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“YouTube for YouTube” @midem: @davidclowery and @theblakemorgan Review “YouTube For Artists” Part 2

June 8, 2015 1 comment

In a crescendo of antagonism starting with the Sony Pictures hack that leaked confidential documents demonstrating that the film studios have had it with Google, Google’s lawsuit against a state attorney general seeking to stop his investigation of Google’s bad behavior and the leak by somebody of the Spotify agreement with Sony Music, the New York Post reports that YouTube (Google’s wholly-owned subsidiary) is going to the MIDEM conference this week for the purpose of attacking the record company/artist relationship.

I find this to be particularly bizarre given that Google has also formed a massive coalition fighting against artist rights in league with familiar faces like Pandora, the National Association of Broadcasters, the Digital Media Association (DiMA), the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and a host of others.  After doing that, YouTube’s attack on labels at MIDEM is triangulation of the first water particularly because I think that YouTube is simply a data profiling honeypot disguised as a video service.

So here is the question:  Is “YouTube for Artists” masking Google’s massive failure to innovate?

I asked two working artists and artist rights advocates Blake Morgan and David Lowery what they thought about YouTube’s campaign.  Each answered the following questions.  Yesterday I posted David Lowery’s answers, and today I’m posting Blake Morgan’s answers.

1.  The New York Post has a recent story that YouTube is directing their billions against “record labels”:

“YouTube’s ambitious initiative to grow its influence in the music business — and lessen the power of record labels at the same time — is about to meet its first big test….The huge initiative from the video streamer could cut music labels out of a huge piece of their business, insiders said…. “We’re going to disrupt the music labels,” YouTube executives said during these briefings, sources said.”

Two questions: First, why do you think that YouTube wants to attack record labels?

Blake: Honestly, it feels like a simple and old bait and switch to me. Classic misdirection. YouTube paints the records labels as bad guys so that the spotlight will be taken off themselves. Hilariously, Spotify does the same thing by the way, but THEY point at YouTube. Each of these entities seems to think that saying “Well at least we’re better than them,” (even when they’re not) is going to work. Like a true race to the bottom. In my experience, music makers know the good labels from the bad (and there are both), the good people from the bad (and there are both) and they find this sort of tactic insulting. I know I do.

Why would YouTube think that that they can replace labels and if they did would that be good for artists?

Blake: The only reason I’ve ever encountered that artists sign record deals for is for capital. Up-front capital: advances, marketing and promotion, tour support. Is YouTube really going to be offering its capital to artists and songwriters? When pigs fly, I say. The day I see YouTube pay for and develop exclusive material (where’s their House of Cards show btw?) that puts money directly into the hands of the artists who make that material, I’ll eat my desk.

So if they don’t understand their own business, they really don’t understand the music business.

2.  Apparently “YouTube for Artists includes providing direct marketing intelligence to artists that will help them better connect with their fans”. This is apparently data from YouTube, which means you have to be on YouTube to get it. Given Taylor Swift’s success with using blocking techniques to essentially “window” how much do artists being on YouTube benefit artists compared to benefiting YouTube?

Blake: Well, some part of me wants to say that “marketing intelligence” should be filed somewhere next to “jumbo shrimp” and “free gift” as terms that should never be used. But seriously and simply, the only way to get that “intelligence,” I’d imagine, is for an artist to submit to the very YouTube licensing agreement that’s the problem in the first place. So to me, it’s like a tobacco company saying, “We’ll help you analyze your cancer once you develop it from smoking our cigarettes. Deal?”

3.  Assuming there’s a value in being on YouTube, how much does “direct marketing intelligence” from a free service like YouTube relate to artists who eventually have to sell something to somebody?

Blake: I just can’t suspend my disbelief for that long, honestly, or assume that there is any value––because there’s never been any value proven, ever, at all. I don’t know how the existence of mermaids or unicorns would help me sell merch at the gigs they’re not helping me get in the first place either. So, there’s that. Is the idea supposed to be something like, “Well, I got 3,254 spins in Omaha, Nebraska so I’d better book a gig there?” I can’t imagine calling a venue and that being my pitch, either as an artist or as a label owner. I feel I’d be laughed off the phone. Or the planet.

4.  The Post says that:

“YouTube will offer ‘promotional programs to help’ fledgling artists “get discovered and grow.” The video streamer’s effort in the music industry also includes the YouTube Music Awards.

Aside from the fact that “get discovered” usually means “by a record company” that YouTube is trying to displace, let’s just assume that “get discovered” in this case means “find an audience”.

Two questions: First, does YouTube actually help artists find a new audience that will engage with the artist outside of the YouTube platform? Given that YouTube skews young and given that most venues for “fledgling artists” are bars with age limitations based on the drinking age, how meaningful can YouTube really be in developing an engaged local audience?

Blake: Right, so to me, two nonsensical traps here. First, do they want artists to “get discovered and grow” by signing with the very record labels they themselves are excoriating? What other from of  “big” discovery leads elsewhere, permanently, exactly? That’s some sort of tautological vortex I can’t make sense of. And then second, to me they should be saying “We’ll help you find an audience outside of YouTube,” which in the end I can’t believe they’re really serious about. Why would they be? And…if they were, I’m supposed to believe that the legions of pajama people they’ve connected me with are going to turn into real and sustainable monetization for me because those people are going to be so compelled (and allowed, because of age restrictions) to exit the pajama universe and come out to my show? If that’s the plan, then I’ve got a unicorn-saddle business I’m dying to sell to you.

5.  The YouTube Video Awards have had a mixed success but have largely traded on at least some established stars that became successful without YouTube. Unlike the “Grammy bounce” or the “SNL bounce” we’ve seen no YouTube Awards bounce in sales. Do you think that independent artists are competing to be on the YouTube Awards?

Blake: Um. No. I don’t. At worst––or no, how about this––at best, I’ve got to be at least a mid-level information holder when it comes to such things, and I’ve seriously never met anyone, anywhere, who’s even mentioned this award. Thinking YouTube is going to move the needle or “break” you as an artist is like thinking buying lottery tickets is a solid business plan. I’ve never met an indie artist, or heard of any indie rock artist who’s accomplished this through YouTube. Maybe some baby-pop acts have, but that’s it from what I’ve seen and heard.

6.  You can’t really speak of YouTube without also talking about its support of brand sponsored piracy and serving advertising against sex tourist videos. Do you think that YouTube has an obligation to clean up their advertising operation if they want to engage with artists?

Blake: Well of course they do. They have that obligation as a business, they have that obligation in their engagement with artists, and most importantly, the people at YouTube themselves have a moral obligation to do what’s right. Why do they get to suspend their moral obligations? Where else do we so readily accept this kind of behavior? They have no moral credibility, in my opinion, whatsoever.

7.  According to the Post, “The YouTube for Artists project is being managed by TJay Fowler, a former Beats Music product-management executive, sources said.” I don’t know that name, do either of you? Or what we did to offend him?

Blake: No idea who he is. But then again, I have no idea what a “product-management executive” does either, so it’s a clean sweep.

8.  Let’s take the Post’s list of features for YouTube’s attack on record labels and maybe you guys can comment on your views of the value of each of them.

“YouTube is telling artists that the data it is willing to share can ‘help you get a song added to radio by showing a programmer how big your local fan base is.’”

Blake: (Facepalm) Dude. If you think calling a venue touting your YouTube spins is a bad idea (and it is), now try doing the same thing with a radio programming director. I know several of them, and some of them are friends of mine who, in fact, really like my music. If I called any of them and said, “Hey! So listen…my new song is really doing well on YouTube and I wanted to let you know ‘cause you should play it now because YouTube!”…well, it’d be the end of my friendship with them (and rightly so), and the end of any respect they may have for what I do (and rightly so). You know what the equivalent would be? Going into a bank and saying, “Hey man! So listen, you’re really gonna want to bankroll me because I have been KILLING it playing Monopoly! Seriously…hotels on Park Place and everything. KILLING it, dude! So where’s the vault here, again? Let’s open it up, man! I’ll get my wheelbarrow.”

“Analytics showing the biggest concentrations of fans across the world to help plan tour dates.”

Blake: Yeah, ‘cause those spins I’m getting in Indonesia are really gonna cover the flight. Even from neighboring countries. Thanks for the tour routing, jackasses.

“Fan funding buttons for bands to gain the money they need to produce music and videos.”

Blake: Yeah…or…YouTube could just PAY the artists and songwriters the money they’re owed and deserve which is needed to produce music and videos. Let’s cut out the middle man, YouTube, how about that?

“Help locating fans’ concert videos and use of artists’ music in user-generated content.”

Blake: Wait a second…all of a sudden YouTube IS able to locate, supervise, and guard what’s on their site? I thought the whole issue was that they couldn’t. Well this is great news! Problem solved about all that illegal music and video on YouTube! Wait another second…they want US to tell THEM what’s there? WTF?

9.  It seems to me that the Post (and possibly YouTube) are using terms without an understanding of how the music business actually works. “Added” to radio, for example, implies added to a station’s playlist. If a band is based in Austin, just to pick a city, how much does it mean to them that they have some fans in Paris or Taipai? Or even Chicago? I’ve yet to meet the program director or local talent buyer who really wants to know what your YouTube views are because most of them don’t trust it at all or don’t trust it enough to give you a Friday night. Is that just me, am I being too harsh?

Blake: Well I don’t regularly read the New York Post, mostly because my eyes are attached to my brain. But if somehow I did read it regularly, I’d love to actually read the expert opinion of––you know––a music expert? A smattering of fans in Paris doesn’t help a band in Austin, unless it’s maybe Paris, Texas. Truly, I wonder if some of these pseudo-pundits (or pseudo-journalists) really do understand anything about the music world. I don’t know if Walter Cronkite did either, but I guarantee he’d have learned a lot about it before doing an editorial or interview about it.

“YouTube for YouTube” @midem: @davidclowery and @theblakemorgan Review “YouTube For Artists”

June 7, 2015 Comments off

In a crescendo of antagonism starting with the Sony Pictures hack that leaked confidential documents demonstrating that the film studios have had it with Google, Google’s lawsuit against a state attorney general seeking to stop his investigation of Google’s bad behavior and the leak by somebody of the Spotify agreement with Sony Music, the New York Post reports that YouTube (Google’s wholly-owned subsidiary) is going to the MIDEM conference this week for the purpose of attacking the record company/artist relationship.

I find this to be particularly bizarre given that Google has also formed a massive coalition fighting against artist rights in league with familiar faces like Pandora, the National Association of Broadcasters, the Digital Media Association (DiMA), the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and a host of others.  After doing that, YouTube’s attack on labels at MIDEM is triangulation of the first water particularly because I think that YouTube is simply a data profiling honeypot disguised as a video service.

So here is the question:  Is “YouTube for Artists” masking Google’s massive failure to innovate?

I asked two working artists and artist rights advocates Blake Morgan and David Lowery what they thought about YouTube’s campaign.  Each answered the following questions.  Today I will post David’s answers with Blake’s coming tomorrow (Blake had shows over the weekend don’t you know).

1.  The New York Post has a recent story that YouTube is directing their billions against “record labels”:

“YouTube’s ambitious initiative to grow its influence in the music business — and lessen the power of record labels at the same time — is about to meet its first big test….The huge initiative from the video streamer could cut music labels out of a huge piece of their business, insiders said…. “We’re going to disrupt the music labels,” YouTube executives said during these briefings, sources said.”

Two questions: First, why do you think that YouTube wants to attack record labels?

David: YouTube is a Monopsony. This is to strengthen their monopsony. We don’t really have collective bargaining as artists [with YouTube]. The closest thing to collective bargaining is to have our catalogues represented by large independents and major labels. In the absence of anti-competition action by the DOJ to rein in Google’s predatory and aggressive tactics, artists will never get a fair deal individually.   This is classic Google. Just look at Google books case.   Google fought a class action so that authors were forced to sue Google individually.   How are individual authors or performers ever gonna get a fair deal going one on one against one of the largest corporations on the planet?

Why would YouTube think that that they can replace labels and if they did would that be good for artists?

David: If they want to replace labels they would have to put up capital for marketing, promotion, recording and tour support.   That’s why artists sign record deals. Not because they prefer old line media corporations over Silicon Valley tech companies.   Want to help artists and go into business with artists? Put your money where your mouth is. Look at Netflix and Amazon, they figured it out. And they are kicking YouTube’s ass. They are stealing Hollywood talent by paying for the creation of exclusive content. It’s actually sort of sad how YouTube doesn’t even understand their own product or market. They could have been the dominant player in high quality content video streaming. They really snatched defeat from the jaws of victory on that one.

So if they don’t understand their own business, they really don’t understand the music business.

2.  Apparently “YouTube for Artists includes providing direct marketing intelligence to artists that will help them better connect with their fans”. This is apparently data from YouTube, which means you have to be on YouTube to get it. Given Taylor Swift’s success with using blocking techniques to essentially “window” how much do artists being on YouTube benefit artists compared to benefiting YouTube?

David: I doubt this is a good deal. To get that “intelligence” from Google you would have to sign their usurious licensing agreement. Remember Billy Bragg said something to the effect that if artists were upset about Spotify rates he thought they should be marching on YouTube with torches and pitchforks. YouTube pays the worst rates of all the on demand services. So to get that “intelligence” you end up competing against your spins from higher paying services.

Sometimes I just want throw my hands up in the air, let the artists and labels that believe this stuff fall for it.   If you believe this BS you deserve what you get. But that’s not really fair is it?

3.  Assuming there’s a value in being on YouTube, how much does “direct marketing intelligence” from a free service like YouTube relate to artists who eventually have to sell something to somebody?

David: Does that mean we can directly contact people that watched our videos? Cause that’s the best way to sell tickets and music. If so aren’t there privacy concerns here?   I doubt that Google wants another privacy lawsuit on their hands. So let’s assume that it’s something less than that.  So what is this data? I can already see where my fans are concentrated from FaceBook, Twitter and our own email list. I can look at the traffic to our website and get a very granular view of where our fans are located. Data is the new snake oil.

The most laughable thing in the New York Post article is that somehow the buyer for a even a small music venue is gonna book a band based on noisy data from YouTube views.   My wife books hundreds of concerts a year. From local acts that draw 50 people to international superstars. I’m imagining her reaction if you tried to book a gig with her by discussing YouTube intelligence. Even for her smallest venue she’s got to risk a minimum $750 dollars to open the doors. Not to mention opportunity costs. Maybe if you have a very recent million views on YouTube, you’ll probably get a gig, but if there is no Pollstar data (a subscription service that compiles data on artist ticket sales), at best you’re gonna get a percentage of gross. All the risk carried by the artist.

This one little tidbit tells me that whoever is pushing this YouTube market intelligence knows nothing about the concert business.   If no one at the MIDEM conference questions the YouTube folks on this bogus claim, MIDEM should just just admit it’s a waste of time and close its doors.

4.  The Post says that:

“YouTube will offer ‘promotional programs to help’ fledgling artists “get discovered and grow.” The video streamer’s effort in the music industry also includes the YouTube Music Awards.

Aside from the fact that “get discovered” usually means “by a record company” that YouTube is trying to displace, let’s just assume that “get discovered” in this case means “find an audience”.

Two questions: First, does YouTube actually help artists find a new audience that will engage with the artist outside of the YouTube platform? Given that YouTube skews young and given that most venues for “fledgling artists” are bars with age limitations based on the drinking age, how meaningful can YouTube really be in developing an engaged local audience?

David: Exactly. Again YouTube doesn’t understand the concert business. Concert promoters don’t’ make money on ticket sales. They make money on beer and liquor sales and parking. Two revenue sources that are rather thin from a younger demo. For this reason entry level small all age performance spaces are rarer than unicorns. The economics don’t work. The ones I know of are generally non-profits or “grown-up” venues that offer Sunday all ages matinees.

5.  The YouTube Video Awards have had a mixed success but have largely traded on at least some established stars that became successful without YouTube. Unlike the “Grammy bounce” or the “SNL bounce” we’ve seen no YouTube Awards bounce in sales. Do you think that independent artists are competing to be on the YouTube Awards?

David: YouTube awards are totally oriented towards already established major label artists or independents that have distribution deals with major labels. You are being generous, I don’t know what the journalist is going on about. This is an easily verifiable fact.   But yeah sure there are fledgling pop oriented artists that break through YouTube. Many are covering pop hits, or alternative rock hits from the 90’s (ahem).   I haven’t seen YouTube produce any ground breaking indie rock artists.   They still break by touring.   Their YouTube activity follows, doesn’t lead their touring activity. TV still produces the biggest bounce on YouTube.   You can look this up. Take an SNL appearance, then compare it to the Next Big Sound social metrics for YouTube views and Wikipedia page views.   BTW a spike in Wikipedia page views –aside from Shazam data— is the most reliable indicator of new discovery.

6.  You can’t really speak of YouTube without also talking about its support of brand sponsored piracy and serving advertising against sex tourist videos. Do you think that YouTube has an obligation to clean up their advertising operation if they want to engage with artists?

David: Can you imagine if MTV in the 1980s showed and sold advertising against Neo-Nazi rock videos and ISIS training videos? You think REM and Public Enemy would have showed up for the MTV music awards?   Artists have a highly developed sense of social justice, they don’t want to do business with sleazy people.   YouTube is a cesspool. If artists were aware of how they make their money they wouldn’t do business with these folks.

Personally I’m tired of YouTube hiding behind it’s users. They are serving advertising on user generated content that they have to know is infringing.   If they don’t then how good can their data be?

7.  According to the Post, “The YouTube for Artists project is being managed by TJay Fowler, a former Beats Music product-management executive, sources said.” I don’t know that name, do either of you? Or what we did to offend him?

David: Never heard of him. But Beats has never properly licensed my song catalogue yet they continue to make it available. If I had anyone from Beats over to my house for dinner I’d definitely count the silverware after they left.

I have no idea how Apple got snookered on that deal. I guess it just really proves Steve Jobs is dead.

8.  Let’s take the Post’s list of features for YouTube’s attack on record labels and maybe you guys can comment on your views of the value of each of them.

“YouTube is telling artists that the data it is willing to share can ‘help you get a song added to radio by showing a programmer how big your local fan base is.’”

David: Uh really? They said that? See there’s this company called iHeartMedia and they own like a kajillion stations and their stations are programmed nationally…Who exactly is gonna take that phone call from a fledgling artist with some YouTube data?

But locally I like a local community LPFM station? The DJ is gonna play music according to his or her taste not YouTube data.

I suppose you could find a few independently owned stations, usually in tertiary markets that might take your phone call or answer your email. Can you build following on airplay in Crested Butte CO and Sandpoint ID, maybe.

“Analytics showing the biggest concentrations of fans across the world to help plan tour dates.”

David: See my previous comment. But buyers will literally laugh you out the door with your YouTube data. But seriously you can’t book a national tour without even a small time agent. His or her ability to get you gigs is based on his relationship with the concert buyer and their trust that the agent is providing them an act that not only is good but also will show up and draw people . A buyer does not have time to respond to the thousands of bands with a video on YouTube. Remember you can buy YouTube views on sites like Fivver.   Again a stunning display of ignorance of the concert business by YouTube. Where do they find these people to hire? Craigslist?

“Fan funding buttons for bands to gain the money they need to produce music and videos.”

David: Oh I’m sure this would never be abused! And YouTube would police this SO well, because they already police their site so well. Look at all the unlicensed UGC on the site, I’m sure you’d end up with some low life putting up fan funding buttons for artist they have nothing to do with and pocketing the money.

“Help locating fans’ concert videos and use of artists’ music in user-generated content.”

David: This is funny.   So YouTube can police the content on their site? I thought they couldn’t and it wasn’t their problem that their users were uploading our music without permission? And WE needed to notify THEM. Which is it? They can police the site? Or they can’t?

9.  It seems to me that the Post (and possibly YouTube) are using terms without an understanding of how the music business actually works. “Added” to radio, for example, implies added to a station’s playlist. If a band is based in Austin, just to pick a city, how much does it mean to them that they have some fans in Paris or Taipai? Or even Chicago? I’ve yet to meet the program director or local talent buyer who really wants to know what your YouTube views are because most of them don’t trust it at all or don’t trust it enough to give you a Friday night. Is that just me, am I being too harsh?

David: No you are absolutely right. You would think Rupert Murdoch could afford to hire a journalist who covered the music business that knew something about the music business. For that matter you’d think a 300 billion dollar company like Google could do the same.   However, as pure propaganda piece directed at the MIDEM music conference this is brilliant in some ways.   There are so many idiots in the music business these days I’m sure they will swallow it hook line and sinker.

Jean Michel Jarre: ‘Don’t forget that us creators are the smart part in a smartphone’ by @Helienne Lindvall

February 5, 2014 Comments off

[Editor Charlie sez: We are thrilled to welcome Helienne Lindvall to MTP as a guest writer!  Helienne interviewed Jean Michel Jarre, the newly elected president of CISAC, at MIDEM.  A version of this interview previously appeared in the Guardian.  As this year’s conference is widely rumored to be the last MIDEM, we should enjoy it while we can before it turns into a tech conference.]

by Helienne Lindvall

At this week’s Midem music conference in Cannes, France, I sat down with electronic music pioneer Jean Michel Jarre, whose career as an artist and composer is now in its fifth decade, having broken through internationally with his groundbreaking Oxygene album in 1976. Last year, he took over the presidency of CISAC, the global body for authors’ societies, after the previous president, Robin Gibb, passed away – and so his Midem “visionary talk” went under the headline Fair Share for Creators.

I explained that I’m a professional musician and songwriter myself, and that I only expanded into journalism back in 2008, adding: “I went into an industry that has been even more financially screwed by the internet than the music industry. Perhaps I should be a postman next?”

Jarre shot back, without a pause: “But, yes, being a postman is the future – cause apparently, these days, it’s much better to carry content than to create it.”

At the end of the interview I explained Blake Morgan’s IrespectMusic campaign to Jarre, and he happily posed with his own “selfie”.

jean michael jarre IRM 1

I covered parts of the interview in my Guardian article, but for those interested in the nuggets that didn’t make it into the piece, here it is in full. Jean Michel Jarre, uncut, if you will…

What is the most urgent issue facing creators today? To stop whining – and promoting a positive image of creators. We are the extraordinary. We are the people creating the future – not manufacturers of computers or cables. It’s our responsibility to be able to send a clear message to the street, saying that [the lack of protection of] intellectual property is not just a problem for artists from Europe and America – it’s a global problem. It’s one of the strongest elements of what democracy is all about.

Creation and all art forms create the soul and the identity of a country and a continent. There is no sustainable development if there is no sustainable economy for creation. We shouldn’t be thinking about if we need a tax for the creators or getting the consumer paying for content, or if we need donations… We are not taxmen, we are not a species in the verge of extinction, we are not the Amazon forest – and we are not beggars.

What we need to do is to sit with the new actors – the digital distributors of any kind of art form and the hardware manufacturers – and create the right business model for creators. I think we send the wrong message by saying that the consumer should pay – it’s too late. Music, all content, photography, media, film – it’s all going to be free on the internet. We have to accept it.

How would that work in practice? Think about when you listen to a song on the radio. You are not paying for it, yet it’s not illegal to do it, because the rights have been paid for on top, beforehand, by the radio station, by the network. We have to find exactly the same kind of system with the internet.

But what would bring these players to the table? We should stop thinking that Google, Facebook and those kinds of companies are our enemies. It’s not true. These people were just kids 15-20 years ago, geeks creating something great – but they created a monster without even having the time to think about the collateral damages they were creating. These guys are music lovers. Very often you can meet with them at rock concerts, and they have lots of friends in the movie and music industry. They love us. They are understanding more and more the situation artists are in.

That’s why I’m quite optimistic. As long as we as artists are able to send the right message to the right people. The media is in the same boat. Ten years ago the media was against us. They had this neo-hippy attitude. Now they’re in dire straits and joining the boat. A bit late, but now we are all on the same boat. We must know the difference between freedom and mess.

We should never forget that in the smartphone, the smart part is us creators. If you get rid of music, images, videos, words and literature from the smartphone, you just have a simple phone that would be worth about $50. Let’s accept that there’s a lot of innovation in the smartphone, so let’s add $100 for this innovation – the remaining $300-$400 of the price should go to us.

So we should sit down and talk to all the telephone companies and computer companies selling hardware, the companies carrying the content on the internet, such as Facebook and Google. We need each other, so at the end of the day we have to find the right partnership. We are talking about a business partnership, not a tax, and this shouldn’t affect the consumer.

What would give them the incentive to do right by artists? I’ll make an ecological analogy. When I first started my career with Oxygene, it was not that common to think about environmental issues and ecology, but step by step people started to become aware that it’s not that bad to take care of the planet for future generations. And so the government took action, because it had become a popular concept with the population.

It should be the same for IP. IP is not only a problem for us as artists – it’s for every family, because in every family you have a son, a daughter, a sister a brother dreaming about becoming a journalist, film-maker, writer, photographer, painter or musician. And today they’d need to get a job on the side. They can’t dedicate their life to it. This is not acceptable. The notion of IP should be promoted as one of the fundamental elements of our societies and democracies for the future.

It’s not just a matter of finance – it’s a matter of ethics. IP is linked with human rights. If we start to harm it, we’re harming freedom and human rights. Instead of thinking that we should suppress or forget the idea of copyright, that it’s an old idea from Europe for the Europeans, we should think about an internet copyright. We could consider that after a certain time the revenue will go into an international fund to help creation worldwide.

It’s not an issue that only concerns Europeans and Americans – it’s a worldwide problem, and a north-south issue. There’s something wrong when the advertising world and fashion world are stealing graphics and patterns from the Aborigines, from the Fiji Islands, from Africa, without paying anything – just because they can’t identify the author. You are weakening the identity of some communities step by step. This has to change.

The tech community should share the ‘coolness’

It’s far beyond some artists sitting on a pot of gold, trying to keep their advantages. The cool guys have always been the creators, the artists – not the manufacturers of cables. That’s not particularly sexy. And yet they are considered the sexy people of society these days. That has to change. We should share the coolness.

Sometimes the problem is more due to the politicians. There are lots of people in Washington and Brussels that have good intentions. But most of them are so cut off from any sectors in society. It’s not only true for artists, but also for dentists and plumbers. They don’t know the day-to-day life of Portugal, of Ireland… they have a vague idea, but there’s an abstraction between the concept and the real world. It’s our responsibility as citizens to help the politicians, to tell them to not decide without us. We are not the Soviet Union.

For us [older creators] it’s more or less okay, because we started our careers when nothing was really organised. It was a golden age, in a sense. Now, for a young creator, it’s very difficult. There is no economy, there is no funding.

‘Today world is watching Europe’

As Europeans we have a responsibility, because we have always had a visionary approach to organising the economy of creation and to protect the creative world. And today the world is watching Europe. It’s interesting to see that at a time when Europe is weakened, when we have this appalling campaign against abortion in Spain, when we’re questioning if creation needs to be financed. That question is absurd. They question if we need authors’ rights – of course we do. An artist has to live just like any other citizen of the world.

At the same time you have China, one of the biggest markets in the world, saying that copyright is very important. We just opened a CISAC office in Beijing, because the Chinese government has realised that it’s the best way to promote Chinese culture and Chinese artists. The same thing has happened in Korea.

At a time when people around the world are inspired by Europe’s approach, Europe is trying to leave the boat. We have a responsibility to the rest of the world, having been ahead of our time and visionary. We must maintain this position.

When I was working in the studio in LA recently, I met lots of artists, musicians and film-makers – and they are all watching Europe.

I sat around the table with people from Google and Facebook and said: ‘Guys, you’ve made billions off our back If you want to continue being wealthy you have to listen to us and you have to business with us in order to create a sustainable economy. This is why I accepted the role of president of CISAC. At the end of the day I wanted to give back for everything the audience has given me.

Our creators are the identity we are going to leave for future generations. If we don’t solve this we’ll end up with just white noise.

The life of an artist is filled with uncertainty and doubts. Think about the mother of two or three children trying to write a book… if she doesn’t know how to survive doing it, she won’t do it. Maybe she has to sacrifice two years to write a book, like JK Rowling. If there is no hope of ever getting paid for it she wouldn’t start with even the first line of the book, and we wouldn’t have Harry Potter, for example.

I’m quite optimistic, because creators are very strong. We are the ones shaking the tree – shaking societies. MySpace was the social media platform 10 years ago – where is MySpace today? Facebook and Google need to be careful so they’re not the next MySpace. They need us to reinforce their position. It’s better for them to play with us than against us, because we were there before electricity – and we will be there after the internet. We have to be more confident in ourselves, and send a positive message to Brussels and Washington.

But sometimes artists don’t feel confident enough to speak out.  This is true. This is why our sector is so vulnerable. Cause an artist is full of doubts and uncertainty. He’s shy when it comes to evaluating his work. This is the most difficult thing for an artist – [answering the question] what is the value of my work? If everybody else around them says it’s worth nothing, the artist will be like an abused child. It’s very sad. We have to take this into consideration. It takes a lot of courage to stand up and say stop.

We made lots of mistakes in the music industry. We invented pirate radio – and 25 years later we want to put pirates in jail. We have been too focused on putting the responsibility of the financial problem for music on the consumers. The people that are making the most money from what we are creating are not the consumers – it’s the people carrying our content. They are not paying what they have to pay. It’s akin to a company not paying some of its shareholders. We, the creators, are shareholders of the internet. So it’s not a tax – it’s what we’re owed.

How would you distribute the revenue correctly? Firstly, through authors’ societies. We need to work out a business model with the private sector, but also with governments helping to define the rules of the game. That’s what we are waiting for from Brussels and Washington.

It’s interesting to see that in emerging markets, the BRIC countries, they have a much better attitude towards IP than ours. A country such as China realises it’s part of its identity, so that people don’t just think they are the country that are manufacturing a large part of the clothing market in the world – but that it has a soul.

You can’t quantise the value of art. At the moment the European Commission is listening to a minority that is saying, for their own reasons, that we should get rid of authors’ rights. But the remaining 98% of Europe is respecting the rights of authors – it’s just that the minority is screaming louder.

It’s the responsibility of the media to create more space to talk about all this. I’m quite optimistic, because for their own safety they have to do it. They are in the same situation as us. We have to solve this if we are to progress as human beings – we have to take into consideration the artist. A painting, a piece of music, a film – they are not like a pot of yoghurt or toothpaste. It has to be approached in a different way.

But it’s difficult for artists to talk about money – it’s somehow not viewed as honourable to talk about getting paid. You’re right. This is why society has to take care of the artist, cause it’s very difficult for an artist to evaluate what he’s doing. So how can an artist talk about the money and the remuneration he should get. So many artists are being abused, and when they become recognised they are abusing the system themselves, as a kind of revenge. It’s better to not talk about money, but the value of intellectual property.

It’s time for artists to start thinking about not just themselves but their communities. We are all isolated as creators, but this is our time to share, to be part of the bigger community.

[Copyright 2014 Helienne Lindvall]

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