Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity

A Shutdown Equals New Technologies

On December 15, 1877 Thomas Edison patented the phonograph. This simple innovation would give rise to the Copyright Industries and the Recording Labels many years later. On December 10, 2014, the Pirate Bay went offline due to a police raid based on evidence gathered by the Copyright Industries. Meanwhile, P2P sharing has remained at the same levels before the The Pirate Bay shutdown.

Goes to show that the copyright industry really hasn’t learned nothing from the past fifteen years.

Napster came and challenged everything the recording labels and the copyright industry stood for. These industries had two options, embrace Napster or crush Napster. Napster was the sharing community cultural centre for people. If the industries embraced it, then they would have been at that centre. Instead they decided to crush it and Napster’s centralised server proved to be its Achilles heel.

What the Copyright industry failed to conceive was the post Napster generation who innovated even harder, and it is no coincidence that Bit Torrent and The Pirate Bay rose a few years after Napster and the cornerstone of their innovation was decentralisation.

When The Pirate Bay came to prominence people stopped developing because the site was good enough. Everyone became complacent. But now it is down and the same catch cry is heard across the world from developers.

“NEVER AGAIN”

Already the talk around the web is that these new P2P initiatives will protect privacy, free speech, encrypted trackers and block chain technology (Blocks in a block chain are ‘sealed’ with a cryptographic hash). The legacy of Napster will live on and so will the legacy of The Pirate Bay.

Because the funny thing here is that the recording industry had a chance to control digital music. In late 1993 two audiophile computer science students were fascinated by the code that shrunk huge sound files and they started testing compressed songs to see if they could spot the difference. In time, they could no longer tell the difference and that is when it was realised that CD’s could go online. This gave rise to the first mp3 website, the Internet Underground Music Archive (IUMA). The vision was that by putting songs online anyone could share their music online and potentially build an audience. Bands could upload and advertise their tunes, build their own pages, sell merchandise and, eventually, let people play tracks right from the site. Bands could choose whether to charge or give away their music, in order to build a following for live shows.

With all new technologies it didn’t take long for the record labels to notice. They recognized that the free flow of music would destroy their business. But they passed on the technology and in 1999 the music industry changed forever.

Napster showed the world  how easily one could share music. However, Napster did not last long, but it altered forever the way in which people consumed music and what they should pay.

Standard
A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity

In Music, Rules Are Meant To Be Broken (If You Want To Rock N Roll)

Small businesses need to understand that life’s changing and because it is changing so fast, it is a case of adapt or die.

To put it into perspective, the Australian Government recently signed a few Free Trade Agreements with South Korea and Japan, with China set to follow soon. All of this will make it easier for the big retail giants of those countries to enter the Australian market. All of these FTA’s makes it harder for small businesses to compete. Because as is the norm when big giants come into a market, prices go down, and for small businesses it does not make life easier, it makes it harder.

However, opportunities always emerge for the fast adapters.

Sort of like the music business.

The ones that adapted to the changes fast, survived. While the ones that complained and whined about peer-to-peer either perished or downsized.

Traditional music distributors. Gone or downsized. Replaced by Digital distributors.

Record Store Retail Outlets. More or less gone. Replaced by online shopping carts, streaming and digital downloads.

Publishing companies. Downsized or merged.

Record Labels. Downsized or merged. Saved by the tech industry.

Bands. Either are breaking up or are constantly replacing members.

So if small businesses needs to adapt to survive on a constant basis, than artists, record labels and the music business in general should be no different. And just because the recording business was dragged kicking and screaming to embrace mp3’s, then YouTube and then streaming, the innovation doesn’t end there. Adaption is the key.

Instead, the music business is cashed up and the record labels have a powerful lobby group that instead of innovating and adapting to the changes, they lobby hard to have laws passed to assist them.

Instead of adapting, they have the courts step in to assist them.

Instead of innovating, they had the Federal Police step up to the plate and assist them in using terrorist style raids on unsuspecting victims, like a 5-year-old girl and her Winnie The Pooh laptop.

And now that the recording business is all in with the techies, those same techies now have shareholders and boards that want profits first and innovation second.

Seen the stocks of Netflix, Facebook and Twitter recently. But tech is where the action is I hear people say. Well I say tech is where the action is up until profits trump innovation.

Music drove culture up until a point in time in the mid Eighties when executives put profit margins ahead of music.

And in business, cash flow is everything. In music, cash flow is a byproduct of great music.

In music, rules are meant to be broken. Innovation is about breaking the rules.

New musical legends will combine both and rise from the ashes to enrapture the public. And they will be different. These artists will not be interested in corporate deals and sponsorships.

These new artists will not be concerned about the past. They will be concerned about changing the future. With music. Like it was once before. When music led the way.

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

YouTube

Do you want an audience or a fan base?

An audience will go and check out a song after being instructed to do so. The fan base will choose what song to play or what album to play when they want to.

It’s always the techies that are getting it right for the music industry. They can see how to make dollars in between all of those ones and zeroes.

“An audience changes the channel when their show is over. A fan base shares, it comments, it curates, it creates.”

YouTube’s global head of entertainment Alex Carloss said the above.

So where do you stand as an artist.

Do you have an audience? People who are directed to check you out?

Or do you have a fan base, people who share, comment, create playlists and do everything else.

It is a global world and YouTube is a platform that can reach all corners of the world. The reason why it is so popular is that while the major labels procrastinated over how much they would get from the streaming services, YouTube entered via the backdoor and became the leader. And it wasn’t even licensed.

Recent research has shown that by not having your music on YouTube could lead to an increase in music sales. What this clearly shows to me is that there are more factors out there that have led to reduced sales of recorded music than piracy alone. It also shows the shift of people’s listening habits. But wait, Neil Young and the Ponos team still reckon we need studio quality files. Yep, good luck with that.

If you are not using YouTube to promote yourself, then you are doing it all wrong and your career is challenged.

Even if the record labels do not renew their licensing agreement with YouTube, it will still survive. Because it is the fans that want it. YouTube’s success is made by the people, who apart from going to listen to music or view videos, they also upload as well. If I want to hear a new release before I buy it I normally go to YouTube. The whole album is there. Spotify is good as well, however it’s search algorithms are rubbish, plus it doesn’t have everything there.

I wanted to listen to Badlands “Voodoo Highway” album recently. It’s not on Spotify, however YouTube has it. Unlicensed.

I wanted to listen to Don Dokken’s “Up From The Ashes” album recently. For both, I could have gotten the CD and played it or I could have plugged in the portable drive and played it from there, however that was too much effort. Spotify didn’t have it, but YouTube did. Again unlicensed.

The record labels get wined and dined by Apple for exclusivity around their streaming service. And then when the cash rolls in from another licensing agreement to them, the artists will complain that streaming is killing the music business.

NO.

The Record Labels are still killing the music business. Their own greed will kill off streaming services. A stream is not a sale, so the royalty rates that labels pay artists are bullshit. Because the labels classify a stream as a sale which in turn brings with it a lower royalty rate.

Because if a band can stand to make $24,000 for putting up a silent album on Spotify that has been streamed for a combined sum over 4.7 million, then surely the larger acts that have 40 million streams will be making better dollars.

But they don’t.

Because that low royalty rate per stream that Spotify pays, gets further diluted when the Record Label applies it’s 80/20 split to it. Then that low 20 percent is split again by managers, lawyers, band members, etc..

What about illegal downloading of music?

It is still going on and it will never stop because people still want to have the mp3.

14 years have passed since the Napster revolution and music lovers still don’t have a legal ad-supported peer-to-peer download service for mp3’s. It’s leaving money on the table if you ask me.

Do you know what one of the main income revenues is for the record labels?

Yep, its YouTube fan clips that go viral. The ones that have unlicensed music playing in the background. With the YouTube Content ID system, labels can claim the clip as theirs and then reap the benefits that the clips views bring in.

Even Governments fear it. Turkey’s government blocked access to YouTube when an audio recording of top civilian and military officials appeared, which involved high-level security talks on Syria. The Government has classed it as illegal content. I see it as a form of censorship.

YouTube was seen as the enemy to TV stations and to the Music Industry. Now it is their greatest ally, only if they know how to use its potential. Expect to see the various YouTube networks become bigger than the movie studios in the future. Because they realise that it’s not all about the blockbuster effect. Releasing content more frequently is king.

Standard
A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity

Who Is Ahead Of The Game and Who Is Behind The Eight Ball

Ahead Of The Game
Demonoid. As the single largest semi-private BitTorrent tracker that ever existed, Demonoid offered a home to millions of file-sharers. Throughout it’s history it has been taken offline a few times and the most recent one occurred last year. However, the site is known as the “COMEBACK KID” and it is back again. Never underestimate innovation. It always trump corruption and money.

Behind The Eight Ball
As expected and predicted by everybody, the Entertainment Industries/Hollywood Studios are now suing MegaUpload. The fact that they conspired with the Government to take a cyberlocker off-line was not enough. The fact that they made a lot of people lose personal content like photos, papers and videos is not enough. Let’s spend more money and sue the organisation. I suppose the catchcry is going to be the whole “WE NEED TO SEND A MESSAGE”.

Ahead Of The Game
YouTube dominates music streaming UNOFFICIALLY.

Behind The Eight Ball
Apple’s got no streaming solution. iTunes Radio is no match for Pandora so Apple/Cook making a billion dollar deal with Beats Music (which was losing money) so that they could have a streaming solution. And Trent Reznor (who was an investor in Beats) cashed in with the Beats sale to Apple by making way more money than he ever made in music.

Ahead Of The Game
Streaming wins.

Behind The Eight Ball
Spotify laid the foundation for streaming by fighting from trench to trench. Can they compete with Apple? The word on the street is that Apple will have a better royalty rate when it comes to streams.

Ahead Of The Game
The Techies are still the winners when it comes to music and distribution.

Behind The Eight Ball
Ponos and Studio Quality music in our ear buds.

Ahead Of The Game
Independent bands that come up with creative ways to engage their fans. “The Airborne Toxic Event” a few years back released a series of stripped-down, single-shot videos for every song on their album. Check out their Spotify and YouTube numbers today. A lot of the established rock bands do not have those numbers. The lesson here is that the artists in today’s world have way more opportunities to reach out to their fans and share content with them. It’s a lifer game.

Behind The Eight Ball
Artists talking about CD sales. Or research that focuses on innovation hurting sales of music. Hell, lets bring back Eight Track Tapes and Cassettes while we are at it.

Ahead Of The Game
Number crunching. MusicMetric, Echo Nest and Next Big Sound are all out there providing analysis on music by examining all aspects of a bands presence, like Social Media, Peer To Peer, legal mp3 purchases and streaming numbers.

Behind The Eight Ball
Lobbyists are still pushing hard for prosecution of online pirates and that new law is known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Basically it is a free trade deal that is being negotiated in secret and it has similar provisions to America’s controversial SOPA and ACTA bills.

And what about these other little innovative beauties from the entertainment industries;

DreamWorks calling for a piracy crackdown while they rake it in.

MUSO (a takedown service) is the Entertainment Industries answer to piracy. And the UK Government is providing funding.

If you are an artist, you need to keep on creating so that you can stay ahead of the game. If you are a label, you need to be finding talent and innovating to stay ahead of the game. Otherwise, you will be behind the eight ball and blaming everyone else for your shortcomings.

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

A Look Back

2009: This week (April 1 to April 6) – 5 years ago

Record Labels: The 360 deal had a lot of headlines as financially challenged record labels began forcing acts to give up income from touring and merchandise for almost nothing in return.

Innovation: A new anti-piracy law in Sweden meant that the VPN encryption industry got a new boost. This more or less pointed out that playing Whac-A-Mole over file sharing was useless.

PIRACY: The RIAA was still pushing the whole “Music is theft” argument. The RIAA was still pushing their whole “music acquired illegally = drop in revenues”.

DIY: Halestorm: Read this Techdirt article from April 2009. There is a reason why Halestorm is one of the main leaders of the current crop of rock bands.

A quick summary of the post (their debut album was still not released);

– Lzzy starts solo with a guitar around her neck and a mic, just singing acapella. Long notes, killer voice. She has people cheering for her before the rest of the band even walks out on stage. Before her voice gets hidden behind the rock, she lets ’em know she can sing and you can see people are impressed straight away.
– The rest of the band appears and they tear through a few songs. It’s straight-ahead rock, on the heavy side but ready for pop radio. Everyone in the band is high-energy and engaging, even Lzzy’s brother Arejay on drums is standing up for parts of the songs and just generally being a showman.
– Mid-way through the set Lzzy announces they have a new record coming out in a few weeks but you can buy a pre-release of it now for $5 at the merch stand.
– There’s a drum solo-y part that doesn’t go on long and ends with the entire band at the front of the stage playing drums and the crowd cheering as they go crazy with it.
– During the last song Lzzy reminds them that they have their own merch stand upstairs and CDs for only $5. She also says the whole band is going to be up there after their set and that she wants to meet everyone.
– I head over to the merch stand after the show and watch their tour manager relieve the woman who runs the merch table so she can disappear into the crowd below with a box of CDs with “Halestorm CDs $5” written on it.
– The merch stand is mobbed. It’s surrounded by people and they are selling merch literally as fast as their tour manager can manage.
– The band appears (after breaking down their own stage setup) and meets and talks to as many people as possible, while helping to sell their merch.

As Ian Rogers from TopSpin noted:

“The band is doing everything right. They’re using every opportunity to connect with fans, while also giving them a real reason to buy. They’re not waiting for their record label to get them on the radio or MTV. They’re doing everything they can to actually build up a rabid supporting fanbase from the bottom up.”

And that is what every band should be striving for. Connecting with fans and giving them a reason to buy.

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

Innovation V8.0: You Gotta Love Innovation From The Entertainment Industries!!!

Progression

Music piracy opens up new technological innovations and new conversations. The latest one doing the rounds is the battle against piracy on the SMARTPHONE. The music industry trade group, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, (IFPI) called it an “emerging and as-yet-unquantified threat”.

It’s the same old argument.

One thing that is certain is that the SMARTPHONE is here to stay. That is why the “Music Maniac” app has been downloaded more than 10 million times. So why can’t the music industry innovate and have an app that is downloaded 10 million times.

The music industry of course have sent notices to Google requesting the apps removal. How typical. What’s next? Ban the smartphone because it enables song piracy. Ban cars because they kill people. This is progression. It is a new frontier.

Regression

In the UK, politicians decided to tax digital downloads. So this would mean a price increase for music.

A price increase in digital downloads will lead legitimate music customers to streaming and the more casual ones to piracy.

In my opinion this is a stupid decision by a Government that acts like a police force for the Entertainment industries.

Don’t mistake this tax for what it really is. A protectionist tax for the brick and mortar stores who think of their profit margins instead of their customers.

Bring back the CD’s screams the British Government.

Progression

Piracy in China is huge.

Not because that the Chinese don’t want to pay for it, its just that China audiences don’t have access to a lot of legal alternatives that are worth it.

So with Nokia launching a very OVERDUE streaming service in China, it is a step in the right direction to monetise that pirate money into legitamite money.

Nokia’s service will provide a legal alternative for free or a premium version for the equivalent of $3.99 a month.

Regression

Music industry group IFPI believes it is time to expand the web site blockades to other countries, and censor mobile networks too.

It looks more like censorship to me.

Progression

Anyone heard of Hatchet.

“Hatchet is a place (website) where users can share music, tastes and thoughts against one or more music services – and be portable across them.”

This is tech companies innovating to stay ahead of their competitors and it is no surprise that the announcement by Hatchet came shortly after Spotify acquired music technology firm The Echo Nest.

Regression

The everlasting saga of MP3Tunes and it’s founder Michael Robertson took another drastic turn in the courts. The whole lawsuit was another case of the record labels just being generally angry about innovation.

While MP3Tunes initially, won, the case went around the blocks and now the judge in the MP3Tunes case withdrew the original ruling and decided to take another look. That’s now resulted in a jury apparently finding that MP3Tunes was “willfully blind” to infringement.

So a jury now decides Copyright Law. Who would have thought that when Copyright was first introduced?

Maybe we should start charging all of the car makers for their cars being used in drive by shootings and drug trafficking.

The eventual endgame for the Entertainment Industry is to reduce the internet to a distribution model that is under their control where the flow of all content is all about paywalls.

Progression

BitTorrent and Music is normally associated with piracy, so of course you always need someone to show how it can be used for something different.

Moby showed last year that being the most downloaded torrent is a good thing.

This year we have a Hip Hop artist leading the way with a world first BitTorrent / Bitcoin venture, alongside their regular iTunes offering. And all donations go directly to the band as there are no middlemen.

Regression

So what do we own when it comes to music these days. According to a US politician, we own nothing.

According to this moron, the mp3 that we buy from iTunes is not really ours.

Of course Rep Nadler’s fifth largest campaign donor is…

Drum roll please…..

TV/Movies/Music

Progression

The courts are finally realising that an IP address does not identify a person.

Copyright troll’s like to use IP addresses as evidence to ask courts to issue subpoenas so they can get their hands on account details from ISPs. The problem with that, is that the person listed as the account holder is often not the person who downloaded the infringing material.

So it is good to see that judges are using some common sense.

Regression

Rightscorp is still in the news. It is a copyright troll that is purely there to shakedown people.

None of that money will ever go back to the creator of said works. It’s whole business model is built on identifying IP addresses and then sending notices to the ISP provider so that they could forward it over to their customer.

Progression

Music streaming services have taken in over $1 billion in sales worldwide. This is a big positive for the music industry. Let’s hope that the record labels dont kill it, by strangling the payments back to artists.

Regression

People still complain about the difference between analog dollars and digital dollars.

Progression

It’s good to see that Billboard is trying to remain relevant however it could be too little too late. Their latest piece of innovation is charting the chatter that happens on Twitter when it comes to music.

Of course, it wouldn’t be just Billboard taking this project on. Twitter and Billboard announced that they plan to create the Billboard Twitter Real-Time Charts: which is a continuously updated list of the songs being discussed and shared the most on Twitter in the United States.

Regression

This whole notion of a piracy tax. Italy is another country that is bringing it in.

The levy applies to any piece of hardware that can hold photographic or video material – whether that’s stand-alone storage or the hard drive of a device. In exchange for the fee, consumers are able to make private copies of copyrighted works they own — films, music and so on — for their own personal use.

So by having a piracy tax in Italy, does that no mean that uploading and downloading copyrighted works is now legal. Because hey the Entertainment industry cant have it both ways.

Standard
Music, My Stories

Haunted By Its Melody, Music It Will Set You Free

Metal music has its fair share of musicians that are worth talking about. Put it down to the place that metal music holds in society. From Lars Ulrich turning his back on his fans and going into bed with the record labels, to Dave Mustaine’s views on everything American, to Robb Flynn’s blog posts and the hundreds of comments he gets to them.

That is why I love Robb Flynn. He’s real. He’s honest. He’d say shit and people will either go “WTF” or “Yeah, man he’s spot on.” Whether it was saying “that selling CD’s is non-existent” to “feeling depressed in Beneath The Silt post” to “asking fans if they have sex to any Machine Head song or any other metal band for that matter” to his most recent post on “the music business and how much has changed since the Seventies (basically the danger has been taken out and it is all safe”.

Love him or hate him, Robb Flynn has an edge over other musicians and he is using that edge to get people talking about music again. Obviously Robb Flynn is known to people in the niche that Machine Head plays in and when I mention his name to other people that like classic rock bands for example, they look back at me with blank stares.

His latest blog post is all about how music and the artists drove culture. It was about a time when artists had the control to do what they want, how they want and when they want.

Now..?

What do we have?

We have the people that sell it, complaining that their profits are sinking, while at the same time they feed the coffers of the RIAA to get favourable legislation passed to protect their business models. Then you get all these reports about how much money streaming is bringing in to the labels and artist screaming up and down that they don’t get a decent portion of it.

What about the construction company that had to call it a day, because the builders they contracted work to, went under. By going under, those builders failed to pay the construction company the work they did and by default, they also went under.

But, hey, that’s okay and no protectionist laws are needed because that is the nature of the building game. However the record labels lose money because they failed to innovate and they scream up and down for new laws. The stain that SOPA/PIPA left on the MPAA and the RIAA will never go away. People will remember it.

Music doesn’t need new laws. It needs a new breed of executives. You see, Music is in a transition. A transition from the old to the new. The people currently in charge still don’t get it. The new breed is slowly rising and in time it will filter into the corridors of power. Those kids that pirated their whole music collection, will be in charge of Copyright Law in the not too distant future. Those same kids will be in charge of the music labels. They will have their coding mates in jobs next to them, innovating away.

So what about the old breed?

Metallica previewed a new demo of a song called “The Lords of Summer” and everyone said “What the hell is that?”. You see Metallica just don’t get it. People go to their shows to hear the classics. No one wants new music from them. If they did, the fans would have voted for the new songs at the recent Bogota show.

Look at the set list (I added the year of the album the song was featured on in brackets);

Blackened (1988)
Master of Puppets (1986)
Welcome Home (Sanitarium) (1986)
Fuel (1997)
The Unforgiven (1991)
Lords of Summer (New song / World premiere)
…And Justice for All (1988)
Sad But True (1991)
Fade to Black (1984)
Orion (1986)
One (1988)
For Whom the Bell Tolls (1984)
Battery (1986)
Nothing Else Matters (1991)
Enter Sandman (1991)

Encore:
Creeping Death (1984)
Ride the Lightning (1984)
Seek & Destroy (1983)

See any songs from the last two Metallica albums in the list. Hell, there is only 1 song since 1991. Enough said. They’re an oldies act. The fans had a chance to vote for the set list and they voted for the classics. No one wanted to hear the newer stuff and that includes “The Lords of Summer”.

The only band who are aware of that are Twisted Sister. Apart from the song “30” and the obligatory, Christmas album, they have refused to make new music for decades, because no one wants it. And they know it. Dee Snider has said it, Jay Jay French has said it and Mark Mendoza has said it.

The thing is when bands go in to write new albums, they need to realise that we don’t want the generic song that they think will sell millions. We want the song that the creator needs to write, because if they don’t write it, the apocalypse will come into their world.

This is contrary to Rick Rubin’s methods were he more or less gets bands to rewrite their earlier stuff.

Our lives today are surrounded by great TV shows and technology like Game Of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Grimm, Revolution, Arrow, iPhones, iPads, Tablets, Spotify, YouTube, Facebook, Intenet and so on. Music needs to compete on this playing field. It needs to be just as good and it needs to innovate.

Volbeat is a good example of innovation. Their sound is unique. Look at all the elements in their songs. There is no one else quite like em in 2014. Sort of like the Twisted Sister song, “What You Dont Know (Can Sure Hurt You). They fuse a lot of styles into their songs, however they still stay loyal to the hard rock/metal sound.

Don’t write a song with the Top 10 in mind.

Write a song because your life depends on it. Write a song because if you don’t get those melodies and chords out, you will cease to exist.

That is the true essence of music to me. That raw, primal, spontaneous explosion.

As Robb Flynn once said;

So pray to music build a shrine
Worship in these desperate times
Fill your heart with every note
Cherish it and cast afloat

Cause God is in these clef and tones
Salvation is found alone
Haunted by its melody
Music it will set you free

Let it set you free

Standard