In a long, somewhat humanizing interview with Doug Morris, the UMG Chairman/CEO dismisses the promotional value of YouTube (and, apparently, everything else):
We don’t look at anything as promotion. Take a look at MTV. It turned out to be a disaster for us. We sold some records, but they built this huge company and we gave them our [music] for nothing, and what did we get?
Three years ago we were losing $7 million a year in the production of videos. One day I noticed that the videos were coming up on our computers . . . I said, “How much are we getting paid for this?” And the [answer was], “Nothing, they’re promotion.” And we called [Yahoo] and I said, “You’re making money off our videos and not paying us anything . . . we don’t want the promotion, we want to get paid.” And [they] said basically something like, “Over my dead body.” And we took all our videos down. As soon as our videos came down their viewership went down, because we’re about a third of all their videos. At some point we changed our video business from a deficit to a profit because we’re getting paid every time someone views one of our videos.
“We sold some records…” Oh, is that it? This, from the guy who famously said, “If you had Coca-Cola coming through the faucet in your kitchen, how much would you be willing to pay for Coca-Cola? There you go. That’s what happened to the record business.” Of course, people are more than willing to pay pay pay for the stuff that comes through the faucet in your kitchen: water, a $12 billion/year business.
Lyle Lovett has sold 4.6 million albums in the United States since 1991, but his major label contract will be done after two more albums. And he’s weighing his options:
“I’ve never made a dime from a record sale in the history of my record deal. I’ve been very happy with my sales, and certainly my audience has been very supportive. I make a living going out and playing shows.”
“Records are very powerful promotional tools to go out and be able to play on the road, but you do have to think about it as a way of sustaining itself at some point. I’m very excited about being able to do some of that on my own, maybe.”
One of my all-time favorite songs is Lovett’s “If I Had a Boat” from his 1988 album, Pontiac, which contains the immortal verse: “The mystery masked man was smart / He got himself a Tonto / ‘Cause Tonto did the dirty work for free / But Tonto he was smarter / And one day said, Kemo Sabe / Kiss my ass, I bought a boat / I’m going out to sea.” Get the feeling that old Lyle’s going to be sending UMG a similar message?
Continue reading Lyle Lovett: Never Made a Dime from Record Sales
Remember that case we told you about a few months ago where UMG claimed that it was illegal for recipients of promo CDs to re-sell them or even to throw them away? Well, a judge disagreed, and held the the “first sale” doctrine. Liberation Day for Promo CDs: Victory in UMG v. Augusto:
In its ruling (PDF), the district court found that the initial recipients of “promo CDs” own them, notwithstanding “not for resale” labels. The court rejected the notion that these labels create a “license,” concluding that the CDs are gifts. According to the opinion, “UMG gives the Promo CDs to music industry insiders, never to be returned. … Nor does the licensing label require the recipient to provide UMG with any benefit to retain possession.” (The court also found that federal postal laws relating to “unordered merchandise” establish that promo CDs are gifts to their recipients.)
So there you have it. If anybody wants to buy a bunch of crappy CDs (cheap!), we can hook you up…
Remember those three songs that got cut from Be Your Own Pet‘s new album because UMG’s lawyers thought they were “too violent”? Well, it turns out the label has released them on an EP after all. Get Damaged is out now digitally, and will be available in store on June 24.
So everybody’s happy now, right? Wrong.
“The whole thing was just a huge mistake on Universal’s part,” guitarist Jonas Stein tells Billboard.com, contending that the lyrics, written by singer Jemina Pearl Abegg, are “tongue in cheek.” “It seems pretty hypocritical for them to not let us put these songs out because our ‘demographic’ is supposedly suburban young teenage girls — who I guess don’t listen to all the vulgar rap Universal releases.”
As if this wasn’t humiliating enough, their label has forced them to accept a spot on the Warped Tour, something they had previously refused. “But after hearing some pretty wise words and mentally growing a little bit, we’ve learned that any show is beneficial to a band. It’s not the show that shapes the band, it’s the band that shapes the show.” Yeah, keep telling yourself that.
Uh oh. You know that big fire that ravaged Universal Studios? Well, it turns out that Universal Music had some space in the vault. Deadline Hollywood Daily reports the vault contained “1000’s of original Decca, MCA, ABC recording masters from the last century including a wide range of music from Bing Crosby and the Andrew Sisters to Judy Garland and The Carpenters.”
We’ll probably never even know all of what was destroyed because Universal “doesn’t yet know what exactly was housed in the storage rented to Universal Music.” As one commenter points out, “They have absorbed so many smaller labels and their catalogues that they really have no idea. You actually had to go pull tapes and play them to find out what was on a roll of tape.”
Burn, Hollywood, burn. But save the music for crying out loud! At least get an intern to document what you’ve got, dummies.
Update: Universal Music Group Masters Unharmed In Fire. I guess you can’t believe everything you read on the internet…
Music’s money man: “Universal Music chairman-CEO Doug Morris earned E14.5 million (about $18 million) for 2005 — more than five times the E2.5 million that went to his boss, Vivendi toppertopper Jean-Bernard Levy.”
One more nail in the major label’s coffin…
Will they end up going out of business before they learn how to use technology for their own benefit? Are they really this dense?
Continue reading Universal Music Group Video Policy