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

COPYRIGHT = Powerful Organisations Fighting Over Who Gets The Biggest Slice Of The Pie

The artists have the power. They are the ones that create the works, the songs. But it is the rights holders of the artist’s work (otherwise known as the Copyright Holders, aka, Record Labels) that are trying to organise deals with ISP’s, the Courts, technology start-ups, streaming services and the Government. They are the gatekeepers in the middle and they are more richer than they have ever been.

They are flush with cash. The internet was supposed to level the playing field against the major labels but it only made them stronger.

Why?

Because they are using their massive catalogs as leverage against streaming services and other technological start-ups. Much in the same they used their power against artists. And all of this because the artists sold away their power so that they could be given the chance to record and be a star. Like today, companies like Spotify are selling their shares to the record labels so that they could operate.

In Australia, the Attorney General’s Department is trying to make the ISP’s the RIAA Surveillance Force.

If anyone should be organising these deals it should be the ARTISTS/PERFORMERS with the USERS/CONSUMERS. No Corporations in the middle should be involved.

But that is not the case.

Because the Record Labels have benefited greatly from this Government created monopoly. Even in the U.S, the House of Representatives judiciary subcommittee will be meeting to discuss music licensing. The RIAA will be there, streaming services like Spotify and Pandora will be there and the music licensing groups will be there.

But why are they all there?

They are all there to ensure they get as large a slice as they can from the Copyright pie. Hell, YouTube is starting a streaming service and they are negotiating for lower rates than their competitors

Bad form.

As usual, missing in all of these Copyright discussions is the PUBLIC and the ARTISTS.

Copyright was created to promote progress in science and useful arts. It was never created to be a social welfare tool and it was definitely not created to enrich corporations and turn them into powerful monopolies.

Copyright laws need changing but that will never happen as the ones (RIAA, Record Labels) that control the money, will stand to lose a lot of it. That is why these corporations are NOT looking at ways to make Copyright better. They are just looking at ways to get the biggest slice of the current pie when it comes to Copyright.

Hey, pretty pretty
With the sweet sweet eyes
Order me up another slice of your pie

– “Slice Of Your Pie” – Motley Crue

Advertisements
Standard
A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Derivative Works, My Stories

Talking About Riffs – Progress Is Derivative (The Non-Metal Version)

Okay so what do we know.

We know that Robin Thicke released a song called “Blurred Lines” that ended up going nuclear all over the world. That means a lot of dough to share around.

We know that the family of Marvin Gaye have lawyered up with King and Ballow to sue Robin Thicke and song publisher EMI April/Sony/ATV for copyright infringement.

They claim that Robin Thicke committed copyright infringement on Gaye’s “After the Dance” to create his song “Love After War.”

They also claim that Thicke’s “Make U Love Me” shares a similar bridge and identical lyrics to Marvin Gaye’s “I Want You.”

They also claim that “Blurred Lines” was stolen from Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up”. To muddle the waters even more, allegations also abound that “Blurred Lines” was also derived from Funkadelic’s “Sexy Ways.”

It is pretty obvious that the family of Marvin Gaye don’t care about derivative progress. All they care about is money. This is not about protecting Marvin Gaye and his legacy. A legacy is protected by people and fans of music. By simply having the conversation that “Blurred Lines” sounds similar is proof that Marvin Gaye’s legacy is protected.

Listening to “Blurred Lines” and reading the reviews of the song, you know it got me interested to check out Marvin Gaye and that is what matters in today’s times. Are people listening to the music?

Of course this lawsuit isn’t just about copyright infringement. There is an argument put forward against EMI, about how they strong armed the Gaye family, about how they planted false stories in the media, about conflicts of interest (due to EMI controlling both copyrights), about professional misconduct and breaches of contract

Of course the argument put forward by Thicke and EMI is that the genres of the songs are the same however the notes are different and as far as they are concerned no infringement occurred.

Regardless of how people view this argument. One thing is clear.

The family of Marvin Gaye have been ill-advised. Even if they win the lawsuit, they still lose “financially” in the long run.

The only financial winners here are the attorneys.

The Gaye family will lose out in the long run because artists will stop referencing Marvin Gaye. Once people stop referencing Marvin Gaye this will then lead to people not talking about him. He will be absent from the conversation. The only reason why this has all come up, is that people have talked about the similarities. The Gaye family even used those conversations as part of their counterclaim.

So once people stop talking about someone, in time that person/artist will be forgotten.

The shenanigans carried out by the Gaye family is a far cry to what happened to Bobby Parker. For those that don’t know, Bobby Parker was a blues rock guitarist that passed away recently at the age of 76. He wrote a song called “Watch Your Step” in 1961. The song was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Beatles hit, “I Feel Fine” released in 1964 had that riff. The influence of “Watch Your Step” also extended to “Day Tripper” as well. John Lennon even stated that “I Feel Fine” and “Day Tripper” were songs built on variations of the “Watch Your Step” riff.

Led Zeppelin used the riff in “Moby Dick” released in 1968.

However, in order to show the progress is derivative effect in action, the “Watch Your Step” riff evolved from the Afro-Cuban jazz composition “Manteca.” That is what music is all about. Evolution by derivatives.

However, Bobby Parker reaped few rewards from the song’s success as he sold the copyright to V-Tone records owner Ivan Mogull for next to nothing. In other words, he didn’t know enough about copyright and he got shafted. Sound familiar. Labels shafting artists.

So all you artists that sign record deals remember this. The label owns your copyright. And guess what the labels are pushing for. Long copyright terms. Look at the massive expansion of the “Duration of Copyright Term” between 1910 and 1998. Just at the time that movie studios and record labels started to appear. Just at the time that the RIAA and the MPAA started to appear and become lobby powerhouses.

At the moment, in the US it is sitting over 100 years due to the 1998 Sonny Bono Act. To top it all off, the Copyright monopolies want longer terms. Longer terms means that our culture is all locked up. The whole point of copyright was to serve and benefit the Public while giving creators a short-term monopoly on their creations. There is nothing that is coming off copyright because Corporations own the majority of the copyrights.

Talking about riffs, what about that riff in “I Want A New Drug from Huey Lewis and the News. It was a hit twice. Once for Huey Lewis and the News and another time for Ray Parker Jr., with “Ghostbusters”!

Standard
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.

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

It’s Not The Media’s Job To Keep Artists In The Public Eye. The Difference Between The Past and The Present.

By September 1986, Yngwie Malmsteen had released Trilogy. As a solo artist that was his third long player in the same amount of years. In total, if you include the Steeler and Alcatrazz releases, that made it six long players in four years. You see, back in the Eighties, it was all about the music. That was the only way that artists could get traction back then. It was Malmsteen’s job to keep himself in the public eye.

So what has changed in 2013. Nothing really. It still is about the music. This is what every artist should be doing in this day and age. Releasing music and doing it frequently.

A big difference between the Eighties and Now is the label support. Back in the Eighties, a label would front the money for recording and tour support, with a view to recoup those monies through sales of the long players. It was a deal stacked in the record labels favour. Today, the labels are all about the safe bet, so even though the recording costs are at super lows, it is expected that the artists would front this cost.

Continuing with the Malmsteen example, he released “Odyssey” in 1988 with Joe Lynn Turner on vocals. The album became Malmsteen’s most successful album of his career. As soon as he became commercially successful, he fired the singer and started over again.

When shredding and neo-classical went out of fashion in the record label controlled U.S market, Malmsteen still forged a successful career in Europe and Japan during the 1990’s. He remained true to himself and he never sold out to cash in. People might disagree with his comments, I sure do, however when everyone is trying so hard to be liked by all, fans never really get to see the artist beneath the silt.

The world is going through a revolution and it is all about intelligence. That is why when an artist makes a remark, one side of the Internet calls it uneducated. That is why people jumped on Malmsteen’s remarks about piracy.

However it’s not about winning every time. The metal record labels and the artists they sign are still clueless. If the first album is not a success, the label just lets them go. They are playing it safe. What the labels should be doing is allowing the artist they sign to take multiple chances. The artist is not going to take risks if they have only one chance with the Record Label.

That is why all the risk takers in metal music are the outliers, the DIY’ers. Then when they break through, the majors come knocking. Look at the Djent movement. It started in forums and soundboards back in 2004 and just kept on growing. By 2009, most of the labels had a Djent artist on their roster.

Look at Machine Head during 2002 and 2003, financing their own sessions and recording of “Through The Ashes of Empires.” When the album started to get traction, Roadrunner U.S came knocking again.

Look at the TV networks from the Eighties. You had 3 to 4 networks, and they all played it safe. In 2013, you have hundreds of TV channels, all looking for an edge. They are all looking for content, and they are giving cash to talented people to deliver. Netflix is a perfect example of taking risks with innovation and content.

If the record labels want listeners, they need to let artists push the envelope and try some stuff out.

If an artist wants listeners, they need to understand that there is just too much information out there. That is why there are over 4 million songs on Spotify that haven’t even been heard yet. No matter how big a story artists have, they will be pulled under by all the information coming down the cyber pipeline, if their music is not great.

Suddenly the album that the artist worked so hard for is in the rear view mirror, 3 to 4 weeks after it’s been released. The only way that sales and charts matter today, is that it shows all the new product released. That is what the public wants. Something new.

Here today, gone tomorrow. Artists need to create constantly now. That’s the only way you can stay in the public eye, in people’s minds. Robb Flynn is doing this with his journals while the world waits for the album. An artist doesn’t want to be forgotten and the album format unfortunately works against the artist today. Somehow other musicians just don’t know it. They want someone else to do the work for them. They don’t want to try new ways and the new way is to bond with the fans. Robb Flynn gets it.

It’s not the media’s job to keep him in the public eye, it’s HIS!

The number one thing a fan wants is more music by their favourite act.

Dream Theater released an album for a new audience. It is the only thing that John Petrucci talked about. “If someone is hearing the band for the first time” was the catch cry in all the press releases. Forget about the new audience, focus on the old. The old will sell the artist to the new. It’s done through music and connection.

If the artist thinks that they gain traction by hanging with the record label, then they are idiots. They are better off blogging, responding on Facebook, spreading news on Twitter. However, there is a still a misconception that getting your story in the newspaper or in the magazines is a sign of traction. Forget that. When a magazine comes out with a three-month lead time, it’s already old news. The magazine is dead on arrival. No one cares about the stories written by the PR/marketing team of the artist.

The way I see it, if an artist is making an album-length statement, they need to have a story or a concept around it. Otherwise ten tracks strung together is not a concept. If you look at society in general, there is almost no place to buy a CD. The world is moving to streaming. Via mp3’s, people will still download/ cherry pick their favourites and there is nothing that artists can do about it.

Nikki Sixx asked his fans to immerse themselves in the whole album experience. In order for them to do, the album needs to be phenomenal, otherwise the fans will just cherry pick the great and leave the rest to be.

We live in a direct to consumer society. Amazon and Google get it. Some artists get it. What about the rest?

Standard