Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy

Cassette Copying Incorporated

Copying of music has always been there. People once upon a time used to listen to the radio and record songs from it. People used to record video clips from TV music stations. People would make a copy of an LP from their friend or a family member. Hell, we would make copies of a copied album and so forth. In other words, the music industry grew because of copying.

So if we used the buzzword of the modern era, piracy was rampant back in the 80’s. Most of my music collection during that period was made up of music taped onto blank cassettes. Every time I visited my older cousin, I was armed with blank cassettes and proceeded to copy albums that he had purchased. I was not alone in doing this, nor was I the first. Most of the music from the seventies that was passed down to me by my brothers was in the same format (blank cassettes that got filled with music).

You know that peak year of sales for the recording business in 1998. Well there is research out there which suggests it was due to two reasons. One reason was people replacing their vinyl collections with CD’s and the other reason is the people who had music on blank cassettes in the 80’s finally having enough disposable income to buy their favourites on CD.

I fit into both reasons because in the 90’s, I purchased every album I had on dubbed cassettes on CD. I re-purchased every LP I had on CD. I went to second hand record shops and purchased LP’s from the Eighties and Seventies very cheap. I was not the only one that did the above.

All of this copying allowed bands to have fans. And fans are not people who just spend money on something because they are a fan. Fans are people who enjoy a particular product. Some fans pay for that product early on while others pay for it later on. Some don’t pay at all. If it wasn’t for cassette copying, I never would have heard the full length albums of bands that didn’t do the rounds on MTV. I never would have heard “Master Of Puppets” from Metallica. After hearing it, “…And Justice For All” was a purchase on release day. It was many years later that an original copy of “Master Of Puppets” came into my collection.

Funny thing, my brothers had a friend with a nickname “Greeny”. He got that nickname because he was a tight arse and even though in Australia we don’t call money “green”, my brothers saw a movie that used the word “Green” as an analogy for money, so Greeny got his nickname.

Now Greeny, would always purchase metal and rock music. It was in his car stereo, I heard Kix “Blow My Fuse”, Bonfire “Fireworks”, Night Ranger “Midnight Madness”, Leatherwolf “Street Ready” and so many more. I always asked to borrow a cassette and make a copy of it, or i asked if he could make a copy of it for me.

And Greeny always said no. He always said, why should he pay $15 for the album, while I paid $10 for three blank 90 cassettes and dubbed six albums from him. So I had to resort to a different strategy. My five fingers would stealthy move and take the cassette from his car, without him knowing. I knew that I had a small time window to dub it before he found out so I would use the high speed dubbing on my stereo to copy it.

When Greeny found out a tape was missing he was always storming over to get his cassette back. In time and before I left the car with my bros he would do a stock take of his collection, so my borrowing days were over. But from borrowing and copying (which the labels call stealing and piracy today), I never would have become the fan of music I am and I probably would have had four houses paid off, instead of having a tonne of grey concert shirts, ticket stubs and a wall to wall record collection.

Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity

Cassette’s and MP3’s

When people think about albums, they usually think about a product like Vinyl or Compact Disc. These days, it’s more access and less product, so the album viewpoint for my children is totally different with my viewpoint.

And while the mp3 is blamed by the record labels from bringing down the recording business which the labels called the music business, there was another technology out that changed the way we access and share music.

Say hello to the mighty compact cassette.

It allowed me to make demo after demo, mix tape after mix tape and it allowed me to copy a lot of albums from people who either had the original album or had a copy of the album from someone else who either had the original or had a copy. You get my drift. It could be an endless copying cycle.

It was first introduced in 1963 by Phillips for dictation purposes and due to their convenience and portability, by the 1980’s pre-recorded cassettes were out-selling vinyl LP’s.

Phillips also decided to give away the rights for free, instead of making money from licensing. This meant there was no incentive for other companies to create a competing format. Instead they could focus on making it sound better. That’s why you had TDK, Phillips, BASF, Sony, Phillips and many more companies making cassette tapes.

This led to cars coming with cassette players, and homes getting equipped with cassette recorders which would morph to portable cassette players and finally, the Sony Walkman.

Of course, the record labels as usual screamed loud and hard to their politician friends to pass new laws and stop this new sharing culture.

Remember their headline, “Home taping is killing music.” See how they used the term “music” instead of “record labels”. A more accurate and truthful headline would be, “Home Taping is Spreading Music to the Masses” or “Home Taping Is Spreading Music And This Leads To Increased Sales Later On”.

The local sharing culture that the Cassette tape created continued with CD-R’s and then it spread into a worldwide culture with the mp3 and Napster. And the record label machine just changed the “Home Taping” with “Piracy” and still kept pumping millions of dollars to politicians to pass the laws the labels had written.


PPCA (Phonographic Performance Company of Australia)states its an important win for artists

There is an article over at Computerworld about how the Federal Court of Australia “ruled that Internet simulcasts of radio programs are not broadcasts under the Copyright Act and therefore are not covered by existing licences granted to commercial radio stations.” 

The Federal Court believes that the a radio program transmitted from a “terrestrial transmitter is a different broadcasting service from the delivery of the same radio program using the internet.”

This is typical of the record labels still keeping one foot in the past and not moving with the present.  It is clear that the recording business survives by sales of recorded music.  Since recorded music revenues are not what they used to be compared to the glory years of the 90’s when everybody was re-purchasing their scratched LP’s or chewed up tapes onto CD, the labels have tried every lobbying/bribery trick in the book to get legislation passed that gives them back the control that the Internet has taken away.

Could this the labels secretly trying to kill off radio simulcasting so that the streaming services are all that remain, like Spotify, which the labels have a stake in.  As the Australian Copyright Council said, the decision “leaves open the possibility for new licences to be negotiated for content that is streamed by way of radio simulcast on the Internet.”

Based on the labels past experience, the labels will insist on a super high licence fees as they hate the current statutory cap on commercial radio who need to pay just one percent of their gross income.  Therefore i am sure the radio’s wont pay this new excessive rate and hence the labels will kill this promotional outlet.

“This is an important win for artists and labels whose music is used widely on the internet to help drive profits for Australia’s radio industry,” said PPCA CEO, Dan Rosen.

I wonder how many artists where signed up for this action.  I wonder how much of the new fees would go back to artists as the labels are renowned for their creative accounting practices.   And what artists are we talking about here, as most independent artists don’t get played on mainstream radio.

To me Radio should be the last thing up and coming artists should strive for.  PSY was broken by YouTube without any mainstream publicity.  He dropped Gangnam Style without publicity and the online world built it into the monster it became.  The mainstream channels just picked up the crumbs.