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

Money Pool

“One of the biggest myths about being a rockstar would probably obviously be the word ‘rockstar’ itself. You know — that everything is given to you. You make free records, or you win a Grammy, or you have a platinum record and then everything’s sort of easy. I remember when we first got signed in 1995 in my mind I thought, ‘Wow, we made it.’ and then I realized that we left our town of Sacramento and went to the Midwest of America and we’re playing for 2-3 people a night sometimes.”
Chino Moreno – DEFTONES 

Def Leppard released two albums before they started to write the songs for “Pyromania”. And to top it off, they had a 700,000 pound debt to the record label. Bon Jovi had a US$500K debt to their label and still living at home with their parents when Jon and Richie started to write the “Slippery When Wet” album in the basement of Sambora’s mothers place.

“I mean, somewhere along the way, people just played music for the love of playing music and somebody else recognizes that you can make money from it, and it’s been a developing thing to the point where, in the ’90s, music business was making so much money that it was bigger than the movie industry, bigger than any of the entertainment industries. There’s the business and there’s the music. I was raised in the business and I remember seeing how there were clashes between people — this is the way to make money and da da da… there was so much money involved. And then the Internet came along and just F–#d the whole thing up. So now the industry is struggling to figure out how to make money off of it and artists have actually gone to the point of conforming to the industry — how they can make money — so they’re all working together. I think there’s still this whole creative side that hasn’t changed which doesn’t really want to fit into that category, but it’s hard to make a living. So a lot of people do that by playing clubs. But it’s just harder, the opportunities are different from when I started.”
SLASH 

All hell broke loose in the late nineties. According to the recording industry and the media outlets that spin their garbage, Napster killed everything. But music is powerful and fans still gave their favourite artist money. It was just a shame the recording industry didn’t know how to deal with it or how to track what was popular via the pirate sites and try to monetize those fans. And we all know how the recording industry responded.

“When we started, being in a rock band was one step away from being an outlaw. No one ever said, ‘Oh good, you’re playing in a rock band, how wonderful!’ But music was so important to the fans, that was our marching music to the revolution. Stuff moves along, technology moves along. I think there’s still going to be an excitement created by seeing your favourite performer live. It might not be the kind of music that you and I like, or Gene likes, but it’s still going to be there.”
Joe Perry – AEROSMITH

And the kerfuffle with bootlegged CD’s at Amazon. That is another recording industry screw up. Fans purchased a product that they believed was legit.

“On a commercial level, rock and roll is all safe, but underneath all that, there is a great hard-core young movement that is doing rock and roll in earnest. It’s just that the way the business is right now, it’s so corporate that none of these bands will get a shot to do what I got to do, you know? Be discovered in a club and have an A&R person develop the band and get them ready to go into the studio and make a record. And then make a second, third record ’till they really come into their own. Now it’s all about commercial one-hit wonders, and it’s a whole different industry now. But there’s a lot of great rock and roll bands out there that have to go the way it should be done; for the passion and not for the money. It’s not for the glamor of it but because you love it. A lot of people are doing it because they have an agenda.”
SLASH 

And almost 20 years later, the song remains the same. The youngsters surge forward into the future with little experience and plenty of hope. The only difference is they document it via social media. Back when I was growing up, we did it anonymously.

“Any useful technology that’s successfully adopted by a culture won’t be abandoned. Ever. The technology might be replaced by a better alternative, but society doesn’t go backwards. After books were accepted, few went back to scrolls. After air conditioning is installed, it’s never uninstalled.”
Seth Godin

Streaming has won and artists are recognizing the difference between “one” sale transaction and the unknown of how many times that person listened to the music vs a person listening to the music multiple times via a streaming site.

Streaming has been adopted and the majority of people are not going back to vinyl, CD’s, cassettes or mp3’s in the same way the majority of people are not going back to Kodak cameras with films or purchasing an expensive camera when their phones will do a job that is “good enough” and “convenient”.

I’m still in between. I love the convenience of streaming however there is a part of me that still yearns to have an actual product of my favourite band on a shelf. I am sure my kids would dump my music collection after I pass, but while I am alive, I am still a collector, but a picky collector.

“It’s really not fair when an artist is making a deal based upon ‘take it or leave it.’ I don’t believe that most artists are getting what they deserve; they’re getting what they can. And that’s a–backwards. That’s the tail wagging the dog. When somebody is, in essence, saying, ‘I will do this with or without you’ — well, you don’t have much to stand on, and that’s the unfairness. That’s the injustice of the Internet.”
Paul Stanley – KISS

With more people streaming and paying for a subscription, the pool of monies will grow.

Money was low when vinyl came out. Not everyone had surplus cash to purchase vinyl in 1948. Eventually as the economies rebuilt post WW2, people started to spend money on “entertainment”. By the time Paul Stanley got into the music business, vinyl was over 20 years in the market and there was a lot of cash to go around. Then the vinyl cash dwindled until CD’s became the cash king and the record labels rode that wave until Napster came and showed them what people want.

Let’s judge streaming in 2030.

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit, Unsung Heroes

Death, Money, Consistency and Originality

DEATH

AJ Pero died a few days ago. That iconic drum beat at the start of “We’re Not Gonna Take It” that was him. A.J Pero wasn’t the pretty boy in the band that is for sure. He was the street dog that could groove. Dee Snider might have grabbed all the fame but that doesn’t mean that A.J Pero wasn’t a star. If he didn’t roll, the Twisted machine didn’t rock. And man he was a perfect fit for Adrenaline Mob as well.

Remember that it is tough being in the music business. A.J Pero from what I know didn’t write not one song however he had a career that spanned 40 plus years. It’s because he didn’t get into music for the riches and the fame. He got into music because he loved it and he kept that love going for his whole career. He even died while on tour.

RIP.

And the piece d’resistance A.J. Pero song for me is “The Fire Still Burns” from the “Come Out And Play”.

MONEY

I really enjoyed Revolution Saints and when I looked at the song writing credits, it’s all Alessandro Del Vecchio. There is not ONE Doug Aldrich credit. Maybe the money incentive to do Revolution Saints from Sergio Perufino was too good compared to what Whitesnake had on offer.

Speaking of money, everyone reckons Metallica is losing it. Maybe its true and maybe it’s not. But what I do know is that in every business as soon as you forget about the tasks that bring in the bread and butter, two things begin to happen. Stagnation and bankruptcy. Leave the festivals to the promoters and leave the movies to Hollywood. Metallica’s bread and butter is music and it has been now 7 years since we had any new tunes from them.

Continuing with the money topic, the recording industry wants to rip apart Spotify’s freemium model.

Which is typical?

Instead of working with Spotify to make the premium option super enticing that fans of music feel the need to purchase a subscription, they want to make the premium option the freemium option and place restrictions on the freemium option. What’s even worse, studies are coming out showing that the spending on streaming music is outperforming CD sales. And in countries that adopted streaming much earlier than the U.S and Australia, streaming is even outperforming digital sales.

I had this debate with others. A lot of people would be happy to pay an annual subscription amount to listen to music of their favourite artists, provided that they KNOW that the money would be divided among those artists and not others.

This is typical of the recording business, trying to be paid multiple times for the same product. That is why all of the record labels had class action suits brought against them from artists. The label is applying the same vinyl math to digital music and the artists don’t like it.

CONSISTENCY

Getting people to pay attention just once is not enough. The ones that have a music career have done it over again and again and again. Quiet Riot got me hooked with “Metal Health” and then disappointed the fans with “Condition Critical”. Then they disappointed the fans even more with the one after “Condition Critical”. So guess what happened to them. They started a steep downhill slide.

Meanwhile, Motley Crue hooked people in with “Too Fast For Love” and then blew them away with “Shout At The Devil”.  Then, even though they kept on making albums, they became a video/singles band, with “Smokin In The Boys Room”, “Home Sweet Home”, “Girls, Girls, Girls” and “Wild Side” making decent inroads into our head spaces. There was still enough consistency there, that when “Dr Feelgood” came out, it blew us away.

Metallica was the same. “Kill Em All” was different and energetic however it was a tribute album to the NWOBHM. “Ride The Lightning” kept that energy and started to make it technical. “Master Of Puppets” refined the “Ride The Lightning” format and then “And Justice For All” took it to a whole new progressive technical thrash level. Then the paradigm shift happened and groove was back in with the self-titled “Black” album.

Currently, bands like Five Finger Death Punch, Volbeat, Avenged Sevenfold and Shinedown are showing that they are no one album/hit wonders. Machine Head was a bit inconsistent after “Burn My Eyes”, but since “Through The Ashes of Empires” they have been on song and in the process, Robb Flynn re-established the Machine Head brand.

ORIGINALITY

I am a great believer that original music is a sum of the creator’s influences. That craziness over a stupid Marvin Gaye song and his greedy heirs has reinforced my views.

For the last time YOU CANT COPY A FEEL OF THE SONG.

In other words, all music is derivative. The aim is to make it sound fresh. Look at the biggest albums or biggest songs of any bands career and you will hear similarities to other works.

Metallica’s piece d’resistance album amongst fans is “Master Of Puppets”.

We all know that “Welcome Home” is an amalgamation of songs from an obscure NWOBHM band and Rush. The format/flow of the album is based on “Ride The Lightning”. The songs are also constructed in the same way. Even their biggest selling album led off with a riff that was taken from another obscure skate punk metal band albeit this one being from California instead of England.

“The Unforgiven” had the same chords in the Chorus as the “Fade To Black” verses. “One” had an intro that was taken from “Fade To Black” and “Fade To Black” had an intro taken from “Goodbye Blue Sky” from Pink Floyd. And it goes on and on.

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Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity

The Copyright Pension/Annuity

When I started to write my own songs back in the late Eighties, copyright was not even in my mindset. You see, when you start to do something creative you do it because there is a sense of fulfillment and a desire to create.

From my own experiences, I never sat down with my guitar and said to myself, “Gee, lucky for me, there is a copyright law in place that lasts my whole lifetime, plus another seventy years after I die, to give me an incentive to create”.

Those kinds of thoughts never enter the mindset.

Which brings me to today and how the very nature of what Copyright is has been hijacked by large corporations and greedy next of kins.

The whole “Blurred Lines” case is a joke. For the record, it is a crap song that made a lot of cash. So what we have is a jury deciding if a song sounds similar to another song and for them to decide that it does sound similar, it more or less indirectly infers that Marvin Gaye was so original that his song “Got To Give It Up” came out of some celestial vacuumed place that only Marvin Gaye had access to. However, everyone knows that is not the case. All artists are the sum of their influences.

And what a said state of affairs for Copyright. You have the heirs of Marvin Gaye, who haven’t contributed anything to the arts and are living off the proceeds of a stupid law that extends Copyright 70 plus years after death. There are millions upon millions of songs out there that sound similar, however once a song makes some serious cash, the knives come out.

What I took out of the court case and what bodes well for music in general is the amount of money the track made.

$5.6 million in profits went to Robin Thicke while $5.2 million to Pharrell Williams, $700,000 to the other writer T.I. and the rest of the $16.7 million in overall profits went to the  record companies Interscope, UMG Distribution and Star Trak. Since Napster, we have been hearing the same rhetoric from the recording industry and out of touch artists.

Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley are renowned for their viewpoints on rock being dead and piracy killing off any chance a new artist has of making some money. Scott Ian wanted to disconnect people from the Internet. Nuclear Blast want to shakedown people who downloaded the music from “All Shall Perish”.

Meanwhile the record labels kept the propaganda machine going that they just can’t make any money because of piracy. So here is just one song that has made close to $17 million dollars in profits. One song, remember that.

So it goes back to the same old saying, create something that people gravitate too and watch it make you money. There is a shitload of money out there if artists can create a great song that people gravitate to.

Actually speaking of plagiarism, listen to the “Funky Town” vocal melody and then listen to the verse vocal melody in Kiss’s “Lick It Up”. They are identical. Hell, the whole “Sonic Highways” album from Foo Fighters is a case of influences. Same goes for the whole “Hail To The King” album from Avenged Sevenfold. Let’s add  “Kill Em All” from Metallica which was more or less a rip off the NWOBHM movement. Subsequent Metallica songs afterwards would further borrow from other cult/unknown artists.

Recently Five Finger Death Punch lifted “The Ultimate Sin” verse vocal melody and used it for the “Lift Me Up” verse. Dave Mustaine did the same both musically and vocally by lifting “Children Of The Grave” and using it for “Kingmaker.”

Thank god that Dave Grohl, A7X, Five Finger Death Punch, Dave Mustaine or Metallica didn’t decide to let a Marvin Gaye song influence them, otherwise they would be in the courts as the well.

I think it is pretty safe to say a lot of songs sound the same regardless of genre. I see it more as a tribute than a rip off and to be honest in no way does the new composition take away from the original. For example, there is no way that “Something From Nothing” from the Foo Fighters takes away from Dio’s “Holy Diver”.

But when you have a whole copyright industry that makes money of the works created by others, you get a lot of bullshit happening, especially when a song makes a lot of money.

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

The Costs Of Entertainment Today

Last Tuesday, January 13, I took the family to watch Australia’s game vs Oman at the Asian Cup. To do anything family related is a hit on the budget.

The tickets cost me in total  $171.50 which is broken down by $98 ($49 per adult) and $73.50 ($24.50 for a child).

Apparel at the game cost me $140 for 2 kids T Shirts and 1 female T-shirt.

The parking at the venue cost me $25.00.

Mt Franklin Water cost me $33.60 for 7 bottles at $4.80 each.

Coke Zero cost me $5.60 for a can.

Hot Chips cost me $30 for 5 little round boxes sold at $6 each.

A Chicko Roll costed $5.50.

A Stadium Hot Dog costed $6.20.

A pack of Kettle Chips costed $6.00.

A pack of Honey Soy Chips costed $5.50.

All up the whole day with the tickets came up to about $430.

10 days prior on January 3rd, I also took the family to watch a local A-League football game between Sydney FC and Newcastle Jets. Tickets for that event cost me $61.33 for the family. Parking was at zero cost (on the street with a 20 minute walk) and food/drink costs me $50 in total.

So in total I have spent about $540 on football/soccer related events for the month of January so far. To add to that expense, when I purchased the tickets for Australia’s group match against Oman, I also purchased tickets for the Semi Final and the Final. So those events are coming up on the horizon and thanks to some dumb and arrogant decisions from coach Ange Postecoglou, Australia didn’t finish top of their group, so instead of “hopefully” watching a semi final match with Australia playing, they now end up on the other side of the draw and play at different stadiums.

January is also the month when we gear up for the start of school, plus the registrations for all the winter sports (and gear purchases). So from a family point of view, the costs are adding up, plus we are coming off the Christmas craziness of credit card debt that we still need to contend with.

However, the recording industry and entitled artists are so out of touch that they don’t understand that society in general feels a lot of pain when it comes to money.

We also have a lot of other outlets when it comes to entertainment and events. The more that the recording industry bitches about piracy and lobbies so that ISP’s send copyright notices and track our online behaviour, the more the fans of music just give their money elsewhere.

Normally this time each year, I am purchasing tickets to Soundwave Side shows. That has been the norm every year for the last 5 years. I don’t go to a festival because I see it as a waste of time and a real uncomfortable experience to watch only a few bands that I might like.

However, this year, I don’t really like any of the bands that much to go and watch them. So that money that I used for the music industry is instead going to football.

One last thing about all of the arguments about free music and competing with free.

Water is a natural product and it ends up coming out of our sinks for next to no cost at all. However, the water companies like Mt Franklin have found a way to make us pay a premium for bottled water.

One day an artists with a progressive thinking record label will find their own unique way to make the same happen for music.

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

Disruption Eruption

In life we are being disrupted all the time.

Music is no different.

The biggest challenge to artists is that it’s so much harder to reach people because everyone today has a voice. In the heyday of metal and rock it was all about scarcity. You know the drill. The bands and the labels were all about making it to the top of the heap and then once they got there, they aimed to dominate that heap.

The funny thing is that once the bands got to that heap, they would seem to implode and deliver their least valued work.

Pantera worked for years to get to top of the heap. “Cowboys From Hell” opened the door for domination, “The Vulgar Display Of Power” provided the steps to the top of the heap and “Far Beyond Driven” provided the motion to get to the top of the heap. As Vinnie Paul once said in a Metal Hammer interview, “Pantera could have been metal’s next Rolling Stones”. “The Great Southern Trendkill” came after and continued that domination however the fabric of the band was already tearing apart. “Reinventing The Steel” came next and the band split after that.

Metallica on the other hand delivered their least valued work after they reached the top of the heap with the “Black” album.

Twisted Sister struggled for years to get to the top of the heap. They where selling out local bars however they couldn’t get a record deal. In that Seventies and Eighties era you needed a label to go national. Finally, they got that major label deal. It all started via an Independent label called Secret, which led to the European division of Atlantic Records showing interest and eventually signing them, which then led to the U.S arm of Atlantic taking over.

They got on MTV and went multi-platinum.

Then they lost it all. Dee Snider filed for bankruptcy and so did Jay Jay French.

After the fall from the top, both Dee Snider and Jay Jay French had to pick up and start from the beginning again. An old saying always comes back into my head space. It’s not how hard you fall but how you get back up. In the end, failure is never final, however if you allow it to be, then it will be. Jay Jay had to take a job selling stereos before Sevendust came into the scene in the mid nineties and asked him to produce their first album. Dee Snider ended up with a “Reason To Kill” during this period.

The dirty little secret is that one year’s success does not guarantee the next year’s success. It doesn’t in sport, so why should it be any different when it comes to music. If money was the end game, then Jay Jay French made more money producing the Sevendust album than what he did while he was with Twisted Sister.

So what does that say about the correlation between success and money?

It says that while a band is successful, most of the money is going to others. Only when the band is at the stage of Metallica or Motley Crue who both own their masters/copyrights, do the economics change. Otherwise why do you think Tom Scholz from Boston and Don Henley from the Eagles and Jim Steinman for “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” are putting in motions to get back their copyrights. And why do you think the record labels are resisting even though the law states clearly that the labels have to return the copyrights back to them.

It’s all about negotiation power.

The labels don’t want to lose it and the artists that have the big songs want it.

Which means another disruption is around the corner?

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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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