When electronica musician The Flashbulb, (aka Benn Jordan), was approached after one of his gigs by some fans who told him how much they enjoyed his music, he was flattered. When they then went on to tell him that they bought his tracks from iTunes, he was less than thrilled.
Benn Jordan doesn’t have a contract with iTunes and he’s never seen a penny of any track ever sold there.
After investigating the numbers from the label, Benn discovered just how little the artist and label was getting compared to the profits made by the retailer. When he asked the owner of Sublight Records, (his label), about it, he was told to “leave it be”. Everyone else he contacted just ignored his calls and emails.
According to Apple, once a file is in the iTunes system, it can’t be removed or taken down for a year; a bizarre boast considering how flawed that logic is.
“So, who’s the pirate I should go after? A kid who downloads my album because it isn’t available in non-DRM format and costs $30 on Amazon? Or a huge multi-billion dollar corporation that has been selling thousands of dollars worth of my music and not even acknowledging it?”
Jordan was an avid user of the now-defunct OiNK, as a keen vintage jazz collector he used it to download versions of albums he already had on vinyl or to preview albums he was thinking about buying. He responded in kind by uploading some of his rarer albums there. Now, he’s made the leap to the so-called OiNK-replacement, What.cd where he has uploaded his entire discography as a protest against iTunes’ behaviour.
“What I’m promoting is the artist’s freedom to choose what can and can’t be done with his/her music, and more importantly, the listener’s freedom to do what he/she wants with their own computer, MP3 player, or internet connection.”
Personally I think more artists should have this attitude. If you’re not prepared to work to make money and would rather live off royalties, (or, as Benn points out, write off your piracy losses to claw back your income tax), then you deserve to fall out of the game. Let’s stop messing about here: we’ll pay you some money if you give us something we’re interested in buying.