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RIP Paul Allen

October 17, 2018 Comments off

Paul Allen was a co-founder of Microsoft and hence a “tech billionaire.”  But he used that wealth to make a contribution to music in smart and lasting ways through supporting music in Seattle and by doing so being an important voice for our business whether we knew it or not.  And of course he was a sailor, making great contributions on and below the surface.

In particular, Paul Allen made significant contributions to what became KEXP, one of the most important voices in independent radio and a lifeline for indie artists and labels.  Better known was his support for Experience Music project (now MoPop) which is truly one of the few and the great music museums in the world.

Through his Vulcan Ventures venture capital operation, Mr. Allen invested in many music related technologies and companies in a largely behind the scenes way, and also was a major underwriter of The Blues miniseries with PBS, which he executive produced.  Each of the seven films comprising The Blues was a stand-alone film, including The Soul of a Man directed by Wim Wenders that was honored with an out of competition screening at the Cannes Film Festival in 2003 with the series winning two Grammys.

Mr. Allen in his own way had as much of an impact on music and the music business as any executive.  He understood the ecosystem and did what he could to use technology generously in a host of ways, including for the benefit of creators.

When we criticize tech billionaires there’s a particular bite given the passion and support of Paul Allen.  There’s a special wistfulness now that he’s gone.

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$20 Million a Month Daniel Ek Shows “Million a Month” Tim Westergren How It’s Done

October 16, 2018 Comments off

Remember when we were all appalled that Pandora founder Tim Westergren was making $1,000,000 a month from selling Pandora stock while he was behind fighting songwriters in rate court for ASCAP and BMI royalties and stiffing artists with the Internet Radio Fairness Act and refusing to pay pre-72 artists?  And then there was the 13 bathroom house in Marin.  It was all a bit hard to stomach.

According to Jem Aswad in Variety, Daniel Ek is putting Westergren in the rear view mirror for sheer excess.  Based on SEC filings made available to a Swedish publication (probably SEC Form 4):

….Ek sold 336,213 shares $61.7 million worth of stock between July and September, and late last month signaled his intent to sell another $69.9 million sold in July–September for a total of $61.7 million.

So a little over $20 million a month, and it appears that when added to the shares he already sold and will sell, Ek should gross more than all the songwriter class action settlements combined.

“Daniel will sell a small share of Spotify shares in the next nine months as part of his long-term financial strategy. This sale of shares will constitute a minimal part of his holding in the company,” Spotify rep Sofie Grant told the [Swedish] paper. Ek and Lorentzon declined comment.

Of course, it remains to be seen how Spotify does with the several individual infringement lawsuits in Nashville and the Wixen Music Publishing lawsuit in Los Angeles. (Spotify recently lost a motion to dismiss against Bluewater Music represented by attorney Richard Busch, see Order Denying Motion To Dismiss For Lack Of Standing And Failure To State A Claim, Sept. 29, 2018, Bluewater Music Services Corporation, Inc. v. Spotify USA Inc.,  Case No. 3:17-cv-01051 (D.C. W.D. Tenn.) (2017), which also happens to be a great lesson in copyright law by the judge.)

So–Mr. Ek could spend his money on building an effective licensing operation, but….nah….Sounds like Mr. Ek is a man in need of yet another safe harbor, right?

Arithmetic on the Internet: The Ethical Pool Solution to Streaming Royalty Allocation — Music Tech Solutions

October 8, 2018 Comments off

“Sick of my money funding crap.” A Fan’s Tweet

Subscription services are one of the few secular trends in the current economy that is not yet reactive to trade wars or interest rates. Subscription services are found in many areas of the economy, but music drives some of the big ones like Spotify, Amazon and Apple.

But when fans find out that their money gets paid for music they never listen to performed by artists they would never listen to, it may give cord cutting a whole new meaning.  The ethical pool solution could give services a chance to get ahead of yet more negative fan reaction.

via Arithmetic on the Internet: The Ethical Pool Solution to Streaming Royalty Allocation — Music Tech Solutions

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