Music Publishers Angry That Apple Didn't First Grovel To Them About 60-Second Song Previews

from the it-helps-you-sell-more dept

It’s really incredible to watch music industry folks shoot themselves in the foot over and over again with a simple inability to understand that promotions can lead to more sales, and that you don’t need to get paid for every promotional effort. We’ve seen some in the industry gleefully admit that they’d rather have $1 today than $100 tomorrow. But this sort of thinking seems to pervade so much of the music industry at times that it’s really quite stunning.

The latest comes from rumors that Apple was going to double song sample lengths in iTunes from 30-seconds to 60-seconds. There’s apparently plenty of good reasons for this, as research has shown that 60-second samples lead to more purchases.

And yet, despite the rumors, you’ll notice that Steve Jobs did not announce the expected doubling of samples. Why? Apparently Apple had the approval of all four of the major record labels… but he forgot to go groveling and beg for permission from the other side of the coin: the music publishers. Apparently, various music publishers read the rumors of the doubling and were quite upset that Apple hadn’t asked for their permission, and even started lawyering up to sue, in case Apple announced such a plan without first getting permission from various music publishers.

And people say we’re exaggerating when we show just how ridiculous music licensing is. This isn’t about copyright or revenue or anything. This is just childish foot-stomping by a group that demands that everyone ask permission before helping them make more money. Stunning.

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Companies: apple, nmpa

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Comments on “Music Publishers Angry That Apple Didn't First Grovel To Them About 60-Second Song Previews”

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Hephaestus (profile) says:

“We’ve seen some in the industry gleefully admit that they’d rather have $1 today than $100 tomorrow. But this sort of thinking seems to pervade so much of the music industry at times that it’s really quite stunning.”

They are not business men they are monopolists. There is a huge difference in mentality. One can cope with change one can not. One can innovate the other can not. Plus they are being led by lawyers …

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

iTunes is a monopoly? Did you forget a sarcmark or something? iTunes is the biggest online music source right now (about 70%, I believe).

But how about CD sales…their biggest competitor? Oh yeah, those guys still make up the vast majority of music sales.

I love how music industry apologists just make up market segments to back their arguments.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“I think you are probably referring to the so-called “limited monopoly” that a copyright grants,”

Actually I am talking about the “industry” (labels, collection, etc) as a whole. For the longest time they were the only game in town. They fell into the monopoly mindset and can’t get out. Monopolies promote people who are team players and who tow the party line. It leads to mediocre, unvisioned, yes men moving to the top of the heap.

We are talking about an “industry” thats about 100 years old. That has developed its own language, culture, acronyms, norms, and rules. All of which have become very static, fixed, inflexible, and incapable of changing course.

“iTunes is closer to having a monopoly than any publisher is.”

The only reason for that is every other company trying to get into the online music business has been forced, via lawsuit, into deals that have caused them to fail.

On a totally different path…. Do you have any brothers or sisters? And did you parents following a naming convention and name them things like, Pine, Willow, Oak, Walnut, Redwood … 😉 Do you have a cousin named bamboo?

taoareyou says:

They are irrelevant to me

I listen to and support my favorite artists at Jamendo. Better music, too because it’s authentic artistic expression, not the crap that has to pass corporate filters.

This is the future the music industry is creating for itself. The middle men will go away and the artists will flock to popular sites similar to Jamendo and interact directly with those who enjoy their work.

Freedom Fighter says:

I’m sure what they really prefer is $1 today AND $100 tomorrow. Stunning? Their behavior shouldn’t be by now. Some day, when these dinosaurs are long gone, history will remember them as the ultimate example of greed, a cautionary tale that having your cake and eating it too, while certainly achievable, always comes at too high a price.


Anonymous Coward says:

and even started lawyering up to sue

“and even started lawyering up to sue”

Do you really think they would get very far with a simple letter, email or phone call? Threatening to sue is simply a way to actually get a response from a sleeping giant that does not care. If companies gave these types of inquiries the attention they deserve then there would be no need to ‘laywer up’. Apples actions or lack thereof create the ‘lawyer up’ problem. I’m not siding with the music publishers, just saying that ‘lawyering up’ gets attention that might otherwise be hard or impossible to get.

Auditrix (profile) says:

Contrary View + Now is the Time for Publishers to Demand Direct Accountings from Apple

Publishers do not have an “inability to understand that promotions can lead to more sales.”

Many publishers will gladly grant gratis (free) promotional interactive streaming licenses to Apple for this reason. (Publishers grant gratis licenses all the time.) However, this decision is not Apple’s to make. It is the publisher’s.

That said, I wouldn’t blame a publisher for not granting a gratis license for interactive streaming by Apple. After all, Apple is in the business of selling devices and the publishers don’t share in that profit. Further, the only amounts that publishers receive from an iTunes download in the US is what they manage to squeeze out of record companies, which is not a fair share compared to the record companies’ and Apple’s shares. So, publishers and songwriters have less to gain from additional sales than any party.

Most importantly, Apple is shifting to streaming, and away from downloads, so it is crucial that publishers now establish their right to receive direct accountings from iTunes and not let Apple and the labels once again team up to virtually squeeze out publishers and songwriters, which is what happened with downloads, at least in the USA.

Not to mention that other music distributors under Section 115 of the Copyright Act must choose either to pay statutory rates set by the Copyright Royalty Board for interactive streaming uses, or, more often, opt to negotiate more favorable rates (including $0 rates) with publishers. Why should Apple have an unfair advantage of not having to pay or negotiate for such interactive streams?

Leviathant (profile) says:

Go after the labels, not the distributor.

From the sounds of it, if publishers have to pursue record labels for their fair cut of a sale, going around them and taking aim at the point of sale seems to validate and further enable the notoriously poor accounting practices that plague record labels, while forcing the publishers to go after imaginary money.

Certainly, if Apple does shift to an all-streaming model (I’ll keep downloading from Amazon, thx) I can understand publishers getting a cut from those transactions, as money is changing hands.

As far as Apple’s business of selling devices that publishers don’t share in the profit of, if publishers were to get a percentage of the sale of iPhones, Macintosh computers, iPods, and so forth, that seems to me to be grossly overreaching, a kind of handout-style subsidization of publishing companies, much like the tax on CDRs in Canada. The primary purpose of the iTunes store is to sell content. Did publishers get a cut of each sale of the Sony Walkman when that was the hot music delivery device?

Danny says:

Which is funny...

We’ve seen some in the industry gleefully admit that they’d rather have $1 today than $100 tomorrow. But this sort of thinking seems to pervade so much of the music industry at times that it’s really quite stunning.
I find this to be sad considering that at the same time most companies will promise to pay $100 dolloars tomorrow rather than pay $1 today.

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