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

The Big Money In Streaming Licensing Deals

Everyone is blaming Spotify for bringing in windowed exclusives. But in reality it’s not their fault.

Spotify is a service, that provides music to users. It was created by techies because the record labels didn’t have the clout to do what was required for their artists and the vast copyrights they hold. But for Spotify to work, it needed access to the vast libraries of copyrights the record labels hold. And this is how Spotify as a service will cease to work unless they move in and start creating their own content and developing their own artists. Like how Netflix has, like how HBO went from licensing movies from the movie studios to creating their own content.

And Spotify now has owners that are interested only in making money. Hell, the record labels even have a stake in Spotify, so Daniel Ek is at the mercy of these owners, who are all waiting for Spotify to go public so they could rake in billions for their millions investments.

But the record labels control the story and Spotify is portrayed as the baddie, while the faceless record labels hide behind the artists who decry Spotify and other streaming services. The record labels have done such a great job with their fake news story about streaming rates killing music, but they forget that the numbers don’t lie. Maybe they can explain why did their revenue go up to double digits and it’s back to those billions of the CD era?

But it’s the record labels who are not paying back to artists and songwriters the cash they are flush with.

For those that don’t know, Spotify and Universal Music Group (UMG) have come up with a new licensing agreement which forced Spotify to restrict new albums from Universal artists to the premium service for a two weeks as a minimum. So what about the artists who withhold their music from streaming services for a month. That could mean a six-week gap for the free tier ad-supported users of Spotify. Take a guess as to what that means. Piracy will be back with a vengeance. But then, the record labels via the RIAA will just scream and lobby hard for laws to change and stricter enforcement to happen. You can do more time in prison for a copyright offence then an actual crime.

Daniel Ek should have told Universal to go and shove it. The only streaming options for Universal would be Tidal, Pandora and Apple Music. Let’s see how far they would have gone with that.

Then Daniel Ek, should have gone after the big artists and made deals with them exclusively, cutting out the record label in the process. Yeah, I know contracts play a part, but the labels are nothing without the ARTISTS. It’s the artists that make the record labels money and not the other way around. And if the artists all challenge the status quo, then different outcomes would happen. But all of these are difficult conversations to be had and no one wants to lose out on any money.

Every artist should be suing their label for negligence and unpaid wages. How can a label not be seen as negligent by restricting access to music?

Research continues to show that people don’t like to be told how to do things. But the labels believe they know what people want.

The labels are delusional if they think the public would just take out a premium streaming offering, because of windowed releases. It will not happen, the same way, analog phones are not going to happen. Once we move on, we move on. There is no going back. Anyone remember MySpace or Yahoo or even Netscape.

There’s no doubt that ad-supported free tier will end. The labels would make sure of that in the next round of licensing deals in a few years time.

But for an artist, fans these days, don’t want to pay high rates for recorded music. They want the history of music for a low price. They would rather pay for the experience of the show. And in all of these boardroom deals between techies and record labels, it’s the artists who don’t control the rights to their music that get burned. And for some reason, Rush’s “The Big Money” comes to mind.

Big money make a million dreams
Big money spin big deals

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

A Storm Of Record Label Investment. What About The Artists?

Yep the labels are at it again. Using money that should be paid to their artists to buy shares in another technology company.

Yep the labels are using the power that they have amassed by locking away copyrights for what seems like a lifetime to purchase shares in technology companies.

This time around Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment have each bought $3 million in shares in Shazam Entertainment on top of the stake they own in Spotify.

The record labels still scream that there is no money in the recording business because of piracy.

Yet, Universal Music has also purchased shares in Beats Music and when the Apple billion dollar purchase is complete, it will be even richer.

Yet, the labels spend artist money to go to court via the RIAA against pirate sites.

Yet, the labels spend artist money to hire a company to send down digital take downs.

Yet, the labels spend artist money to lobby hard, in other words pay, for politicians to write stronger copyright terms and enforcement.

Yet, a recent IFPI report shows that the labels invested $4.5 billion in artist and repertoire.

The question is, if there is no money in the recording business,then why would the record labels spend so much money on artist and repertoire.

Because artists are the lifeblood of the music industry. And it is artists that make the record labels money.

The record labels have purchasing power because of the artists.

The record labels have status because of the artists.

The artists have made the record label executives more wealthy than the best-selling artists.

So if the record labels own shares in Spotify and Shazam, does that mean by default, the artists also own those shares.

Of course the answer is no, but it should be yes.

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

The Labels Want To Be The Good Guys

The labels want to be the good guys. They really do. However their lobby group the RIAA does not carry itself it in public in a manner that is acceptable. They put across an image that all the labels are focused solely on the now and what money can be made now. They put across an image that all the labels have no interest in planning for the future. Then the labels follow suit, flying the bullshit flag from the RIAA.

Regardless of the labels motives and business sense, they will survive.

Read the financial reports on Universal Music Group. Spotify has propped up their bottom line and that bottom line will get better each year. And with money, comes power and relationships. So how do the major metal and rock labels rate in relation to influence and relationships.

Century Media Records and Nuclear Blast are still independent labels. While Century Records lost their cash cow “In This Moment” to Atlantic, Nuclear Blast gained a new cash cow in “Machine Head”. Looking at the rosters, Nuclear Blast has surrounded themselves with a stronger group of artists however Century Media are the ones out there trying to identify new talent. Both labels will be around for a long time.

Frontiers have become a major player in the classic rock, melodic rock and hard rock scene. Frontiers kept the flag of melodic rock flying high since 1996, when all of the other major labels put their monies into grunge first and then industrial rock/metal and then nu-metal. Now that they have traction, I am just confused as to what their business model is.

Let’s sign up all the classic popular artists from the Eighties and get them to re-record some of their classics along with new music. CHECK.
Let’s get artists from different bands together to do a super group project. CHECK.
Let’s get female singers to re-record melodic rock songs that the label president likes. CHECK.

What about identifying new talent and breaking that new talent to the masses with creative and innovative ideas? NOT CHECKED.

Metal Blade is still independent however with strong ties to Sony Music and Warner Music Group in relation to distribution while Roadrunner used to be owned by Universal between the years, 2000 and 2006 and after that, they are under the control of Warner Music Group.

Roadrunner is still the major player here, however with ties to Warner, expect them to be “RIGHT NOW” profit driven and be all about the HYPE. With all the corporate deals they organised on the new Dream Theater album, they would have made up the advanced money plus the recording costs and more.

Spinefarm Records is part of Universal Music Group, with a lot of power to operate independently. They are getting out there and signing new talent. However, like all of the above labels, they are stuck in the old way. And that is the ALBUM.

They just need to realise that it is not about the sales anymore. While Steaming numbers and revenue are still small today, in the long term the labels will be able to reap the benefits.

Why?

Because streaming is a regular recurring revenue business.

For example, I have been streaming “Strife” from Trivium non-stop. Each stream is regularly producing revenue for that song. If I purchased that same song as a download, the revenue produced would be at the time it was sold. Every time that I would have listened to “Strife” at home or on my iPod or on my smartphone would not have produced a cent. All that the band or label would have made from me is the sale of the downloaded song. However with streaming they will continue to make money long after the album is released.

So if anyone believes that streaming is bad for music and that it is going to kill the incentive to create new music, tell them they are uneducated. If bands or artists are complaining about their payments, then they need to negotiate better deals with their labels or get back their Copyrights.

Let’s put it this way, if Metallica is on Spotify, then the rates paid back to the COPYRIGHT HOLDERS (and Metallica do own their Copyright) must be good, because Lars Ulrich and Cliff Burnstein would not allow Metallica to enter a business arrangement that is not in their favour.

The real truth is that there is much more music out there than there has ever been, so the issues that are present to artist and labels is how do they get people’s attention directed towards that new music.

Personally, I don’t even know anybody who pirates music anymore. There is no reason to pirate and legitimate customers/fans would always turn to legal alternatives.

In relation to sales figures and charts. Goneski. No longer relevant. Sales (as a stand-alone measure) no longer means anything. Focusing on recording sales is old school thinking. It’s all about everything else today.

“Recording Sales Revenue” plus “Streaming Revenue” plus “YouTube Ad Revenue” plus “Ticket Revenue” plus “Merchandise Revenue” plus “Corporate Deals Revenue” plus “Sponsorship Revenue” plus “Publishing Revenue” plus “Licensing Revenue” and then decide if you are winning or not.

Again, if you are not seeing a lot of revenue, then you need to be speaking to your label, because if you have numbers in all of the above Revenue streams then something is a-miss contractually.

Another thing that the metal and hard rock labels need to understand is that they reside in a niche. The heyday of when that niche was mainstream is long gone. Today, certain artists might have a crossover song that many people will latch onto and then it is back to the niche.

“Adrenaline Mob” released “Men of Honor” last week and by the end of the second week it will be forgotten. The songs are great, the musicianship is great, so what is the problem. The hard core fans picked it up and everyone else doesn’t know about it. It’s a twenty four seven job staying in the public eye and it’s god damn hard. It’s the labels job to figure out it out, however the labels don’t want to spend the money to innovate, so what they do is get most of the hate directed towards them because of their monopolistic extortion like practices from back in the day.

If the labels want to be the good guys, they need to be more transparent. They need to call out the RIAA when they spin shit. They need to do be realists and sensible. And the main thing they need to understand is that the days of when they had control of the distribution channel are long gone. The profit margins from the CD sales are never coming back. So don’t dwell on the past and start to move forward.

http://theconversation.com/music-sales-slump-is-streaming-or-the-music-industry-to-blame-23901

http://www.billboard.com/biz/articles/news/5915732/spotify-drove-universal-musics-75-jump-in-streaming-revenue-last-year

http://torrentfreak.com/artists-think-instead-spewing-spotify-hate-140222

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

Record Label Innovation – Kill Music Service to Protect Old Business Models

What are the Record Labels worth without the talent? ZERO!

So what do the Record Labels do to their talent?

They treat them to a world of creative accounting.

They treat them to a world where they spend monies on DMCA takedowns and litigation to protect the old income streams, instead of nurturing new income streams for their talent. Throughout life, people are always looking for something new, however the recording industry believe in selling the same old thing in music. When something different comes out like Mumford & Sons, Adele, PSY and Imagine Dragons it triumphs in unforseen ways.

The whole approach of the Record Labels and the RIAA has been if they can’t control a business, their next best option is to kill the business off. Napster showed the music business what the fans wanted, however they killed it off and to this day, not one legal service has risen to offer what Napster offered, which was Community and Convenience.

There is a song called Red City on the new Stone Sour release, House Of Gold and Bones II. In the story line, our hero is in the clutches of the bad guys and the song Red City marks the beginning of the end for the main character. If the Entertainment Industries and their stooges get their way, it is the beginning of the end for the Internet and the opportunities it gives to creators.

Sort of like the lyrics in the new Black Sabbath song, End of The Beginning that states “rewind the future to the past”. That is what the Entertainment industries want. The past to return. That is the future they want.

Look at the recent behaviour of the one they call Prince. Even the Electronic Frontiers Foundation has inducted Prince into its “Takedown Hall of Shame”. To sum up, Prince has issued DMCA takedowns on six second clips of a Prince concert, on fan recorded concert videos of him covering Creep from Radiohead (which by the way he doesn’t even own the rights to the song), threatening to sue people for thinking of doing a tribute album to him and a takedown of YouTube video of a toddler dancing to a Prince song (which is in the Courts at the moment).

The reason why I am mentioning Prince is to show people what a misguided artist he has become. The labels send millions of DMCA takedowns each day and in a lot of cases they censor free speech under a copyright claim. They have even taken down their own websites. Universal Music Group even took down Black Sabbath’s God Is Dead YouTube stream from the Black Sabbath YouTube page.

When is the Recording industry and people like Prince going to stop complaining? When are they going to stop lamenting the passage of the good old days? When are they going to stop blaming the technologists and the fans for ruining their business models. There is a reason why Indie labels have claimed a large slice of music sales this year than the three majors. It’s because they are working on the outside, digging deep and finding those real stars, the real golden nuggets.

Music used to be cutting edge and it used to drive the conversation and the culture. These days music is just another consumable, ready to be consumed like milk. Musicians like Prince, Jon Bon Jovi, Jay Z and so forth are trying to get in bed with the Fortune 500. Where is it written that musicians must be rich? You create quality that resonates and connects, then you will be a star.

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Music, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Record Label Innovation – Bring Back The CD in Blu-Ray?

For years the compact disc was the preferred audio format for music fans. In addition those years were the most profitable in the recording industry’s history.

Fans/collectors of vinyl and cassettes started to re-purchase albums they already owned for the sake of convenience. That is what the CD offered. Convenience.

It saddens me to keep on hearing that the recording industry still prefers a return to that era instead of innovating.

The most recent “innovation” comes from Universal Music Group.

UMG is launching a new audio format called High Fidelity Pure Audio. Basically it is a Blu-ray disc that delivers high definition audio recordings. This is yet another attempt to reinstate a long-gone profit margin that has all been done before.

There is nothing innovative about re-factoring the compact disc.

Remember convenience. Fans didn’t choose to replace the CD format with MP3’s simply because MP3s sounded better. It was about convenience. Convenience is key here. For personal use, portability and speed is worth more. That is what UMG fails to understand.

UMG is banking on a demand for high-fidelity re-releases of their back catalogs.

The label business models are built upon lack of competition in their market. Once upon a time the only music available came from the established recording industry. They told us what we were going to listen to and in what format.

I liked CDs, I really did, but after a while I ran out of space. I still buy physical CDs from time to time however I never buy CDs for the music itself.

The last physical discs I bought were for the special edition of Coheed and Cambria’s Afterman: Ascension / Descension double album. This package was was sold when Ascension released in September 2012 and Descension was months away (February 2013).

So when the package arrived The Descension disc in the box is completely blank. The purpose of this is that I am meant to burn the 320 high-quality Descension track downloads to it. I still haven’t bothered to do it, however the art book that came with it is priceless.

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Copyright, Music, Piracy, Stupidity

Fans Rushing The Stage – Part 2 – Copyright As Censorship

It looks like the video I was linking too in this post, was taken down from YouTube, due to a copyright complaint filed by SME (Sony Music Entertainment).  This is wrong on so many levels.

For starters, there is no music playing on the footage.  So I am struggling to understand how this infringes on any copyright.

Next, Motley Crue is signed to their own label, Eleven Seven Music, and the distributors are Universal Music Group and RED Distribution, LLC which is a Sony Music Entertainment division that handles distribution for independent record labels.

Again, this is a very far reach from SME to say that they own the copyright to a fan filmed video, that first has no music in it and it is from a band that is on their own label and use a division of SME for distribution ONLY.

I see this as legacy industries using Copyright as Censorship.

What these legacy industries fail to understand is that the internet is a copy system.  Here it is again.

And again.

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Music, Piracy

Bon Jovi – The life cycle of What About Now – From 1 to 76 in six weeks.

The release of What About Now happened with a bang.  Due to record label collusion between Universal (Bon Jovi’s label) and Sony (Justin Timberlake’s and David Bowie’s parent label), the album was released the week before Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 album and because of that it went straight to Number 1, beating off David Bowie.

The second week saw the album slip to Number 7.  The third week saw it drop even more to 34 on the charts.  By the fourth week, it was down to position 50.  On the other hand, the Because We Can tour, was selling out arena’s and stadiums.

Digitally, the album performed even worse.  The iTunes chart had the album debut at 52 on the 12 March 2013, and by the March 15, 2013, it was out of the Top 100 iTunes chart. Three days.  That’s it.

Songs from the album do not even rank in the top 25 of the streaming charts.

The fans have clearly spoken.  The hard-core fans like me purchased the album so that we could have it in our collections.  It’s a collectors thing.  The fans that the band picked up during the Slippery/New Jersey era and the It’s My Life era, prefer to buy tickets to the show.

So where is the album, 6 weeks after its release.  Sitting at position 76.  Bands like Imagine Dragons and Mumford and Sons are still in the top 20 and their albums have been out since mid 2012.  Adele’s 21 (released in January 2011) is still charting and selling more than Bon Jovi’s new album (released in March 2013).

The labels will scream piracy.  However, data clearly shows, that if you release good music, it will sell, and it will be around for a long time.  Release crap music and expect it to be ignored.  Thank god, Bon Jovi delivered some classic albums in the past.

 

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