Jack Ely, the singer whose 1963 version of “Louie Louie” still makes the rounds on oldies radio, lives with his wife in a mobile home on a horse ranch in Oregon. Ely says they share $30,000 a year from her teacher’s pension and his Social Security checks. They are paying down a mortgage.
So sometimes it bothers Ely, 65, when he hears his voice singing “Louie Louie” on the radio or in sports arenas, knowing he’s not getting paid.
[…] Since the advent of radio in the 1920s, songwriters have made a little money every time their tunes are played on stations in most industrialized countries. The six children of “Louie Louie” songwriter Richard Berry today share more than $100,000 in royalties every year.
But performers like Ely don’t get a dime.
A bill moving through Congress aims to change that. It would let performers and the recording labels get a share of the ad revenue that radio stations collect from playing their songs. This pool of royalties could be hundreds of millions a year — which would be crucial for the record industry, as compact disc sales plummet and digital song sales aren’t making up the difference.
Hmmm – I thought it was the *singers* who were supposed to get the money? Or, *shock*, did those sly execs get the singers to sign a contract that meant they don’t have the rights anyway?