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

The World We Live In

I am over it.

I am over people like APRA/AMCOS CEO Brett Cottle calling on the Australian Parliament to offer legislative support to members of the creative industries.

I know from my own experiences APRA has been negligent for accepting dual song writing registrations on songs that I wrote and registered with them over ten years ago. They had the balls to call me up to ask me if I am okay with their negligence for accepting dual registrations and if I’m not okay with it, they can offer mediation to me to sort it out with the other party at a cost to be paid by me.

Yep, that sure sounds like a lot of support and respect from APRA/AMCOS towards the artists it is meant to represent. The truth of the matter is this.

Small time musicians don’t mean crap to these large organisations. All we do is generate a lot of money for them by playing live and by using our hard-earned monies to promote ourselves and get our songs on radio. Yep, APRA as a publishing and collection association collect those radio royalties (that we as artists worker our backsides off to get on radio) and those live returns from Club owners on our behalf.

They then hold the pool of monies for as long as they can before paying anything out to the artists based on a formula that no one can make sense off. That way APRA can double dip on the pool of money. They do that by earning interest on the large pool first and then they take out their admin fee.

So I am sick and tired at corporate entities that put out crap saying they are concerned about the artists. The music business and the movie business have consistently opted for legislation to combat piracy and when it comes to innovation they are continually dragged kicking and screaming into it.

The major record labels in the U.S killed off the 20 million strong membership of Grooveshark as it wasn’t legit enough for the record labels. Well guess what happened the next day. It was cloned and made available for users to stream music on.

Can we also make the distinction between the recording industry and the music industry?

They are two different categories. The recording industry is part of the music industry. The music industry at a high level also contains the live industry, the merchandise industry, the publishing companies, the collection agencies, the local clubs, etc..

So when I see people saying that the music industry cannot compete with piracy, it is totally a clueless and dumb statement to make.

I don’t see the live industry complaining because of piracy. I don’t see the merchandise industry complaining because of piracy.

Piracy is a recording industry problem. Actually I still find it hard to hear when people in the recording industry still complain about competing with piracy or pirates. People just don’t get it. The recording industry (and by default they acts on their roster) are competing against other products for fans/customers. It has been proven time and time again that if the customer sees value in the offering, they will pay for it.

There is a lot of money in the industry right now. “Blurred Lines” is just one song and it took in over 17 million dollars since 2013.

When it comes to music, I stream via Spotify for free and I buy physical CD’s from Amazon in the U.S or from the band direct. I never got into paying $1.29 or $2.19 for a digital mp3 of the song. However I do have a lot of mp3’s. When you buy pre-release albums from bands directly or via a fan funding campaign, you always get an mp3 version of the album. Amazon offers Auto-Rip and then there is the CD’s I purchased which I rip and put on my iPhone.

While ripping a CD is acceptable to an MP3 file is acceptable in the recording industry, the DVD I purchase is not allowed to be format shifted to an AVI file.

Torrentfreak is a website that I got to regularly to keep up to date on the latest issues around Copyright issues. So it’s no surprise to see that the MPAA is putting their hands in foreign policies. In this case, it was lobbying hard the UK Cameron government to not legalize DVD ripping. However the lobbying efforts didn’t pay off and the private copying exceptions became law in October last year.

Speaking of the MPAA, they are sure doing their best to keep their business model flourishing. Thanks to the Sony email hacks, the world know has official proof that the MPAA are offering grants to academics to write pro-copyright papers that can be used to influence future copyright policies.

As the article points this is nothing new for the MPAA.

Last November we revealed that the MPAA had donated over a million dollars to Carnegie Mellon University in support of its piracy research program. Thus far the Carnegie Mellon team has published a few papers. Among other things the researchers found that the Megaupload shutdown worked, that piracy mostly hurts revenues, and that censoring search engine results can diminish piracy. As expected, these results are now used by the MPAA as a lobbying tool to sway politicians and influence public policy.

So how is Brett Cottle from APRA/AMCOS or those stooges at Village Roadshow any different to the MPAA? All of these organisations profit from the creative works of others however they contribute nothing creatively.

In the end if copyright becomes too extreme, creativity will die.

Thank god in heavy metal and hard rock some common sense is prevailing when we hear similarities between songs. So far we haven’t had the court cases like “Blurred Lines” or the out of court settlements between Sam Smith and Tom Petty for the “Stay With Me” and “I Won’t Back Down” vocal similarities or the other out of court settlement between the song writing committee for Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk” and The Gap Band’s 1970s funk hit “Oops Upside Your Head.”

Music survives because the creators are constantly borrowing, sharing, and reacting to the different connections the 12 notes in the musical scale offer.

“The Ultimate Sin” is a forgotten song in Ozzy’s solo career (even though Jake E.Lee does perform it with Red Dragon Cartel) and it was good to hear part of the vocal melody get resurrected by Five Finger Death Punch in “Life Me Up”. Yes, they are similar for those small sections and if anything fair use is the order of the day.

Hell, we all know that Avenged Sevenfold’s latest album “Hail To The King” references a lot of great metal albums from the past. What about Kingdom Come’s “Get In On” and it’s references to Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir”. As I have always said, music is derivative.

It’s getting ridiculous how everyone is slapping copyright lawsuits on everything and the reason why that is occurring is that corporations own the copyrights. Hell, even George Clinton who has been sampled by every hip hop artist known, is fighting Bridgeport Music (a publishing company) to get his rights back. Basically at this point in time, George Clinton has NO royalty rights.

Yep, the person who copyright is designed to protect and the person who actually created the music has NO royalty rights to his music. And of course, in case you didn’t know Bridgeport Music was also one of the plaintiffs in the “Blurred Lines” copyright case.

But hey, Bridgeport Music, like APRA/AMCOS would lead you to believe that they are pushing copyright agendas for the artists and that stronger copyright is needed to combat piracy. On the other side of the fence you have a housewife from the fifties who wrote the lyrics for a song called “G.I. Blues” which was later turned into a hit song for Elvis Presley who is not credited as a songwriter because she didn’t pay the $25 copyright fee back in the sixties.

But, wait, according to the corporations who own the copyrights, the world needs longer copyright terms and stronger enforcement rights.

That’s the world we live in.

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

Time Is Your Greatest Friend

The recording industry is a mess, known for its creative accounting, manipulative one-sided contracts, it’s lobbying efforts to enact favourable laws that benefit the executives and do nothing for the artists and it’s monopolistic control over any new technologies that seek to bring a certain value to the consumer of recorded music.

Streaming service Grooveshark is no more.

The service had over twenty million users. Surely that is ample proof to the record labels that there is a large market for a service/product to offer what Grooveshark offered. However, the record labels have the dollars and the power behind them and any legal war of attrition will end in a record label victory.

Grooveshark’s sin was that they didn’t license the music on the service from the record labels. All the music was uploaded to Grooveshark by its “users”.

Grooveshark contended that if they paid royalties for the plays on the service they would be legit. However, the labels wanted Grooveshark to also pay for the licenses to have the “user uploaded” music on the service. On paying royalties, Grooveshark was also hit and miss, playing the same record label games against them.

But in all honesty, paying royalties is a contested issue. There is no transparency around it so the system is open to abuse.

Nick Menza (former Megadeth drummer) is complaining on social media that Dave Mustaine is ripping him off when it comes to his publishing royalty payments.

Add to that the unsignable contract that Menza (like Bill Ward and Dave Lombardo before him) were given and you can see that when money clashes with art, you have winners and losers on many different sides.

You have winners and losers between the executives and artists. You have winners and losers between the managers and artists. Finally you have winners and losers between the individual artists themselves and it all cases the main creative force is the winner.

If you want an example of the discontent, look no further than the guitar riff in “Every Breath You Take” from The Police.

That riff has been sampled in a lot of pop and rap songs. All of the monies earned from those samples goes to Sting as the sole songwriter and not to Andy Summers as the creator of the riff.

You see, Sting wrote the vocal melody and played the chords on a keyboard. That demo version of the song was then worked on by the whole band to get it to the level that we know today.

That iconic guitar riff follows the keyboard chords that Sting laid down.

A, F#m, D and E.

However the way Andy Summers chose to play it by adding the ninth note of each chord is iconic and innovative. That extra tone and the palm muted arpeggios tweaked the simple chord progression into an Aadd9, F#madd9, Dadd9 and Eadd9 chord progression. But Sting is the songwriter and he gets all the royalties for when that riff is sampled.

Sales of recorded music always goes to the record label and very rarely back to the artist.  So why are artist complaining about copyright infringement.

Monies for the artist come from other opportunities like licensing out music for advertisements of products. Australian band Tame Impala has made nothing from overseas sales however the monies they received from licensing out a song to Blackberry and to a Tequila maker ended up allowing the songwriter to buy a house and set up a studio.

As Kevin Parker from Tame Impala put’s it;

“I know what you’re thinking… “wait so…when I bought an album I was helping some businessman pay for his mansion on an island somewhere, and when some dude bought a mobile phone he was helping to pay an artist? WHHHYY?” I’ll tell you why, IT’S MONEY. It doesn’t always go where you want it to go.”

And the best take away from that Reddit session is the following;

“As far as I’m concerned the best thing you can do for an artist is LISTEN to the music…fall in love with it…….talk about it”.

The above sentiments are a far cry from what the classic rockers are talking about.

Roger Waters is angry at the techies for creating tools that facilitate “stealing” and he is angry with the “whole generation that’s grown up who believe that music should be free.”

I enjoy Pink Floyd. I like Roger Waters while he was in Pink Floyd.

I picked up Pink Floyd’s seventies output on LP from a second-hand record store (which meant that I picked up someone’s unwanted Pink Floyd records) in the Nineties and the only Pink Floyd CD that I own is “A Momentary Lapse of Reason” which I picked up from a discount bin.

Man reading his rant, he comes across as not sure if he should love his fans or hate them, because in the end it is the fans who love everything that he has recorded and spend $200 plus on a concert ticket that are downloading his songs. Not the tech companies. So which way does Waters want it.

Change is forever. Every other business can embrace change and move on however the recording industry is still fighting it. Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Roger Waters, Joe Perry and others all state that they are thankful they came out in a different time. Illegal copyright infringement is a record label problem, not an artist problem.

It’s actually one of the best times to be involved in the music business. The barriers of entry are low and recording technologies are affordable. You can physically create and distribute your music without a record label and do it for almost zero dollars. However, 99% of artists would still look for a record deal and then complain against the techies when the labels don’t hand over some of that streaming money that they have collected twice, once in licensing and then again in royalty payments for the listens.

The recording industry thrives in making their world look difficult and important. They will use trumped-up numbers of job losses, creative accounting charts and blame everyone else for the reasons why the artist is not getting paid. And the stupid thing is that the artists would sign up again for another term with the label with poor royalty returns.

The music business is not rocket science. Like any form of outlet there are some golden rules and the main one is to keep a decent cash balance.

So, yes that means the artist needs to work.

George Lynch had a record deal with Elektra and was driving trucks during this period just before Dokken broke through with the “Tooth N Nail” album.

Dee Snider worked many jobs while Twisted Sister was establishing itself as a serious live band.

Even Gene Simmons had a decent cash flow happening in the early days of Kiss. If you don’t believe me, then read “Face The Music” from Paul Stanley.

Music is an investment for the long-term that involves winners, losers and more importantly re-investment back into your career.

Time is your greatest friend.

Remember that.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Copyright, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Piracy

Uprising – This Revolution Is Calling For War. The spying on people controversy done in a Rock N Roll way.

As fans of music, we always looked to our heroes and the artists we liked for inspiration. So what would Queensryche say on the current state of the world and the spying on U.S citizens by its own government? The song Speak is from the Operation Mindcrime album, released in 1988.

The rich control the government, the media the law

1988 was a time when hard rock ruled the day, and the bands at the forefront had the whole rock n roll cliché surrounding them. You know the one, party hard, sleep with groupies, trash hotels and eventually get together to perform live and record.

Queensryche on the other hand simmered under the surface, focusing on issues that affected everyone, however at that time in 1988, we were all blind to it.

Revolution Calling led the way with the words;

Got no love for politicians
Or that crazy scene in D.C
It’s just a power mad town

Let’s look at some recent events making the news. Copyright czar, Victoria Espinel, is best known for playing a large role in the SECRET negotiations between Hollywood and the recording industries to punish internet users under a six strikes initiative. She has know taken up a job with one of the groups that used to lobby her office.

Let’s reword the Revolution Calling verse;

Got no love for corruption
As everyone sells their soul in D.C
It’s just a knife in the back town

Later on, Geoff Tate summed up American corruption in Spreading the Disease. In 2013, people actually care, however they should have cared back in 1988.

Religion and sex are power plays,
Manipulate the people for the money they pay.
Selling skin, selling God
The numbers look the same on their credit cards
Politicians say no to drugs
While we pay for wars in South America
Fighting fire with empty words
While the banks get fat and the poor stay poor
And the rich get rich and the cops get paid to look away
As the one percent rules America.

Let’s reword the above lyrics in the following way;

Copyright Infringement is a power play
To shakedown the people and to get them to pay
Lobbying hard, bribing all
As the numbers need to look good on their balance sheets
Politicians say no to piracy
While judges allow copyright trolls to extort
Fighting fire with empty words
While the banks get bailed and the poor stay poor
And the rich get rich and the cops get paid to act for them
As the one percent still rules America

Does anyone remember the shutdown of MegaUpload in January 2012? Yep, the FBI was in charge of the shutdown, based on evidence provided to it by the Hollywood Movie Studios and the MPAA. Talk about cops doing the bidding for the wealthy. Isn’t it funny how Victoria Espinel, now has a job with a lobby group that used to lobby her department!

Another recent event is how a cyber-locker like Hotfile was found to be personally liable for facilitating copyright infringement. In a nutshell a judge in the U.S. Courts, found a business entity that provides a cloud service liable for how users choose to use it. Of course, Hotfile was no saint in this matter, however, what Hotfile did show is that Hollywood still doesn’t get it, when it comes to servicing the people or fans of content.

Finally, Grooveshark has achieved licensing agreements with Sony and EMI. So for years, the record labels pursued them in the courts, while also sending Google millions of takedown requests. A court in Denmark even ordered that the ISP’s block access to Grooveshark. WHY? The site was providing a service to customers by allowing the users to stream and upload music that they can play immediately or add to a playlist. However the record labels wants the music to be licensed, which means that Grooveshark needs to pay a fee. So if you are a user and you have uploaded music that you have purchased legally, why should you need to pay a monthly fee for it to license it.

Makes me think of the excellent Metallica song, Eye of The Beholder from the ..And Justice For All album also released in 1988. It looks like something was afoot around this period, as both Metallica and Queensryche touched on the same subject matter. They even toured together.

Independence limited
Freedom of choice is made for you my friend
Freedom of speech is words that they will bend
Freedom with their exception

The “they” in the song can be the Corporations, the lobby groups, the judges, the government. As Warren Buffett said, the class war is already over and the rich have won. The 1 percent own all the important land and they either own or control the corporations. In the process, they have also purchased the Politicians and the Judges. They also own the big media companies, so they control what news we get. THAT IS WHY they fear the INTERNET. They spend millions on lobbying, so that they get what they want, which is more wealth for them and less for everybody else.

Where is the voice of the people, like the song Vox Populi from 30 Seconds To Mars, that was released on their excellent, This Is War album in 2009.

This is a call to arms
Gather soldiers
Time to go to war
This is a battle song
Brothers and sisters
Time to go to war

And the story ends with the lyrics of Uprising from Muse, that was released on Resistance in 2009. In the same way that Queensryche and Metallica touched on similar themes in 1988, Muse and Thirty Seconds To Mars did the same in 2009.

Rise up and take the power back
It’s time that the fat cats had a heart attack
You know that their time is coming to an end
We have to unify and watch our flag ascend

They will not force us
They will stop degrading us
They will not control us
We will be victorious

Amen.

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