owns Polygram] would provide.

What happens to that million dollars?
the band may as well be working at a 7-Eleven.

Of course, they had fun. Hearing yourself on the radio, selling records, getting new fans and being on TV is great, but now the band doesn’t have enough money to pay the rent and nobody has any credit.

By the way, which bill do you think the recording industry used for this amendment?

The Record Company Redefinition Act? No. The Music Copyright Act? No. The Work for Hire Authorship Act? No.

How about the Satellite Home Viewing Act of 1999?

Stealing our copyright reversions in the dead of night while no one was looking, and with no hearings held, is piracy.

It’s piracy when the RIAA lobbies to change the bankruptcy law to make it more difficult for musicians to declare bankruptcy. Some musicians have declared bankruptcy to free themselves from truly evil contracts. TLC declared bankruptcy after they received less than 2 percent of the $175 million earned by their CD sales.

  1. Tom 2 says:

    Courtney Love actually wrote this? I doubt it but if so, bravo and maybe she should write instead of speaking from now on. Yes the RIAA wants to have it both ways, and they are basically a big conglomerate that feeds on the dreams of other for profit. Going back to an earlier discussion, there is another big reason people think that stealing music isnt such a big deal, because instead of thinking about the poor starving artist, they put the face of RIAA on it, and it doesnt seem so bad.

  2. SN says:

    1. “Courtney Love actually wrote this?…”

    She’s pretty smart. But, then again, you have to be pretty smart to kill off your rich rock-star husband, take over his estate and all of his millions, and get away with it.

  3. Scott Gant says:

    At the height of TLC’s success…when their number 1 hit “Don’t Go Chasing waterfalls” was everywhere, the girls only cleared 50,000 each that entire year. This is after having to pay for their record, their recording time, the materials used to actually make the CD’s, the promotion…basically everything came out of THEIR money while the record company made millions on them.

    The story isn’t new, it’s been going on forever. The artists do all the work, pay for all the work and get almost nothing in return. The recording companies pay for nothing, take almost all the profits. If you’re a hot band right now, do yourself a favor and just release your music yourself through a website. Make your money through touring. You do not in any way need a record label at all, and this is scaring the crap out of all these suits that have laid back for years and just let the money come piling through the door while they didn’t have to do any work. Now they’re panicking. They might actually have to go and get a real job now and do actual…gulp…WORK!

  4. Mike Voice says:


    Thanks for the great link.

    I’d read Courtney’s speech [a couple years ago?], but I hadn’t read Steve’s article before.


    Make no mistake about it: once a band has signed a letter of intent, they will either eventually sign a contract that suits the label or they will be destroyed.

    Some of your friends are probably already this fucked.

  5. chris says:

    you can tell me this crack head is smart all day. we all know she spins around in a circle saying “i am so smart, i am so smart, S-M-R-T” at least Homer Simpson corrected his spelling of it.

    For one this was in 2000 so she may have been in rehab which means she was clean. OR a ghost writer.

    There is no way she has the brain cells to put this togather on her own. there are to many details for this to be one person.

  6. RTaylor says:

    Drug dependency doesn’t equal stupidity. It doesn’t tale a lot of insight to figure out that people in power will do what’s necessary to retain it. Wealth equals power.

  7. OhForTheLoveOf says:

    #1 – Courtney Love actually wrote this?

    Of course she did. Don’t confuse the image of Courtney Love with the actual Courtney Love. She’s quite smart and she’s been a strong voice against the RIAA for years. The first time I heard her speak on this issue was 1999.

    #3 – kill off your rich rock-star husband, take over his estate and all of his millions, and get away with it.

    That never happened.

  8. Gumboobah says:

    Wow… she nailed that. While quite well spoken (In Rock’n’Roll speak), I do know she is fashion challenged. Falling James taught her the finer tips on silky underwear. Oh yea… and Kurdt’s in the flowerbed.

  9. chris says:

    #6- that depends on what you as a person thinks drug depen dency is for one. Personally i think your a moron to get hooked on hard drugs.
    But i never said that her blowing brain cells up had anything to do with how smart she was. (i do feel it does though) the point in me calling her a crackhead is i feel is acts like that.

    That article has to much detail in its information for her to sit down in 2000 and do.

    looking this up i found this.
    In May 2000, Courtney Love spoke in New York at the Digital Hollywood online entertainment conference, giving a speech criticizing the major American record labels. The speech was then reproduced on the news site, and was, at the time, their most popular article to date.[9] In the speech, Love accused the major labels of devising a corrupt system of recording contracts to make the labels millions, while the band itself “may as well be working at a 7-Eleven.”

    She spoke on this but it never says she wrote it. Her influcence is there but its never said she wrote it. Kurt wrote her songs for her and she sang them very well to critical accliam. its the same thing.

    i wish people would not give this person more credit then she should get. its great that she read this as the aritcle is a wonderful read and a eye opener BUT asides from her reading it who can prove that she wrote this?

  10. Floyd says:

    It’s a well thought out article/speech, no matter whether Courtney wrote it herself or had help.

    Haven’t you wondered why big name acts from the 60s to the 80s (the Stones and the Who for instance, but there are many more like Journey and Rush) are still touring even though they’re getting pretty old? The reason is that most of them (with the exception of the Beatles, because they had a very good manager, and Paul and Ringo now tour only when they want to) got screwed out of their royalties by the record companies. The only money most of these groups made, and still make, is from concerts.

  11. OmarTheAlien says:

    Ok, it’s kind of like smoking; we all know now it can kill you, so if you smoke, well, you’ve been warned. Same thing with recording artists; we all know the big labels are ripping off the artists, so if you sign with a big label looking for instant sex and stardom, well, you’ve been warned.

  12. Redwolf says:

    WTF? Who blogs seven year old crap? The saddest part is that the artists are still owned by the record companies.

    People complain that Microsoft is evil, but gladly give their money to Sony and TimeWarner. The Microsoft monopoly is basically a convenience; google seems to be headed in the same direction. I just don’t think that if you add up all the underhanded, despicable things that Microsoft has done, it doesn’t compare to the destruction of poeple’s hopes and dreams, the very evisceration of artists’ souls that a Sony or a TimeWarner accomplishes in a single year.

  13. Floyd says:

    12: Yes it’s an old speech, but people need to be reminded of how the music industry still works.

    New since the speech: many artists are now selling their music only through their own websites (sometimes selling CDs, sometimes through iTunes, sometimes through direct downloads) and cutting the record companies completely out of the picture. That speech/blog has had an effect.

  14. Adam says:

    Why is this just coming to light?! It was written in 2000!


  15. Uncle Dave says:

    Why now? I just found it now and reading it, the only thing that’s changed is that it’s gotten worse.

  16. Mr.Newton says:

    all these comments are mute unless you are a recording artist with a recording contract & know first hand how the system works.why is it so difficult to find out where the $ go?

  17. “The saddest part is that the artists are still owned by the record companies.”

    This is the case only those who choose to be owned. These days the artist finally has the Internet as a distribution system, and that’s abuot 95% of what the music monopoly is. Support independent artists hrough podcasts like Eclectic Mix, or those of the Association of Music Podcasting.

  18. Mike Voice says:

    17 all these comments are mute unless you are a recording artist with a recording contract & know first hand how the system works

    I like one of Wierd Al’s FAQ answers, in that regard.

    I am extremely grateful for your support, no matter which format you choose to legally obtain my music in, so you should do whatever makes the most sense for you personally. But since you ASKED… I actually do get significantly more money from CD sales, as opposed to downloads. This is the one thing about my renegotiated record contract that never made much sense to me. It costs the label NOTHING for somebody to download an album (no manufacturing costs, shipping, or really any overhead of any kind) and yet the artist (me) winds up making less from it. Go figure.

  19. BW says:

    I too believed the media crap about Courtney Love being a stupid slut who probably killed her husband for whatever reason – until I heard a recording of her speaking before Congress. She came off as an intelligent, articulate and well informed person and told the short version of this story to the idiots, no not idiots, to the corrupt assholes who occupy Congress.

    What I heard was so far from the media image I had of her that I had to check and make sure that it really was her. I was amazed not only by her courage, but by the fact that she managed to come before Congress to tell the story.

    The same people who control the media control the record industry. Not surprising since music is a form of media.

    I knew she was right on because I had some friends who got screwed royally by a record company and wound up owing them a large sum of money. Their greatest sin: Young and dumb and trusting.

    Ask yourself “who (what group) dominates (controls) the media?” The answer to that question can easily be found using the power of the internet.

    The only solution is revolution. The corruption has become so entrenched we no longer have anyone to vote for. We wind up voting against the worst candidate. The lesser of two evils is still evil. That’s why Kerry won the 2004 presidential election. A vote for him was primarily a vote against Bush.

    “It’s not who votes that counts, it’s who counts the votes that counts.”
    Joseph Stalin
    Revolution is the solution.

  20. Wally says:

    Yes, it’s an old article. Still very true today.
    I have known a few professional musicians one group of which went through 3 record labels before finally calling it quits. They made basically no money off their CD sales and had to tour constantly to make any money to live on.
    Record companies suck. Too bad the Internet hasn’t gotten to the point that we don’t need big record companies.


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