Copyright, Music, My Stories

Streaming

“Gone are the days of Top 40, it’s now the Top 43,000,”

Daniel Ek

Those 43,000 artists account for the top 10% of the streams on the service. Last year it was a Top 30,000. As the user base grows on streaming services so does the fragmentation. And if artists are thinking that they will dominate in the same way that artists dominated in the MTV monoculture, then they need a mind reset.

“The real thing is that there are more relationships being formed to more artists”

Discovery is happening. You can start off listening to Metallica and end up becoming a fan of a Swedish Rock band in the months ahead. For a consumer, streaming services are enablers, as long as the music of the artist you want to hear is on there.

But there are a limited set of artists as Ek puts it, that are negative.

“Obviously, some artists that used to do well in the past may not do well in this future landscape, where you can’t record music once every three to four years and think that’s going to be enough…

The artists today that are making it realise that it’s about creating a continuous engagement with their fans. It is about putting the work in, about the storytelling around the album, and about keeping a continuous dialogue with your fans.”

I know the album cycle works for a lot of people, because its quantifiable. Release an album and go on tour. Vandenberg released their best album and they can’t tour on it because of COVID-19.

So what’s next for the band to keep the engagement going?

Acoustic releases, some covers of their old stuff or from other bands or another new track in between.

Keep the engagement going. Because that 40,000 artists who make up the top 10% of streamers, will become 50,000 in the next year and then 60,000 and then 70,000.

“I feel, really, that the ones that aren’t doing well in streaming are predominantly people who want to release music the way it used to be released”

That’s fine to do so if you’re happy with that old school release cycle and there is a percentage of your fan base which is also okay with it. But with so much choice, fan devotion to a single artist is not as strong as it was in the past. And even in the past, when the record labels controlled everything pre-Napster, people had hundreds of records and from different artists.

Then again, Taylor Swift’s ‘Folklore’ had 98 million streams in a day. A Spotify streaming record.

The good old day of sales are non-existent and with Copyright terms lasting forever, the person or corporation who holds the rights, will get paid forever for people listening.

This is just on Spotify. The other streaming providers will also have similar numbers and will be paying the rights holders similar amounts for their Top 40,000 artists who make up 10% of the most streamed tracks.

And music is a lottery. No one knows what will stick and break through. Simple economic theory entails that no one is entitled to make a living in music, the same way that every person who sets out to be a professional sports player, doesn’t get there. There are limits to what succeeds and what doesn’t. But at least in music, there is no barrier and everyone can play.

So start playing.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Copyright Sickness

I haven’t done a copyright post for a while, but I haven’t stopped reading on the subject. Because once you have been exposed to the laws of copyright and how those laws are meant to protect the creator but all they do is protect the organisation who holds the rights, well, I just can’t look away. Because the creator never had a proper seat on the negotiation table. In order to get a chance to make music, they had to give away their rights to their music for a long time.

First up is a little snippet on how much an organisation makes by holding on to copyrights. The organisation her is Sony.

For a three month period, Sony was paid just over $654 million for streaming. Now I don’t know about you, but that’s some serious money.

How much of it went to the artists, well that is a different story? And because Sony has a publishing arm, that division also received $375 million. This is $375 million which is meant to go to songwriters.

Again, how much of this makes its way to the songwriters, is unknown?

And I’m not sure if people are aware, but Copyright laws do have a termination clause, which allows an artist to reclaim their copyrights after 35 years have expired.

But the labels like Sony are not letting go easily. So these cases are in the courts, because the labels know that if they don’t have an extensive copyright collection of songs, they have no income. Because at this point in time artists who released big selling albums in 1985 can reclaim their rights to those albums.

Next year, Jon Bon Jovi can reclaim the rights back for “Slippery When Wet” and then he will own his biggest selling album, with all streaming monies to go back to his organisation. The year after, in 2022, Guns’N’Roses, Whitesnake and Def Leppard can reclaim back the rights to “Appetite For Destruction”, “self-titled 87 album” and “Hysteria”.

Do you reckon the labels will allow that to happen so easily?

They will either throw some extra millions at the artist or off to the courts.

And here is another one on payments to musicians.

PRS For Music is an organisation in the UK which collects copyright payments on behalf of songwriters, composers and publishers. For the 2019 year it collected a record £810m. The amount involves a few different segments, like public performance, streaming, radio, TV and international. With public performances being put on hold because of COVID-19, streaming subscriptions are becoming popular.

But the streaming money pie is not distributed evenly. What the labels get and what they pay back to the artists is based on contracts and what monies have been given to the artist vs what needs to be paid back. And if the artist owns their own rights, then they are in position to negotiate better especially if they have had some success in the past. Metallica and Motley Crue come to mind, as artists who own their own rights.

The thing that streaming companies do wrong is that they treat it as a pool of money and then they work out what ratio each artist is entitled to, based on the streams played on the artists songs divided by the total streams for the service.

So even though fans of Metallica, Tool, Def Leppard, Motley Crue, etc, listen to those artists, their subscription monies are also distributed to Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande and all of the rest of those high streamers.

I know as a consumer, I want my subscription fee to go to the artists I actually listen to and not to a central pot, where the money is divided on a percentage basis against every single artist on Spotify. But the system is as fair as it could be right now.

And here is what happens when an IT organisation creates a streaming service to allow music to the spread to the masses because in reality, the labels were negligent in their duty of care to the artists to do it much earlier on.

So for Spotify it’s court case after court case. Because people who contribute nothing to culture and made some serious money because they hold the rights to other artists songs, still want that money train to continue.

There is this dude from the U.S called Jake Noch who has an independent label called Sosa Entertainment and he has his own collecting society called PRO Music Rights.

So Spotify removed his labels recordings from the service because Noch was manipulating the streaming count of his labels music.

This scam is common, where the teams behind artists, create enough streaming accounts to just stream the music of the artist so they get a bigger piece of the pool of monies distributed to the rights holders. Noch didn’t like how Spotify pulled his labels music and he sued. He accused Spotify of “unfair and deceptive practices” and Spotify called him a “fraudster”. And via his collection society PRO Music Rights, he has accused every other streaming service of copyright infringement.

It shows the amount of manipulation involved here by a record label, who hired a bot farmer to set up millions of streaming accounts (all of them on the free ad-supported tier) who would then listen to the songs on the service. 99% of the revenue for Sosa Entertainment came from the free-ad supported tier.

Smells on Payola, it is Payola.

Finally, remember those MTV shows from the 80’s which actually had music videos and interviews. Well the Internet Archive uploaded heaps of em. It shows the early stages of MTV and the steps they took to become a cultural icon. All of the material is from a user’s own VHS tapes of MTV recordings.

But these have been taken down on copyright grounds. Basically an organisation which holds the rights to an artist has made a claim to censor a part of history. Or it could be the VJ themselves via an organisation. Whatever the reasons, history is being censored and locked up. Copyright was never intended to censor. From day one, back to the 1700’s it was to give a creator an incentive to create more works by giving them a monopoly to monetize their works for a certain period of time.

And it gets worse and will only get worse, because after the death of the creator an organisation holds on (in other words, locks up) the copyright for another 70 years after death and they are pushing for another 20 more to take it to 90 years.

P.S. Remember the British invasion in the 60’s and early 70s.

It happened because all of the blues and folk music created between the 1930 and 1940 had expired and become part of the public domain because they all had 28 year terms. Classical music was already in the public domain and a lot of jazz standards were as well.

And suddenly we had artists who pieced all of these styles together.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Treating Fans Like Shit

How Much Should Streaming Services Pay?

A lot of people hate Corey Taylor, but I’m not one of em. I enjoy the music he creates, more with Stone Sour than Slipknot and he has a point of view, a stance, which he shares with the world.

In an interview with the Irish Times which Blabbermouth grabbed and ran with a few months ago, Taylor was asked if SLIPKNOT could live just on royalties from listens.

He said, no they couldn’t survive at the current rates but if the streaming services paid the same publishing rate as radio stations than they could.

In Australia that equates to about $6 per song (for the main cities), as regional cities have a lower fee and then there are separate fees paid for when the song is played, like prime time hours or graveyard hours. In some cases the artists pay to get themselves played and they don’t even know it as it’s charged back to them by the label via miscellaneous expenses.

Also the $6 fee is paid just to the songwriters not the recording act. Since Taylor writes his own songs, he is okay in that department as he would get the payment.

But streaming services charge us $9.99 per month to access a catalogue of music. The math doesn’t work and suddenly piracy looks more appealing of that fee goes up.

Taylor doesn’t have a problem with streaming services for what they are trying to do, but he has a problem with them, when they spend millions of dollars on buildings and then more millions on decking out those buildings for offices and then more millions on flying private and more millions on wages while the artists who bring people to their service are not experiencing the same share of those millions.

But hang on a second, the label he’s signed deals with also spend millions of dollars meant for the artists on the same thing.

Steve Miller said something similar about the recording industry and the RNR Hall Of Fame people at his RNR HoF induction, how they take so much money from the artists and they don’t compensate the artist fairly.

The problem that I have as a fan of music is this;

Artists on a label sell their masters to the record labels for a fee. They are compensated at that point in time. Some for a lot more if they are successful and others for peanuts because they didn’t know any better.

The labels are aware of this power they have and since they are offering the cash, they want a return on investment. So the label benefits in this streaming era because they hold the masters.

Get your masters back like Motley and Metallica and suddenly you will benefit as well.

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

Getting Paid

I’m seeing news articles that Spotify’s payment rate is declining.

But there never was a set payment rate per stream. It was always based on your streams in a pool of streams and what percentage you take in the pool of streams based on countries and the pool of money of available to be paid out and your percentage stake in those monies.

Yep it sounds simple, but it’s creative accounting at its best and the music industry is well known for it.

However there is an argument that with Spotify’s subscribers growing, the payments to artists for the same amount of streams they had in previous years is lower. A normal person would assume that a growing membership, would mean more money in the pool and that would mean a higher payment for the same amount of streams.

As much as I am a fan of Spotify and streaming services in general, all of these organizations also deal in the murky world of creative accounting like the labels.

And Spotify should be worried.

Their business model is based on licensing agreements. Like Netflix’s original business model. But Netflix started doing original content over 10 years ago. Spotify hasn’t.

Because Netflix knew that the companies they license content from, will form their own streaming service one day. In this case, Disney created Disney TV. And I reckon the labels are watching this with interest. If it works out okay for Disney TV, and the costs are low to host a steaming service, then the labels will consider their own streaming service. It’s just a matter of time.

So imagine a world with Universal deciding to do the same as Disney.

Because the labels never cared that people accessed the music of their artists illegally. They used that as part of their PR, to show that they cared about their artists and to get politicians to pass laws to protect their businesses.

What the labels really cared about was losing control of the distribution and the gatekeeper monopoly they had for so long.

So if the labels go into their own streaming offering, they will get back control of the distribution and a sort of monopoly again. And the only way for Spotify to exist if this happens, is to become a label themselves and pay people to generate content instead of paying organizations to access content.

Spotify might not pay artists what they think they should be paid but at least they are getting paid because Spotify has to pay based on the agreements they have with the labels and the legislation in place around royalty rates. If the label and the publishers keep the monies, then the artist has to negotiate a better deal when they sign up for that initial advance payment.

But once the distribution goes back under the labels control, good luck in getting paid because the labels will get all creative and will work out that the artist owes them money instead. And if the labels do work out that there are payments due to the artists, then those payments are based on the contract artists sign with the label.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

How the Labels and the RIAA Rob Creators?

YouTube tells the world that the service pays more in the U.S for Ad-Supported Streaming than other services like Spotify and Pandora. YouTube points out that they pay about $3 per 1000 ad-supported streams in the U.S.

The record labels via their lobby group RIAA disagree with YouTube’s math

Cary Sherman, the RIAA head honcho had this to say on the matter;

“About 400 digital services have been licensed around the world, many with ad-supported features. Comparatively, YouTube pays music creators far less than those services on both a per-stream and per-user basis, and nowhere near the $3 per thousand streams in the U.S. that Lyor (YouTube) claims.”

Okay so if the RIAA is going to dispute the math put out by YouTube, then what is their math.

How much do they get from YouTube per 1000 streams?

The record labels and the publishing/licensing companies are the first to get paid. And nowhere in this debate have these organisations mentioned what they get. I know I have seen thousands of news articles showing what the artists or the song writers get from YouTube streams in their bank account, but the artists are the last to be paid, once the labels and publishing companies take their cuts.

If the record labels via the RIAA want to be taken serious they need to be transparent.

Instead they counter the math from streaming services with fluff. Yes, that same thing found in people’s belly buttons.

They fluff the conversation about a value gap, talking on and on about how YouTube has billions of users and the amount of traffic they generate should equate to higher payments and because it doesn’t, there is a value gap.

They fluff the conversation about DMCA Safe Harbor provisions being a rigged system and how politicians need to create laws to protect the business model of the record labels and in the process destroy innovation on the internet.

Basically, these organisations are doing the same thing they have always done. Lying and scheming to keep their creative accounting in-house and away from the actual people that made these organisations rich. The creators.

Think about it for a second. The streaming services via their own blog mention how much they pay the copyright holder. The very next day, the RIAA or the Record Labels quickly counter it, but they never mention how much they do get?

So the headline of the next article should be “How the labels and the RIAA rob creators?”

 

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Unsung Heroes

Royalties

What happens to the pool of money when more people start to adopt a streaming service?

You see, when more people are listening (either to ad-supported free or subscription services), more money is generated. The higher the amount of money generated, the better the payouts.

What did the music industry have before streaming?

They had the iTunes store and the record labels were still hoping that people would go back to buying CD’s. Otherwise, there was a lot of copyright infringement which led to $0 in income.

So in comes streaming via YouTube at the lowest entry point.

Free for the customer.

The aim of the service is easy. Get millions upon millions of people to use it.

Streaming is a disruptive technology. YouTube demonstrated this and in its early beginnings it didn’t care about copyrights at first. Remember back in 2007 when Viacom sued YouTube for $1 billion, because they claimed that YouTube was nothing more than a piracy site. Sort of like how the VCR was nothing but a piracy tool by the MPAA, or the MP3 player. Yet, all of these services, once they had a chance to grow proved to be a profitable tool for the entertainment industries.

So from YouTube, other streaming services enter the market. They all pay the record labels a license to have music on their service. Freemium was enabled to compete and kill off piracy.

Every stream (regardless if it’s on the free platform or the subscription platform) generates a royalty payment back to the labels. The more people who stream, the bigger the dollars going back to the record labels, copyright collection agencies and the publishers.

If freemium goes away, it doesn’t mean that people will start to pay again. Sort of like how people stopped to pay $18 for CD after Napster and in the process, killed off Tower Records and other brick and mortar shops.

The recording business side of music has already hit rock bottom.

Now the only way is up.

Recorded music revenues are increasing due to the monies coming in from streaming services.

Our move to an on demand culture means that streaming has won.

There will always be the 10% who will never pay for anything. But 90% would. Sometimes they will pay more, sometimes less, sometimes none.

And the artists complaining of getting screwed need to re-negotiate with their labels, who are using the artist catalogue as leverage to;

  • obtain high license fees from the streaming service
  • obtain a share/stake of the streaming service, so when it goes public the labels cash in
  • be paid the 70% royalties from the streaming service

So it’s no surprise that a Publishing company owned by a record label is up in arms over royalty payments that haven’t come to them.

Especially when the record label and publishing company in question, Victory Records are well-known for not paying artists their royalties. I am sure there are accounting issues with the royalty payment system and there are many reasons for that.

Did you know that a lot of money just goes missing in the music industry?

A report from Berklee College of Music estimates that 20 to 50 % of royalty payments get lost in transition and do not make it to the ones who created the songs. The same report puts a $45 billion value to the music industry. When you do the math, you realise that is a pretty big sum that just goes missing.

As the Fusion article states;
“Companies that stream music—like Spotify, Pandora or Apple—pay artists in exchange for playing their songs. Somewhere between the company cutting a check to cover the music and the artist— be they a performer, a songwriter, a sound engineer, or a producer— depositing money into a checking account, dollars are disappearing.”

It’s a well-known fact that the record labels are very creative when it comes to their accounting, and until the industry increases its transparency, there will always be misuse of royalties.

Which leads to stories like this?

In case you don’t want to click on the link, it is the story of James Blunt, who claimed via Twitter that he gets paid £00.0004499368 per stream (converted to dollars he’s getting $0.0006968992 per stream). If it relates to Spotify streams only, then the final payment that Blunt is finally getting is pretty low and is further evidence of the record label and collection agencies skimming a lot from the initial payment.

And if you think you can’t make money from streaming, then read this article.

And where does all of this leave the music fan, cranky as hell as they hear over and over again how they need to pay for music, when in fact we overpay for concert tickets and merchandise. A successful act today is making more dollars than they’ve ever made, however it is less from recordings. And we are looking for ease of use first and foremost. That’s how Spotify killed P2P to begin with, through convenience. And convenience is going to generate a lot of money for the recording industry. Let’s hope they put that money back to the people who deserve it, the creators.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

The Changing Times and The Record Label Business Model of STEALING From The Artist.

I remember waiting in line for an in store appearance of the band Sepultura at Utopia Records back when Utopia Records were situated on Clarence Street, Sydney. It was the early nineties and the in-store had the classic Sepultura line up. My cousin at that time (who was a drummer) had a real bashed in snare skin for Igor to sign, I had a couple of CD’s and a poster and the others all had various forms of music (LP’s or CD’s or drumsticks or guitar cases and so forth).

Sepultura was cult like popular then. They sat in an area that satisfied a few different markets. You had the “betrayed” original Metallica fans. You had fans of the original “thrash” movement. You had fans of the “Death Metal” market. You had fans of the “Extreme Metal Market”. And you had fans of the new “Groove Metal” market. Shredders appreciated them.

I remember asking one of the Utopia guys who was doing line management outside the building, why so many people came to Utopia on a daily basis just for chit-chat. He replied that they come to buy CD’s and I disagreed with him. I told him that nobody wakes up in the morning and says to themselves I need to spend $30 on a CD. We wake up in the morning and we say to ourselves, we want to hear the new Sepultura album, the new Motley Crue album and we want to hear it right now. And in order to hear that song, we HAD to buy a CD or an LP. Because radio sure wouldn’t play it.

So a bit of talking goes back and forth and the Utopia dude goes on to tell me I have no idea what I am talking about as Utopia sell hundreds of thousands CD’s a year.

The recording industry failed to realize that it existed not to sell records or CDs but simply to find the fastest, easiest way to let fans hear the song we wanted to hear. If they realised that, then they would have invented the iPod and iTunes. Instead history shows that a company not even in the music industry, did that instead. And now Apple makes billions of dollars selling music. So going back to my Utopia example, they are nowhere near the force it was back in the early to mid nineties and I wouldn’t be surprised if it shuts its doors eventually (which I hope never happens \:::/).

Apple has been selling tracks at the iTunes store since 2003. Apps, books, movies and TV shows came after. Yet, no one complained about the accounting and to my knowledge no one has sued Apple for unpaid royalties. Artists may complain about Apple taking a 30% cut, however that was the deal.

YouTube and Spotify have been streaming songs from about 2006 and 2008 respectively. Of course there are others on the market as well that offer streaming services like Pandora, Google, Deezer and so on. However, one thing these companies have done is they pay. They honour their deal. Which is the reverse of what the record labels did.

You know, those record labels that got sued by artists for their accounting practices, claiming they’ve been screwed over by the label. You know those record labels famous for paying late or paying at all. You know those record labels for never honouring a deal. You know those record labels that threatened to derail your career and you end up settling for less than you deserve.

What pisses me off is that while people complain about Spotify stream payments and YouTube stream payments and Pandora royalties,  at least these techies are honest in their deals at this point in time. It just seems that the record labels who are the majority rights holders are not passing on the monies.

Because a deal is never a simple deal to the recording business. The labels don’t want simple. The labels don’t want royalties to be computerised because that would mean there is transparency and with transparency, profits would disappear. The major label business model is based on STEALING from the artist. That is why you have artists like Eminem, Dave Coverdale and others suing their labels for unpaid iTunes royalties. That is why you have artists suing their labels for unpaid monies due to creative accounting practices.

Believe me, if an CEO’s pay packet was suddenly short, he’d drop everything and do his best to get it right if the problem wasn’t immediately rectified. But if it’s the artist?

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

What Happened to The Guitar Riff?

The mighty Guitar is still in the forefront of all the main hard rock and metal music. Regardless of what music style came and regardless what technological new medium came to kill it off, (like the Eighties midi craze), the mighty guitar has fought its way back time and time again.

Like a true champion it rises up from the canvas. That sound through glass tubes and cones made from paper. What can beat it?

To quote Dark Helmet, “Absolutely Nothing”.

Try as the trend setters might to eliminate distortion, the power chord and it’s many different versions remain unique. The human feel of a guitar is the essential element that makes a song unique and intimate enough to form a connection with a listener. You don’t see people growing up wanting to be clarinet and flute players.

It is an integral part of culture, both past and present. Think of Jimi Hendrix burning one or Pete Townsend smashing one or Randy Rhoads playing that immortal polka dot guitar or Eddie Van Halen’s Frankenstein guitar.

Think of all of the album covers that featured a guitar;

Dire Straits – “Brothers In Arms”
Stryper – “To Hell With The Devil”
Def Leppard – “On Through The Night”
AC/DC – Take your pick of the many classic album covers that involve Angus and his trusty Gibson SG.
The Cult – “Sonic Temple”
Van Halen – “Women And Children First”
Bruce Springsteen – “Born To Run”
Jeff Beck – “Guitar Shop”
MSG – “Built To Destroy”
Boston – The self titled debut and “Dont Look Back” covers are iconic.

At the moment, the number 1 hits around the world are “The Monster” by Eminem/Rihanna, “Timber” by Pitbull/Keisha and Happy by Pharrell Williams. Not a lot of guitar in those songs and if there is guitar, it is in the background, relegated to a support act.

It is not the main instrument in popular culture anymore.

The guitar is disappearing from popular culture.

So what happened.

So what happened to that riff that connects. The one that we can play air guitar to.

Commercial sensibilities are trumping artistic sensibilities.

Rock and Metal bands are churning out songs. Good songs. Great choruses. But no definitive riff. We hum the melodies, we tap the groove, but we don’t do the der, der, derr on the riff. For those who don’t know what the “der, der der” is, it is “Smoke On The Water” from Deep Purple.

Avenged Sevenfold came close with the “Hail To The King” album. Pissed off a lot of people in the process. They called them copycats. But they had the balls to create a classic rock album. And Classic Rock albums are created from influences.

Machine Head nailed it with “Be Still and Know” and “Unto The Locust”. But because of their niche, popular culture would never even know about it. Too ignorant to care.

Maybe it is the downtuning. Maybe it is the speed. Maybe it is the focus on the melody to be catchy.

One thing is certain, there are no riff driven songs, with a great hook doing 100,000,000 streams on Spotify. All of those numbers belong to Imagine Dragons, Avici, Daft Punk and a whole host of EDM artist and pop artists that have songs written by Max Martin.

And one last thing, for all the doubters that Spotify is hurting artists.

Check out this story.

Yep an independent artist that uses Tunecore as its digital distributor has earned from September 2010 to November 2013, $334,636 for over 57 million plays. It’s easy money earned by people listening to his music on a consistent basis. It’s that simple. It’s that pure. We create music so people can listen to it. First and foremost. And Spotify along with YouTube are here, telling the creators which songs are being listened too.

Isn’t that a great thing.

But hey, Spotify doesn’t pay artists said the old guard. Bullshit I say.

Spotify pays. It pays well. It is the record labels that don’t filter it down to the artists. It is the same old argument like before of Record labels not paying artists.

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

Entertainment Industries Innovation V4.0 – When Will “Smoke On The Water” enter the Public Domain?

As a fan of music and the public domain it’s hard to understand why longer copyright durations are requested from the Corporations that control/hold the majority of copyrights. The majority of the music that I like was under copyright when I was born and by the time I die, it will still be under copyright. So how is that benefiting the creator in creating more works (who will be long gone) and the public who are meant to build off previous works because that is how culture thrives.

Remember, copyright was designed to give the creator a monopoly on their works for a certain period of time so that the creator can monetize their work, which in turn provides an incentive to create further works.

So without really realising it, we (the public) have a copyright law that more or less lasts a lifetime.

Let’s use “Smoke On The Water” as an example. It was released in 1972. Copyright on the work is meant to last the lifetime of the songwriters plus 70 years. The male life expectancy is 80 years. The songwriters listed for “Smoke On The Water” are Richie Blackmore, Ian Gillan, Ian Paice, Roger Glover and Jon Lord (RIP).

Let’s start with Jon Lord. Due to his death in 2012, his copyright in the song will expire in 2082. However the song will still remain under copyright due to the later deaths of the other members.

Let’s assume that all of the members live to the life expectancy age of 80 years old. That would mean Richie Blackmore, Ian Gillan and Roger Glover would have an end date of 2025. Add another 70 years to that and the copyright that they hold in the song would expire in 2095. However at this point in time the song is still under copyright.

Ian Paice is born in 1948, therefore his life expectancy end date would be 2028. Add another seventy years to that and the copyright monopoly held by the corporations on “Smoke On The Water” will finally expire in 2098, 126 years after the song was released. That is when, the public (provided that no more retroactive extensions are added) are allowed to use the song to build other works and derivative versions.

So the next time a copyright maximalist insists that copyright has an expiry date, tell them they are full of it. Copyright in reality has no expiry date during our life time. Remember in the US, the “Copyright Term Extension Act” extended the copyright of old works that should have been in the Public Domain to 2019.

And guess what the copyright corporations are gearing up for?

Yep, you guessed it. They are gearing up for another secret lobby/bribery effort to extend it. Using PIRACY as their weapon of choice, the lobby groups are pushing hard for the Government to step in and protect their business models.

Maybe they should focus on paying their artists accurately and properly. A story over at Hollywood Reporter, mentions about how Sony Music Entertainment is getting sued by the music company “Thursday by 19 Recordings” for royalties not paid, to the tune of $10 million. The interesting part of the case is how the record labels treat streaming payments.

The lawsuit is making the claim that streaming payments to the artists need to be classified as licensed works and not as sold works. The difference between royalty payments for licensed works and sold works is huge.

On what about this for a piece of innovation from the entertainment industries. Poor old LeaseWeb, the web hosting provider. One if it’s clients was Megaupload.com. As we all know, Megaupload was taken down in an Osama Bin Laden style raid in a classic example of overreach by the entertainment industries. The law enforcement bodies took action on this case based on evidence provided/lobbied by the Entertainment Industries namely the MPAA. Anyway, fast forward to 2014 and LeaseWeb is now being sued for allowing the hosting of websites that infringed on copyrights. While we are at it, let’s sue the car manufacturers for allowing us to infringe on the speed limits.

In Australia, the Attorney General, George Brandis wants the ISP’s to outlay money and carry the burden of protecting the business models of the entertainment industries. How about the entertainment industries releasing content on time and at a reasonable price. Graduated response schemes haven’t worked in France, the US and New Zealand, so let’s keep on pushing for them.

And to make this story even more interesting, the lobby group that is pushing for this three strikes rule has donated close to AU$4 million to the Liberal and Labor parties since 1998.

The Australian Screen Association (ASA), formerly known as the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) who is well-known for the triple knockdown they received from iiNet in the courts. So of course, since the 2012 ruling, ASA has lobbied the government hard for a graduated response scheme. ZDNet did a great piece on this around the donations.

Keeping with the Australia theme, I just finished reading a story over at News.com.au about how Foxtel (the ONLY Pay TV provider in Australia) is planning on taking on the people who pirate “Game of Thrones” with a new cut-price plan. Before we get into the new cut price plan, it’s important to set the scenario.

Foxtel holds the exclusive rights to the “Game of Thrones” season 4 run in Australia. This means that the only legal way to watch the fourth series of “Game Of Thrones” in Australia is to pay for a subscription. Nice innovation.

Obviously this is an unpopular choice. No one wants to take out an expensive Pay TV subscription just for a TV show that has a 10 week run. Foxtel has another package called Foxtel Play, which is pay TV over the internet.

So Foxtel is saying to people, hey, if you have a Foxtel Play account, which costs $25 a month for a package based on a genre and of course the movie genre/Showtime is not included in that package, however if you chuck in another $35 over three months, you can watch “Game Of Thrones” legally.

So in reality, that three month run is going to cost a fan of the show, $110 to watch Game of Thrones legally in Australia. That is $75 (from the $25 a month for a Foxtel Play package that will still continue after the shows run is over) plus the $35 for the Showtime channel.

Yep, that is typical innovation from the entertainment industries.

Or how about the comments from John Landgraf, CEO of FX Network and Rick Cotton, Senior Counsellor of IP protection at NBC Universal.

“The legal copy of a property that’s been placed online can then be pirated.”

Yep, much the same way a legal DVD and Blu-Ray can be copied. Much the same way a legal airing of the TV show can be copied. Much the same way a legal VHS cassette could be copied.

Yep, sounds like typical innovation from the entertainment industries to me. I also like the part how they are trumping up the stats that piracy websites make a whopping $4.4 million annually on ads. If that is the case, then why don’t the entertainment industries offer the same service as the piracy websites do and make that same money. That is one way to compete with free. The reason why they don’t do it, is that the licensing deals they have around the world is worth way more. A lot more.

The audience for entertainment products has changed. Napster changed everything. That happened almost 15 years ago. So why haven’t the entertainment industries given the audience what Napster did 15 years ago.

http://m.theaustralian.com.au/business/latest/brandis-mooted-piracy-crackdown-riles-up-isps/story-e6frg90f-1226831754567

http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/tv/game-on-foxtel-takes-on-game-of-thrones-pirates-with-new-cutprice-plan/story-e6frfmyi-1226835839975

http://www.zdnet.com/au/lobby-pushing-for-australian-piracy-crackdown-donates-millions-7000026421/

http://variety.com/2014/digital/news/nbc-universal-fx-chiefs-call-for-increased-anti-piracy-measures-1201111186/

http://www.vcpost.com/articles/21728/20140219/digital-citizens-alliance-report-shows-piracy-websites-also-make-a-whopping-4-4m-annually-on-ads.htm

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

The War Between Streaming and Black Box Revenue – Will The Record Labels Kill The Streaming Star?

The public has voted. It prefers streaming. The war is over. Case Closed. Maybe not.

Spotify pays millions to copyright holders. Now unless the artist is a DIY artist who controls their own copyright, most of the copyright holders are the major labels. So if the major labels are getting the millions each year for the blanket license to access their catalogues, where is that money going.

There is a term doing the round, called “Black Box Revenue.” This is the name given to income that the record labels collect that cannot be directly tracked to the recordings of a specific artist.

To put it all into context, streaming services pay the labels and upfront fee to access their catalogues. In addition, they then pay the labels royalties for each stream.

In time, this streaming system will be challenged by artists, much the same way the mp3 sales system was challenged by Eminem and other artists like Whitesnake, Rob Zombie and the band White Zombie.

In all of these cases, the artists said that their record label violated their contracts by counting a digital download as a sale instead of a licensing. Most artists get a royalty of 10 percent for the sale of a CD, minus a lot of deductions, while licenses pay a royalty of 50 percent and in most cases are not subject to any deductions.

When the same thing happens to the labels streaming revenue, the long-term viability of streaming services will be less than certain.

The main part of streaming that the critics and the record labels fail to understand is that it is a tool that is in place now, to PROVIDE REVENUE STREAMS later.

Of course the record labels and the executives in charge are all about the NOW, and a lot of their label rosters are designed for the NOW, so they don’t have time to allow things to grow. Spotify is growing in users, however the company still hasn’t made a profit after so many years in operation. The streaming system employed by the record labels that I mentioned above doesn’t allow it to make a profit.

Spotify wants to reduce piracy to ZERO. At the moment the critics of Spotify like Thom Yorke are complaining that it simply doesn’t pay enough. The truth is, creators have always been ripped off. However, if a song is great and it gets some traction, expect it to pay well.

Daft Punk passed 100 million downloads. The $700,000 that comes with that in streaming payments is enough for a band to live off, however artists see very little of the dollars paid to the record labels for the right to stream their content.

However with YouTube dominating in music, why do people need Spotify? Actually, Thom Yorke has no issues with YouTube, an unofficial streaming platform which is interesting. So I am thinking that Thom Yorke’s issue is with the record labels stake in Spotify.

Personally, I am quite content to listen to three songs on Spotify and get an ad break. I have no interest in paying for a package even if Spotify caps the limit of free songs I can listen to in a month. I will just move to YouTube when that happens, or to my iTunes library or to my physical collection of LP’s and CD’s.

What about the songwriters who write the songs? How do they get paid in the streaming age. It’s simple. They get paid, the same way everyone else gets paid that provides a service. Songwriters need to stop being greedy. What they need to do is hand in the song, get paid the agreed monies and off they go, writing more songs for artists. If a songwriter gets paid $1000 for each song they hand in, then they know they need to write 50 songs in order to earn $50,000. If one of the songs gets traction and gets 100 million streams, the songwriters should be using that as a piece of promotion and up their song writing fee. It’s simple business practices.

It is a revolution that we are experiencing.

Musicians can still make a living. Is it harder now compared to the past? My answer is NO. Musicians always had to work hard to get somewhere, that part hasn’t changed and it will never change.

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