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Pete Atkin >> Music >> Pete and SonyBMG
(Message started by: Pete Atkin on Today at 18:22)

Title: Pete and SonyBMG
Post by Pete Atkin on Today at 18:22
If you're a regular here, you'll know about some of my frustrations in dealing with the inheritors of my RCA contracts, first BMG and and now SonyBMG.   They have not only failed to account to me for any of the sales of the reissues, they have failed even to acknowledge let alone reply to the vast majority of my letters and emails over the years.  I have discovered that I am not alone in being treated this way, which might make a suspicious person think this behaviour - ignore them and they'll probably go away - approaches company policy.  Heavens forfend.  There's no particular reason you should be interested, but, if you are, here's a copy of a letter I wrote six weeks ago to Michael Smith, SVP Business and Legal at SonyBMG Music UK (the main non-responder), and one I wrote yesterday.


7th July 2011

Dear Michael:

RCA Royalty Accounting:
THE ROAD OF SILK  (1974) – LPL1 5015
SECRET DRINKER (1974) – LPL1 5062
LIVE LIBEL (1975) – RS 1013

I’m sorry to be raking over old ashes yet again, but I’m afraid they haven’t quite died down.

On 3 December 2008 you were kind enough to e-mail me with the information that the last royalty statements you could track down for these albums which I made as artist and producer, contracted directly to RCA Records, were for the period ending the 4th quarter of 1994 and that they were sent to One Way Productions at Suite 2.07, 535 King’s Road, London SW10.  

In 2001, these three LPs were reissued on CD by See For Miles Records.  Clearly I should have received accounts for these reissues, but I never have, and I infer that you were unable to trace any.  

In 2009, as you know, the albums were once again reissued on CD, this time by Demon Records.   In that same December 2008 e-mail you also kindly said that “we anticipate receiving royalties during the course of next year which I would be happy to pay through to you and not apply to recoup the albeit modest unrecouped amounts on each account.”   I have since then received nothing from SonyBMG relating to these reissues either.  I know from my copyright royalties, of course, that at least something is due.   (I had incidentally hoped also that you might have sent me hard copy confirmation of your agreement to write off any unrecouped advances.)

So I wonder if perhaps SonyBMG have been inadvertently and mistakenly continuing to send accounts to One Way Productions at that Kings Road address?  (Incidentally, this is the address for Essex/Westminster Music, who hold the copyright in roughly half the earlier songs written by me and Clive James, so fortunately I am in regular contact with them.)   If so, this is a major error:  One Way Productions was a company under the auspices of the former Essex Music set up for the affairs of my former record producer, Don Paul.  Neither One Way Productions nor Don Paul ever had anything whatever to do with these albums or my part in them.  But Westminster Music have never had anything to do with One Way Productions either. They tell me that anything addressed there would have been forwarded appropriately to Onward Music at Uxbridge Street, W8.    However, both Westminster and Onward tell me that they have no record or recollection of having received anything at all from you addressed to One Way Productions,  which in any case has had no effective existence since about 1993. No bank account exists in that name, and Onward tell me there has never been one.  

However, from the fact that you were unable to track down any accounting to me  for the 2001 See For Miles reissues, it looks as if there may have been an omission by SonyBMG.   Surely I should by now have received statements within the past couple of years for the Demon reissues.  

In any case, and whether or not accounts may have continued to be sent to One Way Productions, could you please now send me copies of any statements that have been created on these accounts, or arrange for them to be created?   And if you have been sending cheques, could I please ask you to ask your bank for details of the account into which they may have been paid?

The cash amounts here are undoubtedly comparatively small, but I hope you agree that the principle involved is a most important one.


25th August 2011

Dear Michael:

Sadly, I have no great confidence that you’ll even read this, but for what it’s worth I have attached a copy of my last letter to you (7th July 2011) which summarises the situation to date, in case that too should have slipped past you into the same black hole where most of my previous attempts to get your attention seem to have ended up.  

This is what I intend to do:   In a few weeks’ time, if I have not a constructive reply from you, I shall send you an invoice for the royalties which I believe are due to me relating to both the See For Miles and the Demon Edsel CD reissues of the three albums I made for RCA Records under my contracts of 19th February 1973 (as artist) and 5th October 1973 (as producer).   I shall do my best to calculate this reasonably, working backwards mainly from the relevant mechanical copyright royalties which I have received (and which indicate that there are indeed royalties due).   If I receive no response to that invoice within the time I shall state, I shall take legal action.  

The amounts involved are going to be really quite small.  They’re going to add up, I would guess, to quite a lot less than the cost of the time and trouble it would take you to defend my action, should it come to that, especially since – and I can’t believe you’ll seriously disagree with this – the outcome is probably as close to a foregone conclusion as it’s possible to get in such cases.  

I stress that I would always prefer that SonyBMG, as inheritors of my contracts, should simply account to me for these royalties as required under Clauses 10(a) and 10(c) of my artist’s contract, and Clause 6(b) of the Standard Conditions of Engagement relating to my producer’s contract.    If such accounting is by now too difficult and troublesome, then by all means make me an offer that will perhaps allow us to wipe the slate clean.

I have been keeping interested friends and colleagues – including not least my long-time songwriting partner Clive James, who has a major stake in these albums – up to date on my (mostly non-) dealings with you, but as a courtesy I should tell you that I am now going to go public with the facts of the case, initially via the Forum on my official website at www.peteatkin.com and the occasional newsletter I send to subscribers.  


Watch this space - but don't hold your breath.

Title: Re: Pete and SonyBMG
Post by Leslie Moss on 27.08.11 at 06:07
Pete, sorry to learn of your continuing frustrations. It's depressing how many major organisations treat their paying customers - and in the case of the music industry , their creative talent - with distain.

I could tell you about the problems we had with utilities and telephony companies when we moved house recently but it's about as off-topic as you can get and there's not enough room on this page! Suffice it to say that we were off the grid for the best part of three weeks.


Title: Small but not untypical update
Post by Pete Atkin on 04.10.11 at 17:33
I did receive a one-line e-mail acknowledgement to that letter from Mr Smith concluding "I will respond in more detail as soon as I can".  That was on 1st September, since when nothing, in spite of a couple of e-mail nudges.  So it's back to Special Delivery letters and the issuing of a deadline.

Title: Re: Pete and SonyBMG
Post by Pete Atkin on 31.10.11 at 19:04
Well, it took another Special Delivery letter to Michael Smith and an e-mail to a lady in Artist Liason at SonyBMG (which made him very cross - who can say why?), but I did get a response on 6th October.   But they still seemed to think they needed to be paying a production company which (a) had nothing to do with my RCA recordings and which (b) had been wound up anyway in 1993.   My contract would (does) show quite clearly that this is nonsense, and consequently I guessed that - correctly, as it turns out - that they couldn't find their copy of it.  I still had mine and sent them a scanned copy, since when, on 21st October, Michael Smith told me that he understood that a revised royalty statement would be with me "before the end of the month".  I know, I know - I should have asked him which month, for there is no sign of anything yet.  But at least my existence is acknowledged, however apparently grudgingly and disdainfully.  So I'm still working on it.  

Title: Re: Pete and SonyBMG
Post by Gerry Smith on 06.03.12 at 00:53
Wonder if this may resonate with Pete? Sorry, couldn't figure out how to cpy the jpg here:



Title: Re: Pete and SonyBMG
Post by Kevin Cryan on 06.03.12 at 09:27

on 03/06/12 at 00:53:27, Gerry Smith wrote :
........ Sorry, couldn't figure out how to cpy the jpg here:



Kevin Cryan

Title: Re: Pete and SonyBMG
Post by Keith M on 11.05.12 at 22:01
This starts at a tangent but returns to the thread.  Please bear with me.  A couple of weeks ago I went to hear Top Topham and the John Idan Blues Band.  (If you don't know Top Topham, see his website www.toptopham.com and clips on YouTube.)  

Afterwards I googled him and found an interesting (for me) interview from which the following is extracted:

Matt: Speaking about the Blue Horizon days, you recently released the Complete Blue Horizon Sessions.  What inspired you to rerelease this collection of recordings at this time in your career?

Top Topham: I had no part in that project. Unfortunately, Sony is releasing all of that stuff and not paying anybody. It’s a sin really. They were going to release it and gave me the opportunity to be involved, which I took because I’d rather be involved than not involved.

I’m glad it came out, because I think it’s a good project and sets things straight in a sense, because the person that owns all that music bought the whole catalogue and has been raking in money over the years. He’s been licensing it to different companies over the years, and guys like myself have never seen a dime from that music.

(The whole interview is at http://www.subudvoice.net/subud-voice-english/guitar-hero-interview-with-top-topham/)

Of course Pete still owns the rights to his recordings, unlike TT.  But more evidence of Sony's  "form".

Title: Re: Pete and SonyBMG
Post by Pete Atkin on 17.05.12 at 08:51
Point of information, Keith:  no, I do not own the rights to my old recordings.  BOTBS and DTMA continue to be owned by Onward Music (the heirs to David Platz's Essex Music), TROS, SD and LL continue to be owned by Sony BMG (the heirs to RCA), and AKAN, which I made under my original Essex contract was leased to RCA under a deal which makes it virtually their property.   I have no control over these albums, and I am still struggling with both companies to get what I believe I am owed for the CD reissues.  

I do however own everything that I have put out under the Hillside imprint over the past ten or twelve years.

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