Today, I had the pleasure of being interviewed for the Observer Music Monthly, a thoroughly excellent colour suppliment that is sadly closing down in the new year. Naturally, along with the inevitable questions on file sharing and the Pirate Bay, the topic of Rage Against the Machine came up. While it's easy to poke fun at the campaign to dethrone the X Factor, to see conspiracies in the mysteriously disappearing facebook group, or to point out that RAtM are signed to Sony who also deal with Simon Cowell's Syco organisation and therefore stand to benefit either way, there is a very important implication for the way the record industry works.
Rage against the Machine have made Sony a LOT of money. In return for this mountain of cash, Sony managed to get the song to number 27 in February 1993. In return for nothing at all, and armed with just an idea and a facebook account, John Morter has managed to put the song in the running for number 1 in the biggest record buying week of the year.
How exactly can Sony justify taking a majority cut of the revenue from this song when they have been comprehensively outperformed by a single amateur with no marketing budget?
So far, the RATM4XMAS campaign has raised £32,363.00 for the homelessness charity, Shelter. Will Sony be just as generous with their windfall profit?
The donation link is http://www.justgiving.com/ratm4xmas