Artists/labels: A marriage made in…


…well, it certainly doesn’t appear to be any place good. The Allman Brothers say that UMG Recordings is $10M in arrears of royalty payments owed them for the sale of digital recordings, and they’re getting ready to make their case in court. UMG is part of Universal Music Group, itself part of Vivendi. Five band members are named as plaintiffs, claiming they’ve been stiffed on royalties for music recorded as far back as 1969 and based on an agreement with the current label signed in 1985, according to a Reuters report. The band originally recorded on the Capricorn label, and the 1985 agreement was signed with Polygram, which was bought by Universal. Reuters highlighted a key line in the lawsuit: "UMG incurs practically no expenses or risks in connection with the Masters, particularly with respect to licensing other companies such as Apple to create and distribute digital downloads … yet UMG reaps millions of dollars every year from such exploitation."

Meanwhile, in an article posted on, tradition country singer Alan Jackson had nothing but good things to say about radio. He said when he broke into the business about 20 years ago, the record companies were promoting the flashier, more pop-oriented acts, not those like him who were trying to keep alive the sound of earlier icons like George Jones and Conway Twitty. He said it didn’t matter how much success he had, the focus on flash and pop remained. "It’s hard for me to complain about any of that,” he added, ‘because radio has played me all along."

RBR/TVBR observation: Labels don’t perform. The RIAA’s push for “performance” royalties is one of the most cynical Capitol Hill lobbying campaigns we’ve ever seen. The performing artists that have been trotted out before Congress for the most part aren’t on the airwaves much anyway. And one of them, Lyle Lovett, admitted that he hasn’t made a dime from his record contracts over his the course of his lengthy career. Now add in Alan Jackson, who seems to have succeeded despite, not because of labels, and the Allman Brothers, who claim to be outright victims of the labels. No, the labels are asking Congress to hit broadcasters for cash, bundle it up and give it to them. Anybody believe that a significant amount will go to actual performers? We don’t.

Apparently the labels think there is no benefit to marketing and promotion, which broadcasters have been providing free of charge for decades. Maybe that is as much a contributing factor to their disappearing business as their failure to comprehend the challenges the internet was going to impose on their business model. The fact that they are willing to take hour upon hour of free promotion every single day and flush it right down the toilet is another clue as to why their business is going down that same receptacle as well.