Posts Tagged ‘#irespectmusic’

Call to Action: Please Help Support Our Musical Legacy and Tell the Congress #irespectmusic on the CLASSICS Act

February 15, 2018 Comments off


I don’t often ask MTP readers to agree with me, much less sign a petition.  But the exception proves the rule and I’m asking that you please sign the petition to support legislation in the U.S. Congress that would close the loophole that some digital music services have been leveraging for quite some time on so-called “pre-72” recordings.

If it sounds implausible that the date a record was released should make a difference in copyright protection or entitlement of the artists to the same royalties as everyone releasing records after that date–that’s because it is.  It’s actually worse–it’s the kind of thing that someone would do if they truly viewed music as a commodity.

But that’s exactly what Pandora and Sirius started doing a few years ago when a truly meanspirited bunch of lawyers and bean counters decided they could save a few bucks by stiffing old guys and dead cats and their heirs.  Between Pandora and Sirius, this bunch of rocket scientists have paid out $300 million in settlement to the major labels and will pay even more in that Turtles class action to the indie community.

And that’s right–these geniuses could have come out better if they had just paid the damn royalties in the first place.

So you know what this is about–it’s a piece of the #irespectmusic campaign for artist pay for radio play.  Except this time it’s about reclaiming rights we already fought over back in 1995.  It’s about claiming a little piece of righteousness for those who can’t do it themselves.

What these jerks at Pandora and Sirius (and the Digital Media Association) were really about was bootstrapping an issue into a bargaining chip by withholding payment on pre-72 recordings like bullies do.  And here’s why:  Remember Blake Morgan told us that the U.S. is one of the only countries in the world that doesn’t recognize a performance right for sound recordings?  Well, before 1972 the U.S. didn’t recognize a federal copyright in sound recordings at all.

The Congress amended that astonishing oversight in 1972 to recognize a federal sound recording copyright and then in 1995 and 1998 adopted a limited performance right in sound recordings performed in a digital medium.  You know–back when it didn’t seem like this funny digital thing didn’t matter much.  Under certain circumstances, there is also a royalty paid for digital performances for webcasting, simulcasting, satellite radio and a few other radio services.  That’s basically your “SoundExchange money.”

Sounds good, right?  Do you think that there was one member of Congress in 1995 who voted for the limited performance right but secretly said king’s x–a royalty for everyone except James Brown, Duke Ellington, Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Jimi Hendrix, Willie Nelson, Buddy Holly and ZZ Top?  No, but that’s what the Digital Media Association, the NAB and their knuckleheads would have you believe.  Remember–not even Pandora believes this bunk anymore.  Amazing what new lawyers will do for the soul.

So the Congress has been forced to introduce legislation to fix the pre-72 loophole once and for all–and that’s what I’d really appreciate your support for.  The bill is called the CLASSICS Act and it’s supported in the House by Ranking Member Jerry Nadler (D-#irespectmusic) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and in the Senate by Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) and Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA).

We have a lot of people to thank for advancing the ball to this point, especially all the folks carrying the legislation, but especially Ranking Member Jerry Nadler who thankfully believes in this so much he’s always up for another fight for artist rights.  We also have to thank The Turtles and their team, SoundExchange CEO Mike Huppe and his team, and Chris Israel and his team at MusicFirst.

You told them how you feel about #irespectmusic and I would ask you to please do it once again because we can’t stop fighting until the fight is done.  But don’t do it for me, do it for Ella, Aretha, the Duke, the Count, Maceo, Jimi with an i and Hendrix with an x.  Do it for all of those who came before, both living and back home and those they left behind.

We never ask you to sign anything you don’t understand, so if you’re still unclear, please let me know.

The MusicFirst Coalition has a petition here.  I’d really appreciate your signing up.

The Music Modernization Act’s “In Terrorem” Clause

February 11, 2018 1 comment

The more the “Music Modernization Act” is discussed, the more rocks get turned over and the more toads jump out from under the rocks with nasty surprises.  Even before it is passed, the MMA is already disrupting private contracts, well settled expectations and a century of law.  Which is a real neat trick by Big Tech, this time in the form of the Digital Media Association (or “DiMA”).  And the most punitive aspect of the proposed bill appears to exist for no reason that relates to the proposed bill’s primary purpose–creating a prospective safe harbor for Big Tech to exploit every song ever written by anyone in the world and every song that may be written in the future by anyone in the world. But it also creates a “snap back” retroactive safe harbor that will scare songwriters into not filing infringement lawsuits before the bill even gets a vote, or what the law calls an “in terrorem” clause.  Those clauses are designed to scare people into not taking legal action to protect their rights and the MMA has a huge one in the first of several brand new safe harbors that will be way worse than the DMCA.

Here’s the first and most punitive safe harbor that insulates music services from lawsuits for “prior unlicensed uses.”  In case you missed it, “prior unlicensed uses” is a nice way of saying “prior copyright infringements.”

(10) PRIOR UNLICENSED USES.—  ‘‘(A) LIMITATION ON LIABILITY IN GENERAL.—A copyright owner that commences [a lawsuit] on or after January 1, 2018 [i.e., before the enactment of the MMA], against a digital music provider for the infringement of the exclusive rights…arising from the unauthorized reproduction or distribution of a musical work by such digital music provider in the course of engaging in [uses covered by the new blanket license in the MMA] prior to the license availability date, shall, as the copyright owner’s sole and exclusive remedy against the digital music provider, be eligible to recover the [statutory streaming mechanical] royalty [in that lawsuit]…from the digital music provider, provided that such digital music provider can demonstrate compliance with the requirements of subparagraph (B) [searching for copyright owners that 60 million mass filings of “address unknown NOIs suggest they are incapable of doing], as applicable. In all other cases the limitation on liability under this subparagraph shall not apply.

What this paragraph means is that unless a copyright owner has already filed a lawsuit against a service for infringing uses that occurred prior to January 1, 2018, that infringing service can only be sued for the measly streaming mechanical royalty–which almost guarantees that the service will never be sued.  No statutory damages, no attorneys’ fees, no injunctions.  This is why Wixen Music Publishing filed a lawsuit against Spotify on December 29, 2017.  (Note that suing for unpaid royalties is the only type of claim the copyright owner can make against the infringer.)

The “license availability date” is the January 1 following the second anniversary of the date the bill becomes law (assuming it ever does).  I have no idea why this section is written this way which seems designed to confuse anyone who is not already familiar with it.

I also have no idea what is so special about January 1, 2018 aside from the fact that it was a matter of days after the bill was quietly introduced, before a copy of the bill was made publicly available, and was most likely to protect further lawsuits that might affect the rumored Spotify IPO.  (Which is why some call the MMA the “Spotify Preservation Act”.)

So, for example, if the bill became law on June 1, 2018, two years following would be June 1, 2020, so the next January 1 would be January 1, 2021.  That means that the new safe harbor applies to any infringements between January 1, 2018 and January 1, 2021, or for lawsuits not yet filed for infringements occurring before January 1, 2018 that are still within the Copyright Act’s three-year statute of limitations.  That’s right–the safe harbor applies before the Music Modernization Act was given legal effect.

And of course the clause that limits the safe harbor to situations where the “digital music provider can demonstrate compliance with the requirements of subparagraph (B) [searching for copyright owners that 60 million mass filings of “address unknown NOIs suggest they are incapable of doing]” would itself require a lawsuit.  How do you think Big Tech would respond to a request for proof?  Probably a two world answer “we complied” followed by another two word answer to the inevitable challenge.  That means that every songwriter would have to be willing to sue some of the biggest corporations in the world with no guarantee of the statutory damages and attorneys’ fees in the private attorney general provisions of the Copyright Act.

Yes, as Tom Waits teaches us in Step Right Up, “the large print giveth and the small print taketh away.”

Ask yourself this–if a copyright owner didn’t know about this bill and filed their lawsuit after January 1, 2018, what would happen if the bill is subsequently enacted into law with this in terrorem clause intact?  When you ask people who were involved with the closed door negotiations of the bill that produced this clause, you get the answer “DiMA wouldn’t agree to take that out”.  Well, no kidding.  The very presence of this clause in a draft bill creates the in terrorem situation that is the clear object of the exercise.  So much for closed door negotiations.

Aside from the whole MMA being very poorly thought out and a vicious attack on basic rights of songwriters, Attorney Richard Busch, among others (including me), believe this section to be violative of several of our most cherished protections in the Constitution and it certainly doesn’t pass the smell test for work the government should be about.  If anyone thought that this bill was designed to get the government out of the music business, that is just a laughable assertion.

More on this later, but I’d be interested in hearing from anyone who has an idea how this in terrorem provision would be given effect if someone dared to test the punitive legislation and filed an infringement case after January 1, 2018 for “prior unlicensed uses” that occurred before the enactment of MMA but within the statute of limitations.  My view is there’s no fixing this section and it just needs to be stricken now rather than wait the five to ten years or so it will take for a case to reach the Supreme Court or WTO.


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

January 9, 2018 Comments off

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

@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!


Watch This Space: The #irespectmusic Podcast Coming Soon!

May 23, 2017 Comments off


Watch this space for the #irespectmusic podcast, hosted by Karoline Kramer Gould!  Listen to the trailer here!

Blake KKG Conyers

Blake Morgan, Karoline Kramer Gould, Rep. John Conyers

#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….

Guest Post from @RadioCleveKKG: Paradigm Shift

September 5, 2016 Comments off

[Editor Charlie sez:  Karoline Kramer-Gould is the bravest person we know.  Karoline was the long time Music Director of Cleveland’s tastemaker college AAA station WJCU who spoke out about her views on the issue and the tactics of the all-powerful National Association of Broadcasters in the NAB’s opposition to paying artist royalties for the sound recordings they built their business on.  Karoline became a vocal advocate for the bi-partisan Fair Play Fair Pay Act and to date is the only person who actually put their job on the line for artists which is what can happen when you speak truth to power.

Karoline spoke truth to power when she co-authored a letter with recording artist Blake Morgan (of the #irespectmusic campaign) to House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte expressing her support for Fair Play Fair Pay in opposition to the powerful NAB. The letter to Chairman Goodlatte is reproduced in Chris Castle’s interview with Karoline published in the Huffington Post.

Karoline left WJCU shortly after speaking out, and was invited to meet with many Members of Congress about the bi-partisan Fair Play Fair Pay act in support of artist pay for radio play.  She now reflects on her experience in a blog post we reproduce with Karoline’s permission from her blog at  And don’t forget to sign the petition at!]

Paradigm Shift:


1. a dramatic change in the paradigm of a scientific community, or a change from one scientific paradigm to another.


A friend who works as a radio promoter called me last week to catch up. During the conversation, he asked me if I’m still looking for work in radio. I told him I didn’t think so. He was sad and tried to encourage me to continue to look for work in that field. He said he misses me. That a lot of promoters miss me. That I have so much to offer to radio.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that conversation.

Two weeks ago I was offered the opportunity to create and program a new Internet radio station. I declined. There was one simple reason. I don’t want to work in radio again.

I miss discovering and sharing new music. I miss the weekly chats with label folks and indie promoters. I miss artist interviews and concerts.

I love the time I spent in radio. I learned a lot. I made wonderful lifelong friends.

I used to think I couldn’t really be happy if I wasn’t working in radio. Now I know that I can finally be happy because I’m NOT working in radio any longer.

Most folks who work in radio have always worked in radio, starting in college. I didn’t start working there until I was in my 30s. I was a business professional in love with IT.

When I first started in radio, I was amazed at a lot of things that seemed normal there – things that would never fly in any other field. Behaviors, ideas, hierarchies. Outdated methodology for charts and advertising. I thought that radio people lived in a bubble. I still do. I loved the bubble. But now that I’m no longer there I can look at it and once again see how out of touch the industry is.

When the letter supporting #FairPlayFairPay and subsequent Huffington Post article came out in October, 2015, it struck a chord with the general public and musicians all over the world. I received hundreds of tweets and messages of support and encouragement. That overwhelming support was balanced by the near silence from the radio industry.

I left the radio station I was working with and began applying for jobs in the radio field. I didn’t receive rejection letters, just silence. At first I thought I was overthinking it – that there was something else going on, it wasn’t the letter and article. I wasn’t that important. But the longer I’ve been confronted with that silence, the more it confirmed my fears that I closed the door on that career path by speaking out.

When that realization hit, I was angry. Strike that. I was livid. I was furious that those who worked for larger stations in bigger markets didn’t say anything or acknowledge what I did. Their silence, to me, spoke volumes about their being complicit in the attempt to deny artists their basic rights – to be paid fairly for their work.

I cursed those taste-maker programmers I knew. They had an opportunity to join me. To raise their voices and add to the strength of the musicians. What kept them silent? Fear of upsetting the status quo? Or was it the biggest trap of all – safety? Perhaps they are safe and comfortable where they are and can’t fathom losing it?

I don’t know the answer. I only know that their silence speaks volumes to me. The people who claim to love music and artists, yet continue to work in a field that denies artists fair compensation, are showing us whose side they are on: their own.

On. Their. Own.

I will never join them in that complicit silence again.


Blake KKG Conyers

Blake Morgan, Karoline Kramer-Gould, Rep. John Conyers

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