Copyright, Music, My Stories, Treating Fans Like Shit

Vinyl and CD’s

How misleading can the labels and the RIAA be?

You’ve seen the headlines about vinyl sales surpassing CD sales.

And how vinyl sales brought in $232.1 million and CDs brought in $129.9 million.

But the report also mentions that Physical Album Sales including vinyl is at 27.9 million units and that vinyl on its own has moved just 8.2 million units.

So the other 19.7 units are CD sales. I guess vinyl hasn’t surpassed CD’s in sales, but it has surpassed it in revenue, which the headlines fail to mention.

$232.1 million divided by 8.2 million units is $28 per vinyl record. Which sounds about right on average.

$129.9 million divided by 19.7 million units is $6.60 per CD, which also sounds right.

What’s your preference?

I don’t really have one anymore, except the price being right. I will not pay more than $20 for a vinyl record unless it’s included in a deluxe box set. Then again, I’m happy paying less than $20 for a Family Streaming account.

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

Music Scales

There was a line of thinking in the early 2000’s that the value of recorded music would be zero. That the album would be used purely as a promotional tool to get the artist on the road. That no one would make music anymore because why would they, if they can’t make any money from album sales.

Time Warner got so scared of these kind of conversations and Napster and illegal downloads and peer to peer sharing, that in 2004, they sold their music division of Warner Music/Atlantic/Elektra and their many associated labels for approx. $2.6 billion. In 2018, that same division, is valued at $15 billion.

Today, we have so much new music that it’s hard to keep up. The money received from recorded music is going up, because of streaming. And apart from the ones who made it or had public acceptance of their music or the oldsters, no one really creates to be paid.

They create because they need to create. It’s an outlet for them. It’s a way to express who they are, to put their thoughts and ideas into characters and into stories in the songs. If they do get paid afterwards, well that’s a by-product of their need to create.

And music gets bigger. If the artist has a song that connects or becomes a hit, it costs the label or the artist nothing to continue to sell that hit. Word of mouth would do that.

Think about the first two Black Sabbath album’s. Both albums were recorded and mixed in a short amount of time. The costs would have been minimal. And fast forward 50 years later, “Paranoid” has 362 million streams on Spotify. “Iron Man” has almost 220 million streams. “War Pigs” has 122 million streams. “N.I.B” has almost 50 million streams.

In other words, the costs of making the album evaporate quickly and the rest is almost pure profit, especially in the era of digital, where music lives forever and pays forever. So the labels have assets that will never go down to zero.

A few weeks ago I was thinking how Frontiers from Italy is constantly putting money out to get artists to record new music. From looking at the metal and rock genre, Frontiers have the most releases from any label that I am aware off. They even get artists from different bands to work together, like Michael Sweet and George Lynch. Well, the Frontiers execs are aware that by having assets like the copyright of the music in their building, those assets will never go down to zero.

And Frontiers is thinking, we need to have a catalogue of songs like Universal and Warner’s.

Warner Music has the history of recorded music as an asset. Led Zeppelin. They have it. Prince. They have it. Twisted Sister. They have it.

You get the drift.

And people will always want to listen to songs from artists, so Warner will get paid for decades, until the copyright runs out, which in my lifetime will never happen. In other words, music is a better investment than anything else. If you buy physical property, you would need to maintain it, renovate it and keep paying bills for utilities, however music just scales.

And people will keep on creating and the labels will get bigger if they are the ones funding the creating. But creators are smarter these days and they know that if they give up their copyrights for a fee right now, they might miss out on millions later.

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Progress Is Derivative

Coney Hatch released “Friction” in 1985.

The song “Monkey Bars” has a riff and vocal melody that sounds like a Beatsie Boys tune called “Fight For Your Right (To Party)” which came out in 1986.

Kingdom Come released their self titled debut in 1988.

“Get It On”, takes the entire chord progression from “Kashmir” and “What Love Can Be” takes from “Since I’ve been loving You” and “The Rain Song”.

Bon Jovi released Slippery When Wet” in 1986 and Desmond Child just took the music and melodies of a song he wrote for Bonnie Tyler called “If You Were A Woman (And I Was A Man)” and used it for “You Give Love A Bad Name”. Then Belinda Carlisle and her team came out with “Heaven Is a Place on Earth” a year later.

Basically be influenced and take what came before and make it better.

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Copyright, Music, Stupidity

Clive Palmer and Dee Snider

Dee Snider and Jay Jay French along with Universal are still waiting on an outcome of their copyright infringement suit against Clive Palmer for using the melody of “Were Not Gonna Take It” for his political ad of “Australia’s Not Gonna Cop It”.

Good luck guys.

In case you are not aware, this is the same Clive Palmer who sued the state of Western Australia (WA) for $30 billion dollars over an iron ore mine dispute.

He lost that one after the WA government passed a retroactive law stopping suits like this.

He then took the same state to court again, but this time to challenge their border closure. For those who don’t know, WA closed their borders to the rest of Australia and so far they have gone 100 plus days with no Covid-19 cases.

He lost that one as well.

Now he’s talking the WA Premier to court for defamation because the comments made by the Premier “injured Palmers feelings”.

This one is still pending.

And somehow amidst all this there is that copyright case from Dee Snider.

And amidst all of this is Palmer donating to certain political parties so he gets his way.

Good luck Dee.

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

Certified Sales And Reach

I’m digging the data that comes from Stream N Destroy.

Based on RIAA certifications (total album units certified by the RIAA) Iron Maiden has 6.5 million sales in the US.

Megadeth and Tesla are also sitting at the same certification amount across their catalogue.

Who do you reckon has the biggest audience when it comes to playing live from the 3 bands?

Which tells me that Iron Maiden must be the most heavily pirated band there is. Their sales of recorded music compared to their sales of concert tickets and merchandise just don’t correlate. They get the same attendance as Metallica would get, yet the difference in certified album units between the bands is huge.

Metallica is at 63 million certified units.

While Megadeth and Tesla do play live, the crowds they get compared to Maiden are very different but they have the same amount of certified album sales.

So sales of recorded music does not correlate to massive concert attendances.

David Lee Roth, Muse and Dokken are sitting at 3.5M certified units but Muse plays gigs to 15,000 people and are headliners for certain European summer festivals.

Dokken even at their height didn’t play venues that big nor did David Lee Roth as a solo artist.

Like with Maiden, the sales of certified units don’t correlate with the concert attendances.

Since the sales don’t correlate to the increased demand for concert tickets, is it illegal downloading or the access to music via streaming driving the growth?

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Copyright, Music, My Stories

Scale

From a streaming point of view, the basic rule of scale is to increase the subscribers, so more artists are sharing the pool of money. This increase of subscribers doesn’t require an increase in resources and there’s no extra effort needed.

And this might mean that each and every stream might be worth less per stream but the lump sum should be higher.

But streaming doesn’t have scale from one company alone.

Combined it might, once you add YouTube to the mix. But have you seen the numbers on YouTube of popular songs compared to their Spotify numbers. Their lower which might correlate that people have made the transition to Spotify streaming.

And entities becomes more valuable as more people use them. It’s a big reason why record labels became valuable, as we had to use them to get our fix of music.

But we don’t need to use the labels today. However streaming companies do need to use them, hence the reason why the streaming companies are the labels biggest client and the labels don’t care the rest, especially us fans.

And the labels profit even more from all the innovations that happen in streaming. But it’s the artists that make the connections with fans.

So are the streaming providers the real problem or the labels?

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Originality And Competing With The History Of Recorded 🎶

Everyone who wants to play can play in the music industry. It doesn’t mean you’ll get paid for it. It doesn’t mean that you are entitled to be paid for it.

Creating art and finding connections with art happens at curious times for people. When we lived in the monoculture created by MTV, the chances were high for an artist to connect based on their music video being put on rotation.

How long those connections lasted was a different thing entirely?

And the system of the old legacy players would like to tell artists that if they don’t chart they don’t exist, but if you look at what’s in the streaming top 50 it doesn’t correlate to the Billboard charts top 50 or any other chart. And what was old and done is back again. “Bohemian Rhapsody” is back and so is “In The Air Tonight”. And the Black album outsells them all.

Previously the general viewpoint was that the artists new release was competing against other artists new releases for people’s attention. Now, the new release is competing against the whole history of recorded music for people’s attention.

It’s always been about longevity.

The first week numbers in 10 years are irrelevant, but whether you can last and sustain, is important.

How relevant are the first week numbers for Dokken, Quiet Riot, Skid Row, Ratt and White Lion today?

Zilch.

And there will be heirs of artists and failed artists who believe that someone else’s hit song is from an idea of theirs.

To quote Adam Grant, “Originality doesn’t mean being first, it means being different and better.”

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Feed The Copyright

It’s not even funny how much money the legal fraternity makes from music and Copyright issues. The legal teams of labels, artists and the heirs of artists make money from Copyright disputes. The legal teams of the same group make money from just representing those groups in contract negotiations and so forth.

But depending on what you read, streaming services are the problem because they don’t pay enough. Because these services also make money. While the streaming companies are running at a loss, the value of the people at the top of the Executive doesn’t diminish and their stock value is high.

Everyone is making money from so many different things except the artist. But it’s the artist who creates the content that engages with a person, who then becomes a fan and decides to spend their money on the artist.

This is what happens when artists are never allowed to be in the negotiation room when legislation is being drawn up.

When Corporations like the record labels are involved in the negotiations with their list of politicians on their payroll, well legislation looks very one sided. And when the labels get artists involved like Sonny Bono, these artists gets a handsome payday from the labels for their involvement which is probably a lot more than they would get from sales or even streams of their recorded music at that point in time.

So artists are now waiting for a judge to clarify whether they can reclaim their rights from record labels, even though the Copyright legislation states that they can.

The labels are digging deep with their counter arguments to prove that the termination requests are invalid. There best one is to say that the songs are “works for hire” which means that the label was an employer and the artist an employee, however the label didn’t meet any commitments that an employer needs to meet to be classed as an employer like annual leave, long service leave, sick leave, retirement pension contributions and yearly review of said salary and bonuses and so forth.

And the lawyers make even more money.

Remember when the streaming bodies disagreed with the Copyright Royalty Board on the new rates they need to pay to songwriters for streaming.

Well this disagreement went to an Appeals Tribunal and it’s all going back to the Copyright Royalty Board to renegotiate/review and to be a bit more transparent as to how the CRB do things or come up with things. Of course, this will be another public relations nightmare for Spotify, but then again they are the labels biggest client.

And it’s more money from the artists diverted to lawyers.

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

Streaming Hate Continues

The record labels and music news sites that benefit from reporting positive articles about the labels, talk about the billions of dollars the music industry made in the financial year just before Napster hit.

So from a simple viewpoint, when Napster hit, sales of music started to decline. For the RIAA and the record labels, these two events correlate, so it implies that one is causing the other to move. But the sales of music had been falling for some time.

What happened during the 90’s just before Napster went worldwide was a lot of re-purchasing.

People started to re-purchase the music they already owned on vinyl and cassettes on CD’s. These re-purchased items, in most cases re-mastered or super deluxe editions with bonus content at higher prices would skew the record label figures to make it look like new recorded music was bringing in billions of dollars when in fact it was people purchasing old catalogue items. And once we had those albums on CD, we didn’t really need to re-purchase them again.

But Napster also highlighted a gap in the business models of the labels. People liked to have access. If anything, people liked to have terabytes of culture saved on disk drives.

Some artists maintain that it was the right action to go after Napster. Others can’t wait for Spotify to die. They must think that people would just go out and buy their albums on physical again. The hard core always will but the majority won’t. They’ll revert to downloading.

The Napster gap allowed people to share their music collections (bootlegs and original recordings) in a very simple and convenient way. Napster got popular because of it, and the labels should have created something to match it.

But the labels did nothing, and more sharing applications kept coming. Then a small company called YouTube did fill the gap that Napster was really servicing. YouTube allowed people to upload their music collections. And YouTube today, generates billions of dollars. These billions could have been in the profit and loss statements of the record labels but they messed up.

We are 22 years post Napster, and the record labels did absolutely nothing to counter it, except scream for legislation and gestapo like police powers.

You want to know who is the labels biggest client. Spotify and the other streaming services.

You want to know who artists see as their biggest enemy. Spotify, but not the other streaming services..

The arrival of YouTube and eventually streaming services put a dent into the traditional sales model, but did these sharing and access platforms assist in increasing the crowds for artists?

Iron Maiden came back with Bruce Dickinson on “Brave New World”, bigger than ever and played to sold out crowds in countries they’ve hardly sold any recorded product in. Even the album “Brave New World” did nothing sales wise.

Twisted Sister and Motley Crue also came back bigger than ever post Napster and played to their biggest ever crowds until they retired. Then again Motley Crue just faked their retirement.

Did sharing of music assist in these high concert attendances as well?

To use the record label analogy of post Napster sales and pre Napster sales, these two events correlate, so it implies that one is causing the other to move. The same can be said about music being shared illegally and bands playing to their largest audiences ever. One event is causing the other to move.

And here we are in 2020 with a pandemic killing off the live show and no one really knowing how it will look once it is over. And the record labels are winning, making money from streaming revenue while the hard rock artists who have a presence want streaming to die.

But it’s the labels with the greatest share of the streaming revenue.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories

Streaming x3

Did you see the numbers at Universal?

For the first half of the year, recorded-music revenue reached €2.77 billion ($3.27 billion, up 3.7%), boosted once again primarily by a rise in streaming revenue (€1.81 billion/$2.14 billion, up 12.4%) that offset declines in physical sales (down 22.4%) and digital downloads (down 23.1%).

$2 billion in streaming revenue went to Universal Music Group for the first six months. That’s a lot of coin.

You know who is the labels biggest customer.

It’s Spotify.

If Spotify is the enemy, why have recorded music revenues increased?

How much of those streaming monies went to the artists, well that’s another story?

Only Universal has the answer for that?

Blabbermouth and Loudwire have seized on the tweets from artists and are running with it. It always gets eyeballs and people commenting which sells ads on those sites. But Blabbermouth or Loudwire don’t take a stance either way on the issue, which is shit journalism. Or it’s basically PR journalism.

For a different view, Bob Lefsetz summed it up nicely here and here. And he’s a music fan like all of us who owns physical and likes to stream.

Streaming tells us how big the artist really is and if people are really listening to their music.

And music is a lottery. No one is entitled to make a living from it or to keep making a living from it.

And for the ones who claim no one is buying physical anymore, Taylor Swift just moved 600K in the US of her recent album for one week. So people are buying, but their just not interested in what other artists are selling.

And let’s put some context around what’s happening .

Queen is Number 1 on the list of artists for the Top 40 Most Streamed Artists in the Hard Rock/Metal/Punk, Etc. for the period July 24, 2020 – July 30, 2020 from the site StreamNDestroy..

Queen has 22M streams for “Bohemian Rhapsody”. The data is compiled from a Rolling Stone list which features all genres.

On that list, Queen is actually sitting at Number 63. A long way away from number 1. And the 22 million streams from Queen are dwarfed by Taylor Swift at 300 plus million streams for a week.

What I see is a 44 year old song still earn a lot of coin when once upon a time it was only earning monies from radio plays. And this song will keep earning monies forever and a day, as long as people listen to it.

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