IRMA To Sue Filesharers For Clawing Back Profits From Greedy Exploitative Corporations
Wednesday April 13, 2005 20:46 by Auntie IRMA
'The darknets are where it's at I'm told'' sez Wag ''Anyone got directions?"
The Irish Recorded Music Association is to start
legal action against 17 Irish people whom they accuse
of sharing copywrighted music. IRMA announced the
decision today, claiming they 'were forced' into the
move and are 'unhappy' about it. They cite figures
that the 'Irish Music Industry' is 'losing' €3.8m
annually because of illegal downloading. Since 2002
they have seen profits fall from €146m annually to
€118m, which is a 19% drop over 3 years. The put this
drop in sales down to what they call 'serial
IRMA is the trade organisation representing 47
members, including major and independent record
companies. IRMA say that file sharing is “effectively
stealing the livelihood of the creators of music”.
But who is really 'stealing the livelihoods' of
Take an average new CD that costs between €15 and €20.
According to Patrick Norager, who runs an Electronic
Frontier Foundation (EFF) net-radio station: “Artists
only get 10 percent of (the money from) their sales
before they pay managers and absorb breakage fees and
other expenses... The fact is unless you can sell
250,000 copies on a major label you will probably get
dropped. The way they do it, it’s like they’re selling
toasters instead of music.”
So the artist (unless they are huge sellers like U2 or
Metallica) will only get between somewhere between
€1.50 to €2 or less for every CD sold, before
additional expenses and record company
'recouperation'. The 'record industry' (the labels,
the stores, the middlemen) and taxman get the rest.
Steve Albini, a longtime rock producer (perhaps most
famous for working on Nirvana's final studio album)
lays out a typical example of a new band signing to a
major label, from an Indie label.
After signing for a £250,000 advance with a 13% cut of
record sale profits (-10% of that 13% for 'packaging')
- this band will find themselves having made a paltry
$4000 each. And the really strange thing is that NONE
of this comes from the record royalties - the band
actually owes the record industry $14,000 for the
album. The small amount of money made actually comes
from touring and merchandise. As Dougie Thomspon,
former Supertramp bassist, says: "make sure that you
book as may shows as you can, as far in advance as
possible, for as much money as you can get while the
fire is hot."
It's surplus value gone mad - imagine a worker who
ends up owing their boss money after they've carried
out their work they were contracted to do!
Articles Of Relevance
Day in the life, a look at the current P2P scene
Free Culture by
Lawrence Lessig (How Big Media Uses Technology and the
Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity)
Blog On Bill Gates recent comments about the
of the peer to peer networks
On Copyright Violation
Love Does The Math
At the end of the first album and a five week tour here are the profits made:
Record company: $ 710,000
Producer: $ 90,000
Manager: $ 51,000
Studio: $ 52,500
Previous label: $ 50,000
Agent: $ 7,500
Lawyer: $ 12,000
Band member net income each: $ 4,031.25 (for four people)
So this band, on their first album and tour have made the meagre amount of four grand each, while they have generated over $3.3 million for the record industry. See Albini's article here: http://www.negativland.com/albini.html
Who's ripping off whom exactly?
Some say services such as I-Tunes are more 'artist friendly' than big label CD releases. This is arguable, there's an interesting article about it here: http://www.cdfreaks.com/news/8232
Now, lets look at IRMA's figures.
They cite a sales drop of almost €4 on an annual basis. I'm not a maths expert (B in pass Math 1998) - but I can't figure these numbers out. According to IRMA these are cumulitive losses - ie, every year they lose a further 3.8 million to 'downloaders'. So in 2002 they are down 3.8m, in 2003 they are down another 3.8 on top of the 3.8 (in total 11.4m), and in 2004 they are down a further 11.4m - bringing our total to 22.8m.
146 - 22.8 = 123.2
The figure they cite is 118m - where did the other 5 million go? But I guess in relative terms, 5 million is nothing - and I am open to correction from a mathemathician on this question.
However, lets look at what IRMA could be leaving out. They cite losses for the 'Irish Music Industry' - I'm guessing this doesn't include people like session players, producers, studio owners etc, they are simply talking, I assume, about 'sales revenue'.
What is the Irish Music Industry? Thats a good question. One would expect it to be composed of groups like Whirlygig, Celtic, Spaceboy etc. Well, yes they are represented by IRMA. But so too are such great Irish companies as Warner Music (Ireland), Sony Music (Ireland), Universal Music (Ireland) and EMI (Ireland). Just to take the example of Sony - after looking at their website, I can see only four Irish bands on their label. (There may be more, but that is all that is listed, and one of them is B*Witched). Universal has about four too, at least according to an incomplete artist list on their site. EMI apprently have no Irish bands (again according to the list on their site). Warner's website is horrible (they don't even have an Irish website) but I think they have at least three Irish bands, possibly more.
So, this isn't about evil downloaders stealing from -Irish- bands or singers. At least not for the Big Four - who lets face it, own most of the Industry anyway. This is about the sales -in- Ireland of international artists. Using IRMA's own figures, theres been a drop of €28m for the record industry, which when you apply Steve Albini's math (in which artists get 0.48% of what the record industry does), artists themselves have lost only €134,400! Or taking it as just a percentage of what the record company makes (2.25%) a whopping €630,000.
Even then, the figures may be misleading. How is revenue calculated? Does the calculation rely simply on sales within Ireland? Do they take into account the fact that many (well I do) people buy their music from much cheaper places like Play.com (based in Jersey), CDWow.ie (actually based in Buckinghamshire, UK) and Amazon (there is no Amazon.ie)? Are these sales to Irish people calculated into the losses or what?
Speaking personally, I can't remember the last time I bought anything other than second hand discs/DVDs in Ireland. Probably at Christmas 2002. Since then I've pretty much ordered everything from Amazon and Play - thats about 25 DVDs and maybe 5 discs. I pretty much buy discs only second hand these days (and that would amount to somewhere in the region of 30 discs in the last 2 years - all second hand).
Also, I'd like to know do they figure in pay-per-download sites, such as I-Tunes or Mp3Download.com in these figures?
Then there is the fact that every download is not necessarily a 'lost' sale. People will download things they would never think about buying.
Finally, there is the question that the record industry will never address. The majority of absolute shite that passes for music these days. Yeah there are some decent mainstream bands, but they are a vast minority (in my opinion anyway). Just look at the top ten charts:
(Is This The Way To) Amarillo
Tony Christie feat. Peter Kay
Gwen Stefani feat. Eve
All About You / You've Got a Friend
Let Me Love You
Over and Over
Nelly feat. Tim McGraw
Language. Sex. Violence. Other?
Love. Angel. Music. Baby
Lullabies To Paralyze
Queens of the Stone Age
The Definitive Collection
I'd never buy any of those - I did get copies of the Killers and Damien Rice albums off a mate - and despite three or four good songs on each, they're not great. Certainly not worth upwards of €15 (again, thats my personal taste - my mate likes them).
(c) JacksonSun.com image of cop cuffing virtual hands