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

Music Distributor or Internet Brand

Spotify is the largest streaming provider today but YouTube did have that title unofficially in the past. So with any service that is used by the masses, it’s no surprise that Spotify now takes most of the punches while YouTube becomes a takedown haven for anyone who has created anything or wants to suppress free speech.

I’m sure you’ve seen all the headlines.

Spotify should pay more, Spotify is appealing the royalty rate rise, Spotify is getting sued, Spotify settles class action suit against it.

Maybe another take on those headlines might be;

  • How much does the record label keep from Spotify’s licensing and royalty payments?
  • Artists are appealing the low royalty payments they get from their label?
  • Record labels get sued for banking billions from using the Copyrights of artists to negotiate high licensing fees.
  • Artists settle class action suit against the Record Labels for keeping Copyrights longer than they should and for murky creative accounting.

Major labels no longer develop artists but they can make artists bigger. It all depends on how much an artist is willing to give up.

Because the labels will give the artist that large advance, however it will be probably be the last payment an artist will ever see from them.

Just recently, Italian composer Ennio Morricone (Metallica uses his music as a concert intro, plus he wrote the soundtracks to a lot of popular movies) won back his Copyrights. In his termination suit, it was mentioned how in the late 70s he made a deal with a label for an upfront payment in exchange for low royalties which never got renegotiated and of course by the 90s his music was being used for concerts, it became popular again as those 70s movies got re-released on DVD and so forth.

Metallica’s licensing fee would go all to the label and nothing to the Composer. A perfect example of getting a large upfront payment and then nothing in return.

The labels are greedy, who operate on intimidation and since MTV, they have been short-term thinkers. It’s all about the profits.

So what’s next for music distribution and a company living in two worlds. Spotify has a bad rep for its payments models but also a good rep because it’s useful to artists and fans, plus it pays for life.

But Spotify still doesn’t make a profit doing what it does and it still gets extra funding, to invest and grow the business. Their podcasts is a growing business as there are a lot of people who would rather listen to non-musical content than musical.

Maybe the problem with Spotify is that it doesn’t want to be just a music distribution platform. Music is seen as a means to become a global internet brand. Sort of like Apple, who used music to sell hardware.

And all you need to do is have a look at what’s happening with Netflix. The big studios who laughed off streaming once upon a time, are setting up their own streaming services. Expect the labels to do the same, because they want control of the distribution and the murky creative accounting.

And by then Spotify would be in a position to not care, because they would have repurposed the business to be a digital brand and the artists would have it even worse, because if they think Spotify is bad, wait until the labels get control of the distribution.

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

Andy Warhol Was Right

As I was reading a Copyright story about a suit being brought against Lady Gaga for the song “Shallow”, I was also listening to “Andy Warhol Was Right” from Warrant.

And I couldn’t find any difference between the chords of these songs. And Warrant or the heirs of Jani Lane could have gone to court with Lady Gaga, but they haven’t.

And then you get a nobody like Steve Rosen who reckons that the song he created is so original and free from influence that someone must have copied him.

And he is claiming that his song “Almost” must have been copied. And he uploaded it to SoundCloud six years before “Shallow” was released, to prove that he was first.

Well, Warrant released “Andy Warhol Was Right” 20 years before Rosen’s “Almost”.

Andy Warhol said that every person will have their fifteen minutes of fame. I guess it’s the perfect song to sum up the range of copyright cases. People searching for their fifteen minutes.

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Music, My Stories, Stupidity

What’s A Person To Do?

Some people are just bad people. Some people get away with their crap. Some people think they’re getting away with their crap but aren’t. Some are takers and some are givers.

And it all doesn’t balance out, no way.

The Governments still don’t care about global warming or gun violence and Corporations still have their fingerprints all over legislation and trade agreements.

You can complain all day, but it makes no difference, you have to decide who you want to be, grow up and make your own choices.

It’s like Sammy Hagar said in “Mine All Mine”, “you’ve got Allah in the East, you’ve got Jesus in the West, Christ, what’s a man to do?”.

And once upon a time it was about supremacy of race and religion. Now it’s about status supremacy and likes supremacy. And people are fighting over about what side they want to be on. To paraphrase a line from the excellent Netflix show “Ozarks”, would you rather be the one holding the gun or running away from the gun.

And it’s probably a bad phrase to use with all the talk about gun violence and gun control in America but life boils down to control.

As long as we have to answer to somebody, then we have no freedom. And that somebody can be an employer, a partner, a lending company, a credit card company or the taxation department or utilities company.

Regardless of your place in society, be grateful. Because humans are made by nature to survive and produce, so if you are living you have done okay.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Influenced, movies, Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Unsung Heroes

Past Success

Is past success a good indication that you will have success again in the future?

Netflix thinks so, with the signing of the “Game Of Thrones” TV show creators to a $200 million deal. Their track record on reinterpreting other peoples material is pretty good, but their original content is pending review especially how they reinterpreted the last two seasons of GoT without really having source material to fill in the details.

This is like signing an artist to a $200 million deal when all of their songs are written by outside writers.

Remember the band Bananarama. They had a hit with “Venus”, a cover song and then their other hits were songs written by a British songwriting team called Stock-Aitken-Waterman. Well they got the mega deal, but didn’t really get the hits again.

Kevin DuBrow was given a million dollar contract to form his own band DuBrow but what the label failed to notice was that Quiet Riot’s two biggest songs are cover songs. Or offering Jay Jay French from Twisted Sister the same deal when Dee Snider wrote the material which made the band famous.

When Dokken splintered, Geffen went after Don Dokken and Elektra went after George Lynch, but what both labels failed to notice was that Jeff Pilson was the maestro, with a hand in co-writing all of Dokken’s most successful tracks. But no label went after him.

Even when Vince Neil left Motley Crue, he was courted by label’s and Warner Bros eventually signed him. But his fame is based on tracks Nikki Sixx had written.

Good business sense would be to see what their original shows or movies end up like.

But businesses don’t think like that. Netflix is losing subscribers for the first time in 11 years, Disney is taking back their content for their own streaming service and HBO and Amazon are also keen to get the GoT guys.

So by Netflix having these guys on board, by 2022 they would expect something in return. And Netflix would count on people keeping their subscriptions because of what they have in the pipeline.

But it’s all based on one key metric, as long as the GoT TV show creators brand doesn’t get further damaged in the meantime.

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

The Billions Artists Don’t Get But Should

This is the world that the artists have created when they signed away their masters and Copyrights to a record label. And for this tragedy to be fixed, the artists need to understand that it starts with them.

The labels have been the recording music gatekeepers for decades and they had full control to sign artists to contracts with less favourable terms.

In the process, the labels amassed a catalogue of music which gave them negotiating power at the table and when it came to take overs or selling off parts of the label, these profitable back catalogues bring in a lot of money.

French entertainment giant Vivendi owns Universal Music Group (UMG). Now Chinese tech company Tencent is looking at a 10% stake in UMG worth up to $3.6 billion dollars. The worth of that stake is because of the artists and the works UMG holds on behalf of the artists; works which they more or less paid a pittance for and works which have probably really recouped 100 times over.

How much of those billions would go back to the artists?

But hey, artists instead are forming a lobby group to fight against the tech lobby groups in the U.S. Because the distributor is now a problem. This is the same as the artists forming a lobby group in the past to fight against the truck drivers and the record stores.

I’m all for more power to the artist. It’s the artist that creates the song which connects with audiences and makes dollars. But for the artist to also have a fair say, they need to lobby hard against their employers (if they have a label deal) and the publishers, because these organisations make billions from the deals they organise with streaming companies and by selling off their small stake in the company.

And going back to the Music Artists Coalition (MAC), which also includes high profile managers, I don’t see how they will advocate for the 98% of artists doing it tough, when they represent the 2%.

But it’s a start.

Will MAC get back the masters from the labels. Oh, wait, most of those masters got destroyed in a Universal Warehouse fire.

We’ll lucky for the Public, that there is a copy of the music online. Otherwise, the tunes would be lost forever, in peoples records collections, which either end up in the trash or in a second hand book shop.

Because the labels don’t really care about this history. If they did, they would have stored the masters better, in a climate controlled room instead of a basic warehouse and they would have stored the back-ups at a different location instead of the same building.

All the labels care about is the free Spotify and YouTube users and those users who “stream rip”.

The labels (with their lobby groups) have court granted blocking on their side in most countries, so visits to sites like The Pirate Bay have reduced. However, fans of music just use YouTube and the free tier of Spotify to access music (which are both legal) and the labels don’t like it, because they are unable to find a way to convert the users of the free tiers to paying subscribers, especially in Italy.

So in this case, the labels cant increase the price to access music because people are not paying the current price as it is. So the price needs to come down. But the labels don’t want that. The option they want is to cut off the free-tiers, however this will just drive people back to the pirate sites.

And if the price to stream in Italy comes down, the record labels need to be reasonable here and still pay the artists their fair share, but we know that the words fair and reasonable are not associated with the labels.

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

Copyright For Nothing And The Chicks For Free

Reading copyright stories elicits two responses from me. The “Are you freaking kidding me?” response and the “This is stupid” response.

The mighty Meatloaf along with writer , Jim Steinman (who is credited as the songwriter) had a copyright spat on their hands for “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)”.

An artist called Jon Dunmore Sinclair claimed he wrote the song and Meat Loaf along with Steinman, stole it. Mmm, I am sure Mr Sinclair, still had possession of the song he wrote and it wasn’t stolen, but hey, let’s associate stealing with copyright infringement as well. Oh, wait, it already is associated, because the record labels have done a great PR job convincing people that accessing music illegally is stealing.

The story goes that Jim Steinman and Jon Sinclair had the same attorney, and via this attorney, is how Steinman heard Sinclair’s song called “(I’d Do) Anything For You”. Meatloaf argued that having a similar lyrical phrase is not copyright infringement, however without having access to hear Sinclair’s song, it’s hard to tell.

Meatloaf settled out of court, while Kate Perry and her team went to court and lost.

Now this one is a complete, “what the!, how stupid is that?” verdict.

You see, in this case, an artist called Marcus Gray (who uses the name Flame) claims that Perry ripped off his beat, and a small musical pattern.

These kind of claims trouble me, because the person claiming to be ripped off is stating that their work is so original and free from influence and not inspired by anything else that came before it. But people should check out this Vox article which shows how similar Flame’s Christian rap song is to another song back in 1983.

But hey, while Perry and her team relied on telling the story of how the song was created, Flame (original name as well) relied on pseudo gurus in musicologists to prove that they are similar. And the court agreed with the musicologists.

Which brings me to the next troubling issue, judges and juries changing the intent for what Copyright is meant to be. Then again, the labels have created this litigious monster themselves when they lobbied hard to get Copyright terms extended to life of the artists plus 70 years.

These kind of cases really started when the heirs of artists started suing.

And for the record, this never should have been an issue. If Kate Perry ripped off Flame then Van Halen can claim to be ripped off as well for “Why Can’t This Be Love”, because they have a C to B note transition. Throw in every other artist who has a song with a musical bar passage which goes from C to B in a staccato way. As Dr Luke (one of the writers) said on the stands), its basic building blocks. It’s like saying a writer can’t use the words “the”, “a” or “and”.

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