Lars Was First And Lars Was Right

Trichordist Editor:

Isn’t it funny how the same arguments used to justify free streaming are the same arguments that were used to justify piracy? In the end, Chuck D was very wrong, and Lars Ulrich was very right…

Originally posted on The Trichordist:

Charlie Rose featured guests Lars Ulrich of Metallica and Chuck D from Public Enemy in 2000 to discuss Napster, the internet and the future of the music industry. In stunning clarity, Lars saw the grim future that would disenfranchise millions of artists, musicians, photographers, authors, writers and other creators who would have their living illegally appropriated by internet robber barons.

“if the record labels are not making the money, than the internet companies will be, and if they are not paying the artists, they are profiting illegally.” -Lars Ulrich

Nearly thirteen years later every statement Lars made in this interview has come to pass as truth. The new gatekeepers of the internet profit from the illegal distribution of  artists’ work while paying the artists nothing, nadda, zero, zip.

Meanwhile Chuck D’s prediction definitely did not come true:

“I think there’s going to be more music sold than ever,” – Chuck…

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Guest Post: “Taylor Swift, Spotify and the Musical Food Chain Myth” by @DoriaRoberts #irespectmusic

Trichordist Editor:

Awesome interview with @DoriaRoberts

Originally posted on MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY:

doria roberts promo photo

[Ed. Note: Chris Castle says:  We are so lucky to have the opportunity to publish this illuminating post by Doria Roberts, an outstanding discussion that shines a light on the issues facing all professional artists. I’m sure we’ll hear Doria’s strong voice many times in the future and will be the better for her.] 

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” –Alice Walker

I cannot tell you how happy I am that the conversation about Taylor Swift and Spotify is happening. Maybe people will start listening to what independent artists like me and my peers have been saying for years now.

A little background for those who don’t know me: I’ve been a indie musician by choice for 22 years. In 1999, I was chosen to perform at Lilith Fair and quit my day job the following Monday…

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Sony/The Orchard Cuts Direct Deal With Sirius So They Can Get Hands On Performers SoundExchange Money.

Digital Music News is reporting that The Orchard (owned by Sony)  has cut a direct deal for digital performer royalties with Sirius/XM.

Read more here.

So now all those poor artists unfortunate enough to have a distribution deal with The Orchard/Sony (which somehow mysteriously includes me and one of my albums!!!?) , will now how have their SoundExchange royalties paid to Sony instead of directly from SoundExchange.

So right about now you are saying “WTF?!!”

Yeah, The Orchard didn’t mention that tiny little detail in their letter did they?   They presented it to you like it was an great improvement.

But this is the entire point of the deal:  THEY GET THEIR HANDS ON YOUR MONEY.

But, hey I’m sure you can totally trust Sony/The Orchard to pay you your royalties without taking any deductions right?  They’d never do that.   They are the most organized distributor ever.


Let me give you two examples with which I have first hand experience.

1) The Orchard/Sony  can’t even be fucking bothered to return two years of  emails or a phone calls from me.  They are claiming rights to an album of mine for which I do not believe they have rights.   And if they are claiming rights to this album shouldn’t I be getting royalties or at the very least statements?

If my shit is disappearing into a black hole, do you really want to trust them with your non-recoupable SoundExchange royalties?

2) We have been granted access to email conversations and documents between  independent labels and The Orchard/Sony.    These labels reported dramatic drops in revenues when they switched to The Orchard/Sony.  There was never any real explanation from the Orchard and the independent labels eventually left on very bad terms with The Orchard.

Is this a trial balloon for mainstream Sony Artists?   Will all sony artists soon lose their SoundExchange royalties?

Stay tuned.

Country Music Association Study on Streaming a “Kick in the Teeth” to Swift, Borchetta and Aldean. And Why Billboard = Torrent Freak

As the civil war over free vs paid streaming rages within the record labels, we have to note the curiously timed “study” on streaming by the Country Music Association.   The study purports to show that “Streaming drives Sales” at least according Billboard. The study was reportedly  unveiled at a private CMA membership luncheon on Nov 20th.

The timing of the study’s release seemed curious to many in Nashville since it came on the heels of two go CMA’s biggest performers Taylor Swift and Jason Aldean pulling their catalogues from Spotify.  Although it was likely purely coincidental timing one Nashville source called it a “kick in the teeth to Swift, Borchetta and Aldean” and wondered what kind of “damage control was now going on behind the scenes” at the venerable CMA.  (Let’s hope the damage is limited to bruised egos and that this study doesn’t end up in front of the CRB in an attempt to lower our digital royalties.)

I have not seen the study but I will say that it is highly unlikely that the study really shows that “streaming drives sales” as reported by Pravda-oops I mean Billboard.  We all know now that many consumers prefer access over ownership.  By definition this means lower sales, as some consumers will buy less (or nothing) and stream instead.  This has never really been open to debate even by proponents of streaming.  Further the data I’ve personally seen from a multi-year longitudinal survey of students confirms the common sense notion that streaming does reduce sales amongst certain consumers.

The real and honest debate has always been, “by how much does it reduce sales and what should be the rate?”  No one except certain Billboard headline writers seem to actually think it increases sales.

While the timing of the study may be coincidental in regards to the Swift-Spotify debacle, it appears a little more sinister when you note it comes two days after a similar Pandora “study.” Here’s Billboard’s Glenn Peoples dutifully covering the “study” that was conducted in-house by pandora employees!

Pandora will use the in-house employee conducted study to claim it’s service deserves a reduction in royalties from the rate courts and the CRB.  Just watch.  (Remember we were the blog that was right about the dumb-as-fuck Merlin/Pandora deal.  As we predicted, it has now been submitted to the CRB to argue for lower rates.)   Mark my words Pandora will push this study to the rate courts and CRB.

Let’s just hope the Country Music Association isn’t planning to do something similar with their study.  I mean they would’t right?  They are the Country Music Association.  I’m sure they thoroughly vetted the researchers and motivations of those who conducted the study.  right?  Country Music has always been loyal to it’s performers and Songwriters.

Then again The Country Music Association is essentially a broadcaster.   From an accounting viewpoint performers and songwriters are on the expense side of the ledger.

Maybe some Nashville songwriters ought to go over and ask just what in the hell the CMA is up to with this study?



PS.  We just noticed that Billboard Senior Editor Glenn Peoples has published a third article on a study streaming increasing sales.   This time-oh man you are not gonna believe this.. are you ready?  I mean are you sitting down? seriously.  I shit you not…  This time he cites an in-house BitTorrent “study” that shows peer to peer filesharing increases sales!

“That’s right! after I download the file for free and it resides on my computer, I go to iTunes and I download a second copy of the file so I have two on my computer”  

He also cites two studies saying similar things that have since been discredited under peer review by actually scientists.  Here is a summary.  

Has Glenn Peoples gone totally pro-piracy?  Citing discredited studies showing P2P files sharing increases sales?  Are you kidding me?  has become Torrent Freak?   Next we’ll start seeing Glenn a the Pirate Party Rallies.   We’re sending him this hat. 





A Response to Steve Albini About The Internet and Musicians by UNSOUND Film Director

Originally posted on The Trichordist:

By Count Eldridge

My rebuttal to Steve Albini’s bullet point post. Steve Albini’s poorly reasoned piece was posted, so I feel obligated to try to correct some of the glaring misinformation. I’ve spent the past 2 years working on a documentary called Unsound that addresses the issues that Steve brings up in his post.

You can read the original story here:

On free global music sharing: “The single best thing that has happened in my lifetime in music, after punk rock, is being able to share music, globally for free. That’s such an incredible development.”

It is only an incredible development if you give CONSENT to share that music. Steve seems to have missed the most important aspect of ‘sharing’. Its not sharing without consent.

On consumer choice: “Record labels, which used to have complete control, are essentially irrelevant. The process of a band exposing itself to the world…

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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.”



Artists, Know Thy Enemy – Who’s Ripping You Off and How…


With all the talk about Spotify and YouTube Music Key, let’s remember the source of the real problem…

Originally posted on The Trichordist:

Musicians have been getting the short end of the stick for a long time. There are no shortage of stories about the wrong doings of managers, booking agents, etc and of course record labels.

But today we find ourselves in a battle with an enemy few of us understand. If we were to believe the writings and ramblings of the tech blogosphere, than they would have us believe that our enemy is our fans. This is simply not true.

The enemy are the for profit businesses making money from our recordings and songwriting illegally. Let’s be clear about this, our battle is with businesses ripping us off by illegally exploiting our work for profit. This is not about our fans. It is about commercial companies in the businesses of profiting from our work, paying us nothing and then telling us to blame our fans. That is the ultimate in cowardice…

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Is Irving Azoff sending a signal to all digital services and is Pandora receiving 5×5?

Trichordist Editor:

Here we go…

Originally posted on MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY:

Is Irving sending a signal to all digital services?  Oh, I just betcha he is.

There’s actually a pretty simple answer to the very public demand letter to YouTube from Irving’s Global Music Rights.  If Irving’s GMR has the public performance rights to these high profile songwriters it’s probably because the writers transferred their songs to GMR from wherever they were.  The songs had to start somewhere.

If those songs transferred out of the ASCAP, BMI and SESAC environment, then it’s likely that none of them are subject to blanket licenses granted by those societies.  That also means that those songs aren’t part of the US government’s iron fisted control over songwriters, either.  Which means that unlike at least ASCAP and BMI, GMR is under no obligation to license anything to anybody.

That means that it’s possible that anyone who had a blanket license with the societies now has to…

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Timing is Everything: Sirius May be Barred from Appealing California Loss to Turtles #irespectmusic

Trichordist Editor:

The Sirius legal smackdown means things don’t look so good for Pandora…

Originally posted on MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY:

Rut ro.  For those of you following along, remember that Flo & Eddie won a tremendous victory against SiriusXM on a motion for summary judgement in federal court before U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez in California in a putative class action on behalf of all pre-72 recordings.

Sirius appealed the Turtles case.

Also recall that the major labels filed a separate case in California state court before California Superior Court Judge Mary H. Strobel.  The labels essentially won that case when California Judge Strobel followed similar reasoning to federal Judge Gutierrez .  However, the California judge handed down her opinion after Sirius filed its appeal in the federal case applying California law.

So because Sirius lost both cases, the Turtles may be able to stop the Sirius appeal in the band’s federal court case if they can rely on the decision in the major label State court case.

Two parallel cases in…

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USA Spotify Streaming Rates Reveal 58% of Streams Are Free, Pays Only 16% Of Revenue

Since we published the Streaming Price Bible we’ve been getting data submissions to crunch the numbers. According to one set of data it appears Spotify is reporting seven different streaming rates (in a single month). But the most interesting discovery in the data is the percentage of free streaming volume and revenue versus paid streaming volume and revenue.

We knew there were two price tiers (Free & Paid) but we didn’t anticipate discovering the other five tiers, even as limited as they are.



As we had suspected, the majority of consumption is generating the least amount of revenue.

Oh, and for those of you keeping score at home the net summed per stream rate, for all streams divided by all revenue is .00352 in the aggregate. That’s .00169 per stream LESS than reported earlier this year in the Streaming Price Bible of .00521. Just another indication that as streaming models mature the price per stream will continue to drop. Add to this that even Spotify executives have admitted as much.



If you have data that looks different than ours, send it our way and let us crunch it. This is the problem when there is such a profound lack of openess and transparency. There also appears to be an overall lack of consistency. Let’s have some real “disruptive innovation” by “sharing” our Spotify statements and comparing the numbers.

[The per play rates noted above are aggregated. In all cases the total amount of revenue is divided by the total number of the streams per service  (ex: $5,210 / 1,000,000 = .00521 per stream). Multiple tiers and pricing structures are all summed together and divided to create an averaged, single rate per play.]


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