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

The Labels Say Infringement Is The Issue. Maybe Not.

The labels still focus on infringement and see that as a big issue. Stream ripping sites are getting a lot of attention right now, especially in Australia.

But the shitty way the labels treat the artists who created valuable art “which is worth something” is not an issue to the labels.

Years ago, the labels went to court against artists like Eminem, David Coverdale and Don Henley concerning digital royalties. The labels always paid low royalties on sales of music CDs and vinyl. However, “licensing” music (once upon a time licensing was for movies or commercials only), offered a higher payout to the artist.

The question the artists wanted to know was how is iTunes treated?

The labels said iTunes is a “sale” like a CD sale and the artist is paid the lower royalty rate.

The artists countered that iTunes is a “license,” like for a commercial, as the labels need to license their music to the tech service for the tech service to sell it. This in turn means the artists are meant to be paid the higher royalty rate of up to to 50%.

In the U.S the labels won at the district court level, while the artists won at the appeals court level.

Now this “sales vs license” scenario was relevant up to about 2011 as newer contracts the labels drew up afterwards avoided this problem. Basically, everything is a sale to the labels even the streams from streaming service all so the labels could rip off artists a little bit more.

Not sure if anyone noticed, but Def Leppard was also caught up in this dispute for years with their label, hence the reason why their music wasn’t on any streaming or digital service for a long time. Def Leppard even refuses to let their label license their music until they sorted out the payment issue.

And the big issue here is that the record labels really owe a lot of money to artists but they still put out lies that infringement is the biggest challenge they face while they go to court against the artists. But they still put out the propaganda that when they ask for longer copyright terms, it’s for the artists, when they ask for stream ripping sites to be taken down, it’s also for the artists. Basically everything the labels do is for the artists, except payments.

Furthermore, all the labels know that their power in the market is based on the content they hold. In this case, it’s the songs they hold on behalf of artists.

So the Copyright Act in the U.S gives creators the right to terminate a copyright grant they have given to a corporation after a 35-year period.

And of course there are a lot of artists who created works which ended up becoming very valuable, who want to reclaim their copyrights.

Basically artists who released music up to 1984 have put in claims to get their works back.

Then it will be 1985 releases and before you know it, the 1990s artists will want to their rights back. And if you grew up in this period, you know that there are a lot of great songs that make a lot of money, which the labels don’t want to lose control of and the artists who want to get those songs back under their control.

But the labels will not let it happen without a fight in the courts.

Universal Music Group (UMG) are going to court to dismiss the termination notices served against it. Sony is also trying the same tactic.

And they are using their own interpretation of the law which could bog down the proceedings for years while lawyers argue words in the Act and how they can be interpreted.

And the big thing the labels are sticking with is the “works for hire” principle which worked a treat for the movie studios.

Basically if an employee creates something as a work for hire, it means the employer is the owner of the work and the work can not be terminated. So the labels are basically saying that the artists are employees, which we all know is bullshit, because I am sure the artists didn’t get monies added to a pension fund or holiday pay and what not.

Also when the artist wrote that hit song, it wasn’t because they were an employee of the label, it was because they had an idea, either at band practice, or at soundcheck, or in their hotel room or bedroom.

But hey, I guess power corrupts and always wins. It’s time all of the artists started terminating their rights with the corporations.

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

Lessons To Learn From Don Henley: How many hard rock and heavy metal bands are seeking to reclaim their recordings?

When it comes to music, I am still catching up. In the last few days, I have revisited Don Henley and Doobie Brothers.

As I was listening to Don Henley I started to jot down the songs that I liked. By the time I got to his 2009, “The Very Best of”, the list was almost identical to what was on the Best of album. After hearing the songs over and over again, I still don’t like “All She Wants To Do Is Dance”, “Sunset Grill”, “For My Wedding”, “Everything Is Different Now” and “Taking You Home”. They just don’t resonate.

Basically, Don Henley’s solo output to me as a casual fan of his music is a perfect example of some good songs and the rest as filler. I know that all the Don Henley fans will lynch me for saying it. But that is the truth to the casual fan.

From the first album, “I Can’t Stand Still” released in 1982, the standout songs to me are the title track “I Can’t Stand Still” and “Dirty Laundry”.

The themes in “Dirty Laundry” are still relevant today. Back in 1982, Henley displayed his disgust with the media and tabloid news. Today, people are airing their dirty laundry on Facebook, Twitter and other forums.

From the second album, “Building The Perfect Beast” released in 1984, the standout songs are “The Boys Of Summer”, “Not Enough Love In The World” and “Land Of The Living”.

What can I say, “The Boys Of Summer” was huge. It gave Don Henley a four-year victory lap (plus he served notice to Geffen Records that he will be reclaiming the recording of this song in 2019), because the third album, “The End Of The Innocence” didn’t come out until 1989. The standout songs are “The End Of The Innocence”, “New York Minute”, “The Last Worthless Evening” and the closer “The Heart Of The Matter”. The other songs don’t matter. It is these four songs that matter.

Bob Lefsetz said that to appreciate and to really get “The Heart Of The Matter” you need to have lived. You need to have played the game of love, lost and picked yourself up again. And he is right. While all of the kids make top 10 lists of what’s cool, classic songs like “The Heart Of The Matter” get lost.

“Actual Miles: Henley’s Greatest Hits” came in 1995. And I actually liked all of the three new songs. “The Garden of Allah”, “You Don’t Know Me At All”, and Henley’s cover of “Everybody Knows”.

“Inside Job” came in 2000. It was 11 years since his last solo album and on a different label. Geffen was gone and Warner Bros was in. This is the album that had better songs and since it was 11 years between solo albums, Henley had some time to perfect them.

My favourites are “Nobody Else In The World But You”, “Everything Is Different Now”, “Workin It”, “Goodbye To A River”, “Inside Job” and “My Thanksgiving.”

In between solo albums, Henley has been busy with the Eagles, Geffen contract issues, Copyright issues against Record Labels, termination rights on songs and the Eagles again.

That is why Don Henley is important. He knows his rights. While people criticise musicians who turn into business people, it was inevitable that musicians will end up taking the business path. The great record label rip off/exploitation caused it. It is just unfortunate that a lot of the musicians that didn’t achieve world-wide domination still don’t realise their rights on songs that they made famous. Not a lot of hard rock and heavy metal bands are serving notice to their record label to reclaim songs they had written 35 years ago.

While I don’t agree on everything Henley does, like sending a cease and desist letter to an independent band or trying to get a remix law taken off the radar, the bottom line is this, he is a musician that looks out for his own interests. And that is why we loved our heroes.

Remember the creed from the past.

Artists were always reinventing themselves and taking risks.

In relation to music, sometimes the audience went with it and other times they didn’t. Risk isn’t always negative. Positive outcomes can come from risk.

However it seems to be that a lot of artists are playing it safe. Don Henley on the other hand is still taking risks. Not so much musically, but politically.

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