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

Another Episode in the Recording Industry Dumb and Dumber File

Seriously, how stupid can the recording industry get!

Why would the recording industry associations battle a Copyright ruling that allows people who purchase a CD to legally rip it?

First, CD sales are on the decline. The whole history of music is available on YouTube and Spotify and Pandora and (insert any other streaming service here).

So why does the recording industry still fight “ripping a CD” laws. No one with any common sense can believe what the UK Music and the British Academy of Songwriters claim.

That if people are allowed to rip the CD’s they legally buy, it would cost the rights owners tens of millions. So what they want is a tax on back up CD drives.

Are these recording industry idiots seriously that out of touch with technology?

Don’t they know that most computers don’t even come with a CD drive! My Apple iMac doesn’t even have a CD drive. In other words, CD drives are disappearing at the same rate that CD sales are disappearing.

But the recording industry, which the article incorrectly calls the music industry, still believe in some 1998 ideal of CD sales and ownership.

Even one of the largest tech companies in the world, believed that music was all about ownership and not access. For whatever reasons, Apple is very late to the streaming party.

When Steve Job’s introduced the iPod back in October 2001, the selling point was “this amazing little device holds a thousand songs, and it goes right in my pocket”. For millions upon millions of music fans, the iPod became a must and in return Apple continued to grow into a very powerful company.

However, Jimmy Iovine and Eddy Cue offer nothing amazing with Apple Music. They offer a music service with features that already exist in Spotify or even Soundcloud. But they hinder their music service by putting it behind a paywall. This new “revolutionary” product is mired in the past.

It’s like the record labels constructed Apple Music and not Apple itself. Maybe that is the truth as Jimmy Iovine’s background leans more to the recording industry than the tech industry.

Artists payouts has proven to be a contentious issue again. Transparency in the area is non-existent. Apple was not going to pay artists during the streams that happen during the three-month trial period. Then Apple did an about flip and said they would. On top of all that, Apple Music is being investigated for anti-competitive behaviour.  The last thing the labels would want is a government investigation.

Did anyone also notice that when Apple did its reverse flip on paying royalties during the free 3 month periods, it was Eddy Cue who went on the record. Meanwhile, the recording industry stooge Jimmy Iovine, remained silent, just like the label heads at Universal, Sony and Warner. However it was those idiots that created this mess in the first place.

If you are a musician this is what you should know;

• Music streaming revenue is surpassing sales of music downloads.
Research from P. Schoenfeld Asset Management shows that there will be 250 million worldwide music streaming subscribers generating over $16 billion in streaming revenue.

Your challenge is to get people to listen to your music consistently. Forget about the CD sale, or that Vinyl sale or that download sale. They are memento products. Listens is your sale. Eventually, the fan base that listens will start to want your memento’s.

One last thing.

If your song is not on Spotify, it is on YouTube. Taylor Swift took her music off Spotify and saw her YouTube plays increase. Yep, that’s right. Sales of her music didn’t increase at all, but her YouTube stats went through the roof.

It’s because people want to listen.

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

The Age Old Problem Of Music

The recorded music industry has finally stabilised and it is competing with free. Whatever arguments are put forward for recorded music to go behind paywalls, the world we live in demands that music be free. Piracy of music is no more.

Why would people bother?

My kids are happy with free and putting up with a few commercials. I am happy with it as well, and on the occasions that some of my favourite artists release an album that has a super deluxe edition, I purchase it.

All of this low price points does lead to a mathematical outcome. Profits are tighter, which in turn means  large recording budgets go down. Who cares, right? With pro-studio equipment so cheap, 95% of musicians are DIY’ers’

But, are profits really tighter for the record labels. The whole Spotify/Sony contract highlights just how much money Sony is getting from being the holders of so many copyrights. Sony’s negotiating power is strong because of the artists that create musical works.

Unions have negotiating power because they have the workers behind them. Sony has negotiating power because they have accumulated the copyrights from artists that signed contracts with terms stacked against them. The unions fight for workers’ rights and better wages. Sony fights for a higher fee to their music catalogue and then fails to pass on the monies to its artists, both old and new.

The power of the labels has been accumulated by paying low dollars for a song. Take “Louie, Louie”. The song was written on toilet paper in 1955, recorded in 1957 as a B side and it did nothing. In 1959, Berry sold the rights to the song for $750. In 1963, the song became a hit. By 1987, Berry was living on welfare at his mother’s house. However, Berry did have some luck in a lawyer friend who managed to get his rights back just in time for the song to be licensed to an alcoholic drink commercial. Berry in this instance is part of the rare 1% that do have some luck. For the other 99%, no dice.

You know what the funny thing is, someone like Frank Zappa back in the early Eighties had the foresight to offer a proposal to the record labels to replace the LP model. Zappa proposed that the labels should store their recorded music vaults in a central location and offer the music via phone or cable TV straight to the user stereos via a subscription model. In Zappa’s words “providing material in such quantity at a reduced cost could actually diminish the desire to duplicate and store it, since it will be available any time day or night.”

The reason why Zappa was thinking outside the square back in 1982 was that the recording business was already in a state of bother, that the Internet and Napster brought to the forefront, 20 years later.

Change is constant. News used to be slow, we had three TV channels, music, books and films had gated/window releases, fewer people travelled and fewer people finished school. Not anymore.

You see, change for one side of the debate is always better and for the other side not so much. For the music consumer, the shift to access models over ownership models with lower price points is for the better. But it is far from perfect for the record labels and other gatekeepers. Even old school artists don’t like these changes. People have argued that it has led to unemployment or that creators have no incentive to create new music.

The age-old problem of music was always access. How do people hear it?

MTV broke down a lot of those access problems and made musicians into global superstars. MTV, P2P downloading and streaming are new approaches to age-old problems. While the record labels ignored the volcanic ash of Napster, the techies escaped the volcano blast and thrived.

The error of the record labels was in believing that what was familiar would not change. They got used to the high profit margins of the CD, so they found it hard to believe that in the space of a few years, those profits could disappear. Those marketing strategies and gated releases that have proven themselves over so many years, no longer bring in the sales the labels wanted. Instead it leads to an increase in P2P downloading.

Streaming has competed with P2P. Spotify has pumped millions upon millions into the recording industry. Money that was not there before. So what do the record labels, along with Apple and other misguided artists supporting Pono or Tidal want to do. Their solution to the age-old problem of access is to put it behind a pay wall.

Nice one. Let’s see how well that goes down.

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

Educate Yourself

It’s the same old debate. An artist puts their “heart and soul” or their “blood, sweat and tears” into a body of work only to see it end up on p2p sites, on YouTube unlicensed or just plainly ignored.

First thing first.

No artist is guaranteed to make any money from recorded music. This was the rule of thumb 50 years ago and it still is now. Once upon a time the record labels invested in an artist only after the artist invested in themselves and got a decent following/buzz happening. Today, the artists are investing in themselves and the record labels are sitting in the wings, watching and waiting for what they think is the sure bet.

So what you have is a lot of artists on independent labels or their own labels self-funding their recordings and press, without recognition. And they don’t like it. The thought that maybe they are just not good enough doesn’t even come into their thought process. Sort of like the stars of the past complaining that piracy killed the recording business. My answer to all of that was, no, piracy didn’t kill the recording business. The recording business like all great empires committed its own downfall. Since the price offered by record labels didn’t correspond with the value that consumers have for the music, the record labels were seen as an irrelevant part of the music industry. The adoption of the Internet and newer technologies lowered the value of music and consumers were willing to pay even less for music or in a lot of cases nothing at all.

Which leads me to Spotify.

On the one hand, we have Spotify users who are happy with the service and on the other hand we have content creators who are complaining about it.

And the story that has been doing the rounds for a while is that Spotify rips off artists.

NO, P2P rips off artists.

Take away Spotify or YouTube and then what does the artist have?

If they think that sales of recorded music would start to happen again, then they are mistaken. Napster got shut down and sales of recorded music still continued to decline. Spotify by the way pays more to the artist than YouTube does however it’s funny how people trump up high YouTube counts as a marketing coup, while a high Spotify stream count is seen as “I had a billion plays on Spotify and I only made X amount of dollars”.

Spotify pays, while P2P does not pay at all.

Sure, sales still continue, but for how long. Each year the sale numbers show a decline. Each year the numbers show an increase in streaming revenue. MP3 sellers are dying. In Australia, BigPond music is gone and iTunes is bleeding around the world. In some European markets, monies earned from streaming have overtaken monies earned from mp3 sales.

And yes the labels in the U.S do own a share of Spotify, however that income comes from the 30% that Spotify keeps from the artist royalty payments. It’s not a bad deal at all if you are a record label. They get a percentage cut of the 30% cut that Spotify gets and when Spotify pays them the other 70% as royalty payments, it looks like they more or less keep that as well. All this power that the record labels have amassed is due to the artists. The artists created the works and sold their copyrights for next to nothing, because at the time they sign a contract, no one has any idea how big a song could be.  The great rip off record label freight train just keeps on rolling on.

The truth is all artists need to be informed. Don’t take the spoon fed information as gospel. Do your own research. You’re responsible for educating yourself, all the info is online. There is no excuses these days.

And if you put the content behind a paywall, well just look at the newspapers to see how that turned out.

Streaming is here to stay.

Revenues will go up if the pot is increased however every artist needs to be aware that the barrier to entry is so low that artists today are competing with many more competitors plus they are also competing with the complete history of recorded music.

And we the fans are overwhelmed that we do the only thing we know, which is tune out and listen to the classics that we grew up with.

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

Music Lives Because Of Sharing and Copying

We all want to first and foremost SHARE something. If you go to Facebook, people are sharing their day and their lives. Go to any internet page and you will see people sharing photos, writings, music, opinions, stories, etc. And all the things that we share are all free. We do it for free.

However, the recording industry will say that artists cannot survive without being paid. What the recording industry is saying is that the recording industry cannot survive if they are not getting paid. Artists NEED to create. And there are artists who WANT to make money from those creations. And a few of them actually CAN make money from their creations.

As always, there are lots of bands created every day. Only a few survive. Only a few of them make enough money to live. And only a very little few of them make a lot of money. That has always been the same. We know of Motley Crue, but how many bands were there in L.A at the time? How many of them have we never heard of? We know of Metallica, but how many bands were there in San Francisco at the time? How many of them have we never heard of? We know of Accept and Bonfire from Germany, but how many bands were there in Germany at the time? How many of them have we never heard of? Get my point.

The difference now is that musicians can reach many more people and they don’t need a whole industry for that, and the industry is frightened about it.

Music will always exist along with people’s need to share it. The fact that we have music alive today is because it was shared and copied from day dot.

Music is about beauty and beauty has no real set price. For super fans, that beauty could be worth thousands of dollars in music, merch and concert purchases. For others, the beauty could be worth a few dollars and for others that beauty could be worth just the enjoyment.

If we listen to a song and we like it, we will listen to more songs. We could purchase a CD, we could download an album, we could purchase a ticket to a show or a T-shirt. Hell, we could even fan fund the next recording. That is how the fans build social communities around their favourite acts. They chat about them to another person. Then they share the music that they love. And once upon a time, there was no law forbidding this. Information was exchanged freely. However when the entertainment industry kept on growing, and when they kept on getting the governments to pass laws to give the industry a monopoly, that is when the repression began.

I bet no one has heard about Paulo Coelho. He is one of the best-selling authors and a few years back he decided to create “The Pirate Coelho”, an non-official fan page that allows people to download the full texts of his books in different languages. And guess what happened. He started selling more books now than ever. Guess you need to balls to try something that is unknown.

In bands, this is a difficult card to play because band members very rarely see eye to eye, so as soon as something goes astray there will be one band member that will start throwing the blame at another band member.

 

 

 

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Australian Music Scene – The Rise Of The Indies

Australian Music is ALWAYS a rich vibrant scene. And it is a scene that is underpinned by Independent artists. These independent artists are the real battlers, the one’s that carry the load of the vibrant music scene. Financially it is a miserable livelihood however the emotional experience is rewarding. And there is no escaping that Australian Independent artists are some of the hardest working artists and also the lowest paid members of the Australian workforce. The sad thing is that the elite levels of Government have no idea about the Independent artists. Any Government funding goes to the large Industry bodies who don’t really disperse the monies to the artists doing the rounds on the streets.

In music we have APRA/AMCOS, ARIA, AMIN, AIR, AMA and so many other local and state bodies. So all of these industry groups and associations are part of the music industry. Their main source of income is derived from Independent artists and Government Grants. The same independent artists that are living on or below the poverty line. For these artists, the larger music industry bodies are faceless monoliths that put profit first. While they may serve the major players in the Australian music industry, they do nothing for the rest. It is another example of taking care of the one percenters and forgetting about the rest.

The solution is for the mainstream to support and nurture independent artists. These music industry bodies need to ensure that all of the diversity and innovation created by the independent sector is supported and nurtured. Because the independent sector is the oxygen of the mainstream industry bodies. Once you cut them off and the major bodies will suffocate.

That is why it is great to see that 80% of the nominations for the latest ARIA Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Album Of The Year category were released “independently”. For the uninformed independent or “indie” is basically an artist or a record label that has no connection to a major label or interference from a major label. In most cases it is the DIY style of artist. However with everything that deals with the music business, the definition is more complex than it should be. Most indie labels operate without major labels interference, however they all still use the distribution and promotion arms of the major labels.

For example, Sumerian Records is an independent label in the US. They have distribution deals with the Alternative Distribution Alliance (ADA), who is the independent music and film distribution arm of Warner Music Group who is a major label.

Going back to the bands nominated for the Hard Rock/Heavy Metal ARIA, A DZ Deathrays “Black Rat” album was released on the independent label “I OH YOU” who has an affiliation with Mushroom Records who is owned by Warner Music Group. The Amity Affliction’s “Let The Ocean Take Me” and Shihad’s “FVEY” where released on Roadrunner Records who is a subsidiary of Warner Music Group. Sleepmakeswaves “Love Of Cartography” album was released through Australian independent record label Bird’s Robe Records, which is distributed through MGM Distribution in Australia. In 2013, UK label Monotreme Records licensed their album for an international release across the UK, Europe and North America. This is a true independent band and label in my eyes. High Tension’s “Death Beat” is under license to independent label Cooking Vinyl Records, who uses RED Distribution for U.S distribution and it is also owned by Sony.

Look at some of the successful crowd funding campaigns independent artists have taken.

In Australia, heavy rock band, “I Am Voyager” went to their fans with a goal of about $10,000 and ended up getting $18,000 plus. In the U.S, Protest The Hero went to market with a goal of about $115,000 and ended up getting $300,000 plus. Haste The Day went to market with a goal of $65,000 and ended up getting $139,276. Emery went to market with a goal of $50,000 and ended up raising $110,815. Spocks Beard went to their fans for their 11th album with a goal to raise $25,000 and ended up raising $69,119. Trapt had a goal to raise $50,000 and ended up raising $56,634. Chimaira went the crowd funding route for a fan edition CD-DVD of their CROWN OF PHANTOMS album with a goal of $30,000 and they ended up raising $60,758.

Independently minded musicians and label owners are the ones that are pushing boundaries in music because they want control over what’s being released, when it’s released, and how it’s released. And they are not afraid to use the major labels when it suits them, but ultimately they’re calling the shots.

So I am sick and tired of hearing the RIAA and major label rhetoric about how artists put in their blood, sweat and tears into their music and because of piracy they don’t have a say about how it is released. The “Indies” are finding new and creative ways all the time. For a musician it is an exciting time to be a part of the music scene. Especially if you are an indie.

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

Attention, Affluence, Dominance and The Artist Is Somewhere There In Between. BUT WHY.

It irks me when a person that you are having an email conversation with CC’s in other people who really don’t need to be CC’d. Instead of coming back to the person they are originally communicating with on the email they reply back and CC a few more extra people in. It is like they are broadcasting something to someone. Maybe they want to CC in a Manager to show how great they are and how terrible I am. Maybe they just want to make me look bad. I do it as well however when I do CC in an extra person I tell the person that I am responding to why I am CC in that extra person in. I also tell the person that I is CC’d in why they are included with a question that seeks their point of view.

Maybe we all just want some attention. It seems we are all fighting for attention these days.

Guess how many people know who Kim Dotcom is?

According to the MPAA and the RIAA, he is the greatest money launderer the world has ever seen. They convinced the police force to send their SWAT teams to break down his door and arrest him in the early hours. And the funny thing is that he is virtually unknown to ordinary people. Even his companies MegaUpload and Mega are not known brands to a large portion of people. So how can this great criminal mastermind remain undetected to most ordinary people. Hell, I was in Eastern Europe and all the people who I spoke to didn’t even know who Kim Dotcom was.

This goes to show how the entertainment industries like the MPAA and the RIAA have used affluence to hijack proper due process in the courts. And that affluence doesn’t stop there. It is used to hijack many debates especially when it comes to legislation around copyright. It is unfortunate that the music industry as a whole seems to be interested in protecting their business models, dominance and control.

The biggest issue today is attention.

The record labels still believe that their affluence and their publicity campaigns will get people’s attention. But that is old school thinking. Real attention grows over time.

And attention is just part of the equation.

How do we compensate the artist themselves or the songwriters that wrote the song once they have received our attention. The Copyrights of the artists are held by the labels. The labels purchase these copyrights for a value that is far less than what they are worth. And that is a big problem between artist and label. Because the record label is using the copyrights that they have amassed over 80 years of dominance as bargaining chips in licensing deals.

Spotify pays the labels a license so that Spotify can have their music on the service. In addition Spotify also pays the labels when songs are streamed. Plus Spotify pays any profits it makes to its part owners. In the case of the US market, Spotify is partly owned by the labels. And all of this was possible because the labels amassed an arsenal of songs from the artists they signed. Did the artists receive any compensation in these corporate deals?

The environment that musicians operate in is changing all the time, and with that comes a requirement to be flexible and forward-thinking in their approach. In addition the expectations of musical fans about how they access music and how they wish to be serviced has changed dramatically over the past fifteen years. And the ones that are investing in innovation are the technological companies. The Record Labels did nothing except litigate. The artists just waited to see what transpired instead of thinking and planning their own innovation.

If you want to grow and prosper as an artist you need to be thinking ahead all the time. Not only do you need to keep pace with your fans’ expectations, but you also need to position yourself to identify and make the most of the opportunities when they arise.

Focus on “WHY” you create music rather than simply focusing on ‘WHAT’ music you deliver. This is an important message. The why is the message that your fans would connect with and follow. It is your vision. Your belief.

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

COPYRIGHT = Powerful Organisations Fighting Over Who Gets The Biggest Slice Of The Pie

The artists have the power. They are the ones that create the works, the songs. But it is the rights holders of the artist’s work (otherwise known as the Copyright Holders, aka, Record Labels) that are trying to organise deals with ISP’s, the Courts, technology start-ups, streaming services and the Government. They are the gatekeepers in the middle and they are more richer than they have ever been.

They are flush with cash. The internet was supposed to level the playing field against the major labels but it only made them stronger.

Why?

Because they are using their massive catalogs as leverage against streaming services and other technological start-ups. Much in the same they used their power against artists. And all of this because the artists sold away their power so that they could be given the chance to record and be a star. Like today, companies like Spotify are selling their shares to the record labels so that they could operate.

In Australia, the Attorney General’s Department is trying to make the ISP’s the RIAA Surveillance Force.

If anyone should be organising these deals it should be the ARTISTS/PERFORMERS with the USERS/CONSUMERS. No Corporations in the middle should be involved.

But that is not the case.

Because the Record Labels have benefited greatly from this Government created monopoly. Even in the U.S, the House of Representatives judiciary subcommittee will be meeting to discuss music licensing. The RIAA will be there, streaming services like Spotify and Pandora will be there and the music licensing groups will be there.

But why are they all there?

They are all there to ensure they get as large a slice as they can from the Copyright pie. Hell, YouTube is starting a streaming service and they are negotiating for lower rates than their competitors

Bad form.

As usual, missing in all of these Copyright discussions is the PUBLIC and the ARTISTS.

Copyright was created to promote progress in science and useful arts. It was never created to be a social welfare tool and it was definitely not created to enrich corporations and turn them into powerful monopolies.

Copyright laws need changing but that will never happen as the ones (RIAA, Record Labels) that control the money, will stand to lose a lot of it. That is why these corporations are NOT looking at ways to make Copyright better. They are just looking at ways to get the biggest slice of the current pie when it comes to Copyright.

Hey, pretty pretty
With the sweet sweet eyes
Order me up another slice of your pie

– “Slice Of Your Pie” – Motley Crue

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