Just responded to Bob Lefsetz's post about how songwriters should "stop whining and write a hit." It had so much misinformation, I had to. The title of his letter was "Blockchain."
Here's my response. Feel free to add yours.
Man, did you get this one wrong.
Usually, I can follow the thread of logic in your writing, whether I agree or not… but, wow… you have NO idea what you’re talking about. These so called “agitators” you’re railing against? That’s what they do! They write hits! That’s why they’re f#*%ing “agitating!”
Yes, Max Martin is making a fortune. But ask him how much he’s made, the total of ALL of his copyrights, from ALL of the streaming platforms, over the last 2 years. I've actually heard the number. It’s shocking. Ask him how happy he is about it…
So here’s my first correction to your post:
- The wannabes are not the ones complaining. So many of them are psyched just to be in the room! You think they’re going to risk being asked to leave by “agitating’? It’s the hit songwriters who see, in real time, how sh*#ty the streaming royalty rate is for them and know that it needs to change.
- The songwriters have no choice but to appeal to the government… because it’s the government who regulates our royalty rates. In fact, 75% of a songwriter’s income is government regulated. So we shouldn’t bother them about it? The same way that Google and Comcast and ISP’s don’t bother them about it? Hmmm. That seems fair.
- It is illegal for songwriters to unionize. Did you picture a bunch of songwriters sitting around whining and then reading your post and going, “Sh*#! Why didn’t we think of that!?!?” Let’s form a union, guys! And thanks for the tip, Bob.” Think about it… Who employs songwriters? Songwriters are unlike singers and musicians and dancers who provide contract labor. We work entirely on spec. Unless someone hires us to write a song (a “work for hire”), there’s no contract, no employer, no upfront money. So we fall into a category considered by the government to be un-unionizable. The closest things we have to unions are our performance rights societies (ASCAP, BMI, etc) and since those are considered monopolies by the US government, the Dept of Justice would squash ANY attempt at a unilateral move in a f#*%ing minute! So, no, we can’t go on strike.
Oh, and that’s the other thing… we legally can’t say no to a license request. So your suggestion, to write a hit, gain leverage and then tell Apple Music, “no you can’t have my song”... That’s illegal for songwriters. It’s NOT illegal for the owners of the sound recordings, by the way. That’s why your buddy Taylor Swift, or technically, her label, was able to tell Spotify to f#*% off.
Songwriter organizations HAVE partnered up with Marty B (via the NMPA) and Irving, through Randy Grimmet, on several fronts… there is a lot of overlap with our publishers and our PRO’s on many of the issues. And there are conflicts as well. We understand the power of leverage, Bob. We just want to use it wisely.
Anyway, the fact that you don’t know all of this stuff is the most disturbing part. You write about the music business, for f#*% sake. It’s your job to know. Instead, you’re so blinded by your dislike of musicians and songwriters or anyone who DARES to make music their livelihood that, unless it serves your “musicians are ignorant losers” narrative, it’s not worth mentioning. But the disinformation in the post below is too much for me to let go by uncorrected.
I hope you do a little more research the next time you choose to write about this issue.