Monday, February 09, 2009

My open letter to Rounder Records on the success of "Raising Sand"

Dear Rounder Records:

1. I would like to congratulate you on the success of "Raising Sand", due to the outstanding musicianship of Robert Plant, Alison Krauss, and producer TBone Burnett.

2. I have always thought of Rounder Records as an "independent" music label, because throughout its history, it has treated Music as being more important than Money, unlike the "major" labels, which are now the "Big 4" cartel.

3. However, I was chagrined to learn from the good folks at that Rounder is actually a member of the RIAA.

4. While I am aware that neither Rounder, nor any other RIAA member other than the "Big 4" labels, has participated in the litigation campaign, your dues payments contribute to, and your membership lends legitimacy to, this misguided organization.

5. As I am sure you are aware, the RIAA 5 1/2 years ago began a vicious, mean-spirited war against the good people of this country.

6. This campaign continues unabated, despite false representations by RIAA spokesmen to the press and to Congress that it was ended in August, and that no suits have been commenced since August. Apparently these false representations were made to lull the public into believing that the campaign has ended, and perhaps to divert attention of law enforcement authorities from investigating the illegal tactics of the RIAA investigators.

7. In fact, hundreds of cases have been commenced since August, new cases are being threatened on a daily basis, new lawsuits are being brought, and all pending cases are being prosecuted with increasing vigor, and with rising -- instead of diminished -- settlement demands.

8. Those cases which resulted in money judgments are being turned over to collection lawyers, and the judgments are being assigned by the Big 4 record companies to the RIAA itself, which is acting as their collection agent.

9. Now that you have something wonderful to celebrate, it is time for you to stand up and do something for those less fortunate -- those good people who are caught up in the clutches of the RIAA litigation machine.

10. I call upon you to resign in protest from the RIAA, and to call upon all other RIAA members to do so as well.

11. In doing so, you would be striking a blow for Music, and against Greed.

Thank you.

Sincerely yours,

Ray Beckerman

[Ed. note. If you would like to write to Rounder, their contact info is here.]


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Anonymous said...

Peer Pressure can be an extreme force in personal relationships. In business relationships it can be brutal. Until true reform happens and the Pirates of the RIAA have to become law abiding, they will naturaly intimidate all those who do not have a similar lack of ethics. My hat is off to those Judges that did not bend the law to suit the RIAA.
My hopes were that Obama would see how the RIAA has played those in the Justic System over the last 5 years. Now I am utterly disappointed that RIAA bottom feeders have recently been appointed high positions within the Legal System. I am afraid that the foxes have now been put in charge of guarding the chickenhouse.

My hat is off to Rounder Records. I pray they will do what is right and "just say no" to the corruptive influences of the Recording Industry.

Anonymous said...

I rarely comment on any forum, but felt compelled to here. I wanted to ask the question, isn't the RIAA and other record labels there to make money? In number two you present it as though the label must choose between money and music. If I could recommend, wouldn't it make a more powerful letter if you concentrate on the dishonesty and unethical behavior that the RIAA has consistently displayed? I don't think a business can be self sustaining if it concentrates on greed alone, and thus agree I do agree with you that greed alone is bad for business, but I think it is important for one who is in business to realize that that metric is an important one. So, to present it as an either or forces one to decide greed or money since that metric is so important. That said, since I don't comment often I would like you to know that I have a very high respect for you and the work you do.
Thank You.

raybeckerman said...

Dear Ben,

I have no objection to a business trying to make a profit.

The major record companies, however, have always demonstrated an excessive interest in money, doing everything in their power to ensure that no one who does business with them gets a fair shake.

I first became aware of their excessive greed early in my career, when I first began looking at recording agreements, and realized that these were full of fictionalizations as to the expenses incurred, which were in place solely to ensure that the recording artist would receive no royalty beyond the advance... or in those rare instances where they did receive a royalty, the amount would be much much less than the supposed royalty rate.

I then learned that it was their common practice to grossly underreport the royalties earned, forcing the artist -- who may be starving -- to hire royalty accountants and legal counsel. And then usually the royalty accounting -- which shows mistakes too large to have been inadvertent -- is "settled" at a sum which is much less than the artist is entitled to, even under the one-sided recording agreement.

I could go on and on with instances of their excessive greed, but of course my blog was engendered by one of those -- their attempt to bottle up the internet.

The reason they are dying is because in their shrunken hearts and weak minds, the music long ago died.

Judy said...

Mr. Beckerman,

Have you submitted your open letter directly to Rounder Records?

As someone who in the last year has purchased two albums from them with the intent of repurchasing a third once released in the US, I'd like to somehow let them know that not only am I aware of your open letter but also that it has prompted me to undertake a sort of late New Year's resolution that anything I buy from them or any other RIAA label WILL see me make an equal donation to you or other good faith efforts to defend the victims of the RIAA.

At least I have the hope that you will receive more of my PayPal donation than unfortunately I suspect will the artists the RIAA supposedly represents.

How to let Rounder know this?



raybeckerman said...

I emailed it to them, but the more people that write to them, the better. Here's their contact page.