Strike Three for Sirius vs The Turtles: Court Denies Appeal

Quoting from todays ruling:

“While the Court is largely unpersuaded and sometimes baffled by Sirius XM’s repetitive or off-point theories about how reasonable jurists might read an unwritten exclusion into § 980(a)(2), the Court will not analyze the potential grounds for difference of opinion because certification of this Order suffers from an even more basic deficiency. At this stage in the litigation and under the operative scheduling order governing the case, certification of the Order for immediate appeal would delay rather than materially advance the termination of the litigation; therefore, the Court denies the motion.”



UN to Airlift Calculators, Behavioral Economics Textbooks to Digital Music Industry


 UN prepares to airlift badly needed calculators and behavioral economics textbooks to Hollywood and Silicon Valley.  Above a A Norwegian UN peacekeeping soldier reacts to details of YouTube Music Key deal. Photo by Русский: Фото: Михаил Евстафьев English: Photo: Mikhail Evstafiev (Mikhail Evstafiev)

If only this story were true.

Yet again we are witnessing a catastrophic failure of mathematics and logic by the music business and their digital music partners:

1). If you offer something for free don’t expect anyone to pay $7.99 a month for the exact same product.  After a healthy debate over the (bad) economics of free streaming courtesy of Taylor Swift, the record labels and YouTube have doubled down on their losing bet on free streaming with the YouTube music service.   Full album streaming will be available on the free service as well as the paid service.  So again no reason to upgrade to paying service.  Well at least we can “opt out” of YouTube.  Right? Can’t we?… I think we can…. (ed note- you can pull your tracks off Spotify but YouTube will hide behind the DMCA act and let their users upload it.)

2.) If you let YouTube have all our music at $7.99 a month how do you tell Spotify and all the other services they have to stay at $9.99 a month?  You can’t blame Daniel Ek for being pissed off about the YouTube deal, now can you?

3) Let’s assume that people defy basic economic principles and pay for something they already get for free.    Let’s assume streaming scales to as many US customers as Netflix.  That’s 36 million subscribers.  At YouTube’s rate of  $7.99  you get 3.4  billion retail. 2.4 billion at wholesale.  The current recorded music business is 7.1 Billion.

4) As the Cynical Musician eloquently notes:   If flat fee streaming services really are the future of music consumption,  at “scale” we end up with a fixed pool of money for ALL recorded music.  This means the pie can never grow and the slices get smaller and smaller as you increase spins and add new albums.  This looks like a death spiral. The only way out is to allow windowing. Oh but wait!  The YouTube deal doesn’t let you do that!

5). Stop saying that $120 a year from each streaming subscriber is greater than the $71 a year per capita music consumption in 1999.  PER CAPITA! Do you know what that means?  Per capita means we are counting every single resident of the USA.  Including infants and your 90 year old great grandparents.  Unless you have a plan to  get $120 a year from infants and 90 year old great grandparents please STFU.


Will The New YouTube Streaming Service Feature All the Hate Rock Currently Featured On YouTube?

I’m sure all the violent white supremacists the world over are excited about the launch of the new YouTube music service!  Will they be able to listen to Kill Baby Kill or Angry Aryans and recruit new followers to our violent Neo-Nazi movement the way they can currently on YouTube? 

Violent terrorist skinheads the world over  are anxiously holding their breaths!

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Maybe Pandora Founder is Building 17 Bedroom 14 Bath Mansion to House all the Songwriters and Performers he Made Homeless?

Locals in the lovely fishing village of Inverness CA  ( I shot half a video there) are up in arms wondering just what Pandora founder Tim Westergren is doing with an old Russian Monastery.  Google Street View here.

As The San Jose Mercury News reports.

Judging from the many letters of opposition that have been sent to county planners, most residents are aghast at the size of the 8,297-square-foot project, which would have 14 bathrooms and up to 17 “functional” bedrooms, according to critics, and would be up to four times larger than the median-sized house in this community of remodeled summer homes, weekend cottages, rustic cabins and modest single-family dwellings.

Westergren says his plans call for nine bedrooms total, but the Inverness Association, an 84-year-old organization of property owners and preservationists, concludes that the second unit “functions as a six-bedroom, two bath housing unit with detached two-car garage” and the septic systems have been sized to service 11 bedrooms in the main residence and six bedrooms in the second unit. (read more)

Some are speculating that rather than a house he intends to open a boutique hotel. 

We have have another suggestion:

  Westergren can use the property to house the songwriters he has made homeless by his relentless war on songwriters and performers.

Tim Westergren making 1 million a month in stock sales

And look at the other Pandora insiders selling stock like crazy!

Thank You For Appointing Me CEO of Spotify: Now a Strategic Plan to Fix the Service.

The music business press has repeatedly criticized artists for not providing a solution for the problems with streaming.  Once you get past the amusing fact that it’s not our job nor are we paid to fix streaming services it does become a useful exercise.  Here is my response. 

I would like to thank the shareholders for appointing me CEO of Spotify. I am honored that you placed such great trust in my ability to navigate us through this difficult time.

I would like to make a few comments on the strategy pursued by my predecessor Daniel Ek.  I do this not to criticize my predecessor but to illustrate how my leadership of this company will vary significantly from his.

1.  Under my predecessor’s leadership Spotify pursued a scorched earth policy towards artists that criticized our company. This has been going on for some time.  In the past Spotify engaged surrogates and proxies to attack artists.  This was at best misguided, but the full throated media attack we orchestrated on Taylor Swift was a strategic blunder.

The reality is that Taylor Swift controls her own catalogue and we have given her every reason to NEVER license her songs to the service EVER AGAIN. Swift accounted for more than 20% of all album sales the last two weeks.  It’s likely that she would have represented a similar amount of streams. Her songs are now on our competitors services but not ours.    Spotify can not afford to repeat this mistake.

After I fire all of Spotify’s astroturf consultants, I intend to issue a full apology to the singer–with no conditions–and hereby renounce all such tactics.

2. My predecessor insisted that all songs be available on the free version of the service.  Indeed this is exactly the issue that led Taylor Swift to leave the service.   I believe that this also was a strategic blunder.

By taking a hardline, Spotify lost a once-in-a-decade opportunity to increase revenue and move free users to the premium service.  I intend to modify this policy to allow premium-only content on the subscription service to move free users towards the subscription service.

Further I intend to transition the free service to a free thirty day trial. I believe that Netflix would have never become so successful by competing with itself with a free version. Nor would it have become successful without offering exclusive premium content.

3.  My predecessor was once CEO of uTorrent the world most popular bitTorrent client [Editor’s note-”someone” repeatedly edits this out of Mr. Ek’s wikepedia page–ahem–hence we’ve had to rely on static screen captures.]  I believe that his immersion in the world of piracy impaired his judgement.

My predecessor failed to understand that piracy is the enemy of Spotify.  Unlicensed sites not only hurt artists but compete with Spotify for users and advertisers.  Instead of seeing this as an existential threat Spotify has repeatedly used the threat of piracy as a “club” to keep rightsholders and artists on it’s free service.

I hereby renounce the use of this tactic and going forward intend to create alliances with rightsholders and artists to attack the scourge of ad-funded piracy.

4.   I must commend my predecessor for recognizing (however belatedly) the strategic threat that YouTube represents to all streaming services.  YouTube the video monopoly is also the biggest streaming service.  And it is free. But this is because YouTube hides behind the fiction that it can not control what it’s users upload and Google’s litigation muscle and shakedown rackets.

Much as my predecessor used the threat of piracy as a club, YouTube uses its users as a sort of “torches and pitchforks” mob to threaten rightsholders and artists (not to mention its highly litigious culture).   I believe that this is an illegal practice and I intend to join with rightsholders to press the US government, the European Commission and any other government who is willing into taking action against YouTube on this issue.  Perhaps if all these governments join together, the Google juggernaut can be stopped.  Spotify should lead the charge.

Thank you and I look forward to a long a productive term as CEO of Spotify.




How to Fix Music Streaming in One Word, “Windows”… two more “Pay Gates”…





Icky. Spotify Goes From Heartbroken Boyfriend to Creepy Cyberbully.

A few days ago we learned that Taylor Swift had decided to “window”her new album and not release it on Spotify.  We also learned that she had removed her back catalogue albums from the Spotify service.

We learned this because Spotify posted this sad little note in which they  begged her to come back to their service.

This of course became a national news story with the press largely lecturing Taylor Swift on “depriving” her fans of her music; Mansplaining that she was making a bad business decision; And generally being mean and greedy.

Bad Taylor.  Poor Spotify.

And then it all turned out to be total bullshit.  Taylor Swift hadn’t pulled her back catalogue from the streaming services.   The albums are available on virtually every other subscription service!  A fact that only a single major US news outlet has noted!  According to Music Ally, Swift wanted her music only on the premium (paid) part of these services.  Spotify refused. They demanded Swift put her albums on the free tier.   Spotify not Swift played hardball.   They didn’t get their way.  She left.

Oh that’s a little different isn’t it?

I mean it’s a little like your friend who comes over to sleep on your couch because his girlfriend broke up with him.  So sad.  They seemed so perfect for each other! You feel bad for him. But the next morning you find out he slept with a flight attendant and tried to make her cat smoke crack.

Oh that’s a little different, isn’t it?

Still that hasn’t stopped Spotify from mounting what now resembles a cyberbully attack on Swift in order to get her to come back to Spotify.  Instead of privately negotiating,  Spotify decided to go public and mount a full throated PR campaign that even features Elevation Partners Managing Director and U2 lead singer Bono  weighing in. Add to that the absolutely unfiltered vitriol that Spotify is allowing in the comments on it’s company blog and it doesn’t look good.  It looks like cyberbullying.

Or  even a “Swift Boat” attack.

And if Swift’s only public interview since this whole thing exploded is any indication?  It doesn’t look like she’s coming back.  Here is Swift earlier today on Yahoo:

“All I can say is that music is changing so quickly, and the landscape of the music industry itself is changing so quickly, that everything new, like Spotify, all feels to me a bit like a grand experiment,” Swift told Yahoo. “And I’m not willing to contribute my life’s work to an experiment that I don’t feel fairly compensates the writers, producers, artists, and creators of this music.”

Tough luck guys.

Why Do I Support Taylor Swift’s Decision To Pull Songs Off Spotify? Because It’s a Free Fucking Country.

I was asked to provide a 250-300 word comment for the New York Times on the subject of Taylor Swift, Spotify and whether streaming music is the future.  Apparently my thoughts on the subject were a little too “direct” and consequently they won’t be appearing there.  My friends thought they were amusing. Here they are:

Taylor Swift, Streaming and the Future of the Music Business. 

To quote Yogi Berra “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” In 2005 we all thought Myspace was the future.  A music industry without MySpace was inconceivable! You think I’m kidding? Go back and read the articles.

So is streaming the future?  It’s probably one part of the future for certain artists. But not all artists.  And what exactly is wrong with that? Since when are we all required to have the same business model?  And why are we having a national hissy fit because a pop star wants to conduct HER business as she sees fit?
It pains me to have to put this in these terms, but unfortunately the hysteria surrounding this issue requires it:
All artists have the right to monetize and exploit their music as they see fit.  Why? Because it’s a free fucking country.  Now, do we really want to stop being a free fucking country just so that we can have free music streaming?
If Taylor Swift doesn’t like the compensation that she is paid by a venture-capital-backed for-profit company she has the right to say no to that deal.   So do you.  You really want to give up that right?
No. I didn’t think so.  Let’s move along.


Spotify “Swift Boats” Swift: MusicAlly Reports Spotify Was Taking Hardline Position.

Turns out the biggest music story of the year is actually just a false “swift boat” style attack. And the truth is

Taylor Swift did not pull her back catalogue albums from all streaming services!  She is still available on Beats and other paid subscription services.

With the exception of a few Journalists (notably Stuart Dredge of the Guardian) no one seems to have noticed this very important fact.

Further Dredge is reporting (on that Spotify took the hardline position:

So it’s about whether streaming services are willing to make some albums only available on demand to their paying subscribers, and not to their free users. Spotify is maintaining a hardline policy on this – it won’t take an album unless it’s available to all its users – and that’s the sticking point with Swift, as it has been before with some other artists.