Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Aerosmith and Kramer and Grammys

Joey Kramer files a lawsuit.

He had a few injuries last year, Aerosmith got a temporary drummer to fill in and once Kramer was ready to let the music do the talking (I know bad joke), the rest of those Aero boys were thinking, maybe not so fast, hombre.

They tell him, “You need to audition for your role” and when the Aero team said, “you are not up to standard”, Kramer’s replacement, John Douglas, played the rest of the “Deuces Are Wild” shows for 2019 and Douglas’s payment came out of the absent member’s cut.

Like it or not, each band has an agreement in place which outlines these things. Kramer’s issues are with the “moving targets of these made-up standards” in the bad agreement.

For Aerosmith it’s business as usual with their lawyer written response, but as a fan I would be questioning why Aerosmith would like to be involved and even play at the Grammys.

You wanna know what happens in that organization. Click here and read the Guardian article.

The Grammys organization brought in a lady called Deborah Dugan as boss, after their former boss Neil Portnow stepped down unexpectedly, which the article states, could have been due to raping a female recording artist.

But as soon as she came in, the Grammy board got rid of her because she didn’t play ball. But how didn’t she play ball. The Grammys chairman asked her to re-employ his mate Portnow as a $750K consultant after he left and after the rape allegations. She played ball and did.

Entertainment lawyer Joel Katz, who acts as the academy lawyer also made sexual advancements towards Dugan, Katz also has a private plane purchased from the monies the Academy earns on behalf of the artists and their TV deal and also represent various board members in a conflict of interest.

Dugan also mentions about the corruption in the voting. Basically a first group called the “voting pool” selects artists. Then the nomination committee which also has current artists on the committee who could be up for awards shortlist the “voting pool” list with their own additions. And the Grammys board further corrupts the nominations with what they think is needed.

Basically that Grammy award you might have on your mantle piece; how valuable does it feel when you know that the ex CEO raped an artist, the legal counsel is a sexual predator who lives rich, ripping off the artists who bring in the money to the organization and that the nomination process is corrupted.

As veterans, Aerosmith have a chance to make a stand here.

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

The Way The World Works

Corporations lobby the Government to have their taxes lowered while banking titans rort the system, say sorry at a Royal Commission and all is forgiven.

Welcome to Australia or any democratic country for that matter which has become a plutocracy.

Read this Guardian article about donations from a lobby group called Village Roadshow to Australian political parties.

Put enough coin in the pockets of politicians and watch them vote YES for the laws the corporation wants even though said law is bad for the people who voted the politicians in.

In this case the laws are all around Copyright legislation and site blocking powers. Plus Village Roadshow is allowed along with other entertainment lobbyists to direct search engines to remove links to sites they don’t like and there is no due diligence done.

Village Roadshow is basically allowed to become an internet police force as they tell ISPs to take down sites at their choosing.

You can imagine the heads of Village Roadshow agreeing to take some losses now financially and reap the benefits later. No different to the drug cartels who will allow a shipment to be lost while many more slip through and millions come flooding in.

We will know in February 2019, how much Village Roadshow donated to the parties for the most recent legislation. And for those people who still don’t know what I’m talking about, this is basically a rich corporation trying to influence the passing of legislation to benefit their business model.

In saying all of the above, the public will also find out how much the internet providers and companies like Google would have donated to politicians for them to stop the legislation.

Again this is for their own business models to succeed. Once again the people who matter the most, the consumers of entertainment are nowhere in the conversation. Remember, if there is no connection between a consumer and art, there is no money.

What Village Roadshow and the entertainment industries want is a return to their business model which more or less began 100 years ago. Seriously if you want to look at organizations resistant to change, look no further than Village Roadshow.

And Politicians should be embarrassed as they failed the people who voted them in, for a selfie with the rich and famous.

At least one politician raised the concern or maybe he was paid by Google to raise the concern;
“As lawmakers, just because we might get a selfie with Richard Roxburgh — I love Rake as much as anyone else — or a political party gets a donation from a rights holder, does not mean that we should stop looking at how to make the types of reforms that balance the needs of creatives and the needs of producers versus the needs of consumers.”
Ed Husic – Labor MP

It’s hard work to balance the needs of creatives and producers versus the needs of consumers and no one right now likes hard work, so people go down the simple route of serving the needs of creatives and producers and screwing consumers.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Copyright Suits

Poor old Lana Del Rey. Radiohead are suing her for copyright infringement in her song “Get Free” which has a verse that sounds similar to “Creep” released in 1992. On her own Twitter page, Del Rey mentioned the below;

“I know my song wasn’t inspired by Creep, Radiohead feel it was and want 100% publishing – I offered up to 40 over the last few months but they will only accept 100. Their lawyers have been relentless, so we will deal with it in court.”

Boy George had the best quote on his Twitter account. “Radiohead were sued by The Hollies and now Radiohead are suing Lana Del Rey. Utter Madness!”

For those who don’t know, when “Creep” came out in 1992, everyone said how similar it sounded to “The Air I Breathe” from The Hollies, released in 1972. So of course if a song shares a chord progression and melody with another song, the artist must be sued for copying.

So the song’s writers Albert Hammond and Mike Hazlewood sued and received co-writing credits and a percentage of the song’s royalties. And now, Radiohead are doing the same.

But Radiohead claim they are not suing Lana Del Rey. All they want is a credit, and Radiohead’s Publisher disputes what Del Rey put on her Twitter account.

And how many copyright infringement court cases does “Uptown Funk” need to get through. The song came out in 2014. In 2015, members of The Gap Band were added as songwriters of “Uptown Funk” because The Gap Band had a song with the lyric “Oops! Upside Your Head” and so does “Uptown Funk”.

In 2016 it was certified Diamond for 10 million track sales in the U.S. Also in 2016, the funk band Collage sued claiming “Uptown Funk” was a copy from their 1983 song, “Young Girls”.

In 2017, Lastrada Entertainment, owner of the copyright of Roger Troutman and Zapp’s “More Bounce to the Ounce”, put papers in court claiming the first 48 seconds of “Uptown Funk” and the repetition of the word “doh” crossed the line into infringement.

Seriously, this is how messed up it all is. “Oops, upside your head” and “doh”, crosses the line into infringement. And suddenly the songwriters of “Uptown Funk” is starting to resemble a football roster.

And now at the end of December 2017 and going in to 2018, 1970s rap group The Sequence are suing Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson, claiming “Uptown Funk” is infringing on their 1979 single, “Funk You Up” and of course everyone wants credit and monetary damages.

The thing that is scary is that the people who sued Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson, believe that their words and music are totally original, created in a vacuum and free from any influence. I don’t think so.

And for even more stupidity, Taylor Swift has a lawsuit to contend with based on words and phrases.

The two songwriters Nathan Butler and Sean Hall believe they should be credited on Taylor Swifts song “Shake It Off” because a song they wrote in 2001 called “Playas Gon’ Play” has the phrase, “Playas, they gonna play/And haters, they gonna hate” which they believe Swift ripped off by having the phrase, “Players gonna play, play, play, play, play, and haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate,”

Wow. Just wow.

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

Public Domain 2018

In the US and Australia, we don’t get nothing entering into the Public Domain. The US from next year (unless Disney, the MPAA and the RIAA lobby really hard) will get works released in the 1920s entering the public domain. For Australia, I think we had works up to 1955 in our Public Domain and then the law got changed to be plus 70 years after death, so we will not get any works into our public domain until 2026. And these works will be from 1956.

And the Copyright industries are still pushing hard for longer copyright term extensions because once the person who created the works to be under copyright passes, it’s the corporation who benefits.

Duke University has a cool list of what could have entered the public domain on January 1, 2018.

Now you need to remember, these works would have been in the Public Domain, under the Copyright Law that existed until 1978.

Basically all works from 1961 would be in the Public Domain this year.

“Current US law extends copyright for 70 years after the date of the author’s death, and corporate “works-for-hire” are copyrighted for 95 years after publication. But prior to the 1976 Copyright Act (which became effective in 1978), the maximum copyright term was 56 years—an initial term of 28 years, renewable for another 28 years. Under those laws, works published in 1961 would enter the public domain on January 1, 2018, where they would be “free as the air to common use.” Under current copyright law, we’ll have to wait until 2057. And no published works will enter our public domain until 2019. The laws in other countries are different—thousands of works are entering the public domain in Canada and the EU on January 1.”

Duke Public Domain 2018 webpage

So what books would be entering the public domain if the U.S had the pre-1978 copyright laws?

  • Joseph Heller, Catch-22
  • J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey
  • Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land
  • William S. Burroughs, The Soft Machine
  • Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth
  • Roald Dahl, James and the Giant Peach

“The Soft Machine” by Burroughs broke all Copyright rules back then anyway as it was created by using the “cut-up technique,” where existing text from books got cut up and rearranged to create a new work.

The above books are but a fraction of what would be entering the public domain on January 1. And if they did enter the Public Domain, people would be free to use these books for whatever they want. Re-write their own versions of the books, modernise them, make them into space operas, make a film from them, create a stage play from them, write a concept album from the stories and so forth.

Instead, people from the U.S will have to wait until 2057 to have these works enter the Public Domain.

What films from 1961 would be entering the public domain if the U.S had the pre-1978 copyright laws?

  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  • West Side Story
  • The Guns of Navarone
  • The Parent Trap
  • Splendor in the Grass
  • Judgment at Nuremberg
  • The Misfits
  • The Hustler

“If these films were in the public domain, you could use them in your own works, just as they used earlier works in theirs. West Side Story (music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by Arthur Laurents) was free to draw upon Romeo and Juliet because Shakespeare’s work was in the public domain. And as Judge Richard Posner observed, if the underlying works were copyrighted, “Romeo and Juliet itself would have infringed Arthur Brooke’s The Tragicall Historye of Romeo and Juliet . . . which in turn would have infringed several earlier Romeo and Juliets, all of which probably would have infringed Ovid’s story of Pyramus and Thisbe.” One work inspires another. That is how the public domain feeds creativity.”

Duke Public Domain 2018 webpage

While popular films have a larger shelf life and commercial life, 90% of films made are forgotten. The true tragedy is that these films are disintegrating while preservation libraries wait for their copyright terms to expire.

What 1961 music would be entering the public domain if the U.S had the pre-1978 copyright laws?

  • Patsy Cline’s classic Crazy (Willie Nelson)
  • Stand By Me (Ben E. King, Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller)
  • Runaway (Del Shannon, Max Crook)
  • Let’s Twist Again (Kal Mann, Dave Appell)
  • Surfin’ (Brian Wilson, Mike Love)
  • Crying (Roy Orbison, Joe Melson)

Again, it’s just a sample; however you would be able to use the above songs in your own songs and perform them without permission or a fee. The same way the above songs used other songs as inspiration, you would be free to use them as inspiration. Instead these musical works remain copyrighted until 2057.

Like West Side Story, some of the hit songs from 1961 borrowed from earlier works. Elvis Presley’s Surrender (Doc Pomus, Mort Shuman) was adapted from the 1902 Neapolitan ballad “Torna a Surriento” (Ernesto and Giambattista de Curtis), and his Can’t Help Falling in Love (Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore, George David Weiss) is derived from the 1784 French song “Plaisir d’amour” (Jean-Paul-Égide Martini).

Duke Public Domain 2018 webpage

A U.S Congressional Research Service study showed just 2% of works between 55 and 75 years old still make money. So for the sake of a few films and few corporations who benefits, the Public, which is millions upon millions strong is robbed.

“Locking up culture does no one any good, except for a small number of copyright holders on the few works that are still economically viable.”

Techdirt

The Public Domain Review page as a Class of 2018 article. Check out the class that should in the Public Domain all around the world, not just in some countries like the UK and Canada.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Ride The Copyright Until Forever

I have a Google Alert set up for Copyright news stories and there is a lot of em, every single day.

In Australia/NZ, there has been coverage about Eminem’s copyright win against the New Zealand National Party for using a track called Eminem Esque in a political advertisement.

So the courts found a political party guilty of infringing Eminem’s copyright on “Lose Yourself” even though they paid a license fee for a “sound-alike” song called “Eminem Esque” to a production music company.

I’m curious to know why the production music company who created the track “Eminem Esque” escaped punishment.

Didn’t the production music company create a work and then fraudulently claim it as their own work?

Didn’t the production music company pocket a license fee for their fraudulent song?

So shouldn’t that production music company who wrote the song “Eminem Esque” be in trouble as well.

Instead the deviousness of the political party to seek out a song which sounds similar to “Lose Yourself”, so they could pay a cheaper licensing fee is why the case is in the courts.

While the rest of the world worries about job security, it’s so pleasing (loaded with sarcasm) to see the Copyright industries securing their future with the courts.

In the U.K, Copyright complaints take up most of the High Court’s time. The world is dealing with all forms of crime, but intellectual property crimes are more important. It’s probably why the Commonwealth Bank of Australia invested via a tax haven into the performing rights income of popular artists. Thank god for the Paradise Papers which sheds some light on how the elite avoid paying taxes?

Copyright disputes are not just in the courts. They are in the local bars, the coffee shops, the sandwich shop and any other mum and dad place which play music or might have live music at the venue. Basically, if music is played anywhere, the collection agencies want to be paid via a license. Don’t be surprised if the price of the car you purchase is loaded with a music licensing tax based on how many people could listen to music for free in the car. Because, you know, for a five seater care, five people in the car could be listening to music at any point it time. And don’t be surprised if your car service fee is loaded with a music tax.

In a lot of European countries, blank media like CD’s and portable drives and USB keys already carry a music tax in their price. The lobby groups argued hard that every blank CD, USB or Portable Drive sold would be used to store copyrighted material, so a tax must be paid. The Courts believed them; maybe got influence by them in other ways and a law was passed for these devices to carry a copyright tax.

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

The Copyright Games

It is big dollars to an artist when they sell their copyrights to a business entity to administer. For example. Downtown Music Publishing will have paid Nikki Sixx some dollars to acquire his Motley Crue song catalogue.

Deals like these are meant to be a partnership between publisher and artist where both benefit. The Publisher forks out some cash as an incentive and then aims to recoup that investment by licensing the songs to commercials, movie/tv placements, gaming or some other outlet that requires music. The publisher keeps a portion of the income and then charges an administration fee on the rest.

But, these days, publishers and record labels have amassed a lot of copyrights and when they have business models based on holding these copyrights, you have a copyright system that benefits a corporation more than an artist. So that gives them power in negotiations.

And is YouTube really that bad to the recording industry. Read the Guardian article about how the existing power players believe YouTube is “anti-artist”.

So can someone tell me how these existing power players find  a hardware maker called Apple as “artist-friendly” and how those same people find a music service like Spotify and Pandora as “anti-artist”. Let’s not kid ourselves here. Most artists (old and majority of new) want the 1980’s pay structure, the signing bonus, the $20 CD, even though it cost the label, $1 to make. But these same people love free gmail, free Facebook, free something else. And yet they still scream to be paid like it’s the 80’s. As the Guardian article states;

“Although many have a conflicted relationship with YouTube, there is a generational conflict dividing the field. Those in the “old” music industry want to keep things the way they always were, nailing down copyright in every way possible. Yet around them a “new” business is emerging – prescient and whip-smart artists, managers, labels and media organisations – who see YouTube as a facilitator of a creative renaissance rather than a death sentence.”

Is the system perfect?

Of course not, however neither was the music eco-system when the record labels controlled it and due to lobbying the labels had a government granted monopoly on it. But would the artist prefer. Napster like piracy that offered $0 into the eco-system or a platform that offers millions. And when you combine this platform with other streaming platforms and other ways to monetise music, you get to see different income streams. Because the people have spoken and they don’t want overpriced CD’s.

“With all the major label contracts coming up for renegotiation it makes absolute sense [to attack it]. These are huge businesses run by intelligent people and as much as it’s a mud-slinging exercise at the moment, I am hopeful they will reach a middle ground where artists are being [properly] remunerated and YouTube continues to grow its platform and its offerings to artists. YouTube has given us and many independent artists an audience and an opportunity to build a brand. That’s allowed us to exercise a business that goes far beyond what’s on YouTube.”

And with all of these deals being made, the companies holding the copyrights want the Government to step in and change the royalty rates because the artist is getting screwed and not them. So, on one side you have Music publishers like ASCAP and BMI, along with their “stars” arguing that streaming has led to a reduction in songwriters’ income. Lucky the Justice Department of the US declined their request.

“And in a move that has caused widespread worry throughout the music publishing world — the side of the business that deals with the lucrative copyrights for songwriting — the government has also said that, according to its interpretation of the consent decrees, the music agencies must change a major aspect of how they license music. The agencies must now adopt a policy known as “100 percent licensing,” which means that any party who controls part of a composition can issue a license for the whole thing. In the case of major pop hits, which tend to have many songwriters, there can sometimes be a dozen or more parties involved.”

And now the business model based these publishers have based on a government granted monopoly by extending copyright laws is threatened by another government decision. But hey, “artist friendly” Apple is putting in their own request to increase the royalties because if that does happen, it will kill off all of Apple’s competitors like Spotify and Pandora. And then Apple will have a business model based on another government granted monopoly.

Seriously to see how fucked up copyright is, the fact that a politician needed to settle with Rude Music, the company owned by Frank Sullivan from Survivor for $25,000 because of “copyright infringement” is a joke. Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee used “Eye of the Tiger” during a rally. And this is somehow copyright infringement because Rude Music believes he should have asked for permission. The truth is, Frank Sullivan doesn’t agree with views of the politician and wants the populace vote.

And Queen has joined a long list of artists to send cease and desist letters to Donald Trump because even though his campaign does the right thing and pays a licensing fee to the publishers to use songs in their catalogue, if the artist disagrees with the views of the politicians they believe they have a power to stop it. All in the name of being liked.

To close out my rant, the Electronic Frontiers Foundation sums up my copyright argument in one nice paragraph.

And on it goes. Again and again, large content owners seem to think that the only way to fight unauthorized media consumption is to expand copyright. But more copyright won’t change users’ behavior. What it will do is chill innovation and free expression online. The way to bring in more paying customers isn’t to write new law; it’s to build a better product and get it to more customers at the right price.

 

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My Stories, Stupidity

Money, Money, Money

I have been listening to Machine Head’s “Bloodstone and Diamond” and “Unto The Locusts” albums a fair bit lately along with Serj Tankian’s solo albums “Elect The Dead” and “Harakiri”.

To me, Robb Flynn and Serj Tankian are great writers that take a stance on an issue and put their viewpoints out there. The music business is lacking heroes like these. A lot of musicians just seem to be sitting on the fence. Jon Bon Jovi is singing about moving mountains while Serj Tankian is singing about drum fish and blackbirds committing hara-kiri.

Serj Tankian’s “Elect The Dead” album came out in 2007 before the GFC. It has the same themes on that album that “The Circle” and “Wrecking Ball” from Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen that came after the GFC.

What a great inequality divide we live in. The mega wealthy artists need to hear and read about financial corruption after the fact to write about it. It just goes to show how much they are wrapped up in their own bubble to see how the real battler is really doing. While the wealthy got bailed out by the government and went on speaking tours, the working class lost their houses and their livelihoods.

Even though Serj Tankian is known and recognisable  his lifestyle is nowhere near that of the blockbuster duo from Jersey. But his reach and impact might not be far off.

Artists have the power to spread the truth in world where misinformation rules, however a lot of them choose to not do so. They conform so that they don’t upset the powerful ones just in case they are excluded from the social circle.

“Money isn’t everything” is a common catch-cry but the truth is we live in a money economy.

It’s the number one aspiration. My sons third class play from last year was about what they would like to be when they grow up. Some wanted to be famous at a sport they liked and some just wanted to play video games. But, the majority of the kids, especially the girls, all wanted to be rich. It looks like that’s the new norm now.

The belief is that if you’ve got money, you’ve won and no one can say a bad thing about you. The dirty little secret is that it actually costs money to save/make money. If you don’t have any money, how can you save money. The simple math is $0 in money equals $0 saved.

Now if you earn a wage and have $10 a week lying around, you  might put that into a savings account. By the end of the year you would have saved $520. Over the course of 20 years, you would have saved $10,400, Sounds great. However, I am pretty sure that something will come up that will need you to dip into these savings. Dental care for your children, costs around vehicles maintenance or some other urgent event. You could get sick, take extended leave without pay and then there goes that $10 a week saving plan.

Seriously if you work for a company with a lot of employees with different ethnicities, how many conversations do you overhear or are involved in when people just say the words “we can’t afford to do [something]”. And it confuses the fuck out of me when they say that they have created a budget, crunched the numbers and made a decision that something they want to do is not affordable.

So what’s the point of the budget?

Isn’t a budget put in place so that you can AFFORD to do something that you like?

To me it looks like we are all putting budgets in place to live within our means. That is why the rich get richer and the working class remain poor.

Isn’t that sad that we have come to this situation in life. Crunching numbers over our quality of life and then purchasing a lottery ticket when the jackpot is astronomical, hoping that the rays of luck will shine down on us.

I for one am terrible with managing money and saving money. I am sure I am not the only one in the world, but we all hide it and pretend that we are better off than what we really are.

While we see losing in sport as acceptable, we don’t have that same viewpoint when it comes to money. In the money game we see winning as the only acceptable outcome.

But money alone doesn’t give you a reach that art/music can provide and that is where I will leave you today, with some words from Robb Flynn, heard in the song “Darkness Within”.

Fill your heart with every note, Cherish it and cast afloat, ‘Cause god is in these clef and tone, Salvation is found alone, Haunted by its melody

Music it will set you free
Let it set you free

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