Archive for December, 2017

@brentknepper: No One Makes a Living on Patreon — Artist Rights Watch

December 29, 2017 Comments off

This is consistent with the findings in the Austin Music Census–Pandora’s infamous “musician middle class” has been hollowed out and unsigned artists fall into poor and poorer

Patron Income Distribution

In 2016, Patreon boasted that 7,960 users were now making over $100 a month, which struck me as such an insignificant monthly income to brag about. Around the same time, the company reportedly had 25,000 creators, meaning only 31 percent of Patreon’s users were making over a hundred bucks….Even if creators are struggling to make money, investors see Patreon as a goldmine. In September, Patreon announced a $60 million dollar investmentfrom venture capital firms, bringing its total funding to $107 million, according to Crunchbase.

via @brentknepper: No One Makes a Living on Patreon — Artist Rights Watch

Eric “Uncle Sugar” Schmidt Ankles the Google Chocolate Factory

December 26, 2017 Comments off


According to multiple news sources, Google’s Eric Schmidt (who MTP readers may know as “Uncle Sugar”) has stepped down from his job as Executive Chairman of the Chocolate Factory.

You remember Uncle Sugar, right?

The New York Post tells us: ‘

[T]he timing of Schmidt’s sudden move — along with the fact that Alphabet waited three days to disclose that Schmidt had told the company he was stepping down, according to a filing — raised questions.

Schmidt is a known womanizer despite being married for 37 years to Wendy Schmidt, who said in 2012 they started living separate lives because she felt like “a piece of luggage” following him around the world.

News outlets have been sniffing around Schmidt’s former flames looking for a Harvey Weinstein-like bombshell, a source close to Schmidt told The Post. But sources say there’s nothing there.

“They haven’t found s–t. Because there is no sexual harassment. There has never been any issue. They have had nothing. People have looked into it and people have not found anything,” the source said.

The source added that if something foul was afoot, Google would have canned Schmidt completely.

Right–just like they fired the Google executive team after the “Google Drugs” sting.   Oh, no, they didn’t, that’s right.  Or how they fired the Google executive team for paying what should have been personal fines with $500,000,000 of the shareholders’ money.  Oh, no, they didn’t, that’s right.  Or perhaps it was for taking the Fifth before the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee and telling Senator Cornyn what sure sounded like a lie to me (and, I think, to Senator Cornyn)–that Schmidt couldn’t discuss the nonprosecution agreement between Google and the U.S. government under which Google paid $500,000,000, then the largest corporate fine in US history?

schmidt senate

Eric Schmidt and Google lawyer David Drummond before Schmidt refused to answer on the advice of counsel.  Crime/fraud exception, anyone?

Taking the Fifth was so off base, Schmidt (and probably his lawyers) thought it required a separate statement for the record to correct his “confusion”?

Or perhaps it was for the $250 million Google paid in a shareholder lawsuit against the Google board and executive team (then including Sheryl Sandberg) over the Google Drugs case?  Oh no, they didn’t, that’s right.

Or perhaps it was for the way Schmidt treated Meagan Smith, former Google executive and then CTO of the United States, on a panel at SXSW?  Oh, no, they didn’t, that’s right.

This is one weird little guy, that’s for sure.  And is probably the man who knows too much.  Remember, Larry and Sergy recruited him at Burning Man.  And what happens at Burning Man stays at Burning Man.

They hope.


Please Support Tipitina’s Foundation and All Our Young Musicians

December 21, 2017 Comments off

If you’re looking for a worthy cause in this season of hope, please consider Tipitina’s Foundation.

The foundation sponsors a robust internship program, Sunday youth music workshops and the Music Co-Op Offices across Louisiana.

Tipitina’s Foundation supports Louisiana and New Orleans’s irreplaceable music community and preserves the state’s unique musical cultures. The Foundation grew out of the Tipitina’s music venue, a revered New Orleans cultural icon that continues to be instrumental in the development and promotion of Louisiana music around the world. Tipitina’s Foundation promotes childhood music education, the professional development of adult musicians, and the increased profile and viability of Louisiana music as a cultural, educational, and economic resource.

And of course the incomparable Instruments A’ Comin’ concert and silent auction that is in its 17th year having raised millions to “uplift the musical community of New Orleans and Louisiana and to insure that every child has the means to play music.”


You can donate online here.


Universal Leads Royalty Deadbeat Facebook Out of the Cold With Precedent Setting Licensing Deal

December 21, 2017 1 comment

This is what happens when you stick to your property rights–Bloomberg reports that Facebook, aka royalty deadbeat, has signed a multiyear licensing deal with Universal Music Group:

Facebook Inc. signed a multiyear licensing deal that lets the social network carry songs and artists from the world’s biggest record label, Universal Music Group, across its platforms.

The deal announced Thursday solves a long-running dispute, with Facebook agreeing to compensate the company and artists including Taylor Swift when users post videos that include copyrighted material. The accord includes Facebook, Instagram and Oculus virtual-reality technology, with Universal saying the company would become a “significant contributor” to the industry.

The deal sets Facebook up as a more direct competitor to Google’s YouTube, the most popular destination online for listening to music. Both technology giants are battling for a bigger share of people’s time, and music rights could help Facebook give users new ways to engage with its services.

The deal appears to cover UGC and no doubt includes both a settlement for the past (“solves a long-running dispute”) as well as a go forward license.  There may well be more settlements and licenses in the offing, but one fact is crystal clear–Universal was the only one of the rights owners that had the guts to stand up to Facebook by bearing down on sending the DMCA notices that allows Facebook to hoist their users as human shields from infringement claims.

As many have noted, Universal’s enforcement team did the thankless yeoman’s work that helped to remind Facebook that not only are there enforcable property rights online and offline, but Facebook would actually do much better for its stockholders and users by cooperating with artists, songwriters, labels and publishers.  It’s possible that Facebook is coming in from the cold and putting aside all that Lessig claptrap that is soooo 1999.   Claptrap that has only resulted in losses as far as the eye can see, not to mention endless hostility and gasoline known as Lyor Fully Leaded.

Credit where it’s due, it must be said that unlike Google or Spotify, Facebook has–so far–avoided the scorched earth litigation that is the hallmark of Silicon Valley’s relationship with artists and songwriters.  That decision had nothing to do with the negotiation team and everything to do with a corporate policy.  So we will see if Facebook is for real.

It also must be said that the Universal deal shows the importance and power of statutory damages.  The only leverage that anyone has against massive infringing by multnational technology companies is the power of statutory damages and attorneys fees provided in the U.S. Copyright Act.  Not everyone has Universal’s heft–class actions based on statutory damages is about the only route that many artists, songwriters, labels and publishers have against systematic and intentional knowing infringers like Facebook.

Major Defeat For Google-Era Justice Department, Huge Victory for Sanity and Songwriters

December 19, 2017 Comments off

Great news today that the appeals court upheld BMI’s ruling by the BMI rate court judge that there is no such thing as 100% licensing under the consent decrees.  Although it’s like winning an appeal that the Sun really does rise in the East (attention Berkeley students), it’s good to put that issue to one side and to poke a stick in Google’s eye.


More on this to come, but who can forget the Kafka-esque insanity of Renata Hesse and David Kully, two former Google-era Justice Department antitrust officials who saddled thier colleagues with one of the most bizarre cases in the history of the music business:  100% licensing under the out of date, anticompetitive and frankly destructive PRO consent decrees.

Hesse and Kully’s behavior was so bad that songwriters actually had to sue the DOJ for, among other things, a brilliantly argued claim for unconstitutional taking of property without just compensation as a result of  what clearly appears to be Google-inspired overreach (see MTP’s timeline on Renata Hesse’s assault on songwriters and Scott Cleland’s timeline on how Hesse always seemed to be there at just the right time and just the right place to protect Google’s interest from the government oversight that Google loved to focus on other people–like those pesky songwriters.)

A little tea leaf reading suggests that there may be some appetite at the DOJ for at least cutting back the consent decrees if not sunseting them altogether, particularly since we have GMR and others trying to get into the PRO market in the US.  (A fact that is probably not lost on the MIC Coalition price fixing cartel which no doubt would like to see any new MRO take over PRO licensing for the true one-stop shop.)

More to say on this once I get a chance to read the opinion.

We all owe a big thanks to BMI for taking the fight to the government despite the odds against prevailing over the MIC Coalition cartel.  Truth may be stranger than fiction, but truth has a way of prevailing if you ride toward the guns.

Now maybe the DOJ could reopen an investigation of the real antitrust violators–Google and the MIC Coalition.

News from the Goolag: NYT Fails to Connect the Dots

December 16, 2017 Comments off


News from the oblivious…New York Times reporter Charles McDermid offers us a demonstration of myopia.  In his December 13 “Briefing” column (subtitled “Here’s what you need to know”), Mr. McDermid inadvertently tells us exactly what we need to know, albeit probably not for the reasons he thought.

First, we get a critique of the use of the term “fake news” which he claims is “now in heavy rotation with autocrats and dictators from Venezuela to Cambodia.  In China, Russia, Turkey, Thailand and many other countries, leaders are using it to silence critics and thwart media scrutiny.”  But then Mr. McDermid breathlessly tells us that “Google is opening an artificial intelligence lab in Beijing–a small but symbolic attempt to tiptoe back into the world’s biggest online arena.  Other big technology names have also set up A.I. shops in China to capitalize on growling skills and lavish state support.”

Really.  Any possible connection between these two news items you can think of?

But he goes on:  “Stunned by Beijing’s sudden, rapid campaign to tear down apartment buildings and evict migrants from poorer sections after a devastating fire, an artist began shooting and posting dozens of videos documenting the forced removal of thousands of people.  Now Hua Yong is on the run from the police, moving from city to city, but still posting.”

Well, then.  How’s that AI lab going to work out for Hua Yong?  You can watch this video he posted that he made as he sang happy birthday to his daughter and then was captured by the Chinese police.

I appreciate the irony of Hua Yong posting his videos on YouTube, a Google company.  The fact that YouTube allows him a platform to reach the world does not absolve Google from its cooperation with the Chinese government.

Stump the Band: Robots Gone Wild Movie Quotes

December 16, 2017 Comments off

It’s that time of year again–time  for readers to stump the band with obscure movie quotes.  This time of year when reorders are filled, shows are booked, playlists are frozen and Congress is slouching toward Bethlehem, it passes the time.

Here’s a few we’ve received, if you have some quotes leave them in comments or tweet at @musictechpolicy.  Next week:  Spy movie quotes.

I think these are correct, but defer to Alexa.

Quote:  The minds that planned the Tower of Babel cared nothing for the workers who built it.

Movie:  Metropolis, (Directed by Fritz Lang)

Quote: The mission is too important for me to allow you to jeapordize it.

Movie:  2001: A Space Odyssey (Directed by Stanley Kubrick)

Quote:  Corporate society takes care of everything.   And all it asks of anyone, all it has ever asked of anyone ever,  is not to interfere  with management decisions.

Movie:  Rollerball (Directed by Norman Jewison)

Quote:  And all the manufacturers knew I was doing it, too. But they couldn’t accuse me without admitting they were doing it themselves.

Movie:  Ex Machina (Directed by Alex Garland)

Quote:  Dick, you’re fired.

Movie:  Robocop (Directed by Paul Verhoeven)


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