52 Ways to Screw an Artist, by Warner Bros. Records

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Sadly, this is a story that dates back to 1969, when a young James Taylor signed a deal with Warner Bros. Records. That was the beginning of a breakout career that included numerous hit songs and tens of millions of album sales.  But it also marked the beginning of a duplicitous financial relationship, one that seemed designed to systematically cheat this artist over a period of several decades.

This week, Taylor and his attorneys decided to file suit against Warner Bros., in part to capture higher royalties from digital downloads.  Taylor, like many other legacy artists, wants to treat downloads like licenses instead of sales, and receive drastically higher payouts in the process.  But the paperwork is also airing lots of old, dirty laundry.

According to the allegations in the filing, these are the various ways in which Warner Bros. Records has screwed James Taylor.  Keep in mind: this list of grievances only dates back to 2004…

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(2) The various parties sifted through the audit, and ultimately compromised on an amount totaling $764,056 (some of the topline amount appears to include recategorizations of digital sales as licenses, which would result in higher payments).

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(3) Warner Bros. subsequently paid only $97,857 of that balance.

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(4) Several days ago (September 13th), Warner decided to dispute the remaining $666,199.  Of that, the label claimed to owe just $147,278.

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(5) Of the $147,278, Warner has paid $0 so far, meaning less than $100,000 of the $764,056 agreed upon amount has been paid.

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(6) During the audit, Taylor’s accounting firm found that Warner Music had grossly exceeded the number of ‘non-royalty bearing’ units in the amount of $47,869.  This probably refers to free and promotional copies, or phantom units designed to protect Warner Music from paying actual royalties.

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(7) Also during the audit, Taylor found that Warner Bros. had misallocated customer returns into various royalty and non-royalty bearing buckets.  The result was an $800 shortfall.

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(8) On the release Mudslide Slim, Warner Music applied a royalty rate of 10% and 11%, instead of the 11.5% agreed-upon rate.  The shortfall was $869.

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(9)  Warner Bros. Records sold the cassette version of Taylor’s Greatest Hits at an unauthorized budget price.  Damages for that action were not specified.

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(10) Warner underreported sales of Taylor’s Walking Man CD by 50 percent, resulting is a royalty shortfall of $7,142.

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(11) The audit also found that Warner Bros. did not pay Taylor for ‘excess free goods‘ associated with the BMG and Columbia House record clubs.  The shortfall?  $43,420.

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(12) Warner Bros. also failed to report sales on certain compilation albums that featured Taylor’s music, for a shortfall of $10,259.

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(13) Warner also improperly applied a 25% ‘midline reduction’ on foreign sales of James Taylor’s Greatest Hits, for a shortfall of $18,747.

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(14) The audit also revealed that Warner Bros. applied ‘insufficient uplift percentages’ on foreign sales, resulting in a shortfall of $3,641.

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(15) Warner was also found to have paid insufficient mechanical royalties across various albums, for a shortfall of $928.

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(16) The audit also found ‘miscellaneous’ unpaid royalties beyond these listed amounts, totaling $13,603.

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(17) In a dispute over the inclusion of Taylor’s music in a compilation called Hits of the 60s and 70s, produced by Madacy Entertainment, Warner Music claimed that this was a ‘manufacturing/custom product deal’ subject to a 2-cent per unit royalty rate.  However, the deal with Madacy states that this was a licensing deal, meaning Taylor should have received a 50% share, totalling $1,893.

Warner subsequently agreed to liabilities of $388, of which it has not paid.

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(18) The audit also found that Warner Bros. Records had used Taylor’s songs in various compilations without permission, against the contract terms.  That would entitle Taylor to 100% of royalties, an amount totaling $84,225.

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(19) Warner Bros. also decided to pay nothing on foreign performances of Taylor’s work, while claiming that its agreements did not cover performances.  The agreement between the parties calls for payments on all licensing deals; the total shortfall on this would be $4,603.

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(20) The audit also found that Warner Bros. charged James Taylor for taxes on its profits, but failed to compensate Taylor for various tax credits.  That created a shortfall of $518.

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(21) When Warner Bros. decided to reissue two remastered Taylor albums on vinyl, the label charged the manufacturing costs as ‘recording costs’ against Taylor’s royalties.  The shorted royalties totaled $3,724.

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(22) Warner has taken ‘packaging’ and ‘free goods’ deductions from various download, ringtone, and other digital sales, despite the complete absence of either on digital formats.

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(23) Outside of the license vs. sale question, Warner was also found to be paying royalties on the wholesale price offered to companies like Apple, not the Suggested List Retail Price (SLRP) as designated in the contract.  The difference amounts to $38,310.

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(24) Warner refused to disclose any sales data from its over-the-air download partnership with Sprint.  That forced Taylor’s accountants to forge an estimate of amounts not paid, which reached a minimum of $32,378.  Warner has limited its liability to $3,251.

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(25) Taylor further claims lost interest on these royalties in the amount of $153,884.

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(26) During the audit, Warner Bros. did not supply information related to the following:

(a) Columbia House record club receipts;

(b) complete digital sales reports;

(c) foreign performance income;

(d) foreign receipts of any kind;

(e) any streaming or internet radio statements;

(f) any details on how foreign royalties were calculated;

(g) a list of licensees using Taylor’s music;

(h) details related to the use of Taylor masters on compilation albums;

(i) details on royalty reductions from Rhino releases;

(j) any information (or payment) related to settlements with Napster, Kazaa, or any other litigated-against company.

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(28) Warner has not responded to the second audit, though the disputed amount totals $1,048,075 (some of the topline amount appears to include recategorizations of digital sales as licenses, which would result in higher payments).

Beyond the sale vs. licensing complaint, the other concerns from the second audit include:

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(29) On the physical side, the auditing team found additional royalty discrepancies totaling $2,382.

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(30) The second audit also found that Warner Music exceeded its 20 percent allowance of ‘free goods,’ which increased the amount of non-royalty units and violated the agreement.  The damages assessed from this totaled $56,162.

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(31) The auditors also found a ‘suspense account‘ at Warner Music that held an unspecified amount of Taylor’s royalties.  Warner denied such an account existed, and therefore declined to offer any details on which products or payments were included in this alleged account.

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(32) Despite an agreement to change the percentage after the first audit, Warner Bros. continued to pay an 11 percent royalty on Taylor’s album, Mudslide Slim.  The agreed-upon royalty amount was 11.5 percent, resulting in underpayments of $776.

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(33) The second audit also revealed that Warner had deducted an excessive royalty amount for one of the producers on the album, Gorilla.  The producer was paid 2 percent, instead of the agreed-upon 1.5 percent rate, resulting in damages of $742.

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(34) Warner continued to sell the cassette version of Taylor’s Greatest Hits at an unauthorized budget price, despite agreeing not to do this during the first audit.

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(35) Additionally, Warner continued to underpay royalties on certain albums by 50 percent, particularly those being removed from the catalog listing.  This was in violation of the contracts, and happened despite agreements obtained during the first audit.  Underpayments were found to total $2,257.

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(36) The second audit also found that Warner was still not paying anything on record club sales, particularly for the albums Greatest Hits and Best of James Taylor.  This was also despite an expressed agreement during the first audit; damages totalled $4,127.

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(37) Furthermore, Warner Music continued to withhold royalties on ‘excess free goods’ tied to record clubs, including those associated with Rhino Records.  This was despite earlier agreements during the first audit, with damages totaling $20,090.

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(38) The auditors also found that Taylor was not paid at all on various master synchronization uses, for several shows.  The unpaid royalties totalled $35,861.

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(39) The auditors continued to find Taylor’s songs included in a number of compilation releases, without any permission whatsoever. Furthermore, there were no royalties paid on these releases, nor any explanations offered.  Total underpayments are estimated at $10,608.

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(40) Additionally, Warner did not properly passthrough royalties from SoundExchange, particularly for ‘Ephemeral or Business Services.’  Unpaid: $217.

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(41) James Taylor was paid a piece of the Napster and Kazaa settlements, but not enough.  The audit found that Warner collectively underpaid on both settlements by $42,460.

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(42) During the second audit period, Warner was also found to be receiving foreign performance income on Taylor’s works, but did not pass any of this income through to the artist.  Receipts or documentation was not supplied by Warner, though damages were estimated at $12,903.

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(43) Also on foreign royalties, during the second period, Warner was also found to be using ‘insufficient uplift percentages,’ resulting in damages of $1,567.

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(44) Similar to the first period, Warner was found to be deducting taxes against Taylor’s royalty statement, but not applying tax credits received.  Damages: $5,251.


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(45) Also during the second period, Warner was found to be further underpaying on mechanical royalties, with amounts squirreled into a mysterious ‘suspense account’.  Estimated damages: $2,242.

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(46) During the period, Warner Music was found to have undercounted sales of James Taylor’s Greatest Hits by 20,525 units.  That resulted in reduced mechanical royalties of $5,603.

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(47) The accounting firm also uncovered reduced mechanical royalties on a number of albums and releases, totalling $3,034.

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(48) On top of all that, Warner was found to be applying an additional, 85 percent reduction on mechanical royalties owed, resulting in additional damages of $80,209.

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(49) The second audit further revealed that Warner Music was systematically underpaying on iTunes sales, specifically by applying royalties to wholesale prices, instead of Suggested List Retail Prices (SLRP).  The resulting, unpaid amounts were $106,437.

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(50) The auditing team also found serious underreporting on digital sales, specifically by comparing Taylor’s royalty statements with Warner’s broader sales reports.  Underpayments associated with this underreporting totaled $36,689.

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(51) Taylor further claims that these non-payments during the period resulted in missed interest income of $54,647.

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(52) During the second auditing period, Warner Bros. also failed to provide the following documents.

(a) pricing surveys or any information used in the calculation of foreign royalties.

(b) domestic and foreign ‘suspense lists’ on physical sales.

(c) a detailed list of authorized retailing endpoints (digital or physical). Or, any agreements with these retailers.

(d) any statements related to income received from YouTube or Rhino.tv.

(e) any information related to master uses on compilation albums (agreements, percentages, etc.)

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James Taylor publicity photo; public domain.

138 Responses

  1. Tames Jaylor

    Wow, what are the chances they didn’t do exactly the same thing to all their artists?

    • Janice

      Too Bad, James does so much for the world, drug programs and all fans, domestic and foreign adore him. The last live show that I saw was one of the BEST concerts ever. What about all the contributing artists and musicians? Company greed at it’s worst!

    • cranbud

      That’s right. A re-issue is planned of an LP I recorded in 1969. Warner Brothers says they have the original contract, and since it’s “unrecouped” they have no reason to pay royalties on the reissue. I read that Sony and another label does not hold artists to unrecouped balances from over 40 years ago. Apparently WB does. Now I’ll have to hire an expensive lawyer. Can’t win!

    • Boudicea

      Universal is doing the same to the original Moody Blues. Not one cent of royalties for 48 years. Even tho they have been questioned over this (the original 5 did NOT sign their rights away) Universal claims they don’t have to tell the band members anything. It’s not about music, it’s not about the artist’s rights it’s all about greed and corruption.

  2. I Pop

    Only 52?
    I am sure there are more accounting “inconsistencies.” Those 52 were only the ones Taylor’s lawyers and accountants could find.
    Yes I’ve had it in the ear before.

    • Visitor

      Explain to me again how Record Labels ripping off Artists = Bad, but Internet Companies Consumers Ripping off Artists = Good?

      How does that logic work? Hypocrisy much?

      Why is the Freehadist solution to one injustice (label accounting) an even greater injustice in piracy?

      • "Visitor"

        “Explain to me again how Record Labels ripping off Artists = Bad, but Internet Companies Consumers Ripping off Artists = Good?”

        I’d love to tackle your strawman, but I don’t participate in astroturfing.

        • viva la vag

          I have to agree with some of the following statements. I think piracy does come about from an overall resentment, in the sense that we are once again at a point of over-saturation. We had seen this before in 1979, and the labels pointed thier fingers at the consumer and home cassette duplication. Turns out, it was both over-saturation of a mass medium, in addition to an increase in album sales in cassette format. This is where we are today. Sure, people download music. A lot even pay for those downloads. Yet the labels want to cry about losing sales of compact discs through illegal downloads. What they fail to present to the world is that their digital sales have increased. They make more on an MP3 than a CD. There is no manufacturing cost to convert an .aif or .wav to .mp3. My 77 year old mother can do that. I’m sure the labels have invented a role for this, and deligate some acne crusted intern to do the work.
          By resentment, I mean that we are being extorted to pay over $15 for a CD, with maybe one or two good tracks on it. I’m not talking about indie artists. I refer to the pop drivel shoved down our throats. As if every song on Pitbull’s new album is a banger or something. Fucking please. iTunes doesn’t fuck people. Even The Pirate Bay doesn’t fuck people. Once again, here we are blaming the technology. Do guns kill people or do people kill people?
          Fuck major labels. They have been sucking the marrow of hard working artists, and raping their souls barren since music was first sold. Every last person working at major labels is a souless, talentless shill with absolutley nothing in their scrotums. “When the revolution comes, they will be the first ones against the wall.” -Douglas Adams.
          You still think this is bullshit? Read this paper.

      • WTF?

        Explain to me wtf your comment has to do with Warner ripping off James Taylor?

      • Algrokoz

        Because artists get so little money from album sales anyway, youre really screwing record companies when you pirate.

        • That makes sense

          So. If the record companies paid the artists the big bucks, then it wouldn’t be OK to pirate.

          Got it.

          Thank you for clearing this up. You people are the great thinkers of our time.

          • iceburg

            If they did pay the artists in a realistic and honest way i would be far more compelled to purchase music. As it stands I neither purchase music (since the proceeds seem to disapear) nor pirate (since that is not fair to the artist).
            When Napster was a free for all I downloaded gigs and gigs of music and ended up paying lots of artists after I found myself listening to certain albums a lot. I never bought so much music in my life as when it was free. Then one day that stopped and I stopped downloading or paying. I just go with nothing. It’s quite a system, very brilliant Warner and company.

          • Ha

            You just committed a logical fallacy, thereby nullifying your position, by implying that if an argument is true then the reverse argument must also be true.

  3. bro-sta

    shit, at least there were royalties to be collected and their artists got famous. can we have an article about how big tech has thieved billions, possibly trillions, without paying artists any paltry sum and piggybacking publicly listed stock prices on the stolen works of the general population? now there’s a story i’d like to see.

    • Oz

      Sigh. think about it. The record labels want to shut down that activity, because it leaves less for the label to thieve from the artists. There is nothing honorable or fair about either one.
      The label hasn’t got any high moral ground. Actually – they have less, because they have contracts and a pretense of legitimacy, when in fact they deserve neither.

    • Hughes

      Huh? What does “big tech” have to do with this? How exactly did “big tech” steal from artists? Are you talking about Napster, BitTorrent or some other technology that *normal people* use or used to use to pirate music? None of those technologies were created by large tech companies and it’s normal people who use them to pirate music, not some imaginary public corporation in your head.
      Of course those normal people also often support artists by buying CDs and going to concerts. I know of almost no one who is entirely on one side of the fence or another, by which I mean almost everyone’s music collection is made up partly of legit and partly of pirated material.

  4. Satan

    C’mon is there anyone out there who is suprised by this.
    I lifted some of my best contract clauses from these guys. Thank God they haven’t noticed or they would probably sue me for infringement.
    Ripping off recording artists has been the standard operating procedure for recording companies since Edison was around.
    The best part is that somewhere in the contract it probably says that the legal fees incurred by Warner will be paid out of Taylor’s earnings.
    Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha

  5. @maurbyrnemusic

    Feeling ripped off by your record label? You should…

  6. Kip W

    In other news, record companies demand arrests of downloaders, claiming they hurt their artists, about whom they care deeply.

  7. Jeff Robinson

    Figure it this way, Warner Brothers is just a piece of the pie. Who’s to say iTunes doesn’t under-report sales?

    How do you audit them or track sales there?

    • Satan

      Apple Inc. is just a rookie at this game.
      When it comes to ripping off the people who create and supply your product, nobody does it better than the music industry.
      p.s. Keep signing those EULAs
      Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha

  8. christian ronn

    As they say, its not a matter IF you get screwed by the record companies or not, its a matter of how MUCH you get screwed.

  9. Joseph L Auger

    Indeed I hope they do not have this attitude towards all of their artists! Really scummy!

  10. Kiko Jones

    This is an action brought about by an artist with the financial wherewithal to do so, and STILL he’s getting dicked around. Mind you, this is Warner Bros. traditionally the most artist friendly of the major labels; you can only imagine how Sony rolls…Attorney Don Engel (Don Henley, Olivia Newton-John, Teena Marie, Tom Scholz, Luther Vandross) once said he’s represented authors and musicians and when auditing a book publisher, the numbers were always legit, whereas when auditing the major record companies the books were ALWAYS cooked. Every single time.
    And now, that the single has become the music biz’s main format, we’re probably going to see more of the shady practices from back in the day. For instance, this bit in the NYT from ’09 caught my attention:

    (Owl City aka) [Adam] Young’s web success came to the attention of scouts at Universal Republic Records…Avery Lipman, the label’s co-president, invited Mr. Young to New York for discussions and found him completely unschooled in the ways of the music business.

    “It was the most bizarre meeting I’ve ever had,” Mr. Lipman said. “I actually had to discuss and explain the record business 101. I had to explain to him what a record company is, the need for a lawyer, a manager, a booking agent. It was actually kind of tough.”

    • ex music md..

      for the record-avery is one of the good guys.. having worked on the inside and at the highest level i have seen all the inconsistancies of the majors..they are so big and disjointed that so many things get missed and un accounted for… the left hand doesnt know what the right is doing most of the time…

  11. zog

    This story is not new as every artist whose been signed to a record label knows. Because lawyers on both sides are making money and artist are in most cases are lazy and don’t want to take there careers as a business. It’s worse then lotto for every one winner there are hundreds and thousands dreaming.
    Artist should have people who work for them not the other way around. Managers,agents,promotors,lawyers the whole chain should be under control of the artist. The internet was suppose to do this but artist are all on the fame to riches games instead of controling their destiny.
    James Taylor is very successfull and can afford good lawyers but will he wake up ? Will there be a JT Music where he controls all aspects of his career of the past and going forward. Spends his own money and will personally get a real ROI ?
    I doubt it’s much easier to say I ‘m creative not an account then take control of your own life.

    • crusher

      Yeah, your comments are ridiculous. Any successful artist has to bust their back to break through and then sustain a career. You’ve got something against artists. What, do you LOVE dishonest corporations? What’s wrong with your head?

  12. Stu Cohen

    Every single infraction falls under the Lyor Cohen era of the Warner Music group. NOT ONE, happened while under Mo Ostin’s watch, who signed James in 69, and treated him like royalty until he bolted from the ‘Artist Friendly’ environment of Warners for the cash flow environment of Columbia, in 76. James jumped for the dough! Mo deemed him a traitor, since WB broke James, and proceeded to steal Paul Simon, from Columbia. A fair trade in my opinion. Yes Warners retained James’ catalogue, and James was paid properly and very well, at least until Mo left in 1994! Please dont use your broad brush to denigrate that great company under Mo’s watch. This is Lyor and Edgar’s doing. Report this honestly, correwctly, fairly!

    • Bill Schacht

      Good point, generally. Let’s face it, since Elvis’ manager took what, 50% of the Gross or Net (who will ever know), artists have always faced a daunting challenge when plucked from their world and placed in a position where they needed to understand business.too, or worse, unbelievably ‘creative’ business (with terms so confusing it is unbelievable. Mo did have a great rep-he was from an era labels sincerely tried to support artists, well far more than after that period. That, in general, is the real tragedy–when labels began acting more like wall street profit driven banks the houses working with creativity. Don’t for a second think these accounts for JT are not playing the same games in reverse, it’s all a sick game where musicians should try to either learn to control the process or try to steer clear of all the muck in the first place. It’s the sorry spot it all is today. It’s time the system behind that (cold capitalism vs. ‘enlightened’ capitalism) came into play, after 10 years of pain, it’s clear everyone’s ready for the new improved game!

  13. @wyndhamwallace

    Not hard to see why labels are suing downloaders. They’re stealing from artists. Erm…

  14. @craigfots

    The most amazing thing about this James Taylor affair is that he got Chuck Fucking Norris to be his accountant.

  15. @iamsegmented

    james taylor has been screwed over and over. the lesson? don’t trust a record label.

  16. @melissawebster

    Jeez. Arrogant ass treats it like charity AND Father Christmas.

  17. @craigfots

    Proper Old Skool record label shenanigans in this James Taylor tale. Has anyone made the (Law)Suit Baby James gag yet?

  18. @smalldoseszine

    But in all seriousness, what Columbia is doing is disgusting.

  19. @kingofcuteness

    To my writer buddies, here, this is how the industry screws us over.

  20. @xtremetoaster

    Hey bands! Read this, then answer me a question: Still wanna get signed?

  21. @garethisatwit

    …and you STILL want to sign a major label record deal? Really?

  22. @aitorcontreras

    Cómo sacarle toda la pasta a un artista por parte de una discográfica #alucinante

  23. mary cigarettes

    james taylor’s done alright….he’s dripping in money….i think it’s all a bit dull to be disgusted by any of this…it’s almost charming.

    • Class action

      Artists should get together and hire PWC to go through their Reord Companies books. Then File a class action suit. That would kill the labels once and for all.

      • Satan

        Interesting idea.
        I like the way you think.
        However, since each contract was (in theory) negotiated individually then defendant record label will argue there is no class.
        But if enough recording artists who had the same attorneys, managers or agents when they negotiated got together and compared contracts and found they were substantially identical, you might be able to get a judge to certify the class and proceed with discovery and the case.
        Of course in the end only the attorneys will walk away with any settlement money.
        Ha Ha HA HA

    • Visitor

      “james taylor’s done alright….he’s dripping in money”
      Thank you, record company shill. If Taylor is dripping, which obviously he isn’t or he wouldn’t be SUING, the record company douches who have been vacationing off his back for decades are drowning.

      • Silverlokk

        And the state of his finances is beside the point. Is it OK to steal from Warren Buffett or Bill Gates? I mean stealing something real like a car or a wad of bills, not something intagible like software.

        • Leroy Jones

          Probably should have come up with a different example, if you have to start to qualify intellectual property and ‘real’ property.

      • Visitor

        It doesn’tmatter if he has made millions, just ask Peter Jackson.
        He had to sue New LIne to get an accounting and I believe Peter Jackson made a bit more money from his films than James Taylor has made in his entire career

    • mojo

      “mary cigarettes”, In the first place, as to James Taylor being cheated, this is only an indication, personally I don’t think he’s contributed much lately anyway, as it’s just more of the same trite B.S. but your comment struck me as one being from somebody who will never have to worry about any such thing as being cheated out of anything for talent sakes, this article is about more than one person, I would wager all the money in my pocket to a dime of yours that you also sport tattoos in thinking that they add some kind of distinction., you’re exactly what they wanted.

  24. Visitor

    “(The music business is) a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason.” -Hunter S. Thompson

    • Mames Waylor

      Well done for regurgitating a quote that is inaccurate and was actually about the TV industry, toolhead.

  25. The Machine

    Look, if you have ever had a major deal you know that most of your popularity and sales are from greasing and payola. That is unless you were signed as a write off or to hinder any potentail competition to an aritst who already had money put into them. Flase hype, rotation to create the air of popularity to drive sales, promoters that have a lock (and don’t screw them over or audit them you will never perform again). These are the same people that when they get shady with the artist then the artist acts surprised? obviously we are in a time where most labels are in climate where even the most greasing and payola doesn’t deliver results but really? when shady shit was working to your advantage it was all good but now that it turns back on you? I understand people who haven’t been in the machine to write about this and acted shocked etc… but the others sources? really?

    • Central Scrutinizer

      You make a very good point.
      However, the “artists” who know the shady dealings that the label is commiting on there behalf are not the “same people” that are later “surprised.” The clever artists who knew what was and is going on have attorneys/accountants keeping a close eye on the bottom line from the beginning.
      It is the naive artist who signs, then blissfully reaps the rewards of the legally questionable marketing machine without examining what is going on until very late in the game. They are the ones who are surprised.

  26. Danwriter

    11.5% royalty in 1971. Interesting. At least the average went up slightly over the next three decades. Of course, what’s the difference? It just means the labels underpaid the artists that much more.

  27. Who is the crook?

    The real story is how much consumers rip off artists via illegal downloads.
    If you accept consumers ripping off artists they like as “a fact of life” then you must accept ripping off artists by labels too.

    • Dj Batman

      I’m not a piracy fan but… do you work at Warner? LOL.

    • Leroy Jones

      You should look up the tu qoque logical fallacy. You’re it.

    • majic

      who is the crook, May I be the first to second the excellent point you’ve made.

  28. @rjl923

    Why I root for the recording industry (as we know it) to fail, because of shit like this.

  29. @solcofn

    James Taylor sues Pirate Bay, saying they cost him millions. Did I say Pirate Bay? I meant his label Warner Bros.

  30. @geekanddad

    Why Record Companies need to go away or change their business practices.

  31. @wonderrico

    Ahhh les maisons de disques… vivement l’auto-production généralisée qu’on élimine ces parasites

  32. @scott_ian

    “The music biz is a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs”

  33. @wtf4photography

    Self serving, from a major corporation? Shock! Artists get the short end of most sticks.

  34. fix it

    The simple solution for all artists whose works are being kept unreleased for years, or those artists who have been systematically not paid, is simply to claim these records as there own. I mean CLAIM the records.
    Press them up. Distribute the product on your own.
    Disallow these companies further opportunity to exploit the recordings (or ignore, in the case of the long out of print titles).
    It’s the wild west out there. In the case of many of these artists, the label will not be able to find the contract. Or, the amount of money they would be putting out to sue an artist would not be worth their while. In the case of more successful artists, they must realize that they hold the cards now.
    Take back your records!

  35. zomba

    Seems legit – but then again, a lot of vague numbers being tossed around. Pretty simple to paint a record company as the bad guy. Taylor’s been recording (and lawyered up) for 40-something years and only now does he realize he’s been eaten by sharks?

  36. John Moyle

    As a former record compay exec I can tell you that squirrelling money away from artists was normal practise. Whe the CD age came around in the mid eighties artists were not only charge huge amouts for digital mastering but record comanies continued to pay 90 per cent of 100 per cent royalties – the missing ten per cent being charged for breakage during shipping – a hamgover from the days of wax records.
    You couldn’t make this stuff up in years of studying higher economics – noone would buy it.

    Good luck James Taylor and all who come after you in hounding these bastards to ground.

    John Moyle

  37. DJ Nitti

    “Industry rule #4080, record company people are shadyyyy!”- Q-Tip, “Check the Rhime”

  38. Matt

    And now we got confirmation why the live show is so important, why talent fees and ticket prices keep going higher. FU WB. It all trickles down to the fan consumer.

  39. Daniel

    This article could be called “Buisness as Usual” At Warner Bros. and who knows where else… maybe the US Government. This is how they play. Let’s not forget Frank Zappa’s run-in with the wolves in the 1970s. Zappa fought back agains Warner Brothers and got the ownership of all his master recordings, an amazing feat in the sharecropper mentality of the music buisness. The “problem” is most artists will not or do not have the resources or the will to fight. Of course this is what made the rap community a better match for the corporate wolves of the music buisnees. In the ganster rap community, at least there was a background (if they weren’t faking it) from their days on the street toughing it out and selling drugs as an informal education and prelude to the next level of gangster hustling.
    It’s moments like these that make me laugh hard when the coroparate entertainment entities cry on and on about pirating. Yo! pot you’re black……
    “In 1977, Frank Zappa filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros. Records and his former manager citing artistic grievances and questioning certain “creative accounting practices,” Gail says. After an out-of-court settlement was reached in 1982, the rights to his master recordings reverted to him, a lucrative boon.” – LA Times
    Luckily these days it’s relatively easy to put out your own recordings. The internet and companies like CDbaby have begun to level the playing field. Now musicians may want to consider majoring in Music with a minor in accounting law.
    Music is the unfiltered voice of the universe. Let’s protect its ambassadors and keepers of that voice.

    • Central Scrutinizer

      And Gail just signed a deal with Universal to distribute on-line. Talk about brealing into jail.
      I hope ZFT had a coven of attorneys scrutinize that contract.

  40. babybuddha

    My thoughts on ‘How technology companies blatantly rip off artists!’ Something no one seems to focus on.
    1. All hard drives are ‘content holders’ just like vinyl, cassettes, cd’s, memory sticks, etc. Artists do not receive compensation or royalties from any of the companies who make, distribute or sell these products. Artists are paid 0% on sales of ‘content holders’ by Apple, Google, Dell, Samsung, etc., not one penny!
    2. itunes set the price at which they would sell downloads of artist’s music. Only consulting labels after the fact and never artists directly. Artists can not set the price they pay for a Apple or Mac product, except on Ebay and other bidding sites.
    It is not solely about ‘piracy’, record company thievery or ‘dumb recording artists, all three share a portion of the ‘loss’ of income for artists. Along with what I see as the largest recipient of redirected funds going in to the bloated balance sheets of the largest technology & telephone corporations.

  41. @fozzielogic

    Big musicians also workers, and labels can steal even more from their labor.

  42. @inayaday

    File this in your arsenal of Artistic Integrity & Justice.

    • Buggerluggs

      Yes. All the various “breakage” clauses are still standard even in the digital age. It’s mind-boggling. If there is a way to squeeze an extra point or 3, they will use it.

  43. @UltimateSeminar

    For all new artists a must read, always read the fine print.

    • Just visiting this planet

      The large print giveth and the fine print taketh away…

  44. @liffgarden

    Music distribution went digital. Reporting did not. Good old royalty obfuscation works as business model.

  45. @elteneleven

    Why you should sign with a label like Fake Record Label and not Warner Bros.

  46. Visitor

    Wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Listen to all the cry babies on here. OMG.



  48. @mariannetogo

    I support James Taylor! I purchase ALL of my music from iTunes in the hopes that money will go towards those artists.

  49. Stev Wilkinson

    Had a deal for a few years with Warner Nashvile ( not a spelling mistake) and we had to audit them to get any part of the $$ we were entitled to. I’m know there’s more owing to us in the system but not much you can do to Time Warner if someone like JT is left dangling in the wind for his. That’s what the labels count on!!

  50. @fraserlaeto

    What a label does to an artist who HAS a lawyer/ accountant.
    And it’s the internet’s fault the industry is kaput…

  51. CK1

    “The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.”

  52. Bo Digitally

    Record Companies are not the only place you get screwed. Bo Diddley’s managers and his executor (The 3 Profiteers) have never provided accountings as requested by Bo’s family. The accountings from both the managers AND the executor are jokes. Partial, inconsistant, duplications, you name it, ALL bullshit. AND the executor knows Bo’s family has NO MONEY because he and the managers pocket 40% of the gross income Bo’s estate generates and the family’s portion, they CONTROL. They do ALL of this while maintaining a “culture of silence” The 3 Profiteers are elitists who carefully select which family members they speak to. Family members who ask the questions that require more than b.s. answers, ARE NOT SPOKEN TO. Bo Diddley was a genius on MANY levels but the fact that he was illiterate has been used by the probate judge against the family when he replied to Bo’s son: “Now hold on Mr. McDaniel, you’re not going to sit there and say your father was stupid” That is when everyone who knows the definitions of “stupid” and “illiterate” are VERY different, looked at each other and realized; this is what an “uphill battle” looks like.

  53. Steve

    Is that all you meat heads do is sit around on the internet sniffin each other’s phart crax and sniveling about record labels?

  54. joe

    anyone who actually read all of those details is in desperate need of a life. lol

    poor JT, he’s so broke.

    spare me.

  55. Marilyn

    Prince was ahead of his time. Saw the writhing on the wall.

  56. Antinet

    Hopefully all artist now know to never sign to a major label, or at least you lease your releases to them for the marketing, and that’s it.

    Several bands have had clauses in their contracts whereby the master licenses revert to them if they are dropped. This results in future payouts of 70% instead of 10% or in this case, HASSLE%

  57. jef Grace

    I think that damages should be paid out to anyone who has ever been trapped in an elevator, for any length of time and had to listen to ANY tune by James Taylor… It’s was just another initial step in the ‘dumbing down our musical culture! Muzak nation!

    Your welcome!