Author Archive

See SPOT Fall–Does the Decline of Spotify’s Stock Price Mean Anything? — Music Tech Solutions

November 2, 2018 Comments off

What’s happening with the Spotify stock price? Chris Castle argues that the main downward driver for SPOT is the market catching up to the Spotify inflated DPO price and its subsequent insider-heavy stock sales.

via See SPOT Fall–Does the Decline of Spotify’s Stock Price Mean Anything? — Music Tech Solutions

Ethical Pool: More for few or fewer for more – The Results of a Comparative Study on Pro Rata and User Centric Distribution Models from Finland — Music Tech Solutions

October 31, 2018 Comments off

Egginghaus and German Street View

September 26, 2018 Comments off

[Editor Charlie says:  This Chris Castle post originally appeared in MTP on Nov. 23, 2010.  We are reposting in light of Google’s recent efforts through cut outs and the trade groups in their paid service to perpetuate Google’s safe harbor in the European Copyright Directive so ably exposed by David Lowery, Volker Reick, the Times of London and FAZ.  Perhaps the MEPs voting against Google should get ready for an Egginghaus.]

The brilliantly witty Chris Matyszczyk has a fascinating story of lobbing, Google style, in reaction to the launch in Germany of Google Street View.   That’s right.  Lobbing, not lobbying.  Or at least it would appear so. (With apologies to Julius Ebbinghaus.)

Organizing the World’s Information Whether the World Likes it or Not

Apparently, 3% of Germans already want out of Street View 2 weeks after Google launched the intrusive product.  But let’s be clear about what “getting out of Street View” means–Google will take pictures of your house and put them on the Internet, but they won’t remove the pictures if you ask them to.  They will “blur” (or “pixelize”) the picture of your house to preserve your privacy–whatever that means. That is, they will pixelize the picture of your house as Google sees fit when Google gets around to it.  You can check out any time you like, but you can’t ever leave.

People who want to remove their buildings from Street View are becoming known as “pixelators”.  Yes.  It’s true.  The Pixelators: A new group to demonize for the Google PR machine.

And of course,  you can see your house right over the notice on each Street View image that says “© 2010 Google, Inc.”   Or to paraphrase a noted political figure, you might say “I can see Google’s copyright notice on my house!”

Now you might say that 3% of the population is a lot of people who don’t want something.  And you’d be right.  That’s certainly enough to throw an election.  (For reference, the Pirate Party needed 4% to get a seat in the Swedish Parliament.)

But here’s a different view from the Google press: “Despite Germany Threatening to Sue Google, Only 3% Have Opted Out of Street View“–since the pictures went online 2 weeks ago.  With the usual equivocation that is the hall mark of the Google movement, a couple facts are downplayed.  About 250,000 people out of 8 million or so have already come forward–in 2 weeks–to say they want out of the whole thing.  You can view that as a success if you like, but what that says to me is that there are a lot of people who are going to be telling their friends how to become Pixelators.  I’d say let’s check back in 6 months and see how things are going.

And then there’s Jeff Jarvis (author of What Would Google Do? a “…scattered collection of rambling rants lauding Google’s abilities to harness the power of the Internet Age [that] generally misses the mark.  While his insights are stimulating, Jarvis’s tone is acerbic and condescending; equally off-putting is his pervasive name-dropping” according to Publishers Weekly).

Professor Jarvis is full of pixel and vinegar about anyone who would do what Google would not: “You [pixelators] have digitally desecrated your cities” the noted Google supporter blogged, recounting a Green Party meeting he attended with “someone”: “As someone in the audience said when I spoke on the topic at a meeting of the Green party in Berlin a few weeks ago, it is as if they [the pixelators] are digitally bombing the German landscape.”  “Desecrated”?   “Bombing”? Really?

The Incredible Lobbable Egg

In an interesting twist–some of the Germans who had their houses blurred in Street View got their houses pelted with eggs and had signs hung on their doors saying “Google is cool!” apparently by advertising loving “vigilantes” who like the commercialization of their homes.  And maybe even their own homes.  You can’t buy that kind of loyalty.

I guess.

An alternate slogan for the sign could have been “Pixelization Doesn’t Scale!”

Grassroots vigilantism in support of American multinational corporations is such a grand tradition in Europe, no one should be surprised that Google evokes this kind of demonstration.  Particularly since Google did so well with the German book authors in the Google Books catastrophe (see “German Authors Outraged at Google Book Search“).

I swear, I swear, I swear I’m not making this up–read Chris Matyszczyk’s story.  There’s more and he’s much funnier than I am.

But ask yourself this: Given what we have seen of organic rioting in Europe, we know that these free rangers are no chickens.  What kind of a self-respecting anti-pixelator would select the humble egg as a weapon of choice in such a situation?

Pixelators of the World, Unite!

In other news from the Goolag, eWeek reports that “Street View in Germany may get a curve ball later in 2010.  Germany Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière said the government will introduce a new privacy code in December, inviting Google and other Internet companies to submit suggestions for self-regulation before then.

Street View has had a harrying week. Canadian privacy officials said Google’s data collection in Canada violated privacy law, albeit unintentionally.  “Unintentionally”…must mean aside from that data collection working according to plan?

The company is now pursuing legal action against the country in the matter.”

No wait.  That last sentence should be “The country is now pursuing legal action against Google in the matter.”  You caught that, right?

Google told the BBC “‘We respect people’s right to remove their house from Street View and by no means consider this [egg lobbing] to be acceptable behaviour.'”  (But you can’t remove your house from Street View….  So Google may respect the right, but they don’t permit the exercise of the right they supposedly respect?]

As Kashmir Hill of Forbes said, “It’s ironic that those who wanted more privacy through blurring their homes wound up getting less of it.”  One might also ask if the egg lobbists wore “V” style “Guy Fawkes” masks.

Doesn’t it make you mad enough to pixelize?

See also: Wayward Google fans pelt houses with eggs (Deutsche Welle)

See also: Google Street View Lovers Egg Blurred German Houses (Forbes) by Kashmir Hill

See also: German vandals target Street View opt-out homes (BBC)

@IMPALAMusic: Calling all Creators, Europe is Under Attack

September 3, 2018 Comments off

[Attention @SenatorBurr @MarkWarner! GoogleTwitterFacebook are attacking the European Parliament just the way they do the US Congress!]

@mikehuppe: Broadcast Radio Makes an Ironic Plea for Fairness — Artist Rights Watch

August 8, 2018 Comments off

SoundExchange’s CEO says it’s time radio starts paying all music creators fairly for their work.

On Monday, a group of radio broadcasters penned a letter in support of the National Association of Broadcasters’ (NAB) push for deregulation of the $14 billion radio industry. Their letter was based on the NAB’s petition to the FCC this past June, in which the NAB sought to allow expanded broadcaster ownership of radio stations (i.e., increased consolidation) throughout the country. The NAB’s justification: broadcasters must adjust their business model to the realities of the new streaming world.

As a representative of the many creative parties who help craft music, we are frequently on the opposite side of issues from the NAB. And while I can’t comment on NAB’s specific requests, I was delighted to find so much common ground in their FCC filing in June….

I agree with the NAB that the law should “finally adopt rules reflecting competitive reality in today’s audio marketplace” and should “level the playing field” for all entities in the music economy.

If radio truly wants to modernize, it can start by taking a giant leap into the 21st century and paying all music creators fairly for their work. Stop treating artists like 17th century indentured servants, just so radio can reap bigger profits. If radio wants to have rules that reflect the music industry of today, then that should apply across the board.

We should resolve this gaping unfairness to artists before we begin talking about allowing radio to consolidate even further.


Read the post on Billboard


Guest Post: How Amazon’s Cheats Music Creators

August 1, 2018 1 comment

Guest post* by Erin M. Jacobson, Esq.

[This article was first posted on and previously on]

Music creators (songwriters and performing artists) and rights’ owners (music publishers and record labels) are not collecting a new and substantial source of income – and most of them are not aware they are not collecting it. Enter Twitch, the website exploiting creators and owners without paying for a single cent of music usage.

What is Twitch

Twitch, a subsidiary of Amazon, is a live-streaming video platform that has “over two million broadcasters and 15 million daily active users.” Anyone can become a Twitch “broadcaster,” meaning users set up their own channels and live-stream various content, which includes, but is not limited to, video-game play, card games, pranks, craft tutorials and more.

The broadcasts start out as live streams and are saved on the channel for re-broadcasts and on-demand watching. Watching videos and channels on Twitch is free and publicly accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. Anyone can become a Twitch broadcaster for free and earn money directly from viewers. Broadcasters that contract with Twitch to become a partner or affiliate will earn money from Twitch directly, as well as from viewers. All revenue streams are described in the next two sections.

Income Earned by Twitch and Twitch Partners/Affiliates

  1. Ad Revenue: Twitch serves ads on all video content, which includes video-on-demand and pre-rolls, and collects ad revenue from showing these ads.
  2. Subscriptions: Viewers can subscribe to a particular broadcaster’s channel at pricing tiers of $4.99, $9.99, and $24.99, with these charges recurring monthly. These subscriptions allow viewers to support broadcasters and use special emotes (chat icons like emojis) that are accessible only to subscribers of a particular broadcaster’s channel.
  3. Bits: Viewers can contribute “bits” to a broadcaster during a stream. Bits are a digital currency within Twitch bought by users for real money, and contributing these bits to a broadcaster is basically like adding money to that broadcaster’s tip jar.
  4. Amazon Prime: Because Twitch is owned by Amazon, Prime members can use “tokens” from their Prime membership to subscribe to broadcaster channels on Twitch. Tokens renew every month, so a Prime member can re-subscribe to a broadcaster’s channel on a monthly basis using Prime tokens.

Twitch and the broadcaster split all income from subscriptions, bits, and Prime tokens, usually on at least a 50/50 basis.

Income Earned Directly by Broadcasters

  1. Donations: Viewers can contribute money directly to a broadcaster through third party services like StreamLabs, Muxy or StreamElements without buying bits.
  2. Media Share: Viewers can make “media share requests” through StreamLabs  and StreamElements, meaning viewers can request a broadcaster to play a certain song, YouTube video, or other media within a live stream (hereinafter “Media Share(s)”). Prices for Media Shares are set by the broadcaster, and some broadcasters will start their pricing at $5 per request.

A Twitch Broadcaster’s Earnings

Twitch’s most popular broadcaster is 26-year old Tyler Blevins, known on Twitch as “Ninja.” Ninja reportedly earns over $500,000 per month on Twitch revenue alone, not counting his recent sponsorship deals by Red Bull and Uber. A recent Forbes article reported Ninja’s earnings calculation: “160,000 subscribers at a higher $3.50 rate per sub means he’s pulling in $560,000 a month from that revenue stream alone. Not counting Twitch bits. Not counting donations. Not counting 4 million YouTube subscribers.”

Ninja and most other broadcasters also use music in their streams. None of this music is licensed and none of this money is going to the music creators or rights’ owners.

Music Licenses Required

Platforms with user-generated audiovisual content require performance licenses for the compositions from performance rights organizations ASCAP, BMI, SESAC and GMR. Music users must obtain synchronization and master use licenses from the music publishers and record labels, respectively, along with paying negotiated fees to “synchronize” the audio with the visual elements. Also, rights’ owners may share in ad revenue in addition to or in lieu of those fees.

It should also be considered whether a broadcaster who repeatedly uses a particular song as a theme song or channel staple (like when Ninja does a victory dance at every game win to the song, “Pon Pon Pon”, performed by Kyary Pamyu Pamyu) is implying an association with or (false) endorsement by an artist, similar to when political candidates use certain songs in their campaigns.

First, there is no evidence that Twitch has valid performance licenses in place from ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, or GMR (although they may be working on it). Therefore, Twitch is not paying for the repeated performances of music to audiences of millions.

Second, it is not known that any broadcaster using music on Twitch obtains synchronization or master use licenses, or pays any fees for the use of music. Also, neither Twitch nor the broadcasters are sharing ad revenue with rights’ owners.

Third, Twitch does not have its own content ID system like YouTube to track and claim uses of music. Twitch leverages Audible Magic to track audio uses after a live stream is over and will mute infringing content in the on-demand re-broadcasts, but not all content is recognized and removed. Also, there is no system to flag these infringing uses or mute them during a live stream.

All of the money earned by Twitch and its partner/affiliate broadcasters for subscriptions, bits, and Prime membership is retained entirely by Twitch and its partners/affiliates, and money earned from donations and Media Share song requests is kept entirely by the broadcasters. None of these funds are allocated to music creators and rights’ owners whose music is being used in these broadcasts.

Current State of Affairs

On June 22, 2018, the Twitch community received a shock when a group of its most popular broadcasters were banned from Twitch for playing a leaked version of a new song by rapper Juice Wrld that was initiated via Media Share song requests. Interscope Records issued DMCA takedown notices, and per Twitch policy, each infringer was banned for 24-hours.

This incident has shed a light on the use of uncleared music by Twitch broadcasters, but many have either continued with playing uncleared content or will not include certain music in the broadcasts. Ninja has turned off music content so he can then repost videos to YouTube in order to avoid YouTube claims by rights’ owners and keep his YouTube ad revenue. Ninja has publicly stated, “I’ve already reached out about getting rights to music … you can still get screwed over for playing music that doesn’t belong to you. … It’s such a nightmare, that it’s just not worth it.”

Interscope later supposedly stated the DMCA takedowns were an accident and Juice Wrld apologized to the Twitch broadcasters, saying “I will do what I can to prevent it from happening again.”

The National Music Publisher’s Association (NMPA) is rumored to be in negotiations with Twitch for licensing, but has not confirmed or commented as to the details.

Furthermore, Twitch isn’t the only site on the market. There are other, similar sites such as Mixer (owned by Microsoft), Facebook Gaming, YouTube Gaming, and Caffeine. There are also other music-centric sites, like Smule, using music in audiovisual content purportedly without permission or payment. More of these websites, as well as phone apps, with user-generated content, continue to emerge and the rate at which more new platforms are introduced is unlikely to slow due to the prevalence of streaming.

The Real Problems

First, rights’ owners are not enforcing their rights and making sure they receive payment for uses of their content. As stated at the beginning of this article, many creators and rights’ owners do not even know about these infringements. Those rights owners’ that are aware, like Interscope, have allowed the rumors of “accidental” takedowns to be the last word on the subject instead of taking a stand to protect their rights.

Second, Juice Wrld is an example of at least one artist condoning the Twitch broadcasters’ unauthorized use of his work instead of getting paid. Artists and songwriters can and should benefit from these uses, and condoning the infringing behavior allows for more of it, as well as a further loss of income to the creators and rights’ owners.

Third, streamers are often ignorant of how to obtain permission. Noah Downs, a video game lawyer at McDonald, Sutton & DuVal in Richmond, VA observes, “Some broadcasters reach out to artists directly, thinking that if the artist tweets ‘Sure, use my music!’ then it must be okay to use. It does not matter if a broadcaster has that kind of permission from the artist – generally the decision is up to the label.”

Fourth, many streamers feel entitled to play music without permission under the belief they are actually helping artists by giving them exposure. Famous artists and songs do not need free promotion from Twitch broadcasters – they are already famous. While exposure might be helpful for new artists to gain fans, it still doesn’t need to be for free. For example, music service Pretzel Rocks and music company Monstercat have agreements with artists allowing music to be played legally on Twitch broadcasts with compensation being paid to the artists and songwriters.

In an ironic twist, Twitch viewers and broadcasters frequently use and repurpose clips of other Twitch broadcasters’ content without permission. The broadcasters complain about this practice and will submit content claims when their content is used without permission, but they fail to realize that they are doing the same thing to music creators and rights’ owners. Downs agrees, stating, “In many ways, broadcasters and musical artists are the same, and both deserve to be paid fairly.”

The bottom line is that all creators and rights’ owners need to be properly compensated for uses of their work. Rather than ignoring or condoning infringing behavior, creators and rights’ owners need to keep up with new uses of music and take a stand to protect the value of their music and their livelihoods.

It’s time creators stopped feeling entitled to steal from and deprive each other of the fruits of their labor. It’s time people realized that using music without permission or payment not only cheats the creator or performer, but also impacts everyone that works for them or with them. It’s time the culture of all creators shifts to one of respecting one’s own work enough to get paid for it and respecting the work of others enough to get the proper permissions and pay the proper compensation. It’s time that everyone gets serious about valuing music.

*This article does not constitute legal advice.

Erin M. Jacobson is a practicing attorney, experienced deal negotiator, and a seasoned advisor of intellectual property rights who protects musicians, songwriters, music publishers, and other music professionals.   Ms. Jacobson’s clients include Grammy and Emmy Award winners, legacy artists, and independent artists and companies. She handles all types of music industry agreements, with an emphasis on music publishing.

Ms. Jacobson also frequently represents legacy clients and catalogues, as her knowledge of both classic music and current industry practices places her in a unique position to protect and maximize opportunities for older catalogues.  She is a frequent author and speaker, and has been featured in Forbes and Music Connection.  Ms. Jacobson has also been named a Super Lawyers Rising Star and one of the Top Women Attorneys in Southern California.

For more information, visit


HFA is Getting Blamed Unfairly — Music Tech Solutions

July 31, 2018 Comments off

When you’ve been around as long as the Harry Fox Agency, you’re going to make some enemies, screw some things up, over react and over reach. You’re also going to do a lot of things right, make some friends and do some good. But most of all, you’re going to be the whipping boy […]

via HFA is Getting Blamed Unfairly — Music Tech Solutions

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