Too Much Joy's Sorry Tale of Warner Bros. and Royalties

Tim Quirk is the Vice President of music programming for Rhapsody, the online music download and streaming service. But he's also the former founder, guitarist and singer for Too Much Joy, an 80s/90s band perhaps best known for its courageous stance against censorship when 2 Live Crew was arrested in Florida on obscenity charges stemming from their album As Nasty As They Wanna Be. Outraged, the band traveled to Florida and performed 2 Live Crew songs -- and got arrested.

Anyway, around that time Too Much Joy signed to Warner Bros. subsidiary Giant Records, and dug themselves into a financial hole not unlike that which many major label bands dug. When their records failed to make an impact, they were charged with repaying the advances -- close to $400,000 -- they received from the label, which they have yet to do.

Which brings us to the present: As VP of music programming for Rhapsody, Quirk, a smart guy (and great writer), is keenly aware of royalties stemming from streaming and digital music sales. He's got to deal with that stuff on a daily basis. With Too Much Joy still in the hole to WB, he wanted to know how much the band had made in digital royalties over the years. After pestering the label for months and months, he finally got a royalty statement. Read the fascinating (and sad) story here.

Key quote:

The sad thing is I don't even think Warner is deliberately trying to screw TMJ and the hundreds of other also-rans and almost-weres they've signed over the years. The reality is more boring, but also more depressing. Like I said, they don't actually owe us any money. But that's what's so weird about this, to me: they have the ability to tell the truth, and doing so won't cost them anything.

They just can't be bothered. They don't care, because they don't have to.

(via The Daily Swarm)

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