Copyright, movies, Music, My Stories

Bands

Bands, the way we have known them will be no more.

It will be the era of the songwriter. It might look like a band on the outside but really it will be the main person or two and the supporting musicians. Sort of like how it was in the 50s and 60s up to a certain point. Until The Beatles changed everything.

For example, like James Hetfield and The Metallica Band or like Jon Bon Jovi and The BJ Band or like David Lee Roth and The Van Halen Band or Rob Halford and The Judas Priest Band.

Maybe they will just use their name like Bryan Adams, Keith Urban, Don Henley, Neil Young or Ozzy Osbourne.

Even Alice Cooper started off as a band and morphed into a solo artist with musicians supporting the artist.

Maybe a return to the Crosby, Stills and Nash kind of names.

These are just examples of using artists that I know. The new artist could use just their name or their name with a backing band or a group name but the reality will be that the group is really just the artist with other musicians supporting the artist.

If you look at bands right now and in the past, most of their songs are written by one main member. Sometimes two or three members, especially when bands had artists who paid their dues and had experiences before joining.

Ignore pop songs for the moment who seem to have 10 writers to start with, and if the songs are a hit, there is a writ and more songwriters are added to the list.

Yeah I know what your saying, U2, Def Leppard, Black Sabbath and Van Halen just to name a few, have albums saying that the songs are written by all the members.

But the truth is, what is in print for us to see on the lyric sheet or album, is not always the truth. Songs are complicated beasts when it comes to a band setting. It didn’t used to be that way but it is that way now. Especially when there is money involved.

For example ASCAP is a music publisher in the US, had total revenues of $1.226 billion dollars in 2018. They paid $1.109 million in royalties back to artists. And they kept $117 million in administration costs. Basically money for nothing and the chicks for free to the publishing company.

That’s just one of many in the US. Then there is BMI who had total revenues of $1.283 billion and paid out $1.196 billion to artists by 30 June 2019. And they kept $87 million for administration costs.

And each country has multiple publishing companies. And each country has record labels. And everyone is making multi millions from music for nothing.

The actual copyright registration and the splits associated with the song plus the band agreement which also has percentage splits determine who is entitled to what. Van Halen even took Michael Anthony off the songwriting credits when they renegotiated a multi million dollar publishing deal in the early 2000’s.

COVID-19 has changed the game.

A normal band makes their money on the road.

Some bands might have streams in the billions and own their own copyrights, but if they are that level, they will have a team of people in their organization like managers, legal, accountants and other employees who do fan club and website.

Right now, no one can tour and they don’t know when they can start touring again because having so many people in a room, theatre, arena or stadium is a problem when it comes to social distancing. And even if concerts are allowed, will people just go back to life as normal or be cautious. Maybe concerts will resume with a cap of 500 people max.

And no one gets into bands or starts writing songs to get paid. They do it because they love it and there is a need within them to create. But with any artist that starts to become popular, money is a byproduct of creating something which resonates.

And then it becomes about the revenue streams and how is the artist going to make money.

Streams will pay and the artist will get more if they own their rights. And the person who wrote the song will get two bites of that revenue. One from the streaming service to the Copyright owners account and another from the Rights Organization which administers their catalogue. This always causes resentment between members because one person has more than others.

Especially when the band agreement in place favors one over the other. And the other member feels like their songs should be considered but they are not up to standard.

Remember when Kirk Hammet told everyone he lost his phone with riffs and that’s why he had no song writing contributions on the “Hardwired” album but James set the record straight when he said that Kirk’s riffs just weren’t there, meaning they weren’t good enough to James and Lars to consider.

We wait to see what live music will look like post COVID-19.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Ripped Off – Here Is My Middle Finger Salute

“Gettin’ ripped off, underpaid” ….. from “It’s A Long Way To The Top If You Wanna Rock ‘N’ Roll”

Bon Scott knew his stuff. For a person who had been trying to make it for a long time, he was well seasoned and experienced enough to come up with some great lyrics. He was a perfect fit to the youthism of the Young brothers. If you take the time to dig deep into his lyrics, you will notice a certain theme of being ripped off by promoters and record label execs, which is polar opposite to what artists are saying today. With so much backlash against streaming services and royalty payments, more and more artists are going on record to state that the “fan doesn’t support and respect music”.

So how can the music industry explain how bands that have performed live have not been paid the monies owed to them by the promoters?

The fans that supposedly “don’t support and respect music” purchased their $180 plus concert ticket. Surely this is a show of support to the acts on the bill that people value and respect music.

“So if you’ve got the money, we’ve got the sound,
You put it up and we’ll put it down,
If you got the dollar, we got the song,
Just wanna boogie woogie all night long” ….. from “Aint No Fun (Waiting Around To Be A Millionaire)”

For those that don’t know, the 2016 Soundwave Festival in Australia has been cancelled due to poor ticket sales. However, the roots of the problems go back. From the 2015 edition of Soundwave, a lot of bands are still owed money from their festival appearance.

For the full list, click on this link.

Here is a selection of a few;

The main artists;

  • Soundgarden — $2,132,075.00
  • Slipknot — $1,645,299.29
  • The Smashing Pumpkins — $1,267,446.43
  • Faith No More — $751,076.20
  • Marilyn Manson — $588,000.56
  • Incubus — $571,428.58
  • Slash — $484,628.00
  • Fall Out Boy — $394,107.14
  • Judas Priest — $349,560.55
  • Ministry — $203,952.01
  • Godsmack — $200,000.00
  • Lamb of God — $161,323.33

The medium-sized and self-financed artists;

  • Papa Roach — $93,050.93
  • Steel Panther — $92,517.57
  • Fear Factory — $78,263.96
  • Apocalyptica — $65,601.90
  • Falling In Reverse — $54,064.98
  • Atreyu — $52,044.64
  • New Found Glory — $43,279.88
  • Nothing More — $35,000.00
  • Of Mice and Men — $29,040.00
  • Killer Be Killed — $24,513.00
  • Escape the Fate — $21,985.68
  • Dragonforce — $21,000.00
  • Monuments — $19,153.00
  • Animals as Leaders — $16,607.14
  • Nonpoint — $8,137.54
  • Ne Obliviscaris — $5,720.60

Commissions to an agency for organising acts;

  • Live Nation Worldwide, Inc — $1,180,325.56

That’s some serious dollars taken from the hard-working hands of the fans and not paid to the artists. You see, a fan believes that the act would be getting their cut. It’s an unwritten law that it will happen. The fan also knows that the promoter, venue and so forth would also get their cut. Which in a lot of cases is more than the acts cut.

“Living on a shoe string,
A fifty cent millionaire,
Open to charity,
Rock ‘n’ roller welfare” ….. from “Down Payment Blues”

Life is tough and when you don’t get paid, it’s even tougher, because we all have other commitments that we need to make. So are the fans to blame again for not supporting music.

Are the fans to blame when managers, promoters and record labels rip off the artists?

“It’s a song (“I Believe In You) I wrote a long time ago. Well a long time before it got put on a record, which is kind of a drag in a way because our original managers ripped us off for our publishing (on) the first two Yesterday and Today records. We haven’t received a penny publishing to this day from those two records. I wrote “I Believe in You” about the time they were managing us so when I put it on the “Earthshaker” record well after they were gone they still took my publishing and never gave me a cent for “I Believe In You”. Anyway it was written a long time ago about a break up that I had with a long-time relationship I had with a girl so the song inspired itself more or less.”
Dave Meniketti 

There is a lot of money to be made in music and the fans are spending. The fans respect music and value music. It’s a shame that the corporate entities that benefit largely from the music that artists create don’t value and respect music in the same way.

Unless Artists make a stand and take back their copyrights or organise better rates for themselves when they sell/license their rights to the corporations, then that copyright royalty pay rise will just end up with the corporate entity the artists sold their copyrights too.

SoundExchange, the organization that collects royalties is considering an appeal at the Copyright Tribunals decision to increase the royalty rate that Pandora and other stations needs to pay.

Now why would SoundExchange want to do that?

It’s because they have collected over $3 billion dollars in royalties since 2003 and once you take their standard 30% administration costs, it adds up to a lot of money for SoundExchange for doing absolutely nothing. But they want more of that pie.

Artists as usual get short-changed by all of the corporations taking their cut. And even when they perform live, it looks like they are still being shafted by the promoters.

In Australia, the recording industry revenues are growing and have been since 2012. And what was the defining moment in 2012 that caused this shift in revenue.

Of course, it was the arrival of Spotify in May 2012.

And that is what fans of music do. We double dip. I like to stream and on occasions I love owning something physical from the artists that I support.

Since 2008, those physical purchases include only the special deluxe pieces of art that bands produce. To pay $30 for a DVD/CD special edition album release is just not worth it. I would rather pay the $12 a month Spotify subscription and access that digitally. Recently, I was one of 40,000 people who purchased Coheed and Cambria’s “The Color Before The Sun” Super Deluxe Edition for $70US and I am one of many who have pre-ordered Dream Theater’s new album “The Astonishing” for $170.

Music doesn’t exist without its best customer; the fan. So as a fan, here is a big middle finger salute to all of those comments about fans of music not respecting music.

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

Victory Records Saga

It’s been almost three weeks since Spotify pulled Victory Records catalogue of songs in a dispute over $23,000 in royalty payments to Another Victory, the Publishing Arm of Victory Records.

The Victory Records founder has stated in an email that somehow “found its way to the press” that if Victory’s catalogue of songs is not placed back on Spotify soon, with their histories and stream counts as they were, he would be forced to lay off staff and drop artists.

You see, it’s no longer about sales, but streams.

Did you see how Metallica, once anti-digital are on iTunes and Spotify? Did you see how Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin also caved? It’s just a matter of time before the Beatles are there as well as the imitators of Beatles music are raking in due to holdout.

All the action is in streaming and that is where the artists need to be. The music business has undergone a revolution where a “hit song” is something people listen to forever and ever, not something which they buy once.

Forget about how the media trumpets Adele’s “25” as a music industry (it should be recording industry instead of music industry) saviour.

Adele’s figures of 1.1 million first week sales for her new single are impressive and news worthy. There is a limited supply of Adele music and she has a universal “mainstream” appeal (by the way all of the Eighties Hard Rock bands had this mainstream appeal with the backing of a cultural juggernaut in MTV). This in turn makes demand for her music very high.

As appealing as the first week numbers are, they are just numbers. A lot of the times the real hits are “slow burners”.

To use books as an example, Dan Brown’s “Angels and Demons” his second book, sold only 98 copies in its first week. It wasn’t until his fourth book “The DaVinci Code” which sold hundreds of millions that “Angels and Demons” got a second wind to the tune of about 40 million copies.

Five Finger Death Punch’s debut album only moved a couple of hundred copies when it came out. Within a few years it was certified “Gold” and it is still selling, almost 8 years later.

Def Leppard’s “Hysteria” was out for 12 months before it got a second wind on the backs of “Love Bites” and “Pour Some Sugar On Me”.

However, the tides of change set forth by the customer show that streaming is the way forward. Labels like Victory Records collect between 25 and 50 percent of their digital income from streaming services.

This whole saga highlights so many wrongs with the music business;

  • Lack of transparency
  • Bad data collection
  • The length of copyright terms means that heirs of the artists (kids, grandkids, step kids, business partners, lawyers, accountants, etc.) are “songwriters” of the song and they should be paid.
  • Who actually should be paid?
  • Missing money (about 25%) to songwriters due to all of the above not being met.
  • Artists selling away their copyrights to the labels for an instant pay-day (advance) and then the record label keeps all monies earned as “recoup costs” (charged expenses like recording costs, marketing budgets, advances) that the artist needs to pay back.
  • Who is the rights holder? The artist or the record label and/or publisher? Because it is the rights holder who is receiving the 70%. If a writer or artist isn’t seeing the money, the answer to their question can probably be found within their label or publisher contract.

But when artists are in control of their own copyrights with a lot fewer people in between, guess what happens. They actually make money if their music is listened too.

One song can earn a decent amount to the songwriter if there are fewer hands in the cookie jar. In the link, the take away line is that 10,929,203 streams on Spotify has resulted in royalty payments of $56,329.35 to the rights holder, which in this case is the artist and songwriter. If one song has been streamed that many times, by default, other songs from the artist will be streamed and the article talks about another song earning $37,000 from 11 million streams.

The consumers have made their choice that streaming has a future.

It’s time for artists to wake up and be smart about their choices when it comes to signing away their most valuable asset, their “COPYRIGHT”.

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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, Unsung Heroes

Thoughts on Streaming, Longevity and Access to Music

“Rock bands were only supposed to last around 5 years. The Beatles, as far as Americans knew them, were only around for 7 years and that seemed like an eternity to the millions of musicians that they inspired, many of which became famous rock stars themselves.”
Jay Jay French 

Once upon a time, that was the case. All of the good Seventies band had more or less finished up or turned into bad imitations of themselves by the early Eighties. Some of the musicians went onto successful or not so successful solo careers.

  • Eagles
  • Deep Purple
  • ELP
  • Yes
  • Bad Company
  • Led Zeppelin
  • UFO
  • Aerosmith
  • Kiss
  • Pink Floyd
  • Kansas
  • Alice Cooper

Throughout it all, the world was changing.

People suddenly had access to more credit than ever before. Their wages increased at an astronomical rate. Ownership of music became a big thing as MTV put our heroes into our lounge rooms.  On the heels of this new cultural phenomenon, suddenly there was more money to spend on entertainment products.

So what do all of these bands do?

They reformed. It didn’t matter if it was with the original band members (if that was possible at all) or with different musicians. The labels would bring in extra songwriters.

Aerosmith cashed in. So did Alice Cooper. So did Kiss. Desmond Child and Jim Vallance proved to be songwriters most hard rock bands started to use.

Suddenly we had rock bands lasting 20 years, then 30 years and in 2015 we have rock bands that have lasted 40 years.

But, it is the fans of music that made it all happen.

The fans of music made the record labels rich and the fans of music are the ones that ruined the record labels business models that relied on physical sales.

It is the fans of music that turned Spotify and streaming into a billion dollar industry. That’s the power of the people.

We will play the same song over and over again for decades and under the new model we are generating cash for the streaming service who then pass 70% of it on to the rights holders, which in all cases are the record labels and the publishing companies (who are also owned by the record labels). $4.5 billion dollars have been paid by Spotify and Pandora in royalties. All of that has gone to the record labels or to entities controlled by the record labels. You can see why songwriters are frustrated. Where’s all that money going?

Regardless, when it comes to consuming music and what price should be charged, the people have spoken.

The people decide what is of value and what it wants to pay for something. And artists’ should do everything they can to hook them into a new system or their system.

Look at Coheed and Cambria. I am hooked into the way they release their albums with the Super Deluxe Editions, instant digital downloads and VIP membership.

Remember when the book publishers said that e-books are undervalued and people must pay more. Did they ever think that the people don’t want to pay more?

Amazon finally relented and gave the publishers a chance to set their own prices. So what do the publishers do, they set the e-book price the same as a hardcover price. So the people screamed “Rip off” and E-book sales tanked.

Apple Music launches and it has no free tier after the three months sweetener. By default Apple along with the record labels are excluding people and to really succeed, streaming services like the artists need to hook in the casual users. Fans will always pay top dollar. But casual listeners are important as well. Spotify, Pandora and YouTube are at least servicing these listeners.

In the end the recording industry, along with the artists need to get more people paying for streaming. The bigger the streaming pool, the bigger the payouts, as long as the record labels are honest.

But that works by first exposing people to the service. It could take 3 months, 6 months, 12 months or years before people lay out cash. Instead, the labels put a high fee on licensing and then they want streaming services to raise the price immediately.

Did everyone miss the memo?

Music has completely changed. Once upon a time, songs would be sent out to radio or a video would be sent to MTV, with the hope that people would be hooked in enough to go to the record store and buy the album. It was all about monetizing up front. Today, songs are available instantly and monetization comes last. First comes attention. If people are checking something out, and if it sticks…it will grow.

“I think this is the new millennium Number of the Beast. That was one of our best albums and the follow-up to that (Piece of Mind) was probably the best of the lot of them. It has something for everybody. Take Speed of Light, for instance. It is the old Maiden. That intro is a testimony to Deep Purple.”
Nicko McBrain – Iron Maiden drummer

I purchased the album, however I didn’t hear it on CD. As a collector, the CD went straight on the shelf. Through the magic of the internet and Spotify, I can hear the album without paying for it. Isn’t that a better outcome than keeping the music locked up behind paywalls?

If people like it, they will spread the word.

If people like it, they will pay for the CD, pay for the vinyl, or pay to get a higher quality stream.

This is the new world, everything is different now.

The charts are irrelevant, while listens are in. If you don’t believe me, then have a look at the paltry sales that lead to a number one album in Australia.

More people are accessing music through streaming and that is a very good thing. Has anyone heard Iron Maiden complaining about their box office returns after each show, or the fact that they are one of the bands that has huge P2P traffic. It takes a non-rocker to sum up the effect of people accessing music easily.

“I’m playing three Wembley Stadium (shows) on album two. I’m playing sold-out arena gigs in South America, Korea, south-east Asia and Australia. I don’t think I’d be able to do that without Spotify or if people hadn’t streamed my music. My music has been streamed 860 million times, which means that it’s getting out to people. I get a percentage of my record sales, but it’s not a large percentage, (whereas) I get all my ticket sales, so I’d much rather tour. That’s why I got into the business — I love playing gigs. Recording albums, to me, is a means to an end. I put out records so I can tour. For me, Spotify is not even a necessary evil. It helps me do what I want to do.”
Ed Sheeran

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

Another Episode in the Recording Industry Dumb and Dumber File

Seriously, how stupid can the recording industry get!

Why would the recording industry associations battle a Copyright ruling that allows people who purchase a CD to legally rip it?

First, CD sales are on the decline. The whole history of music is available on YouTube and Spotify and Pandora and (insert any other streaming service here).

So why does the recording industry still fight “ripping a CD” laws. No one with any common sense can believe what the UK Music and the British Academy of Songwriters claim.

That if people are allowed to rip the CD’s they legally buy, it would cost the rights owners tens of millions. So what they want is a tax on back up CD drives.

Are these recording industry idiots seriously that out of touch with technology?

Don’t they know that most computers don’t even come with a CD drive! My Apple iMac doesn’t even have a CD drive. In other words, CD drives are disappearing at the same rate that CD sales are disappearing.

But the recording industry, which the article incorrectly calls the music industry, still believe in some 1998 ideal of CD sales and ownership.

Even one of the largest tech companies in the world, believed that music was all about ownership and not access. For whatever reasons, Apple is very late to the streaming party.

When Steve Job’s introduced the iPod back in October 2001, the selling point was “this amazing little device holds a thousand songs, and it goes right in my pocket”. For millions upon millions of music fans, the iPod became a must and in return Apple continued to grow into a very powerful company.

However, Jimmy Iovine and Eddy Cue offer nothing amazing with Apple Music. They offer a music service with features that already exist in Spotify or even Soundcloud. But they hinder their music service by putting it behind a paywall. This new “revolutionary” product is mired in the past.

It’s like the record labels constructed Apple Music and not Apple itself. Maybe that is the truth as Jimmy Iovine’s background leans more to the recording industry than the tech industry.

Artists payouts has proven to be a contentious issue again. Transparency in the area is non-existent. Apple was not going to pay artists during the streams that happen during the three-month trial period. Then Apple did an about flip and said they would. On top of all that, Apple Music is being investigated for anti-competitive behaviour.  The last thing the labels would want is a government investigation.

Did anyone also notice that when Apple did its reverse flip on paying royalties during the free 3 month periods, it was Eddy Cue who went on the record. Meanwhile, the recording industry stooge Jimmy Iovine, remained silent, just like the label heads at Universal, Sony and Warner. However it was those idiots that created this mess in the first place.

If you are a musician this is what you should know;

• Music streaming revenue is surpassing sales of music downloads.
Research from P. Schoenfeld Asset Management shows that there will be 250 million worldwide music streaming subscribers generating over $16 billion in streaming revenue.

Your challenge is to get people to listen to your music consistently. Forget about the CD sale, or that Vinyl sale or that download sale. They are memento products. Listens is your sale. Eventually, the fan base that listens will start to want your memento’s.

One last thing.

If your song is not on Spotify, it is on YouTube. Taylor Swift took her music off Spotify and saw her YouTube plays increase. Yep, that’s right. Sales of her music didn’t increase at all, but her YouTube stats went through the roof.

It’s because people want to listen.

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Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

The World We Live In

I am over it.

I am over people like APRA/AMCOS CEO Brett Cottle calling on the Australian Parliament to offer legislative support to members of the creative industries.

I know from my own experiences APRA has been negligent for accepting dual song writing registrations on songs that I wrote and registered with them over ten years ago. They had the balls to call me up to ask me if I am okay with their negligence for accepting dual registrations and if I’m not okay with it, they can offer mediation to me to sort it out with the other party at a cost to be paid by me.

Yep, that sure sounds like a lot of support and respect from APRA/AMCOS towards the artists it is meant to represent. The truth of the matter is this.

Small time musicians don’t mean crap to these large organisations. All we do is generate a lot of money for them by playing live and by using our hard-earned monies to promote ourselves and get our songs on radio. Yep, APRA as a publishing and collection association collect those radio royalties (that we as artists worker our backsides off to get on radio) and those live returns from Club owners on our behalf.

They then hold the pool of monies for as long as they can before paying anything out to the artists based on a formula that no one can make sense off. That way APRA can double dip on the pool of money. They do that by earning interest on the large pool first and then they take out their admin fee.

So I am sick and tired at corporate entities that put out crap saying they are concerned about the artists. The music business and the movie business have consistently opted for legislation to combat piracy and when it comes to innovation they are continually dragged kicking and screaming into it.

The major record labels in the U.S killed off the 20 million strong membership of Grooveshark as it wasn’t legit enough for the record labels. Well guess what happened the next day. It was cloned and made available for users to stream music on.

Can we also make the distinction between the recording industry and the music industry?

They are two different categories. The recording industry is part of the music industry. The music industry at a high level also contains the live industry, the merchandise industry, the publishing companies, the collection agencies, the local clubs, etc..

So when I see people saying that the music industry cannot compete with piracy, it is totally a clueless and dumb statement to make.

I don’t see the live industry complaining because of piracy. I don’t see the merchandise industry complaining because of piracy.

Piracy is a recording industry problem. Actually I still find it hard to hear when people in the recording industry still complain about competing with piracy or pirates. People just don’t get it. The recording industry (and by default they acts on their roster) are competing against other products for fans/customers. It has been proven time and time again that if the customer sees value in the offering, they will pay for it.

There is a lot of money in the industry right now. “Blurred Lines” is just one song and it took in over 17 million dollars since 2013.

When it comes to music, I stream via Spotify for free and I buy physical CD’s from Amazon in the U.S or from the band direct. I never got into paying $1.29 or $2.19 for a digital mp3 of the song. However I do have a lot of mp3’s. When you buy pre-release albums from bands directly or via a fan funding campaign, you always get an mp3 version of the album. Amazon offers Auto-Rip and then there is the CD’s I purchased which I rip and put on my iPhone.

While ripping a CD is acceptable to an MP3 file is acceptable in the recording industry, the DVD I purchase is not allowed to be format shifted to an AVI file.

Torrentfreak is a website that I got to regularly to keep up to date on the latest issues around Copyright issues. So it’s no surprise to see that the MPAA is putting their hands in foreign policies. In this case, it was lobbying hard the UK Cameron government to not legalize DVD ripping. However the lobbying efforts didn’t pay off and the private copying exceptions became law in October last year.

Speaking of the MPAA, they are sure doing their best to keep their business model flourishing. Thanks to the Sony email hacks, the world know has official proof that the MPAA are offering grants to academics to write pro-copyright papers that can be used to influence future copyright policies.

As the article points this is nothing new for the MPAA.

Last November we revealed that the MPAA had donated over a million dollars to Carnegie Mellon University in support of its piracy research program. Thus far the Carnegie Mellon team has published a few papers. Among other things the researchers found that the Megaupload shutdown worked, that piracy mostly hurts revenues, and that censoring search engine results can diminish piracy. As expected, these results are now used by the MPAA as a lobbying tool to sway politicians and influence public policy.

So how is Brett Cottle from APRA/AMCOS or those stooges at Village Roadshow any different to the MPAA? All of these organisations profit from the creative works of others however they contribute nothing creatively.

In the end if copyright becomes too extreme, creativity will die.

Thank god in heavy metal and hard rock some common sense is prevailing when we hear similarities between songs. So far we haven’t had the court cases like “Blurred Lines” or the out of court settlements between Sam Smith and Tom Petty for the “Stay With Me” and “I Won’t Back Down” vocal similarities or the other out of court settlement between the song writing committee for Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk” and The Gap Band’s 1970s funk hit “Oops Upside Your Head.”

Music survives because the creators are constantly borrowing, sharing, and reacting to the different connections the 12 notes in the musical scale offer.

“The Ultimate Sin” is a forgotten song in Ozzy’s solo career (even though Jake E.Lee does perform it with Red Dragon Cartel) and it was good to hear part of the vocal melody get resurrected by Five Finger Death Punch in “Life Me Up”. Yes, they are similar for those small sections and if anything fair use is the order of the day.

Hell, we all know that Avenged Sevenfold’s latest album “Hail To The King” references a lot of great metal albums from the past. What about Kingdom Come’s “Get In On” and it’s references to Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir”. As I have always said, music is derivative.

It’s getting ridiculous how everyone is slapping copyright lawsuits on everything and the reason why that is occurring is that corporations own the copyrights. Hell, even George Clinton who has been sampled by every hip hop artist known, is fighting Bridgeport Music (a publishing company) to get his rights back. Basically at this point in time, George Clinton has NO royalty rights.

Yep, the person who copyright is designed to protect and the person who actually created the music has NO royalty rights to his music. And of course, in case you didn’t know Bridgeport Music was also one of the plaintiffs in the “Blurred Lines” copyright case.

But hey, Bridgeport Music, like APRA/AMCOS would lead you to believe that they are pushing copyright agendas for the artists and that stronger copyright is needed to combat piracy. On the other side of the fence you have a housewife from the fifties who wrote the lyrics for a song called “G.I. Blues” which was later turned into a hit song for Elvis Presley who is not credited as a songwriter because she didn’t pay the $25 copyright fee back in the sixties.

But, wait, according to the corporations who own the copyrights, the world needs longer copyright terms and stronger enforcement rights.

That’s the world we live in.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Everyone Is Building Their Business On The Backs Of Artists

So all the news outlets are glossing over the 1.3 million sales of the new Taylor Swift album. As is the norm everyone in the mainstream media is trumping up the irrelevant and they are totally ignorant to the reality that exists in the music business. The reality is that more and more people are using streaming services.

So where do all of the profits go to from the 1.3 million sales. There is a common viewpoint put forward by the record labels that the music industry (which is funny how they refer to the recording industry as the music industry) is in dire straits. They blame piracy. The artists blame streaming services even though Spotify pays 70% of every dollar they get to the record labels and the music publishers. Pandora pays about 55% to 60% of every dollar they get to the record labels and the publishers.

In music, the deals between record labels and artists have two levels; a) a royalty percentage for recorded music that is sold like a CD, a VINYL album or a digital download and b) a different percentage for music that is licensed for use in a film, and other types of promotions like commercials, sporting events and so forth.

Different artists have different deals. Imagine being an artist, and the retailers get 30% of your music while the record labels keep more than 80% of the money they receive.

In the digital world, many artists like Enimen and Dave Coverdale have successfully argued that digital services are being licensed by labels and thus the licensed royalty amount should apply. Def Leppard couldn’t agree with their label and that is why their output is not on digital services. However we have current forgeries that the Def Leppard band re-recorded.

Retailers have built their business on the backs of artists. The record labels have built their business on the backs of artists. The live tour promoters have built their businesses on the backs of artists. The music publishers/rights organisations have built their business on the backs of artists. Radio has built its business on the backs of artists. It looks like everyone is building their business on the backs of artists except the artists themselves.

And how does all of this tie in to what fans of music want.

A digital music study that came out of the Nordic countries is being forgotten at this moment in time. For the uninitiated, the Nordic countries Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland are the earliest adopters of streaming services in a mainstream way and their growth of their recording industry is seen as a model for the rest of the world to follow.

So what we have is Spotify who has an estimated 7 million users in Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden. This is about 18% of Spotify’s worldwide reach. The takeaway is that 78% of Nordic Internet users are digital music consumers (an estimated 13.8 million), having used services such as YouTube, Spotify, Wimp or iTunes for accessing music content. Of those 78%, 20% said they had paid for some form of digital music, either downloads or streaming. YouTube was the most popular.

Fans of music like to listen to music for free and with each generation growing up this is more prevalent. However all of those organisations that built their businesses on the backs of music sales don’t like it. Got to give it to the technology retailers for adapting to an ever-changing marketplace. iTunes downloads are down however Apple are preparing for it with their own streaming service. Spotify is now offering one family account, which makes total sense, so expect Spotify’s premium user base to rise.

It’s a brave new fragmented world and it will be for a few more years, until streaming services in the large North American markets take a real foothold. Then watch out for a new battle to begin between artist and record label for unpaid monies.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit, Unsung Heroes

The “Respect Act” Does Nothing For The Artists But Everything For The RIAA and SoundExchange

I have been doing some reading on the “Respect Act” that is being pushed by SoundExchange the performance rights organization in the US that collects royalties. So the 1976 Copyright Act, made sound recordings from 1972 and after covered leaving all pre-1972 sound recordings in legal no mans land. Proponents for these recordings have suggested that one way forward is to retroactively say that all pre-1972 sound recordings are under federal copyright law.

BUT….

The RIAA has battled tooth and nail against this. Here are the reasons why;

Did you know that the copyright under state laws lasts so much longer. So in turn the record labels get to keep the copyright for a longer period. So the Record Labels and the RIAA like this.

Did you know that the copyright under state laws does not have any termination rights. The Record labels and the RIAA like this. In the 1976 Copyright Act, the original creator is allowed to take back their copyrights for all recordings released in 1978 and after. The Record Labels and the RIAA don’t like this and this is one of the main reasons why the RIAA has battled hard to not put PRE-1972 Recordings under FEDERAL COPYRIGHT.

Did you know that the copyright under state laws does not have a public performance right. That means that there are no necessary licenses for the streaming of such works. And it has been accepted in this way for over 40 years. And the “RESPECT Act” would only extend the performance rights part of the state laws to pre-1972 sound recordings, while leaving everything else about those works uncovered by federal copyright law. So the RIAA with SoundExchange is putting only the parts of copyright law that it likes on pre-1972 sound recordings, while keeping the remainder under state laws.

Yep it sure sounds like some RESPECT for the artists. This is from the press release;

“Project72 kicks off with an open letter, signed by more than 70 recording artists, calling on digital radio to treat all sound recordings equally and to “pay for all the music they play.”

I like how they emphasise the “pay for all the music they play.” So who will actually get paid? History has dictated that it will not be the artist.

I remember reading a statement from Roger McGuinn that he made before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on July 11, 2000. And yes he is a supporter of “Project 72”.

Hello, my name is Roger McGuinn. My experience in the music business began in 1960 with my recording of “Tonight In Person” on RCA Records. I played guitar and banjo for the folk group the “Limeliters.” I subsequently recorded two albums with the folk group the “Chad Mitchell Trio.” I toured and recorded with Bobby Darin and was the musical director of Judy Collins’ third album. In each of those situations I was not a royalty artist, but a musician for hire.

My first position as a royalty artist came in 1964 when I signed a recording contract with Columbia Records as the leader of the folk-rock band the “Byrds.” During my tenure with the Byrds I recorded over fifteen albums. In most cases a modest advance against royalties was all the money I received for my participation in these recording projects.

In 1973 my work with the Byrds ended. I embarked on a solo recording career on Columbia Records, and recorded five albums. The only money I’ve received for these albums was the modest advance paid prior to each recording.

In 1977 I recorded three albums for Capitol Records in the group “McGuinn, Clark, and Hillman.” Even though the song “Don’t You Write Her Off” was a top 40 hit, the only money I received from Capitol Records was in the form of a modest advance.

In 1989 I recorded a solo CD, “Back from Rio”, for Arista Records. This CD sold approximately 500,000 copies worldwide, and aside from a modest advance, I have received no royalties from that project.

The same is true of my 1996 recording of “Live From Mars” for Hollywood Records. In all cases the publicity generated by having recordings available and promoted on radio created an audience for my live performances. My performing work is how I make my living. Even though I’ve recorded over twenty-five records, I cannot support my family on record royalties alone.

In a Ultimate Classic Rock interview, Roger McGuinn mentioned the following;

“In my case, I recorded ‘So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star’ with Chris Hillman and the Byrds. Chris and I wrote it in ’67 and it was on our ‘Younger Than Yesterday’ album that came out that year. Then Patti Smith covered it in the ‘70s and Tom Petty covered it in the mid-‘80s and they both get paid royalties for performance but the Byrds don’t. It doesn’t seem fair.”

The RESPECT Act would still not change the part about getting paid royalties from the cover versions that people made of the song and the unfortunate part is that most of the royalties paid for digital streaming would go to the record labels who only paid him a small advance.

Did you also know that George Holding, the American Representative that is bringing in the legislation used to work for a law firm called Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton that is well-known for its intellectual property practice. Sure sounds like a lot of RESPECT for the artists.

Did you also that John Conyer, the American Representative that is also supporting the legislation was involved in a copyright controversy when he opposed a bill that would make federally funded research freely available to the public. Conyers was influenced by publishing houses who contributed significant money to him.

Did you also know that Mark Farner, of Grand Funk Railroad would still not get a cent from his pre-1972 songs because after a dispute with the band’s manager over his $350 a week employee payments, he had to give up all the rights to the music.

I am all for artists getting paid. BUT in this case they are being used. They will not see a cent of these monies.

Another great article on the subject.

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

If You Want To Succeed In 2014

I was listening to Fuel’s new album “Puppet Strings” today.

Fuel was one of those rock bands I latched onto in the late nineties, early two thousands.

Why call it Fuel without Carl Bell?

Why did Carl Bell call it Fuel without Brett Scallions for the “Angels and Demons” album cycle?

Keeping a band together is a job in itself. No one tells you how hard it is. Read about the making of “The Wall” from Pink Floyd. Watch, “The History Of The Eagles” documentary. Read, “The Dirt” or “Face The Music” or “Lifting Shadows” or “Enter Night” and you will see countless examples of bands trying to hold it together.

Listening to the Fuel album got me thinking about the current state of the music business.

We live in an age where only blockbuster albums make serious money.

The income gap divide between the bands that release blockbuster albums and the ones that don’t is growing wider and wider.

The days of paying your dues and breaking through are over.

Now it is all about being great 24/7.

The internet noise has made it almost impossible for messages to rise above it and new releases come out one week and if they are not great, they are forgotten the next.

It’s a cold hard truth. In 2014, you have to be great.

Five Finger Death Punch. Great.

Volbeat. Great.

Avenged Sevenfold. Great.

Skillet. Great.

Gemini Syndrome. Great.

Halestorm. Great.

In This Moment. Great.

All of the bands mentioned above have had albums out for at least 10 months and more, and they are still part of the social conversation.

If you are one of those people who uses sales as a metric of success then all of the above bands are still moving units. However sales are not the only measures of success these days.

If you want to succeed and make money from recorded music in 2014, understand how streaming royalties work.

If you want to succeed and make money from recorded music in 2014, stop bitching about streaming royalties and re-negotiate with the record label.

Ever heard the story of Loreena McKennitt, who is a Canadian Folk/Celtic/World music artist.

She couldn’t get a record deal. She spent a long time networking and building a connection with her audience. Eventually she created a substantial fan base that started to purchase her music and she was getting 70% of it. When Warner Bros. came knocking, she showed the label what she was making and the “crap contract” that the label came with got torn up and she negotiated a new deal with the label that benefited her as well as the label.

In the end a harp playing harpist had enough bargaining chips on her side that she was able to negotiate a real deal. And then you have people like Scott Ian and other metal heads complaining about piracy and the state of the industry.

If you want to succeed and make money from recorded music in 2014, know that it is a relationships business with the fans first and foremost.

If you want to succeed and make money from recorded music in 2014, know that the press doesn’t matter. It might make you feel great and it might please your vanity, however it is the fans that break acts.

If you want to succeed and make money from recorded music in 2014, you only get ONE SHOT to make a first impression.

If you want to succeed and make money from recorded music in 2014, you need to know how to write, play and sing.

If you want to succeed and make money from recorded music in 2014, take a note from the Dave Matthews band. They are huge because they have fostered an audience that is more or less a cultural movement.

If you want to succeed and make money from recorded music in 2014, you need to keep creating hits. The biggest songs of a band’s career are the ones that didn’t rise up the charts. The fans made them hits in their cultural universe. Seen a recent set list of Metallica or Megadeth. None of the songs ended up as Chart Hits, but they are still hits.

If you want to succeed and make money from recorded music in 2014, know that streaming revenue is just going to keep on rising. If you are on a label and an old contract start re-negotiating right now. Otherwise you will be left behind.

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