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

How the Labels and the RIAA Rob Creators?

YouTube tells the world that the service pays more in the U.S for Ad-Supported Streaming than other services like Spotify and Pandora. YouTube points out that they pay about $3 per 1000 ad-supported streams in the U.S.

The record labels via their lobby group RIAA disagree with YouTube’s math

Cary Sherman, the RIAA head honcho had this to say on the matter;

“About 400 digital services have been licensed around the world, many with ad-supported features. Comparatively, YouTube pays music creators far less than those services on both a per-stream and per-user basis, and nowhere near the $3 per thousand streams in the U.S. that Lyor (YouTube) claims.”

Okay so if the RIAA is going to dispute the math put out by YouTube, then what is their math.

How much do they get from YouTube per 1000 streams?

The record labels and the publishing/licensing companies are the first to get paid. And nowhere in this debate have these organisations mentioned what they get. I know I have seen thousands of news articles showing what the artists or the song writers get from YouTube streams in their bank account, but the artists are the last to be paid, once the labels and publishing companies take their cuts.

If the record labels via the RIAA want to be taken serious they need to be transparent.

Instead they counter the math from streaming services with fluff. Yes, that same thing found in people’s belly buttons.

They fluff the conversation about a value gap, talking on and on about how YouTube has billions of users and the amount of traffic they generate should equate to higher payments and because it doesn’t, there is a value gap.

They fluff the conversation about DMCA Safe Harbor provisions being a rigged system and how politicians need to create laws to protect the business model of the record labels and in the process destroy innovation on the internet.

Basically, these organisations are doing the same thing they have always done. Lying and scheming to keep their creative accounting in-house and away from the actual people that made these organisations rich. The creators.

Think about it for a second. The streaming services via their own blog mention how much they pay the copyright holder. The very next day, the RIAA or the Record Labels quickly counter it, but they never mention how much they do get?

So the headline of the next article should be “How the labels and the RIAA rob creators?”

 

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

Outside The Conversation

Are the organisations like the record labels and the publishers doing their best for artists in the long term or are they just focused on the short term profits?

Customers of music showed the recording industry what choice brings to the conversation and the record labels ignored it. It wasn’t until a hardware company created iTunes and then a techie created a streaming service that customers started to get what they want.

Are the record labels and their lobby groups seeking useful outcomes in their fight against piracy or just short term wins?

Seriously, legislation to protect copyright and make the terms longer does not foster creativity. It only gives the current players a longer government granted monopoly.

What about how the record labels keep all the streaming licensing monies and give nothing back to the artists?

Some of the bigger artists might get a fee however the record labels are in this powerful bargaining position because of all the artists, not just the few. Then again, most people want the music of the few.

Is the record label policy of other people losing and them winning a good policy for artists and music in general?

It seems the record labels like to win. To them it’s a battle to get control back of things they lost. And they will do it through the courts and with legislation designed to protect their business model.

And if the record labels get control over the distribution chain and the recording industry goes back to the gatekeeper model of the past, do artists believe they will better off?

It’s easy to fall in love with the ideal of record labels getting artists to sign fair and equitable deals. Of course, that’s not how it works. And if there’s one organisation that hasn’t learned from past mistakes it’s the record labels and their lobby groups.

Instead of following a path that leads to better standards/outcomes for artists in the long term they seek a litigious path that only benefits them in the short term.

And what we have here is tribal identity at full force. Artists are emotional and they react to what is going on in a complicated world. In this case, the tribal identity set up by the record labels aligns itself with a downward spiral of selfish, short term actions. Fans are also emotional. Some attach themselves to the artist/creator point of view while others read wide and make their own choices.

And that’s the disconnect the industry is facing. Choice for fans to decide and make their own decisions and the power to demonstrate what they believe something should be worth.

No one wants to go deep anymore and unpack the facts. They’re too busy building out their identity online.

Trust me when I say this, there are fans who don’t pay for recorded music because they don’t believe they should, however these same fans have no problem coughing up $200 plus dollars for a concert ticket for a larger act and these same fans have no problems coughing up $20 to $70 for independent acts. It’s their choice how they choose to interact with music.

And then there are the fans who have large LP and CD collections, who don’t pay for music anymore, but still pay for concert tickets and what not.

And then there are fans like me who have large LP and CD collections and decided that streaming is the way forward. So I pay for a family account and I have no problems forking out cash for a concert ticket.

And then there are fans who have large LP and CD collections and have decided that purchasing physical is what they want to do. And these fans also have no problem paying for a concert ticket.

Life is fluid and we need to make choices every day.

This is the world we’ve arrived in. We’re dying for entertainment. The recording industry has never been more powerful. There’s all this crap about piracy, streaming rates and the techies taking over. But the techies make tools, not stories or music.

Life is a struggle for everyone, not just creators.

And our leaders have their own agenda while corporations pollute the conversation with their lobby dollars.

Why do you think they pay no tax and white collar crime corrupt bankers avoid jail?

Someone always thinks the rules don’t apply to them. If you listen to the recording industry, they would tell you that the techies believe that rules don’t apply to them. But hang on a second, if the techies are doing it their way, didn’t that used to be the ethos of the musician. To do it their way. So what went wrong? The techies have become the new rock stars. And they built it all themselves.

These days the pop stars become brands and puppets to the corporations. Otherwise there is a high chance they are left off the playlist. At least there are metal and rock creators doing it their way. Outside of the conversation they are building something, going against the grain.

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

Short Term

Thinking short term is hurting us. Every leader in charge thinks about the now and never about what’s around the bend. The majority of people in charge of corporations only care about the now. What is our bottom line looking like? There is no care about their environmental footprint or employee well-being.

Record labels are the same. They focus so much on first week sales and charts as they believe it brings in an instant payday, without understanding that the payday they are really earning is from music created 30 plus years ago and it just percolated, slowly rising to the top.

Have you heard of the record labels starting to employ artists as employees and offer them retirement plans? 

Of course not. That’s long term thinking. 

So Disney is pulling its catalogue of movies from Netflix in 2019. As a Netflix user, I say who cares. I never started subscribing to Netflix because they had Disney movies. I started subscribing because I wanted Netflix Originals. And with the addition of a comic book company with a cult like following, Netflix is looking at creating its own shared universe. It’s positive and long term thinking.

How often do we hear that people have no reason to pirate from the movie studios and record labels, as their catalogues are available online legally?

Amnesia seems to be the order of the day for the labels and studios because the online legal alternatives are fragmented. And as long as fragmentation exists, the pirate sites will be numero uno for content consumption. Same deal for music that’s available on Tidal or Apple and not on Spotify and vice versa. It’s ridiculous. So are consumers meant to have three streaming subscriptions for music and another ten streaming subscriptions for movies/TV. I don’t think so.

Consumers don’t want to have a dozen or so subscriptions. Just look at the cable TV industry. Too many subscriptions are expensive and not manageable, especially when these streaming sites are competing with illegal streaming sites who offer everything on the same site. Illegal streaming sites also show the content industries what kind of supply consumers want. At the moment, the content industries are focusing on the payday right now which means limiting the supply instead of the payday in the long term which means to open the supply and get more people to subscribe.

So what would Spotify do if Universal, Sony and Warner pulled their music from the service and started up their own service like Disney?

I don’t think it will happen. The revenues the three majors are getting from streaming licensing deals and royalty payments is insane. They would be crazy to leave Spotify. But if they do, Spotify is in trouble as it has no original content.

Have you seen the revenue numbers from Warner Bros lately?

Streaming grew by almost 60% from $227 million to $360 million. Downloads bring in $88 million, down from $121 million. Forget about vinyl, CD’s and cassettes. They are niche items that collectors would buy, however they will not sustain the business.

Overall income from recorded music grew by 13% to $770 million and it happened on the backs of listening instead of selling. Consumption in the 2000’s is all about access.

So if Spotify doesn’t pay, how did Warner accumulate $360 million dollars in streaming fees? All of those artists who sold their rights to corporations are losing out big time. The corporations who hold the rights are making a lot on streaming. 

The rich are getting richer. Meanwhile, we have clueless sites reporting how legacy artists need to hit the road to keep an income as they have no monies coming in from streaming. Well, these legacy artists need to get with the times. Get their fans to stream instead of buy and the corporation that has your rights will get paid royalties. And if you have a good deal with the corporation that holds your rights, you will get paid as well. If you don’t have a good deal, you will get squat. The game is rigged in the record labels and publishers favour. They are making a tonne.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The internet was supposed to level the playing field, give us all a chance. Instead we have monoliths who control 70% of the marketplace. And the powerful always abuse their position. Look no further than the scandals.

In Australia, we have our largest bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, involved in money-laundering. The deputy commissioner of the Australian Tax Office was covering up the multi-million tax fraud of his children. Politicians are resigning because they developed amnesia and forgot they are dual nationals, which is a breach of the Constitution. And still no word if they get to keep the money they fraudulently earned or they need to pay it back. All short term thinking.

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

Copyright Lawsuits 

Ed Sheeran writes songs and they become popular. Then he gets hit with lawsuit after lawsuit because his songs are making money and the family members of a departed artist, or the business entity that owns the copyright of an artist who is departed or is not creating anything worthwhile anymore wants a cut. 

If Copyright terms remained how they were originally, this would not be a problem. First, the creator had a 14 year monopoly, with a chance to renew for another 14 years for a total of 28 years. However, once the creator died, all of their works became public property, free to be used by any other artist/creator to create derivative versions. So if the creator passed away during a term, the works ceased to be under copyright and went straight into the public domain.

How do you think the British 60’s invasion happened?

Copyright maximalists and corporations would like you to believe because of strong copyright laws giving the creator an incentive to create works in a vacuum and free from any sort of influence. However, it happened because of the blues songs in the public domain which Keith Richards, John Lennon, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and many others used to create new works. In some cases, similar works.

But then the Copyright laws started changing. On the backs of lobby dollars from the corporations the laws changed to last for the life of the creator and then the laws changed again to last for the life of the creator plus 70 years after the death of the creator.

So who is copyright benefiting once the person who is meant to have the monopoly (the creator) to create works has passed on?

The corporations and estates who control the copyrights of long-dead artists. That’s who.

And because of these non-creative entities controlling copyrights, inspiration is now interpreted as infringement. Music and culture worked because people write songs inspired by past heroes. When I heard “Lift Me Up” from Five Finger Death Punch, I went back and listened to “The Ultimate Sin” from Ozzy Osbourne. When I heard “Kingmaker” from Megadeth, I went back and listened to “Children Of The Grave” from Black Sabbath.

It’s these inspirations from the past that keeps the past relevant.

However due to copyright lawsuits, labels are now even asking the artists to give them a list of songs that might have been used as inspiration, so they could check the possibility of future copyright infringement claims.

So how is this good for music and music creation.

And what about music created by AI machines. Does that fall under copyright or is that copyright free?

And YouTube is still a punching bag when it comes to payments. 

While the labels and publishers took over 3 years to negotiate with Spotify about operating in the U.S, YouTube became the destination for people seeking out music. And while the recording industry patted themselves on the back when they got a percentage stake in Spotify and allowed it to operate in the U.S, YouTube was busying doing what the recording industry should have been doing.

Spreading the love of music to the masses.

So of course, the millions the recording industry gets in licensing isn’t enough and via their lobby group, the recording industry needs to get more in ad supported royalty payments. The musicians are also screaming for a change however it’s their copyright owner that has let them down.

But is YouTube really such a problem

Its popularity is overtaken by Spotify for music alone.

Give people what they want and watch it grow. I still reckon Spotify is priced too high. It’s the same price as Netflix and Netflix spends millions on creating its own content and licensing content. Music production is in the thousands and for DIY artists it’s in the hundreds. But a music streaming service charges the same price as a video streaming service. Ridiculous. But that’s the greed of the labels and the publishing companies.

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

In The Courts Of The Streaming King

Legal streaming music is hurting. 

Streaming companies need to license music from the legacy players for a substantial fee and then pay royalties to these organizations when the songs are listened/viewed. And these organizations keep the bulk of these payments and pay cents to the artists they represent. 

Netflix has no problem growing its subscriber base and making profits, however it has its own content, which earned it over 90 Emmy nominations. And it’s monthly fees are identical to music subscription services, even though it costs a lot more to create a TV show or a movie than a song/album.

I don’t know what Spotify, YouTube and even Apple are waiting for. They need to get into finding their own artists and get them creating some kick ass tunes. While that will take years to come to fruition, investors of these companies want results now. There is no room in the investor mindset about profits 10 years from now. 

Recently Spotify has been hit with two more lawsuits about unpaid royalties. For a company that has licensing agreements in place with the record labels and performance rights organizations, they are still blamed for not doing enough in ensuring they have all the correct details of who wrote what song. The fact that the labels licensed songs to Spotify and didn’t have the song writer details properly recorded is totally okay to the song writer. Because to them, it’s Spotify’s fault. 

Spotify should just remove the music from latest complainers from the service and seek compensation from the label, because in the end, it was the label who took the licensing money and gave Spotify access to the songs in question. 

Or Spotify should seriously consider shutting up shop in the U.S. 

And the labels/publisher’s believe people will just return to purchasing physical music. 

They won’t. 

There was a reason why Napster was popular and close to 20 years later, the mega corporations who get rich off government granted monopolies still haven’t figured it out. 

And speaking of music not on services, here are a few more albums I tried to listen to recently that I couldn’t find on Spotify. Is it Spotify’s fault or the labels fault or the artists fault? 

David Coverdale

His three solo albums “White Snake”, “Northwinds” and “Into The Light” are not on Spotify Australia. 

Beckett

The band that Maiden borrowed from is not on Spotify, albeit two songs on a British prog album collection.

Adrenaline Mob

After listening to their new album, “We The People”, I wanted to listen to the debut album “Omerta” and found it’s not on Spotify Australia. Another great decision by record labels from denying paying customers music.

Kansas

Their albums with Steve Morse on guitar are not on Spotify, Australia. I have “Power” and “In The Spirt Of Things” on LP, however I was at work and I wanted to listen to the albums.

Scorpions

There is a lot of Scorpions music missing from Spotify Australia. “In Trance”, “Take By Force”, “Tokyo Tapes”, “Lovedrive”, “Animal Magnetism”, “Blackout”, “Love At First Sting” and “Savage Amusement” are all missing. Their 90’s output looks a bit hit and miss as well, however I don’t know all of those albums enough to comment if they are all there.

Frankie Miller

His 1982 album “Standing On The Edge” is not on Spotify and it’s one of my favourites. A few songs appeared in Thunder Alley, the movie about a farm boy who wanted to be a rock star but needed to work on the farm. So he goes to watch his ex-bands gig and their guitarist is passed out, so he grabs the guitar and plays.

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

Streaming and Distribution 

I believe that it’s an excellent time (on the current state of the music scene). I feel that there’s so much out there for people to pick from and choose from its phenomenal. I mean and guitar playing is at such a high level right now. I mean these younger generations are just taking it to a point where you know it’s beginning to explore places that people have never gone before, it’s just fascinating. And the music itself too, you can pick a genre and find so much great music in every genre. People are just pushing the envelope in all directions, so I think it’s very gratifying and satisfying. It’s a little challenging to pick through I mean from this thing back in the day when I was growing up there’s like a half a dozen or 10 big giant great bands that are super groups you know. Now it’s like there are thousands of bands. Picking through everything is hard. It’s stressful trying to find all the right music you know.
George Lynch 

Today, noise reigns supreme. For the ones who have financial backing, they surround us with their nuclear blast marketing. And in most cases people ignore them.

But it’s still a good time for an artist to get their product out. Actually it’s the best time.

For the record labels, they are still trying to get control over the distribution chain after losing it to Napster and other peer to peer file sharing programs. At the moment, technology companies have it and if the labels kill the streaming grape vine, they hope to bring the distribution chain under the record labels. 

Streaming has three main players. Spotify, Google and Apple.

Spotify is losing money each year and relies on investments. The record labels owe a piece of it but they are not investing in it. YouTube is owned by Google (well their parent company) and the record labels hate Google, blaming it for all of their ills. The “take it or leave it” deal with YouTube is not what the labels want, so they lobby hard to get laws passed which can cripple Google. Apple uses music to push sales of wares. However, even Apple is going to the table to get a lower payment rate back to the labels.

Going back to Spotify.

Since it has money woes and it cannot make a profit, it’s offering payola terms back to the record labels to have their music chucked into playlists for a fee. Because taking in money from users and advertisers is not enough to make money in music if you don’t have your own popular content bringing in money. And the labels are getting paid handsomely twice from each streaming provider.

  • Spotify pays them for licensing their music catalogues and then pays them again as royalty payments based on listens.
  • YouTube pays them for licensing their music catalogues and then pays them again as royalty payments based on listens.
  • Pandora pays them for licensing their music catalogues and then pays them again as royalty payments based on listens.
  • Apple pays them for licensing their music catalogues and then pays them again as royalty payments based on listens.
  • Tidal pays them for licensing their music catalogues and then pays them again as royalty payments based on listens.

I think you get the drift. Maybe that’s why Spotify is paying producers to be fake artists and play popular songs on piano for people to listen to.

And to top it off, the record labels are still using the 100 year old rule of geo restrictions when it comes to streaming. So music available in the U.S doesn’t necessarily equate to being available in Australia. Here is a quick list of albums I tried to call up in the last two weeks on Spotify Australia which are not available;

  • Heaven And Hell – The Devil You Know, released in 2009
  • Stryper – Murder By Pride, released in 2009
  • Three Days Grace – Life Starts Now, released in 2009
  • Night Ranger – Midnight Madness, released in 1983
  • Europe – Europe, released in 1983
  • Helix – No Rest For The Wicked, released in 1983

Isn’t it nice how record labels treat legitimate paying customers?

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

Is Copyright A Government Granted Ponzi Scheme?

Culture is all about emulation. Up until 1971, music culture had 11 years of progress by copying what came before and making it better. All you need as proof in the quality of music released around a descending bass line during that period.

In the United States Constitution it states the reasons behind Copyright is “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” Most countries have similar reasons for copyright. Fast forward a century later and Copyright has become the get rich scheme of the century. It’s being used for everything except what it was originally intended for, “to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts”.

All of those songs from “Hardwired To Self Destruct” will be in the public domain by 2120 (approx. based on the current terms of life of the creator plus an additional 70 years after death). Even Led Zeppelin’s IV will not be in the public domain until 2110 (approx.). I will be long gone by then, however my great great grandchildren will probably be able to benefit from a robust public domain in the same way that Led Zeppelin and Rolling Stones benefited from using blues and folk songs in the public domain to build their career. Then again, the record labels, movie studios and Performance Rights Organisations have done a wonderful job in getting Copyright laws retroactively changed to suit their profits, so by 2120 there could be no Public Domain whatsoever.

The crazy thing is the 10 year difference of the estimated public domain date between Metallica and Led Zeppelin however the albums are over 40 years apart in release date. Remember how I’ve always said Copyright was hijacked by business people in the 60’s and 70’s to benefit a corporate entity. Led Zeppelin created their main profitable catalogue of songs between 1968 and 1976. The copyright terms of the era were 28 years, with the option of another 28 years if the Copyright was renewed. After that, the song would fall in the public domain. So for a song written in 1968, its normal public domain date would have been 2024.

Copyright is an outgrowth of the privatization of government censorship in sixteenth-century England. There was no uprising of authors suddenly demanding the right to prevent other people from copying their works; far from viewing copying as theft, authors generally regarded it as flattery. The bulk of creative work has always depended, then and now, on a diversity of funding sources: commissions, teaching jobs, grants or stipends, patronage, etc. The introduction of copyright did not change this situation. What it did was allow a particular business model — mass pressings with centralized distribution — to make a few lucky works available to a wider audience, at considerable profit to the distributors.
Question Copyright article 

The 60/70’s era had the children of the WW2 survivors turn into teenagers. Add to the mix, all of the nation rebuilding going on and suddenly the modern family had money. And these kids looked for an outlet, which proved to be music. On the backs of Elvis Presley and The Beatles invasion, the sale of recorded music brought in a lot of money to the recording business, so something had to be done to protect those songs bringing in so much gold. The record labels (along with the movie studios who had their own boom in film) took the money meant for the creators and lined the pockets of politicians to write and pass laws.

Hell, the person that co-authored and brought the Copyright Act of 1976 to the U.S Senate was John Little McClellan. The funny thing is he led a Special Committee to Investigate Political Activities, Lobbying and Campaign Contributions many years before he was asked to co-author and submit the 1976 bill. Guess he would have seen everyone on the take, so why shouldn’t he. Let’s look at a few facts. He was 79 years old when approached by the movie studios/record labels. He was the perfect kind of senator to push their case as he was well-respected and in his 35 years as senator he introduced over 1000 bills which 140 were signed into law. A year after the bill was signed into law, he passed away. He didn’t care what damage the bill would cause.

So copyright becomes a government granted monopoly. Its value is based on another government bill that determines royalty rates. There is also the unregulated price labels charge to license music catalogues to streaming services and prior to the internet, the price they charged for recorded music.

A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation where the individual/organization, pays returns to its investors from new capital paid to the scheme by new investors, rather than from profit earned through legitimate investments or business activities. Hell, streaming at the moment is a Ponzi scheme. New investor money is given to old investors.

So how can Copyright be a Ponzi scheme?

A Copyright operator is a company that collects royalties on behalf of artists or songwriters and then distributes those monies to the artists whose works were performed.

A copyright operator has the following investors;

Music consumers, TV networks, cable networks, terrestrial and satellite radio stations, streaming services, background music services, colleges, universities, concert presenters, symphony orchestras and hundreds of thousands of bars, restaurants, hotels, circuses, theme parks and any other place that plays music.

The Copyright operators brings in a bunch of venues and organisations and gets them to pay for blanket licences because the Copyright Operator has so many artists on their books, there is a high chance the music being played is an artist from their roster. The Copyright operator then uses the money from the newer venues to pay the Top 1% of the artists so the enterprise looks legit.

In 99% of the cases, the monies collected via the process mentioned ends up going to the Top 1% of earners. This is changing as artists see the value in holding their own copyrights, however the laws are stacked against them in relation to paying stupid fees to Copyright Operators.

As much as everyone hates Spotify, why do you think Spotify had to set up a $50 million fund to pay independent creators?

They had no information as to who the creators were. So what did the Publishing Rights Organisations and Record Labels do with the royalty monies they received from these works in the past (from recorded sales) because how can they pay royalties if they don’t have the information needed to determine who is entitled to the royalty.

Operators of Copyright schemes usually entice artists with the offer of high returns if they sell their copyrights back to the Copyright operator. Steve Perry got millions recently for selling his copyrights to a publishing company, while a brand new artist will get ZILCHO as their songs are not popular right now. But they could be in the future. Steve Perry would then get short-term returns, which will be inconsistent. And when that dwindles down to pennies, a new technology will get blamed for the pittance in payments back to creators, while the Copyright operators swim in cash.

Seriously, how much of the Spotify license fees go back to all of the artists and songwriters (not just the Top 1% of earners)?

It’s because of Copyright laws, that the Copyright operators have this bargaining power?

The Copyright Operators had it easy while the record labels controlled the distribution gate. But the internet became a game changer and suddenly the copyright business was failing to achieve the returns expected. So the business went screaming to the Government to write laws to protect its business model. This time the government didn’t listen and the copyright business still continues to operate under fraudulent terms. But, the money pool is increasing, as music consumers turn to an access model and streaming is providing billions to the old investors.

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