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  • Jun 21st, 2014 @ 9:39pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: That Story

    my dad is a jazz musician and the idea that he would be rich and famous was certainly not why he and his friends devoted their lives to music.
    I on the other hand became a rock musician at an early age so I have close experience with the delusions of grandeur that afflict so many rockers. Especially those that came of age in the late 80s and early 90s. The idea that you need to be rich and famous or you are a ‘loser’ is the most soul crushing burden a person can place on their own back. We musicians can thank the internet for liberating us from the expectation of riches at least. Meanwhile ‘reality’ television has convinced the rest of the species that if they are rude and sarcastic enough, they deserve to be famous!
    As far as the ‘death’ of physical retailers I don’t see at all that what we have gained has YET outweighed the downsides but it’s clear that all of us have benefited from having incredible access to the entirety of music history.
    I hope this phase of humanity will end soon, we were not meant to live our lives in front of a computer monitor.
    I believe one day we will pour out into the streets and parks and when that happens we will be listening to music!

  • Jun 21st, 2014 @ 8:32am

    Re: Re: That Story

    If You Tube is now a music distributor, selling music as a PRODUCT, then ipso facto, the new You Tube will be in fact, a gatekeeper.
    Because for me to use their subscription service I have to PAY, get it? No pay no get in. Can't be part of the special people club.
    Nothing wrong with that right? That’s just business. 
    (Of course if a musician expects to be paid for their music,the trolls will start up with ‘music wants to be free, you should only make it for the love of making it’.)
    I am sure Google desires to maintain the non-subscription You Tube as open to uploads as possible. The growling between the remaining indies and Google is probably just part of the negotiation process and I would be very surprised to see You Tube ‘block’ or the labels to ‘pull’ anything since it’s not in anybody’s best interest.
    but going back to the subscription business of You Tube ,
    if they gently inform labels that they no longer offer revenue contracts to entities that are not in their special people club, then THAT is in fact gatekeeping, and it's perfectly understandable!
    from Billboard-
    ‘President of the American Association Of Independent Music, Rich Bengloff, also took aim at the majors yesterday, who have signed up to YouTube’s audio service on unknown terms. Speaking to Billboard, Bengloff suggested that a fear of the indie labels’ growing market share had led, at least in part, to the majors entering an alliance with Google that gives them preferential treatment.’   
    None of us know the facts and perhaps the indies are paranoid since they and we aren’t privy to what dealmaking went on between Google and the big labels, but…
    their fear is based on well known collusion between the major labels and the streaming services where the streamers compensate the labels with cash and stock upfront so the companies will accept worthless royalty rates. If it’s true that Google is giving the majors the same kind of ‘preferential treatment’  the other streamers are giving, then yes that would be gatekeeping also.

  • Jun 21st, 2014 @ 1:53am

    That Story

    Hey Mike I’m not disagreeing that indies should upgrade their deal with Google because it’s as you say:
    ‘better than the crappy ad share deal you're currently getting’.
    but in 2009 you said that:
    ‘It's not hard to make the argument that the music industry should have been THRILLED with the free service that Google/YouTube provided’.
    Was the Masnick of 2009 more idealistic or the Masnick of 2014 more honest?
    Also in 2009 I think you were referring to record labels when you talked about ‘gatekeepers’ but isn’t Google engaging in some pretty aggressive gatekeeping now?
    Masnick: ‘Gatekeepers are the middlemen that people generally have the biggest problem with. Those are the ones who put *themselves* — rather than the creators — at the center of the marketplace, they limit who can even be in the market, and they tend to take a disproportionate percentage of any money made.’
    Of course 5 years ago we were all more optimistic and enthused about the possibilities of the internet. I don’t think we should give up hope, but if there’s gonna be progress we have to be honest about what it is and what it isn’t.
    In 2009 you spoke of the ‘enablers’:
    ‘Enablers, on the other hand, keep the creator at the center of the market, and just provide them with the tools and services that enable them to do more of what they want to do… and do it better. So those are the companies who enable a content creator to create, to distribute, to promote and to monetize… without having to take control over the whole process.”
    it’s a nice idea but evidently it’s time has not yet arrived…

  • Nov 27th, 2013 @ 1:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re

    I forgive the bad language but not the poor english skills. did you notice the past tense in 'MTV didn't...' ? and I'm sure you know MTV hasn't shown videos for 20 years.
    Notice I didn't say 'Disney', I said 'record companies'
    The record companies' contracts with their artists explicitly forbids them from distributing their products for free, hence it WOULD be illegal for them to do 'what Pirate Bay does'.
    They're not my 'beloved record labels' they're ripping me off all my life but when my works are copyrighted, it gives me my only protection.
    I complete agree with your objections to copyright expansion. I am hoping to mobilize artists to promote copyright reform but it's hard in an environment of so much polarizing opinion.
    Yes the media cartels are are more criminal than Google, and I mentioned some of that in a different post.
    I could go on for days about the evil record companies and the horrors of copyright expansion and the need for permission free copyright but the day is getting too short...

  • Nov 27th, 2013 @ 12:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re

    going straight to your question:
    I am surprised to find that every songwriter I ask, would be completely fine but absolutely insistent that a copyright should ONLY be for the length of the creators lifetime.
    This I would address directly the issue you mention about mining the treasures of the past that rightfully should be in public domain. I think writers especially in film, TV and theater would embrace this very enthusiastically.
    Artists pushing for reform thru the PROs could make this happen. But when you say that copyright ONLY benefits corporations you alienate the artists because we use copyrights as PROTECTION from the corporations. The ONLY thing keeping my works safe from them is the law. There's an old saying ' if your shit ain't being stole , it ain't good.'
    Copyright REFORM and ELIMINATION are such different things , they should not be in the same sentence. Reform is way overdue and I'm trying to make it happen, but elimination IS the usual class warfare between capital and labor.
    Unfortunately these reforms you and I seem to agree on will be resisted by the entrenched media companies.
    Your comments are interesting because I think they point to potential WEDGE issues between the creatives and the corporations. I think that reform can happen when it's championed by the artists because they own so much content.
    Artists have been too passive in letting the labels and studios run rampant over the public. At the time of Napster, music artists were in long term contracts and really had no voice making an impact on emerging distribution models.
    The situation is very different today when perhaps most artists own their products outright. The time is right for copyright reform but vilifying artists like the Beastie Boys just polarizes people who should be working together for a more creative future.

  • Nov 27th, 2013 @ 6:21am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re

    yes , I accept your suggestion. Let's target pirate sites instead of Google.
    If we can get rid of the piracy sites, we will have a valid marketplace and genuine prices for music and advertising. The musicians and businesses will be able to adapt and compete.
    People have become famous from YouTube . They're making money ? Practically nothing , it's a joke. But maybe all that matters about YouTube is the exposure. MTV didn't pay artists but if you became famous you could sell CDs.
    The record companies can't do what the pirate sites do because it's illegal .
    Yeh, Google is smart and they're too far ahead for anyone to catch up.
    And if the record companies were smart they could have been Google, just like Sony could have been Apple.
    Perhaps Google is only ' incidentally ' involved , I mean what company would not take advantage of an opportunity to make profits where no one else can?
    But I do notice that Google finances many think tanks and lobbyists that promote eliminating copyrights and royalty methods, so I'm not inventing the fact that they are waging war on the creative community.

  • Nov 27th, 2013 @ 5:06am


    I'm encouraged you're not a copyright denier.
    I think we see similar injustices and have the same hopes for the future of music
    You and I view the history of music from a different perspective, but that's natural and it's healthy to get a different perspective.
    yes, ARTIST royalties are mythical, except for spectacularly big acts who ALWAYS had to sue to collect 50 cents on the dollar.
    The first rule of music is: never sell your PUBLISHING.
    I get 2000 per cent more publishing income from the tired old broadcasters than I get from ALL digital media combined. My income from YouTube is 00.01 per cent of my songwriter income and other writers I know report similar results.
    It's true US broadcasters NEVER paid musicians, but if you owned your own publishing AND you had a hit, then only then , you were truly in business. Without the hits, there is no stadium tour, the merch, endorsements and other things you mention. I can understand that you see unfairness in that ecosystem, all I can say is at least there WAS an ecosystem.
    Touring income is always reported in terms of gross ticket receipts but touring costs are so merciless that even for huge acts the profit can be elusive. 2 canceled shows can wipe out all your profit. One bass player OD mid-tour and your platinum selling band declares bankruptcy.
    So as I say publishing was and is the bread and butter.
    The giant record companies are almost all gone but their publishing entities remain and are making only slightly less money than in their peak.
    I guess what you're saying is YouTube (and Pandora/Spotify etc,) pay a higher percentage of what they CLAIM is their ad income. I suspect that like the record companies and all corporations they have 3 sets of books, but it doesn't matter. I'm just saying no songwriters are making a living from YouTube and probably not from the streaming services either.
    I hope your view of there being more artists supporting themselves from music than ever before is more correct than what I see. If you see statistics that support this, please share, because I'm very interested.
    For instance, the BLS figures you quote jibe with what I see in the film and TV where I assume those jobs are coming from. It's good news in that it indicates growth and activity but at the same time horrifying about what it indicates about budgets and compensation. That also jibes with the quality of the work that I hear on low budget projects. (not dissing anyone's work , it's hard when time and money are short.)
    I do notice that people establishing themselves in music are middle-class even upper class. Actually what I notice is that they COME from rather privileged backgrounds and sometimes are able to leverage this advantage into a viable career. Just as I see the interns in the film biz who get out of expensive schools and have parents well off enough to support them for the 2 or 3 years of unpaid labor that just may land them entry to a desirable position.
    I don't know who Chris Castle is but please feel free to tell me what lies you think Lowery is posting , it's good to get information and fact check.

  • Nov 27th, 2013 @ 2:04am

    fair use vs copyright reform

    Having the courts arbitrate massive amounts of creative disputes is even stupider than letting them decide our presidential elections.
    f we have copyright reform we won't need to tie up the courts with expensive and often inconclusive litigation.
    'determined on a case-by-case basis'
    You are exactly correct and thats why 'fair use' is not the path to a more creative future, we need to make things easier and simpler, not harder and more complicated.
    Make copyright permission free' so that anyone can sample or quote from existing music to create new copyrights that split credit and revenue with the holders of the original property.

  • Nov 26th, 2013 @ 1:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: damn shame

    all your points are valid , but yes that's units, not CDs, good lord.
    I am assuming we are all subjective about what constitutes quality.
    but as many commenters are fond of saying, you don't have a 'right' to make a living at music. It really is based on having very competitive skills.
    Yes the filters get better but there are opportunities for yet unimagined social media , tastemakers, bloggers, who knows what?
    I am hopeful for the future, but to say we have a functioning musical ecosystem is very premature. That's a good thing because it's not too late to have a voice in what shape it takes.

  • Nov 26th, 2013 @ 1:37pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re osed/
    Musical artists never survived from artist royalties. The bread and butter and gasoline for musicians always came from broadcast royalties that are derived from radio and television advertisers.
    As the dissemination of music has moved from radio to the internet this special bond between music still exists but without the revenue sharing device of the 'compulsory license'. That's fine, it's a new medium and a new marketplace, let's see what happens right? Let the market decide?
    Problem is to have a genuine market requires 'price discovery' so we arrive at a valuation for goods and services . Music is the goods , advertising is the service. Right now we don't know the real value of music, obviously if 70 per cent of music is pirated goods distributed from peer to peer torrent sites then this undermines valuation and legitimate distributors and streamers can't discover a genuine price. That problem is well known, but what's not talked about is the only way the torrents survive is from their advertising. Advertisers pay them because the free pirated goods they offer attract massive user traffic. Because unlike Spotify or Pandora they don't have to pay for 'eyeball bait' they can offer incredibly cheap advertising. Therefore they are not just destroying valuation of music, perhaps more importantly, they undermine valuation of advertising and THIS is the real reason the internet marketplace cannot yet sustain music artists.
    Google has a long history of sharing ad revenue with the piracy sites but I'm reading that perhaps they are shying away from them more recently.
    Doesn't matter , actually everything I've said the piracy sites is even more true of YouTube . The fact is that Google can monetize ad revenue at such high volume and low cost that there is currently no way to make ad revenue from music streaming financially viable.
    Ads just need to cost more, and when that happens, I suspect there will be a music business again.

  • Nov 26th, 2013 @ 12:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: damn shame

    everything your saying is absurd tech-lord propaganda.
    I grew up in the music business , had my first record contract as a teenager.
    Now I work deep in the intersection of music and film because its one of the few pillars standing.
    I'm not saying the end result of the internets impact on music isn't gonna be great ,
    but so far Google has hijacked ad revenue from the internet so basically none goes back to the creators.
    This is class warfare , conducted by the Libertarian investor class against the creative community.
    They want the professionals to be replaced by 'users' essentially serfs tilling the fields of the internet, generating 'user content' that is monetized in such small increments that it's useless to the 'users' but at such a volume that it generates millions for Google.
    Musicians are disappearing but there are more HOBBYISTS than ever before.
    I don't mind music being a nearly impossible career.
    It needs to be because only 1 per cent of people can make good music, and only 1 per cent of that 1 per cent are going to be lucky enough to be successful.
    The more people there are making their shitty hobby music, the harder time we have wading thru it to find the good stuff. But the good stuff is there! it's out there somewhere. but now there's no tour support for them be discovered by audiences.
    here's some numbers for you:
    in 2011 there were 76,865 new releases, only 3,148 sold more than 2,000 units = 4% of new releases sold over 2,000 units
    in 2011 there were 878,369 total releases in print, only 15,613 sold more than 2,000 units = 2% of ALL RELEASES in print sold more than 2,000 units.
    in 2012 there were 76,882 new releases, only 3,074 sold more than 2,000 units = 4% of new releases sold over 2,000 units
    in 2012 there were 909,799 total releases in print, only 15,507 sold more than 2,000 units = 2% of ALL RELEASES in print sold more than 2,000 units.
    So in the last two calendar years only 4% of New Releases and only 2% of ALL releases managed to sell more than 2,000 units.
    That means 96% of all music released and in print sells less then 2,000 units per year.
    No way are these people making a decent living from music!
    If you don't show a profit to the IRS after 3 years you can't claim to be a professional and you lose the ability to write off the considerable costs of doing business. At that point you are out of the business, you are a hobbyist.
    The amount of professional music artists plummeted by 45.3 percent between August 2002 and August of 2011.
    There ARE bright spots in music and out of these troubles will come something new and great but what it will be is not clear yet,
    Festivals are getting bigger and providing a place for fresh live talent to be discovered. My hope is that we will see a rebirth of regional music. A phenomenon that has strangely not occurred for over a decade.

  • Nov 26th, 2013 @ 11:04am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Huh. Did not know that

    yes I accept your philosophy and metaphor.
    but my statement is true!
    it's just funny somehow...

  • Nov 26th, 2013 @ 10:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Huh. Did not know that

    'everything is a remix'
    said no musician ever!

  • Nov 26th, 2013 @ 9:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Huh. Did not know that

    a lot of people are suggesting possible parody rip offs but yours is the funniest so far!

  • Nov 26th, 2013 @ 9:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    oh man, now nobody's gonna take my bet..

  • Nov 26th, 2013 @ 9:25am

    Re: Re: 'fair use' rainbow

    OK, just having fun.
    I see the value of 'fair use' but I don't think it's a magical answer to everything and it has the capacity to enrage artists because it can be so UNFAIR.
    On the other hand existing copyright law has too often stifled free expression.
    Into that breech we turn to 'fair use' but its not a very efficient or streamlined process. Isn't there an expression 'don't make a federal case out of it?''
    The purpose of compulsory licenses are to simplify and speed up dissemination of content. It's what created the broadcast industry which has been the true mainstay of musical and visual art of the 20th century.
    The concept of 'permission free' needs to be added to copyright practice so that anyone can sample or quote from existing music to create a new copyright that splits credit and revenue with the holders of the original property.

  • Nov 26th, 2013 @ 8:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: damn shame

    I AM optimistic . Since I work in both film and music I see directly in real time who and what's working. I certainly can't speak about video and books , but I will say the 5% increase for books is less than inflation for that period.
    The film business has reinvented itself, with a long form narratives for small screen and big budget CGI pix for big screen. I suspect the streamers are heavy into the red but they're investing a lot into content and there's lotsa work.
    Music scene is bad! Saying that music is doing great because there's more dollars is exactly like when we are told the economy is great because Wall Street is at an all time high.
    All studies that propose performers are earning more money are referring specifically to touring income.
    It's true there is more money in live music than ever. but it's going to 'legacy' acts like Madonna, the Stones, U2…
    Ticket sales are markedly down in numbers but drastically higher in price.
    (average ticket for Rolling Stones: $500)
    So the music economy, just like the rest of the economy is only benefiting the 1%
    Touring is not profitable for smaller acts and even mid-level artists have only sustained their careers from broadcast royalties .
    The transitional stage the music business is in is no worse than pre-Motown/British Invasion or pre-Punk/New Wave. The commercial and artistic breakthroughs of those eras happened because of the entrepreneurial incentives for people like Berry Gordy, Brian Epstein and Andrew Loog Oldham. But the entrepreneurs of today are internet cloud-barons reigning over a feudal structure of unpaid musical serfs.
    If the music streaming services can graduate from a venture capital-Ponzi scheme model into truly viable businesses, then maybe they can fill the gap being left by dwindling radio and television royalties.
    Advertising is what supported musicians for the last 90 years and music is even more integral to commerce than ever. Torrent sites lower the bar for ad rates, helping to create a junk mail landscape of online advertising.
    This hurts music much more than downloading.
    If the torrent sites are allowed to continue unmolested but cut out of the advertising business they will provide a very healthy underground community that promotes creativity, while the streaming services would get higher ad rates which would sustain music creators.

  • Nov 26th, 2013 @ 6:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: 2 Live Crew settlement

    Thanks for the tip about threaded mode, I sincerely apologize for sending comments to you that were meant for someone else.
    I never said 'they settled, so obviously they were wrong' . Why attribute that to me in quotation marks? It doesn't represent my opinion or sentiment.
    The dismissal of the infringement case against was not just a victory for 2 Live Crew but a step forward for free expression. But there is a great deal of mythology around the origin and outcome of the case. Perhaps 2 Live Crew were overly generous in settling , just as they were overly generous in initially offering ALL publishing income to Orbison's publishers. I suspect that was the same deal they gave to Lieber and Stoller for "Yakety Yak' the year before.
    The amount of cash in the settlement is not known but Orbison's publishers continue to receive royalties.

  • Nov 25th, 2013 @ 9:04pm

    Re: Re: Re: damn shame

    Sure, when you cover a song the Master recording becomes a 'new' work, but but it doesn't create a new 'publishing' copyright.
    I'm not sure, but perhaps you are implying that rather than 'improve' copyright we should eliminate it?
    Of course I don't agree but I do concur about the offensive behavior of ASCAP and all the PRO's . GEMA is particularly merciless about strong arming local music venues in Germany.
    It's also true that you can't expect much money from the PROS without a hit or movie/television placement.
    In that sense they took from the poor to pay the rich.
    But with their crooked bookkeeping, the labels took the profits from their big acts to develop new artists, so in a twisted rather unfair fashion, pop music thrived for nearly a century. The fact that most touring groups now are 'legacy' acts in their 50s shows that the musical ecosystem is dying. Something will take its place and I hope the experience of the creative community will shape what the next musical ecosystem is. Here's why I believe in copyright or some method of royalties.
    Without copyright composers like myself will be working exclusively 'work for hire' My experience is that 'work for hire' is low wages, making not the music you want, but what the boss wants. When you write for yourself you can make what YOU want and take chances that others would not allow.
    Although my 'speculative' works offers no initial payment, there is the POTENTIAL for escaping the wage slave existence of 'work for hire'. IF the work finds an audience , only then am I rewarded with the means to continue. THIS is the model that benefits me and society. As far as I can see, this is only possible with a royalty system infrastructure.

  • Nov 25th, 2013 @ 6:58pm

    Re: Re: money where mouth is

    I certainly would not bet against that!

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