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The Business Of Entertainment
Entertainment is a business. Unfortunately, many enter this business with the aspiration of fame and fortune, and miss this most important factor. They go in with stars in their eyes and on a cloud concerning fame and riches. They fail to acknowledge that many have traveled this road prior to their arrival. Consequently, they find themselves in similar circumstances as artist who came before them. These young, naïve soon to become artist are unaware of the deception built into contracts, the percentages they will receive is based on units sold. These naive people are unaware of laws that will impact their career. So, this article will explore the consequences of not knowing. Using examples such as Toni Broxton, Evanger Holyfield, Little Richard, Tupac Shakur, and Mick Jagger. The lack of basic business knowledge has caused a number of artists to find themselves in financial trouble.
First case scenario, Toni Braxton, one hundred and seventy Million units sold and she received a check for one thousand nine hundred and ninety eight dollars. The first question that comes to mind is what in the Sam Hill happened? First her mother had them practicing to sing in harmony, but not one day did they discuss the business of “the music business” She and her sisters arrived at a record label, the label thought they were talented but opt to sign Toni minus the sisters. According to story she was distraught due to her sister not being with her. Her fame ignited under the labels guidance.
Little did she know that the record label would recoup all expenditures prior to her receiving a nickel? Expenditures, such as concerts date, the wardrobe, cars, and hotel bills are deducted from her original contracts? While she is “attempting to keep track of large amounts of money in her head”, which she admits on the Oprah show. The fractional amount she is receiving does not enter her calculating mind. All entertainers should know they only receive a percentage of the units sold and its not based on 100 percent its based on 90 percent, then, it fluctuates between domestic and international sells. She finally had to take the label/record company to court to gain relief. Apparently, the justice system discovering the deception ruled against the label/record, and collectively they had to return the majority of her money. This was her first encounter. The second time there was a bankruptcy filing, home foreclosed, personal items auctioned off. Still there was no sign that she was attempting to take any classes in fiancé or business.
It’s not publicized, but Mick Jagger found The Rolling Stones in a similar situation, but his remedy was to return to school and major in economic and the rest is history. Not true for the many time heavyweight champion of the world Evanger Holyfield. Holyfield reportedly earned an estimated 250 million dollars, yet it took three banks to finance the building of his 10 million dollar home. During the time he was in the home, his landscaping bill was in access of one million dollars, then, he found it in foreclosure, soon to be purchased by mogul Rick Ross for a reported 5.8 million. He had to have known what happened to other heavyweight champions before him. The Great Joe Louis is a shining example of what can and does happen. At this point the estimated lost is one billion dollars. The agents, lawyers, and companies are circulating million through and out of these entertainers hands. And not one of them has openly stated I will do my part to see this does not happen to anyone else.
Little Richard continues to claim he never received a dime during the years he was recording. Yet, he never said his mismanagement is part of the problem.
If a company has you under a performance contract, this is what they pay you for. If you are a writer you earn considerably more money, when the song is performed. This is not difficult to understand. This why the great legendary Sam Cooke started his own company, so he could receive a larger share of the profits. Unfortunately, he met an untimely and brutal death under a cloud of false information. Tupac Shakur is another artist whose death remains under a cloud concerning his death. After his death Tupac’s music has generated 75 million dollars in sales worldwide. Who is collecting the royalties? After Sam Cooke’s death all recorded transaction disappeared this disappearing act also occurred with the billionaire businessman Reginald Lewis. In conclusion it should be said, that Mick Jagger covered a song written by the late Bobby Womack, and the royalty check was estimated at 30,000 dollars when the late Ray Charles recorded and performed song written by other artist, those artist made millions in royalty payments. This business generates million for many people in the industry. And the people in key position have been around and the business is passed down or taught to other in that same community. So, some of these entertainers should not allow the “ghost of slavery” to continue its deception as it did during the sharecropping days for both Caucasian and African-Americans.