Blog Post

Who protects the fans?

The RIAA and some of the top recording labels are in the news again, this time going against a lady who allegedly downloaded and share more than 1,700 songs.

The Recording Industry Association of America says she is, making her liable for perhaps millions of dollars in damages in the first RIAA copyright case to go to trial.

millions of dollars in damages. OK, now this is where I really start to get pissed off. Anyone familiar with Hannah Montana? I know those of you in the US with young daughters know who I am talking about. Anyways, she is the top, and when I say top, I mean the big dog this year for young children who not only love her TV show, but love her music. It is hard for me to love her music, when her father is the one who paraded himself on TV with a nasty mullet singing “Don’t break my heart, my achy, breaky heart.” OK, well this year she is doing her big US tour and every kid that I know of wants to see this concert. In the past, when a hot children’s star came to town, it was easy to get tickets and take the kids to the show. Well not any more.

Ticket brokers have purchased all of the tickets for her venues and are selling them for insane amounts of money. For instance, you can get nose bleed seats on eBay, 4 of them, for about $900. You want the good seats, so you can actually make out Hannah and see her, well you will drop around $1,000 per ticket. So, my question is this. If the RIAA is protecting the music companies, who is protecting us? Absolutely nobody! The great thing is this, when she comes to Chicago, she isn’t going to have many fans there, which I think is awesome. On a local radio station yesterday, parents were uniting to picket her concert. Does Hannah really care though? I mean it is a sold out show, sold out to the brokers that is.

This whole music thing is getting ridiculous. Artists aren’t making their money on albums sold, they are making it with their concerts and their merchandise. A CD to an artist is nothing more than a marketing gimmick to get money flowing into the record label, and producing a spark in consumers who will go to their shows. HERE is a decent write up on how royalty fees are distributed to the artist.

I enjoy listening to music and I used to enjoy purchasing it, but I will not any longer. I will listen to what I have in my arsenal now, and listen to whatever is on the radio. I will not purchase another album, and I have no plans on downloading music either. Actually, I take that back. I will purchase Sammy Hagar albums because he isn’t all about the money. I have been to a couple of his FREE, yes FREE, concerts that he puts on every now and then, I have been down to the Cabo Wabo and watched him play for FREE. I can’t sit here any more watching the music industry go after people who they think are screwing them, while ticket brokers get off free for screwing over the fans. If the music industry really cared, they would go after the people who are really screwing them, and stop putting on acts such as Brittney Spears, the female Milli Vanilli.

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  • I totally agree with this post. I live in France, where the industry stand on this point id hard to understand imo, as the storage medium (USB flash drives, CD, HDD, etc.) are taxed to prevent music (and probably, albeit not sure, software) piracy.

    The problem is that only the most famous artists are to keep the benefits of this tax… and no one actually knows how much they would get (and how much the recording industries would keep). I might have to look a bit more into this.

    We also have crazy prices for concers here, and it’s even worse on the black market. I’m not keen of this at all.

    I believe French people should really have a look at Eiffel’s work, who also gives free concerts and need some support right now. πŸ˜‰

  • Geert Van Damme

    I have another calculation (with similar results) from our beloved Courtney Love.

    I guess she’s one of the persons with a clear view on the subject from the artist’s point of view. It’s already a few years old, but I don’t think that things are better now that in 2000 for the artists.

  • Chuck

    I have to say that in principle I agree with the post.

    However with the scalpers, I cannot blame that on the RIAA, the artist, or even the venue. It’s free market working as it will. People want to see the show, some get tickets then resell them at a profit. The artist cannot be blamed for what a third party does with their property. A ticket becomes the property of the person who purchases it.

    Where this falls apart at is do these third parties work for or are owned by the industry or artist?

    I have tickets that I get every year for the Bristol Nascar night race. Every so often I cannot use some or all of them. If I cannot find someone to go, I’ve put them up for sale and get multiple times the face value for them. Am I doing something wrong? I don’t think so. I have something that is in demand. I turn around and sell it for what it will bring.

    To say that this artist or that artist is ‘not all about the money’ is, imho, wrong. It’s all about what the market will bear. Sammy had a great career that enabled him to not care about the money at this point because he is set financially due to his past. I see bands at the local clubs regularly who are not all about the money, but they also have day jobs and do the shows following their passion. They make a few bucks on the show and sales of their self published CDs and DVDs. Most of these bands would love to quit their day jobs but cannot make it on what being an artist at their level pays.

  • @Chuck: next time you have Sharpie 400 tickets, you better email me πŸ™‚ I will be moving back out to southern Maryland in the next few months, so I will only be a 6 hour drive at the most away from the track πŸ™‚

    There are a lot of artists that do it for the love more so than they do the money. You are right about Sammy, plus he has his tequila as well. I should haven’t been so vague with the term artists either, you are right, there are a ton of local bands that play the music because they love it as you said.

    As for the RIAA, I think they are more of a lobbiest or legal group, more so than they are owned by the industry. There was a write about the RIAA not long ago that explains everything. I think I may have linked to it somewhere on this blog sometime last year maybe.

  • I’m not sure how the RIAA is responsible for how ticket brokers handle concerts. Sure, there’s plenty of reasons to dislike the RIAA and their evil practices, but ticket scalping isn’t one of them. I’m actually starting to think about purchasing RIAA music again because certain labels are starting to “get it”:

    On an unrelated note, if you think Hannah Montana is different than Milli Vanilli, Britney Spears, or a whole host of Boy Bands of recent memory, I think you’re sadly deluding yourself. These are carefully crafted events, not demonstrations of artistic integrity. Hannah Montana is likely doing the same song and dance that Ashley Simpson did a while ago.

  • Rob J. Caskey

    Mmm, seems like the market is doing a very good job of protecting kids in this case.

  • @CraigM: I never said the RIAA should be responsible for ticket brokers, but seeing that the music industry has the RIAA to supposedly protect them, then who do we have? And as for Hannah Montana and all of them, they all suck in my eyes, and like you said they are “carefully crafted.” I am far from deluding myself, I used the Hannah Montana experience to attempt to show my point.

  • Brad Johnson

    Ticket scalping has gone on for years and years. It’s not new, happens for almost any event (NFL, NHL, NBA and yes concerts) and I don’t think it’s the fault of the event coordinators or Hanna Montanna. Would you rather the ticket vendors ask for a DNA sample when you buy a ticket and draw blood at the gate to make sure your the original purchaser of the ticket? I think not.

    Why does your post contain NO venom toward those who steal music. It seems to me we’d all be better off (no RIAA) if there were not so many thieves among us. How about a little outrage toward your fellow citizens who have no moral character when that morality will cost them $20.

    I have no love for the RIAA, similar organizations or their tactics but I do understand the reason they were created. How about some condemnation toward those who facilitated this whole mess. Your friends, your neighbors and possibly even you and I.

  • Jim

    The music industry is no longer about music – it’s about marketing. I have not bought CDs in years. Most of the music is pop garbage and if there is anything good you pay $18 for an average recording with no extras. Now look at DVDs. When you buy one you get special features, alternate audio tracks, bonus disks, easter eggs and so on. Sometimes they come with cool books like Batman Returns. AND they often cost less than a CD. If the music industry was smart (big if) they would be looking at unique ways to package CDs to give consumers a reason to buy them – especially when the music is no longer reason enough. I admit I have bought a few DVD-Audio and SACDs but they have something I can’t get – better audio and sometimes video extras. I think the whole world should vow to not buy a single CD until the music industry drops all lawsuits, agrees to allow downloading and focuses on selling the “extras” that will interest people. Or maybe the artists should get smart and market their own music directly through iTunes and the like and just bypass the whole industry.

  • Mo

    I share your vehement hatred for the RIAA as well and agree with you about their tactics. I won’t get into the scalping issue which is unrelated and which others have already discussed in their posts. But I want to say that if you are against the RIAA and all the record labels they represent, don’t stop buying music altogether. Just buy it from lesser known artists – don’t forget artists like those featured on Magnatune or Jamendo, artists who offer their work under Creative Commons licenses. You can pay them directly for their music if you like it, and the sites only take a small cut, much more fair than any major record label. Also don’t forget major artists who really do care about the music and their fans, artists such as Trent Reznor (of NIN, who just put out a free CD of remixes from their latest album), and Dave Matthews Band.

  • @Brad: I have no problem with ticket scalping at all, when it is done reasonably. Plus sports ticket scalping only really pays off during post season play. Plus you have a ton of season ticket holders that really put a kink in a ticket scalpers plans anyways, and most scalped tickets are garbage seats nowadays. For instance, being a Cubs fan, if you purchase scalped tickets, you are usually so far away, you can’t hear the play of the game, the people with beer don’t come anywhere near you, and if you have to use the bathroom, you have to walk a floor down. With music venues there is no such thing as season ticket holders, plus with music venues, scalpers actually get dibs on tickets before the common consumer does. Say tickets go on sale this Saturday for Jono’s band, starting today, ticket scalpers or brokers have access to this tickets before we do. Where as all major sports leagues open up ticket sales to the general public first, and whatever is left goes to the brokers, unless of course the brokers are standing in line.

    Why should I put venom towards those that allegedly steal the music? I know a lot of people who share their music that they legally purchased. If I buy something, it is mine. I can’t reproduce it as my work, at least that is what the copyright laws state. I am tired of the “all it takes is one person to ruin it for the rest” theories. So if all these people have allegedly stolen music, why should I have to pay for their alleged ignorance? The RIAA and the music industry is evil, and they know it. The only thing worse then them is a majority of the morons we have put into office here in the US.

    @Mo: I do purchase from Magnatune, and will setup an account here eventually for Jamendo as manchicken keeps bugging me about it πŸ™‚ And Dave Mathews rocks, I remember when he said on TV that he would never download another Metallica song. Granted he was probably toasted, but still a great say by him πŸ™‚

    @Jim: Damn you were dead on. You know, I never even once sat back and said “why is a CD more than a damn DVD?” A blank DVD costs more than a blank CD to reproduce to begin with, and with a CD, you typically get around an hours worth of music if you are lucky, whereas with a DVD you typically get around 2 hours of a movie, plus the outtakes, commentary, music, and so on. Thanks for opening my eyes to that one.

    OK, the reason I brought up the whole ticket scalping/brokerage is because interestingly enough, the music industry wants to protect itself by using the RIAA. Actually it wants to protects its assets. Yet the music industry doesn’t care about the ticket scalping that goes on, they turn an eye to it, why? because they are making their money, who cares about the fans. Whereas with sports, the pro leagues have all stepped up to prevent their fans from taking it in the ass from a scalper. I purchase a lot of tickets through a broker for some sports games, and most of the time, I can get them cheaper through the broker than I can through the ticket booth at the game. Recently I purchased an entire week pass for the Nascar races at Chicagoland Motor Speedway, which allowed me to watch a Bush race, a Cup race, and an Arca race, plus I got to watch the IRL testing. I paid $75 less through the broker than I would have directly through Nascar. So, it is hard for me to compare sports ticket scalpers/brokers to those who are blood thirsty when it comes to music venues.

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