Thank God for baby boomers and the way that they feel the need to constantly spout off about how great their generation’s everything was. Their childhoods and adolescences were the bees’ knees! They had such a great time dancing at the sock hop, kissing the opposite sex during some athletic event, and working at the local burger joint which closed down twenty years later! Their television, their cinema, their entertainment would put today’s writers to shame and it sure as shootin’ wasn’t as vulgar as today’s media! Ok, dad. Shut up, sit down, and drink your beer.
If there is one thing that we can all agree with baby boomers on, it is that their time period saw some pretty stellar music. We’re talking the Beatles, Rolling Stones, the Ramones, Led Zeppelin, the Turtles, pretty sick acts. These artists were formative in the musical tastes of generations and influential across the globe. They came back from a time when it really was the music that mattered instead of the dough. Well, as we all know, the times have changed and, like true millennials, the major labels are ready for these geezers to shut up, sit down, and die.
If you know anything about the Turtles, you know that these guys have been fighting the man for years in the music industry. They were royally screwed by their management and have constantly fought to get a leg up in the industry since. More recently, they’ve been fighting streaming and radio services like Pandora and Sirius XM. Well, it’s time for them to start fighting harder.
According to a ruling from the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals, the Turtles, as well as other oldies artists, are not allowed to collect royalties on their works recorded prior to 1972 in New York. Thanks to confusing wording of our current copyright law and an utterly unsympathetic government, oldies artists are about to be handed their bums and receipts for their coffins.
The biggest jerk in the room right now is Sirius XM which has been trying to avoid paying royalties to oldies artists for years. In December of 2016, Sirius had a victory with a New York Appellate Court. Sirius has certainly been on a war path for quite some time, and now it’s watching its dastardly plans against artists unfold. Sirius must not have liked the 2014 ruling forcing them to pay. Being responsible and respecting artists’ rights is just too tough for them.
Well, I can’t say that I’m surprised. The major labels wet nurse programs and services like Sirius. However, it doesn’t make it any less wrong that they would deny oldies groups rightfully earned royalties on their earlier works and smash hits. I also shouldn’t be as irritated that I am that oldies artists are being screwed over by the US government. A lot of us are pissed with our governing body right now. And, oddly enough, this is also a stripping of rights. Uncle Sam is making a drastic shift from cool uncle who brings you presents from his travels to creepy uncle you’re not allowed to talk to after “the incident” with your sister.
If we continue with this trajectory, leaving copyright law unchanged, we can expect the lifespans of artistic careers to quickly shorten and lose worth. The hip young artists of the baby boomer era are the oldies of today. Make no mistake, we will be the oldies of tomorrow. And nobody wants to go out like Leonard Cohen did: completely screwed over by his label.
However, we can’t go on like this. The music industry is too wonderful a thing to let fall away and die. We’ve got to be fighting for major changes in the copyright law if we want to keep this industry alive and working. Screw the government’s apathy and overlooking of our industry. The times are heated and ripe for attention and reform. We have to fight for changes to the copyright law and wee have to fight for our rights as writers and artists. You may be the only person marching in Washington with a protesting sign for copyright law amendment and artists’ rights, but at least you’re fighting.
If you’d like to see the article that prompted this post, click here.
Once again, this has been the view from 214.