One of the most interesting side effects of the file sharing debate has been that it has shed some light on music industry practices. Courtney Love opened up this debate almost ten years ago when she said that the real pirates aren't using Napster, but drafting recording contracts.

Lilly Allen echoed some of that criticism a few days ago. Allen actually came out against file sharing and artists that pretend it isnt't impacting record sales, but her blog entry didn't really make her label look good either:

"You don't start out in music with the Ferraris. Instead you get a huge debt from your record company, which you spend years working your arse off to repay. When you manage to get a contract, all those pretty videos and posters advertising your album have to be paid for and as the artist, you have to pay for them. I've only just finished paying off all the money I owe my record company. I'm lucky that I've been successful and managed to pay it back, but not everyone's so lucky. "

A few European indie labels associated with the Germany-based trade association VUT decided to set the record straight and tell file sharers that they're actually paying their artists. From VUT's press release:

"An artist signed with an independent label typically makes between 1.90 and 2.60 Euros per album sold for 15 Euros."

Artists get 19 Cents per 0.99 Euro digital download, according to VUT, and even more if they're also the composer of the song.

vut numbers

VUT CEO Eva Kiltz commented on these numbers this way:

"People getting their music for free should be aware that musicians and labels won't be able to produce any new music without returns from the sale of recorded music."

VUT represents between 10 and 15 percent of the German music market, according to its own estimates. An older VUT report (PDF) reveals that most of the labels organized in the association have two or less employees. Furthermore, a quick look at the most recent IMPALA awards reveals that only three VUT artists seem to have sold more than 30,000 units in 2008, which kind of begs the question: Isn't there a better way?

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