We may be in the middle of the new age of Music Business 2.0, but its still the Dark Ages when it comes to record label accounting.
Stories have been bubbling for months about labels putting some acts into the digital domain without the proper contracts and paying out a smaller percentage of digital profits than seems logical. (How do you jusitfy taking a packaging deduction on a download?) More recently managers and acts have been asking where their check is from the settlement of illegal download cases with Napster and others?
Now comes word that artists thus far haven't seen any of the money from the licensing deals the majors signed with YouTube. According to the site, they are sharing ad revenue with the record labels. Yet, "I don't know any artist who has gotten a royalty statement (from their label that includes YouTube money)," music attorney Chris Castle told cNet. There are also real concerns that YouTube's filtering system does not track all performances (like those of a fan covering a song) accurately.
Seperately, I know that many indie labels have no deal with YouTube at all and that efforts by some indie trade organizations to cut group deals have stalled. Many labels and acts are afraid to pull their content because of the promotional value that YouTube provides.
Ad supported music and videos only works if a fair share of the the revenue actually trickles down to the artist.