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#irespectmusic and #savesoho Join Forces in London, Tuesday, April 18!

April 17, 2017 1 comment

IRM London

BBC 6 Music’s Matt Everitt hosts this very special event.

The Save Soho pop-up venue returns to The Union Club for a special meeting bewteen two artists, both well known for their activism in the music sector. Blake Morgan, from New York – founder of #IRespectMusic and Tim Arnold from London – founder of Save Soho.

This will be a chance to hear both artists perform as well as hear each of them discuss their passion for protecting the rights and freedoms of the creative communities in the UK and the U.S with their campaigns.

The Reservation continues the Soho tradition to support emerging artists.. For this event we are delighted to welcome singer Sara Strudwick in her debut London show.

Make your reservation now….

Ex-Google Head of Comms Leaves Über

April 12, 2017 Leave a comment

Remember Rachel Whetstone?  She was the Senior Vice President of Communications and Public Policy at Google until 2015 when she took a comparable job at Über, replacing the former manager for President Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, David Plouffe.  While at Google she also coined the “crying baby” gif for a now-forgotten post she wrote.

Another fun fact–in typical Google style, influence peddling begins at home.  Rachel Whetstone is married to Steve Hilton, a close advisor of the former UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

In other words, Rachel Whetstone was the brains behind Googles’ “torture the artists” campaign–and is a member of what Graham Greene might call the untorturable class.  Ms. Whetstone left the sanctum sanctorum of Google to join Über to torture the Teamsters, other taxi drivers and mount Über’s genius $10 million Austin ballot proposition disaster.  Because, you know, there’s torture and then there’s torture.

According to Recode:

Sources close to the car-hailing company said that the decision to leave was multi-faceted, including Whetstone’s lack of appetite for even more drama after running comms at Google for many years before her stint at Uber.

In an email to her staff, Whetstone referenced that drama, talking about “always-on jobs” that are exciting yet exhausting, too.

 There has been some recent tension between her and [Uber CEO Travis] Kalanick, with some investors blaming bad press for Uber’s woes (wrong!), although sources said that was expected given all the controversies at the company of late. That includes a massive investigation into allegations of pervasive sexism at the company, as well as a troublesome lawsuit initiated by Alphabet that alleges that the company stole self-driving car technology.

Well, there’s drama and then there’s drama.  At least she wasn’t held accountable for the bad press for Google’s rev share deals with nasty people.  And look at the bright side–no indictments yet.

Her replacement is another ex-Googler, Jill Hazelbecker.  Recode quotes an internal Uber email to staff from Mr. Kalanick with this bit about Ms. Hazelbecker:

Rachel is passing the reins over to her longtime right hand Jill Hazelbaker, our newly minted Senior Vice President of Global Policy and Communications. For those of you who haven’t met Jill, her background is in politics and she brings deep experience in policy, communications and tech.

MTP readers may recall Ms. Hazelbecker as the former campaign spokesperson for the New Jersey Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Tom Kean, Jr. as chronicled in the New York Times (see BlueJersey’s Troll Hunt):

A liberal blog, BlueJersey, says it has evidence that someone in the Kean campaign — possibly his spokeswoman, Jill Hazelbaker — has been posting deceptive comments anonymously on its site, using several aliases.

Ms. Hazelbaker flatly denied the accusation this afternoon: “They say I’ve posted on the Web site. I’ve never e-mailed them nor posted on the Web site.”

Juan Melli of BlueJersey says his site’s logs show that comments posted by at least two aliases, cleanupnj and usedtobeblue, share an Internet Protocol address — — with the I.P. address listed in an e-mail message sent by Ms. Hazelbaker to a third party. An I.P. address is a unique number somewhat analagous to a phone number or street address, though I.P addresses can be shared under some circumstances.

Computers can be shared too. Asked if anyone in the Kean campaign had ever posted at BlueJersey or sent it an e-mail message, Ms. Hazelbaker said: “I don’t know.”


Reps. Issa and Deutch Introduce the PROMOTE Act

Congressmen Darryl Issa and Ted Deutch introduced the PROMOTE Act today, a bill that “grant[s] owners of copyright in sound recordings the exclusive right to prohibit the broadcast transmission of the sound recordings by means of terrestrial radio stations, and for other purposes.”

The bi-partisan PROMOTE Act is great news and, as Congressman Issa said:

calls the bluff of both sides in the debate over performance rights. The terrestrial stations playing these works without compensating the artists argue that airtime provides exposure and promotional value, while the artists argue the status-quo allows radio stations to profit on artists’ performances without providing any due compensation. Our bill puts forward a workable solution that would allow those who would otherwise be paid a performance right to opt out of allowing broadcasters to play their music if they feel they’re not being appropriately compensated.

This is a great way to start the negotiation over Fair Play, Fair Pay and resolving the pre-72 issues.

Here’s the SoundExchange statement from Michael Huppe, SoundExchange CEO:

The PROMOTE Act is a positive step forward in the effort to reform a broken and unfair system. On behalf of the 130,000 artists and rights owners we represent, we thank Rep. Issa (R-CA) and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) for supporting the right of America’s creators to be paid when their recordings are used by the $17 billion radio industry. We will persist in our efforts to meaningfully engage with the radio industry to find a solution to this glaring inequity under U.S. law.


Call Congress to Support Copyright Office Legislation

April 2, 2017 Comments off

I don’t often ask MTP readers for their vote, but I am asking you to call your member of Congress and ask them to support  bipartisan legislation introduced by Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte and Ranking Member John Conyers, H.R. 1695, The Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act.  (The “Register of Copyrights” is the official title of the head of the Copyright Office.)

Who can forget the summary firing of the (now former) Register of Copyrights, Maria A. Pallante by the rogue Librarian of Congress (however bizarre that sounds).  This was clearly a retaliatory firing that I think would be a pretty good case against the Librarian if it were done the same way in the private sector or even if the head of the Copyright Office had the standard civil servant protections (which they don’t have).  Even weirder, some of the shrill voices from the anti-artist librarian cluster actually came up with rationales for why retaliatory firing was just business as usual in Washington.

None of this creepy was lost on the Members of Congress, who actually labored under the impression that the Librarian of Congress worked for them and that the Register of Copyrights was supposed to give her best advice to the Congress based on her subject matter expertise, even if the Librarian disagreed with her.  (In fact, the Librarian is reported to have told the Congress a few weeks ago that she intended to ignore their instruction and appoint the next Register without them.)

The twist is where a page of history is worth a volume of logic.  Historically, the Copyright Office has always been part of the Library of Congress and the Librarian of Congress appointed the Register of Copyrights.  That might have made sense at the dawn of the Republic, but it hasn’t made sense for a very long time.  Register Pallante ran afoul of the Librarian (newly appointed herself) apparently because she pointed this out and supported legislation to change the Copyright Office structure, budget and role in favor of independence from the really and truly antiquated Library of Congress.   (For background, see “And Your Little Dog, Too: The Librarian of Congress Gives Us A Lesson in Constructive Termination.“)

The Congress announced that the Librarian would not be allowed to replace the Register whom she fired so she could appoint a replacement.  Reps. Goodlatte and Conyers introduced HR 1695 that would permanently fix this problem.  Their bill makes the head of the Copyright Office a presidential appointment and has other sorely needed fixes.  This is the bill we need to get passed to block the Librarian’s shenanigans.

Here’s the important thing–the bill passed out of the Judiciary Committee with an unprecedented bi-partisan vote of 27-1 (let us not dwell on who the 1 was who voted against).

Here’s who voted with us:

Rep. Karen Bass, D, CA-37
Rep. Steve Cohen, D, TN-09
Rep. John Conyers Jr., D, MI-13
Rep. Ted Deutch, D, FL-22
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D, TX-18
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D, WA-07
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D, NY-08
Rep. Ted Lieu, D, CA-33
Rep. Jerry Nadler, D, NY-10
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D, MD-08
Rep. Brad Schneider, D, IL-10
Rep. Eric Swalwell, D, CA-15
Rep. Andy Biggs, R, AZ-05
Rep. Ken Buck, R, CO-04
Rep. Doug Collins, R, GA-09
Rep. Ron DeSantis, R, FL-06
Rep. Blake Farenthold, R, TX-27
Rep. Trent Franks, R, AZ-08
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R, TX-01
Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R, VA-06
Rep. Trey Gowdy, R, SC-04
Rep. Darrell Issa, R, CA-49
Rep. Mike Johnson, R, LA-04
Rep. Jim Jordan, R, OH-04
Rep. Raul Labrador, R, ID-01
Rep. Ted Poe, R, TX-02
Rep. John Ratcliffe, R, TX-04

The legislation has now passed to the House floor where the entire House of Representatives will eventually vote on it, perhaps as early as Tuesday, April 4th.

Now’s the time–if we lose this, two things will happen.  It will potentially be really bad for us going forward plus the Librarian of Congress will have gotten away with some real back alley knifery.

Here’s what to do:  First, remember this bill is just in the House of Representatives for now so don’t worry about the Senate side just yet.  If you know who your Member of Congress is, call them up and tell them you want them to vote “YES” on HR 1695.

If you don’t know who your Member of Congress is, you can look them up on the House website by clicking here (have your zip code handy).  Get that number and then call them and ask your representative to vote “YES” on HR 1695.  (Call the Washington, DC office.)

Remember–you’ll be standing with everyone in the creative community who want this change as much as you do.

We owe a big thanks to Creative Future and the Copyright Alliance for working on this legislation and the best way to say thanks is to MAKE THOSE CALLS!!

Thank you, we always appreciate the way that MTP readers come through on these important ones.

What’s in the New Fair Play, Fair Pay Act?

March 31, 2017 Comments off

Yesterday Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) (Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet) and  Congressman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), (Chair of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology), along with Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), Judiciary Committee Member Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL), and Congressman Tom Rooney (R-FL) re-introduced the Fair Play Fair Pay Act.  

This is a purposeful mix of bi-partisan support that’s so refreshing in the current climate.  What brought these Members together was a desire to modernize the U.S. rules governing music licensing for both digital and terrestrial radio broadcasts.  Fair Play Fair Pay brings justice to the artists and musicians whose performances are exploited every second of every day on terrestrial radio with no compensation.

Not only would FPFP disrupt the antiquated legacy rules, it would plug the unintended consequences that has spawned seemingly endless litigation and commercial disruption.  The new bill would establish a performance right and royalty for broadcast radio (with suitable protection for noncommercial stations), give guidance to courts that Congress recognizes that  pre-72 recordings should attract a royalty like any other recording, and protect artists and producers for their share of statutory language while making a clear statement that nothing in the bill is intended to reduce payments to songwriters.

Here is a link to the prior version of the bill from the last session of Congress (HR 1733), and here is the summary of the new bill from Congressman Nadler:

The Fair Play Fair Pay Act would:

  • Create a terrestrial performance right so that AM/FM radio competes on equal footing with its Internet and satellite competitors who already pay performance royalties. This would resolve the decades old struggle for performance rights and ensure that—for the first time—music creators would have the right to fair pay when their performances are broadcast on AM/FM radio.

  • Bring true platform parity to radio so that all forms of radio, regardless of the technology they use, pay fair market value for music performances. This levels the playing field and ends the unfair and illogical distortions caused by the different royalty standards that exist today.

  • Ensure terrestrial royalties are affordable capping royalties for stations with less than $1 million in annual revenue at $500 per year (and at $100 a year for non-commercial stations), while protecting religious and incidental uses of music from having to pay any royalties at all.

  • Make a clear statement that pre-1972 recordings have value and those who are profiting from them must pay appropriate royalties for their use, while we closely monitor the litigation developments on this issue.

  • Protect songwriters and publishers by clearly stating that nothing in this bill can be used to lower songwriting royalties.

  • Codify industry practices streamlining the allocation of royalty payments to music producers.

  • Ensure that artists receive their fair share from direct licensing of all performances eligible for the statutory license.


Vevo Shows YouTube Advertisers How You Do It

March 30, 2017 Comments off

If you’ve been following the YouTube advertising debacle, you may have seen reports that YouTube is planning on offering discounts (aka refunds) to the advertising accounts it burned by showing ads on terror, hate and other videos in violation of Google’s promises (aka contracts) with those advertisers.  What kind of videos would those advertising discounts be on, you may ask?

“Premium content”.  Also known as the official music videos.

So why is YouTube having this problem?  Because they forgot the basic rule of advertising–context is everything.  You may be able to target a user based on the goals of your advertising client, but if the video against which your ad is published is simply awful, the context damages the brand.  You know, like brand sponsored piracy that was under such discussion with SOPA, aka the apotheosis of bullshit.

That’s why YouTube promised not to serve ads in those places in the first place.

What’s intriguing about the advertisers’ problems with context on YouTube is that there is one place on YouTube where accounts can get only premium videos.  That’s called Vevo (a joint venture of Sony, Universal, Warner, Abu Dhabi Media…and, oh, yes, Google).

Vevo’s Kevin McGurn (head of sales) posted a reminder about this to advertising accounts.  In a nutshell:

With over 350,000 pieces of content, Vevo makes up less than 0.5% of all videos on YouTube, yet according to data from comScore, 43% of YouTube’s monthly audience is watching Vevo content. With Vevo content, a brand can more effectively target where, when, and what it associates with in reaching an audience on YouTube.  Vevo’s content is not UGC, it’s premium, licensed, and professionally produced, with an enormous and unique global reach. In fact, when we looked at an average video buy on Vevo and YouTube, we saw less than 10% duplication across the audiences reached. 

The content is vetted through multiple layers of quality control to ensure the safest environment possible for advertisers including:

  • Automatic categorization if the word “explicit” is in the title or content tags.
  • Manual categorization if the content includes any of the following:

    • Vulgar language
    • Violence and disturbing imagery
    • Nudity and sexually suggestive content
    • Portrayal of harmful or dangerous activities 

What this categorization process does is give brands greater transparency into where and how their campaigns run, and the ability to customize how they target. With Vevo, a client’s advertising only runs on premium content, and can be targeted specifically to over 55,000 artists in our catalog. Our customers also have the option to exclude explicit content. Overall, we believe our clients are better served in the safer environment that Vevo offers on YouTube and other platforms. This approach allows them to maximize reach and minimize risk as they tap into the enormous audience consuming music videos online.

Or as Charlie Daniels might say, that’s how you do it, son.

@RepJerryNadler steps up again on artist pay for radio play!

March 30, 2017 Comments off
nadler sm

Tommy Merrill, Rep. Jerry Nadler, Blake Morgan, Janita

As MTP readers will recall, Representative Jerry Nadler has been a true voice for artist rights in Congress, particularly on artist pay for radio play.  He was an early fan of the #irespectmusic campaign and took time to speak at the first #irespectmusic show at the Bitter End in New York.

Rep. Nadler introduced the Fair Play, Fair Pay bill in the last session of Congress.  Fair Play Fair Pay would have established a performance right and royalty for terrestrial radio and fixed a number of other hangnails.  The bill was, of course, met with fierce opposition by the National Association of Broadcasters and Big Tech, which resulted in the formation of the MIC Coalition–to stop fair pay for creators.


After the MIC Coalition formed to stop his legislation, I was, frankly, wondering if he’d come back for more to fight against companies with over $2 trillion in market cap like Google, Pandora, Clear Channel (now iHeart) and crucially multiple trade associations that themselves represent trillions more.

But today he is back!  Rep. Nadler has reintroduced the Fair Play, Fair Pay bill and we keep the fight for fundamental fairness going.  And Rep. Nadler is joined by a bi-partisan line up of co-sponsors with other long time supporters of the creative community like Representatives John Conyers, Marsha Blackburn, Darryll Issa, Ted Deutch and Tom Rooney.

Blake KKG Conyers

Blake Morgan, Karoline Kramer Gould and Rep. John Conyers

marsha blackburn

Janita, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Blake Morgan, Tommy Merrill

deutch 2

Janita, Rep. Ted Deutch, Blake Morgan, Tommy Merrill

None of this would be possible without the tremendous outpouring of support for artist rights from music makers and music lovers across the country–and indeed around the world.  Because as a great man once said, things are only impossible until they’re not.

patrick stewart

That support is measured many ways from the 14,000 of you who signed the #irespectmusic petition, to the thousands of you who read and shared posts by Karoline Kramer Gould, Janita, Blake Morgan, David Lowery, Mark Ribot, East Bay Ray and the growing number of voices demanding that the U.S. joyfully turn the page on this historic abnormality and the crony capitalists at the MIC Coalition.  All of you who created and follow the #irespectmusic groups in Buffalo, Athens, Austin, Nashville, New York, Minneapolis, Pittsburg and Los Angeles.  All the students at schools like Cal State Chico, NYU, American, Georgetown, Syracuse and Temple.

The musicFIRST coalition and Executive Director Chris Israel also deserves a huge vote of thanks for their efforts at getting this bill introduced.  We’re all looking forward to working closely with Chris Israel and his team to get this passed.  You haven’t stopped believing this can happen and neither have they.

This all comes down to a simple concept:

We will be back with more as the cause moves forward, but we couldn’t ask for better champions in the Congress to fix these glaring loopholes:  fair pay for airplay and paying all artists regardless of whether the recording was made before or after 1972.

You can send Rep. Nadler a message @repjerrynadler, more info to follow.

This is a joyful moment, so let that joy become enthusiasm as we all pull together to get this done.  We don’t stop until we win.

I asked Blake Morgan for his thoughts:

The hard work of thousands upon thousands of music makers is paying off. That work––in classrooms, at concerts, at rallies, on the street, online, with petitions, and on Capitol Hill––has now brought us closer that we’ve ever been to winning fair pay for American artists when their work is played on the radio. The “Fair Play Fair Pay Act” would ensure all music makers are paid fairly at all forms of radio. Music is one of the things America still makes that the world still wants. The people who make that music should be paid fairly for their work.


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