I Want More, I Want It Now and I Want It Longer

December 7, 2006

I strongly suggest musicians should be paid for 95 years after finishing their creative work as 50 years worth of income isn’t enough to keep them in the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed. Our cousins in the new world asked for, and got, this deal when a Mickey Mouse outfit went contributions cap in hand to the White House. By the same token, I think it only fair that when I clock off at work my wages stop immediately because I’m not a special case like our special artists who are, er, special in their specialness [1].

This increase seems fair enough as musicians have had to put in a lot of effort and risk for little return. The years spent paying their dues in grotty clubs, hammering up and down the M1 in a Transit and hefting their own equipment. Just think of the injuries that could be sustained from throwing TVs out of hotel windows. What about the nasal reconstruction required after years of coke abuse. Then there is the risk of one’s newly acquired face peeling off. It’s tough out there. Lastly, imagine the legal costs and stress if one was caught in flagrante delicto in some south east Asian country whilst assisting poor children. Yes, our musos have a hard time and deserve every last penny that we can afford to give them. It’s not just musicians either; think of the Herculean mental effort required by a visual artist to display a pile of bricks or half a shark in a tank of formaldehyde. It’s worth rewriting the copyright laws just for those two.

Musicians have enjoyed these perks of the business thanks to us; the happy public that willingly shells out its hard-earned wages despite the musicians playing the same three chords on every record and even though they were, ahem, “influenced” by the creativity of slaves in the Mississippi Delta that died in obscure poverty. What would those slaves have done with a Lear Jet, a personal trainer and a couple of ounces of Peruvian Marching Powder anyway? We should be clear here; “influence” is not the same as sampling, remixing, sharing or any such illegal activities. Oh no. They may be the same notes, they may the same lyrics but they were played by someone else – big difference. Also remember that making a pile of money from recycling well-known prayers (out of copyright, natch) is also fair game that will be rewarded not only in the afterlife but especially in the present. God helps those who help themselves…to the cash.

I should also emphasise that any musician is most definitely not greedy as long as they sing on a charity record at least once in a decade and kiss the Pope’s ring whenever there’s a camera around. Absolution is both easy and guaranteed. And don’t forget, such generosity can work really well for you too. Amen.

It’s also easy to overlook the expenses that a talented musician may have. I mean to say, can you even begin to imagine the costs (and benefits) of keeping a bungalow in Barbados?

Talking of expense, take Sir Paul McCartney, for instance. According to Wikipedia he earned £40 million in 2003, £48.5 million in 2005 and is also rumoured to have total wealth of over £600 million. Sir Paul reportedly asks for a modest £1 million for a two-hour private performance. Now that may sound like money for old rope to the average record buyer but stop for a moment and consider how much he’s going to have to cough up for that divorce next year. Sir Paul should have listened to his own words and I’m sure he won’t mind if I quote them here: “money can’t buy you love” although it can hire the best lawyers. Also, big-earning Meisterwerks such as Mull of Kintyre and Pipes of Peace don’t happen every week and genius doesn’t come cheaply either. We must stand together with our musical benefactors. Yes, our musos deserve all the extra copyright extension they can get. Let’s make it 195 years while we’re at it. Just think about it, these talented folk can guarantee a good income for generations of their families to come. After all, our beloved musos are the royalty of the 21st century and should treat us the same way as we have been shafted used to since 1066.

Here’s how you can help. Write to your MP, write to the Chancellor, write to anyone that has influence. Tell them this: Extend the copyright period to 95 years. That way our artists can still earn a living when they are dead. I know, some of them even look that way already despite the surgery.

I leave you with two thoughts. The first is long out of copyright:

“O, it is excellent to have a giant’s strength; but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant.” – William Shakespeare

The second is by a poster on Slashdot:

“I am a descendant of Ug, inventor of fire. Every time you light a cigarette you owe me a license fee for using my Intellectual Property. Pay me biatch.”

Our friend from Stratford-upon-Avon would appreciate the wit of the latter quote. He would have little time for the Copyright Tyrants.

[1] Apologies to M. Palin.


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