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

How Much Should Streaming Services Pay?

A lot of people hate Corey Taylor, but I’m not one of em. I enjoy the music he creates, more with Stone Sour than Slipknot and he has a point of view, a stance, which he shares with the world.

In an interview with the Irish Times which Blabbermouth grabbed and ran with a few months ago, Taylor was asked if SLIPKNOT could live just on royalties from listens.

He said, no they couldn’t survive at the current rates but if the streaming services paid the same publishing rate as radio stations than they could.

In Australia that equates to about $6 per song (for the main cities), as regional cities have a lower fee and then there are separate fees paid for when the song is played, like prime time hours or graveyard hours. In some cases the artists pay to get themselves played and they don’t even know it as it’s charged back to them by the label via miscellaneous expenses.

Also the $6 fee is paid just to the songwriters not the recording act. Since Taylor writes his own songs, he is okay in that department as he would get the payment.

But streaming services charge us $9.99 per month to access a catalogue of music. The math doesn’t work and suddenly piracy looks more appealing of that fee goes up.

Taylor doesn’t have a problem with streaming services for what they are trying to do, but he has a problem with them, when they spend millions of dollars on buildings and then more millions on decking out those buildings for offices and then more millions on flying private and more millions on wages while the artists who bring people to their service are not experiencing the same share of those millions.

But hang on a second, the label he’s signed deals with also spend millions of dollars meant for the artists on the same thing.

Steve Miller said something similar about the recording industry and the RNR Hall Of Fame people at his RNR HoF induction, how they take so much money from the artists and they don’t compensate the artist fairly.

The problem that I have as a fan of music is this;

Artists on a label sell their masters to the record labels for a fee. They are compensated at that point in time. Some for a lot more if they are successful and others for peanuts because they didn’t know any better.

The labels are aware of this power they have and since they are offering the cash, they want a return on investment. So the label benefits in this streaming era because they hold the masters.

Get your masters back like Motley and Metallica and suddenly you will benefit as well.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories

Money

It’s all about money, money and money.

I’ve never used Trivago to book any hotel. I normally re-book at the hotels I like and have stayed before and I do it direct with the hotel. Like my music, I’m a pretty loyal to things I like.

But a lot of people do use Trivago and recently a court case brought against Trivago by the ACCC in Australia found that Trivago, didn’t actually promote the cheapest rates to its users. What it actually did promote was the hotels that paid Trivago the most commission as the cheapest.

And speaking of sleazy tactics, how much more bullshit is the recording industry going to spread over free ad-supported music being a negative in the industry.

Isn’t $3 billion enough?

I guess not.

And on the topic of YouTube, it’s 15 years old this year. It all started in February, 2005. Eight years later, it was getting 1bn users a month. Another seven years after that it reached the 2bn users a month stat.

Are there lessons there for aspiring musicians or for musicians who want to make it?

Of course there are.

Stop thinking about the traditional label album deal and start embracing what the world has to offer. The Guardian article interviews five people who have used it to great success from the early days. And of course there are millions of others who have used YouTube, without any success at this point in time. Like the recording business.

How many artists get signed and end up unsuccessful in commercial terms versus the artists who get signed and end up successful in commercial terms?

Because it’s all about money. Everyone wants to be paid and in music, too many people make money from music, who shouldn’t, like the label CEO and workers who fly private, because it’s these people who keep money away from artists who are on the road in shitty buses and vans.

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

Sheet Music

Its February 1997, and the November 1996 issue of Guitar hits the newsstands in Australia. We were always 3 months behind.

On the cover is Rush  with the headline, “Returns To Rock With Their Heaviest and Best Album in 15 Years”. And that album is “Test For Echo”, a headline I totally agreed with.

And how things change from the previous decade. Back in 1986, guitar heroes like Malmsteen, Van Halen, Schenker took up the first few pages of ads. In 1996, it was the dudes from Bush advertising “Ernie Ball” strings and Kim Thayil from Soundgarden advertising Guild guitars.

Each issue of the magazine has a section at the beginning by the Editor In Chief. It’s written like how we would write a blog post today. On this occasion, the headline was “The Song Never Remains The Same”. The Editor In Chief HP Newquist wrote about “how songs get published in the magazine”, because the main reason why I and many others purchased the magazine was for the song transcriptions.

There are publishing companies that OWN the print rights to music. The publishing companies usually pay the artist a large upfront fee to license the songs for printing, which will cover a three to 5 year term (or longer in some cases) or they will pay a royalty (that lovely word) whenever the song is published.

To get a song transcribed for a magazine like Guitar, the magazine needs to first get the approval of the publisher.

Then the magazine will send the music to a transcriber.

When the song appears in the magazine, the magazine pays the publisher who in turn pays the artist and the transcriber is paid as well for their work. The magazine also pays to use the song in each of the countries the magazine is distributed, which means getting the rights from several international publishers for each song.

And all of this for a one time only use, hence the reason why the magazine at that point in time didn’t put any transcriptions up on their website, because that allowed unlimited use.

Sounds like a pretty simple business arrangement when everything is controlled by the labels and the publishers.

But there are also artists who are not interested in having their music appear in magazines and artists who want to give their final approval of the transcription as being true and correct. In this instance, the magazine sends off the transcribed work to the artist who goes over it to make sure the transcription represents what the artist played.

So the post goes on to say that when they feature an artist and don’t run a transcribed song, it is because the magazine doesn’t have permission to print a song from that artist or another magazine has first rights to songs from that artist or permission has been given to multiple magazines, who print the song all at the same time (which has happened as I was a Guitar World buyer and a Guitar buyer). In this magazine they had Rush on the cover and “Test For Echo” was also printed. So in typical fashion, Rush are the good guys once again.

Even after the magazine has secured the rights to print a transcribed song, it can be denied a reprint because a new songbook is coming out and the publishers don’t want to cannibalise the sales of that songbook.

And the web back in 1996, had a lot of text notepad transcriptions put up from users who either transcribed the song themselves or had access to a transcription and copied it to a text document and distributed. I found a lot of songs that way.

So of course the print publishers came out with lawyers and started to crack down on user posted online transcriptions, claiming that it infringers on their copyright and takes away from an artist’s royalties, which is the same spiel used for bootlegs. EMI had a very public battle with OLGA (On Line Guitar Archive) because it had user uploaded transcriptions which infringed on their rights and took money away from the artists. You know the usual PR spiel.

Suddenly the business relationship is a bit more complicated, because the publishers didn’t know how to operate in the world wide web.

These days, it is different and communities like Ultimate Guitar do have user uploaded transcriptions.

And the reason why the Editor In Chief felt the need to explain all of this, is because by 1996, the magazine was getting a lot of angry feedback for re-publishing songs they had already published. A problem that the internet had created for them.

And the big problem the internet created for the magazine was the user uploaded transcriptions to songs. Why buy a magazine to learn how to play a song when a 15 year old kid has learnt it and shared it with the world.

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

Progress Is Derivative – What The!! – It’s Not Okay To Show Your Influences

Led Zeppelin became the biggest rock act in the world. They wrote songs based on their influences and some songs even sounded like the songs they were influenced by. From traveling the world, they were also exposed to exotic sounds and as technology got better, to new sounds.

Suddenly, thousands of wannabe guitarists and singers and drummers and bass players started to copy the licks and melodies and beats of the mighty Zep, forming an influential bond with the music, much in the same way, the members of Zep allowed other artists and songs to influence their music and melodies.

And Zeppelin wasn’t just an act with a geographical location. Their music was everywhere and there was no way that any teenager in the 70’s could escape the sounds of the Zep. Fast forward into the mid 80’s and suddenly a lot of bands on record deals had a lot of musical passages in their songs which paid homage to Zeppelin and in some cases too much homage. But Zeppelin never sued. These derivative versions of songs based on Zep cuts actually increased the value of the Zep cuts.

I’ve been listening to some songs recently, and the resemblance to other songs is a beautiful thing to hear. I know that these kinds of similarities are bringing forth a lot of court cases in pop music where a jury is asked to decide what is plagiarism and what isn’t.

In the Cult’s song “Peace Dog”, the middle part section has a similarity which comes from the “Stairway to Heaven” section before the solo section kicks in.

And on the topic of Led Zep, no one can forget Kingdom Come. “Get It On” basically lifted the whole “Kashmir” chord progression, and “What Love Can Be” is similar to “Since I’ve Been Loving You” and “The Rain Song”. Regardless, Kingdom Come made me want to listen to Led Zeppelin.

Whitesnake broke through in the 80’s on the backs of MTV and a sound that rivalled the Sunset Strip, but when they started off on the blues rock journey, David Coverdale was channelling Led Zeppelin in “Trouble”. Coverdale even looked like Plant and sounded a lot like him on this cut and along with Sykes they brought the Led Zep sound, filling the void for a lot of fans of that music.

And this was okay, to show your influences and pay homage to styles.

But Copyright kept changing and evolving, because the corporations kept pushing for perpetual laws, as they knew that if they lost the copyrights to valuable recordings and songs, they would be losing money.

And by pushing for laws that lasted 70 years after the death of the creator, it also meant that the heirs of the creator would also benefit as a by-product. And the heirs are now taking from the hand that gave them the right, because if copyright terms stayed the same (28 year term (14 years with the option to renew for another 14) or if the artist died before the 28 years, on death), the majority of these court cases would not even exist, because the songs would be in the public domain.

But it was still okay to show your influences and pay homage, because the record labels and publishers still paid the heirs and the artists for their rights, as the labels made 300% more profit due to CD sales. But when the record labels stopped paying, as mp3 ripping and then digital downloads and then streaming took over, suddenly, there was a problem for the artists or the heirs/organisations who owned the copyrights. The payments ceased or became dramatically less.

So with a combination of Copyright law changes and a change to the distribution model, a new situation was created with lawsuit after lawsuit, because every artist or heirs of the artist feels that their work is so original and free from influence, that they must be compensated.

And suddenly it wasn’t okay to show your influences or pay homage. But all progress made in music was to build on what came before.

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

Copyright Just Keeps On Giving

Copyright is the gift that just keeps on giving.

Remember how copyright is meant to protect the creator so they have a monopoly on their work, with the aim to be paid if the work is popular. A lot of artists create works which are not popular and as such, their monopoly on their copyrights have no value.

However, in this case, the creator gets a stroke and other people allegedly forge the creators signature to transfer the rights to corporations who seem to benefit.

The Seinfield creators couldn’t even come up with this kind of a story. You can add elder abuse to the list for Copyright court cases.

The other big one is Ed Sheeren and his song, “Thinking Out Loud”. You see even if Sheeren did copy a Marvin Gaye song, the song should have been in the public domain anyway because both Gaye and his co-writer are dead. Then again the labels wanted these kind of perpetual laws many years ago and now they are getting bitten in the ass.

And companies like Structured Asset Sales, founded by an investment banker called David Pullman exist by purchasing a lot of copyrights from the children of these creators many years ago and now we have this stupidity of suing people.

And as usual, Copyright is already benefiting the corporations who create nothing and now it is benefiting the heirs of artists who create nothing, to sue the creators who create something.

But if you really want to know how the recording industry via the RIAA caused this mess, then read this article over at Techdirt.

Nothing is original especially in music which has mass appeal. No artist writes music without being exposed to music. Everyone is working from the same instruments and the same chords.

And the courts now cannot make a distinction between influence and theft. It’s set the precedent that all influence is theft. And the labels went with that for decades only to be sued over the last 10 years from heirs of dead artists.

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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, 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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