Pete and Thunderclap Newman want their money!
brianinatlanta2001 at yahoo.com
Sat Sep 4 07:59:26 CDT 2004
>From The Guardian at:
Introduced to royalty
Record companies which forget to pass on new money for
old tracks are under increasing pressure to pay up.
And, as Chas de Whalley reports, it's not just the big
stars who stand to gain - session musicians can
Saturday September 4, 2004
Earlier this year, New York Attorney General Eliot
Spitzer shook the American music industry by ordering
that major record companies should distribute $50
million in unpaid royalties to thousands of artists
whose careers are in serious decline and who may well
be living in poverty.
In the UK too, where 25% of many record companies'
annual turnover comes from the licensing of pop
classics for use in TV ads, film soundtracks and
compilation albums, it is clear that much of the "new"
money generated by "old" tracks is not trickling down
to the musicians who made them.
"Often the record company has lost contact with the
artist - and so has nowhere to send the cheques - or
else they have gone to an old manager who has pocketed
them himself," says Ian Grant, formerly manager of The
Stranglers, Big Country and The Cult.
He is currently negotiating with Universal over
royalties owed to members of Thunderclap Newman - and
their producer, The Who's Pete Townshend - from the
licensing of their 1969 chart topper Something In The
Air. "Record companies never make it easy for artists
to query their accounts," Mr Grant continues. "They
rarely set up suspense accounts for their earnings and
invariably invoke the statute of limitations if
anybody appears with a claim more than seven years
So what can a poor boy do who once sang in a rock 'n'
roll band if he wants to receive his just rewards?
One port of call is royalty-busting music business
accountant David Sloane, who, in tandem with
self-styled "forensic royalty investigator" David
Morgan, has secured hefty back payments for acts like
Gilbert O'Sullivan, Hazel O'Connor, Culture Club and
Mr Sloane and Mr Morgan work on a no win no fee basis
- but with a twist. "Most recording agreements
prohibit the artist from hiring somebody to audit
their accounts on a contingency basis," says Mr
Sloane. "So it's David (Morgan) who enters into the
agreement with the artist to track down his royalties.
If he then believes a full audit is necessary, he
employs me to do it."
Mr Sloane and Mr Morgan say that simply having your
name printed on the back of an album sleeve can
provide enough evidence to base a claim - but warn
that action may prove costly and could end up in
court. "So, sadly, it's not worthwhile going after
£5,000 when it might cost at least £20,000 to secure
it," says Mr Sloane.
For those musicians of a certain age who do receive
regular royalty cheques, the big issue is how much
they get paid for the work they did in their youth.
According to Peter Jenner, a leading member of the
Music Managers' Forum and a keen advocate of music
industry reform since the 60s, when he promoted the
Stones' legendary Hyde Park concert and managed Pink
Floyd, record companies are now more receptive to
requests that the 2% and 3% royalty rates which were
the norm 35 years ago be increased to the 15% or more
which contemporary bands can command. But such
concessions come at a price.
"They want to secure the digital download rights to
old tracks and realise that they could be in a very
sticky legal position if artists refuse to assign them
because they are not receiving the going rate for CD
sales," says Mr Jenner.
But tracing royalties is not just about the artists
who actually signed to the record company. Since the
introduction of the EU Lending and Rental Directive in
December 1996, session players can now expect a share
of the statutory amounts radio stations must pay to
record companies for the right to broadcast their
recordings - which, in the case of Radio One, is some
£30 per three minutes of air time.
This new income stream is administered by Phonographic
Performance Ltd (PPL) - a non-profit making collection
society set up by UK record companies in 1934 - and
divided between the labels which released the tracks
and all the musicians who played on them.
To date more than 30,000 performers, household names
and unsung heroes alike, have registered with PPL
through affiliated organisations such as Pamra, Aura,
the MU and Equity or via its website
royaltiesreunited.co.uk - and nearly £20 million was
distributed in 2003 alone.
"It can be hard work keeping on top of your claims,"
says Pamra member and bass player Simon Edwards, who
has recorded with such acts as Fairground Attraction,
Billy Bragg and David Gray. "But once you've proved
who you are and what you played on, then the money
certainly comes through."
Are you owed anything?
Around £600m was collected in music royalties last
year in the UK and while most of it slips into the
pockets of the big stars, every year millions of
pounds goes unclaimed.
Royalties can be earned in a number of ways. The first
source of income is from record sales. The amount
varies according to your bargaining position vis-a-vis
the record company, but 10-15% of the retail selling
price (minus VAT and an element of marketing costs) is
about average for a new band, says the Musician's
Union. That works out at around 70p-£1 per CD sold. If
you have a manager, expect him to pocket around 15-20%
of your gross income.
Then there's the oddly named "mechanical royalty"
collected by the MCPS (mcps.co.uk) which goes to the
composer of the song and is entirely separate from the
"artist" royalty paid by the record company under the
recording contract. It is levied at 8.5% on record
sales and added up to £221m last year.
Performance royalties - which come from radio airplay,
licences for playing music in pubs and clubs,
ringtones, etc - are just as important as royalties
from sales. There are two copyrights which earn the
royalty, one which goes to the writer, the other which
goes to the performer (who can, of course, be the same
For example, when the BBC plays a record on one of its
radio stations, it pays the Performing Rights Society
(prs.co.uk) a fee which is passed on to the writer and
publisher of the song, and pays Phonographic
Performance Ltd (ppluk.com) a royalty to the
individual or band which performed the song.
The featured performer (and his/her record company)
receives 65% of the royalty collected by PPL, but 35%
is now paid to non-featured artists (ie: session
There are more than 30,000 session players in the UK,
but according to pan-industry website
royaltiesreunited.com as many as 5,000 are failing to
collect the money owed to them. You can search their
website for free, and while most amounts owed are
between £25 and £500, you may be one of the few who
are owed tens of thousands.
The only way to find out is to start looking!
Brimful of money, thanks to Cornershop
It was 1997 and violinist Grace Mulholland was on her
first job as a music teacher in her home town of
Preston when her mother met two students who had a
band which was trying to get a deal and wanted a
string section to do some recording. Was Grace
"It sounded fun," she remembers. "So I called two
friends - Liz Johnson and Robert Buller - and we spent
an enjoyable evening adding parts to a backing track
before going home and forgetting all about it. You
could say that two hours in West Orange Studios was
the extent of my pop career!"
Ms Mulholland and her friends were pleasantly
surprised when, nearly 18 months later, the band
turned out to be Cornershop and the track - Brimful of
Asha - shot to number one in the charts and sold more
than half a million copies. Since they had done their
"session" as a favour, they never expected to get paid
"Then, late last year, I received a call from Pamra to
tell me that the song had received huge amounts of
airplay and had earned us several thousand pounds. All
we had to do to get it was fill in some forms."
When the money arrived it turned out to be several
thousand pounds each. Enough, says Ms Mulholland, to
buy a car and "put something away for a rainy day".
So what did the children at school say when she told
them? Ms Mulholland chuckles: "They'd never heard of
Brimful of Asha. It is nearly six years old after all.
But they were very impressed by the car!"
Untangling the mess 13 years on
Former Small Faces and Humble Pie singer Steve
Marriott died in 1991. Instead of a last will and
testament, he left his wife Toni with a cupboardful of
old letters, bank statements and tax demands. Putting
them in order has taken the best part of 13 years.
Independent royalties consultant Chris France took the
task over from the Small Faces' drummer Kenney Jones
in 1997. At the root of the problem, says Mr France,
was a series of deals done on the band's behalf by two
of Swinging London's more colourful characters -
manager Don Arden and Immediate Records boss Andrew
"Consequently, nobody knew who had the rights to what.
Tracks like Itchycoo Park and Tin Soldier were
appearing all around the world and neither Toni nor
the other members of the band saw a penny."
Mr France ruthlessly challenged the contractual right
of everybody releasing Steve Marriott material and
uncovered a whole host of discrepancies: Greatest hits
albums "authorised" by studio engineers and, in the
case of a DVD of 1966 German TV appearances, a
videogram disclaimer signed on the night of the
original broadcast by the band's roadie.
"People thought that, because Steve died intestate and
his wife knew nothing about the business, they could
do whatever they liked. It didn't help that in his
final years Steve was basically 'singing for his
supper' and doing crazy things like handing over all
rights to live albums for a suitcase full of cash," he
-Brian in Atlanta
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