tv girl vs warner music group

July 6, 2011

The legal battle between indie-pop soothers TV Girl and Warner Music Group has gained attention over the past couple weeks on various blogs, but in case you haven’t heard, WMG is trying to remove TV Girl’s “If You Want It” from the internet, entirely. Their beef: TV Girl sampling Todd Rundgren‘s “Hello, It’s Me.” As the song gained popularity last year, the San Diego based TV Girl reached out to WMG to clear the sample , but to no avail. In the press release below, Trung and Brad from TV Girl outline the state of “If You Want It” and the sad reality of the current state of music in our county.

Here’s the email in full:

Hello (It’s Me). This is Trung and Brad from TV Girl. Today we were unpleasantly surprised to find that the Warner Music Group started making good on their promise to remove our music from the web. Several blogs reached out to us after receiving takedown notices regarding our music. We noticed that you posted our music, so we thought we would reach out to give you a heads up and give our two cents. 

Just to clarify, TV Girl had nothing to do with the takedown notice. We have no affiliation with Warner Music Group or any other songwriting association or record label. The copyright claim is on behalf of Todd Rundgren for the use of a sample from his song “Hello, It’s Me”. 

Even though it’s a bummer that our particular song is being silenced in this way, we feel that this is representative of a larger issue that will only get worse as blogs continue to gain influence over an increasingly desperate music industry. 

When the song started getting really popular late last year, we reached out to the copyright holders to get the sample cleared so that we could avoid this mess. Their responses were completely unreasonable. To give you an idea, one company demanded 100% of all proceeds from any money made, in addition to us paying a $5,000 clearance fee. Basically they were saying: “Fuck you, we have all the power, either pay us or take the song down.” Because we weren’t making any money off the song anyways, and because it had already spread around the net thanks to blogs, we declined their offer. 

The fact is, because of the amazing independent promotional capacities of music blogs and sites like Bandcamp, it’s increasingly unnecessary for bands like us to align ourselves with major labels or music companies like WMG. Our use of the sample easily falls under the protection of “fair use”. WMG’s actions are a rather blatant attempt to bully independent artists and blogs into playing by their rules. It’s easy to see tactics like this becoming more common as the industry continues to shift. 

Obviously, we wouldn’t recommend keeping the song up if there’s any chance of your site being affected. We just thought that you and your readers might want to know about this issue as it directly affects every band, blog, and music fan operating outside the mainstream music machine.

Thank for listening, and feel free to post about or reprint this e-mail. We are truly grateful to all the blogs and fans that have supported us. 

-Trung and Brad 

TV Girl


On their facebook, TV Girl posted this Florida skate video with a sense of humor, saying “hey, they didn’t take this one down.”

Why is music titan Warner Music Group picking on them? Like they briefly mention, today’s music industry has become more bipolarized than ever before. With the growing promotional power of independent music blogs and for-the-artist digital distributors like Bandcamp, major labels like Warner Music Group are loosing steam. Now, their focus seems set on legal issues that revolve around kids “illegally” downloading music and whether or not a sample falls under “fair use” laws.

Personally, the trademark laws regarding a band’s right to sample another’s work is hazy, unfair, and allows big label music companies to corner the lesser known and bully them. The “old” music industry is a dying breed and DIY projects, by both artists and blogs, have made a more serious presence in recent months. Alt hip hoppers Odd Future went from unknown youngsters in late 2010 to having their own, unrestricted label in before June this year and blog legends have gone solo or made unreal collaborations to make their own record labels. Times are a changin’. We can only presume it’s for the better. 

This attack on TV Girl is especially frustrating because they have an absurd amount of potential.

TV Girl – If You Want It

(via YVYNYL)

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