Archive for the ‘Industry’ Category
Some musicians — I’m sure none of you reading — are observably fucking delusional about business, relationship management, reputation management and what copyright actually is and how it works. They are certain that the three chords and the melody they know damn well where they nicked ’em are MINE MINE MINE and no-one else is allowed to think about them until the end of time without coughing up. They act like the kids who make LiveJournal icons out of other people’s images for fan fiction then hit the goddamn roof when someone STEALS their ORIGINAL CREATION.
Today’s example is Andy Scott, one of the surviving members of The Sweet and in one of the two bands touring under that name. Mr Scott keeps a keen eye on technological developments relevant to his career interests, and thought he was onto a winner when he saw someone daring to sell an obvious bootleg on eBay for one euro. He claimed it was a pirated copy and demanded €2000 from the fellow, but the scofflaw in question insisted it was a disc he’d actually bought and could actually sell for 80p if he wanted to. Scott went to court asking for €36,000. When the scoundrel opposing proved in court that it was his bloody CD, Scott changed his claim to say he owned the “copyright” on the name, so definitely deserved all the money from any second-hand sales. The court told him to fuck off, funnily enough.
Copyright, it’s like oxygen. Too much and you get high. Still, I’m sure Scott is pleased to have established a good European precedent protecting second-hand record sales.
Copyright collection agencies are actually a really good idea for working musicians. Record companies generally never cough up a royalty cheque ever past the initial advance, but publishers frequently do, so public performance and radio play are a non-trivial earner for many.
The trouble is that when collection agencies pull this sort of outrageous bullshit, they continue to discredit copyright altogether in the eyes of the public. You’d think they’d all have learnt by now. (Although ASCAP’s attempt to collect on ringtones meets with my full approval.)
Goooooood-byeeeeeee. Universal gets EMI’s recordings, Sony gets its publishing. Three dinosaurs left. “More such earth-shaking unions of doomed giants seem inevitable.”
In the early 1990s, I tried very hard to become a serious Anthony Burgess fan. A Clockwork Orange is absolutely first-class and probably my favourite novel of all time. Burgess was an incredibly intelligent and erudite man, and my other favourite is Homage to Qwert Yuiop, a collection of his book reviews (which I strongly recommend, even as I curse its lack of an index).
However, all his other novels suck. All of them. Over the course of a few years I read as many as I could get my hands on, in the desperate hope of more Burgess greatness. Every single one was mediocre at best. Humdrum writing and story, lots of showing off, occasional attempts at epic, but nothing coming together properly. I can authoritatively state that A Clockwork Orange was a freak event: he accidentally wrote something that was significantly greater than everything else he did, and would never again get within a mile of it.
Here in the future, this is much easier. I recently heard a great track, “Herzlos” by Absurd Minds, a German EBM (bleepy “industrial”) band, on a compilation. Enormously interested by this, I went in search of more of their stuff. As it turned out, I had the opportunity to hear their complete works — every note they’ve recorded from 1996 to the present. All of it. The lot.
And guess what? That track was a freak — everything else they’ve ever done is mediocre at best and inept at typical. In fact, the original version of “Herzlos” also sucks — the good version was a remix by a third party. (And the lyrics, oh God. I’m glad they’re in German.)
The band is not important. The important bit is that even a burst of true brilliance will no longer let you get away with selling us pigs in a poke. This alone is why the majors are going DOWN, DOWN, DOWN, and musicians who still think the world owes them a living with them.
Surprised I didn’t notice this earlier. It’s not looking good for EMI. Terra Firma has discovered they paid way too much for the hulk of the Titanic, so tried suing the bankers that loaned them the money. The jury said “bugger off, your due diligence is your problem.” So who wants a major label? In how many pieces?
six five four majors shrink to five four three? “Oh dear what a pity never mind,” as Windsor Davies lamented.
TALKIN’ ABOUT, Degeneration, Thursday (NNME) — With the conviction of The Pirate Bay administrators having immediately abolished all filesharing, the EU has approved an extension of sound copyright to seventy years past the point of theoretical death, and death to seventy years past actual death.
MIDEM, Cash from Chaos, 1977 (NNN) — The Performing Right Society and UK Music have come out strongly against YouTube and Google for not just handing them both buckets of money.
The furore started when the PRS demanded that YouTube pay them more money or remove their members’ videos, and YouTube removed their members’ videos. “It is clear they are too powerful,” said Feargal Sharkey, whose bank account died before he got old, “because they were actually able to just tell us to bog off. I am sick and tired of bogus outsiders who spout unworkable utopian visions. Instead, they should give us money because we want it. Just like the record companies used to … er, hold on, I’ll start again.”
The RIAA is on the skids. The record companies are pulling support at a fantastic rate; what will be left will be a smaller group composed of pieces of the RIAA, IFPI and BPI. Still pursuing DRM and similar pixie dust. Remember when you’d only ever heard those four letters as the reason your turntable sounded tinny plugged into the wrong inputs?
The general public just refuse to see copying as morally wrong if it’s not for money. But attribution is another matter. (Look at the drama when someone STEALS a LiveJournal icon from the original thief.)
Yahoo! Music is shutting down, and its DRM servers with it. All four of you who bought a track there are losing it shortly. This sort of thing is intrinsic to the model. iTunes still has the same problem, but obviously not enough people have been badly burnt. Meanwhile, the DRM-free world will stay stuck with MP3. Yay.
Update: Yahoo has said it will compensate both its customers.
“I love The Economist. It’s like a really rational guy on crack.” They finally read The Pirate’s Dilemma (think of pirates as researching new markets much faster than companies have time to) and have a piece on how maybe the toddler-with-guns ownership ethics of the recording industry might not be the most financially productive way to go. The reader comments are suitably sceptical on the article’s unexamined assumptions.
(So, did any reader of cassette-using age not have a pile of tapes from back when they didn’t have money for records? Anyone saying “me!”, I don’t believe you.)
The only reason that it had been sitting on its perch in the first place was that it had been nailed there.Thursday, July 17th, 2008
It’s hard to convince someone they’re being sold snake oil if they think their income depends on it:
“I made a list of the 22 ways to sell music, and 20 of them still require DRM,” said David Hughes, who heads up the RIAA’s technology unit, during a panel discussion at the Digital Hollywood conference. “Any form of subscription service or limited play-per-view or advertising offer still requires DRM. So DRM is not dead.”
And now, a story.
With income from physical discs dropping through the floor and the iTunes takings not being enough to sustain the fruit and flowers budget, the RIAA has decided to take this year’s swing at getting radio to pay them. Instead of the payola that’s flowed continuously the other way for over fifty years. Yeah, that trick’ll work this time.
From boingboing.net: A new research report suggests that the convicted price-fixers at the RIAA cooked the books to create a nonexistent “piracy problem.” “So the record industry cut their inventory (and artist investment) by 25 percent and sales only dropped 4.1 percent, even though the economy is at rock bottom. There were almost 12,000 fewer new releases for the consumer to choose from in 2001 than 1999. The record companies are making more money per release than ever.” Also covered in The Register.
Update: Our US readers are invited to join the class-action lawsuit on the price-fixing claim.
Los Angeles Times Calendar Live posits that the real enemy of the CD market is not the Internet – it’s the DVD market. For US$20, you get a movie, commentaries, trailers and extra features; for US$18, you get two good singles.
Jim Urie, president of Universal Music and Video Distribution, pooh-poohs the idea that value for money matters: “We tend to ask how can we make more money and sell more product, not deal with consumer gripes.” Yes, that’s an actual quote.
The record companies anticipate problems getting some artists to support such plans – Janis Ian, for instance, who declined an invitation to work with the RIAA against file-sharing. As she puts it in an excellent article on her website: “If a music industry executive claims I should agree with their agenda because it will make me more money, I put my hand on my wallet … and check it after they leave, just to make sure nothing’s missing”
In its present form, in any case. The party’s well and truly over, guys. As laid out step by step in a New York Metro Magazine article of near-perfection.
“To a large degree, the music industry is, then, a fluke. A bubble. Finally the bubble burst.”
Tonight we’re gonna party like it’s … 2002.
Jupiter MMXI, the media survey organisation that two weeks ago released a report claiming that “the European record industry must act now to curb the illegal free downloading of music”, on Friday released a report stating that Internet file sharing boosts music sales.
The IFPI says this report contradicts a survey that found Internet downloads did eat into music sales – but that report is the previous Jupiter report. “The main blight on the industry is ‘CD burning’, where an individual buys a CD and then makes several copies for friends,” Mark Mulligan from Jupiter MMXI told Reuters at the time.
The recording industry, that fine and upstanding community institution of unimpeachable repute, has put its usual sort of deal on the Pressplay and MusicNet commercial download services: $0.0023 per download, according to an extensive article on the subject in the New York Times (free login required for access). Many artists are now attempting to have their music removed from these services.
“When their music is used in movies, in commercials and on Internet sites, artists are paid a licensing fee, which, after payments to the producer and the publisher, is split 50-50 between artist and label. Although Pressplay and MusicNet license the music, the bands are not paid a licensing fee. Instead, the labels pay their artists a standard royalty for each song accessed by a fan, as they would for a CD sold. This means that the artist gets on average less than 15 percent instead of 50 percent. But, out of that, 35 to 45 percent is deducted for standard CD expenses like packaging and promotional copies – expenses that obviously don’t exist in the online world.”
See also article mirror on Slashdot, and extensive and interesting Slashdot commentary. “When my one hit wonder song goes platinum and receives 1,000,000 downloads, I will have made a wopping 2,300 dollars, almost enough to compensate the recording studio for greeting me … I’ll bet Scientology wishes they thought of it first.”