In the world of soul music there are few bigger names in the industry than Sam Moore. Although now in his 70s, the "Soul Man" icon is still going strong. In fact in 2006, he released an album that featured such luminaries of the music world as Sting, Bruce Springsteen, and Jon Bon Jovi playing with him. You cannot command that kind of high powered musical accompaniment without being a powerhouse yourself.
I was delighted when a DVD turned up in my mailbox last week. It was of two concerts given by Sam Moore (I am guessing sometime in the early eighties). My wife is a big fan of Sam’s so we powered up the home theatre system and watched them. Although the sound and audio quality was a little lacking, one cannot be too critical when you are dealing with this kind of archival footage.
I wrote up my review, which was very positive, and published it. I was completely shocked when the following morning I discovered a comment about the review from Sam Moore’s wife (and manager). In the comment she made the claim that this was a bootleg, and that Sam was receiving no royalties whatsoever from it, and that the distribution company had been issued a cease and desist notice. I contacted Joyce Moore and she showed me irrefutable evidence supporting her claim. Not only is the footage bootleg but even the cover art used!
The Moore family kindly consented to give an interview about this case in particular, and piracy within the music industry in general.
To say I was surprised to find your comment, would be to put it mildly! When did you first become aware of this DVD being on the market?
I (Joyce) started to see Google search hits about the release about six weeks ago.
What steps have you taken to stop it being sold?
We have served cease and desist notices on MVD, on their supplier who is based in the UK, and also on Amazon. Amazon have cooperated fully. We have also contacted other websites, the music publishers, and the owner of the cover art photo. We have been pretty busy with this.
Is this type of piracy common? I would have thought that the larger companies would not want to be smeared with this kind of activity.
Oh, some of the larger companies do care, the problem is that they are careless! And it depends what you mean. If it is a major like Universal or Sony or Warner they are very careful with the music copyright. But these video guys are not diligent, they’re careless, and never really contact the artists to verify that the paperwork they are presenting is bona fide, or if they even really get the true artist agreements. These video guys are not the music industry although they do sell to many of the same outlets. We have personally had a few of these cases, and we know of many other artists whose works are being sold for profit and who never see a dime as a result. They did not agree to be part of the DVD for someone else’s benefit.
What needs to happen to clean up the music industry?
There is so much to clean up in all facets of the industry, that I’m not sure there is enough ink to expound here. It would help a great deal if we could teach our children that file sharing and taking music for free is not a right they have somehow acquired and no harm is done. There is great harm to the artists whose livelihood, health insurance, pensions, and ability to continue eating depends on their historical works. Companies also need to realize that they cannot just do anything they like without getting the permission of the artist. And this covers all types of merchandising and all facets of the entertaining industry.
There should also be a broadcast right for any and all transmissions of an artist's work use on radio, TV, etc. At least to the same extent that there is for the writers and publishers of the songs being performed. In every civilized country in the world, with the exception of the U.S., artists do get these payments. Only the U.S. has refused to ratify this. So not only do the U.S. artists not get any payments for broadcast at home — they can’t collect in the other countries of the world, because there is no equity or reciprocity.
On a lighter note, can we expect to see some official releases from the illustrious Sam Moore sometime soon? (My wife is a big fan of yours!)
Sam Moore's Overnight Sensational (2006) is still out there in the music stores, and is a truly amazing album. Everyone on the planet should have a copy!
Sam is working on a project for Disney that will include some other soul legends, and he is also on Randy Jackson’s upcoming debut album with Concord Records. Recently he was on the Today Show, and in the past year has appeared on Letterman, Conan, Emeril, The Late Late Show, the Grammys, won a MOBO lifetime achievement award, and starred in several specials on TV in the UK.
There is also a new tribute video for Billy Preston which is being released using “You Are So Beautiful To Me" from Sam’s album (which featured Billy Preston's last ever studio performance, together with Eric Clapton, Robert Randolph, and Zucchero).
Clearly there is much wrong with the music industry. What saddens me is that no musician seems to be impervious to the problem. Sam Moore is such a well known figure in the industry and still finds himself a victim. What chance do the smaller fish in the pond have?
Oh, and I am always a believer in the saying "Every cloud has a silver lining." Although I did not get to publish my review of the DVD, I do get to publish a review of a Sam Moore live concert. In a million to one chance, it turns out that he is playing here in Calgary on Friday night, and my wife and I have been invited to attend.