Labels leave Lovett penniless


Who woulda thunk it? Lyle Lovett hasn’t earned a dime from an album sale during nearly two decades of making albums. This would be the same Lyle Lovett who testified before Congress that lack of a performance royalty from broadcasters was his problem. It turns out that his record deals have done nothing more than promote his concert tours, where he primarily earns his livelihood. According to SoundScan, that means that the labels have managed to hog the proceeds from the sale of some 4.6M recordings since 1991. According to Billboard, Lovett is hoping to sign a new recording contract that will actually send a dime or two his way.

"We are not surprised to learn that a musician of Lyle Lovett’s stature has never been compensated by his record label for album sales," said NAB Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton. "From Bo Diddley to Prince to Trent Reznor, the labels’ appalling treatment of musicians plays like a broken record. We know for sure that free radio airplay has helped Mr. Lovett and countless artists gain fame and wealth. Before enacting a law that could transfer up to $7B from America’s hometown radio stations to foreign-owned record labels, Congress needs to hold the labels accountable for their decades-long exploitation and abuse of musicians."

RBR/TVBR observation: OK Congress, time to ‘fess up. Are you worried about the incomes of musicians or recording conglomerates? Is it really musicians? You’ve raked broadcasters over the coals many times in the past couple of years. It’s time to fire up the charcoal and put some recording execs on the grill. And a must-have witness for the first session should be Lyle Lovett, who obviously requires some serious cross-examination.