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"The deck is stacked and has been stacked for 60 years in the recording companies' favor."
——Don Henley
LET THE CATFIGHTING BEGIN!
Musicians, Record Labels Begin Testimony on Seven-Year Statute, Hearings Expected to Take Seven Years
Dozens of musicians and Recording Industry Association of America members converged in Sacramento on Wednesday (9/5) to speak about the 1987 "seven-year statute," which exempts musicians from Labor Code laws limiting entertainment contracts to seven years and allowing labels to sue for undelivered product. (The 1987 exclusion was pushed through at the urging of the record industry.) We at hitsdailydouble.com were terribly disappointed that no Jerry Springer-worthy fights ensued. Also, not one person yelled, "I’m out of order? You’re out of order! This whole hearing is out of order!" While we can't magically transport you to the hearings, no matter how much magic smoke we inhale, we thought a few juicy tongue-lashings from those who testified would suffice:

Ann Chaitovitz, AFTRA director of sound: "These hearings are extremely important to all our members because [the statute] singles out recording artists for disparate treatment and denies them the legal protections that California extends to all other workers. Many of the best and most successful sound recordings are produced in California, benefiting both the state and national economies."

Don Engel, music attorney: "This statute is unconstitutional because it singles out the record industry. These contracts are unconscionable, signed by entry-level artists who mostly have no power."

Cary Sherman, RIAA Senior Exec VP: " There is one thing that all labels have in common, and that's risk… Artists want to sign with a label, take an advance payment and then just walk away when it pleases them. You can’t do business like that… Ninety percent of all the artists signed to record companies fail. They don't achieve any commercial success, and then of the remaining 10 percent, a very small fraction become superstars."

Miles Copeland, tired of police-ing the industry: "It's risk versus profit. If you take away the profit [by allowing artists to leave a label after seven years], you take away willingness to risk."

LeAnn Rimes, contracts have made her blue: "I just turned 19 last month. If I record one album every two years, which is the industry average, I will be 35 when my contract is up."

Don Henley, getting to the heart of the matter: "It's not how long we have to work. We aren't free to compete in the marketplace. We're talking about indentured servitude, basically, here. That's why we've come before the California Legislature… The deck is stacked and has been stacked for 60 years in the recording companies' favor."

David Manning, still pertinent though fictional: "These are definitely the can’t-miss hearings of the year!!!"

Courtney Love, covered in celebrity skin: "I have a swimming pool. I have nice shoes. Nobody's sitting here saying, 'I'm so poor.' I made more for Universal than 'Titanic.' But are they nice to me? No."

Patti Austin, a jazz singer and, therefore, a millionaire: "I was always taught that Lincoln freed the slaves. I didn't realize that he excluded recording artists."

Lenny Beer, on the edge of his seat: "I haven't been this excited since the 'Work for Hire' hearings!"

State Sen. Kevin Murray, taped the hearing agenda in front of the mikes like a set list: "The point is, I don't think the system works. If you don't sign a contract, you don't have a career in the record industry. But you can't decide you don't want to be part of the system either."

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