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

A Note To APRA AMCOS and Andrew Harris – It’s A Brave New World. Deal With It.

We live in a far better world when it comes to the consumption of entertainment products. As much as the RIAA, the Performing Rights Organisations and the labels still use the smokescreen piracy argument, we are as a matter of fact living in a post piracy world.

The user decides what he or she likes. The user decides how they will tell their friends about what the like. In most cases, it is via social media. And the recording industry is scared of this. It is scared because a social media account has more reach than their marketing efforts. They are scared because the audience is connected to one another and that they are out of the loop.

So when I read an opinion piece from an APRA representative that is all fluff and without any fact, it upsets me. It upsets me because it is misleading. It upsets me because as an APRA AMCOS member, that this line of thinking is the best that they could come up with. Seriously Andrew Harris needs to get his head out of the lies and really take a look at the world. You would expect that a person with a title of Principal Analyst at APRA AMCOS would actually do some analysis.

His whole piece is misleading. From the start to the end.

What streaming services like Spotify have shown is that people that did pirate and paid nothing for the content are now actually contributing to the recording business through the free-ad supported Spotify. It is putting money there where previously it didn’t exist.

There will always be people that will upload and download pirated content in the same way that people bootlegged copyright recordings in the pre-Internet days. Hell, the whole rock and roll movement that swept over the Communist Eastern Bloc in the Sixties’ was from bootlegged recordings.

Furthermore, Napster showed the recording business what music customers want. And 15 years later there still isn’t a legal version of what Napster created. If people want to download mp3’s for free, then allow them to do so legally. If the ads on the pirate sites generated so much money, then why doesn’t the recording industry cater to suit. Instead you get the recording industry with their larger acts locking up their content to capitalise on first week sales because that is still their mentality.

Seriously, since when did copyright infringement become such a dangerous crime to warrant monitoring and surveillance of people’s on line behaviours because the recording industry along with the movie industry are insistent that the privacy of people and their digital footprint needs to be stored and monitored in the name of protecting profits.

The truth is that the recording industry has not delivered on all of the demands of customers.

There are still customers that want to download high quality mp3’s for free. Cater to that market with free advertising and you will see more money enter the record labels pockets.

There are still customers that want to download uncompressed FLAC audio files for free. Cater to that market with free advertising and you will see more money enter the pockets of the record labels. I don’t know how much the artist will end up getting but one thing that is certain, is that the record labels are all cashed up.

And it is possible to compete with free. Free to air TV networks have competed for over 70 years.

Does that mean that sales of a physical product are gone? My answer is NO because fans of bands will always want that special unique deluxe package. The part that some labels like Rat Pak or artists like Coheed and Cambria get and other labels or artists don’t get is that the deluxe package in 2014 is more than a CD with a DVD. Those days are long gone.

In relation to APRA all you need to do is cast your mind back to 2008 when APRA supported an aggressive new copyright law in New Zealand including punishment of persons accused but not proven to be infringing copyright. This position was opposed by artists and APRA members but hey they still thought it was a good idea.

The thing with Andrew Harris and APRA AMCOS is that they get paid when they collect monies on behalf of the songwriters. And the thing is, even though streaming pays the rights holders which in most cases are the Record Labels, where does APRA AMCOS fit in all of this.

The AMCOS arm collects and distributes mechanical royalties for the reproduction of musical works in CD’s, music videos, DVD’s and digital downloads to name a few. So if people are streaming music, what does AMCOS collect? This is from APRA’s sustainability report published in October 2013.

Nowadays, new media accounts for almost 50% of AMCOS revenue, with licensing revenue from digital downloads totalling $26.7m in 2012/13. Revenue from subscription and ad-funded services more than doubled during the year, however, to $1.2m, and most of the world’s major players in that space – including Spotify, Google, Rdio and Deezer –now operate in Australia and NZ.

By comparison, traditional mechanical royalties from the sale of physical product accounted for only $10.5m of AMCOS revenue during 2012/13 – a decline of some $4m over the year – and a figure that is expected to decline further in the immediate future.

And that is the crux of the argument from APRA AMCOS which has been the same argument from the record labels for a long time. Still focused on what they get paid right now without any thought as to what a future with a hundred million paying streaming subscribers could bring to its business. Still focused on CD sales right now instead of a future with a billion subscribers who download mp3’s for free on ad supported legal websites.

It’s a brave new world out there and it is a shame that organisations that make their money from artists/songwriters are not doing their best to push innovation and in turn make more money for their members.

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