Mon, Jun 1st 2009 10:27pm
Thu, May 14th 2009 1:58pm
from the head-scratching dept
The study also says the Long Tail fails because "there is too much choice on file-sharing sites" and it's difficult for people to find new music. Again, this reinforces, rather than undermines the Long Tail, which requires a strong recommendation system to succeed. But the file-sharing services themselves aren't recommendation systems, nor are they intended to be. The recommendation systems are blogs, net radio, word of mouth, and other sources; the file-sharing networks are just the distribution network. It sounds like this study actually does more to assert the validity of the Long Tail than refute it, and it also does very little to help make the case that file-sharing is destroying the music business. But that, of course, wouldn't be the message the PRS wants to deliver -- so it sets up the straw man that if the Long Tail is wrong, then file sharing must be bad. Only problem is it doesn't even do that well.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Apr 21st 2009 12:40pm
from the no-wonder-they-go-after-horses dept
If you want to understand the sort of incentives that create such ridiculous and self-defeating PR nightmares, take a look at a recent job posted by PRS (thanks to Kaden for alerting us to this). Officially, the organization is looking for a "copyright investigator," but the actual job is in "sales." These "investigators" have "revenue targets" and can earn a bonus for bringing in excess revenue beyond their targets. That's not creating a situation where these investigators are told to go find violators. It creates a scenario where they're encouraged to find anyway humanly possible to squeeze pretty much anyone for cash.
The PR guy from PRS who contacted us tried to make the case that PRS is just a little non-profit looking out for the best interests of musicians, but when it's setting up its sales people with incentives to come up with any bogus reason to pressure everyone into purchasing a license to listen to music they already legally purchased, something is clearly wrong. This is a group that's effectively been handed a monopoly in the UK and appears to be abusing its power, not as a little harmless non-profit, but as an organization that handles an awful lot of money and has empowered its sales people to threaten small businesses if they don't pay up.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Mar 27th 2009 12:24pm
from the this-is-called-extortion dept
The latest (sent in by a few folks) is that PRS has now threatened a woman who plays classical music to her horses in her stable to keep them calm. She had been turning on the local classical music station, saying that it helped keep the horse calm -- but PRS is demanding £99 if she wants to keep providing such a "public performance." And it's not just a one-off. Apparently a bunch of stables have been receiving such calls.
Obviously, this is not a case of random excessive attempts by PRS to squeeze more money out of people. It's become systematic. The group seems to believe that playing music in almost any situation now constitutes a public performance and requires a licensing fee. You just know they're salivating over the opportunity to go after people playing music in their cars with the windows down.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Mar 18th 2009 12:32pm
from the logic-is-not-sharkey's-strong-suit dept
Of course, what he really means is that he's finally realizing that Google actually has the leverage in this fight. They have the value that musicians want: a platform to gain tremendous amounts of attention, that many musicians are using to successfully build an audience. That's the value. Google doesn't need those music videos to make money, so it's fine without them. But, musicians sure could use the boost that YouTube gives them.
But, honestly, Sharkey's response shows how hypocritical he and many in the industry are over these issues. First they scream about how YouTube is copyright infringement and stealing form them... and so now that YouTube takes down their videos... they scream again? Shouldn't that be exactly what they want? If they're not getting paid a reasonable amount for the use of the videos, shouldn't they be thrilled that YouTube took the videos down? After all, we're told over and over again a rather simple mantra by pro-copyright folks: if you don't like the price, don't download the music. Google is living by that exactly. It didn't like the price offered by PRS, so it's blocking the music.
Done deal. What's to be upset about?
At some point, perhaps, it will dawn on Sharkey, Billy Bragg and others in the UK music business that, in their demand to get "paid" tons of money for everything, they've forgotten that the music is only one part of the value proposition -- and the community and platform that YouTube provides is another big part of it. The very fact that they want their videos back up shows they recognize this fact implicitly, even if they're going through massive cognitive dissonance in somehow lashing out at Google for making that point clear.
Sharkey is once again confused. Google isn't abusing any power. It got offered a bad deal by PRS, and it turned it down and blocked all of the videos. If Sharkey really believes what he claims about music business models, this should be exactly what he wants. Rather than allowing such "theft" to continue, it's cleared the playing field so that Sharkey, UK Music and PRS can take those videos to some other site. Or put up their own damn site. The very fact that they're not doing that, and are focusing on YouTube instead, shows they know in their hearts (if not their brains) that Google and YouTube are providing significant value.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Mar 11th 2009 9:31am
from the you're-about-to-learn-what-leverage-is dept
It is, perhaps, no surprise at all, that one of the major complainers on the musician side is Billy Bragg -- who's been quick to make these sorts of ridiculous arguments in the past as well, and whose manager, Peter Jenner, is equally unable to understand basic economics. The problem is that they think that the world owes them money after the fact. They both refuse to come up with decent business models, and then complain when others do -- and demand that those other innovators simply have to pay up.
It's the same story we hear over and over again. Folks in the entertainment industry insist that 100% (or perhaps 99%) of the value comes from the content itself -- and refuse to recognize that any of the value comes from the technology, the service or the community of folks using those services. However, their own actions show how wrong that is. If it's true that Google is "underpaying" the artists, shouldn't the artists be HAPPY that Google took down their content? After all, according to what some of these artists and record labels insist, wasn't Google "stealing" from them? So, now that Google has stopped, doesn't that mean they're better off?
The very fact that the musicians are so up in arms shows how much more leverage Google has. It shows that a significant part of the value is in YouTube. YouTube can survive just fine without the music videos. The musicians, on the other hand, are suffering. That's why it's the musicians complaining. But that shows the very point Google is trying to make: Google has the leverage here, not the musicians. And, yet, the musicians still want to pretend it's the other way around.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Mar 10th 2009 3:33am
from the nice-job,-PRS dept
I'm not entirely sure if this is in effect already. I'm in the UK right now and a quick search on YouTube found all of the videos I looked for. However, it seems that Google knows that it's the one with the leverage in these negotiations and is finally letting other parties recognize that. The record labels keep demanding more without any actual reason for it, insisting that 100% of the value comes from the music, rather than the service and the promotions. It's about time that some of the service providers proved they were wrong. Yes, the music is part of the value, but it certainly appears that a much bigger part of the value is the community that Google brings at YouTube.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Feb 2nd 2009 8:51am
Performance Rights Society Calls Small Businesses & Threatens Them Over Music Heard In The Background
from the going-just-a-bit-too-far dept
Robson, 75, who was targeted last year, said: "There is usually only me here and I like to have nice relaxing music. The woman said she could hear music in the background. I thought, 'My God, you’ve got good ears.' She asked how many of us were here listening. I said me and sometimes the dog. Eventually, after I made a fuss, they apologised and said I would not be bothered again."Apparently even playing music to animals is considered a potential public performance to PRS:
John Collins, 57, who runs a software company from a room at his home in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, received letters saying he needed a licence for the classical CDs he played while working. "If my wife Susan brings me a cup of tea and hears the music then I might be liable," he said.
Even dogs and cats do not always escape targeting. Follybridge cattery near Peterborough and Stokenchurch dog rescue centre in Buckinghamshire, which play Terry Wogan’s Radio 2 show to their "guests", were both told they would need a licence in case any workers heard the music.Yes, they're really reaching for that point where you'll need a general license just to listen to music yourself.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Oct 17th 2008 11:28am
from the that-hard-up-for-money,-huh? dept
The latest in its effort to look about as obnoxious as possible is to (seriously) go after a non-profit children's community center for using a TV, radio and CD player to keep kids entertained. As the folks who run the community center note, they already have a TV license, and have purchased the CDs legally. Yet, PRS wants them to pay again -- and not a small sum, either. It'll be another £3,000 to actually use these products that were legally purchased. It's almost as if the folks on the "royalties" side of the music business want to look as evil as is humanly possible.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Jun 12th 2008 2:14pm
from the keep-quiet dept
It appears that PRS representatives just go around the UK these days trying to see if they can hear music anywhere. One den of piracy that they discovered? Police stations! Yes, they're now accusing 34 police stations with failing to pay for a license because officers were listening to music loud enough that others could hear it. These would be the same police that are out arresting people recently for "Conspiracy To Defraud The Music Industry." Perhaps they should be checking themselves out as well.