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

The Copyright Empire

I have a Google Alert set up for Copyright and everyday there are ten or more stories on Copyright issues, ranging from Ed Sheeran settling with artists over a copyright suit to a song of his which has become super popular, to Led Zep asking a judge to throw away the Stairway appeal, to local restaurants playing music and asked to pay for a Copyright licence, to parents breaking the Copyright law when they film their kids dance to music, to ISPs being asked to block websites, to Google being told to remove search links to certain sites, to people being charged with piracy and to whatever else the Copyright Industry wants.

If the above doesn’t tell you who copyright benefits, then reread it again.

You see when Governments get involved and pass laws around copyright, there will always be an entity or corporation that contributes no music to the public that will benefit from this monopoly.

The new emperor in town is the Music Modernization Act (MMA). If it will deliver more streaming revenue to music publishers and songwriters as stated, remains to be seen, however for it to happen their has to be a price contraction somewhere else in the recording business market or a price increase passed on to the customer.

As the Billboard article states;

Apple Music has already negotiated to pay a smaller share of its revenue to labels in order to offset undetermined increases to publishers, targeting a rate of 55 percent to labels.

So in this case, Apple will pay less to the labels and more to the publishers.

As the article further states;

Publishers, which have been getting 12 percent of Apple Music’s revenue, could therefore see their slice of Apple’s streaming revenue grow to 15 percent.

But …..

Those three big publishers are owned by the three largest record labels. So for those publishers to get more in their profit and loss means their owners will get less. It’s all the fucking same, isn’t it. The money is still within the creative accounting teams.

So how much more will songwriters really get?

It’s still a great mystery.

And these amounts the publishers get could be greater in the future because hey, judges are allowed to decide the rate regardless of the economic market. So lobby hard and get the rates you need.

Remember folks, Spotify is yet to make a profit and somehow they have higher rates to contend with. So Spotify has two options, keep their monthly prices the same and negotiate with the labels for a reduction in their rate (like Apple) or increase their monthly prices to cover these extra costs but risk losing customers.

But art is a relationship between artist and fan. And somehow these two parties cease to exist when corporations control the copyright monopoly. If the artist has no fans, there is no money to be made.

Another thing the Billboard article states is;

The MMA also mandates that unmatched royalties be divvied up after three years to publishers according to their market share, which could produce close to $100 million in new annual revenue.

Are you fucking serious?

This is revenue earned by the corporate copyright holder because they cannot find the original writers due to death, bad book keeping on behalf of the label and publisher and what not.

So instead of these songs being in the public domain as they should be, corporations are forming new income streams. All in the name of Copyright. All in the name of intellectual property.

What a fucking joke.

If you want to read about why we should stop using the term “intellectual property” around Copyright, then give this story from Aeon a read.

Because the recording and movie industries have tricked everyone into believing that artistic expression of an idea is like real property.

Remember how these industries linked downloading a song or a movie to stealing a car. It never was the same thing, but people fell for it. Even artists fell for the “stealing” part.

The article further states about how the limited copyright terms have sort of become forever terms;

Copyrights, intended to be temporally limited, have grown nearly without limit. Congress drastically increased copyright terms in 1976, and again in 1998. The latter piece of legislation was the infamous Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, passed thanks in no small measure to the Disney Corporation lobbying to retain exclusive hold over its ‘property’, Mickey Mouse, and not to allow it to pass into the public domain. Elsewhere, users of ‘intellectual property’ suggest that protections be passed on to a so-called heir: so that the notion of inheritance has been carried over from real estate and now, ‘copyright trusts’ battle for the intellectual property rights of the long-dead original holder, placing onerous restrictions on those who would seek to make derivative works based on material that should long ago have passed into the public domain. But if that rights-holder is not present, then the original motivation for that legal protection – the encouragement of the further production of artistic works by the artist – is clearly not met.

Damn right.

If the artist is not around then their creations should be in the public domain like the way it was up until 1976.

Basically there should be no Copyright transfer to the heirs as Copyright was created to encourage an artist to produce more works for a limited time monopoly. Not for heirs to sue other artists and use it as a pension fund.

I guess their building, empire, empire.

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

Piracy

The debates and arguments never cease. There is no doubt that piracy has grown the fan base of established acts but it hasn’t brought the recorded income with it. For newer artists, look no further than Ed Sheeran, who used peer to peer services to spread his music. Without it, he wouldn’t be the megastar he is.

Researchers also try to quantify how ticket sales equate to people who pirated music. And there is a lot of research out there supporting it. Metallica post Napster started to play stadiums on their own. They rarely did that previously. On top of that, Metallica tested the waters on ticket prices.

Read this interview about how they seized the moment.

I know I became a fan of a lot of bands because of pirated material. Bands like Trivium, Coheed and Cambria, Shinedown, In Flames, Evergrey, Killswitch Engage, The Night Flight Orchestra and Corroded just to name a few. And I had no qualms paying ticket prices if these bands came to town.

High profile bands from the Eighties also had a renaissance in the 2000’s because of pirated material. Motley Crue, Metallica, Guns N Roses, Iron Maiden, Twisted Sister, Megadeth, Judas Priest, Europe and Whitesnake come to mind immediately.

In the same way MTV gave the Seventies bands another chance in the Eighties, piracy gave all the Eighties acts who had some traction another chance in the Two Thousands. Provided they still wanted to work together. Bands like Skid Row, Ratt, Warrant and Dokken unfortunately missed out because key members hated each other.

It’s a pretty simple business model.

Have your music available worldwide for free and people will access it.

All of those bands mentioned above have played cities they’ve never played before and to crowds larger than before. They played these cities without selling any real recorded product in those cities.

But the Copyright holders still complain.

Seriously, is stream ripping really an issue these days. Think about the work/time involved to rip a stream. The people who are doing all of that are not interested to pay for recorded music. Those people will pay via other methods.

I can tell you that in Eastern Europe, I have not come across a legitimate music shop. The few shops I have come across (and I use that term loosely) sell rips of albums. So how do you think the people in Eastern Europe will access music.

In most cases, they will download a copy of the album. But that hasn’t stopped bands from hitting Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Hungary and Russia on tours. And streaming services are fragmented. Spotify is not available in Serbia, Romania and Russia. Apple Music is available in Russia, but not in Serbia and Romania.

And YouTube is always to blame when it comes to stream ripping, but all the service did was to provide a gap that existed in the market, which Napster highlighted and the labels tried to kill.

Seriously if stream ripping us an issue, then video ripping of video clips in the 80s would also have been an issue.

Who knew that my video ripping ways would end up being a $2000 a year music habit.

It happens. People start to invest when they are ready or have the means to. And again if there is no artist to fan relationship, all of these issues the labels find are pointless.

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

Music Is A Relationship Between Artist And Fan

With chaos comes opportunity.  For centuries, progress is made from learning how to deal with the chaos.

Copyright is in a chaotic state. The corporations who hold the rights to valuable art, are fighting battles against infringement, organising web blocking and are trying their best to get stricter copyright enforcement laws passed while also lobbying hard to extend copyright terms. As if the current “life plus 70 years after death” term is not long, enough.

In addition, these copyright monopolies don’t want works entering the public domain, so in the late 90’s these large organisations got a law passed that would prevent works meant to enter the public domain from not entering until 2019.

For those that don’t know, the public domain is culture. Keith Richards once said, ‘you can’t copyright the blues.’ Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Elvis Presley and all of the sixties greats took songs from the Public Domain and built a highly lucrative career from it.

Culture is built and expanded by sharing stories and building on the works of others. But the Copyright organisations have manipulated and changed copyright so much, it’s far removed from its purpose of giving creators a short term monopoly on their works, so they have an incentive to create more works.

Short terms meant 14 years to 28 years depending if the artist renewed their work.

Works that should be in the public domain do not benefit the original creators in any way. The majority of them have passed away, however these works (the valuable ones) are beneficial for the few copyright monopoly gatekeepers.

For culture to thrive once again, it is important to respect the public domain. If you want another 60’s culture explosion, we need to have a public domain.

It’s not going to be easy, because you have the RIAA who continually push lies out into the world, so that technology companies can do something to protect the labels crap business models. You have ISP’s who are fighting their own battles about what their users do on the net. You have the techies who provide services, using channels supported and owned by the ISP’s. You have the various lobby groups for the public, for the techies, for the ISP’s and for the labels/movie studios. And when these tribes come into a room, it’s exactly what Frankie sings, they go to war.

And nowhere in the mix is the artist and the customer. Because in the end, it’s the relationship the customer has with the music/art which creates value. The labels claim they are there to represent the artists, which is complete BS. The labels are there to represent themselves.

For the recording business to thrive, you need the artist to create and you need a customer to become a fan and connect with the art, so they could be monetised. If that relationship is not happening, all of the other crap going on is pointless.

If you are an artist, you need to realise your fans are king. Exceptional fan service is the key driving force behind a bands success. It’s good old business 101, “treat your customers right and they’ll stay with you forever”.  Because if you build a community of customers and are serving these dedicated customers with something great, then you would expect profits to go up.

In all of the wars happening around access to music, the most important one, the artist and the fan connection, is continually ignored. Don’t be an artist that falls into that trap.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Copyright, Music, Unsung Heroes

Steve Vai and Ozzmosis

Steve Vai was confirmed to do an album and tour with Ozzy until Sharon Osbourne canned it. This is what Bob Daisley had to say on the matter in an interview on the Classic Rock Revisited website;

“In 1994 Ozzy got hooked up with Steve Vai. Steve came in and played guitar and co-wrote everything with Ozzy.

They were looking for bass players who sounded like me. Steve Vai said, “Ozzy, why don’t you just get Bob Daisley to come in?” So they got me in.

We started in Steve’s studio in LA and then we went to CBS studios to write and rehearse but it wasn’t really working out between Ozzy and Steve.

Instead of firing him and doing it the right way and saying, “Steve, it is not working out” Sharon came in and said, “Sony has pulled the plug on the project. There is no album to be done.”

I thought what a load of bullsit. Deen Castranova said to me, “Oh fuck” and he got all depressed. I said, “Deen, don’t worry. We will hear from them in a couple of days. This is just a ploy to get rid of Steve Vai.”

The phone call came a couple of days later and that is when they started talking to Zakk. They kept me hanging around for months as I was supposed to do the album. They changed their mind again and got Geezer Butler in to do it. I thought, “Oh fuck, thanks a lot.” I said, “Hey Sharon, how about a cancellation fee?”

I had already had five grand up front and she said, “I will give you another five grand. That is a $10,000 cancellation fee.” They never ever paid me that other five grand, those cocksuckers.”

There is no love lost there when it comes to Daisley and the Osbourne’s especially when you know the lyrics that Ozzy sings every night came from the mind and pen of Daisley.

Steve Vai’s involvement in the Ozzmosis album became limited to co-writing just one song “My Little Man”.

I read a lot of discussions around an uncredited guitar performance on that song. My general view is that Steve wrote it and Zak played it the way Zak plays. Others believed Steve played on the track.

And while the song is credited to Ozzy and Vai, I always had my doubts if Ozzy wrote the lyrics.

So if Ozzy didn’t write them, who did?

Well the lyrics came from the great Lemmy Kilmister.

Yep, Lemmy wrote the lyrics about his son Paul.

And all of these debates about intellectual property and how it’s valuable and how copyright protects the writer. It’s bullshit.

Lemmy is not even credited.

How is copyright protecting him?

Much like how Jake E. Lee and Bob Daisley got shafted for the “Bark At The Moon” album.

Copyright is a mess and the Copyright’s for Ozzy’s songs are even messier.

Over at Vai.com, there is a blog around this album. It’s mentioned how the original version of “My Little Man” had much weirder Vai-like chords than the version that was Zakkified.

And one of the commenters on the site, who seemed to be very close to Vai, responded that the song “Kill The Guy With The Ball” that appeared on “Alien Love Secrets” was conceived during the Ozzy sessions, and if you listen to the song it would give you a good idea of the direction of the material Vai was writing with Ozzy.

Maybe, Gary Cherone might be able to put lyrics to it.

And what the above tells me is how the record labels would just throw money at people for no reason whatsoever on a new album and then expect the artist to pay that money back from sales.

Vai would have been paid something. Daisley as well. Lemmy has mentioned how he made more money co-writing Ozzy tracks than what he did with Motörhead. Castronovo would have been paid. The studio for this session would have been paid. Zakk would have been paid. Geezer would have been paid.

And all of this for just one song.

What about the rest of the songs?

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

Missed Opportunities

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 actually the sales of music have been falling for some time.

What happened during the 90’s just before Napster went worldwide was a lot of re-purchasing. This is people who had music on vinyl or cassette and they started to re-purchase the music they already owned 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 music was bringing in billions of dollars when in fact it was people purchasing old catalogue items of their favourites. And once you had those albums on CD, you didn’t really need to re-purchase them again.

Lars and Kirk from Metallica maintain that it was the right action to go after Napster. No it wasn’t. The right action was to build a business model to replace the gap in the market that Napster was servicing. That gap was basically to allow 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 record labels should have created something to match it.

But the labels did nothing, and then a small company called YouTube did fill the gap that Napster was really servicing. 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. Remember, we are 20 years post Napster, and Napster still gets talked about, while the record labels did absolutely nothing to counter it, except scream for legislation and gestapo like police powers.

So going back to Lars and Kirk, creating a service that allowed people to share their music was the best course of action and as YouTube proves a very profitable one at that.

The arrival of YouTube and eventually streaming services put a dent into the traditional sales model, however with the increase in people attending concerts and festivals, one needs to ask the question, did piracy assist in these increased crowds?

Iron Maiden came back with Bruce Dickinson, bigger than ever and played to sold out crowds in countries they’ve hardly sold any recorded product in. Twisted Sister and Motley Crue also came back bigger than ever post Napster and played to their biggest ever crowds until they retired. Did piracy assist in these concert attendances as well?

And what about Metallica?

Having their music illegally available on Napster basically made sure that their music was available in every place in the world that had an internet connection (it was the same deal for Iron Maiden, Twisted Sister and Motley Crue).

In other words, their music was worldwide, which of course led to more fans having access to their music and a correlation of super large concert attendances and highly ridiculous ticket prices to capitalise on their world-wide reach. Even Metallica sold out concerts in countries without really selling any recorded discs in those countries. In some countries their music wasn’t even available legally, only illegally.

And here we are in 2018, with the record labels still trying to kill the market gap that Napster serviced. In this case, YouTube is the one in the firing line. YouTube and Spotify should just become labels themselves and start financing the production of music themselves, the same way Netflix and Amazon create their own content and also license content from others. Then the argument will be different.

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

Theatre Of Copyright Business

Dave Mustaine recently posted the following on Twitter;

It’s a big week for songwriters all over the country, on Tuesday, the Senate passed the Music Modernization Act, the most important piece of legislation in a generation, making sure songwriters are paid the fair market value when their songs are played.

Steven Tyler was one of the biggest lobbyist for this Act to pass.

Nikki Sixx posted the following on Facebook about another Copyright fight in Europe that looks like it’s going to get the green light;

Fantastic news. This started with artists who had the courage to use their voice’s and standing up to an industry that wasn’t willing to change.I am very proud of all those artists and happy to see the ball rolling in the right direction.Without compensation artists can’t afford to keep making the music.We are just getting started.

There is a lot of opposing opinions to Nikki’s post from EU citizens that highlighted issues with the new EU Copyright Reform especially Article 11 and 13.

The real rock stars these days are the fans.

The artists think they make a little coin and they’ve won some victory. They are clueless to the social impact these laws create in handing even more power over to the Corporation.

The enemy is the labels. Artists should take up arms against them, instead they are taking up arms against the consumption methods of their fans.

Remember the labels want the old world, in which they had control over the distribution and before Napster they tried real hard to get perpetual copyright. Then again Nikki Sixx owns his Masters and was involved in setting up a label. So his record deal is with himself. Isn’t he making enough coin?

Both of these Acts originated from the corporations instead of the artists. The labels always win and the public domain gets nothing again. The label executives fly private while 98% of artists fly economy.

No Government should be allowed to add new rights to works created decades ago. Those works got created under the laws at that time, which suited the artist just fine however they have been changed retroactively too many times and now those works are under copyright for close to 110 years.

Copyright law is about creating an incentive for new creativity and to enrich the public. It’s a trade off. Adding new rights to old recordings doesn’t create any incentive for new creativity.

If you want to read about the US Act, read these two articles;

EFF Article

Techdirt Article

For the EU law read the following articles;

EFF Article

Techdirt Article

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

Look What The Copyright Dragged In

It’s sad reading the stories below, because it shows how far removed Copyright Law is from what it was intended to be.

There are copyright battles happening everywhere. Most of the news is on how the record labels and movie studios are calling on governments to pass stronger dictatorship style copyright laws which would give these organisations police like powers.

Because if being creative on the accounting side for the labels isn’t enough, they also need to have police gestapo like powers. And remember that Copyright was originally designed to help the creator of the art. However, it’s assisting the corporations to make billions of dollars while the creators make a lot less.

Remember the movie, “This Is Spinal Tap”. Well, the movie has made over $400 million in profits, however the co- creators have received $81 from merchandise sales and $98 from record sales.

If you think those amounts are pretty low, well the co-creators thought so as well, and off they went to court, for fraudulent accounting and to get the copyright back in the hands of the creators. And lucky for them they got a judge that saw their side, so the case is going to get interesting. Other cases, got judges that had backgrounds in the copyright industry, so guess how those cases turned out. A victory for the copyright corporation.

The “Spinal Tap” case is a perfect example of a large corporation using copyright to benefit the corporation instead of the creators. Unfortunately for UMG/Vivendi, the co-creators in this case, also found fame with “The Simpsons” and they have a voice in the market as powerful as the corporation.

In other copyright news, the creators of TV show “Empire” got sued by another person who claimed that “Empire” is based on his script called “Cream” which he pitched to the show runners 8 years ago. Both shows centred on a black record label executive.

Yep, that was the similarity between the two scripts and the judge basically said, an African-American, male record executive is un-protectable.

Is the creator of the “Cream” script to blame here?

No.

The blame rests solely with the movie studios and the record labels who lobbied hard to get copyright extended to these current terms (life of the creator plus 70 years). Instead of assisting the public domain and giving people an incentive to create, these organisations are intent on destroying the public domain and giving people an incentive to sue, because hey, someone stole their idea. Well think of another idea. Or take that original idea and make it better.

And speaking of long copyright terms, remember all those cases involving streaming company payments over pre-1972 recordings, because those high commercial recordings fall under various state laws in the US. Well, organisations were trying to get remastered editions of those recordings passed as new derivative originals so they could come under the current copyright laws that would only benefit the copyright holder, which as we know is usually the organisation and very rarely the creator.

Meanwhile, Disney made a doco about Michael Jackson and they used some of his music in it without asking the Jackson Estate.

The Estate didn’t like that and thought Disney should have asked for copyright permission, in the same way Disney asks other documentary makers to seek copyright permissions from Disney when they make documentaries on Disney. So Disney cited the principle of fair use, a small section in Copyright law, Disney and other large organisations tried to kill off as their actual defence.

Funny how a large corporation which tried to kill off fair use in various copyright revisions are now using it as their defence.

And the copyright dispute is still going on, but it never should have even been an issue. Both organisations are holding on to intellectual property that should be in the public domain because the creator of the said works is dead.

If the creator dies, then there are no more works from that creator, so their previous works fall out of Copyright and become part of the public domain. It’s exactly how the 60s music explosion happened.

And what about YouTube’s Content ID system taking down works that are copyright free.

Isn’t it funny (a lot of sarcasm here) as to how an algorithm created by YouTube to protect the interests of the copyright holders (mainly the large organisations) is now over protecting them, to the detriment of the public domain.

Read the Torrentfreak article to find out how much time is being wasted to “protect the interests of large corporations”. A Professor uploads copyright free music and YouTube is taking them down. Time wasted. The Professor then counter claims and YouTube then restores. Time wasted again to be back at the start again. And the way the algorithm works, it will pick up these videos again in due time.

Seriously, this is the world that Copyright controlled by Corporations has created and for YouTube to exist they needed to create something for the Corporations. And if users uploading copyright free music isn’t a problem, then allowing websites to stream rip videos from YouTube is a problem to the large copyright organisations.

I think people are forgetting that the “users” of the service are responsible for how they use the service. And if the record labels can’t get the message that the users are sending them, then they will continue to miss business opportunities to monetise these users. These users go to so much effort to find videos and use another third party software to stream rip that video. That is a lot of effort there by a user to own music in a digital form.

And YouTube is still in the firing line for not paying the copyright holders fairly. They seem to make billions in ad-revenue and pay thousands to artists.

The article states:

Artists claim that a song needs to be streamed 51.1 million times before they can make the average UK annual salary of £27,600. Revenue is based on the number of streams a video has received and funded through advertising.

It is claimed that YouTube pays creators 0.00054p per stream of music, meaning a track that is streamed one million times would earn about £540. Artists say that 85% of YouTube’s visitors come to the site for music, contributing £2.33 billion to the website’s revenue in 2017.

It’s a new world we live in. People want to get paid right away, even if they have a hundred thousand views. But be careful what you wish for.

Organisations like YouTube have given artists access to a world-wide market instantly. If you compare now to the past,  for an artist in the record label controlled era up to when Napster hit our internet lines, artists needed a record label and a lot of money behind them to have access to a world-wide market.

And this is the model the record labels want back. The gatekeeper control model. And misguided artists are pushing for it. Scary if you ask me.

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