In The News

Some Music News Stories We Are Watching

January, 2012

May 01, 2012
Don't Let Business Lobbyists Kill the Post Office
Why are we posting something about the Post Office? Well, like most independent musicians, we rely on them to mail our orders. UPS and FedEx are too expensive and don't ship everywhere.

Also, the Post Office, like the music, movie and publishing markets, has been decimated by the internet and, in a roundabout way, piracy.

And also like copyright, the Post Office is another punching bag for politics. For example, in what looked like an attempt to break the postal union, W. Bush signed Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006.
"This law required the Postal Service to pre-fund 100 percent of its entire future obligations for 75 years of health benefits to its employees – and not only do it, but do it within ten years. No other organization, public or private, has to pre-fund 100 percent of its future health benefits."

January, 2012

January 29, 2012
U2's Manager on the recent SOPA Cluster F@#kup, Spotify and more.
Paul McGuinness, U2′s manager was joined in a Midem panel session this morning by Robert Levine, author of Free Ride, as well as entertainment lawyer Pierre-Marie Bouvery and Qobuz president Yves Riesel. The full session title was Commerce of Chaos: Why Copyright Still Matters Online. Read the highlights of this very illuminating conversation.

There's more at:
U2 Manager Calls Google "Monopoly", Spotify "Promotional Medium"
Take away quote:
"Never underestimate the ability of a monopoly to defend itself, The fact that Google were able to turn their entire network into a lobbying device, a petition, does not mean every person who ticked the box understood the argument… It wasn’t really a debate, it was a demonstration really."
-Paul McGuinness, U2′s manager

January 11, 2012
Put Up or Shut The F… Upright
A well written "rant" against all those against SOPA. Nice to see Faza at The Cynical Musician on fire. It's been a while.

January 07, 2012
Vint Cerf: 'The internet is not a human right'
"Get real," says internet daddy.
In an op-ed piece in The New York Times, Cerf – regarded by many as one of the fathers of the internet for his role in creating TCP/IP – explained that technology isn’t a human right in itself, but merely an enabler for more concrete things such as communication. He criticized the UN and others for taking the position that broadband communications is a human right, saying that we should instead focus on more fundamental problems.

December, 2011

December 21, 2011
'Wolverine' Pirate Gets 1 Year in Prison
Gilberto Sanchez, who prosecutors say "had been regularly uploading pirated movies for four or five years, and did not appear remorseful after charges were brought.", was sentenced to 1 year in prison for uploading a pirated copy of "Wolverine" and posting links to it a month before its release.

December 19, 2011
Spanish novelist Lucía Etxebarria quits writing in piracy protest
Lucía Etxebarria, who has won several of Spain's best-known literary prizes, said that due to piracy, she could no longer justify devoting three years of her working life to producing a book.

She posted on her Facebook page "Given that I have today discovered that more illegal copies of my book have been downloaded than I have sold, I am announcing officially that I will not publish another book for a long time," pointing out that Spain ranks he top of the world rankings for per capita illegal downloads. This includes not only books but film and music.

As is to be expected, the fact that an author realizes that they are no longer making any money from their hard work was met with "a torrent of abuse from downloaders who filled [Etxebarria's] Facebook wall with insults." One of the less aggressive critics claimed that "Literature is not a profit-making job, but a passion," but stopped short of offering to start writing award winning novels for free.

December 19, 2011
Interviews with Robert Levine
Here is one and, then another, interview with Robert Levine, author of Free Ride.

December 12, 2011
"MegaUpload Mega Song" full of artists who did not agree to appear in it?
MegaUpload, a video-hosting website, that is near the top of the enemy's list for many in the entertainment industry posted a video last week with a lot of top performers touting the service. Turns out a lot of those artists didn't agree to be in the video.

In addition to a takedown notice filed by UMG, Will.I.Am's lawyer, Ken Hertz, also sent YouTube a takedown notice. While Mega Uploads, which is based in Hong Kong, is claiming that they had permission from the artists, Hertz says that like many of the artists who appear in the video, his client had never consented to the " Megaupload Mega Song."

A UMG spokesperson told Billboard, "We heard from a number of our other artists and their representatives who told us they've never consented to being portrayed in this video."

No wonder the music and movie industry have them so high on their enemies list...

December 11, 2011
Google/YouTube Buys Company That Processes Music Royalties
YouTube has acquired RightsFlow, an upstart company in New York that processes royalties for the music industry.

YouTube, which is owned by Google, announced the deal on a company blog on Friday afternoon. Terms of the purchase were not disclosed.

December 11, 2011
Black Keys Withold New 'El Camino' LP From Spotify, Other Streaming Services
Yet another band keeping their music off Spotify and other streaming sites. The Black Keys join the ranks of Coldplay, Adele, Tom Waits, The Beatles, Led Zepplin, Arcade Fire, Bob Dylan as well as a growing number of independent labels. Regardless of the hype surrounding their new Apps, which are supposedly being set up to aid discovery. However, what may happen is that these lists will only point out how most of the top recommended songs from the likes of Rolling Stone aren't even on the service.

December 10, 2011
U.S. Court says Facilitating website piracy can lead ad networks to be liable for infringement
A district court judge in Massachusetts said that ad networks that have knowledge of infringing activity and provide an "essential" service that helps website operators enable that infringement on a "massive scale" can be found liable for that infringement if they are "intimately and causally involved in a vast number of infringing transactions".

I wonder if the ad network that sells ad to Grooveshark as knows about this..?

December 5, 2011
Piracy legislation pits Hollywood against Silicon Valley
Filmmakers, music companies and other copyright holders are backing tough new bills in Congress that would give the Justice Department broad powers to shut down websites that host pirated material.
Take away quote:
"Some in the tech community believe that even if their website is being used to house stolen copyrighted content, that's not their problem,"

November, 2011

November 19, 2011
Lawsuit claims Grooveshark workers posted 100,000 pirated songs
What do you expect from a company that uses the word shark in their name? This is an illegal site skirting the law to make money. Even Google has banned them and that's saying something!

November 16, 2011
Distributor Pulls 234 Labels From Spotify, Napster, Rdio After iTunes Payments Drop 24%
Electronic music distributor STHoldings has pulled all its distributed labels from streaming music services Spotify, Simfy, Rdio and Napster, stating
"As a distributor we have to do what is best for our labels," states the company. "The majority of which do not want their music on such services because of the poor revenues and the detrimental affect on sales. Add to that, the feeling that their music looses it’s specialness by it’s exploitation as a low value/free commodity."

November 16, 2011
Study: Spotify Is Detrimental to Music Purchasing...
Streaming, or access sites, are discouraging other music purchase platforms according to a recently-released finding from NPD Group and NARM. The study contradicts the urban myth that exposure helps artists.

November 12, 2011
Don't Bury the CD Just Yet
Rumors about the imminent death of the CD are greatly exaggerated.

November 08, 2011
Porn, 24/7 courtesy of Google TV
Like so many other fledgling media delivery systems before it -photography, film, video, DVD, and the internet, porn is part of Google TV's business plan.

That's right, Google TV now has a 24/7 porn channel, content provided by Vivid Entertainment.

November 04, 2011
Music industry group tells top UK ISP it's time to block Pirate Bay
The Britsh performing rights organization BPI is playing hardball with the largest UK ISP (British Telecom) over The Pirate Bay. British Telecom (BT) is fighting back saying BPI needs a court order.

There is legal precedent for getting the court order based on a ruling three months (also here) ago when BT was ordered by a judge to start using Cleanfeed technology to start blocking subscribers from Newz2bin. The Cleanfeed filter has been previously used to block child pornography.

While BT claimed that its subscribers were simply using the ISP for normal internet activities, the judge saw it differently, stating that BT's users were "using BT's service to infringe copyright" in regards to Newz2bin

In his judgment, the judge stated that "The Studios have made it clear that this is a test case," saying that "If they are successful in obtaining an order against BT, then they intend to seek similar orders against all the other significant ISPs in the UK."

October, 2011

October 26, 2011
Coldplay and Tom Waits say "No" to Spoitfy and all streaming
The heaviest hitters yet to opt out of low payments.

October 18, 2011
The Great Tech War Of 2012
Interesting article about how Apple, Facebook, Google, and Amazon battle for the future.

October 10, 2011
Poll: 75% Of Hypebot Readers Aren't Sure Spotify Is A Good Deal For Artists ...Yet
The current state of the Hypebot online poll.

October 04, 2011
US Supreme Court rejects ASCAP appeal on download performance royalties
Digital music downloads are not public performances rules the Supreme Court rejecting an appeal from ASCAP. Makes sense to us...

October 04, 2011
Indie label Projekt continues to criticise Spotify
Another Indie label pulls their catalog from Spotify and then blasts them for their payment plan.

Referring to Spotify's$0.0013-per-stream payout Projekt founder Sam Rosenthal states "It is interesting how they turn this into an accountant’s game of obfuscation, while ignoring the over-arching reason why labels like Projekt pull their music from all-you-can-eat services,” As for Spotify's claim that they are not a per stream based company Rosenthal replies, “This concept is nonsense… I look at how much Projekt is paid by Spotify, divide by the number of tracks streamed and get a per stream total. This makes sense to me. What I see is $.0013 is not viable compensation for using artist’s music as fodder to sell their service.”

We could not agree more.

September, 2011

September 30, 2011
Spotify Launches 'Private' Mode in Response to Facebook Backlash
Still listening to the Bay City Rollers via Spotify? Don't want your friends to know? Seems you are not alone. Spotify, less than one week after tying their service to Facebook, have added a privacy setting that blocks sharing what you are listening to from being seen on the FB news feed. So go ahead, tap into those old Madonna songs...

Of course she won't make any money, but that's another story

H/T to Pranaknits for bring this to out attention.

September 21, 2011
Senate antitrust hearing: "Google Rigs its Results"
Google is getting blasted from all fronts lately. The latest a round of Senate antitrust hearings. They are being accused of altering search results to place their products first amd taking information from other sources, like Yelp, Trip Advisor and Expedia, and using it as their own. When asked to stop this practice they tell these companies that they will be excluded from all search results. A "coercive tactic," stated Thomas Barnett, the lawyer for Expedia and TripAdvisor.

September 20, 2011
Another Label Pulls out of Spotify
Prosthetic Records is pulling its catalog from Spotify. This is the third label TMD has reported pulling from the service. A fourth label Metal Blade has also pulled its catalog from Spotify. That makes three LA based labels that have pulled their catalogs from the streaming service.

Prosthetic co-owner E.J. Johantgen told the LA Weekly that "There [does] not appear to be an upside,", saying that payments from Spotify amount to "fractions of pennies,".

These are bands that are not anti streaming or anti digital. Johantgen told the LA Weekly that "In about three years, ninety percent of our recorded business will be digital," and as far as he is concerned "That's perfectly okay with me."

The extremely low payments by Spotify and other streaming companies is something The Musical Disconnect has been trying to make music fans aware of for a while now. Many fans think that because the service is legal that the artists are being compensated adequately. However they are not and the numbers speak for themselves. These labels and others are starting to confirm this.

Case in point, yesterday Uniform Motion, a UK based folk band posted on Gizmodo what they make from Spotify. Each stream received a payment of only $0.0041 per play, or as they expanded on this, 'If you listen to the album 1,000 times (once a day for 3 years!) we'll get $40.50!"

Although Spotify has been asked several times to answer questions about their payments and how they determine their rates, they have consistently side-stepped these all inquiries. It is also worth noting that the major labels are all reported to have financial deals with Spotify and therefore are making additional money from subscriber fees and ad revenue. Independent labels and DIY artists of course do not have these types of deals and therefore appear by all accounts to be on the lower tier of Spotify's mysterious payment set up.

September 15, 2011
New eMusic Study Touts Ownership Over Streaming
Despite all the hoopla a new study shows that people still prefer to buy their music.

September 13, 2011
With Great Power Comes No Responsibility!
A quick article about how Google encourages piracy and then turns a blind eye. All in the name of money...of course.

Take Away Quote:
"...It takes some nerve for a company [Google] to say it doesn’t know about illegal activity when its own employees help facilitate it. I think the media business would call this chutzpah."

September 9, 2011
Can Netflix beat Latin America’s pirates?
Take away quote:
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has long said that his company isn’t primarily competing with cable TV or other paid services but with piracy instead.
(H/T to Pranaknits for sending this to TMD.)

September 7, 2011
Much of the human race made up of thieves, says BSA
Almost a half of all PCs in operation worldwide use pirated software, according to the Business Software Alliance (BSA).

September 1, 2011
Google and their freetard-friendly copyright infringement update
Google claims to be cracking down on pirates through their voluntary copyright enforcement polices. The pirates say nothing has changed, and it is all lip service to keep the big media companies off Google's back.

September 1, 2011
Starz Says It Won’t Renew Giant Netflix Deal
Netflix stands to lose content from Disney and Song as Starz looks to hold on to "the premium nature" of their brand. But Netflix claims they are not concerned.
Take away quote:
"If you have a big checkbook, you can do business."
-Reed Hastings, Co-Founder and CEO Netflix, Inc.

August, 2011

August 31, 2011
Couple can sue laptop-tracking company for spying on sex chats
How much (comic) bad behavior can one story have? Turns out, a lot!

A 52 year old Ohio substitute teacher buys a laptop from a student for $60 (not thinking a $60 computer might be stolen). She then uses the computer to have sex chats and send sexually explicit images to her new 'beau". These images and chats are captured by Absolute Software, a stolen laptop tracking company, who gives them to the police. The police show up at the teacher's apartment with copies of the photos in hand and arrest her for having stolen property.

US District Judge Walter Rice ruled last week that the teacher and her boy friend can sue Absolute Software. No word regarding what would seem to be misconduct by the police...

August 30, 2011
Internet theft is a job-killer, too
USA Today Op-Ed by Don Henley:
"Theft of American products and ideas is no longer the hobby of teenagers with laptops; it's big business, as the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative warns in a recent report on the world's most notorious illicit markets. And they're not just stealing movies and music; they are stealing America's jobs and future."

August 28, 2011
Steve Jobs's greatest legacy: persuading the world to pay for content
"...if you're wondering how Jobs's departure affects the media world, consider that it's the loss of one of the biggest boosters of paid-for content the business ever had. Who's going to replace that?"
Interesting POV

August 23, 2011
Is Apple faking evidence to crush the competition?
Apple appears to have been resizing images of competing smartphones. Some wonder if, "Apple could be reprimanded for presenting misleading evidence to the court..."
Following allegations that Apple may have purposely doctored a photo of a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 to elicit an injunction from a German court, there are now new allegations that Apple is up to the same photo-resizing tricks in The Netherlands. According to Webwereld, which originally noted the photo irregularities in Apple's German court filings, Apple has now submitted a flawed comparison of the iPhone 3G and Galaxy S smartphones in its Dutch court filings.

August 22, 2011
Music Publishers Resolve Massive Copyright Dispute with YouTube
Music publishers — including songwriters and companies that buy their publishing rights — reached a resolution with Google’s YouTube site on Wednesday, and will begin receiving royalties under a new licensing scheme.

August 16, 2011
Apple, publishers conspired against $9.99 Amazon e-books, says lawsuit
If you hadn't figured this out on your own you weren't paying attention. Nevertheless it is hard to pick who is behaving worse. I would have to say Apple. Why? Because when it suited them to rape the music industry by fixing what price songs and albums would sell for on iTunes, they then turned around and called "foul" to for beating them to the punch with e-books. Do I hear the word hypocrites?

According to the article was sometimes taking a loss for having a set $9.99 e-book price, but that begs the question, "why doesn't amazon do the same thing with music?" At least Apple's iTunes, so far, has a minimum price for albums. An artist/label knows how much they will get paid for every sale. Amazon will lower the price of a DD album as they see fit and the artist takes the hit.

They're both hypocrites...

August 16, 2011
How the internet has all but destroyed the market for films, music and newspapers
The author of the upcoming book, Free Ride warns that digital piracy and greedy technology firms, like Apple and Google, are crushing the life out of the culture business.

Gunning for the copyright reformers
A closer look at Free Ride.

August 10, 2011
London riots take 'potentially disastrous' hit on indie music
The London Riots hit Indie Labels, destroying a warehouse containing copies of CDs and vinyl, which many of the small labels will have a hard time paying to have re-manufactured.
"London rioters took a strike against the independent music business early Tuesday when a fire destroyed much if not all of the contents at a Sony DADC warehouse... The 215,000-square-foot North London facility, separate from Sony's music operations, held current and catalog stock from about 150 labels...including Beggars Banquet, Sub Pop, Thrill Jockey, Domino Records and L.A.'s SideOneDummy."

August 10, 2011
Kindle Cloud Reader: The latest from Amazon
I'm sorry, but what's the point of this? They already have Kindle reading apps for computers and iPhones and Androids. Personally, this just seems like more useless "cloud" buzz for the sake of buzz. The cloud, in our humble opinion, is DOA. -TMD

August 10, 2011
Century Media Pulls All Labels From Spotify To 'Protect Artists'
"Spotify in its present shape and form isn't the way forward," the company said in a statement siting potential loss of income. "Physical sales are dropping drastically in all countries where Spotify is active."

August 4, 2011
Pirate Pays Up: Warner Music Cashes $12 Million LimeWire Check
As was mentioned in our post The Dinosaur is Dead, Long Live the Dinosaur, LimeWire had to pay content companies $105 million as part of the settlement when they lost a copyright infringement lawsuit. Today it handed Warner Brothers a check for $12 million.

August 1, 2011
Has Stealing Music Stolen Your Mind?
How people trick themselves into stealing music.

July 30, 2011
A Spotify payment for $0.00?
Another artist shares their Spoitfy payments.
"The per-spin payouts we receive via CD Baby are quite variable, ranging from around two hundredths of cent to more than one cent for each stream. (We also had a few spins that rounded out to "$0.00000000" after CD Baby's commission.)"

July 30, 2011
The Web is cutting into big Cable's Porn sales
Looks like music is not the only thing struggling with free-on-the-web.
"Big cable companies like Comcast and Time Warner Cable keep saying they don’t see Web video cutting into their business: Even if people are watching more Hulu, Netflix, Apple TV, etc., it’s not hurting cable, say the cable guys. But there’s at least one big, dirty exception."

July 26, 2011
Netflix Says It’s Surprised Customers Haven’t Complained More
Netflix stock may have dropped 10% after it's announced price hikes, but the real surprise is lack of customer complaints.

July 25, 2011
The Heavy Jack Boot of Apple's App Store
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo bow to Apple's heavy handed sales edict.
Wall Street Journal, Google knuckle under as well.

July 20, 2011
Fake Apple Stores popping up in China
Here's piracy on a grand scale. A knock-off of an entire store. Three stores in fact.

July 19, 2011
How Important is Music to Apple
Apple's iTunes controls 75% or more of the digital music market, but how much does music matter to Apple's bottom line? Less than than you might think.
Includes an interesting chart

July 19, 2011
Is Google Making Us Stupid?
What the Internet is doing to our brains.
Not about music, but well worth reading.

July 17, 2011
LimeWire backs out of paying Independent labels
After paying the major labels $105 million, LimeWire is reneging on a promise to pay smaller labels. Some of the artist impacted: Tom Waits, Arcade Fire, Vampire Weekend, and Spoon.

July 14, 2011
Lady Gaga's YouTube Account Suspended For "Severe Violations"
The Gaga posted footage of her appearance on a Japanese TV show....

July 10, 2011
Good News (For a Change)
After a 7 year decline music sales are up for first half of 2011

And bad new (IMHO) too
Spotify Hopes To Launch In U.S. Next Week

July 9, 2011
Six Strikes and you're...still in the game?
ISPs Agree To Copyright Alerts: What It Means

The Cynical Musician
Double-teaming the Pirates

Center for Copyright Information
Copyright Alert System Fact Sheet

March 24, 2011
Americans have gone from loving a good deal to loving a good steal
A commnentary from the LA Times

March 15, 2011
Six Out Of 10 Digital Movies Are Streamed via Netflix
Netflix's share of digital movie units -- downloaded or streamed -- reached 61 percent between January 2011 and February 2011.

November 11, 2010
iTunes and CD Baby, no love lost.
Derek Sivers story about how CD Baby and iTunes got off to a rocky start.

April 21, 2008
Behind the music: Copyright abuse has to stop
The media portrays artists as money-grabbing when they take intellectual property claims to court. But what else can they do?

February 4, 2011
Why Music Can't Just Be Free: The Artists' Side Of The Story
"In 1847, the composer Ernest Bourget visited the Paris Concert Cafe Ambassadeurs in the company of his colleague Victor Parizot. At the time, Bourget was a popular composer of chansons and chansonnettes comiques. Among other pieces, the orchestra played the music of Bourget. When the waiter presented the composer with the bill for the sugared water that he and his colleague had consumed as the fashionable luxury drink of the period, Bourget refused to pay claiming that the orchestra had repeatedly played his music - without paying anything: and so [took the] sugared water in return for playing his piece. The dispute between the composer and the owner was brought before the court. On 8th September 1847, the Tribunal de Commerce de la Seine prohibited the owner from playing works of the composer without his consent. The exclusive right of the author to public performances that had been anchored in the French law of 1791 was thus put into practice for the first time. And on 26th April 1849 the Cour d'Appel de Paris sentenced the owner of Ambassadeurs to pay compensation - i.e. in this case royalties - to Bourget."