A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

The Labels Say Infringement Is The Issue. Maybe Not.

The labels still focus on infringement and see that as a big issue. Stream ripping sites are getting a lot of attention right now, especially in Australia.

But the shitty way the labels treat the artists who created valuable art “which is worth something” is not an issue to the labels.

Years ago, the labels went to court against artists like Eminem, David Coverdale and Don Henley concerning digital royalties. The labels always paid low royalties on sales of music CDs and vinyl. However, “licensing” music (once upon a time licensing was for movies or commercials only), offered a higher payout to the artist.

The question the artists wanted to know was how is iTunes treated?

The labels said iTunes is a “sale” like a CD sale and the artist is paid the lower royalty rate.

The artists countered that iTunes is a “license,” like for a commercial, as the labels need to license their music to the tech service for the tech service to sell it. This in turn means the artists are meant to be paid the higher royalty rate of up to to 50%.

In the U.S the labels won at the district court level, while the artists won at the appeals court level.

Now this “sales vs license” scenario was relevant up to about 2011 as newer contracts the labels drew up afterwards avoided this problem. Basically, everything is a sale to the labels even the streams from streaming service all so the labels could rip off artists a little bit more.

Not sure if anyone noticed, but Def Leppard was also caught up in this dispute for years with their label, hence the reason why their music wasn’t on any streaming or digital service for a long time. Def Leppard even refuses to let their label license their music until they sorted out the payment issue.

And the big issue here is that the record labels really owe a lot of money to artists but they still put out lies that infringement is the biggest challenge they face while they go to court against the artists. But they still put out the propaganda that when they ask for longer copyright terms, it’s for the artists, when they ask for stream ripping sites to be taken down, it’s also for the artists. Basically everything the labels do is for the artists, except payments.

Furthermore, all the labels know that their power in the market is based on the content they hold. In this case, it’s the songs they hold on behalf of artists.

So the Copyright Act in the U.S gives creators the right to terminate a copyright grant they have given to a corporation after a 35-year period.

And of course there are a lot of artists who created works which ended up becoming very valuable, who want to reclaim their copyrights.

Basically artists who released music up to 1984 have put in claims to get their works back.

Then it will be 1985 releases and before you know it, the 1990s artists will want to their rights back. And if you grew up in this period, you know that there are a lot of great songs that make a lot of money, which the labels don’t want to lose control of and the artists who want to get those songs back under their control.

But the labels will not let it happen without a fight in the courts.

Universal Music Group (UMG) are going to court to dismiss the termination notices served against it. Sony is also trying the same tactic.

And they are using their own interpretation of the law which could bog down the proceedings for years while lawyers argue words in the Act and how they can be interpreted.

And the big thing the labels are sticking with is the “works for hire” principle which worked a treat for the movie studios.

Basically if an employee creates something as a work for hire, it means the employer is the owner of the work and the work can not be terminated. So the labels are basically saying that the artists are employees, which we all know is bullshit, because I am sure the artists didn’t get monies added to a pension fund or holiday pay and what not.

Also when the artist wrote that hit song, it wasn’t because they were an employee of the label, it was because they had an idea, either at band practice, or at soundcheck, or in their hotel room or bedroom.

But hey, I guess power corrupts and always wins. It’s time all of the artists started terminating their rights with the corporations.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Whitesnake – Flesh And Blood

David Coverdale has been releasing music for 45 years. And not just rehashes or remixes of old music (which he is also doing and doing a brilliant job at it, with all the demos and works in progress recordings), but new music as well.

I didn’t think I would enjoy “Flesh And Blood”, as I didn’t really get into “Forevermore”, expect for the title track and I can’t really remember a track from “Good To Be Bad”. But on “Flesh And Blood”, Reb Beach and Joel Hoekstra deliver, and along with Coverdale, they wrote some good tunes.

Now if you are picking this up to hear Coverdale sing like he did in the 80’s, it ain’t gonna happen. His voice has aged and he sings to his constraints.

“Shut Up And Kiss Me” has got some serious riffage (the song is written by Reb Beach and David Coverdale) and as I mentioned, DC’s vocals are changing as he gets older, he still delivers a sleazy bluesy verse and an anthemic chorus. But it’s the music which hooks me in, and that section with the lyric line “when you stand close to me” is perfect.

“Hey You (You Make Me Rock)” also has some serious riffage. This one is written by Reb Beach, Joel Hoekstra and David Coverdale. The verses have this “When The Levee Breaks” groove which is addictive and DC’s vocals sound psychedelic as he builds up into another anthemic chorus. And the lead break on this one, is as good as any lead break from the 87 album.

“Always and Forever” is written by David Coverdale. The harmony guitars and the vocal delivery remind me of Thin Lizzy, and the connection to another artist, elevates the song straight away in my book.

“When I Think Of You (Colour Me Blue)” reminds me of “Wonderful Tonight” from Eric Clapton. And again, the connection to a previous song, elevates this song. Kudos to David Coverdale for letting his influences shine through.

“Trouble Is Your Middle Name” is written by David Coverdale and Joel Hoekstra and the opening riff is enough to hook me in, while police sirens scream in the background.

How much trouble could this woman be?

And that guitar solo in the song. You need to hear it to appreciate it.

“Flesh And Blood” reminds me of “Don’t Tread” from Damn Yankees and the riffage is brilliant and the lead breaks are AAA rated.

One thing that a lot of people probably don’t know is that Coverdale is a good guitarist who has created some of the most iconic riffs ever.

You know that main riff in “Mistreated” from Deep Purple, well that was David Coverdale. You know those riffs in “Crying In The Rain”, yep, that’s David Coverdale as well. And there are many more.

“Well I Never” is another tune written by Coverdale and Hoekstra, which sounds as good as any pop song out these days.

“Heart Of Stone” is written by Coverdale and it’s a modern sounding ballad.

“Sands of Time” is written by Reb Beach and Coverdale and it’s Arabic sounding influence will draw comparisons to “Kashmir” from Led Zeppelin, but man, this song is its own beast and one of the best Whitesnake tracks out there.

Lyrically, DC does what he normally does, talking about love and relationships.

But it’s the band that rocks, and the song writing that DC does with just Reb Beach, then with Joel Hoekstra and then with both and also by himself is what makes this album a varied and enjoyable listen.

I remember reading that Vivian Campbell left Whitesnake, because he saw that DC was only interested in writing with Adrian Vandenberg for the “Slip Of The Tongue” album. Then when Doug Aldrich joined, the “Good To Be Bad” and “Forevermore” album had song writing just by DC and Aldrich.

For this one it’s back to 1984 and before versions of Whitesnake, with DC writing songs on his own as well and with DC writing songs with the other members, like the good old days.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

The Record Vault – Apocalyptica

It was their Metallica covers which hooked me in and being a Metallica fan, their interpretation provided me with a greater appreciation for James Hetfield and his vocal melodies.

So “Plays Metallica By Four Cellos” is an excellent CD.

I then purchased the album “Cult” because I saw the song “Fight Fire With Fire” on the track list and I was like, “are you serious”, they covered this song with cellos. Curiosity was enough to get me to hand over cash. Plus they had “Until It Sleeps” as well, so it was a no brainer.

The first thing was the updated production and the distortion on the cellos on some sections. And the next thing is that these guys can write good originals. And finally, this band made me appreciate how haunting and epic “Until It Sleeps” really is. You need to hear it, to understand what I mean. And finally, finally, they pulled off “Fight Fire With Fire” at break neck speeds on cellos.

Since then I‘ve heard a few songs on other albums. “I Don’t Care” with Adam Gontier on vocals is an excellent track with a whole band along with the cellos.

And Spotify has their whole history on it. Enjoy it.

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Copyright, Derivative Works, Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

In Copyright We Invest

Music makes money because people form their own unique connection to a melody, a riff, a beat or a lyric. It’s personal and each connection is different. As a by product of this connection, we spend money on music. And when the ‘we’ in the equation is over 200 million people worldwide, you sort of understand the volume of dollars in play.

And the organizations who hold the rights to popular songs benefit a lot from those songs. Next time you hear “Eye Of The Tiger” from Survivor, there is a pension fund around the world which benefits.

You see the Michigan Pension Funds have invested in a music publishing company called Concord Music which is advertised as “owning” a lot of copyrighted works (like close to 400,000 songs). And when those songs it “owns” are played, Concord gets paid the royalties and the state pension fund benefits. 

But, isn’t Copyright meant to benefit the creator and give them an incentive to create more art. As the article states;

The state initially invested $25 million in Concord Music, and as the investment team got more comfortable, put a total of $1.1 billion into the company. The market value of their investment today is $1.8 billion, representing $700 million in profit.  

If the pension fund made $700 million in profit, how much profit would Concord Music make as the holders/keepers of the Copyright and then how much would go to the creators. Hell the creators can’t even get their rights back under their own control, even though the law states they can after 30 years.

And while all of these dollars from music are going to organizations who contribute nothing to music, CD Baby (another organization) is teaming up with Audible Magic (another organization) to scan the audio artists put up, against its library of 30 million tracks. If the uploaded song matches another track or it has “potentially” copyright-infringing content based on a computer algorithm, then CD Baby can decline to upload the file.

I wonder if CD Baby and Audible Magic are aware that music fans like songs that sound similar to other songs. I can’t even start describing how many songs have an Em, C, G, D chord progression, with melodies which sound similar, so I’m not sure why CD Baby is wasting money they earn from artists to pay an IT company which is looking to be purchased by these kinds of organizations.

And you know that Copyright is out of control when the law suppresses online music teachers, who in most cases teach people for free.

Queue up Warner Music Group, who seem hellbent to takedown everything online and then like all of the other labels, when they are served with termination notices from the artists, they go to court to fight these notices.

But, I am sure the labels would still be pushing the same lines of needing stronger copyright.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories

The Record Vault – Audioslave

The combination was interesting. Rage Against The Machine and Soundgarden.

I have a few RATM albums as I do like the music and the lyrics, but Im not a fan of rapping. From Soundgarden, I also have a few albums purely because of Cornell’s voice.

Plus Tom Morello was always in the Guitar mags and he came across great in interviews, offering tips, viewpoints and he didn’t put shit on anyone, even mentioned his love of Randy Rhoads and why he started to use the digital effects tools at his disposal.

So the thought of Morello and Cornell teaming up was very interesting.

And the debut album (released in 2002) is excellent up to “Like A Stone” (which I used to cover in bands) and then it became to repetitive. But still a cool listen.

And how good is “Cochise”?

It’s a great opener bringing that 70s groove into the two thousands and I was hooked straight away when Cornell’s Led Zep inspired vocals came in.

“Out Of Exile” came out three years later and “Revelations” a year after “Out of Exile”.

If you heard the debut, you didn’t need to own these albums. “Moth” is the only song I remember.

I basically played em once on Cd and never played em again (but hey the record label sold a CD to me so I must be a fan of these albums). And today I streamed em once and will probably never stream em again.

But if any of these albums were your first exposure to Audioslave, then it would serve as a good introduction.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Ahhh Copyright

Ahh, copyright, you never cease to amaze me and you never seem to be out of the news.

Did you know that in the year or 1999, the profit margins for the labels on music sales was between 4% and 7%, and in 2018, the music profit margins are between 15% and 20%. 

Read Sony’s financials and decide for yourself.

2018 financials.

1999 financials.

1999 is always talked about as that magical year in which record sales hit a peak, and the profit margins in music were less than what they are now.

Since that time, the labels have done nothing in the development of legal online platforms, like the streaming services which include Spotify, Deezer, Apple and YouTube, but they benefit greatly from these services in licensing fees and royalty payments. And their profit margins are better because their music manufacturing costs are lower. It doesn’t cost much to produce a WAV file compared to a vinyl record or a CD, especially, when other techies are developing tools for people to consume music. And the labels have this power because they hold the copyrights for valuable songs, which they refuse to give back to artists, even when the law states, they need to.

But the streaming services are their biggest payer, so the power is shifting from the catalogs to the distribution, as the labels are fearful of pulling their catalogs from their biggest payer.

In all this, stream ripping seems to be the biggest issue to the labels and money needs to be spent to kill this technology. For those who don’t know, stream ripping means creating an mp3 file illegally from playing a song on a legal streaming site. People who pay for streaming accounts, stream rip and people who pay for no content also stream rip.

According to the labels, stream ripping is the fault of everyone else except them. From the labels point of view, the streaming companies should be responsible for monitoring if content is being streamed and ripped at the same time, the ISP’s are to blame for allowing access to websites which provide the software to stream rip and the blame list just goes on and on.

Remember 20 years ago, Napster showed the world, what people would like to do with music and still to this day, no one has figured out a way to make money by giving the people the opportunity, to download music in a format they desire without any digital rights on the track.

Stream ripping is an opportunity to create a new revenue stream. These are users who would like to stream (have access to music) and also be able to take it with them as an mp3, just in case they choose to close their streaming account, which means that all of their content will be lost.

The label heads are probably thinking, why would people need to do this, but hey they do. Fans of music have their own unique way of connecting with music.

A statement always put out there by the labels is that fans of music who stream rip, don’t realise they are also ripping off artists. It’s pretty rich, coming from the labels who have ripped off artists since day dot, and even now, when artists ask for their copyrights back after 30 years, the labels are saying NO and off to court they go.

But hey, everyone else is to blame except the labels. They even want the Governments they bank roll to pass legislation so they can have access to the WHOIS data of websites, so they can track down online pirates.

Should a corporation have access to this kind of address book?

Well if you pay enough money as a lobbyist, anything is possible.

And I know I bash a lot of the labels and their lobby groups, however the techies and ISP’s are not free from blame here either.

ISP’s if they want, can block access to sites on their own accord or in secret agreements with Government institutions or via court orders. However, they also talk the same rhetoric that they have no control for the content their users access.

So should the ISP’s be known as the Online Censorship Police?

ISP’s in Australia and New Zealand, took it upon themselves to block access to sites which had footage of the Christchurch Massacre, which people didn’t really need to see in the first place, however by doing so, the ISP’s have declared that they can police the Internet if they want to, and they have now backed themselves into a corner. You could see the labels and movie studios saying, “well why can’t they block sites which provide access to music and movies, which are not legal sites.”

Anyway if that all fails, the lobby groups of the recording and movie industries want the governments to create laws giving more power to the copyright industries to filter the internet and block websites which they deem to be illegal.

These powers formed part of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) acts which got canned after online protests. Obviously, money talks and the music/movie industries are bank rolling a lot of politicians to push their cause.

In Australia, blocking access to sites approved by a court order has led to more than 250,000 innocent sites being taken offline for a certain period of time.

The best solution to any copyright issues is to develop a legal alternative. If people want to share their content, why stop them, let them do it, in an environment you can monetize. If people want to stream rip, let them do it, in an environment you can monetize. From when I can remember, every single person had their own unique way of experiencing music.

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movies, My Stories

What Is The Point In The Long Night

Spoilers Ahead.

One thing about great script writers is the details. They focus on the details and they get it right.

Have you watched a Tarantino movie missing in details?

Of course not.

And when the GoT writers David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, had source material to work with via the published books, they had details. Once they went past the books, they had a story outline from George RR Martin and they needed to fill in the details themselves. And they are lost in this department.

And I can’t shake the feeling that the writers have been watching too many big budget comic book movies like Avengers for story details.

They’ve built up Bran’s character to be like Dr Strange, but the acting is very different. A Stark in both stories saves the day. The aliens/undead threat in both stories is severe, but not as severe as the human political threat and back stabbing.

Which brings me to the point of Jon Snow?

Sure there will be people interested in the romantic ideal of Jon sitting on the Iron Throne especially when they fleshed out his ancestry. But it was all about the Wall, The Night King and Winterfell. A lot of people couldn’t care less about him and the Iron Throne. That’s not his story. Seriously would anyone want him on the Throne?

He makes bad decisions and stupid mistakes and has to rely on other people to save him. His whole mission was to fight the whitewalkers and in the end he didn’t even get to fight any of them. He just struggled riding a dragon for the whole episode. That’s it. And somehow he miraculously survived liquid nitrogen being sprayed around him from a re-animated dragon.

Details are important.

I am sure many asked how did Arya get past all of those White Walkers, and Twitter has a section devoted to how she sneaked up to Jon Snow in earlier episodes without being heard. But this time around, there are White Walkers around, and the Dead, who she was hiding from a few scenes ago in the library.

A long build-up of 8 years for the Night King threat and there isn’t really nothing after “The Long Night” that makes me feel the need to watch “Game of Thrones” again. “The Two Towers” left you with a need to watch “The Return Of The King”. “Empire Strikes Back” left you with a need to watch “Return Of The Jedi”. “The Last Jedi” doesn’t leave me with a need to see anything else after it and this is the same feeling. It feels like an end, not as a cliff hanger.

It did have some good stuff. The hallways and rooms of Winterfell became like a horror labyrinth with the dead following and chasing. The fire storm around the night king and he didn’t burn, points to a Targaryen blood line. I was laughing so hard when the dead “sacrificed themselves” on the fire to form a bridge so the other dead can walk over it. Who would have thought, the dead can commit suicide in order to aid the other dead to succeed.

But from the very first episode, the whole “winter is coming” and the “white walker” threat was an important story and it all finished within one episode, which I am okay with, but really, what was the point apart from a mere distraction and a way to reduce the numbers of people alive. All they needed was a Thanos moment and a click of some fingers to do it.

And all of those Whitewalkers created from human babies didn’t even fight anyone, WTF.

But it is a sickness that I will watch the remaining episodes and of course the next Star Wars movie, titled, “The Rise Of Skywalker”. Till next time.

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