Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Copyright Fund

“I don’t really know what it means to choose a hit. I just like writing songs”
Ed Sheeran

And he keeps getting sued for it, because the greedy heirs and greedy lawyers are always looking at sneaky ways to get their slice of the hit machine pie.

“People prefer paintings that they’ve seen before. Audiences like art that gives them the jolt of meaning that often comes from an inkling of recognition.”
From the book, “Hit Makers” by Derek Thomspon

Everything that we listen to or watch or read has come before. Its similar with small changes here and there.

That’s how it works.

It’s unsettling how the heirs, along with their lawyers, spin the story that the works of the dead creators is super original and free from influence.

Which is a load of BS.

Because;

“In 2012, Spanish researchers released a study that looked at 464,411 popular recordings around the world between 1955 and 2010 and found the difference between new hits and old hits wasn’t more complicated chord structures. Instead, it was new instrumentation bringing a fresh sound to “common harmonic progressions.”
From the book, “Hit Makers” by Derek Thomspon

A new take on an old sound.

Copyright needs to expire on death.

Once the creator is dead, the copyright ends. Copyright wasn’t created to benefit the heirs of the creator or a manager or a corporation or anyone else except the creator so they could create even more while holding an interim monopoly.

That’s it, problem solved.

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

Hallowed Copyright

Remember that whole “Hallowed Be Thy Name” and “The Nomad” suit filed by retired band manager Barry McKay against Iron Maiden and Steve Harris.

Remember how McKay stated it is all about intellectual property rights and how these IP rights need to be protected from blatant copying while the other side stated that music is all about inspiration and influences and that McKay never actually wrote anything and is a serial litigant.

Well, these IP rights that McKay was championing for protection, all revolve around a fee to be paid. If you haven’t read the stories, you can read em at Loudwire or Blabbermouth.

Remember when any rights to intellectual property ceased when the creator died (provided they still had a right at the time of death). Well, the corporations who held the copyrights to a lot of these works pushed really hard to get laws changed in the 70’s to last the life of the artist plus another 70 years, so what we have now is people who really contribute nothing to culture, locking up culture for a generation and getting paid in the process.

But there was a side in the Government who actually cared about culture, the public domain and were against Government granted monopolies, so they put in a clause that allowed the actual creators to get their rights back after 35 years. But, the labels and the publishing companies who control the rights don’t want to let go of the works as it diminishes their power.

Remember John Waite, from The Babys, Bad English and his work as a solo artist. Well, he wanted his songs back, Universal Music Group said “No”, your works are created under a “works for hire agreement”, John Waite said, “no chance in hell are the songs created under a works for hire agreement” and off to court they went.

So how did it all come to this?

You need to remember that any aspiring artist, had/have/has no bargaining power when for negotiating and signing contracts. If they wanted to get their music out there (pre internet), they more or less had to give away their copyright in their works as part of the contract to get their music out there and monetised.

Then, when an artistic work turns out to be a “hit,” the majority of the royalties goes to the organisation who holds the rights to the works rather than to the artist who created them.

But this “ownership of copyright” by the organisation was meant to be limited. And if the artists wished, they could reclaim their rights. Some artists used the threat of “termination rights” as a tool to negotiate higher royalty rates and advance payments.

But as artists grew popular and they realised they could make some money, they created loan out companies, which is basically a business entity used by the entertainment and sports industries in the US, in which the creator is the ’employee’ whose services are loaned out by the corporate body. The corporation is used as a means to reduce their personal liability, protect their assets and exploit taxation advantages.

And the courts have determined that any rights granted to the labels from the loan out company cannot be terminated, only the rights granted by the actual creator themselves.

For example, John Waite created a loan out company called Heavy Waite Inc. So if he signed a contract to give his copyrights to a label via the loan out company, these rights cannot be terminated. Only the rights that John Waite himself gave up.

It’s pretty fucking stupid if you ask me, but nothing surprises me when lawyers get involved and try to get these termination suits booted on technicalities.

And check out this article for some insight on copyrights from the one and only Desmond Child. Here is the snippet in case you don’t click on the link;

Have you retained your copyrights?

Well, tragically, I fell into some lean times in the late ’90s. I had moved to Miami – we’d fled LA after the [1992] earthquake and we were picking up the pieces.

At that time I got an offer for my catalogue, and I sold my song writing and publishing share to Polygram [now Universal Music Group] – and it was a mistake. I retained my song writing performance rights, and that’s how I know how big a mistake it was, and how much I sold myself short. They made their money back x 20.

I was pressured by people around me to sell. Especially my father, who had grown up in the depression. When I told him the amount, he said, ‘Grab the money, you’ll write other songs, grab the money.’

Also, my lawyers told me, ‘Don’t worry, you get your songs back after 35 years,’ but that’s not true. You don’t get them back for the whole world, you get them back for the US only. And you don’t get your songs back for the versions that made them hits, you only get them back for the new versions – versions made after you sold.

When I found out those two things, it was like two buckets of ice water being poured over me.

The people doing the deal for me were so keen to get their percentages that they didn’t explain these things to me. Had I known, I wouldn’t have signed the deal and I would have been in a much better financial position.

And that my friends is how far Copyright has evolved, where people who create nothing of value get paid and everyone is trying their best to lead the artists astray so they can get paid.

It has nothing to do with intellectual property rights or an incentive to create.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity

Silliness

I pay for Prime Video, but I had to download Bosch S6 from other sources to watch it, as it’s not available in Australia at the moment, even though it was released in the U.S on April 17, 2020.

What the.

I paid for a PS4 game disc (the NBA one) and then the kids had to spend three hours downloading something from the PS4 web store before they could even play it. It sure takes the joy out of it. There is no way that you can just buy a game and play it straight away.

The game makers are using a legally purchased disc as a piracy protection measure. No wonder people download games illegally on jailbroken consoles as well. Look at the work they do to get around these measures.

Remember DRM (Digital Rights Management) platform Denuvo. They got a lot of game makers to sign on and pay huge amounts for its unbreakable anti-piracy software.

The game makers put this DRM on their games and then they released the games. The unbreakable DRM was cracked on the day the games were released. But some game makers got even more creative by putting on another layer of DRM to some of their games, which basically made the legally purchased game unplayable for the consumer.

What a great way to treat a law abiding customer?

But piracy is still an issue.

Yeah right. More like dumb organisations are an issue.

The major labels tried this exercise back in 2003 to 2005. They even went further. Those legally purchased discs had malware on them and if you put the disc into your computer it would install malware on your hard drive, which led to a class action lawsuit against Sony and the other labels.

I was catching up on some movies I purchased a while back. So I put on a legally purchased DVD or Blu-ray (in this case it was the movie “Children Of Men”) and I am confronted by those stealing movie ads. Remember those.

They would say, you wouldn’t steal a car so don’t steal movies because piracy is a crime. So the movie studios are creatively trying to link the downloading of copies to actually stealing a physical product.

And I can’t skip it. I need to watch it.

So this is the punishment that people get for doing the right thing?

No wonder people go and download illegally as the ads are removed and as soon as you press play, you get to watch. No advertisements and no copyright rules on a black screen.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories

The Record Vault – Bon Jovi Unauthorised – Rock ‘N’ Roll Legends

This is what happens when someone thinks they can make a quick buck, by putting together various interviews of the band from various sources, having no music whatsoever because of licensing payments and if they do have music they keep it to less than 2 seconds as they can argue “fair use” on that one.

“Fair Use” is one of those cool Copyright rules which I actually like, because it allows people to use Copyrighted material for a very short period (like no more than 5 seconds) for their documentary or news story to prove their point.

But the Publishers and Labels who hold the copyrights for the content, keep telling the world that the creators hate it (even though it’s really the corporations who hate it), because their corporation view is, if it’s used, even for a second, someone should pay for it.

Actually, Don Henley also supports the Corporations view as he wants to censor the internet because of Tik-Tok.

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Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Blues For Copyright

Here is a great post about the blues and how the genre was appropriated by others and on many occasions the original creator is not even credited.

The 60s blues explosion from the UK happened because the artists took the blues standards from the 30s and made em their own (either by building on an existing work or by just saying that they wrote the song without any credit to the creator).

Remember that histories are written by the winners.

I watched a documentary on “The Australian Sound” and there is no mention of the black blues musicians who influenced the white musicians. It just goes back to the white blues musicians from the 60s and it moves forward from there.

Music is all about influence and experience. What you hear, what you read, see, smell, taste and live, all end up in the song.

Similar sounding songs is big business for lawyers. When you have an artist covering another artists songs and claiming that songs as their own, well, that’s morally wrong and also big business for lawyers.

It’s all because Copyright lasts 70 years after the death of the creator. Remember that Copyright was designed to give the creator a brief monopoly on their works so they could make money and as a by product, an incentive to create more works.

These terms originally were 14 years to 28 years. And if the creator passed while they still had a copyright it expired on death and it all went to the public domain for it to be built on and reused.

So what incentive is there if the creator is dead.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Copyright Sweet Copyright

Don Henley wants to censor the internet in the name of Copyright.

Who knew that by writing a few songs which ended up being popular gave him (the creator) so much power to get legislation changed. As Peter Parker’s grandfather said, “with great power comes great responsibility”.

It feels like this whole industry of “intellectual property” is becoming more a police state than anything that’s meant to foster creativity.

And while Henley is testifying, there is one crucial segment which is not represented for these Copyright discussions.

From a U.S point of view, that is 229 million American adults who use the Internet to pay bills, to learn, to work, to socialize, to watch content they pay for and to create.

And the public is not part of the conversation and it’s the public who have their rights taken away to please the corporations who hold the rights to content.

These corporations, like the Majors (Sony, Universal And Warner) won a suit against telecommunications company Cox for $1 billion.

They convinced a judge and jury that the ISP is responsible for policing what its users do with their internet access.

If only we can hold the gun makers and knife makers accountable for what their users do with their devices.

Imagine that.

And instead of the labels doing something worthwhile to compete in a vast changing marketplace for the creators they claim to represent, they want the ISPs to play the Copyright Cop for them.

The majority of income the labels get, comes from streaming services and mp3 downloads. And none of these services were created by the labels.

But they still want stronger Copyright restrictions because apparently piracy still exists.

Come on. Really.

Warner Music was valued at $2 billion in 2004 and today its valued at $15 billion.

And 10% of the population will never pay for content. Michael Eisner from Disney said that once upon a time. So why bother with them.

How crazy will Copyright get?

A lot more crazier than right now because the public is never in the discussion.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Vinegar Syndrome

As a person who loves history and culture, it pains me to read articles like this of culture disappearing.

This is what happens when organisations lock up content and then don’t store it properly. Remember the warehouse fire in the U.S, which destroyed a lot of masters from the catalogue of movies and music that Universal held. And for some insane reason the back-ups to those masters were held in the same vault.

Madness.

And negligence.

All because the organisation failed to spend some of the billions they earn from these copyrights to properly store the masters in one location and their back-ups in a different location.

And in proper temperatures.

In the article, the tapes of the films are developing a “vinegar syndrome”, which happens because acetate films are stored in a warm, humid room.

It’s pretty obvious these organisations don’t know how to store cultural history. And they have no interest to preserve or to spend the money to digitize it. So why can’t they release the tapes to organisations like the Internet Archive or even the Public Domain to digitize the films for preservation.

Because they are scared that others will do something great and make money from content they produced once upon a time.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Copyright Sickness

I haven’t done a copyright post for a while, but I haven’t stopped reading on the subject. Because once you have been exposed to the laws of copyright and how those laws are meant to protect the creator but all they do is protect the organisation who holds the rights, well, I just can’t look away. Because the creator never had a proper seat on the negotiation table. In order to get a chance to make music, they had to give away their rights to their music for a long time.

First up is a little snippet on how much an organisation makes by holding on to copyrights. The organisation her is Sony.

For a three month period, Sony was paid just over $654 million for streaming. Now I don’t know about you, but that’s some serious money.

How much of it went to the artists, well that is a different story? And because Sony has a publishing arm, that division also received $375 million. This is $375 million which is meant to go to songwriters.

Again, how much of this makes its way to the songwriters, is unknown?

And I’m not sure if people are aware, but Copyright laws do have a termination clause, which allows an artist to reclaim their copyrights after 35 years have expired.

But the labels like Sony are not letting go easily. So these cases are in the courts, because the labels know that if they don’t have an extensive copyright collection of songs, they have no income. Because at this point in time artists who released big selling albums in 1985 can reclaim their rights to those albums.

Next year, Jon Bon Jovi can reclaim the rights back for “Slippery When Wet” and then he will own his biggest selling album, with all streaming monies to go back to his organisation. The year after, in 2022, Guns’N’Roses, Whitesnake and Def Leppard can reclaim back the rights to “Appetite For Destruction”, “self-titled 87 album” and “Hysteria”.

Do you reckon the labels will allow that to happen so easily?

They will either throw some extra millions at the artist or off to the courts.

And here is another one on payments to musicians.

PRS For Music is an organisation in the UK which collects copyright payments on behalf of songwriters, composers and publishers. For the 2019 year it collected a record £810m. The amount involves a few different segments, like public performance, streaming, radio, TV and international. With public performances being put on hold because of COVID-19, streaming subscriptions are becoming popular.

But the streaming money pie is not distributed evenly. What the labels get and what they pay back to the artists is based on contracts and what monies have been given to the artist vs what needs to be paid back. And if the artist owns their own rights, then they are in position to negotiate better especially if they have had some success in the past. Metallica and Motley Crue come to mind, as artists who own their own rights.

The thing that streaming companies do wrong is that they treat it as a pool of money and then they work out what ratio each artist is entitled to, based on the streams played on the artists songs divided by the total streams for the service.

So even though fans of Metallica, Tool, Def Leppard, Motley Crue, etc, listen to those artists, their subscription monies are also distributed to Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande and all of the rest of those high streamers.

I know as a consumer, I want my subscription fee to go to the artists I actually listen to and not to a central pot, where the money is divided on a percentage basis against every single artist on Spotify. But the system is as fair as it could be right now.

And here is what happens when an IT organisation creates a streaming service to allow music to the spread to the masses because in reality, the labels were negligent in their duty of care to the artists to do it much earlier on.

So for Spotify it’s court case after court case. Because people who contribute nothing to culture and made some serious money because they hold the rights to other artists songs, still want that money train to continue.

There is this dude from the U.S called Jake Noch who has an independent label called Sosa Entertainment and he has his own collecting society called PRO Music Rights.

So Spotify removed his labels recordings from the service because Noch was manipulating the streaming count of his labels music.

This scam is common, where the teams behind artists, create enough streaming accounts to just stream the music of the artist so they get a bigger piece of the pool of monies distributed to the rights holders. Noch didn’t like how Spotify pulled his labels music and he sued. He accused Spotify of “unfair and deceptive practices” and Spotify called him a “fraudster”. And via his collection society PRO Music Rights, he has accused every other streaming service of copyright infringement.

It shows the amount of manipulation involved here by a record label, who hired a bot farmer to set up millions of streaming accounts (all of them on the free ad-supported tier) who would then listen to the songs on the service. 99% of the revenue for Sosa Entertainment came from the free-ad supported tier.

Smells on Payola, it is Payola.

Finally, remember those MTV shows from the 80’s which actually had music videos and interviews. Well the Internet Archive uploaded heaps of em. It shows the early stages of MTV and the steps they took to become a cultural icon. All of the material is from a user’s own VHS tapes of MTV recordings.

But these have been taken down on copyright grounds. Basically an organisation which holds the rights to an artist has made a claim to censor a part of history. Or it could be the VJ themselves via an organisation. Whatever the reasons, history is being censored and locked up. Copyright was never intended to censor. From day one, back to the 1700’s it was to give a creator an incentive to create more works by giving them a monopoly to monetize their works for a certain period of time.

And it gets worse and will only get worse, because after the death of the creator an organisation holds on (in other words, locks up) the copyright for another 70 years after death and they are pushing for another 20 more to take it to 90 years.

P.S. Remember the British invasion in the 60’s and early 70s.

It happened because all of the blues and folk music created between the 1930 and 1940 had expired and become part of the public domain because they all had 28 year terms. Classical music was already in the public domain and a lot of jazz standards were as well.

And suddenly we had artists who pieced all of these styles together.

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Copyright, Influenced, Music, My Stories

Winds Of Change

A music festival in Moscow that features Bon Jovi, Motley Crue, Scorpions, Ozzy, Skid Row and few other acts.

Then came the Scorpions, “Wind Of Change” and its lyrics about being like brothers and following the Moskva River to Gorky Park.

Plus it’s the only song on the album written by Klaus Meine.

Where the Scorpions influenced or paid or instructed by the CIA to write this song?

Because we all know, the US and the USSR tried to outdo each other with their nuclear arsenal. When that failed, the US via the CIA tried to do what the USSR did in Eastern Europe.

Create dictatorship governments in Latin America loyal to the US. But that went all downhill as those Governments really liked to murder its own people.

But the biggest threat to the US was still USSR and Communism.

So they created a Congress For Cultural Freedom office, which was set up in 35 countries, including Eastern Bloc countries. The Office was run by the CIA and they used music as its centrepiece, to put on concerts and promote anti-communist behaviour via placing the records of banned artists secretly in the hands of citizens.

So I had a look at the “Crazy World” album from Scorpions and its lyrical references. There is no doubt that the more social conscience lyrics in “Winds Of Change” are a departure from their “rock you like a hurricane” and “rhythm of love” lyrics from their albums before. It’s not like the Scorpions didn’t write these kind of lyrics before. The Uli Jon Roth era had some songs that dealt with society and social issues.

Anyway I thought I would go through the “Crazy World” album lyrics.

So the album kicks off with “Tease Me, Please Me” and it’s about going around the world and loving lots of girls. Basically a song about groupies. “Don’t Believe Her” is about a woman who is a tease and who knows the game of breaking hearts.

“To Be With You In Heaven” is about a woman who will treat you like crap, but her loving is so good, that Klaus would walk through the darkest hell to be with her in heaven. “Restless Nights” talks about making love in Paris and London and rocking hard in Dallas and Rio. Basically the song is about touring and the “sexcess” that comes with it.

“Lust Or Love” is easily predictable based on the title. “Kicks After Six” is about a woman who works nine to five and is a slave to the suit and tie, seven days a week, but each night, this good girl gets her kicks after six and becomes a bad girl who wants it bad.

“Hit Between The Eyes” is a dumb song about feeling tension on the street, getting closer to some invisible heat and that if someone wants to cut you down to size, you can never argue with a 45. Maybe it was their attempt at a social issue around gun control, but then the chorus comes in and it makes no sense whatsoever. Like he is ready for the hit between the eyes, but he wants someone to get him out alive because he is too young to die.

“Money And Fame” is about a woman who just wants money and fame and how she is using Klaus as a stepping stone to something greater. “Send Me An Angel” is about a wise man who is giving advice and to be honest it’s pretty dumb lyrically.

So all the songs listed have lyrics which are pretty standard and about relationships.

Keith Olsen said when he was hired to produce the album, he found the lyrics really dumb and he asked for outside writers like Jim Vallance to come and work with them and tighten em up. But the overall message was still dumb.

And then you have “Winds Of Change”.

With music and lyrics written solely by Klaus Meine.

Songfacts and all of those other websites say that Klaus Meine was inspired by the band’s first visit to the USSR in 1989 for the Music Peace Festival.

Manager Doc McGhee said that Klaus was whistling the melody and he had the basis of the song written in Russia. But look at the lyrics.

Was Klaus capable of writing lyrics like these on his own or did someone else (a CIA ghost writer or speech writer) use Klaus’s melodies and write them for him?

Read this from Keith Olsen;

Interviewer:
You produced The Scorpions Crazy World album, tell us about the recording sessions for that album?

Olsen:
I really liked working with all of them as they were really cool people. Herman Rarebell [drummer] was the guy who spoke the best English, because he had lived in the UK for a while, so he was really good bilingual. So Klaus, Rudolf, Matthias and Francis had a very limited vocabulary in English. So they had a lot of the lyrics always had tease’, please’, me’ very simplified lyric which made us bring in some very good lyric writers to help write.
Keith Olsen in an interview at Ultimate Guitar

And when I look at the lyrics below, it sure feels like the words came from someone else.

I follow the Moskva down to Gorky Park
Listening to the wind of change
An August summer night, soldiers passing by
Listening to the wind of change

The world is closing in
Did you ever think that we could be so close, like brothers
The futures in the air
I can feel it everywhere, blowing with the wind of change

Take me to the magic of the moment
On a glory night where the children of tomorrow dream away
In the wind of change

The wind of change blows straight into the face of time
Like a storm wind that will ring the freedom bell
For peace of mind let your balalaika sing
What my guitar wants to say

Everyone went to a dictionary to see what a balalaika is.

Regardless if conspiracy or truth, or if they became celebrity James Bond’s, rockers and rock music, changed the world.

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Copyright, movies, Music, My Stories

Bands

Bands, the way we have known them will be no more.

It will be the era of the songwriter. It might look like a band on the outside but really it will be the main person or two and the supporting musicians. Sort of like how it was in the 50s and 60s up to a certain point. Until The Beatles changed everything.

For example, like James Hetfield and The Metallica Band or like Jon Bon Jovi and The BJ Band or like David Lee Roth and The Van Halen Band or Rob Halford and The Judas Priest Band.

Maybe they will just use their name like Bryan Adams, Keith Urban, Don Henley, Neil Young or Ozzy Osbourne.

Even Alice Cooper started off as a band and morphed into a solo artist with musicians supporting the artist.

Maybe a return to the Crosby, Stills and Nash kind of names.

These are just examples of using artists that I know. The new artist could use just their name or their name with a backing band or a group name but the reality will be that the group is really just the artist with other musicians supporting the artist.

If you look at bands right now and in the past, most of their songs are written by one main member. Sometimes two or three members, especially when bands had artists who paid their dues and had experiences before joining.

Ignore pop songs for the moment who seem to have 10 writers to start with, and if the songs are a hit, there is a writ and more songwriters are added to the list.

Yeah I know what your saying, U2, Def Leppard, Black Sabbath and Van Halen just to name a few, have albums saying that the songs are written by all the members.

But the truth is, what is in print for us to see on the lyric sheet or album, is not always the truth. Songs are complicated beasts when it comes to a band setting. It didn’t used to be that way but it is that way now. Especially when there is money involved.

For example ASCAP is a music publisher in the US, had total revenues of $1.226 billion dollars in 2018. They paid $1.109 million in royalties back to artists. And they kept $117 million in administration costs. Basically money for nothing and the chicks for free to the publishing company.

That’s just one of many in the US. Then there is BMI who had total revenues of $1.283 billion and paid out $1.196 billion to artists by 30 June 2019. And they kept $87 million for administration costs.

And each country has multiple publishing companies. And each country has record labels. And everyone is making multi millions from music for nothing.

The actual copyright registration and the splits associated with the song plus the band agreement which also has percentage splits determine who is entitled to what. Van Halen even took Michael Anthony off the songwriting credits when they renegotiated a multi million dollar publishing deal in the early 2000’s.

COVID-19 has changed the game.

A normal band makes their money on the road.

Some bands might have streams in the billions and own their own copyrights, but if they are that level, they will have a team of people in their organization like managers, legal, accountants and other employees who do fan club and website.

Right now, no one can tour and they don’t know when they can start touring again because having so many people in a room, theatre, arena or stadium is a problem when it comes to social distancing. And even if concerts are allowed, will people just go back to life as normal or be cautious. Maybe concerts will resume with a cap of 500 people max.

And no one gets into bands or starts writing songs to get paid. They do it because they love it and there is a need within them to create. But with any artist that starts to become popular, money is a byproduct of creating something which resonates.

And then it becomes about the revenue streams and how is the artist going to make money.

Streams will pay and the artist will get more if they own their rights. And the person who wrote the song will get two bites of that revenue. One from the streaming service to the Copyright owners account and another from the Rights Organization which administers their catalogue. This always causes resentment between members because one person has more than others.

Especially when the band agreement in place favors one over the other. And the other member feels like their songs should be considered but they are not up to standard.

Remember when Kirk Hammet told everyone he lost his phone with riffs and that’s why he had no song writing contributions on the “Hardwired” album but James set the record straight when he said that Kirk’s riffs just weren’t there, meaning they weren’t good enough to James and Lars to consider.

We wait to see what live music will look like post COVID-19.

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