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

A Note To APRA AMCOS and Andrew Harris – It’s A Brave New World. Deal With It.

We live in a far better world when it comes to the consumption of entertainment products. As much as the RIAA, the Performing Rights Organisations and the labels still use the smokescreen piracy argument, we are as a matter of fact living in a post piracy world.

The user decides what he or she likes. The user decides how they will tell their friends about what the like. In most cases, it is via social media. And the recording industry is scared of this. It is scared because a social media account has more reach than their marketing efforts. They are scared because the audience is connected to one another and that they are out of the loop.

So when I read an opinion piece from an APRA representative that is all fluff and without any fact, it upsets me. It upsets me because it is misleading. It upsets me because as an APRA AMCOS member, that this line of thinking is the best that they could come up with. Seriously Andrew Harris needs to get his head out of the lies and really take a look at the world. You would expect that a person with a title of Principal Analyst at APRA AMCOS would actually do some analysis.

His whole piece is misleading. From the start to the end.

What streaming services like Spotify have shown is that people that did pirate and paid nothing for the content are now actually contributing to the recording business through the free-ad supported Spotify. It is putting money there where previously it didn’t exist.

There will always be people that will upload and download pirated content in the same way that people bootlegged copyright recordings in the pre-Internet days. Hell, the whole rock and roll movement that swept over the Communist Eastern Bloc in the Sixties’ was from bootlegged recordings.

Furthermore, Napster showed the recording business what music customers want. And 15 years later there still isn’t a legal version of what Napster created. If people want to download mp3’s for free, then allow them to do so legally. If the ads on the pirate sites generated so much money, then why doesn’t the recording industry cater to suit. Instead you get the recording industry with their larger acts locking up their content to capitalise on first week sales because that is still their mentality.

Seriously, since when did copyright infringement become such a dangerous crime to warrant monitoring and surveillance of people’s on line behaviours because the recording industry along with the movie industry are insistent that the privacy of people and their digital footprint needs to be stored and monitored in the name of protecting profits.

The truth is that the recording industry has not delivered on all of the demands of customers.

There are still customers that want to download high quality mp3’s for free. Cater to that market with free advertising and you will see more money enter the record labels pockets.

There are still customers that want to download uncompressed FLAC audio files for free. Cater to that market with free advertising and you will see more money enter the pockets of the record labels. I don’t know how much the artist will end up getting but one thing that is certain, is that the record labels are all cashed up.

And it is possible to compete with free. Free to air TV networks have competed for over 70 years.

Does that mean that sales of a physical product are gone? My answer is NO because fans of bands will always want that special unique deluxe package. The part that some labels like Rat Pak or artists like Coheed and Cambria get and other labels or artists don’t get is that the deluxe package in 2014 is more than a CD with a DVD. Those days are long gone.

In relation to APRA all you need to do is cast your mind back to 2008 when APRA supported an aggressive new copyright law in New Zealand including punishment of persons accused but not proven to be infringing copyright. This position was opposed by artists and APRA members but hey they still thought it was a good idea.

The thing with Andrew Harris and APRA AMCOS is that they get paid when they collect monies on behalf of the songwriters. And the thing is, even though streaming pays the rights holders which in most cases are the Record Labels, where does APRA AMCOS fit in all of this.

The AMCOS arm collects and distributes mechanical royalties for the reproduction of musical works in CD’s, music videos, DVD’s and digital downloads to name a few. So if people are streaming music, what does AMCOS collect? This is from APRA’s sustainability report published in October 2013.

Nowadays, new media accounts for almost 50% of AMCOS revenue, with licensing revenue from digital downloads totalling $26.7m in 2012/13. Revenue from subscription and ad-funded services more than doubled during the year, however, to $1.2m, and most of the world’s major players in that space – including Spotify, Google, Rdio and Deezer –now operate in Australia and NZ.

By comparison, traditional mechanical royalties from the sale of physical product accounted for only $10.5m of AMCOS revenue during 2012/13 – a decline of some $4m over the year – and a figure that is expected to decline further in the immediate future.

And that is the crux of the argument from APRA AMCOS which has been the same argument from the record labels for a long time. Still focused on what they get paid right now without any thought as to what a future with a hundred million paying streaming subscribers could bring to its business. Still focused on CD sales right now instead of a future with a billion subscribers who download mp3’s for free on ad supported legal websites.

It’s a brave new world out there and it is a shame that organisations that make their money from artists/songwriters are not doing their best to push innovation and in turn make more money for their members.

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

Price, Piracy And “The Stealing vs Copyright Infringement” Argument Again

Australia (where I reside) is always mentioned as a leading country that specialises in copyright infringement.

So it comes as no surprise that the latest Attorney General, George Brandis flush with lobbying dollars from Village Roadshow (Village was part of a failed court case two years ago against iiNet, in which the High Court ruled that iiNet as an ISP had not authorised copyright infringements) is pledging to do something about these “pirates”.

You see, Brandis and Village Roadshow are two such entities that have grown up with the notion that because they have made a profit out of the public for a number of years, that it is the duty of the government and the courts to guarantee that such profit remains the same in the future even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to public interest.

If Australia does have a massive problem with piracy, one way to solve it would be to provide a legal alternative that is like “The Pirate Bay”. The evidence is right there in front of the content industries. People like to download content. So why don’t they run ads and allow people to download content for free.

Instead Village Roadshow chief Graham Burke just keeps on lashing out against Google for not doing enough to curb piracy. He lashes out at Google for not doing enough to protect his profits. He keeps on emailing the Attorney General for a graduated response scheme funded by the ISP’s even though evidence from all over the world clearly show that these schemes do not work.

On the point of prices, there is a war going on in Australia right now in relation to the prices that Australian audiences need to pay for movies, software, mp3’s, ebooks and devices. Our consumer watchdog even took the drastic step to tell Australian consumers to use a VPN so that they could alter their IP address.

The main talking point doing the rounds the last few weeks is the price of a movie ticket. In Australia, the main cinemas charge $16 to $20 a ticket while Independent cinemas are charging between the $8 to $12 price range.

Graham Burke (yep that same person mentioned above from Village Roadshow) is on fire. Check out some of his quotes;

“In Australia we pay approximately $23 an hour for our people; in America, where we operate cinemas, it’s $8 an hour.”

Umm, the last time I was at the cinema I was served by 16-year-old workers, who are earning nowhere near the $23 an hour figure. More like $15 an hour.

“It’s like going into a bookshop through the back door, and taking all the books out. It’s something that needs to be addressed and is being addressed in democracies throughout the world.”

No, copyright infringement is nowhere near the same as taking all the books out of a book store. Once the book is taken out of the book store, it is gone forever and no one can use it again. When music is infringed, the copy is still there for others to download and share. No one has taken anything away. All they have done is made a copy.

To put Burke’s argument misleading quote in context, Copyright Infringement is going into a bookstore, copying the book you want and then walking out, leaving the original book still there for others to use, share and copy.

The problem with recorded music is the supply vs demand argument.

Let’s use 30 Seconds To Mars as an example.

Their music is available for downloading, both legally and illegally. Their music is available on YouTube, on official channels and unofficial channels. Their music is available on streaming sites like Pandora, Spotify, Beats, iTunes Radio, Rdio and many others. Their music is available on vinyl and CD.

There is a large supply chain there and the demand is not centered in the one place anymore.

Streaming is the future because consumers want music to be free. This is the cold reality and artists need to accept that.