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Music Mayhem


The newspaper industry is dying.

Yes, I know, it’s not exactly a revelation to you. It’s old news, and you’re probably sick of hearing all about it, especially from some self-serving so-called journalist
who’s whining about losing a paycheck. Big deal, you think. The truth is, the industry has no one to blame but itself (and Craigslist, at least somewhat): it got fat and lazy and couldn’t protect itself when the lean, wild and woolly Internet came bearing down on it.

Much like the music industry. “Woe is us!” claim the major labels. “The Interwebthingie is stealing all of our money!”

Or not. Tim Quirk doesn’t think so. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, at least as far as his band is concerned. Quirk played for Too Much Joy, a mid-range popular band in the ’90s that was signed by Warner Bros. Quirk also works for Rhapsody, an online music provider, so he has a uniquely unobstructed view into the record label’s ivory tower.

To summarize: Quirk received a 10-page statement detailing the band’s recent earnings from digital distribution of their Warner Bros. releases (the physical albums are not being pressed anymore). That statement revealed they had earned $62 and change.

The band never “recouped.” That’s label-speak meaning Warner Bros. never recovered what they spent on the band from the band’s share of the retail price of their albums. It’s an important, if obfuscated detail, because Warner Bros. made plenty off of their own share of each album sold. So any royalties earned go right back into the label’s coffers. So Too Much Joy wouldn’t get the $62. But they’ve also earned $12,000 on downloads of tracks from albums on their own labels.

Quirk dug a little deeper and discovered a host of other potential inaccuracies and unexplained discrepancies, leading him to the conclusion that Warner Bros. simply couldn’t be bothered with accurately tracking digital sales of music from un-recouped bands.

“The sad thing is I don’t even think Warner is deliberately trying to screw TMJ and the hundreds of other also-rans and almost-weres they’ve signed over the years,” Quirk said in a blog post on toomuchjoy.com. “The reality is more boring, but also more depressing. Like I said, they don’t actually owe us any money. But that’s what’s so weird about this, to me: They have the ability to tell the truth, and doing so won’t cost them anything.”

Simply put: Warner Bros. is, at best, struggling with a significant glitch in their tracking mechanisms; at worst, leaving money on the table they should be collecting.

Either way, it’s hard to feel empathy for a big business that’s complaining about people sneaking in through the back door and stealing their money when they’re throwing it out the living room window with a shovel.

Or, as Quirk puts it: “…it is also possible that labels are evil and avaricious AND dumb and lazy, at the same time.”


French Davis
Meet Dave Flomberg | Writer, musician, creative director (aka French Davis). There is so much to say about Dave aka French that we think you should read these articles: https://yellowscene.com/2020/02/29/french-davis-a-master-of-many/ ••• https://shoutoutcolorado.com/meet-dave-flomberg-writer-musician-creative-director

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