- Google to the record industry whining about YouTube: bugger off, we’re making you a fortune here.
- A few worked examples of how the record industry synthesizes its completely BS statistics.
- Jay-Z’s Tidal streaming service appears to be fully working to industry standards on its numbers and payment habits.
Archive for the ‘Industry’ Category
The particular snake oil they’ve sold Heap — who is not a stupid person and has considerable bitter experience in music industry fuckery — is Smart Contracts. These are in fact the worst idea ever, for a number of reasons, which is a separate rant. (Dr Strangelove is the story of an unstoppable smart contract going wrong.)
In this specific case the snake oil is that smart contracts on the blockchain (which in this case is the Ethereum blockchain rather than the Bitcoin blockchain, but that doesn’t matter) will mean that Heap will be paid a penny shaving every time someone looks at her music.
Problems with this:
- Nobody in the extant music industry has any interest in this working.
- If you strike out as an independent with this, you cannot get the hashing power to protect against the people who would fuck with it, whether for business or lulz.
- Try to work out how to actually buy a copy (or whatever right to a copy you’re buying) of “Tiny Human”. (Answer below, but I urge you to go looking first.)
- They’re promising digitally controlled “limited edition” releases with this mechanism, but DRM still literally defies mathematics.
- This will not scale ever ever ever. (c.f. Bitcoin again.)
How to buy the song, since there is no easy guide available: it’s nearly fucking impossible to actually buy this song, and involves buying Bitcoins then exchanging those for Ethereum. The instructions look easy, but the trick is that even getting hold of the Bitcoins involves either sending stupendous amounts of government identification, dealing with crooks or both. Once you’ve done all this, you get a download key.
(Note also that the purchase process is ridiculously buggy even if you understand all this cryptocurrency bafflegab.)
The fatal flaw here is that we already have endless filesharing networks that are vastly easier than this. Remember, iTunes made it by being easier even than those. You could also do what everyone will do and play it on YouTube.
Unsurprisingly, sales figures for “Tiny Human” are unavailable. Update: I was wrong, they’re fully available. $95.81 in sales! (HT FlacidPhil at Reddit)
After the amazingly terrible Berklee white paper on how to make all musicians rich using magic beans, today we have a breathless piece of content marketing in Billboard hyping the notion.
The Billboard article is devoid of useful detail and keeps to promising the moon on a stick fueled by very complicated computer wizard magick. A company called PeerTracks claims it will have some sort of actual launch based around these ideas within two months. tl;dr no.
Musicians get paid last, and have been forever. Also, musicians are good at music but actually worse than any normal human at business. With radio largely replaced by streaming, this hasn’t changed. So Bloomberg has put up a breathless piece of hype based on a report from the most speculative unit of the Berklee College of Music, suggesting that doing it all on THE BITCOIN BLOCKCHAIN will shower money on all.
Here’s the download link for the original report. Plus point: it is indeed from Berklee. Minus points: it’s made of squirrels and crack.
Of course the new distribution channels are going to act like the old distribution channels. Apple wants to relaunch Beats as a new and exciting service that involves paying them money, so they’re pressuring labels to kill Spotify and Pandora’s free tiers, and pressuring Universal to pull all videos from YouTube. The US Department of Justice and the EU Competition Commission is looking severely askance at these moves. Of course, if Apple succeeds, I’m sure their name won’t become mud or something.
With the tidal.com app sinking without trace for no better reason than that it’s terrible and there’s no conceivable reason to bother with it, Unnamed Insider puts out a heartfelt plea to you, the concerned music lover.
(VLGroup analyses their deal, which is streaming FLAC at a premium … despite A/B testing on good AAC on earbuds coming out much as you’d expect. Wonder if Tidal will pivot to pure 24/96 snake oil, and if there’s a market for 24/96 Nicki Minaj.)
- So how much is music actually worth? Spoiler: nobody knows.
- Universal Music Hijacks YouTube Videos of Indie Artist. Because of course they did.
- How the majors renewed their grip on music: how to leverage your remaining streams when you don’t even do your own distribution any more.
Tom Whitwell has just reposted his 2008 Word article on the recording process for mainstream radio-targeted music: how to record music literally targeted at people who don’t actually like music. It is every bit as processed as you can imagine, and possibly more so. I recently listened to all of the top 100 US chart hits for 2014, and by crikey you can hear this process.
You will also enjoy these videos setting out country hits of 2013 and 2014 and how they are literally the same song. Yep, there’s still no reason to pay attention to mainstream popular culture.
Pity the poor cash-strapped billionaires! Oprah Winfrey’s Live The Life You Want tour, with tickets priced from $99 to $999, has “no budget” to pay performers. The theme of the tour is “realizing self-worth”. Obviously the performer needed to project her wishes into the universe more strongly, and not be so spiritually lazy as to require tawdry currency.
That’s what makes this 2007 interview with their Chief Information Officer such a delicious and tasty slice of schadenfreude pie.
“I sincerely believe that if we left it all up to the auditors to tell us what works, we wouldn’t have a business at the end of the day,” Spaltro says.
The hack has left film shoots stopped because Sony can’t process payments.
There’s also the most injured victims, the random low-level employees who just got fucked over by their upper management’s wilful negligence and incompetence. Your first reaction should be to wonder how competent your own bosses are in this respect.
The estimable PopBitch details how UK labels refuse to actually make songs with massive demand available for purchase — deliberately missing the Christmas binge period for Nicki Minaj “Anaconda”, Gwen Stefani “Baby Don’t Lie” and Mark Ronson’s superlative “Uptown Funk” (which you should definitely play right now).
They’re all on YouTube, making fractional pennies per view, but the actual locally-chartable sales aren’t happening because the labels refuse to release them in that territory, as if the Internet never happened. The only vaguely plausible reason anyone can come up with is that the people running the PR campaign are attempting to make that campaign look good, and never mind the bit where the business is supposed to pick up all the free money lying around.
(“Uptown Funk” is finally being released before Christmas, with talk of intra-Sony shenanigans to achieve this.)
- How we’ve paid for music from 1983 to today, in one gif.
- Revealed: The Type of Music That Makes You Feel Most Powerful Spoiler: Queen “We Will Rock You”, 2 Unlimited “Get Ready for This”. Apparently it’s all about the BASS LINE.
- Charlotte Church on fifteen years in the music industry as a woman.
Mashing together public domain audio to get cash out of Spotify is too much like work. Vulfpeck, a funk band from Ann Arbor, have released an album consisting of ten 31-second segments of silence; they have asked their fans to stream it continuously on repeat so they can fund their next tour. That’s about $5 from each person for seven hours’ streaming. Spotify know about it, but don’t yet appear to have pulled the plug. This would be why Pandora and Netflix have the “I’m still listening/watching” button. Update: And it’s gone.
In the olden days, you needed to bribe DJs or just buy a bootload of copies of your record yourself. These days, you can rent $30 worth of time on Amazon and make $1000 in royalties, as security researcher Peter Fillmore did with his album Kim Jong Christmas, mashed together from public domain audio. Spotify lacks automatic detection of click fraud, relying on listener reports; this offers the possibility of DDOSing your competitor off the chart for $30 of computer time and then reporting them.
If you want to get your stuff onto the chart stores (iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and Google), you can spend a pile of cash (around $40/album) with TuneCore or CDBaby — or rather less cash ($20/year unlimited) with DistroKid. Endorsed by the founders of TuneCore and CDBaby, no less (the latter of whom just uploaded everything he’s ever recorded through DistroKid). The site, some technical details. Anyone here used it?
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 songwriters. 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?