I Want Cable-Pull Royalties

by Colin Berkshire

I have met so many creative people in my career. P{people who come up with ingenious solutions to problems. People who invent things. People who design things. Advertising artists and advertising copyrighters. Brilliant folks!

These folks work for a living and get paid by the hour, or by the project, or perhaps are lucky enough to get a salary. But at the end of the day they know that tomorrow they must create again or starve.

I find it frustrating and even embarrassing to listen to Taylor Swift talk about fair compensation for artists. She feels entitled to vast compensation for her work. (She made $64 Million last year.) Her argument is that artists deserve to be paid for their work. And, she was one of the first to run Apple over the coals when Apple wanted to have a 90-day free period in order to sign people up for a lifetime of monthly payments (70% of which went to the artists and their representatives.)

I get upset for two or three reasons.

I have met so many clever, creative people in my career it’s hard for me to understand why somebody that saves their company millions with a clever answer will get a $50K salary and yet another person (who is admittedly strikingly beautiful through an act of God) gets $64 Million. It doesn’t seem fair.

But I really don’t understand why it is fair for copyright holders to get paid for the next 100 years for their work. Come on, 100 years? Really? How is that fair? Even patent holders only get 20 years. And, most creative folks get a meal and a job. But artists feel perfectly entitled to 100 years of royalties for a day’s labor.

Taylor also talks about fair and equitable royalty rates. Well, here is something you likely don’t know about her idea of fair: She gets between 25% and 50% higher royalties than the average musician. You see, the royalty scale is warped. The more you make the higher of a percentage you get. It’s a system designed to live off the backs of the average artist so the music oligarchy can own and run the show. Taylor isn’t just content to getting paid every time her songs are played. She wants to get paid more per song than other artists.

Finally, I don’t get the whole royalty thing. Why should artists get any royalty at all? They should get paid for performing, just like the artists who lay cable and who design networks and the creative folks who write copy for ads. Why isn’t that good enough for somebody born with a charismatic body?

Perhaps what irks me most is how entitled Taylor Swift feels to her $64 Million a year income. At what point do you have enough money to live comfortably and perhaps share with other artists and not ask for higher percentages? Yes, artists can be just as inhumane and greedy as a corporate executive.

My answer: a 99% tax on all income over $1 Million a year. A million a year is enough to be comfortable. After that, spend your time helping others.