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.

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The Stealing Argument Again & How Copyright Infringement Leads To Renewed Interest

Bon Jovi’s “Livin On A Prayer” has had a revival of sorts thanks to a viral clip doing the rounds from a Boston Celtics fan dancing to “Livin On A Prayer” during a stoppage in play. This happened in 2009 and the actual YouTube clip from back then has been blocked in Australia on copyright grounds by Universal Music. That clip was sitting at 3.6 million views before Universal killed it. Isn’t it typical of the labels to kill something that could make them money in the long run?

However a fresh upload of the dance routine to the Utrend.tv website on Oct. 17 has gone viral with over 11 million worldwide views.

In turn this viral interest in the dance routine has led to a renewed interest in Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On a Prayer.” But wait, copyright infringement is bad for the artist. Isn’t that the catch cry of the record labels, their lobby group and other misguided artists/organisations.

For example, there is the “Save the Music America” organisation (backed by Nashville Songwriters Association International and led by Mark Dreyer) that just doesn’t get it. They compare illegal downloading of a song with walking into a coffee shop and stealing a cup of coffee.

Remember the MPAA commercials from the early two thousands that equated copying movies the same as stealing a car. Seriously, are people still thinking like this in 2013.

For the hundredth time stealing means that Person A has taken a song that Mark Dreyer has written and Dreyer does not have that song anymore. It’s gone, stolen forever.

Copyright infringement means that Person A has taken a copy of a song that Mark Dreyer has written.

Stealing and copyright infringement are two very different things. Now if Dreyer is not getting paid for the success of his songs, then that is something that he needs to work out with the artist, publishing or label that is getting paid. Music piracy is a result of the record labels inability to innovate. Case closed. Of course, due to the one-sided contracts that artists and songwriters signed, they are the ones that are doing it tough.

Has Universal Music CEO Lucian Grange taken a pay cut recently? Of course not, as there is still a lot of money doing the rounds in music.

The whole clip of the dance routine infringes on the copyright that Universal Music holds on “Livin On The Prayer”. However is that such a bad thing.

According to Nielsen data, “Livin’ On a Prayer” has accumulated 5.1 million streams in the U.S. last week. That is an increase of 390%. But wait, streaming is bad for the artist.

The song also had up to 4,000 paid digital downloads.

But wait, piracy still exists. The song is available on all the pirate sites for free, however people still decided to pay for a legitimate version of the song. People still went and streamed a legitimate version of the song. People went on YouTube and watched the clip of the song on the various channels that host it. People still went and downloaded the song illegally. Basically, people will do what they want to do.

Even Tim Millar the guitarist from Protest the Hero is a recorded music pirate. This is what he had to say in a recent interview on the topic;
“I can’t say don’t download music. I think people should get to hear music before they buy it. Even if they just download it and come out to a show, that’s going to help the band more than it hurts them… What we were worried about was the Indiegogo campaign. We didn’t want the record to leak and then the [Indiegogo supporters] have to wait two weeks to get their copy. So as soon as the record leaked, we sent everyone a digital download code that night.”

Millar gets it. Doc Coyle gets it. Piracy is not that bad. There is an opinion piece called “GOD FORBID’S DOC COYLE: THE TIMES, THEY ARE A CHANGIN’”,

“…people that seem to hate this change are, obviously, the people who sell records, such musicians, record label people, managers, etc. Also, notice that the people most bothered are ones to tend to make the most money from music. No one ever cares about giving their demo away for free when they are unknown, but when you start make a living from music solely and record sales suddenly have an impact on your lifestyle and well-being, that stance changes. This is not a knock on those individuals — just the way it is.

At this point, you may be thinking, “Wait, isn’t Doc a musician? Shouldn’t he be pissed off that people download God Forbid records for free?”

I am not pissed off by illegal downloaders, even though I probably should be. If illegal downloading didn’t begin crushing the music industry in the early 2000’s, I would probably have made a much more lucrative living from making music. It’s affected all of us: Me, huge artists, basement bands, and even every other facets of the industry that used to see the rewards of more funding via the sales of actual physical albums, from photographers that did press shots, to the guy that directs your music video, to all of the writers for rock and metal magazines. The contraction of this industry has been devastating to the economy of music.

The only problem is, you can’t stop these changes from happening. Getting mad about it, or even worse, making someone feel bad for doing it, doesn’t really make a profound impact. Do I want people to buy my albums? Hell yeah! But I can’t stop those who download it, and the thing is, those people still may support the band in other ways, such as coming to a show or buying a t-shirt. The truth is, I buy some albums, but I also I do download some from torrents sites. The real question is, how does that affect me morally? Is it stealing in the traditional sense of the word?”

The internet changed the way people saw the world. Throughout history, industries and trades become obsolete or they evolve. I guarantee you that any musician that has tried to make it has pirated music. From taping music on cassettes to downloading mp3’s for their mp3 player. Show me one musician that says that they never pirated or infringed and I will show you a liar.

Basically the record labels, the RIAA, the book publishers and the movie studios seemed to think that people wanted the physical products to own and keep, however what the people wanted was the content. Streaming is on the scene, however it is 14 years too late. It should have been there from day one, before Napster. Now it needs to play catch up.

Going back to Protest The Hero and the interview with Tim Millar.

“I think if you (fans) can find avenues where you’re paying for music directly and you know where the money is going, you should do that. I know Bandcamp takes 10 percent, so you know that 90 percent of that money is going to the band. I’ve never bought anything on iTunes because I know artists aren’t making most of that money… But if it’s a matter of you spending $10 on the album or not hearing it at all, I’d rather you get to hear it, then come to the show and buy a T-shirt.”

The last line is the cold hard truth. As an artist, you want fans to hear your music and then to come to a show and buy some merchandise.

If that means a fan buys the album, then buys a concert ticket and then buys a T Shirt. Great.
If that means a fan streams the album, then buys a concert ticket and then buys a T Shirt. Great.
If that means a fan downloads the album for free, then buys a concert ticket and then buys a T shirt. Great as well.
If that means a fan hears the album for free and doesn’t buy a concert ticket or a T shirt, then that has to be great as well. Maybe they will commit on the next one. There are just so many variables out there, however the main variable that artists should be focusing on is getting the music heard.

In relation to the songwriters (the ones who write songs for other artists), then they should organise/negotiate a better payment deal for their contribution to the song and move on. Music was never designed to be a pension fund. But hey, people hate change and songwriters are still clueless.

Living On A Prayer renewed interest article; http://m.billboard.com/entry/view/id/73336

Misguided Artist article; http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2013/11/18/save-the-music-america-fights-digital-theft/3625845/

Protest The Hero interview: http://music.cbc.ca/blogs/2013/11/Protest-the-Hero-on-new-drummers-and-piracy

Doc Coyle Opinion Piece; http://www.metalsucks.net/2011/10/05/god-forbids-doc-coyle-the-times-they-are-a-changin/

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