Posts Tagged ‘The Trichordist’

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

Remarks at the California Copyright Conference #irespectmusic Grassroots Advocacy Panel with Adam Dorn, Karoline Kramer Gould, David Lowery and Blake Morgan

February 10, 2016 Comments off

Photo courtesy @amyraasch

What a great way to start Grammy Week!  Last night Adam Dorn, Karoline Kramer Gould, David Lowery and Blake Morgan came together to tell their personal stories and they let me moderate.  Each of them has an inspiring story of how they came to their personal epiphany, their inspiration to turn to advocacy as part of their lives.

And in case it wasn’t clear–we were recruiting!  Follow them on Twitter through the ‪#‎irespectmusic‬ and @theblakemorgan, @radioclevekkg @davidclowery @moceanworker and @musictechpolicy.

The following are my introductory remarks to the panel:

Successful advocacy sits on a three legged stool whether we like it or not—lobbyists, campaign contributions and individual action.  The music industry and the larger entertainment industry has largely failed to achieve successful advocacy.  We still have essentially the same problems today that we had 15 years ago and the industry is at least half its former size.  In case you haven’t noticed, the cavalry is not coming.

Why?  At the end of the day, until politicians think they may get unelected if they don’t listen, they’ll smile, take our money and our votes, and do nothing.

Blake KKG Conyers

There is one leg of the stool that we have some control over—individual action.  Any of us have the ability to take action and stand up rather than wait for some miracle from Washington.  That action can range from a Tweet to putting our jobs on the line—and since our jobs are on the line anyway, we may as well tweet about it.  And until we can deliver bodies at the polling place no one will fear getting unelected.

You’re going to have a lot of people asking for your vote in the next few months.  They’re not shy about asking you for money and your vote, so you need not be shy about asking how they are going to vote on your issues.  If that sounds aggressive, it is.  In the long run, we may get a fair and just revision of the Copyright Act, but as the economists say, in the long run we’re all dead.  The NAB has outlived generations of artists and songwriters and Google is learning from their example.

All of our speakers tonight have had this epiphany in one form or another and all of their stories are inspiring examples of individual action. Blake Morgan took on Pandora and Big Radio and founded the #irespectmusic campaign. Karoline Kramer Gould joined Blake in supporting the Fair Play, Fair Pay Act and became an inspiration to all of us. Adam Dorn started SONA out of spontaneous meetings with songwriters who were confounded by the state of the industry. And David Lowery started writing the Trichordist blog as a cathartic blog that has inspired thousands and is widely read.

doug collins

As far as the moderator is concerned, my own epiphany in starting the MusicTechPolicy blog 10 years ago was largely the same—why is the news all bad and why isn’t the market producing an outlet for truth.

The #irespectmusic campaign grew out of Blake Morgan’s personal advocacy and opposition to Pandora’s Internet Radio Fairness Act. His viral posts on the Huffington Post about IRFA and what he perceived as Pandora’s deceptive PR tactics trying to enlist artist support against their own interest led directly to his advocacy in support of a performance royalty for terrestrial radio.

After IRFA failed to pass, Blake started an online petition to support a terrestrial radio royalty—and issue campaign as opposed to a particular piece of legislation. The petition has had over 13,000 signatures so far from music makers and music lovers. That made it easy to attach the #irespectmusic hashtag to the Fair Play, Fair Pay act when it was introduced by Blake’s Congressman, Jerry Nadler.


While the #irespectmusic campaign started with artist pay for radio play, it soon evolved into a campaign for fair treatment for all creators. This lead in turn to his recent lobbying trip to the Senate supporting the Songwriter Equity Act and an alliance with the NMPA.

Adam, Blake, David and Karoline all have inspired each other to continue in their individual advocacy and we hope can inspire you, too.



The MMF’s Google Problem

July 5, 2015 Comments off

David Lowery’s recent post on the Trichordist reveals the disclosure by an apparent whistleblower that the Music Managers Forum and to some extent the Feature Artist Coalition have each been taking undisclosed money from Google and Spotify.  (Given the context, I assume the whistleblower is referring to the MMF chapter in the UK.)  Why is this important?  Because when confronted with the artist rights grass roots movement that Lowery personifies, we can expect Google to do what they always do–try to co-opt it one way or another.

Want evidence?  If you’ve had a look at the Public Citizen report “Mission Creep-y“, Google’s technique of buying their way into issues or industries and increasing their dominance in their ownership and influence through control of resources should come as no surprise.  The venerable good government group provides extensive documentation of Google’s massive investment in indirect lobbying through funding a host of academic institutions (who can forget the millions Google paid for Lawrence Lessig’s enterprises at Stanford), organizations like Creative Commons, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge, the Center for Democracy and Technology, and a host of others.

Creative Commons 2008 Schedule B

What’s the Spotify connection?  The distinction between Google and Spotify is more blurred after Spotify let Google onto their board of directors last year.  I find it hard to believe that Google got a Spotify board seat without a Google investment in Spotify which would be typical of how you get a seat on private company boards of directors most of the time.

In addition to any ownership stake that Google may have, what unites Spotify and Google is advertising supported, i.e., “free”, music.  For which Google sells the ads, of course.  Or as they might say, “content,” which has implications for everyone from visual artists, to movie makers, to journalists, to artists and songwriters.

As Spotify’s billionaire investor Sean Parker told CNN’s Poppy Harlow, the most important aspect of Spotify’s business success is the ability to offer music at scale–or as Thom Yorke said more accurately, the ability to commoditize music.  Commoditizing music is also exactly what Google’s goal is with the YouTube data honeypot, for example, as scale makes scraping the data from YouTube users more profitable.

YouTube Tracking

For these reasons, I think Lowery is on to something with the whistleblower disclosures.  I would agree with David that artists would want to know if their manager is participating in this co-opting exercise.  It’s all entirely believable to me as it is a 100% fit with Google’s modus operandi that I have observed.

How far does this influence penetrate the many MMF chapters?  And what about the International Music Managers Forum umbrella association?

Strange Bedfellows for the IMMF

The mission statement of the International Music Managers Forum says:

The IMMF is an international umbrella organisation comprising of regional associations of music managers from +30 countries from five continents, which currently represent +1.200 artist managers. It’s the IMMF’s mission is to defend the economic and legal interests of artists on an international scale with the vision to create Transparency and Fairness. This shall be accomplished by three core activities: training and education, networking and lobbying.

Sounds good, right?  So why is the IMMF part of a lobbying astroturf group based in Brussels (to lobby the European Commission) called “Copyright 4 Creativity“?  The group features on its home page the IMMF’s “Open Letter on Record Label and Music Publishing Deals” as a tool to accomplish some lobbying goal.  That’s the letter that was written after the mysterious leak of the Spotify/Sony agreement.  So if the group is going to use that letter as a lobbying tool we would expect that the other members of Copyright 4 Creativity would be in line with the IMMF’s mission statement, right?

Wrong.  For starters, the Computer and Communications Industry Association (Google is a member), the Center for Democracy and Technology and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (Google provides support) are all backed by Google.  Google was forced to disclose that connection in its litigation with Oracle on a filing that has become known as the “Google Shill List.”   These groups are also included in Public Citizen’s “Mission Creep-y” lists.

There are some other names on that list that seem odd bedfellows for the IMMF that purports to represent artists but in which artists have an indirect voice at best.  This is a prime example of why artists who take individual action can be so effective (I’m especially thinking of David Lowery and Blake Morgan).

For example, Google and the Computer and Communications Industry Association are also members of the MIC Coalition, a massive lobbying effort organized to continue the practice of denying artist pay for radio play in the US.  I think it’s fair to say that the CCIA has opposed every effort by artists and songwriters to improve their lives.

Dima Panel

Using IMMF positions to lobby for the goals of these other groups seems antithetical to an artist rights organization that the IMMF purports to be.  It’s certainly something deserving of a vote by artists.

While Google itself is not a member of Copyright 4 Creativity, the organization is run by a long-time Brussels lobbyist whose firm represents Google, and even a cursory look at the Copyright 4 Creativity materials reveals some of the same rhetoric we have heard for years from the Google-funded anti-artist crowd.  This, of course, is how the astroturf game is played.

Here’s the real problem–artists have never confronted a multinational media corporation that is willing to spend millions and millions to undermine copyright and artist rights on a worldwide basis.  Through lobbying and strategic investments in academics, astroturf groups and competitors, Google is doing just that while at the same time trying to pass itself off as your best friend.  So the question is how many of the members of Copyright 4 Creativity get money from Google and is IMMF in that position?

There may be explanations for how MMF-UK and IMMF have ended up in this situation, and I’d love to hear what it is.  We owe them a fair hearing, but I think they owe artists an explanation and an opportunity to be heard.  That’s a fundamental aspect of the legitimacy of representation.

Deep Thoughts from SF Music Tech

February 21, 2013 Comments off

The SF Music Tech conference ended this week, an excellent platform for Zoë Keating, more later about her ideas for online music services sharing fan data with the artists they exploit.  It was refreshing to see SF Music Tech continuing the theme started last year by David Lowery.  The usual old school “Deep Thoughts” kumbaya of the Barlow crowd is gradually being balanced out by real Bay Area artsts like Zoë Keating and East Bay Ray with real ideas about real issues.

Because if there is one thing that Big Tech’s brushes with the legal system tells us it’s that information wants to be anything but free.

The crotchety old school members of the Google Shill List are still partying like it’s 1999, however–and this live tweet from the conference by The Trichordist says it all:

T quote SF Music Tech

Yes, that’s exactly right–the money is there, it’s just going to “different places”–like brand sponsored piracy, for example.

lyrics007 adele pepsi

Rut roh…

It’s too bad that David Lowery wasn’t on a panel with Zoë Keating and East Bay Ray, that would have been quite a conversation.

PS Attention Australian readers, Zoë is coming your way next week.  You MUST see this artist.

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