Social media throws up some very strange things. Misinformation about vaccines is permitted to remain online, yet someone who uses an obscenity to describe a politician faces a temporary ban from posting anything. People making threats of violence and hatred don’t have their videos taken down, yet women putting up a breastfeeding photo risk being deleted due to ridiculous rules about “nudity”.
And musicians cannot now post their own music, as A Guy Called Gerald was the latest to find out yesterday. Such is the state of the digital world that artists find themselves in a position where they’re not even allowed to upload their own songs – because an algorithm somewhere has decreed they don’t own the rights.
Here’s what the man himself had to say…
Imagine that, eh? Imagine a world where artists own their own music and decide what happens to it. They decide where it’s released, they decide how it’s promoted, they decide where it’s licensed and they make at least the lion’s share of the proceeds.
It’s a world which A Guy Called Gerald – real name Gerald Simpson – should live in, alongside other musicians. But they don’t. In Simpson’s case, he’s currently involved in a long-running dispute with Rham! Records over who owns the rights to “Voodoo Ray” and a few of his other records.
Simpson claims the original Rham! Records folded in 1992 and that the rights went back to him at that point. Companies House records show the current incarnation of Rham! was founded in 2019, and the current company’s boss Barry Lancaster Smith insists the classic records are still part of the label’s catalogue.
But some do own those precious rights. Ask Larry Heard and Robert Owens – two other pioneers during the 1980s. They recently won back the master and publishing rights to several Trax Records releases from that period after a lawsuit was brought alleging royalties had never been paid. As Trax didn’t have the money to cover the costs, they found a different way to settle the case.
Ears To The House thinks every artist should own those rights. We see no reason whatsoever why, in 2022, record labels should have the right to sign someone else’s work and own it forever. We certainly have no issue with artists licensing work to labels on mutually agreeable terms – but there’s literally no reason anymore for labels to own something they didn’t even make for the rest of time.
Not to mention it would mean an end to this ridiculous system where artists who want to promote their own music can be accused of copyright infringement. The day cannot come soon enough…