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Flo offers words of wisdom to music students in wake of lawsuit

Mark Volman, a founding member of The Turtles featuring Flo & Eddie, has some advice for aspiring musicians at Belmont: understand all aspects of the music industry and step up for your fellow artists.

Volman and other members of The Turtles filed suit against SiriusXM in California, Florida and New York for copyright infringement. The suit concerns a federal law which states that only songs recorded after 1972 are protected by copyright, even though many of The Turtles’ hits were recorded before that year.

On Monday, a federal judge in California ruled in favor of The Turtles, saying Sirius infringed on their rights by using their music without permission.

Volman, who is an assistant professor in Belmont’s Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business, said young musicians should take a serious lesson from the outcome of this case. In particular, newcomers to the industry need to understand the different jobs behind the scenes and be more conscientious of copyright laws, he said.

“Understand the business aspect of things,” Volman said. “Be aware that there’s a lot of sides to an issue.”

The reason the case warranted The Turtles’ attention is because having a big name behind the legal side gave the suit more firepower, said Volman. Young musicians need to be willing to step up in similar situations and put the respect for other artists’ work above monetary gain, he said, especially when the issue of royalties is becoming more prevalent with digital downloading.

“Last year SiriusXM made over $400 billion. Most of the artists I grew up with are not receiving a penny,” Volman said. “If someone is making money from ‘Happy Together,’ I want to be part of it. I worked hard on that song.”

At the end of the day, waking people up to the issue is ultimately what’s important, said Volman.

“This case needed our involvement,” he said. “We realized it’s more important to put ourselves into something that’s right and fair. This pre-1972 music needs to be compensated for.”

While Monday’s ruling is limited to California, Volman said he hopes it will continue to open doors in other states on the royalties issue.

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