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[01 June 2001]
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE (McClure & Trowbridge Publishing)
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"Courtney Love vs. RIAA News"
WHAT IS 'RIAA'?
Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is a group of major
labels associating for power lobbying, publicity, and members' general
benefit. RIAA members are major record labels such as Capital, RCA,
UMG Universal Music Group, and MCA.
WHO IS COURTNEY LOVE?
Courtney, for those unfamiliar, is a pop rock artist with major and
independent label backing. Courtney's band Hole is signed
to Geffen Records, since absorbed by Interscope Records.
Love is also a self-professed ex-junkie and ex-prostitute, and owns the
Nirvana song catalog, making her de facto "president of Geffen Records".[RS 870; 25]
WHAT'S GOING ON?
Love filed suit against Geffen and UMG in March, seeking dissolution of her
recording contract. Originally Love declined to record for Interscope, and
signed with Geffen. When Geffen merged into Interscope under UMG, Love says, Interscope executives let Hole's latest album, Celebrity Skin, die.
HOW DOES THIS EFFECT ME?
At the center of Courtney Love's lawsuit is the seven year contract on
which the present industry model relies. If Courtney wins, some of the
fundamental fabric of artist - record company relationships will change.
THE NUTS & BOLTS
Under California labor laws, no one can be forced to sign a personal service
contract for a period longer than seven years. Yet, the standard record
contract promises one or two records, and has options for up to seven - which
can last up to fifteen years or more. And, after seven years, the statute of
limitations runs out for the artist to file a lawsuit. Convenient, right?
The RIAA got an amendment to the Section 2855 of the California
Labor Code, so they can break the seven year rule with recording artists. And,
record labels can sue their artists for "future lost earnings" if the artist breaks the
contract. This is the law that resulted in the GooGoo Dolls being sued by their
label. The Dolls ended up owing the company over $1million, after a world tour and a
Courtney Love is also suing for stricter codes for assigning artist contracts
in mergers and take overs.
The third thrust of Love's lawsuit is demanding accountability in record company
book keeping. Love says labels use "dubious accounting practices" which defraud artists
and don't pay royalties on record club records.
ARTISTS IN THE MIX
Most artists are concerned with industry consolidation and the impact of
the Internet and digital revolution. Don Henley, Sheryl Crow, and Alanis
Morissette have spoken in Congress on the need for rockers to represent
their own interests.[RS 870; 25] Love has
received encouragement from Michael Stipe, the Dixie Chicks, U2, Morissette,
Bush, Prince, and Q-Tip.[RS 870; 33]
Courtney maintains she's in an excellent position to battle record labels and
take on the industry. She owns the Nirvana song catalog; she inherited a lot
of Kurt Cobain's fortune. She's a stay-at-home mom and actress and artist.
She has courage, conviction, and tons of free time to devote to her battle.
CHECK IT OUT
Don Henley and Sheryl Crow are building the Recording Artist Coalition,
which provides a voice by and for the recording artist in Washington D.C.
Love is calling on artists to form a Union, like musicians and screen actors
have. SAG (Screen Actors Guild) has a pension plan and retirement homes.
AFM (American Federation of Musicians) has pension and burial plans, and
group health and life insurance.
George McClure, President
McClure & Trowbridge Publishing
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