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Posted on Tuesday, August 8th, 2006

For anyone who is interested, my albums Imperial and Continental have just become available at the iTunes store. The exclusive EP Waiting for Dawn is also there and Everlasting will be available shortly. So instead of hitting purchase for some old Cocteau Twins track where I will earn $0.02 of the $0.99 that you are charged per download please humour me and hit purchase on one of my tracks so that I can earn $0.50 of the $0.99 that you are charged per download.
It would appear that most of you folks imagine us artists as getting a fair royalty with digital downloads but actually the opposite is true. Old record contracts are adhered to vigorously and we, the starving artists, get fucked even more. If the there is someone from 4AD or any other fucking record company that would like to reply to this and explain to me the morality of paying the artist 2 cents per track then I, and I’m sure a lot of other people, would be interested in what you have to say. Don’t you just love this business? I’m getting close to where Henry Miller must have been when he published his open letter to the public asking for donations of paper and typewriter ribbon. Well, at least it feels that way when I have to shamelessly promote myself like this in order to guilt trip one of you slackers into downloading an album or two….
OK, what if I say please?, um OK what ever

15 Responses to “Downloads….”

  1. Steven

    Sounds great to be able to purchase your stuff via download. Any news/updates on that album you & Harold Budd were working on? I’m sure that one will be wonderful.

    Take Care.

  2. Auz

    Are they going up on Audio Lunchbox as well? Everlasting is already there (https://audiolunchbox.com/album?a=63575), they sell them as mp3s without DRM (I wish someone other than allofmp3 would sell oggs or ape/flac), you get (from what I read) 65c out of the 99c and I don’t have to install an annoying interface that last time seemed to have a detrimental effect on my dvd burner’s speed… 🙂

  3. mike

    You’d get more downloads if you quit making albums w/Harold Budd and more albums w/this guy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vy6_bybS3jg

    (On a more serious note, Auz has a point – using the iTunes software feels like driving a Yugo w/the parking brake engaged.)

  4. Imre

    If I buy your EPs (or albums)on cd format – not downloading their tracks as mp3 – will you get the same percent of their price? I like to possess the original cds – partly because of their artwork.

  5. David

    Thank you for your music! Everlasting is VERY nice!
    Always dreaming,
    Atlanta, GA, US

  6. Morgan Bochan

    Do you think you’d ever make your own label?

    (maybe it’s silly, maybe it’s good,
    but it’s an idea.)

  7. martin mills

    i’ll answer this, robin

    firstly, 4ad does not pay you 2 cents per track, it pays you 10 cents

    that’s more than our contract stipulates, because we didn’t think it was fair to apply territorial or packaging deductions in the digital space

    and the difference between our 10 cents and your 50 ? well we made the original financial investment in your cocteau’s music, whereas you’re making it in what you’re doing now

    for that we have the right to a return – ok, we’re making money, but we lose money on many other great artists, and the nature of a label is that you have to make money on some to allow you to stay doing what you’re doing whilst losing money on others – as you will know from bella union

    of course in the download price there’s also i-tunes margin

    we’re also doing all the work and paying all the expense on the cocteau’s tracks that you’re dealing with on yours – handling all the metadata, digitising, delivering, paying mechanical royalties, all that back room stuff

    so yes you make more on your own, and so you should…..bet your capitol and universal tracks don’t make you 10 cents a time

    martin mills

  8. robin guthrie

    Well Martin, it is possible that there is some miscommunication between yourself and your royalty dept but I think on closer examination you will find that CT receives 6 cents per download of which my share is of course 2 cents. Not much really, is it? You make a fine point about initial investments and the like, after all you did pay the 900 pounds for the recording of garlands but it’s very difficult for me to imagine that you haven’t made that back plus perhaps just a little profit in the last 25 years. Yes, as you said you have a right to a return, I wouldn’t deny you that and I am, of course, grateful to be in the position that I’m in now as it is due, in part, to your support of CT over the years. But that is neither the point not the issue here. The issue is that you are making a disproportionate amount of money from downloads. A dollar is quite simply a dollar and if the subject was approached with any sense of ethics or morality then the artist share would be somewhat higher than it is at the moment. We are talking about catalogue items here, music which has been turning you a healthy profit for many, many years. There is no new investment, no packaging, no marketing, merely a cynical way to expand your profits at the expense of the artist. With the advent of the necessary technology to make digital distribution a reality should come a reappraisal of how the system works. I presume that on our original contract you are still deducting 10% for breakages during manufacture and the like, something that was out dated in contracts even in 1981 when it was signed – well I can’t remember any Cocteau Twins records released as 78 rpm’s anyway….
    Well that’s you’re thing and I guess you don’t lose much sleep over it but from my viewpoint, somewhere I like to call the moral high ground, I think it’s a little seedy and more than a little greedy. What you may have lost contact with, existing in the elevated stratosphere of being a big music industry tycoon, is that these things affect peoples lives and their ability to continue producing the art which, not only makes you cash, but can also touch the audience in such a way that the world becomes a more beautiful place. I am blessed for I know how that feels. I guess you don’t. I suppose it may be easy to forget if you have your head in spreadsheet all day but if you look deep inside yourself you may remember a certain enthusiasm for more than just exploiting young bands. A passion for music perhaps. You’re in a powerful position, you could actually use that power for some good, don’t you know. You don’t have to be magnanimous, only just. Sure there will always be willing victims lining up waiting for their chance of fame and success, so I doubt that my words will have any impact on you, I don’t expect you to become a charity for fucks sake, but I would expect you to remember that the bands that you exploit and the music that they created are the people who put you where you are today.
    Excuse me if that sounded a bit harsh but, well you know, knowing that a huge body of my work and a huge chunk of my life benefits neither myself, Liz or Simon and in the future will not benefit our children is, well how can I put it, fucked.
    For our next discussion Mr Mills and myself will discuss the merits of selling Cocteau Twins records as Mid-Price releases thus avoiding paying any substantial royalties whatsoever.

  9. mike_in_york

    I’d also point out that, with the advent of technology etc. people are likely to hear your “new” music, like it, investigate further and possibly (heaven forbid ) want to buy the entire back catalogue of CT recordings, thereby generating additional profit for the record companies, stimulated by the effort you are putting into your new work!

    should you not be getting credit (via better royalties?) for “helping the record companies increase their profits” when you are no longer directly recording for them?

    I think so ….

  10. Claude Rajotte

    Bonjour Robin;
    Please continue to make such magical music. I interviewed Cocteau Twins, you and Elizabeth, years ago in Montreal. I continue to play your music regularly.
    a fan,
    Claude Rajotte

  11. Andrew

    Hey Robin,
    just downloaded Imperial & Everlasting from eMusic and am really enjoying them. However, while I enjoy the variety of music eMusic offers, I have to wonder how artists make any money when it costs me about 25 cents a track.

    I don’t know what contracts you have musically but have you looked at other download services like Magnatunes? The artists recieve 50% of any revenue made from their work through their label.

    Personally I’m all for reimbursing the artists for their work. Do you have a Paypal button on your site? I’d happily flick some dosh your way for all the years of pleasure your music has given me.

    Anyway all the best,

  12. Andrew Wedlake

    I downloaded from iTunes your new work Continental and the two EP’s Everlasting and Waiting for Dawn. Simply awesome work. I’m trying not to “over-listen” to them, but am so far failing at it.

    How do you like releasing work in the 4 song EP format?

  13. Anneli Drecker

    This whole fight between CT and 4ad brings back baaaaad memories from bel Canto and crammed discs!! We never got any publishing from Crammed, not a single penny!
    Luckily, now we own our own back catalogue.. Just wanted to share some frustration here . HA!!
    That was a north norwegian vikingish “HA”
    Just an idea; maybe we should dress up like Halloween Robert Smiths, knock on their doors and ask “AVEZ VOUS DES ARGENTS?”

    Best, Anneli x

  14. Anneli Drecker

    I need to explain; Crammed convinced us to sign publishing with their label ” something…. bascule” don´t remember. Clever! I was only 17.. so don´t blame me ,o) Blames someone else, ha. ha.

  15. Damien Olsen

    Robin is me again, Damien. i saw you at the Knitting Factory NY last year; or was 2 years ago? well, it does not matter anyway, i have Imperial, i bought it right away after that concert, i went to Virgin records(!?) ha, ha, it’s true!and i bought it, that was the only copy available.
    And i have Lulubies to Violaine, i have 45 YO and i’ve discovered Cocteau in the early 90’s a little late, i make ambient and making ambient in NY this days is like making margaritas in the moon, who the fuck gonna drink them? so i understand your situation and also the pops and clicks shit too.
    I want to buy continental<still available?
    Check my tracks at http://www.theburgundychamber.com please and tell me somethingabout it.

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