A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy

Under My Copyright

I haven’t done one of these Copyright posts for a while because there has been too much information going around and I couldn’t decide what to write about. Like GNR suing an hardcore fan for leaking demos of “Chinese Democracy” or Kate Perry being accused of copying an artist that no one has heard off.

But then Public Domain 2020 happened and suddenly I was interested in Copyright stories again.

So I started with something close to home.

Australia was once on the US watchlist for countries who consumed content illegally. So the US government pressured our government to get tough on illegal downloads. But everyone just kept on saying, offer enough legal alternatives at the right price and people will take it up. So is it any real surprise that Australians are now taking up these legal options.

Remember that Copyright was created for the artists to have an incentive to create more works. According to Blink-182s Tom DeLonge, this means selling your publishing rights to a corporation for a hefty fee. Of course he’s not the only one. All of our favorite and popular artists have done it. This one is strange because DeLonge even said “he now has an incentive to create more”. And I’m thinking, really.

But the best one is The Rolling Stones along with Abkco Music and Records, dropping 75 rare recordings onto YouTube, hours before they were going to enter the Public Domain in Europe. Actually it was Abkco that uploaded them to YouTube.

And just in case people tried to copy the recordings, Abkco added a dial-tone to obscure the sound and after 24 hours moved the recordings from the public site to a private, invite-only site.

Basically if Abkco didn’t release the recordings within 50 years after they were made, they would lose the copyright. The Beatles and Bob Dylan have done something similar in the past. And if a YouTube post is deemed eligible as a release then Abkco’s copyright term will last until the end of 2089. I guess Abkco has an incentive to create. There’s nothing better than a corporation have the copyrights of a song for 120 years.

And you know the saying if you have a hit expect a writ. Miley Cyrus released a song called “We Can’t Stop” and it went to Number 2 on the charts. It was kept out of number 1 by “Blurred Lines” from Robin Thicke.

Both songs got served with writs and have settled. Cyrus settled before it went to verdict and Thicke at trial with the Gaye family.

The song that was number 3 on the charts better watch out. Someone is after them.

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A to Z of Making It, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Guitar Heroes and MTV

The huge success of EVH and Randy Rhoads from Southern California in the late seventies and early eighties, created an entire scene of guitarists in LA’s Sunset Strip.

Most of them were classed as imitators.

In a different era only a few of these guitarists would have made it. But these guitarists had something that no other guitarist had before them.

MTV.

A new market was created by music television that needed artists with a “god like” physical look and “love making” stage moves. And in order to satisfy the masses, MTV told the labels to go and get these artists. And major labels signed em in droves.

Dressed up as characters from “The Rocky Horror Show” and big hair, the anti-alpha look went against the alpha style lyrics of sexual domination and standing your ground.

Suddenly, everyone who wanted to be an artist was having their own fifteen minutes of fame contract thrown at them.

MTV went into business with heavy metal and the biggest beneficiaries were vocalists and guitarists.

And Lemmy once said, “the essence of rock and roll is rebellion” and “the only reason for rock and roll to exist is to be the soundtrack for the movie of teenage angst and anger”.

And there was a lot of teenage angst and anger. We snapped up the records and concert tickets and T-shirt’s at an unbelievable pace, fueled by the over exposure that MTV created, along with the various magazines.

Guitarists like Vito Bratta, George Lynch, Warren DeMartini/Robin Crosby, Carlos Cavazo, CC DeVille, Jake E Lee, Joey Allen/Erik Turner, Traci Gunns, Mark Kendall, Vinnie Vincent and Tom Keifer all had moments in the spotlight.

Artists like Lynch and Lee had success with multiple projects, while Keifer had an unbelievable ability to take old blues influences and turn them into popular rock songs. But he got lumped in with the rest of the hair Metal artists.

Warren DeMartini also got classed into this hair metal category but he was an outlier and Vito Bratta for all of his abilities couldn’t shake the EVH clone comparisons and a vocalist who couldn’t shake the DLR and Vince Neil comparisons.

It’s a very subjective viewpoint but for the other guitarists, did they really produce an album’s worth of great material.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Purpose

I’ve been watching “Peaky Blinders” on Netflix. My wife is a fan and I move in and out of episodes which is okay with me.

I like the format of six, 1 hour episodes a season. It keeps the focus on the story and there is no filler episodes.

There is a scene in season 3 I think, where the main character was unsure if he should keep going with all the criminal activities, in an attempt to have enough cash to go legit (which is always a gangster’s dream, to turn legal from being illegal).

So he went to shovel shit for a little bit to see what it felt like to be doing it because if he wasn’t doing all the criminal stuff, this is the job he would have had. Obviously he didn’t like it and returned to his illegal businesses with the hope to get enough cash to be legit.

The TV show “Power” is built on a similar premise, in which the main character James St Patrick attempts to go legit from distributing drugs. Even the third “Godfather” movie had the same premise, with Al Pacino’s character attempting to go legit, which all comes crashing down on him at the end, when old enemies come back for some retribution. Even “Sons Of Anarchy” had Jax trying to go legit before it all went to hell.

And I was thinking about the character in “Peaky Blinders” (who acted the excellent “Scarecrow” character in Christopher Nolan’s “Batman” trilogy) and I was thinking how in the show he has his purpose and he just keeps doing everything he can to achieve his purpose while trying to protect the family.

Whenever the purpose is in doubt he would go back and do what he would have been doing before he started on his journey, just to see if he liked it. If he didn’t, that was enough information he needed to stay with the purpose.

And at no stage does he forget about his purpose.

So whenever the purpose is in doubt go back and do what you would have been doing before you started on your journey and see if you like it.

If you don’t like it, then stay with the purpose. And remember, everything in life is a lifers game. When to change and start a new project is the hard part.

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

Public Domain 2020

The post over at Duke University.

The purpose of copyright is to promote creativity. And it does so by providing creators a limited monopoly to distribute their works with the aim to make money.

The limited time for works was 28 years and if the creator renewed they would get another 28 years and if they didn’t renew, then the works would end up in the Public Domain. All up 56 years was the term.

But not all works made money so 98% of them would end up in the Public Domain after 26 years.

What’s the point in renewing if it’s worth nothing?

Having copyright terms that last 70 years after the death of the creator does not promote creativity.

It promotes money for lawyers because of the heirs who sue or it make money for the corporations who control the rights.

It also promotes laziness from the creator who has no incentive to create anymore works. Certain artists tell us that they have no incentive to create new works and are quite happy to live off their past works which had public acceptance.

Works from 1924 will enter the US public domain and most of these works are already in the public domain in other parts of the world, which means anyone can use these works as raw material for their own creations, without fear of a lawsuit.

Prior to the 1976 Copyright Act (which became effective in 1978), the maximum copyright term was 56 years—an initial term of 28 years, renewable for another 28 years. Under those laws, works published in 1963 would have entered the public domain if Copyright was never extended to last for the life of the creator plus 70 years.

Works from 1963 like the songs from The Beatles’ albums “Please, Please Me” and “With The Beatles” or songs from The Beach Boys’ album “Surfin’ U.S.A” album’s would be in the Public Domain.

Imagine that.

All those works available to build new works, in the same way way The Beatles and The Beach Boys built their works on the blues music already in the Public Domain at that point in time.

But when we create works, we do not do it because of Copyright law. We do it because we need to create and we love to create.

Imagine if those terms existed past 1978. Works from 1991 which failed to get renewed would be in the Public Domain.

Imagine that.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories

Decade Of Teachings

DONT SELL YOUR RIGHTS

The recording business thrived on getting artists to sells their rights to the labels in a shot at fame. And the label would keep the bulk of the sales/payments. So when sales started to decline and streaming started to rise, the artists who did not sell their rights or got their rights back, started to grin.

PAYMENTS

You will get paid as long as people keep listening. Or do what Dave Coverdale does with his anniversary editions.

MARKETING

It’s all about word of mouth. What the press promotes, does not crossover to public acceptance anymore.

TOURING

Artists who can play get an audience on the road once they have some streaming numbers on cities. So they build online and capitalize on the road.

ONCE

One offs are one offs. They never happen again to the same scale like Radiohead’s pay what you want model or Kickstarter fan funding to the tune of a millions or PSY’s “Gangnam Style” viral video or Guitar Hero consoles.

STREAMING

Promoters book you based on your streaming numbers. And in most cases, artists break on streaming services before radio and music news websites jump on the bandwagon.

SUPERSTARS

Everyone can play the modern game and if you look at peoples EOY lists for favorite releases, there is a lot of variance.

A lot of variation and each fan has an act which they see as superstars.

So the days of an artist crossing over into the conversation on all levels is done. Satisfy your core, who will sustain you.

RELATIONSHIPS

It’s between the artist and the fan, not the label or the promoter. If the artist doesn’t have that fan relationship, the labels and the promoter make nothing.

PLAYLISTS

Don’t waste time or money trying to get onto a playlist with the hope that you will be discovered. It doesn’t work and to make it work, costs time and money, which nobody wants to pay to fix because streaming services haven’t made any profits yet. And the record labels are just takers.

REPETITION

It hardly exists. Skimming and skipping tracks is the current emperor. But when we do get hooked then we listen forever.

NEW MUSIC

Create because you want to create. Don’t be like the artists who say “it’s not worth it, to write and release new music”.

Don’t put money first.

SAFETY NET

There isn’t one in music. Just because you spend time creating, it doesn’t mean you will be taken off financially.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Don’t waste too much time each day on promoting yourself there. Keep writing and releasing. 10 percent of your followers/fans on these accounts make up your fan base. The rest are not interested.

And use social media to your advantage.

There is no need to do a press tour and interviews with various websites. All you are doing is driving traffic to them who then use it to sell ads.

Drive traffic to you.

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Experiences

When Zoltan Bathory was putting together a band in 2004, he had a vision to bring metal back to the masses. Like em or not, Five Finger Death Punch have been going full steam ahead since then.

And if you want to use the U.S RIAA certification as a metric of success the FFDP tick all the boxes.

Their debut album,‘The Way of the Fist’ released in 2007, is certified Gold in the U.S which means it has moved 500,000 units.

2009’s “War Is The Answer” is Platinum, having moved over a million units. Their cover of the song “Bad Company” is also Platinum. I guess you can’t keep a good song down.  

2011’s “American Capitalist” is also Platinum. 2013’s two album release, “The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell” also have certifications. “Volume 1” is Platinum and” Volume 2” is Gold.

“Got Your Six” released in 2015 is Gold. The most recent album “And Justice For None”, released in 2018, is not far away from a Gold certification and neither is their 2017 best of release “A Decade Of Destruction”.

From the streaming side.

The song “Bad Company” has 144,342,692 streams on Spotify. “Wrong Side Of Heaven” has 166,262,954 streams. And other songs are also in the 100 million range like “Jekyll And Hyde” which has close to 142 million streams.  

On YouTube, the numbers are the same. The film clip from “Wrong Side Of Heaven” has 272 million views. “Wash It All Away” has 162 million views. “Bad Company” is at 109 million views. “Jekyll And Hyde” vide has 86 million views.

The house that Death Punch built is strong.

And FFDP is not the first band the guys were in. All of the guys had skin in the game. In some cases decades of skin.

So what does this tell us?

Inspiration doesn’t take place in a vacuum. All day long we are experiencing and quality doesn’t come with no prior experience. 

Our whole life is a database of information. Be ready to index it and then reference it. Use this database of life to create something better. Learn from the database of life and keep on creating.    

FFDP have found their signature voice and they are servicing their fan base. It is the fans that matter. They are the ones that give the band the chance to create and release albums. Not the record labels or the money that the labels throw at the band. The fans are king in the relationship. Without them, FFDP has nothing and neither does the record label.

Experiences are everything in music. It is the difference between making a connection with a fan or not making a connection.

FFDP have paid their dues and they have mined their lives for content.

And they didn’t quit.

And see you next year.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy

Getting Paid

I’m seeing news articles that Spotify’s payment rate is declining.

But there never was a set payment rate per stream. It was always based on your streams in a pool of streams and what percentage you take in the pool of streams based on countries and the pool of money of available to be paid out and your percentage stake in those monies.

Yep it sounds simple, but it’s creative accounting at its best and the music industry is well known for it.

However there is an argument that with Spotify’s subscribers growing, the payments to artists for the same amount of streams they had in previous years is lower. A normal person would assume that a growing membership, would mean more money in the pool and that would mean a higher payment for the same amount of streams.

As much as I am a fan of Spotify and streaming services in general, all of these organizations also deal in the murky world of creative accounting like the labels.

And Spotify should be worried.

Their business model is based on licensing agreements. Like Netflix’s original business model. But Netflix started doing original content over 10 years ago. Spotify hasn’t.

Because Netflix knew that the companies they license content from, will form their own streaming service one day. In this case, Disney created Disney TV. And I reckon the labels are watching this with interest. If it works out okay for Disney TV, and the costs are low to host a steaming service, then the labels will consider their own streaming service. It’s just a matter of time.

So imagine a world with Universal deciding to do the same as Disney.

Because the labels never cared that people accessed the music of their artists illegally. They used that as part of their PR, to show that they cared about their artists and to get politicians to pass laws to protect their businesses.

What the labels really cared about was losing control of the distribution and the gatekeeper monopoly they had for so long.

So if the labels go into their own streaming offering, they will get back control of the distribution and a sort of monopoly again. And the only way for Spotify to exist if this happens, is to become a label themselves and pay people to generate content instead of paying organizations to access content.

Spotify might not pay artists what they think they should be paid but at least they are getting paid because Spotify has to pay based on the agreements they have with the labels and the legislation in place around royalty rates. If the label and the publishers keep the monies, then the artist has to negotiate a better deal when they sign up for that initial advance payment.

But once the distribution goes back under the labels control, good luck in getting paid because the labels will get all creative and will work out that the artist owes them money instead. And if the labels do work out that there are payments due to the artists, then those payments are based on the contract artists sign with the label.

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