Major Labels

Too Much Joy’s Absurd WMG Royalty Statement

image from (UPDATED) There image from funknet.netis a long and illustrious list of artists who have complained about major label accounting practices; and almost every audit or lawsuit that I've ever been aware of results in at least some additional payment from the label. But the problem rrally hits home when you see it in black and white, as we can thanks to VP of Music Programming for Rhapsody America Tim Quirk.

 "…labels are evil and avaricious AND dumb and lazy"

Back in the early 1990's, Quirk was a member of "Too Much Joy" and signed to WMG subsidiary Giant. What irks Quirk is not so much that his WMG royalty statement still shows the band almost 400K in the red, but rather that the label is failing to account for thousands of dollars earned each year from digital sales.

"I don’t ever expect that unrecouped balance to turn into a positive number, but since the band had been seeing thousands of dollars in digital royalties each year from IODA for the four indie albums we control ourselves, I figured five years’ worth of digital income from our far more popular major label albums would at least make a small dent in the figure," writes Quirk on the band's blog. "Our IODA royalties during that time had totaled about $12,000 – not a princely sum, but enough to suggest that the total haul over the same period from our major label material should be at least that much, if not two to five times more…"

"As I flipped through its ten pages (seriously, it took ten pages to detail the $62.47 of income), I realized that Warner wasn’t being evil, just careless and unconcerned…"

"There’s a theory that labels and publishers deliberately avoid creating the transparent accounting systems today’s technology enables. Because accurately accounting to my silly little band would mean accurately accounting to the less silly bands that are recouped, and paying them more money as a result."

"…It is also possible that labels are evil and avaricious AND dumb and lazy, at the same time."

More @ Too Much Joy

Share on:


  1. Artists complain because the labels use a shell game to take what is not theirs, above and beyond the already crappy deal terms.
    I should send you guys a pic of a Sony statement we received last period for a client – the stack of paper was literally about 16 inches tall, probably around 6,000 pages. Granted, it was a super-star client but for crying out loud, even if one line was devoted to each individual sale it shouldn’t have taken that many pages.

  2. I’m complaining because the contract requires Warner to account accurately, and they’re not doing that. I state pretty clearly I don’t expect any money. But the fact that they don’t list a single iTunes download is just plain wrong. And inexplicable.

  3. I don’t think there’s any complaint in there about the advance. But part of signing a contract is having the other party fulfill their terms, which WMG is clearly not doing.
    They are probably making the shrewd decision that the money they gain by not paying contractual royalties will far exceed the potential damages if/when someone has the stones to sue them.

  4. There is only one answer to this problem….Sell your own music….keep making it and keep selling it. There is no excuse for not having a paypal or direct deposit point of sale system on your website. If you can’t figure that shit out you need to be in internet jail.
    former major label artist,
    brendan b brown

  5. that’s a pretty asinine comment. If they don’t account properly, how are they to know what their “score” is? That number looks so large and their indie royalties are so small that you’d guess they would never recoup, but again, if the people reporting the numbers aren’t doing it accurately, how will you ever know? It’s all principle.

  6. Lewis,
    Your snot nosed comment betrays exactly the type of monarchic assbackwards gold pinky ring wearing, acrylic hairpiece, dinosaur bullshit attitude that got labels pwned by the internet in the 1st place.
    And as others have pointed out, according to you, if I received ANY advance then my label is somehow free from their contractual obligations to me? Did you work for the Bush Administration or something? Seriously.

  7. The issue with a up front bonus is that if you are not educated enough to know what to do with it as in re-invest in band merch and so on or on the album yourself with that bonus.You can seriously screw yourself for a long time obviously.Labels over price everything like they were the military.1 hour session in a 100.00 per hour studio is now 350.00 per hour.Now days with digital downloads and no effort to relaly push cd’s anymore.Costs are actually cheaper.So when they get lazy about accounting for a band thats in debt to them.I think they let em slide by and use them bands as a tax write off.Or it was potentially a bogus deal anyhow to shelve the band so no one else could sign them.And place a clause at end of deal that your band couldnt sign with anyone else for maybe up to 10 years or something like that.Call me crazy but that sounded like a shelving contract.

Comments are closed.