Published On: Tue, Feb 21st, 2012

Editorial – Sony Music Raises Prices On Houston Catalog: WHY?

Charles Brady - Editor - SoGospel.Com

In a move that raised the ire of fans and brought about an apology by record giant Sony, the prices of music from the Whitney Houston catalog simultaneously rose in price and in sales. A very important fact that I found amazing was that of the 101,000 album sales 91K plus were digital downloads. That’s 90% digital downloads and 10% physical product.

While it is true that the Gospel Music industry trails a few years behind the secular music industry it is a clear signal that the days of physical products are swiftly coming to an end and artists who have in the past just shrugged off the digital distribution elements of their recording contracts had better quickly learn the value of the digital aspect of their contracts.

Digital distribution rights in todays economy represent the largest single income element in music sales for an artist (or label). Think of it. Once the song is recorded and released and promoted the costs of the physical product and its distribution to the fan is almost nil. Translation: 90% or more pure profit. No manufacturing cost, no shipping cost from the manufacturer to distributors, no warehousing costs, no printing costs, no shipping costs to the fan. Just 90% or more profit. And these days artists and labels are moving (and rightly so) toward direct distribution to the fan. Why pay itunes or some other company 50% or more and get lost among millions of other tunes when you can keep 100% by doing direct distribution through the artist or record label website? Some may say well it’s because that’s where the fans are and if you are a very well known artist that may be true. What confuses me though are the artists who push fans to iTunes from their own website while the fan could buy it directly on the artist site? How dumb is that? It’s like saying hey fan! I’m glad you’re here and you can buy my song directly here on my site and my ministry gets 100% or you can click on this iTunes link I have posted here on my site and I may get 10-40% in a couple months…. HEY DUMMY’S! HERE’s YOUR SIGN! DUH….

While many record labels push the artists towards performance & tours for their income it is important for any artist who is serious about their future and their future income earnings to become students of contract law or a client of a competent music attorney for guidance in future contract negotiations.

Houston’s passing also sheds light once again on the value of the songwriter and the publishing aspect of an artists career. Singer/Songwriters often fall prey to contracts that fold in the writers & publishing royalties into the hands of the record label. But that’s another article in itself!

For now here is an interesting video regarding the future earnings or lack thereof for the Houston estate. Now if we could just eliminate the thugs, drugs and enablers of these great talents maybe we could enjoy them beyond age 50.

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