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

The More Things Stay The Same

Back in 1999, the record labels argued that they lost billions of dollars due to file sharing via Napster. They came up with this figure by saying that one file shared is the same as one lost sale. 20 years later, they are still exaggerating the same BS. And politicians get lobbied hard and suddenly there is legislation to support the record labels business models.

As internet speeds got faster, file sharing then started on movies and TV shows. Suddenly, politicians had even more money thrown at them to pass legislation from the movie studios. In democratic lands, ISP’s are forced to censor the internet, courtesy of the movie studios and music labels, which is no different to what dictatorship governments carry out on a daily basis. And when ISP’s don’t censor the internet, the movie studios and music labels take them to court for facilitating piracy. And while this is happening at the hands of the entertainment industry, the government themselves are stifling free speech by raiding the homes of reporters or by keeping eyes on the public through surveillance. ISP’s are also meant to store text messages, phone calls, web searches and tower pings on its customers.

So much for trusting the good guys.

Meanwhile, the music labels today are raking in billions courtesy of streaming (which started off as a legal alternative to peer to peer file sharing, which brought in $0). This shows, that if people are offered a legal alternative at a price which is right, they will take the legal option.

And those streaming billions were not there in the past. It took a tech company to create this revenue stream, while the record labels (the ones who should have been doing this) decided that the only way they could make money again is to get laws passed to protect old business sales model instead of innovating.

And an artist wants to have a label deal.

Why?

The labels don’t care about you and all they want is to lock up your copyright forever, because without the rights of songs, the labels have no power and if they have no power they cannot negotiate these huge licensing deals with streaming platforms.

Even the movie studios like Disney lobbied hard for laws to get passed to protect their old business models. Then Netflix, Hulu, HBO and Amazon came out with streaming services and brought in billions of dollars that were not there before. And now Disney is entering the streaming market. Enforcement doesn’t work but better legal alternatives do.

And the record labels still complain at the price of streaming. They reckon Spotify should charge more and also do away with the free tier, but are too gutless to bring out their own streaming platform and charge the money that they believe customers should pay. So they bash on Spotify or YouTube or Pandora.

And when politicians leave office, they get a nice cushy job for the very firms that lobbied them hard to introduce legislation in their favour. And this happens in democracy, which brings to mind the “One” video clip from Metallica and the scenes from the movie, “Johnny Got His Gun”.

Little Kid – When it comes my turn, will you want me to go?

Father – For democracy, any man would give his only begotten son.

We might want to re-think what the hell we are fighting for.

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

Who Should Watch Over The Royalties?

Last year, the Music Modernization Act became law, in an attempt to fix some aspects of Copyright. While it had a nice clause about moving some very old music into the public domain, the issue that got all the artists excited was the changes required to the mechanical licensing process for songwriters, making it easier for songwriters to get the royalties they are owed.

But.

In all the excitement no one thought to read the details. The law gives birth to a new collection society for these mechanical royalties. So companies/organizations had to submit their proposals to The Copyright Office. And the one that looks like it could win the “bid” (the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA)) is one of the organizations which caused part of the current mess with royalties.

In other words, it’s another system created to move money to the big music publishers and away from independent artists.

The publishers have the PR down, telling people how they represent all songwriters which is not quite true.

And independent songwriters make up 99% of the music business, but they are all confused about what is going on and what they need to do to collect their royalties. Trusting in organizations to do the right thing is not really a good business model. And in times of confusion, the one that benefits most, is the one in power, which is the NMPA.

As the Techdirt article explains:

There is a pot of unclaimed royalties that have already been paid by music services that is estimated to be between $1.5 and $2.5 billion.

With so much money at play, the new organization will need to create some fancy algorithms to match the monies to the songwriters. However, the new law also gives the new organization a POWER to distribute any unclaimed royalties to themselves after a three year period.

So how proactive do you think this new organization would be to find these independent songwriters?

And this kind of conflict of interest isn’t new. SoundExchange is a good example. In 2005, this new body was formed, a spin off from the labels to collect online royalties and by 2009 it had a lot billions of unclaimed royalties to couldn’t match, even to well known artists.

If the NMPA gets the green light from the Copyright Office they will control billions of dollars in royalties. It’s more power to the old legacy players.

As the are Techdirt article states, the biggest challenge to being a successful independent musician is not piracy, but rather the legacy industry getting in the way and keeping money it owes independent musicians.

The Techdirt article.

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

Gaming The System

If there is demand for an artists music then why aren’t the artists servicing the demand.

Because there are people putting up bootleg and demo recordings of popular artists on digital services and making money from it in the process. In some cases they even uploading fake recordings which somehow manage to get onto the artists homepage.

Actually that homepage part crap needs to be sorted by Apple and Spotify quickly because how the fuck can you fuck that up. Too much reliance on algorithms and not enough human eyes and ears.

I got a song in my Spotify Release Radar from Tommy Lee and instead of seeing the aged, white tattooed T-Bone, I see a young black rapper. Same deal with names like Dio, Ratt, Rush, Badlands, UFO, Keel, Vandenberg, Cinderella, Icon, KISS and Journey.

The process to game the system is simply.

You just set up an account with a digital distribution company and start releasing music.

Now these distribution companies are set up for independent artists to release music. But we have bullshit artists using it to game the system and fuck it up for legitimate independent artists.

And the digital distribution companies do have fraud prevention methods but people who are gaming the system are just getting smarter than the algorithms coded by people who are not as smart as the con artists.

One fraudulent leaker earned $60K in royalties by putting unreleased tracks from a popular artist on their Spotify and Apple Music accounts.

What the fuck were the artists record labels reps doing?

Didn’t they see these unreleased songs go up.

I guess not because, they were too busy fighting stream ripping sits, pirate sites, website blocking and anything else that involves censorship of the Net instead of developing artists and taking care of their artists and paying them on time and fairly.

The way the payments work for is that Spotify or Apple or Pandora will pay the digital distributor royalties for the artists. This normally happens three months after. So for royalties earned in January, the payments to the distributor happen in March/April.

And then the distributor will hold these payments as they “clear” the royalties from being free of any copyright claims. This takes another three months.

So for a fraudulent uploader to earn $60K, it means many people were asleep at the wheel.

And legitimate independent artists get punished even further as they wait over six months for a royalty payment. All because people want to game the system and the system has too many people asleep at the wheel.

Read this article over at Pitchfork.

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

YouTube Manual Claims

If it’s not Spotify, it’s YouTube.

If it’s not YouTube, it’s Pandora.

If it’s not Pandora, it’s streaming.

If it’s not streaming, it’s free streaming.

If it’s not free streaming, it’s stream ripping.

If it’s not stream ripping it’s torrents.

There is always something or someone which is in the sights of the record labels and their association, the RIAA.

YouTube was criticized for not doing enough to control unlicensed uploads of movies and music. YouTube then provided the entertainment industries with ContentId, a way to claim videos as theirs that other people have uploaded. And by doing so, they could claim any monies paid on the video.

But with any automated system, it’s open to abuse and the labels did a great job abusing it. Legitimate content that had a few seconds of music (which is fair use) to illustrate their story or point in the video got taken down or claimed.

A birthday party video which parents shared that had music in the background got taken down or claimed.

And the uploader had no real rights to fight back. So the labels kept on abusing this process. They even took down their own legal content on occasions.

But after years of complaints, YouTube is finally doing something about it. Or is it.

The story of YouTube changing its policies has been getting publicity as YouTube being this evil monolith against creators but their changes only relate to the manual claims tool available to Copyright Owners. Most big artists are part of major labels and they use ContentID.

And the problematic and automatic ContentID is still the same and still open to the same abuse.

However YouTube has seen a new greedy trend emerge in manually claiming videos. These people claim a small snippet of a video uploaded to YouTube and by default transfer all monies from the YouTube video creator to the Copyright Claimant.

By changing the rules, YouTube is not stopping people from claiming these videos but they are asking for evidence and timestamps which somehow is pissing off the claimants.

And the claimants can still block the video.

To me, it’s much ado about nothing, it’s still the same old world and nothing much has changed. But it still doesn’t stop artists from Tweeting how YouTube is ripping artists off.

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

Keep Your Eye On The Copyright

I haven’t done a copyright post for a few weeks, but the Google Alerts each day come up with some of the most WTF moments.

First up, is Eminem’s music publisher is suing Spotify because somehow Spotify is playing songs on its service without the proper permissions from one of the biggest artists.

Is Eight Mike serious?

I guess they are. Read the article here.

Eminem is streamed a lot on Spotify and somehow, Eight Mile (which is basically Eminem) reckons Spotify doesn’t have a license to have his songs on the service.

One of his songs” ‘Till I Collapse” has 702 million streams, so I wonder when or at what stage in those hundreds of million streams did the music publisher realise that Spotify didn’t have a license.

And there is so much talk about Eminem’s most popular track “Lose Yourself”, which to me is a rip off from “Kashmir” by Led Zeppelin. The Am to F transition over a droning pedal tone is not original or unique at all.

What seems to have happened here is that Eminem has seen how other artists have made their own special deals with Spotify and he’s thinking, “I want a piece of that pie”, so let’s drum up some BS rubbish to get Spotify to pay me more.

And while I am on the topic of payments, here is a win for the artist. Ennio Morricone, who composed some massive soundtracks back in the 70s won back the right to some of his songs from the label. But he had to go to court and to appeal to get his songs back.

Morricone gave up his Copyrights for a large upfront payment and low royalties in the late seventies, however his music became very popular from the 90’s onwards.

Metallica kept using his music as an intro to all of their concerts and suddenly the movies from the 70’s in which he composed music for, had a new lease of life in the 90’s with DVD releases and what not, but the composer got nothing.

The labels of course argued these are works for hire and that the artist is not entitled to his works.

And that large upfront payment the label would have made in the late 70’s would have been recouped tenfold over the last 30 years, while the artist would have had that just one payment.

And finally, we have the US Government siding with an artist on a copyright suit.

As people are aware, Plant and Page were accused and then cleared of copyright infringement in June 2016 over the opening bars of “Stairway To Heaven” and the song “Taurus” from the band Spirit.

The decision was appealed by the heirs and the judge agreed so it’s going back to court.

So should the Government pick a side here, especially when the whole mess of copyrights is because previous Governments kept on changing and extending the terms of Copyright to suit their back pockets.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Derivative Works, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Andy Warhol Was Right

As I was reading a Copyright story about a suit being brought against Lady Gaga for the song “Shallow”, I was also listening to “Andy Warhol Was Right” from Warrant.

And I couldn’t find any difference between the chords of these songs. And Warrant or the heirs of Jani Lane could have gone to court with Lady Gaga, but they haven’t.

And then you get a nobody like Steve Rosen who reckons that the song he created is so original and free from influence that someone must have copied him.

And he is claiming that his song “Almost” must have been copied. And he uploaded it to SoundCloud six years before “Shallow” was released, to prove that he was first.

Well, Warrant released “Andy Warhol Was Right” 20 years before Rosen’s “Almost”.

Andy Warhol said that every person will have their fifteen minutes of fame. I guess it’s the perfect song to sum up the range of copyright cases. People searching for their fifteen minutes.

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

Past Success

Is past success a good indication that you will have success again in the future?

Netflix thinks so, with the signing of the “Game Of Thrones” TV show creators to a $200 million deal. Their track record on reinterpreting other peoples material is pretty good, but their original content is pending review especially how they reinterpreted the last two seasons of GoT without really having source material to fill in the details.

This is like signing an artist to a $200 million deal when all of their songs are written by outside writers.

Remember the band Bananarama. They had a hit with “Venus”, a cover song and then their other hits were songs written by a British songwriting team called Stock-Aitken-Waterman. Well they got the mega deal, but didn’t really get the hits again.

Kevin DuBrow was given a million dollar contract to form his own band DuBrow but what the label failed to notice was that Quiet Riot’s two biggest songs are cover songs. Or offering Jay Jay French from Twisted Sister the same deal when Dee Snider wrote the material which made the band famous.

When Dokken splintered, Geffen went after Don Dokken and Elektra went after George Lynch, but what both labels failed to notice was that Jeff Pilson was the maestro, with a hand in co-writing all of Dokken’s most successful tracks. But no label went after him.

Even when Vince Neil left Motley Crue, he was courted by label’s and Warner Bros eventually signed him. But his fame is based on tracks Nikki Sixx had written.

Good business sense would be to see what their original shows or movies end up like.

But businesses don’t think like that. Netflix is losing subscribers for the first time in 11 years, Disney is taking back their content for their own streaming service and HBO and Amazon are also keen to get the GoT guys.

So by Netflix having these guys on board, by 2022 they would expect something in return. And Netflix would count on people keeping their subscriptions because of what they have in the pipeline.

But it’s all based on one key metric, as long as the GoT TV show creators brand doesn’t get further damaged in the meantime.

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