Archive for the ‘#irespectmusic campaign’ Category

@musicbizworld: Universal Commits to Sharing Stock Sale Proceeds with Artists

March 11, 2018 Leave a comment

According to Music Business Worldwide, Universal has committed to sharing profits from the sale of Spotify stock.  The exact quote is:


Sources close to Vivendi-owned UMG suggest it may have been corporately restricted from making a hypothetical public statement on the matter until Spotify officially confirmed its intention to float on the New York Stock Exchange.

This is great news and also is the right thing to do.  The trick is, of course, that someone has to buy Universal’s position in Spotify in the public market.

Selling large blocks of shares in the public markets is always a tricky business, but Spotify may have made it exponentially more difficult given the “direct public offering” structure of its IPO (more properly called a “DPO”).  I suspect that there will be a rush for the exits as holders of Spotify stock try to liquidate, and Universal could find itself selling alongside a fully-vested marketing consultant who left the company three years ago, artists who got shares, and of course all the other majors and Merlin.

If you believe as I do that the world of retail investing is not waiting for a Spotify IPO,  this kind of robust selling could cause the price to tank in the absence of buyers or result in the kind of volume patterns you see with some shares of preferred stock (which have the “z” designation after the share numbers on the day in the stock section).

The Vivendi and Universal treasury folk are very smart people, so I’m sure they will manage the sale of their stock with an eye to avoiding tanking the stock and maximizing profit, so their interests are aligned with their artists (and presumably songwriters, too).

The next problem that we will all have to deal with is the meme that Spotify is already promoting–the reason Spotify loses money is that royalties are too damn high.  I guess that means the royalties they’re not paying?  Followed closely behind (A) the reason they can’t pay songwriters is because songwriters hide from them (true story, read the F-1 at p. 20); (B) Spotify wants to eliminate the “middleman” (i.e., record companies) and good luck with that; and (C) if the music industry had just built a global rights database then, then everything would be fine so Spotify’s failure to pay royalties is really our fault.

And especially those pesky songwriters who hide from them.

Even if it may take a while to liquidate Universal’s position in Spotify, it is comforting that they’re committed to doing the right thing.

Guest Post by @sarahickman: Streaming Royalties Are Ending Opportunities for Working Musicians — Artist Rights Watch

March 10, 2018 Leave a comment

Sara Hickman on how the economics of streaming is hollowing out the “middle class musician” and devouring the music business from the ground up.

via Guest Post by @sarahickman: Streaming Royalties Are Ending Opportunities for Working Musicians — Artist Rights Watch

You Can’t Find What You Don’t Look For: @theDavidCrosby Gets Screwed Twice by Big Tech

From Spotify’s F-1:  “Spotify was founded on the belief that music is universal and that streaming is a more robust and seamless access model that benefits both artists and music fans.”

Now bend over for that truly seemless access.

David Crosby is one of the most influential musicians, songwriters, vocalists and performers of his generation.  From The Byrds to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, to his duo with Graham Nash and his solo work, David Crosby is truly one of the most gifted artists you will ever encounter.  If you don’t know his work, he’s not hard to find–start with the move Woodstock and go from there.  And, of course, his music is readily available on any streaming service or the decade-themed channels on SiriusXM.

But David Crosby has a problem–he recorded much of his seminal work in the wrong year for the digerati and for the warm hearted folk like Jim Meyer at SiriusXM, Tim Westergren while at Pandora, the Digital Media Association and the MIC Coalition who oppose treating pre-72 recordings like all others for digtial sound recording performance royalties.

So David gets screwed on the sound recordings.  Not being content with one sleazeball move, Spotify, Google, Amazon and iHeart also screw him on his songs by filing “address unknown” notices with the Copyright Office.  (And, it must be said, the Copyright Office gets their licks in, too, by allowing this to happen.)

Here’s a run on David Crosby’s recordings for which these monopolists have filed at least 156 “address unknown” NOIs:

David Crosby

In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, David Crosby said:

Spotify’s plan to go public, filed last week, could generate $23 billion and make the world’s biggest record labels hundreds of millions of dollars richer — but the Swedish streaming giant has yet to soothe grumbling and litigious artists and songwriters who say its royalty payments are unfairly low. “They rigged it so they don’t pay the artist,” David Crosby tells Rolling Stone. “I’ve lost half of my income because of these clever fellas. I used to make money off my records, but now I don’t make any.”

This gives doubling down a whole new meaning.

But Daniel Ek is about to make serious bank while he has many outstanding bills to songwriters and artists, including David Crosby.  And the one thing we know for sure when Spotify files an NOI is that they can’t say “but we paid the labels” or “we paid the publishers”.  They are not paying at all because they use a loophole to get out of any royalty obligation–while getting all the liability insulation of the compulsory license.

Thanks, Copyright Office.

Here’s another thing that’s about to happen to Daniel Ek.  Remember old “million a month” Tim Westergren who sold Pandora stock every month netting him over $1 million a month?  Want to bet that Daniel Ek does the same and that he’s going to make way more than $1 million a month?

We will be happy to bring you that news that you won’t read in the mainstream media as soon as Ek’s filings start to go through the SEC.  Then he can explain to David Crosby how it feels to be a billionaire off the backs of the songwriters and artists he stiffs.

@musicbizworld: An Interview with The Great One: Bruce Allen: ‘ARTISTS TODAY HAVE MORE POWER THAN THEY REALIZE’

February 14, 2018 Comments off

This is a must read interview with Bruce Allen, one of the great managers in the history of the music business.

Read the post on Music Business Worldwide


EU Composer & Songwriters Alliance Questions “Serious Problems” With Music Modernization Act — Artist Rights Watch

February 1, 2018 Comments off

The European Composer & Songwriters Alliance joins the Songwriters Guild of America in questioning “serious problems” in the Music Modernization Act

via EU Composer & Songwriters Alliance Questions “Serious Problems” With Music Modernization Act — Artist Rights Watch

Does the Music Modernization Act Codify Exposure Bucks?

January 26, 2018 1 comment

Exposure Bucks

If you’ve followed the Fair Play Fair Pay legislation and the #IRespectMusic campaign, you know that at the heart of the broadcasters’ rationale for not paying performance royalties to artists for over the air broadcast is the “promotion” argument.  Simply put, the broadcasters tell us that the reason that the U.S. should deny artists a performance royalty for over the air broadcast is because of promotional value.  Or what we call “Exposure Bucks.”  Congressman Jerry Nadler and our friend Blake Morgan have been trying to get this wrong righted.

Also recall that the mechanical royalties to be governed by the Music Modernization Act are set by the Copyright Royalty Judges who are tasked with conjuring up a compulsory mechanical royalty rate.  Currently, the judges set mechanical rates based on certain policy factors.  For many years, songwriters have wanted to replace the policy-based method with what’s called “willing buyer/willing seller”–which is a process of divination by which the judges guess at what a willing buyer would pay to a willing seller for a rate.  For a compulsory license.

You know, the rate for which there hasn’t been a free market in over 100 years.

The Music Modernization Act would change the policy factor standard to willing buyer/willing seller but it should not be assumed that the change alone will result in an increased royalty to songwriters.  Particularly because the MMA creates a kind of “willingness Plus” standard that instructs the judges to take several economic factors into account in addition to market place benchmarks.

And also remember that the Music Modernization Act sets a rate for digital streaming only–you know, the pay-to-playlist world of recommendation algorithms that reenforce paid-for playlists and who knows what else in the background to distort listener choices.

There’s another factor here–the Music Modernization Act creates a new mechanical royalty collective agency (kind of like Harry Fox Agency on steroids) that the law mandates all the songwriters in the world authorize to license their songs in the U.S. (unless their songs are subject to a direct license).  The MMA requires digital music services pay for the operating costs of the new collective–another selling point.

Said another way–the fox pays for the locks on the chicken coop designed to keep out the fox.

Who gets to determine how much the services are to pay for the operating costs of the collective?  The Copyright Royalty Judges of course.  Because they are so well-suited to that task.

This cost-shifting alone supposedly will result in more money for songwriters because the costs of collecting and paying will be borne by those paying the royalty.  Which only makes sense as long as those paying the royalty don’t convince the judges that the royalty  they pay should itself be reduced by the cost of the new collective.  See what happened there?

So two moving parts–let’s stay away from reducing royalties based on promotional value that isn’t really promotional and let’s prohibit the judges from taking into account the cost of the collective in setting rates (since the cost-shifting is supposed to be a great trickle down benefit to songwriters and letting services pay with one hand and take away with the other is no saving at all).

Here’s what the MMA actually says about the willing buyer/willing seller divination standard (at p. 10):

The Copyright Royalty Judges shall establish rates and terms that most clearly represent the rates and terms that would have been negotiated in the marketplace between a willing buyer and a willing seller.  In determining such rates and terms for digital phonorecord deliveries, the Copyright Royalty Judges shall base their decision on economic, competitive, and programming information presented by the parties, including—

‘‘(i) whether use of the compulsory licensee’s service may substitute for or may promote the sales of phonorecords or otherwise may interfere with or may enhance the musical work copyright owner’s other streams of revenue from its musical works; and

‘‘(ii) the relative roles of the copyright owner and the compulsory licensee in the copy righted work and the service made available to the public with respect to the relative creative contribution, technological contribution, capital  investment, cost, and risk.’’;

So–unless there is an express prohibition that stops services from asking the judges to reduce royalty rates by a factor representing the cost of the collective–which the judges themselves would have set–then there’s nothing that stops the services from giving with one hand and taking away with the other.  I haven’t found that prohibition in the MMA so far.  Under the relevant language, the services give by paying the costs of the collective, and they take that back by reducing the royalty rate.  This glitch seems to be clearly contemplated by the MMA.

And of course, it certainly looks like the judges are forced to take into account promotional value of streaming services for which at least Spotify are frequently paid already according to reports.  Summing up all the pay to playlist payments may make it easier to calculate the value of promotion on streaming services, but then again the services may not really want to disclose how much of their activity is bought and paid for.

So, it appears that songwriters may actually be worse off under the MMA than they are now.

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

January 17, 2018 Comments off

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

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