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Must Read @davidclowery Interview with @musically on #irespectmusic, Artist Rights and Spotify

March 31, 2016 Comments off

Veteran music business writer Stuart Dredge interviews David Lowery in an insightful journey through the more subtle aspects of David’s role in solving the music publishing problem in America. It gave him a chance to bring out nuances in the Spotify class action:

[Lowery] adds that a number of songwriters and independent publishers are keen to see whether HFA is playing a role in the NMPA/Spotify settlement, including the elements relating to publisher audits of the streaming service.

We asked for a third-party audit [in the class-action lawsuit] – a real third-party audit. I haven’t seen the NMPA settlement, but I see no indication that there is a third-party audit involved,” says Lowery.

“HFA were on both sides of the equation: they were representing the publishers, and they were representing Spotify. Generally in history, that’s a recipe for mischief. A lot of people are going to be uncomfortable if HFA is somehow part of the audit.”

Spotify complains of licensing, but opposed letting ASCAP and BMI expand licensing for streamers through relief from the Justice Department:

Lowery adds that he feels sympathy for Spotify, as it may have thought that it had the mechanicals headache sorted. However, he also points to another possible solution – proposals a couple of years ago to allow collecting societies ASCAP and BMI to license mechanicals – and notes that Spotify opposed the idea.

“It’s interesting that in Spotify’s comments [published at the time], they talk about this problem – so obviously they were aware of it – but they opposed something that could get them out of this problem, which was to let ASCAP and BMI license mechanicals,” he says.

[Here is the Spotify filing that Lowery is referring to, and the relevant section: “A licensing regime in which public performance rights and mechanical reproduction rights could be obtained from a single source or pursuant to a single license is an interesting idea and could in theory lead to efficiencies. However, the current system where the PROs are subject to regulation via the consent decrees is working well so reform may not be necessary.”)

A must read for all artists, songwriters and music publishers:

David Lowery talks lawsuits, licensing and free streaming

What Does Spotify’s Billion Dollars of Debt Mean for Labels and Artists?

March 30, 2016 Comments off

Music Tech Solutions

The Wall Street Journal reports that Spotify has raised $1 billion in convertible debt with this telling analysis:

Music-streaming site Spotify AB has raised $1 billion in convertible debt from investors, a deal that extends the money-losing company’s runway but comes with some strict guarantees, people familiar with the matter said.

Private-equity firm TPG, hedge fund Dragoneer Investment Group and clients of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. participated in the deal, which has been signed and is expected to close at the end of this week, these people said.

Tech startups are increasingly turning to convertible debt—bonds that can be exchanged for stock—as investors push back on rich valuations amid a volatile stock market and economic uncertainty.

By raising debt instead of equity, Spotify adds to its war chest without the possibility of setting a lower price for its stock, which can sap momentum and hamper recruiting.

That last…

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City of London Police Leading the Way on Ad Sponsored Piracy

March 30, 2016 Comments off
adsense mega indictment

Megavideo Indictment

MTP readers will recall that Google’s AdSense was one of the early supporters of Megavideo, the largest distributor of stolen goods online (and perhaps in human history).  How do we know this?  It’s in the U.S. government’s case against Megavideo and may explain why Kim Dot Com does not seem to want for funds when it comes to paying legal fees.

There is an inextricable connection between ad networks and pirate sites offering the identical goods to licensed sites.  Who can forget Google’s answer (as told to the Los Angeles Times) to the pioneering work on ad-sponsored piracy by Professor Jonathan Taplin at the USC-Annenberg Innovation Lab:

“To the extent [the Taplin study] suggests that Google ads are a major source of funds for major pirate sites, we believe it is mistaken,” a Google spokesperson said. “Over the past several years, we’ve taken a leadership role in this fight. The complexity of online advertising has led some to conclude, incorrectly, that the mere presence of any Google code on a site means financial support from Google.”

This is what is called a “non-denial denial” in the trade. So if Google ads are a minor source of funds for major pirate sites, or a major source of funds for minor pirate sites, what then?  Or how about a middling source of funds for all pirate sites?

And if the mere presence of any Google code doesn’t mean financial support from Google, does the presence of an AdSense code plus the actual payment of a revenue share by Google to the pirate ad publisher ever occur?  Still an open question after Google’s nondenial denial, words and phrasing that I can all but guarantee you they spent considerable time crafting.

Google never answers the question: Do you fund piracy?  Or better yet, since AdSense is a revenue share based business model, do you profit from piracy?  And if Google don’t profit from piracy, then why do they keep driving massive traffic to these sites?

Google DMCA by Domain 3-27-16

The answer is clearly yes, Google does profit from piracy, just like they profited from selling ads for illegal drugs (for which Larry Page and other Google executives nearly got indicted and for which Google paid a $500,000,000 fine after a Rhode Island grand jury investigation and multi-agency sting operation), counterfeit Olympics tickets, etc.  Eric Schmidt even refused to answer questions about the drugs case under oath on the advice of counsel after misrepresenting the nonprosecution as a “confidential” document in answer to a question from Senator John Cornyn.

schmidt senate

Of course, we all know that Google has Washington influencers on the payroll like former Fanny Mae executive and Clinton Assistant Attorney General Jamie Gorelick, so the chances of anyone in the Obama/Google White House actually biting the hand that feeds is very remote.  (There’s a pool going for which Obama Administration official joins the Google board of directors, by the way.  My money is on Jon Leibowitz.)

So it should not come as a surprise that it’s not the U.S. government that’s most effective on this ad-sponsored piracy effort.  No, just like the Europeans prosecute Google for antitrust violations when the U.S. refuses to, we find the City of London Police going after advertisers who once relied on their ad networks to place their ads in the right place–and not on pirate sites.

With Very British Irony, the City of London Police have posted a video describing their efforts on the YouTube:

This is a great effort–now advertisers just need to cross reference who their ad network was that served ads for their products to pirate sites.  Given that Google has over a third of worldwide advertising revenue online, there’s a 1 in 3 chance that Google is serving those ads and profiting from piracy.

 

It Ain’t Phở: What if Streaming Went Away?

March 26, 2016 Comments off

ANTHONY BOURDAIN

…See, it’s not old fish. It’s a whole new thing! And no one knows they’re eating three day old halibut….

From The Big Short, Screenplay by Charles Randolph and Adam McKay, based on the book by Michael Lewis

Ben Sisario is the most insightful music business journalist at a mainstream media organization (see what I did there?) and I wish I could say that his article in today’s New York TimesIn Shift to Streaming, Music Business Has Lost Billions” kept pace with his other work.  Unfortunately, the conclusion is so bloody obvious that you’d have to be a major label digital music executive not to have seen it coming years ago. And I do mean years ago.  Like 10 years ago.

Do you find that strange?  Wonder where the money went?  Let me tell you what’s really strange:  Sean Parker is a billionaire.  In a world where Sean Parker is a billionaire, anything–and I do mean anything–is possible.

So what’s the result of nearly a decade since the “new” Napster slogan “OWN NOTHING HAVE EVERYTHING”?

The result is that the music industry finds itself fighting over pennies while waving goodbye to dollars. For instance, the growing but still specialized market for vinyl records is generating more revenue than the music on YouTube, one of the biggest destinations on the Internet, but that’s because YouTube pays royalties in the tiniest fractions of cents.

Yes that’s right.  The next bit of rubbish you will hear to justify why these people should keep their jobs is that streaming supposedly is more profitable than CDs.  What does that even mean?  Wait for it–in the access model they’ll make it up on volume.  Kind of like infinite shelf space.  This is, of course, total crap.  How much do you think it costs to render an accounting statement for 1 billion streams?  A statement that probably requires a minimum of 3 billion calculations.  Quick–forget the profit, is the transaction cost more or less than the five figure royalty payment?  That’s five figures to the right of the decimal place.  Not to mention the cost of one–one–customer service call.  There’s a reason why YouTube’s royalty department doesn’t answer the phone.

napster_large

Think about this.  Top line CDs wholesaled for about $10.  Digital albums wholesaled for about $7–a 30% drop.  But also realize that digital downloads blew up the album so you are really talking about singles that wholesaled for about $0.70.  Rather than tell Apple that single tracks were not going to be possible, Billboard accommodated with the concept of “Track Equivalent Albums.”  FYI, ” TEA” has virtually nothing to do with real albums from a margin point of view.

Let’s digress for a moment.  I have for a long time told a joke about the Billboard chart.  If you want to know which records are the most profitable–not sold the most but contributed the most profit at least on a percentage basis–take the Billboard album chart and invert it.  Why?  Because the records at the top of the Billboard album chart have the highest marketing spend and artist advances.  That’s why they’re on the top of the chart.

But it’s entirely possible that all things being equal and dropping out phenoms like Adele and Taylor Swift as outliers, the records at the top of the chart don’t break even or don’t break even by much.

And then came streaming.  Again, rather than tell streams sorry, no deal, the Big Thinkers in the music business embraced them.  Billboard once again accommodated with a cry straight from Bedlam called the “consumption chart”, a completely nonsensical exercise in the promotion of doom.

I will make a bet–most people who go to streaming services are not that different from people who went into record stores or who go to iTunes.  They already know what they want to buy.  Why?  Because someone marketed a record to them.  Whether it’s because they saw them at the Superbowl halftime or opening at the Mohawk, or they heard them on K-Rock or Austin Independent Radio, they already have an idea about what they want to buy.  The trick is the same as it’s always been, introducing them to other music to buy.

Except now it’s getting you to listen to something else with a wholesale price that’s not $10, it’s not $7, it’s not $0.70–no, it’s $0.005 or less.  Probably less.

Understand this–it’s only a matter of time before sales of the higher margin records that justify the marketing budgets that drives listeners (and maybe, maybe subscribers) to streaming services drop so low that those marketing budgets essentially go away.  And also understand that this situation was as predictable as the Sun rising in the East.

What, you may ask, does this mean for streaming services?  You mean after freemium goes away?  For starters, I would expect to see artists start looking to these services for significant nonrecoupable marketing or exclusivity payments as label marketing starts to dry up.  This has long been true of mass market retailers although it may be expressed as minimum orders of exclusive CDs sold on a one-way trip (i.e., not returnable).  (Not exactly the same, but Dr. Dre is delivering exclusive video content to Apple and the “Beyonce” Apple exclusive from 2013.)  Since the streaming services are in the “own nothing” business by design, they should be willing to pony up in return for, oh, say having an exclusive window on their subscription service.

Then there’s the minimum guarantees and flat money that services pay to some labels.  The popular tech industry blog, Complete Music Update, suggests that these payments should go away–ask not what the streamers can do for you, ask what you can do for the streamers:

[Because] everyone needs the Spotifys and Apple Musics of the world to sign up as many paying users as they can.

A more coordinated industry-wide strategy to help make that happen would be a good Plan B for if and when the safe harbour reforms are denied by law-makers. Because yes, that would mean helping tech giants, digital entrepreneurs and venture capitalists (who are almost certainly evil) get rich on the back of “our content”, but at the same time, possibly the biggest concern for the music industry just now is that the single biggest revenue stream in the single biggest recorded music market is wholly dependent on wholly loss-making services. That’s just not sustainable.

So, advances and guarantees are a great way for the record industry to return to growth in the short-term, but these services need to become properly profitable to assure growth in the longer term.

Let’s introduce a concept here:

insolvency

When you’re dealing with streaming services, also known as insolvent companies, you take a look at your license term, figure out what you think you’ll make during the term, then get at least that much money up front.  Why?  Because you’re a greedy so and so?  Not at all–because you’re not a venture capitalist and you’re not as stupid as you look.

10bits-glass-tmagarticle

This is what I call the “Venezuela deal”–how you make sure you’re covered when dealing with someone wholly unreliable.  Someone who would, for example, admit that they stiffed songwriters and publishers to the tune of no less than $30 million without tying up an industry-wide settlement or naming a single publisher in the press release announcing their settlement with…theoretical publishers.

So contrary to what the Spotify puffers are puffing, the minimum guarantees are likely to stick around and the nonrecoupable marketing and exclusivity payments are likely to increase.  And we’re worried about this because…why?  Because streamers might go out of business?  And that’s a problem…why?

Try the bouillabaisse.  The halibut is in season.

The DMCA Still is Not An Alibi: How is Google Search Like the Ford Pinto?

March 24, 2016 4 comments

The Pinto Gap

Google frequently defends what I would call the “Pinto Gap”–Google’s business practice named after the notorious Ford Pinto model with the exploding gas tank.  Why the “Pinto Gap”?  Because one would have to believe that Google has determined, just like Ford, that the cost benefit of programming their search algorithm to play whack a mole with artists profits them more than “doing the right thing.”  One day we may find out if there is a “Pinto memo” at Google.

Remember the Viacom case?  Of the few internal YouTube emails that Viacom was able to recover this one from YouTube co-founder Steve Chen sums it up nicely as reported by USA Today:

Viacom says Chen discussed in another instance how YouTube could handle a hot news clip from CNN: “[I] really don’t see what will happen. what? someone from cnn sees it? he happens to be someone with power? he happens to want to take it down right away. he gets in touch with cnn legal. 2 weeks later, we get a cease & desist [takedown] letter. we take the video down.”

This is known as the “DMCA license” which of course is neither permitted by the DMCA nor a license.  But it may as well be based on the decisions made by tech companies and especially Google about how to manipulate the DMCA (and the Communications Decency Act for that matter).

google motto

Recall that the reason Ford was nailed so badly for products liability on the Pinto was that it turns out that Ford knew that the Pinto gas tank was dangerous and would probably explode.  Ford made a horrendously cold-blooded decision to put the Pinto into commerce anyway.  Why?  Because during the gap between the time that Ford put the car into commerce and the time they got caught, cost/benefit analysis of the risk allowed that the profit they made was worth the cost to Ford of harm to the public.  Of course, no Ford executive ever went to prison, so there is that.

Google, like Ford, knew and knows exactly what it is doing by putting its search engine into commerce (not to mention YouTube, a hot bed of infringement).  Google’s search engine is the Pinto of the Internet, kind of an iPinto if you will.  Google lawyers like Mr. Von Lohman attempt to twist the copyright law around to create a gap between the time they start allowing infringing content to be put into service and the time they get caught–what I call the “Pinto Gap.”  This is the practical effect of what Mr. Lohman obfuscates by saying that Google can’t tell what is and isn’t “illegal”.  And likely what made YouTube such an attractive acquisition for Google.

And after all, Ford couldn’t control the other drivers who collided with the Ford Pinto, right?  Why should Ford have any responsibility for them, Mrs. Palsgraf?

While the Pinto Gap was not specifically articulated by Google, it is exactly Google’s business practice that film producer Richard Gladstein recently raised in front of Chairman Goodlatte.  As Ted Johnson reported:

Among those giving input to the committee was Film Colony founder Richard Gladstein, who cited search engines as “aiding and abetting” criminal piracy sites by placing them atop search results. As an example, he said that before the hearing he entered “Watch ‘The Cider House Rules’” into his phone, the the first three results that came up were illegal sites…

“We are not in a position to decide what is legal and what is illegal online,” Von Lohmann responded.  [This is the predicate for the Pinto Gap argument.]

Then Gladstein asked, “Is it legal or illegal to download a movie that you don’t own?”

Von Lohmann answered, “I agree. Downloading a movie, in order to watch it without paying for it, is infringing. That is not the problem. [Here comes the red herring.]

[Von Lohmann continued] The problem is when you have over a trillion websites, you have hundreds of thousands of film titles, millions of song titles, not just in English but every language around the world … as a search engine there is no magic way for us to know in advance what is legal and what is illegal online. We rely on copyright owners to inform us.”

And they do–78 million times in the last 30 days alone:

Google DMCA 3-27-16

Source: Google Transparency Report

That’s right–Google received over 78 million take down notices for search alone (not including YouTube or other Google properties) and is on track to receive about 1 billion takedown notices for search alone–this year.  And that doesn’t even include YouTube.  But Google says that infringing videos are not “the problem”?  Really?  Google has built a product that it is powerless to control?

Not true–it’s actually much easier for Google to fix its Pinto problem than it was for Ford to fix theirs.  Google doesn’t have to issue a recall.

The Hash-Based Force Multiplier

Google could, of course, block the hash for each file that is the subject of a DMCA notice.  In fact, there’s nothing in the Copyright Act that prevents a copyright owner from including the hash of a particular file in the DMCA notice to Google.  If any copy of the file is illegal, then every copy of that file is also illegal and every copy of that file will be identifiable by a hash–which Google also crawls and indexes.

The “hash” is a unique machine-generated alpha-numeric identifier associated with file copies including infringing files (not metadata titles, but the files themselves).  Google crawls the hash and includes it in their search results.  Because multiple links or torrents may point to the same infringing file this will produce search results that point to a known infringing file.

Case in point: The most popular Taylor Swift torrent today has this hash for her album 1989:

0E7B8E22D5A2F2E77FFDBA8C02A870EDEAC6400E

If you enter this hash into the Google search, you get 700-plus items in the search results (or you will until some Googler reads this post and kills the links).  Assume Google received a DMCA notice for this torrent (and hash) of 1989 and blocked results based on the hash–there would be 700 fewer search results directing people to steal from Taylor Swift.  But they don’t.  Why?  Because it might be an effective way to at least begin to close the Pinto Gap.

Think about that–if Google has received 62 million DMCA notices and each of these links points to one copy but that copy actually appears on dozens or hundreds of other links which the copyright owner has not found and has not sent a DMCA notice, it gives you a better sense of the true scope of the problem.  And just why Google would want to play whack a mole.

Remember–even under Von Lohman’s own terms, once Google has been informed that a particular file is an illegal copy, Google will block the link.  The hash is a unique identifier for that illegal copy and links to the same illegal copy may be posted on many different sites.  Every time that file (and hash) appears again, Google has already been notified that the file is an illegal copy, so Google should block it based on the hash.  That requires no ContentID nor should it require any further notifications to Google.

What does Von Lohman think that searches for these videos are driven by if not the marketing budgets of artists, filmmakers and authors?  The whole point is that infringing works are the problem, and at some point if you are told the gas tank that you put into commerce is injuring people, you can’t hold your head up honorably and say you didn’t know.  You need to do the right thing.  To coin a phrase.

And yes, we know that these movies appear in many languages–as Ellen Seidler taught us years ago, her indie movie appeared with subtitles in dozens of languages within hours of the first time it was pirated, dutifully listed by Google in search results.  I wonder if Mr. Von Lohman thinks that happened by accident.  Another reason why blocking hashes is a superior method.  Hashes are not language dependent.

Preserving a Defense that Will Never Be Used

If Von Lohman thinks that these might be “fair use”–which is an odd position for a number of reasons–let’s all remember that “fair use” (like the safe harbor) is an affirmative defense to copyright infringement that a defendant could raise if they showed up to defend themselves in a U.S. court.  (Other countries have similar laws.)  Ask yourself this:  Does this top ten takedown list look like the operators of these “specified domains” will be showing up in a U.S. court any time soon?

Google DMCA by Domain 3-27-16

This list includes some of the worst infringers of all time, none of whom intend to end up in a U.S. court (In October 2014, Uploaded.net was found liable for copyright infringement by the Regional Court of Hamburg. Rapidgator is blocked in Italy and potentially elsewhere).  Given that there will likely never be an adjudication of infringement in a U.S. court, should a U.S. corporation like Google be allowed to stand in the Pinto Gap and profit themselves from these repeat infringers with the excuse that they don’t know how cases that can never be brought will turn out?  Should Google be allowed to put a product into service that predictably harms far more humans than the Pinto ever did?  Doesn’t an American public company have some obligation to address doing business with flagrant violators of U.S. law?

And remember–when it comes to Google’s core search function business, there is every reason to assume that Google’s search algorithm is functioning as designed and as perfected.  It’s not like Google doesn’t know that it has a problem.  Google search gets over 78 million trouble tickets a month.

Google stands with what appears to be a network of criminal enterprises engaging in more copyright infringement in a day than probably occurred in the record business from inception of the cylindrical disc to the inception of the Internet.  When the Roy Cohn of Silicon Valley tells you that Google just can’t tell a good guy from a bad guy, it just doesn’t have the ring of truth to it.  (This is, of course, a central issue in the extradition of Kim Dotcom, the former Google Adsense advertising client–who may tell some interesting Google stories if he ever sees the inside of a jail cell in the Eastern District of Virginia.)

But the question for the U.S. Congress is whether they are going to allow U.S. law to be stood on its head because Google just can’t manage to figure out whether hundreds of millions of “trouble tickets” on bad guys who avoid U.S. jurisdiction and who will never see the inside of a U.S. court should be given greater weight than the rights of American creators–while Google profits itself in the Pinto Gap.

“This is What the Truth Looks Like” for Streaming

March 23, 2016 Comments off

I ain’t gonna work for Maggie’s pa no more
No, I ain’t gonna work for Maggie’s pa no more
Well, he puts his cigar
Out in your face just for kicks
His bedroom window
It is made out of bricks
The National Guard stands around his door
Ah, I ain’t gonna work for Maggie’s pa no more

Maggie’s Farm, written by Bob Dylan

Gwen Stefani’s new record  prophetically titled “This is What the Truth Looks Like” will not be available on Spotify.  Why?  You guessed it–Gwen is philosophically against giving away her music and Spotify is philosophically against following the artist’s wishes about how she values her work.  The “New Boss” overseers at Spotify continue the “no freemium, no Spotify” mantra.  This is hardly news aside from the fact that Spotify just doesn’t seem to learn.

Be careful–distrusting Spotify is becoming fashionable.  From stiffing songwriters to insulting artists, brogrammers are failing.  Dang, sounds like YouTube!

So Gwen joins what is becoming a long list of top artists who ain’t gonna work on Danny’s farm no more (The Black Keys, Neil Young, Garth Brooks, Johanna Newsome, Prince, Jay Z, Kanye, The 1975, Future, Drake, Adele, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Coldplay).  And of course Spotify refuses to listen to the people who produce its only product–and loses another top artist release to the much more artist-friendly Apple Music.

What makes this one particularly remarkable is that it comes the same week that RIAA released stats for music industry revenue in the U.S.  In what is becoming a pattern, overall revenues are nearly flat, higher margin sales are significantly down and micro-margin streaming is significantly up.

And as usual, no one–and I mean no one–is saying that these numbers look strange or asking if there could be a causal connection among them?  That is–could it be that streaming is eating digital download revenue?  Nothing to see here, move along.

The headline number as reported by Billboard is that per stream rates are down 24%.

Billboard estimates, when the RIAA’s dollar numbers for interactive paid and ad-supported streams are plotted against Nielsen Music’s streaming counts for 2015  — of 317.2 billion streams — and for 2014 — of 164.5 billion streams — the blended interactive per-stream rate for audio and video drops 24 percent, to $0.00506 in 2015, from $0.00666 in 2014.

Streaming booster Chris Cooke writing in the tech industry news site Complete Music Update is quick to spin this number:

Billboard compared the RIAA’s money figures with consumption data from stats firm Nielsen to note that the per-stream rate is dropping as the market grows, though I think we should all agree that we need to stop obsessing about per-stream rates and focus on overall income, and how it is shared between stakeholders.

Why?  Cooke’s spin is entirely consistent with what Billboard reported was a “central tenant” of Spotify’s artist outreach meeting in New York:  “the per-stream rate is never going to go up”.  (This was before we knew that one reason the per-stream rate would never increase is because Spotify is stiffing songwriters on a grand scale.)

Cooke’s deflection actually demonstrates several key flaws in the tech industry logic.  If you look at “overall income” which has increased at the expense of higher margin goods, and you “stop obsessing” about the per-stream rate, then you have to accept another premise:  The people who get the highest “overall income” are going to be the people who have the largest catalogs of sound recordings (or possibly songs).

“Overall income” has very little to do with the economic impact on small catalog owners and individual artists, especially independent artists.  For independent artists, any fall off in higher margin goods like downloads and CDs hurts.  As time goes on, it hurts a lot.  When those higher margin goods are replaced by low value streams, especially minuscule revenue from Spotify’s freemium service, the per stream rate is very relevant to independent artists.  (There’s actually an argument that the transaction costs of preparing accounting statements involving billions of calculations actually exceeds any payable royalty.)

Spotify boosters like Mr. Cooke want to keep the public’s attention focused on “overall revenue” and “how it is shared between stakeholders” rather than what independent artists are being paid because there’s no label cut to hide behind.   This spin technique wants to focus the reader on pitting songwriters against artists and artists against labels.  Of course, if the songwriter is the artist and the label, then this spin is not kidding anyone.

Billboard did a service by identifying the per stream rate.  The low rate is simply the market producing a piece of information that tells the world how bad it is.  Dividing it up between “stakeholders” a/k/a labels and artists is going to make the per-stream rate lower still–really low.  Unsustainably low especially when streaming is offsetting valuable high margin sales.

Trying to deflect attention away from what the truth looks like simply ignores the two elephants in the room–there is every reason to investigate whether streaming (most likely free streaming) is causing the decline in other digital revenue streams.  That’s certainly what it looks like on paper.

Elephant #2 is that there is no evidence that continued exposure to freemium causes consumers to favor a monthly subscription.  Doesn’t it just sound implausible?  The more I do something for free, the more likely I am to decide to pay for it?  Could that possibly be the reason that Apple has a third of the number of Spotify subscribers in a matter of months that it took Spotify years to accumulate?

A great record man once told me to listen to the artists because they usually know what’s happening.  It’s pretty clear that free streaming is flattening and not growing the pie.

Maybe that’s why more and more artists want nothing to do with it.  And that really is what the truth looks like.

 

 

 

POTUS Announces Google Deal in Cuba

March 21, 2016 Comments off

Google spokesperson Barack Obama…no sorry, the President of the United States… announced Google’s triumph of crony capitalism in Time:

“One of the things that we’ll be announcing here is that Google has a deal to start setting up more WiFi and broadband access on the island,” Obama told ABC anchor David Muir.

I don’t want to appear naive, but am I the only one who is shocked that the President is announcing commercial deals for his political cronies before Google does?

Who wants to bet against Google getting a lease on Gitmo to match their lease on Moffett Field?  Anyone?

In case you missed it, here’s a short list of ex Google employees now in the Obama Administration (or Obama people now at Google):

President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology: Eric Schmidt (call sign “Uncle Sugar”)

Director of Google Ideas (and co-author with Uncle Sugar of The New Digital Age): Jared Cohen (formerly a member of the Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff and as an advisor to Condoleezza Rice and later Hillary Clinton).

Director of United States Patent and Trademark Office: Michelle Lee (formerly Google’s Head of Patents and Patent Strategy)

U.S. Chief Technology Officer: Megan Smith (formerly at Google[x])

Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer: Alexander Macgillivray (formerly Google’s point man on orphan works)

Director of Google Advanced Technology and Projects Group: Regina Dugan (former director of DARPA)

Director of U.S. Digital Service aka savior of Healthcare.gov (in case you couldn’t tell): Mikey Dickerson (former Site Reliability Manager at Google)

Special Assistant to Chairman, FCC: Sagar Doshi (Google Product Specialist)

YouTube Global Communications and Public Affairs Manager:  Chelsea Maugham (former U.S. State Dept. Chief of Staff)

Google Lobbyist: Katherine Oyama (former Associate Counsel to Vice President Joseph Biden)

Google Head of Global Development Initiatives: Sonal Shah (Advisory Board Member, Obama-Biden Transition Project)

Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer (White House): Nicole Wong (former Google Vice President & Deputy General Counsel)

And then there are dozens if not hundreds of former Hill staffers now working for Google’s DC shillery.

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