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

Theater Of Copyright

It looks like the “Stairway To Heaven” case going to die?

For those that don’t know, Michael Skidmore (from here on in, known as “The Trustee”), is the trustee for the Randy Craig Wolfe Trust, which has the rights to the songs written by Randy Wolfe and his time in the rock band Spirit. The song in question here is “Taurus” and the similar feel and structure that both songs have.

My view on this is easy, a dead artist cannot hold a copyright and the law which changed copyright terms to last the life of the artist plus 70 years after death is a stupid one.

Because this is the rubbish you get. But Jimmy Page didn’t win because of the silliness of dead people holding copyrights.

Jimmy Page won because the sheet music is different. But “The Trustee” believes that the court should have been able to hear the sound recordings. But that rule allowing sound recordings came into place in the mid 70’s and the songs in dispute here are under old laws.

Anyway, the case got booted.

But for how long will “artists of the now” be taken to court over copying claims from the trustees or heirs of dead artists. Institutions cannot charge fees to the dead, so how can the dead claim a copyright and be paid for it and whoever passed a rule to allow copyright to be transferred to others has committed a wrong to the public domain.

Did you see that Universal Music Group announced a $1.2B Hotel, Performance Venue and Casino in Mississippi? It’s also going to do a similar venture in Atlanta and Orlando.

You see, this is what happens when artists give away all of their rights to the labels. It gave the labels power. They used that power to lock up culture for the life of the artist plus 70 years after the death.

But David Crosby still tells everyone streaming is the enemy. Gene Simmons as well. The enemy to an artist is ignorance and a fixed mindset. There is a lot of money in recorded music. As long as you hold the copyright to the recorded music.

Otherwise why would companies spend a lot of money buying the copyrights to popular songs. The return on these songs because of streaming payments is always going up, while stocks on Wall Street go down.

And look no further than Frontiers Records from Italy. They are releasing a lot of product compared to other labels because their President knows that music scales and will keep paying forever.

And the Labels, they are pieces of work. It’s a power play. You know how artists are trying to reclaim their copyrights back from the labels after 35 years, which is legislated in Copyright Law, but the labels are fighting hard to keep the rights. So while those court cases are ongoing, the labels are now counter suing the artists for selling their own albums on their websites or for using the album art on their websites.

So the artist make the labels rich and somehow the artists are the problem.

And Copyright keeps getting very ugly because artists sue each other.

You see an idea is an idea. I could have an idea for a song here in Australia, and there is a very high probability that other people would have a similar idea, somewhere else in the world. And when one song becomes a hit, then expect a writ, because even though ideas are not copyrightable, there is also someone who believes they are.

But.

And there is always a but when it comes to Copyright.

If there isn’t a court case for similar ideas, then there are cases over licensing, samples and whatever else lawyers can fit into the grey world which is Copyright.

Not sure if you have seen the stories about Tracy Chapman suing Nicki Minaj over a sample from Chapman’s song “Baby Can I Hold You” which appears on an unreleased track from Minaj called “Sorry”.

The song “Sorry” was pulled from the album’s release because the label couldn’t get clearance to use the sample. Minaj even begged Chapman over Twitter to approve it, but Chapman is anti-samples.

And even though the song was pulled, it still didn’t stop the song from getting played on radio stations and once the song was aired, the fans quickly ripped it from the broadcast and sent it out onto the worldwide web.

Hence the court case. Chapman wants payments and Minaj says there are none.

And the arguments have all gone off track and no one really knows what the hell they are arguing and counter arguing over. Anyway, Minaj won the case.

And labels just keep doing wrong on behalf of the artists. Here you have a label called Trax Records who specialise in dance and house recordings being accused of fraudently filing sound recordings to the U.S Copyright Office of other artists and claiming the recordings as their own.

Sony Music is also doing everything it can to keep as much money from old artists in the Sony bank account. Sony paid $12.7 million to settle a case and is allowed to deny any wrongdoing. It’s amazing what $12 million buys. The fact that these old songs are still under copyright, long after the artist has passed away is an issue for me.

I guess Copyright just lives on and on and on and the courts are kept busy with cases and the labels keep ripping creators off, while they invest in start-ups, make billions and then build casinos.

All in the name of Copyright.

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

Copyright KW

I’m not a Kanye West fan, but here are seven tweets he put out there a week ago that would ruffle some feathers.

  1. The artist owns the copyright in the recordings and songs and leases them to the record label / publisher for a limited term. 1 year deals

This is the big one.

The record labels have a powerful seat at the negotiation table because they have the copyrights to valuable songs locked up for a very long time. Even investment companies are now buying out these valuable assets because they realised the return on investment on these popular songs is huge.

Music scales.

  1. The record label / publisher is a service provider that receives a share of the income for a limited term. The split can be 80/20 in the artists favour.

The record labels believed that it was all about them, and that in order to get a person to the top, it was the label that did all the hard work by outlaying money. And they got pretty pissed when they didn’t get the recognition.

Well, that’s not really true is it. The artist had to write the songs and people had to connect with the song for the artist to rise to the top. It didn’t really matter what the label did in relation to marketing. If people connected, then word of mouth would have been enough.

And in today’s reality, no established artist needs a label. They can write music and release to digital service providers immediately. The physical aspect might be a bit challenging, but if you have an established fanbase, well you don’t need a label in between. The artist should go direct to the fan.

  1. DEPENDANTS – Artists must be dependent on no one but themselves to manage their catalogue. You should need NO ONE else to understand the business you’re in.

Imagine being told that the songs you wrote in your bedroom or on the floor at the place you were staying while broke and almost homeless is now under the control of someone else, like an investment firm or a label. All because you signed a contract to record and release music and you never really knew what you signed.

  1. LAWYERS – the first thing that changes about Record Deals is actually lawyers. We need Plain English contracts. A Lawyers role is to IMPROVE deals…. not charge for contracts we cannot understand or track. Re-write deals to be understandable from FIRST READ.

I remember when the Breaking Benjamin contract was put out onto the internet about a decade ago. It had a lot of pages as to what the label owned the rights to and the powers the labels had.

Then there was ONE page on the money. It showed the advance payments for each album and when each album is expected to be delivered and the royalty split.

But the contract was only with Ben Burnley. And Breaking Benjamin is a band. So Burnley then needs to engage a lawyer to draw up a band agreement, so they have some payment system in place with the other members of the band. And those members would also need lawyers to read the band agreement and make sure they do not get ripped off.

  1. ADVANCES ARE JUST LOANS!! – On Artists re-signing, these stop. Advances are Loans with 75% interest rates (or worse). NO other business in the world takes a look at the business, buys shares, starts to profit, when it profits. Record Companies have to buy into you, not loan you.

Be careful about that advance payment. It might feel like you are rich, but that advance payment is just buying you out at the rate you are worth now. You might be worth a lot more later on, and there’s a high chance that you are still paying back the advance payment you got two decades ago.

  1. ROYALTIES – Again back to dependents. You need a business manager to read how you did? So you pay to see your money!!! NO MORE. Royalty portals need to show (and do not now) Every song you delivered, Every store you are in, How many streams per song, Income per song.

Umm, this is happening right now Kanye.

Artists can see what is happening with their songs, the streams and in which store. The only thing missing is the income per song because Streaming services don’t work that way.

  1. PORTALS – Are not just for royalties. They are for your entire business. Every audio file, every asset, every deal stored WITH the money. Money and Music must stay together. When your term ends, download it all. Leave. This is a call for all artist to unify … I will get my masters , I got the most powerful lawyer in music and I can afford them but every artist must be freed and treated fairly.

And who is in charge of this portal and in which country are the servers stored and how secure are the servers and what do artists need to pay to have access to this portal, because in tech, nothing is free.

It’s already old news because the PR machine behind the labels likes to kill news like this.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

The Pirate Vault #11

The Mix Tape

I did this mix tape as an album of songs I like from different artists, as I wanted to get the feel of those songs into my song writing.

Kiss – I’ve Had Enough (Into The Fire)

It’s a perfect album opener with a fast palm muted and aggressive riff. It’s a Paul Stanley and Desmond Child composition, appearing on the “Animalize” album released in 1984.

Y&T – Temptation

For track 2, it was always the most accessible tune, so here is a pop rock tune, with big harmonies.

Y&T worked hard on A&M Records and built a career. Then the big labels came calling and Geffen Records got the signature for a lot of money. And Y&T also got a label rep, who told them what songs should be worked on and what songs shouldn’t.

This one is written by Al Pitrelli and Bruno Ravel during the early Danger Danger days, with Phil Kennemore adding some lyrics and it appeared on their 1987 album “Contagious”, which Geffen earmarked to sell a lot to cover the costs of the Whitesnake 87 album.

Kansas – One Man, One Heart

The Kansas tracks on this mix tape are from the Steve Morse era of Kansas between 1986 and 1988. Steve Morse was involved in the “Power” album released in 1986 and “In The Spirit Of Things” released in 1988.

These two tracks are from the “In The Spirit Of Things” album and even though I’m a Steve Morse fan, he wasn’t involved in writing em.

This one is written by Mark Spiro and Dan Huff (the same Dan Huff from Giant) and what you get is a melodic rock song, worthy of a place on the imaginary album.

Kansas – Stand Beside Me

This one is written by Mark Jordan and Bruce Gaitsch and it’s like the ballad track.

Hericane Alice – I Walk Alone

This band was good and this track is a stompy 12/8 bluesy romp, perfect to close off Side 1 of the imaginary album.

Kiss – Love Gun

You open up Side 2 with another aggressive album opener. Can’t go wrong with a Kiss cut.

Sammy Hagar – Remember The Heroes

This is a very underrated song from the mighty Sammy Hagar. It appeared on the “Three Lock Box” album, released in 1982 and Jonathan Cain (who was having an unbelievable run of high profile songs with Journey and other artists) is a co-writer with Sammy Hagar.

Kansas – Silhouettes In Disguise

It’s from the “Power” album released in 86. This track is written by Steve Morse and Steve Walsh. And it’s the fast past riff that hooks me.

Kansas – Three Pretenders

This cut is also from the “Power” album. This track is written by Billy Greer, Steve Morse and Steve Walsh. The way the guitar and synth chords work in the intro hooks me in and the vocal line from Steve Walsh is perfect.

Bad English – Possession

And it closes with a melodic rock AOR song.

Side B

And here is another take of an imaginary album.

Blue Murder – We All Fall Down

Another fast and aggressive opener to kick off the album about Louie who lost his daughter behind the tracks, as the sweet brown sugar took her.

John Sykes pulled out his Phil Lynott experiences vocally and lyrically.

David Coverdale – The Last Note Of Freedom

Hans Zimmer wrote the music and Billy Idol wrote the lyrics. I’ve read that David Coverdale has been credited as well, but I am pretty sure he wasn’t credited on the original Days Of Thunder soundtrack.

It’s a melodic rock gem, bordering between, pop and rock.

George Lynch – We Don’t Own This World

The Nelson twins sing on this track, and man, they deliver.

It’s actually written by Pilson and Lynch, so it’s definitely got their Dokken vibe, but the Nelson twins are the difference. It’s a melodic rock hit with an intro riff that reminds me of “Women From Tokyo” from Deep Purple.

Dream Theater – Lifting Shadows Of A Dream

Its Dream Theater bringing their U2 and Marillion influences to their form of progressive hard rock, and it works so good to close Side 1.

Vince Neil – The Edge

The side 2 opener is fast, a bit progressive in its structure as it moves between Spanish/Flamenco guitar riffs to metal Uli Jon Roth style of riffs. Steve Stevens played some of this best riffs with Vince Neil.

Stryper – Calling For You

After an aggressive opener, you always need a little melody. And Stryper is at their melodic best on this song.

Tesla – Cry

From the excellent “Bust A Nut” album released in 1994.

And for those who said that grunge killed hard rock artists, well it didn’t kill Tesla.

In a volatile market, made hostile by the record labels who dumped hard rock bands and then had their puppets in the press lambast the style, Tesla, stood tall and worked hard touring on this album and even got a certification in the process.

And then the labels tried to kill em off.

Megadeth – Tornado Of Souls

This is a fast rocker and the solo from Friedman is a “wow” moment.

Aerosmith – Living On The Edge

The simple riff in D, that just keeps repeating is addictive and the vocal melody from Tyler captures you.

Meatloaf – Bat Out Of Hell II – Back Into Hell

The longest song titles in the world brought the mighty Loaf back into our lives.

And even though he released 4 or 5 albums after “Bat Out Of Hell”, all of those albums ceased to exist and it was like his career was “Bat Out Of Hell” 1 and 2.

The Jimi Hendrix Story / Def Leppard – Pyromania

A friend of mine had a Jimi Hendrix compilation and I recorded it over a few different tapes. I can’t even remember what was on this side before I taped Hendrix over it.

And of course, “Pyromania” on side 2, a perfect Walkman companion. This Def Lep album is the perfect bridge between the 70’s British Rock and Glam artists merged with the NWOBHM and the LA Sunset Strip.

I also added “King Of Fools” from Twisted Sister, “Sleepin In The Fire” from WASP and “Love Gun” from Kiss to the end of it. I think you get the drift that I really liked “Love Gun”.

I even wrote a song called “Love Gin” and “Cold Gun”. I know, merging two Kiss song titles is pretty desperate.

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Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Little Wing and Catch A Rainbow

Progress Is Derivative.

I always say it. Especially when it comes to music. It’s always a new take on an old sound with some small changes to the progression.

I knew when I heard “Catch A Rainbow” from Rainbow that I had heard the song before. And I was thinking of Skid Row when I heard it, because their take on a Jimi Hendrix song was fresh in my mind at the time.

The origins of “Little Wing” go back even further to a 1966 recording of “(My Girl) She’s a Fox”, an R&B song which features Hendrix playing a Curtis Mayfield-influenced guitar accompaniment.

It’s all derivative and cyclical. Hendrix toured with Mayfield and learnt from him and then used some of the techniques that Mayfield used, like the rhythmic fills on the chords to orchestrate songs like “Little Wing” and “The Wind Cries Mary”.

To call Blackmore a copyist is wrong.

To call Dio a copyist is wrong.

To call Hendrix a copyist is also wrong.

And to see em all as super original and free from influences is also wrong.

To see Mayfield as super original is also wrong.

Everyone learns from someone or from some song. It’s why we start off playing covers. We are all influenced.

However people would like you to believe that they are original and free from influences when they bring up suits to the courts.

Did Tom Petty deserve a lyrical credit to a Sam Smith song?

Did Iron Maiden need to settle with a person who didn’t create anything and just managed an artist?

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

Hallowed Copyright

Remember that whole “Hallowed Be Thy Name” and “The Nomad” suit filed by retired band manager Barry McKay against Iron Maiden and Steve Harris.

Remember how McKay stated it is all about intellectual property rights and how these IP rights need to be protected from blatant copying while the other side stated that music is all about inspiration and influences and that McKay never actually wrote anything and is a serial litigant.

Well, these IP rights that McKay was championing for protection, all revolve around a fee to be paid. If you haven’t read the stories, you can read em at Loudwire or Blabbermouth.

Remember when any rights to intellectual property ceased when the creator died (provided they still had a right at the time of death). Well, the corporations who held the copyrights to a lot of these works pushed really hard to get laws changed in the 70’s to last the life of the artist plus another 70 years, so what we have now is people who really contribute nothing to culture, locking up culture for a generation and getting paid in the process.

But there was a side in the Government who actually cared about culture, the public domain and were against Government granted monopolies, so they put in a clause that allowed the actual creators to get their rights back after 35 years. But, the labels and the publishing companies who control the rights don’t want to let go of the works as it diminishes their power.

Remember John Waite, from The Babys, Bad English and his work as a solo artist. Well, he wanted his songs back, Universal Music Group said “No”, your works are created under a “works for hire agreement”, John Waite said, “no chance in hell are the songs created under a works for hire agreement” and off to court they went.

So how did it all come to this?

You need to remember that any aspiring artist, had/have/has no bargaining power when for negotiating and signing contracts. If they wanted to get their music out there (pre internet), they more or less had to give away their copyright in their works as part of the contract to get their music out there and monetised.

Then, when an artistic work turns out to be a “hit,” the majority of the royalties goes to the organisation who holds the rights to the works rather than to the artist who created them.

But this “ownership of copyright” by the organisation was meant to be limited. And if the artists wished, they could reclaim their rights. Some artists used the threat of “termination rights” as a tool to negotiate higher royalty rates and advance payments.

But as artists grew popular and they realised they could make some money, they created loan out companies, which is basically a business entity used by the entertainment and sports industries in the US, in which the creator is the ’employee’ whose services are loaned out by the corporate body. The corporation is used as a means to reduce their personal liability, protect their assets and exploit taxation advantages.

And the courts have determined that any rights granted to the labels from the loan out company cannot be terminated, only the rights granted by the actual creator themselves.

For example, John Waite created a loan out company called Heavy Waite Inc. So if he signed a contract to give his copyrights to a label via the loan out company, these rights cannot be terminated. Only the rights that John Waite himself gave up.

It’s pretty fucking stupid if you ask me, but nothing surprises me when lawyers get involved and try to get these termination suits booted on technicalities.

And check out this article for some insight on copyrights from the one and only Desmond Child. Here is the snippet in case you don’t click on the link;

Have you retained your copyrights?

Well, tragically, I fell into some lean times in the late ’90s. I had moved to Miami – we’d fled LA after the [1992] earthquake and we were picking up the pieces.

At that time I got an offer for my catalogue, and I sold my song writing and publishing share to Polygram [now Universal Music Group] – and it was a mistake. I retained my song writing performance rights, and that’s how I know how big a mistake it was, and how much I sold myself short. They made their money back x 20.

I was pressured by people around me to sell. Especially my father, who had grown up in the depression. When I told him the amount, he said, ‘Grab the money, you’ll write other songs, grab the money.’

Also, my lawyers told me, ‘Don’t worry, you get your songs back after 35 years,’ but that’s not true. You don’t get them back for the whole world, you get them back for the US only. And you don’t get your songs back for the versions that made them hits, you only get them back for the new versions – versions made after you sold.

When I found out those two things, it was like two buckets of ice water being poured over me.

The people doing the deal for me were so keen to get their percentages that they didn’t explain these things to me. Had I known, I wouldn’t have signed the deal and I would have been in a much better financial position.

And that my friends is how far Copyright has evolved, where people who create nothing of value get paid and everyone is trying their best to lead the artists astray so they can get paid.

It has nothing to do with intellectual property rights or an incentive to create.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Copyright Sickness

I haven’t done a copyright post for a while, but I haven’t stopped reading on the subject. Because once you have been exposed to the laws of copyright and how those laws are meant to protect the creator but all they do is protect the organisation who holds the rights, well, I just can’t look away. Because the creator never had a proper seat on the negotiation table. In order to get a chance to make music, they had to give away their rights to their music for a long time.

First up is a little snippet on how much an organisation makes by holding on to copyrights. The organisation her is Sony.

For a three month period, Sony was paid just over $654 million for streaming. Now I don’t know about you, but that’s some serious money.

How much of it went to the artists, well that is a different story? And because Sony has a publishing arm, that division also received $375 million. This is $375 million which is meant to go to songwriters.

Again, how much of this makes its way to the songwriters, is unknown?

And I’m not sure if people are aware, but Copyright laws do have a termination clause, which allows an artist to reclaim their copyrights after 35 years have expired.

But the labels like Sony are not letting go easily. So these cases are in the courts, because the labels know that if they don’t have an extensive copyright collection of songs, they have no income. Because at this point in time artists who released big selling albums in 1985 can reclaim their rights to those albums.

Next year, Jon Bon Jovi can reclaim the rights back for “Slippery When Wet” and then he will own his biggest selling album, with all streaming monies to go back to his organisation. The year after, in 2022, Guns’N’Roses, Whitesnake and Def Leppard can reclaim back the rights to “Appetite For Destruction”, “self-titled 87 album” and “Hysteria”.

Do you reckon the labels will allow that to happen so easily?

They will either throw some extra millions at the artist or off to the courts.

And here is another one on payments to musicians.

PRS For Music is an organisation in the UK which collects copyright payments on behalf of songwriters, composers and publishers. For the 2019 year it collected a record £810m. The amount involves a few different segments, like public performance, streaming, radio, TV and international. With public performances being put on hold because of COVID-19, streaming subscriptions are becoming popular.

But the streaming money pie is not distributed evenly. What the labels get and what they pay back to the artists is based on contracts and what monies have been given to the artist vs what needs to be paid back. And if the artist owns their own rights, then they are in position to negotiate better especially if they have had some success in the past. Metallica and Motley Crue come to mind, as artists who own their own rights.

The thing that streaming companies do wrong is that they treat it as a pool of money and then they work out what ratio each artist is entitled to, based on the streams played on the artists songs divided by the total streams for the service.

So even though fans of Metallica, Tool, Def Leppard, Motley Crue, etc, listen to those artists, their subscription monies are also distributed to Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande and all of the rest of those high streamers.

I know as a consumer, I want my subscription fee to go to the artists I actually listen to and not to a central pot, where the money is divided on a percentage basis against every single artist on Spotify. But the system is as fair as it could be right now.

And here is what happens when an IT organisation creates a streaming service to allow music to the spread to the masses because in reality, the labels were negligent in their duty of care to the artists to do it much earlier on.

So for Spotify it’s court case after court case. Because people who contribute nothing to culture and made some serious money because they hold the rights to other artists songs, still want that money train to continue.

There is this dude from the U.S called Jake Noch who has an independent label called Sosa Entertainment and he has his own collecting society called PRO Music Rights.

So Spotify removed his labels recordings from the service because Noch was manipulating the streaming count of his labels music.

This scam is common, where the teams behind artists, create enough streaming accounts to just stream the music of the artist so they get a bigger piece of the pool of monies distributed to the rights holders. Noch didn’t like how Spotify pulled his labels music and he sued. He accused Spotify of “unfair and deceptive practices” and Spotify called him a “fraudster”. And via his collection society PRO Music Rights, he has accused every other streaming service of copyright infringement.

It shows the amount of manipulation involved here by a record label, who hired a bot farmer to set up millions of streaming accounts (all of them on the free ad-supported tier) who would then listen to the songs on the service. 99% of the revenue for Sosa Entertainment came from the free-ad supported tier.

Smells on Payola, it is Payola.

Finally, remember those MTV shows from the 80’s which actually had music videos and interviews. Well the Internet Archive uploaded heaps of em. It shows the early stages of MTV and the steps they took to become a cultural icon. All of the material is from a user’s own VHS tapes of MTV recordings.

But these have been taken down on copyright grounds. Basically an organisation which holds the rights to an artist has made a claim to censor a part of history. Or it could be the VJ themselves via an organisation. Whatever the reasons, history is being censored and locked up. Copyright was never intended to censor. From day one, back to the 1700’s it was to give a creator an incentive to create more works by giving them a monopoly to monetize their works for a certain period of time.

And it gets worse and will only get worse, because after the death of the creator an organisation holds on (in other words, locks up) the copyright for another 70 years after death and they are pushing for another 20 more to take it to 90 years.

P.S. Remember the British invasion in the 60’s and early 70s.

It happened because all of the blues and folk music created between the 1930 and 1940 had expired and become part of the public domain because they all had 28 year terms. Classical music was already in the public domain and a lot of jazz standards were as well.

And suddenly we had artists who pieced all of these styles together.

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Copyright, movies, Music, My Stories

Bands

Bands, the way we have known them will be no more.

It will be the era of the songwriter. It might look like a band on the outside but really it will be the main person or two and the supporting musicians. Sort of like how it was in the 50s and 60s up to a certain point. Until The Beatles changed everything.

For example, like James Hetfield and The Metallica Band or like Jon Bon Jovi and The BJ Band or like David Lee Roth and The Van Halen Band or Rob Halford and The Judas Priest Band.

Maybe they will just use their name like Bryan Adams, Keith Urban, Don Henley, Neil Young or Ozzy Osbourne.

Even Alice Cooper started off as a band and morphed into a solo artist with musicians supporting the artist.

Maybe a return to the Crosby, Stills and Nash kind of names.

These are just examples of using artists that I know. The new artist could use just their name or their name with a backing band or a group name but the reality will be that the group is really just the artist with other musicians supporting the artist.

If you look at bands right now and in the past, most of their songs are written by one main member. Sometimes two or three members, especially when bands had artists who paid their dues and had experiences before joining.

Ignore pop songs for the moment who seem to have 10 writers to start with, and if the songs are a hit, there is a writ and more songwriters are added to the list.

Yeah I know what your saying, U2, Def Leppard, Black Sabbath and Van Halen just to name a few, have albums saying that the songs are written by all the members.

But the truth is, what is in print for us to see on the lyric sheet or album, is not always the truth. Songs are complicated beasts when it comes to a band setting. It didn’t used to be that way but it is that way now. Especially when there is money involved.

For example ASCAP is a music publisher in the US, had total revenues of $1.226 billion dollars in 2018. They paid $1.109 million in royalties back to artists. And they kept $117 million in administration costs. Basically money for nothing and the chicks for free to the publishing company.

That’s just one of many in the US. Then there is BMI who had total revenues of $1.283 billion and paid out $1.196 billion to artists by 30 June 2019. And they kept $87 million for administration costs.

And each country has multiple publishing companies. And each country has record labels. And everyone is making multi millions from music for nothing.

The actual copyright registration and the splits associated with the song plus the band agreement which also has percentage splits determine who is entitled to what. Van Halen even took Michael Anthony off the songwriting credits when they renegotiated a multi million dollar publishing deal in the early 2000’s.

COVID-19 has changed the game.

A normal band makes their money on the road.

Some bands might have streams in the billions and own their own copyrights, but if they are that level, they will have a team of people in their organization like managers, legal, accountants and other employees who do fan club and website.

Right now, no one can tour and they don’t know when they can start touring again because having so many people in a room, theatre, arena or stadium is a problem when it comes to social distancing. And even if concerts are allowed, will people just go back to life as normal or be cautious. Maybe concerts will resume with a cap of 500 people max.

And no one gets into bands or starts writing songs to get paid. They do it because they love it and there is a need within them to create. But with any artist that starts to become popular, money is a byproduct of creating something which resonates.

And then it becomes about the revenue streams and how is the artist going to make money.

Streams will pay and the artist will get more if they own their rights. And the person who wrote the song will get two bites of that revenue. One from the streaming service to the Copyright owners account and another from the Rights Organization which administers their catalogue. This always causes resentment between members because one person has more than others.

Especially when the band agreement in place favors one over the other. And the other member feels like their songs should be considered but they are not up to standard.

Remember when Kirk Hammet told everyone he lost his phone with riffs and that’s why he had no song writing contributions on the “Hardwired” album but James set the record straight when he said that Kirk’s riffs just weren’t there, meaning they weren’t good enough to James and Lars to consider.

We wait to see what live music will look like post COVID-19.

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

Progress Is Derivative – What The!! – It’s Not Okay To Show Your Influences

Led Zeppelin became the biggest rock act in the world. They wrote songs based on their influences and some songs even sounded like the songs they were influenced by. From traveling the world, they were also exposed to exotic sounds and as technology got better, to new sounds.

Suddenly, thousands of wannabe guitarists and singers and drummers and bass players started to copy the licks and melodies and beats of the mighty Zep, forming an influential bond with the music, much in the same way, the members of Zep allowed other artists and songs to influence their music and melodies.

And Zeppelin wasn’t just an act with a geographical location. Their music was everywhere and there was no way that any teenager in the 70’s could escape the sounds of the Zep. Fast forward into the mid 80’s and suddenly a lot of bands on record deals had a lot of musical passages in their songs which paid homage to Zeppelin and in some cases too much homage. But Zeppelin never sued. These derivative versions of songs based on Zep cuts actually increased the value of the Zep cuts.

I’ve been listening to some songs recently, and the resemblance to other songs is a beautiful thing to hear. I know that these kinds of similarities are bringing forth a lot of court cases in pop music where a jury is asked to decide what is plagiarism and what isn’t.

In the Cult’s song “Peace Dog”, the middle part section has a similarity which comes from the “Stairway to Heaven” section before the solo section kicks in.

And on the topic of Led Zep, no one can forget Kingdom Come. “Get It On” basically lifted the whole “Kashmir” chord progression, and “What Love Can Be” is similar to “Since I’ve Been Loving You” and “The Rain Song”. Regardless, Kingdom Come made me want to listen to Led Zeppelin.

Whitesnake broke through in the 80’s on the backs of MTV and a sound that rivalled the Sunset Strip, but when they started off on the blues rock journey, David Coverdale was channelling Led Zeppelin in “Trouble”. Coverdale even looked like Plant and sounded a lot like him on this cut and along with Sykes they brought the Led Zep sound, filling the void for a lot of fans of that music.

And this was okay, to show your influences and pay homage to styles.

But Copyright kept changing and evolving, because the corporations kept pushing for perpetual laws, as they knew that if they lost the copyrights to valuable recordings and songs, they would be losing money.

And by pushing for laws that lasted 70 years after the death of the creator, it also meant that the heirs of the creator would also benefit as a by-product. And the heirs are now taking from the hand that gave them the right, because if copyright terms stayed the same (28 year term (14 years with the option to renew for another 14) or if the artist died before the 28 years, on death), the majority of these court cases would not even exist, because the songs would be in the public domain.

But it was still okay to show your influences and pay homage, because the record labels and publishers still paid the heirs and the artists for their rights, as the labels made 300% more profit due to CD sales. But when the record labels stopped paying, as mp3 ripping and then digital downloads and then streaming took over, suddenly, there was a problem for the artists or the heirs/organisations who owned the copyrights. The payments ceased or became dramatically less.

So with a combination of Copyright law changes and a change to the distribution model, a new situation was created with lawsuit after lawsuit, because every artist or heirs of the artist feels that their work is so original and free from influence, that they must be compensated.

And suddenly it wasn’t okay to show your influences or pay homage. But all progress made in music was to build on what came before.

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

Copyright Just Keeps On Giving

Copyright is the gift that just keeps on giving.

Remember how copyright is meant to protect the creator so they have a monopoly on their work, with the aim to be paid if the work is popular. A lot of artists create works which are not popular and as such, their monopoly on their copyrights have no value.

However, in this case, the creator gets a stroke and other people allegedly forge the creators signature to transfer the rights to corporations who seem to benefit.

The Seinfield creators couldn’t even come up with this kind of a story. You can add elder abuse to the list for Copyright court cases.

The other big one is Ed Sheeren and his song, “Thinking Out Loud”. You see even if Sheeren did copy a Marvin Gaye song, the song should have been in the public domain anyway because both Gaye and his co-writer are dead. Then again the labels wanted these kind of perpetual laws many years ago and now they are getting bitten in the ass.

And companies like Structured Asset Sales, founded by an investment banker called David Pullman exist by purchasing a lot of copyrights from the children of these creators many years ago and now we have this stupidity of suing people.

And as usual, Copyright is already benefiting the corporations who create nothing and now it is benefiting the heirs of artists who create nothing, to sue the creators who create something.

But if you really want to know how the recording industry via the RIAA caused this mess, then read this article over at Techdirt.

Nothing is original especially in music which has mass appeal. No artist writes music without being exposed to music. Everyone is working from the same instruments and the same chords.

And the courts now cannot make a distinction between influence and theft. It’s set the precedent that all influence is theft. And the labels went with that for decades only to be sued over the last 10 years from heirs of dead artists.

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

Keep Your Eye On The Copyright

I haven’t done a copyright post for a few weeks, but the Google Alerts each day come up with some of the most WTF moments.

First up, is Eminem’s music publisher is suing Spotify because somehow Spotify is playing songs on its service without the proper permissions from one of the biggest artists.

Is Eight Mike serious?

I guess they are. Read the article here.

Eminem is streamed a lot on Spotify and somehow, Eight Mile (which is basically Eminem) reckons Spotify doesn’t have a license to have his songs on the service.

One of his songs” ‘Till I Collapse” has 702 million streams, so I wonder when or at what stage in those hundreds of million streams did the music publisher realise that Spotify didn’t have a license.

And there is so much talk about Eminem’s most popular track “Lose Yourself”, which to me is a rip off from “Kashmir” by Led Zeppelin. The Am to F transition over a droning pedal tone is not original or unique at all.

What seems to have happened here is that Eminem has seen how other artists have made their own special deals with Spotify and he’s thinking, “I want a piece of that pie”, so let’s drum up some BS rubbish to get Spotify to pay me more.

And while I am on the topic of payments, here is a win for the artist. Ennio Morricone, who composed some massive soundtracks back in the 70s won back the right to some of his songs from the label. But he had to go to court and to appeal to get his songs back.

Morricone gave up his Copyrights for a large upfront payment and low royalties in the late seventies, however his music became very popular from the 90’s onwards.

Metallica kept using his music as an intro to all of their concerts and suddenly the movies from the 70’s in which he composed music for, had a new lease of life in the 90’s with DVD releases and what not, but the composer got nothing.

The labels of course argued these are works for hire and that the artist is not entitled to his works.

And that large upfront payment the label would have made in the late 70’s would have been recouped tenfold over the last 30 years, while the artist would have had that just one payment.

And finally, we have the US Government siding with an artist on a copyright suit.

As people are aware, Plant and Page were accused and then cleared of copyright infringement in June 2016 over the opening bars of “Stairway To Heaven” and the song “Taurus” from the band Spirit.

The decision was appealed by the heirs and the judge agreed so it’s going back to court.

So should the Government pick a side here, especially when the whole mess of copyrights is because previous Governments kept on changing and extending the terms of Copyright to suit their back pockets.

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