Rock icon Bo Diddley recently passed away at age 79. He remained a live performing artist almost until the end of his life, and it would seem that part of the reason was a lack of any real benefit from his recording career. That’s because, according to the Associated Press, he and his contemporaries often were paid a flat fee to record an album with all rights going to the recording company. Records were sold, but Diddley received no royalties. AP quoted him saying, "I am owed. I’ve never got paid. A dude with a pencil is worse than a cat with a machine gun."
RBR/TVBR observation: Once again history calls into question the current battle over broadcast performance royalties. The argument is that such fees will benefit artists. While a handful of well-established artists may benefit — those who have enough fame and fortune to negotiate on an even footing with labels — we suspect that the vast majority of artists will see little change in their income as the big piece of pie goes straight to the international conglomerates.