Postdicting the Present: Five Things Congress Could Do for Music Creators That Wouldn’t Cost the Taxpayer a Dime Part 2: Update the Compulsory License for Songwriters

January 4, 2019 Comments off

In 2013, I wrote 5 articles on Huffington Post titled “5 Things Congress Could Do That Wouldn’t Cost Taxpayers a Dime”. After the MMA, how did I do?

via Postdicting the Present: Five Things Congress Could Do for Music Creators That Wouldn’t Cost the Taxpayer a Dime Part 2: Update the Compulsory License for Songwriters — Artist Rights Watch

Predictions: Spotify To Incubate the No Records Label Group

January 2, 2019 Comments off

Streaming services like Spotify are faced with a squeeze–how can they be more like Facebook?  That means how can they really get into that Web 2.0 game by deceiving more people to work for them for free while retaining 100% of the revenue for selling their work product?  Or better yet, get people to pay them real money in return for promo bucks?  (Or in the Lefsetz world, Bitbob.)

Some people think that Spotify will or should “start a label”, like that’s as easy as buying razorblades.  Remember–Spotify’s top executives are richer than Croesus and got that way while stiffing songwriters in the millions and even managed to change the law to create a new safe harbor so that they could continue to do so.  Talk about gaslighting!

Why would such people want to get their hands dirty and “start a label”?  More likely they would adopt the “No Records” model.

No Records was an imaginary label I dreamed up on the handful of exceptionally frustrating days at A&M.  The No Records business model was to sign major artists to record the next record they released after they got dropped.  No Records signed Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones, Drake and so on and promoted itself as having all those artists signed, but never released any records as long as those artists were signed to another label.  Which means, of course, if you were a No Records executive you did no work because you had…no records.  And if by fate you found yourself with an actual record delivered to you, then you would get laid off and paid as a consultant for a few years to not work any record that was delivered.

Now this is a perfect business model for Spotify.  Kind of a small batch AI-driven artisanal curation.  No one would ever have to find out that Spotify executives know nothing about developing or breaking artists, but they could promote the artists they signed to No Records by playlists for the current records of their future artists.

Because that’s the key, you see.  To have no records.  Ever.  But Spotify could tell Wall Street they were starting a label to compete with real record companies and journalists would dutifully write stories about how Spotify was a threat to the record company ecosystem.  With no records.  While they continue to sell stock to the greater fool.


Postdicting the Present: Five Things Congress Could Do For Music Creators That Wouldn’t Cost the Taxpayer a Dime Part 1: Pre-72 Sound Recordings — Music Tech Solutions

January 1, 2019 Comments off

Originally posted on Artist Rights Watch: [In 2013, I wrote 5 articles on Huffington Post titled “5 Things Congress Could Do That Wouldn’t Cost Taxpayers a Dime”. After the MMA, how did I do?]

In this and future posts, I will be addressing five things the Congress could do for music creators that are easy to do and that wouldn’t cost taxpayers a dime.

via Postdicting the Present: Five Things Congress Could Do For Music Creators That Wouldn’t Cost the Taxpayer a Dime Part 1: Pre-72 Sound Recordings — Music Tech Solutions

$5k for the Grammys with Nadler and Jeffries? Check out Google’s WHCD party

December 22, 2018 Comments off

Somebody started whinging about a campaign email for a $5000 ticket to go to the Grammys with Reps. Jerry Nadler and Hakim Jeffries like this is some booga booga sign of corruption and influence peddling.  (And whingers could at least get the spelling right–it’s Grammys, not Grammies.)

I haven’t seen the actual tickets, so I don’t know that the face price is for the seats in question.  However, if it’s for a box seat, it wouldn’t shock me if that ticket went for 5 figures anyway.

But let’s put this in perspective.  First of all, Nadler and Jeffries are already on side with artist rights…perhaps because their constituents are artists?  New York, New York does have a few in almost any zip code.

And if you want to know about paying for access, don’t miss this video of government officials arriving at Google’s White House Correspondents Dinner party in 2016.  Glass houses, baby.

Copyright Office Issues Interim Rule for MLC Applications Including Oversight of MLC Board by Librarian of Congress

December 21, 2018 Comments off

The U.S. Copyright Office issued an interim rule for comment that lays out an intricate and well thought out approach to the Register’s role in designating the Mechanical Licensing Collective and the Digital Licensee Coordinator under Title I of the Music Modernization Act.

Consistent with the MLC’s role as a quasi-governmental organization (or quasi-private, depending on how you look at it), the interim rule confirms that “directors of the MLC are inferior officers under the Appointments Clause of the Constitution [,] that the Librarian of Congress must approve each subsequent selection of a new director….[and] that the Register work with the MLC, once it has been designated to ensure that the Librarian retains the ultimate authority to appoint and remove all directors.”  Presumably, state corporate laws governing the formation of the MLC will give way to this requirement.

The Librarian’s ability to can directors should help assuage some of the concerns about the powers of the MLC and is, of course, entirely consistent with the powers of the MLC as a quasi-governmental organization.

Another requirement that caught my eye relates to the “Hoffa Clause” that allows the MLC to invade the black box to pay operating expenses not covered by the services in the administrative assessment.  The Copyright Office seems quite aware of the moral hazard present, and asks the prospective MLC candidates to provide:

Information regarding whether and how the proposed MLC may apply unclaimed accrued royalties on an interim basis to defray operating costs, as well as any accompanying plans for future reimbursement of such royalties from future collections of the administrative assessment, including relevant legal considerations and guidelines in the event the proposed MLC does intend to apply unclaimed accrued royalties.

All in all, the Copyright Office should be commended for putting together a comprehensive and even-handed “job description” for the MLC and the DLC in keeping with the Office’s statutory role in getting this quasi-governmental organization up and running.

Carbon Clouds: Should Artists Ask Why Aren’t Google, Amazon and Facebook in the Green New Deal?

December 18, 2018 Comments off

Let’s start out with a basic gut check–when you plug in an electric car to charge up the batteries, where do you think that electricity comes from?  Magic elves or the same coal burning power plant or nuclear power station that the rest of the world uses?

Sure, you can have a renewable element to the energy mix, but let’s all remember that any activity that sucks down significant amounts of energy has a carbon footprint like anything else. If you really like the Green New Deal, you’ll probably feel like there’s a policy position that has at least the basics covered.

There’s just one problem–one of the biggest users of electricity is not on the list.  No, they’re just not included at all in the Green New Deal.  And who might that be?

Data centers.  And not just any data centers–these are massive facilities owned by Google, Facebook, Amazon and others.  Listen up Senator Ron Wyden and Senator Ben Sasse.  This is for you.

Data Centers

Nature magazine sums it up:

Upload your latest holiday photos to Facebook, and there’s a chance they’ll end up stored in Prineville, Oregon, a small town where the firm has built three giant data centres and is planning two more. [Hello, Senator Wyden.] Inside these vast factories, bigger than aircraft carriers, tens of thousands of circuit boards are racked row upon row, stretching down windowless halls so long that staff ride through the corridors on scooters.

These huge buildings are the treasuries of the new industrial kings: the information traders. The five biggest global companies by market capitalization this year are currently Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft and Facebook, replacing titans such as Shell and ExxonMobil. Although information factories might not spew out black smoke or grind greasy cogs, they are not bereft of environmental impact. As demand for Internet and mobile-phone traffic skyrockets, the information industry could lead to an explosion in energy use.

According to the National Resources Defense Council:

Data centers are the backbone of the modern economy — from the server rooms that power small- to medium-sized organizations to the enterprise data centers that support American corporations and the server farms that run cloud computing services hosted by Amazon, Facebook, Google, and others. However, the explosion of digital content, big data, e-commerce, and Internet traffic is also making data centers one of the fastest-growing consumers of electricity in developed countries, and one of the key drivers in the construction of new power plants.

Why might that be?  Here’s some 2011 data from the famous “The Internet is Killing the Planet” infographic inspired by Greenpeace’s “Dirty Data” research (that seems to have been forgotten in the GND):

Google co2 1

Based on Google’s most recent environmental report (2018) you have to tease out what Google’s actual carbon emissions is (in footnote 32):

  1. Google emits less than 8 grams of carbon dioxide equivalent per day to serve an active Google user—defined as someone who performs 25 searches and watches 60 minutes of YouTube a day, has a Gmail account, and uses our other key services.

In Google-speak “less than 8” usually means 7.9999999999.  So let’s call it 8.  As of 2016 there were 1 billion active gmail users.  So rough justice, Google acknowledges that it emits about 8 billion grams of carbon dioxide daily, or 9,000 tons.  And based on the characteristically tricky way Google framed the measurement, that doesn’t count the users who don’t have a gmail account, don’t use “our other key services” and may watch more than an hour a day of YouTube.  You know, like kids for example.

And that’s just Google.  Again from Nature:

Already, data centres use an estimated 200 terawatt hours (TWh) each year. That is more than the national energy consumption of some countries, including Iran, but half of the electricity used for transport worldwide, and just 1% of global electricity demand (see ‘Energy scale’). Data centres contribute around 0.3% to overall carbon emissions, whereas the information and communications technology (ICT) ecosystem as a whole — under a sweeping definition that encompasses personal digital devices, mobile-phone networks and televisions — accounts for more than 2% of global emissions. That puts ICT’s carbon footprint on a par with the aviation industry’s emissions from fuel.


Google Data Center in The Dalles, Oregon

What does this have to do with music?  Actually, more than you might think.  YouTube is one of the biggest carbon producers in the Google system.  What’s consumed the most on YouTube?  Cat videos?  How-to screw in a lightbulb videos?  No.

Music videos.

And then there’s streaming.  However you might have felt about plastic discs, billions upon billions of streams uses up a lot of processing power.  And it’s like all the world’s music is hosted in the cloud, sometimes literally.  Remember “Own Nothing, Have Everything”?  I don’t know if anyone could have thought of a more inefficient delivery method from a climate point of view, but I suppose it’s possible.

The fact is we are the forced enablers of what may end up being one of the biggest energy scams in the entire climate disaster, and it’s time to put the foot down.  First of all, artists need to start asking questions of services like YouTube and the advertisers who support them.

And clearly, the Green New Deal needs to take a close look at this entire subject.

Zoë Keating Gives More Evidence of the Streaming Hyper-Efficient Market Share Royalty Headlock on Indie Artists #irespectmusic

December 17, 2018 Comments off

zoe tweet


Driving traffic to Spotify just doesn’t pay off for indie artists (or probably for smaller indie labels).  See an explanation of the Ethical Pool method as a possible solution.  Whatever we do, the status quo is not sustainable.

And then there’s this:

Spotify Buyback

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