VEVO: What Happens Between an Artist and Their Label Is Not Our Problem

Just because you’re on VEVO, doesn’t mean you’re getting paid by VEVO.

Which sounds like a big problem, especially since the stiffed are starting to make some noise.  That includes indie publisher Matt Pincus, who earlier this month accused VEVO and its major label partners of systematically pocketing the royalties of all indie songwriters.  And, more recently, the manager of OK Go, who said he’s never seen a check from VEVO, despite being one of the most-viewed bands of the modern era.

Now, VEVO chief executive Rio Caraeff is responding to these accusations.  In a comment on our Monday story about OK Go, Caraeff didn’t say that these people were necessarily getting paid, but he did say the ‘licensors‘ of these videos are.  Which, translated, seems to mean that labels are getting their cash, and the rest (ie artists and indie publishers) really isn’t VEVO’s problem.  So, maybe OK Go is unrecouped by their ex-label EMI, or maybe they’re just getting stiffed – who knows – but that’s not VEVO’s concern.

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“We (VEVO) pay every single video licensor fairly (based upon all revenue, not just revenue generated from video watch pages like some other services do), on-time and on the same commercial terms no matter whether one is a major or independent label or distributor.

“What happens between an artist and their label or distributor in their contractual relationship are simply not something that we are party to and every artist’s deal is different.”

“We fully respect music, artistry and our teams work incredibly hard to build audiences and generate revenue for artists, writers and rights owners from a user-behavior (watching music videos) that was considered promotional by the industry for so many years.

“I am not willing to engage in a public debate here other than what I have already said (so please don’t contact me for more quotes on this) but I felt like declaring the simple truth of how we operate as it seems like this place attracts many who easily disparage without knowing the facts.

-Rio”

27 Responses

  1. Funn Networks

    It’s true. Content is supplied by those who own licenses. Vevo is not responsible. The licensors need to pay the artists, if not the artists need to go after those licensees or go independant and license content to Vevo or other companies such as Funn Networks. Its a damn shame the artists are not being paid. They should seek legal counsel.

    • Thomas

      There’s nothing artists can do, except pull all their content. Artists won’t do this.

      Majors now control everything.

  2. Annoyed

    You guys have very little understanding of how things work.

    Artists may have unrecouped balances with their label. Labels may not have streaming revenue broken out on royalty statements. Services like MTV, Yahoo, AOL, MySpace, Youtube, VEVO and others all pay fairly and promptly on video revenue.

    To state that no one is getting paid is a blanket statement that is simply not true and is overly sensationalist & just plain bad reporting without adequate fact checking or understanding of how business arrangements are structured.

    • lmnop

      Don’t be so naive. EMI does not pay it’s artists. They don’t pay Kenny Rogers. You think they’re gonna pay OK GO after they escaped their contract?

    • lmnop

      also the unrecouped argument doens’t explain the publishing scam

    • paul

      Of course, there’s certainly a recoupability possibility but I can certainly clarify that more. And you’re right, the downstream payout is not a black-and-white concern. I think Rio’s response is this: maybe it’s an unrecouped situation or maybe a band like OK Go is just not getting paid fairly, but VEVO is paying the licensor as agreed.

      The president of Rhapsody, Jon Irwin, effectively said the same thing. Perhaps the bigger question I’m trying to drive at is whether that is an effective ‘end’ to this debate. In the case of streaming services, that structure has created lots of transparency and trust problems with artists (among other sources). And majors have incredibly bad reputations for not paying artists – let’s just be honest – and disregarding their contracts. It seems that if artists and sub-publishers, etc., are not getting paid, there’s a big problem regardless of whether this is VEVO’s fault.

      The last point involves indie songwriters: Matt Pincus, in a fairly detailed complaint, has argued that major labels are getting paid for all recordings and publishing rights embodied in a video, but not paying out the publishing portions as agreed. VEVO actually hasn’t directly responded to the publishing concern. So again, the question is whether that payout structure is really working for the broader community, or creating transparency and trust issues that could ultimately create far broader problems down the line.

      /paul

      • Buck

        The vast majority of artists have unrecouped video accounts, which is where ‘per stream’ VEVO money would be credited (remember- video accounts are kept separate from artist ‘main’ accounts.) Having said that, money received upfront by a label as part of a blanket licensing deal is usually not pro-rated out to artists as fairly as it should be (if at all). And with a lot of these services, this is how Majors negotiate deals. With respect to videos, they will often’assume the responsibility’ of distributing money to publishers- yet very rarely does this actually happen. These are issues that typically arise and are resolved through audits.

  3. Not a "label" guy

    Is it possible that indie labels are doing the same thing to artist that major labels did? Which is to say: screwing them out royalties by signing disadvantaged contracts?

  4. Paradox

    Example:

    An artist got an advance of $200,000 that is recoupable by the labels.

    If the whole $200,000 advance is paid back, then the label will start paying the artists in royaties (physical CD royalties, download royalties, VEVO royalties, Spotify royalties)?

    VEVO 24/7 Live Stream pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

  5. speaking of money

    How much is Rio Caraeff making per month from Vevo? Surely he is not working there for free in exchange for exposure?

  6. David Allan

    The same applies to Subscription Services like Spotify, Rhapsody, Rdio, etc.

    These services pay the licensors which completes their obligation. If artists aren’t getting paid, then they need to go after their label or licensor, not the service.

  7. Indie

    All the more reason to never sign a contract with any kind of label, a major especially.

  8. @mikeerrico

    Lesson: Be the licensor. And the artist. And the publisher. Onward.

  9. Accountant

    Any artist who signs a deal w a record label, large or small, must understand that at some point in time they will have to demand an accounting of the label at the artists expense.

  10. @madktc

    The two largest labels in the world (SME and UNI) own VEVO (along with media company Abu Dhabi Media). EMI just licenses its catalog to VEVO. Sony and UNI make money from the advertisements and the licensing. This is called collusion right?

    FWIW: Videos are supposed to be a supplement to the great songs that appear in them. I think OK GO has done the exact opposite here.

  11. Visitor

    I am the manager of OK Go and as with all out of context quotes, mine lends itself to misreading. What Rio from Vevo says is absolutely the case — as far as I know, they pay our former label for the content they own and because we are — and probably always will be — in an unrecouped position, we’ll never see a dime, as we are forever destined to be paying them back for tour support we received in 2002, or the $505,000 video they commissioned for our first song after turning down our $65,00o budget, before they decided we weren’t a commercial proposition, or the 13 times they secretly retracked the drums on our first single at a cost of $35,000 (only to wind up using our killer drummer’s original track–priceless.) The wrinkle in our contract which stings the most is the one that allows a label to recoup publishing income from videos — as distinct from mechanical royalties and other publishing incomes from record sales and other licenses — apparently a standard clause in old-school record deals. No one anticipated Youtube or Vevo and what do you know, this one breaks in the favor of the majors. And while I’m busy clarifying, let me also say that the band and I bear Youtube no ill will, either. I was merely making the point that you won’t get rich just by having an internet hit.

    Besides, netizens, money is for losers. Don’t forget it.

    Jamie Kitman

    The Hornblow Group USA

    • @madktc

      Bravo Jamie. I wish these weren’t just comments. We need another (hence another Paul) reputable site for managers, agents, artists, labels, ticketing companies to discuss these “truths”.

    • Maxwellian

      Jamie —

      There is also this issue of upfront payments you may be missing here. These are large amounts and not given to artists or credited to artist accounts as mentioned in the earlier comment.

      ::MW

    • billeeto

      Those agreements are not airtight. As Eminem discovered to UMG’s chagrin. Maybe a deeper pocket artist will take the fight and OK GO may benefit. Hey isn’t Matt Pincus the heir of Billionaire investment banker Lionel Pincus of Pincus Warburg? There’s your Angel.

  12. Rita Cardone

    Jeesh, everything out of Rio Caraeff’s mouth makes him sound like a selfish, self-absorbed WEASEL. The fact of matter is: Vevo is OWNED BY THE LABELS ! So he’s already in PARTNERSHIP WITH THE MAJOR LABELS, that’s how he gets supplied the content. So it should be EASIER for a JERK like him (if he cared about artists at all) to take a little effort to discuss with his business partners to make sure they get ANY REVENUE STREAM BACK TO THE STRUGGLING ARTISTS. IN EFFECT, HE “IS” THE LABELS HE”S REFERRING TO, BECAUSE THEY ARE ONE IN TEH SAME IN THE JOINT VENTURE CALLED VEVO (along with AbuDhabi Fund). SO HIS RESPONSE JUST SHOWS THAT HE”S TRYING TO LAY IT OFF ON SOMEONE ELSE…WHEN THAT OMEONE ELSE IS HIM! HE”S IN BED AND ATTACHED TO THE LABELS AS ….HIS BUSINESS PARTNERS, DAY TO DAY, MONTH TO MONTH. HE COULD MAKE A CALL OR WORK SOMETHING OUT..BUT they WON’T. THEY ARE PIGS. OINK OINK RIO CARAEFF, YOU ILLEGALLY SHOWED AN ESPN PIRATED SHOW AT SUNDANCE AND TRIED TO BLAME AN “UNKNOWN GUEST ” FOR THAT TOO. RIO CARAEFF AIN’T GOT ANY BALLS, THIS IS PROOF. ANY QUESTIONS KIDS? BTW, WE ARE SENDING ALL THE LINKS AND STORIES AND BOARDS TO THE OWNERS OF ABU DHABI VC FUND AND OTHER MEDIA OUTLETS. GOOD LUCK RIO!!! YOU’VE SCREWED YOUR LAST ANGRY ARTIST U PIG. GO TELL YOUR LIES TO YOURSELF IN THE MIRROR, YOU”RE THE ONLY ONE WHO WILL LISTEN OR BELEIVE THE CRAPOLA COMING OUT OF YOUR MOUTH. KARMA WILL GET U. JOHN LENNON WANTS TO KNOW, “HOW DO U SLEEP?” WITH THE FISHES?

  13. Steve Tonkajem

    I have to agree with this Rita above. The argument of not ‘re-couping’ is IRRELEVANT and DOES NOT APPLY to these revenue streams. I KNOW FOR A FACT AS 30 YR LABEL EXECUTIVE. The putz from Vevo..Rita Caraeff?…says last month bragging that they made and distributed , what..OVER $150 MILLION in past year. Or past 3 yrs. There is ALOT OF ADVERTISING DOLLARS earned. You can’t say a label (who is PARTNERS WITH VEVO) didn’t make back $80,000 or some lower production cost even if it did apply. Which is DOES NOT. It’s all one big screw job in the music industry. Nothing trickles down, you have to get lawyers and SUE. It’s the only thing these monkey’s understand.

  14. Loreen Campshaw

    Nope, you’re in the minority friend! I agree with above people. This Rio Caraeff guy is in COLLUSION with the LABELS…who are his investors and BUSINESS PARTNERS. Get it? So for him to point fingers. Well, he’s just pointing AT HIMSELF. Not a bright person that Rio Caraeff. Clearly. It’s an IQ Test. Dim wit leader of a video aggregator, not exactly ‘innovation’ after VH1.com , MTV.com and others doing it (better?) for ten years before Vevo. Anyone else want to weigh in? I know some of these posts are being made by Fred Santarepa the GM at Vevo and other peeps of their WORMY LEADER, under sydonyms on postboards like this…have some guts and use your real name like me.