Copyright, movies, Music, My Stories

Streaming And Theaters

There will always be just a few.

Facebook and Twitter control social media at the moment. Snapchat is there and TikTok is rising until Donald Trump got his government to pass a law to suppress it. Regardless who comes, in the end, only a few will remain. Google has search and Trump doesn’t like their dominant market position, so they have an Anti-Trust hearing happening. But no one is rushing to use the other search engines.

Netflix controlled visual streaming, but COVID-19 has shown how versatile Disney can become, pivoting their company to focus on Disney+ within a matter of months. It’s a big F.U to all the theatres who overcharged anyway and Disney has positioned the company as a proper streaming rival to Netflix. They have seen how much money they have left on the table by not being involved in the streaming market. Even Apple and Amazon have seen how much money is to be made by creating original content. And let’s not forget the biggest one, YouTube.

And the only ones who made money and released new content when COVID-19 hit, were the streaming services.

Of course there will always be other players popping up here and there, but they don’t last forever.

Quibi is one that comes to mind, the 10 minute or less mobile video streaming service created by people who watch documentaries on the History channel and suddenly they thought they knew what the young wanted.

Short episodes to watch on your mobile, while you walk.

And they convinced a lot of entities to invest. Well, it’s dead and buried, taking the $US1.75 billion from investors to start up and then shutting up shop, six months later.

The big labels are down to a few when once upon a time it was many.

Music streaming started off with YouTube.

Then others came like Pandora, Grooveshark, Spotify, Tidal, Apple and Deezer. There are others, but only a few will remain in the end. Pandora is entrenched and so is YouTube. Spotify has decent market share and is continuing to expand. The next step for them would be to produce new music themselves, like a label.

Apple is all about their gadgets and streaming is a means to an end. Grooveshark was found guilty of copyright infringement and closed while Tidal is there for the owners Jay Z and other artists to cash in.

Like the movie Highlander, there can be only one. Maybe two.

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Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories

Copyright Ain’t Gonna Take It

Dee Snider and Universal are facing off against the army of lawyers from Clive Palmer over his parody version of “We’re Not Gonna Take It”, which he called “Australia’s Not Gonna Cop It”.

All because he didn’t want to pay the original licence fee.

But Palmer has a team of lawyers, who are really good at getting him out of things and Snider has Universal and it’s lawyers.

And when it comes to entertainment lawyers, Aussies still remember that iiNet case, when the labels and movie studios took one of our favorite ISP’s to court. It was a test case by the entertainment groups to see if a court would find an ISP guilty of copyright infringement on behalf of its users before they took on the big ISP’s in Optus and Telstra. But the labels and movie studios lost their case.

And the entertainment lawyers are usually on the other side of the argument here, defending themselves and trying to weasel their way out of things. But now Palmer is doing the weaseling and the labels need to prove.

Palmer’s legal team is pushing a real grey area of Copyright law around parodies. They are saying that what Palmer did constitutes a parody, which Copyright law allows them to do. And they are saying that since “We’re Not Gonna Take It” is a copy of “O Come All Ye Faithful”, Palmer didn’t need to pay for a licence.

And I don’t think Universal is doing a great job putting their case forward?

Universal are arguing that copyright has been breached and are seeking royalty payments and additional damages.

And Palmer is doing to Universal what the labels normally do to artists or ISP’s. Twist the truth. Mislead.

Suddenly, Palmer is a creative, who has a book next to his bed, to scribble down thoughts and ideas at 4am in the morning, because that’s what creatives like him do. Wake up early and create.

Please.

A rock on the ground is more creative than Palmer.

Even Mariah Carey got thrown into the mix.

And the hearing continues.

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

Theater Of Copyright

It looks like the “Stairway To Heaven” case going to die?

For those that don’t know, Michael Skidmore (from here on in, known as “The Trustee”), is the trustee for the Randy Craig Wolfe Trust, which has the rights to the songs written by Randy Wolfe and his time in the rock band Spirit. The song in question here is “Taurus” and the similar feel and structure that both songs have.

My view on this is easy, a dead artist cannot hold a copyright and the law which changed copyright terms to last the life of the artist plus 70 years after death is a stupid one.

Because this is the rubbish you get. But Jimmy Page didn’t win because of the silliness of dead people holding copyrights.

Jimmy Page won because the sheet music is different. But “The Trustee” believes that the court should have been able to hear the sound recordings. But that rule allowing sound recordings came into place in the mid 70’s and the songs in dispute here are under old laws.

Anyway, the case got booted.

But for how long will “artists of the now” be taken to court over copying claims from the trustees or heirs of dead artists. Institutions cannot charge fees to the dead, so how can the dead claim a copyright and be paid for it and whoever passed a rule to allow copyright to be transferred to others has committed a wrong to the public domain.

Did you see that Universal Music Group announced a $1.2B Hotel, Performance Venue and Casino in Mississippi? It’s also going to do a similar venture in Atlanta and Orlando.

You see, this is what happens when artists give away all of their rights to the labels. It gave the labels power. They used that power to lock up culture for the life of the artist plus 70 years after the death.

But David Crosby still tells everyone streaming is the enemy. Gene Simmons as well. The enemy to an artist is ignorance and a fixed mindset. There is a lot of money in recorded music. As long as you hold the copyright to the recorded music.

Otherwise why would companies spend a lot of money buying the copyrights to popular songs. The return on these songs because of streaming payments is always going up, while stocks on Wall Street go down.

And look no further than Frontiers Records from Italy. They are releasing a lot of product compared to other labels because their President knows that music scales and will keep paying forever.

And the Labels, they are pieces of work. It’s a power play. You know how artists are trying to reclaim their copyrights back from the labels after 35 years, which is legislated in Copyright Law, but the labels are fighting hard to keep the rights. So while those court cases are ongoing, the labels are now counter suing the artists for selling their own albums on their websites or for using the album art on their websites.

So the artist make the labels rich and somehow the artists are the problem.

And Copyright keeps getting very ugly because artists sue each other.

You see an idea is an idea. I could have an idea for a song here in Australia, and there is a very high probability that other people would have a similar idea, somewhere else in the world. And when one song becomes a hit, then expect a writ, because even though ideas are not copyrightable, there is also someone who believes they are.

But.

And there is always a but when it comes to Copyright.

If there isn’t a court case for similar ideas, then there are cases over licensing, samples and whatever else lawyers can fit into the grey world which is Copyright.

Not sure if you have seen the stories about Tracy Chapman suing Nicki Minaj over a sample from Chapman’s song “Baby Can I Hold You” which appears on an unreleased track from Minaj called “Sorry”.

The song “Sorry” was pulled from the album’s release because the label couldn’t get clearance to use the sample. Minaj even begged Chapman over Twitter to approve it, but Chapman is anti-samples.

And even though the song was pulled, it still didn’t stop the song from getting played on radio stations and once the song was aired, the fans quickly ripped it from the broadcast and sent it out onto the worldwide web.

Hence the court case. Chapman wants payments and Minaj says there are none.

And the arguments have all gone off track and no one really knows what the hell they are arguing and counter arguing over. Anyway, Minaj won the case.

And labels just keep doing wrong on behalf of the artists. Here you have a label called Trax Records who specialise in dance and house recordings being accused of fraudently filing sound recordings to the U.S Copyright Office of other artists and claiming the recordings as their own.

Sony Music is also doing everything it can to keep as much money from old artists in the Sony bank account. Sony paid $12.7 million to settle a case and is allowed to deny any wrongdoing. It’s amazing what $12 million buys. The fact that these old songs are still under copyright, long after the artist has passed away is an issue for me.

I guess Copyright just lives on and on and on and the courts are kept busy with cases and the labels keep ripping creators off, while they invest in start-ups, make billions and then build casinos.

All in the name of Copyright.

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

Copyright KW

I’m not a Kanye West fan, but here are seven tweets he put out there a week ago that would ruffle some feathers.

  1. The artist owns the copyright in the recordings and songs and leases them to the record label / publisher for a limited term. 1 year deals

This is the big one.

The record labels have a powerful seat at the negotiation table because they have the copyrights to valuable songs locked up for a very long time. Even investment companies are now buying out these valuable assets because they realised the return on investment on these popular songs is huge.

Music scales.

  1. The record label / publisher is a service provider that receives a share of the income for a limited term. The split can be 80/20 in the artists favour.

The record labels believed that it was all about them, and that in order to get a person to the top, it was the label that did all the hard work by outlaying money. And they got pretty pissed when they didn’t get the recognition.

Well, that’s not really true is it. The artist had to write the songs and people had to connect with the song for the artist to rise to the top. It didn’t really matter what the label did in relation to marketing. If people connected, then word of mouth would have been enough.

And in today’s reality, no established artist needs a label. They can write music and release to digital service providers immediately. The physical aspect might be a bit challenging, but if you have an established fanbase, well you don’t need a label in between. The artist should go direct to the fan.

  1. DEPENDANTS – Artists must be dependent on no one but themselves to manage their catalogue. You should need NO ONE else to understand the business you’re in.

Imagine being told that the songs you wrote in your bedroom or on the floor at the place you were staying while broke and almost homeless is now under the control of someone else, like an investment firm or a label. All because you signed a contract to record and release music and you never really knew what you signed.

  1. LAWYERS – the first thing that changes about Record Deals is actually lawyers. We need Plain English contracts. A Lawyers role is to IMPROVE deals…. not charge for contracts we cannot understand or track. Re-write deals to be understandable from FIRST READ.

I remember when the Breaking Benjamin contract was put out onto the internet about a decade ago. It had a lot of pages as to what the label owned the rights to and the powers the labels had.

Then there was ONE page on the money. It showed the advance payments for each album and when each album is expected to be delivered and the royalty split.

But the contract was only with Ben Burnley. And Breaking Benjamin is a band. So Burnley then needs to engage a lawyer to draw up a band agreement, so they have some payment system in place with the other members of the band. And those members would also need lawyers to read the band agreement and make sure they do not get ripped off.

  1. ADVANCES ARE JUST LOANS!! – On Artists re-signing, these stop. Advances are Loans with 75% interest rates (or worse). NO other business in the world takes a look at the business, buys shares, starts to profit, when it profits. Record Companies have to buy into you, not loan you.

Be careful about that advance payment. It might feel like you are rich, but that advance payment is just buying you out at the rate you are worth now. You might be worth a lot more later on, and there’s a high chance that you are still paying back the advance payment you got two decades ago.

  1. ROYALTIES – Again back to dependents. You need a business manager to read how you did? So you pay to see your money!!! NO MORE. Royalty portals need to show (and do not now) Every song you delivered, Every store you are in, How many streams per song, Income per song.

Umm, this is happening right now Kanye.

Artists can see what is happening with their songs, the streams and in which store. The only thing missing is the income per song because Streaming services don’t work that way.

  1. PORTALS – Are not just for royalties. They are for your entire business. Every audio file, every asset, every deal stored WITH the money. Money and Music must stay together. When your term ends, download it all. Leave. This is a call for all artist to unify … I will get my masters , I got the most powerful lawyer in music and I can afford them but every artist must be freed and treated fairly.

And who is in charge of this portal and in which country are the servers stored and how secure are the servers and what do artists need to pay to have access to this portal, because in tech, nothing is free.

It’s already old news because the PR machine behind the labels likes to kill news like this.

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

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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