One of the oldest and saddest stories in the recorded music business has always been the naivete of artists who, eager for fame, jump to sign contracts without thinking of future ramifications.
True horror stories of songs sold for a bottle of wine or a used Cadillac aren’t the rule anymore. But other stories abound of contracts that front-load massive debt and lock in artists for one-sided agreements, resulting in popular artists never seeing anything beyond the advance, a sum which is always cannibalized by the nibbles of a thousand pecks.
It’s why you see some artists out on the road even as their health deteriorates. It’s their only real source of income, since recorded music royalties reward but a few.
The accounting practices have been so entrenched that it came as a shock this week when Sony Music did something about it. The company announced it has canceled the debts of thousands of artists who signed to the record label before the year 2000. They will now pay royalties from Jan. 2021 forward to those affected.
What that means is that many artists will finally be able to receive money from streaming services.
Sony Music declined to name which acts are affected by their decision. However, the BBC reported that the deal embraced “household names.”
So far, Universal Music and Warner Music have not said whether they will match the effort.
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