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If the RIAA were an IT Dept....

Adapted from a conversation elsewhere...

Recording contracts with RIAA companies are more or less equivalent to signing away your payday. Many smaller acts, even those who tour frugally, end up in debt because of the contract they signed regarding promotional costs and so on.

The recording/music publishing industry as a whole does a really neat trick of making it look like they are doing the band a favor, making them work their tails off, and still have to pay for the privilege of having a contract.

In geek terms, here's how recording industry works:

You get hired to manage a top-notch server farm, and are told that you're salary is going to be $150,000, which will *almost-but-not-quite* cover the costs of the on-the-job training that will have to come out of your pocket.... and by the way, you'll have to repeat the training annually.

Raises will be based solely on the earnings that you personally generate from any sales you bring in, and the first $100,000 in sales that you make will be credited to Marketing, for supporting your sales effort, and the second $100,000 will be credited to HR, to cover the costs of hiring you and filing all your hiring paperwork. If you don't make enough sales to cover those costs, you will be billed for them later. The contract stating all this will be written in an obscure dialect of Aramaic. The figures referred to in the above statements will be referred to in one place, by a phrase which translates loosely as "incurred costs" or "without benefit of lubricant".

The response of "Sales?!? But I'm a sysadmin!" will not count for anything. They will bill you at the end of the year for the balance of the training costs. and lost revenue due to down-time as well. You will be offered the opportunity to pay off this debt, leave the company, and never hear from them again, *OR* to also manage a second, larger server farm, in addition to the current one, as an opportunity to make enough money to pay them back, and maybe get to keep some for yourself.

I wouldn't take such a job, and neither would any sane person. but then, we don't have real high hopes of building up a fan base and living a life of celebrity, basking in the adoration of our fans. And the way the RIAA does business, neither do most of their artists.