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Is it Time for the Inspector General to Review the Copyright Office’s Administration of Address Unknown NOIs? — Artist Rights Watch

January 17, 2018 Leave a comment

If all a digital music service needs to do in order to claim they have a licene to reproduce and distribute a song is send a notice to the Copyright Office is send a notice saying they can’t find the song copyright owner, how hard do you think they’ll look? Particularly if they know that the Copyright Office won’t check? It is time for the Inspector General to review this untenable situation.

via Is it Time for the Inspector General to Review the Copyright Office’s Administration of Address Unknown NOIs? — Artist Rights Watch

Truth Will Out! @digitalmusicnws: Surprise! The ‘Music Modernization Act’ Prohibits Litigation Against Streaming Services [With New Even Safer Harbor Power Play] — Artist Rights Watch

January 15, 2018 Leave a comment

[Editor Charlie sez: You’ve all probably gotten mass emails full of glittering generalities about the controversial Music Modernization Act that don’t tell you what the bill actually says or the power play that’s actually going on. Well…you’ve been Sneekyfy-ed! More News from the Goolag on the latest government taking by the lobbyists to follow!]

via Truth Will Out! @digitalmusicnws: Surprise! The ‘Music Modernization Act’ Prohibits Litigation Against Streaming Services [With New Even Safer Harbor] — Artist Rights Watch

Read the post by Paul Resnikoff on Digital Music News

Read the Music Modernization Act here

The Slippery Slope of Censorship: @HuffPost Pulls Story Critical of @Spotify Ahead of IPO — The Trichordist

January 9, 2018 Leave a comment

Artists Rights advocate Blake Morgan (#IRespectMusic) published a story in the Huffington Post this morning critical of Spotify. The story was rapidly gaining traction when it was suddenly deleted and Morgan received this email from the Huffington Post telling him he’d been censored From: Bryan Maygers Subject: Spotify’s Fatal Flaw Exposed Date: January 8, 2018 at 11:43:41 AM EST […]

Here’s Blake’s piece in its entirety.

Spotify’s Fatal Flaw Exposed: How My Closed-Door Meeting with Execs Ended in a Shouting Match

I love streaming.

I love making playlists, I love being able to download streamed music so I can listen when I’m offline, and I love being able to bring that music with me. In short, I think it’s a great distribution method.

What I don’t love is how little musicians get paid for all that streaming. It’s not fair––not even close. What’s more, middle-class music makers are the ones who are hit hardest, whose businesses are threatened, and whose families are put at risk. So how can I be against the way streaming companies treat musicians but not be
against streaming itself?

The same way I’m against the electric chair, but not against electricity.

Read the complete post on The Trichordist:  The Slippery Slope of Censorship: @HuffPost Pulls Story Critical of @Spotify Ahead of IPO — The Trichordist

hypebot: Songwriter’s Guild Sounds Alarm Over “Serious Problems” In Music Modernization Act of 2017

January 2, 2018 Leave a comment

[Important comments on the controversial “Music Modernization Act of 2017” which is essentially Take Two of the failed Section 115 Reform Act of 2006.  The bill was evidently under negotiation behind closed doors for months but was made public a few days before Christmas.  This confirms the long standing rumor that Big Tech is getting control over the mythical and debunked “global rights database.”  Independent songwriters were evidently essentially excluded from the process, which has raised concerns from songwriter organizations like the Songwriters Guild of America.  Extra points if you can figure out which pre-IPO DiMA member benefits the most from the bill!]

Rick Carnes, president of the Songwriters Guild of America, expresses his organization’s serious concerns with much of the Music Modernization Act of 2017, which seeks to reform music licensing, although not in ways which the SGA believes will benefit songwriters.

_______________________

Guest post by Rick Carnes, president of Songwriters Guild of America 

[Editor: Read The Music Modernization Act of 2017]

1

Dear Representative Collins:

I write as president of The Songwriters Guild of America, Inc., the nation’s longest established music creator organization run solely by and for music creators, representing thousands of professional music creators and their heirs.

Thank you for forwarding a copy of the draft Music Modernization Act of 2017 [the day before it was introduced] for our review prior to its introduction, which was much appreciated. We continue to believe that reform of the music licensing process is and must continue to be an exceptionally high legislative priority – second only to the need to raise music royalty rates to equitable levels that will sustain our community. We applaud your sincere efforts and the efforts of the many members of Congress who have been hard at work trying to fashion solutions to these challenges over the past several years, and hope to continue working closely with them until those worthy and important aims are met.

While it was impossible for us to fully digest and analyze the more than one-hundred-page draft legislation in the short amount of time provided, we wanted in fairness to point out to your office that while there are many good points about the draft, including the section 114 performance rights-related reforms, our initial review indicates that there are a number of very serious problems that will need to be addressed before SGA and thousands of its music creator colleagues can support the bill.

Just by way of example, enactment of the proposed bill as currently constituted would –to the best of our knowledge—represent either one of the first times or the very first time in history that any Government has acted to sanction the creation of a music copyright licensing and royalty collective over which creators themselves would not share at least equally in governance. That is a concept that we cannot support.

There are many other problems too numerous to detail in this short letter, but they include serious fairness, transparency and practical issues related to the proposed processes of setting up the licensing collective, the distributing of unidentified monies on a market share basis and the need to better protect music creator economic rights in that context, the vague nature of any optout mechanisms, the granting of relief from statutory damages liability to prior willful infringers, the scope of the musical composition database (including songwriter/composer information), the provisions concerning shortfall and other funding aspects of the collective, the absence of direct distribution of royalties by the collective to songwriters and composers, the vague nature of the audit activities to be optionally conducted by the collective, and the complications in that and other regards raised by obvious conflicts of interest issues.

Read the post on Hypebot

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.

hesserenata

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.

@krsfow: @theblakemorgan on The Future of What Podcast Talks #IRespectMusic

December 8, 2017 Comments off

A real treat, Portia Sabin talks with Blake Morgan about the #irespectmusic campaign and more, two of my favorite people on the best music business podcast!

 

Must Read Post by @rhettmiller: The Loneliness of the Long Distance Rocker

December 7, 2017 Comments off

Rhett Miller’s important “meet the new boss, worse than the old boss” critique.

In the days of the old business model, there were successful predators at the top of the food chain, but the kids who made the music were hiding down in the bushes with our friends. The local model of music delivery, unlike the giant streaming info-combines that lord over today’s music world, had a strikingly flat hierarchy of striving characters: the club owners, record store clerks, college radio DJs, and rock critics who owed a thousand words to the local weekly. At closing time on any given night in the ’90s you could find any or all of these satellite scenesters mixed in among the proper musicians at the Art Bar in Dallas, behind Club Clearview. We all knew that there was a cutthroat cabal of music industry execs waiting on the top floor of a tower in Rockefeller Center to offer us a lopsided contract, but we also knew that we were the good guys, the proletariat to their bourgeoisie, the Rebel Alliance to their Empire. We had each other’s back. The worst thing we could be expected to do was steal a girlfriend from one of the Buck Pets or envy the Toadies their unexpected national radio play. Those were, as they say, the days.

The Talent Scouts are Bots

It’s all different now. My own observation of the current music industry is colored by my history with the extinct model. I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like to come up in this world of SoundCloud rappers and Swedish hit factories churning out auto-tuned EDM or whatever. Believe me, I’m keenly aware that even these two meager examples must make me sound impossibly old. My point is that if I was a fourteen-year-old depressive nowadays, I’m not sure what would even draw me into the world of music to begin with. The ability to record oneself in a bedroom represents an impressive flash-forward advance in technology, but it also is profoundly isolating. For starters, it negates the very human necessity of convincing small-time investors to fund a session, or the simultaneously joyful and agonizing experience of collaborating with the requisite technicians to make such a recording happen. In short, it eliminates people from the equation. And more to the point, it eliminates all the good people from the equation.

You’ve still got the execs in the tower in Rockefeller Center—only now all the lower floors that used to house the junior execs and the young A&R kids are crammed with barbed wire and land mines. The Artists & Repertoire department has been replaced by a bot that alerts the label chief when an artist reaches a predetermined number of Twitter followers or Facebook likes. This sort of micro-market calculation was once anathema to creativity—it’s the origin of the old punk-rock contempt for “the suits” who moved product on the AM airwaves. Today, however, an obsessive attention to online clicks and listens is all that an independent artist can rely on to outfox the system. Writing a song might now be less important to your success than paying for a hundred thousand imaginary account holders to follow you on social media.

Read the post on The Baffler

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