Answers to your November Questions, Part III
12/1/2010 (updated 12/1/2010)

As part of my longstanding curiosity about the financial wherewithals of the music industry, I’d like to follow-up on your answer to a question I posed last month – namely your compensation when former record labels re-release your recordings with added tracks.  I had asked if you were compensated & you responded in the affirmative but that the companies sometimes limited the number of tracks for which they compensated the artist.  I had always understood that a recording artist would be compensated for a piece of overall sales (presumably at wholesale level) as well as royalties for songs the artist composed.   First of all, is my understanding of two compensation streams (piece of sales + royalties if you’re the songwriter) correct?  Second, I recently bought the reissue of “I want to see the bright lights tonight”.  It has 3 bonus live tracks, two of your composition, & one cover.  Without getting into the actual dollars, contracts, etc. what forms of compensation would you get from such a re-release?  Or, does only your accountant know for sure??!! Brian Hayes

I don't know the real percentages. You are correct that there is a mechanical royalty payable to the recording artist, and a composing royalty for the composer. The composing royalty is fairly automatic, and would be received within a year, if it's in a major territory. It can take longer if it's Borneo, or Italy (!). Mechanical royalties are more problematic. Many recording artists will receive an advance against sales, and record companies will charge various wooly and ill-defined things against the artist's share. Often the only way to get paid by a record company is to send in the auditors. Film companies do the same thing - try to never show a profit on a film, so they never have to pay the people on a percentage of profits. This is why most actors and musicians try to get as much up front as possible. With 'Bright Lights', I don't know how the bonus tracks work. There may be zero revenue from these.

It's particularly subjective, but in your opinion - who is the greatest guitarist of all-time? Personally, I've narrowed it down to you, me, and Hendrix. Marc T Swogger

I'm not sure about me, and I'm really not sure about you, but I'd say Jimi is the best rock guitarist, on balance. It's hard to compare fields though - Jimi versus Segovia? Segovis versus Django?

Will you be joining in the Holiday Sing-Along at Southbank Centre? My wife and I are going to be in London (primarily to see your show at the Cadogan) and we would love to sing holiday carols with you. Dominic

I should be there.

A good deal of your (legally obtained) music plays endlessly on my computer as I work and I never tire of it. Beeswing just played but now I have a non-music related question. Forgive me if this has been asked & answered previously. I did attempt due diligence in the Q&A but my eyes gave out about halfway through. I'm a motorhead and make my living in that area. As such, car related songs are a favorite and those that strike the correct mechanical "chord" are most appreciated. MGBGT does that, unlike one of my other faves, the Beach Boys "Shut Down" which has a flaw (ain't no frickin' way a 'Vette will beat a Superstock Dodge, but I digress). Are you a motorhead as well and did true deeds inspire the song? Jim Allen, NW Ohio

I like cars but am not obsessed. MGBGT is pure fantasy.