@IMPALAmusic Takes Action at European Commission on YouTube Abuses Against @zoecello

trichordist:

IMPALA Takes Action on Behalf Of Zoë Keating

Originally posted on MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY:

Thanks to the efforts of music makers and the fans and journalists who love them–who clearly respect music more than YouTube does–the latest round of abuse on Zoë Keating from YouTube has resonated all the way to Brussels where indie label trade group IMPALA launched a new initiative against Google inspired by the reaction to YouTube’s treatment of Zoë.  Paul Resnikoff of Digital Music News, Andrew Orlowski of The Register and Stuart Dredge of The Guardian deserve special recognition for doggedly sticking to the story despite Google’s Spotify-like whisper campaign to discredit Zoë.

IMPALA’s press release today in Brussels tells the story:

Independent music companies launched a unique Digital Action Plan today, calling for a new European industrial policy to drive the digital market through the cultural and creative sectors, which account for 4,2% of EU GDP and 7.1 million EU jobs.

The role of culture in Europe’s digital market will be one of…

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Zoë Keating vs YouTube: The End of an Artist’s Right to Choose Where Their Music Appears on The Internet.

This is a call to action folks.

Many of you may already be aware of this blog post from  Zoë Keating detailing the new terms of the Google/YouTube “Music Key” service.  YouTube’s “communications manager” Matt McLernon has followed the Spotify approach and attacked Zoë Keating’s story as “patently false” although it looks like Google is not exactly backing up their “communications manager“.

I’m pretty sure that Google is not truthful about their conversation with Zoë–you know Google’s lying when their lips are moving–if for no other reason than I believe Zoë’s notes of her conversation with Google are accurate.  Not to mention that the description of the Music Key deal points from Zoë’s notes shows Google tying the YouTube and Music Key deals together in pretty much the same way as the Music Key deal that Google threatened indie labels with last year.

But I’m not sure if the mainstream press understands the consequences of the way Google has tied together the aggressive and anti-competitive terms of service for Music Key with YouTube.

Here’s how Zoë Keating describes these new terms for Music Key:

“1) All of my catalog must be included in both the free and premium music service. Even if I don’t deliver all my music, because I’m a music partner, anything that a 3rd party uploads with my info in the description [i.e., user generated] will be automatically included in the music service, too [i.e, Google’s Music Key streaming service]. 

2) All songs will be set to “montetize”, meaning there will be ads on them [and the artist has no choice in the matter].

3) I will be required to release new music on Youtube at the same time I release it anywhere else. So no more releasing to my core fans first on Bandcamp and then on iTunes.

4) All my catalog must be uploaded at high resolution, according to Google’s standard which is currently 320 kbps.

5) The contract lasts for 5 years.”

Why is this so terrible?

1)  YouTube allows certain artists and labels with special YouTube accounts to have access to its ContentID system.  ContentID tracks user generated content and allows artists to monetize or block that content in an automated way.  While YouTube creates a whack a mole problem by indiscriminately allowing user generated content to be posted on YouTube, ContentID provides a very imperfect solution to the problem that YouTube created.

This is important because the new terms that are being forced on artists like Zoë ties access to the Content ID system to participation in the new Music Key service.  Artists who refuse to participate in the new Music Key service would lose the ability to “monetize” (i.e. earn revenue) from the use of their songs on YouTube.  Further, artists who reject the Music Key deal would no longer be able to block unauthorized uploads of their music on YouTube–unless the artists track down each upload and send a separate DMCA notice.

What Zoe was told is pretty much exactly what the indie labels were told last year according to Rich Bengloff of A2IM:

Our members have been informed that if they do not sign up to these revised terms, YouTube has given notice to them that YouTube will remove/block our members’ and their artists’ musical repertoire from the entire YouTube service, not just the new audio music streaming service. As YouTube is one of the leading music outlets the effect on our members on the promotion and monetization of their artists will be severe as the premium videos our members create will be blocked and the User Generated Content videos created by consumers using our members artists’ music will cease to be monetized via advertising. Our members will then be forced to engage in the “whack-a-mole” process of getting these non-monetized videos off of YouTube, so as not to detract attention from services that are paying our Independent members, as was not anticipated when Congress enacted the DMCA in 1998.

In other words by saying “no” to Music Key, YouTube will still feature user generated videos on their service AND you won’t get any money.  Think about it. This is like saying “no” to a record deal but results in the label having your songs forever and paying you nothing!   YouTube is EVIL.

2) Because the new terms dictate that ALL your music must be available on YouTube as soon as you release it somewhere else,  there are no more exclusives! Your music cannot appear on the Internet anywhere unless it’s also on YouTube.   Why?  Because YouTube thinks they can use its monopoly position to enforce this tying deal against independent artists.

+++++++++++

On Cracker’s last album Berkeley to Bakersfield, we were able to do interesting cross promotions with our album precisely because we could offer exclusives to various services in different windows.   For instance, we gave Rolling Stone the exclusive rights to stream a song for one week.  In exchange, we were featured on the front page of Rolling Stone Country.  We also cut a deal with Amazon Prime to stream our entire album exclusively for one week in advance of the record release.  In exchange, our album received  favorable promotion and placement  across the entire Amazon service.  Both of these exclusives were key parts of the strategy to promote and sell our new album.   The YouTube Music Key service undermines this exclusivity to block us from exploiting these windows on our next album.

While it’s tempting to see Zoë’s experience as just another way that streaming services are screwing artists, notice that we haven’t even talked about the horrendously low royalty that YouTube pays.  That’s a complaint for another day.

Today, the issue is different.  Google is imposing dangerous anti-competitive moves on artists to screw over the artist’s fans and Google’s competitors.   This move will reduce competition and give artists and consumers less choice.

I believe that this is a dangerous precedent and should be examined by the Federal Trade Commission.  I urge you to write the FTC and ask them to look into this matter.  I understand that you can reach the chair of the FTC at this email address:  hstevenson@ftc.gov

Here’s what I’m writing:

Chairwoman Edith Ramirez and Director Bureau of Competition Deborah L. Feinstein
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580

Dear Chairwoman Ramirez and Director Feinstein:

I’m writing to call your attention to Google’s anticompetitive business practices described by cellist and independent artist Zoë Keating in her viral blog post What Should I Do About Youtube? that has been reported in The Guardian, Die Zeit, Online, Hypebot, Gizmodo, Forbes, Digital Music News and many other news channels.

Google is using its monopoly market power to force independent artists to grant terms to Google’s “Music Key” service by tying the Music Key to its YouTube video service.  As I’m sure you know, a substantial number of videos on YouTube are music videos and YouTube is the largest video search platform in the world.  By forcing terms onto independent artists, I believe that many artists are being duped into agreeing to terms for the Music Key service that grotesquely favor Google without understanding the implications.

I understand that Google is conducting a whisper campaign with journalists in an attempt to discredit Zoë Keating as was documented in Digital Music News, because she merely questioned the fairness of Google’s terms.

As I understand it, the key anticompetitive terms that Google is attempting to tie to its YouTube service are:

1.  Those artists who fail to submit to Google’s oppressive terms for Music Key will have their produced videos removed from YouTube;

2.  If artists agree to submit to the Music Key terms, Google requires that they give up the valuable property right to exclusively window their releases on different platforms because Google requires that all releases be made simultaneously on YouTube and Music Key with any other service;

3.  All of the artist’s catalog must be set to “monetize” which means that Google can sell advertising against all of the videos whether the artist wants it or not;

4.  If the artist does not submit to Google’s Music Key terms, then user generated videos of the artist’s work will be allowed to play on YouTube while the artist’s produced videos will be blocked from YouTube; and

5.  Artists who do not submit to Google’s terms for MusicKey will be prohibited from using YouTube’s ContentID system so will be forced to rely on the hopelessly outdated DMCA notice and takedown system rather than the automated take down available through ContentID.

Independent artists have no way to take on anticompetitive behavior by Google in the courts.  We rely on the government to force companies like Google to play fair.  I urge you to look into this matter immediately as every day more artists are being duped into signing these unfair deals with no more choice than our fans have to negotiate Google’s onerous privacy policy.

Zoë Keating’s experience is emblematic of all of us and I implore you to listen to her voice.

Thank you.

David Lowery

 

 

The Revolution Shall be Monetized: Zoë Keating Confirms YouTube Learned Nothing From Indie Labels

Trichordist Editor:

Artists who do not stand up to defend their rights, will lose their rights. Please support Zoë Keating by distributing the links to these reports and posts.

Originally posted on MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY:

…there was lunch in the larger, first floor cafeteria where, in the corner, on a small stage there was a man, playing a guitar, who looked like an aging singer-songwriter Mae’s parents listened to.

“Is that….?”

“It is,” Annie said, not breaking her stride.  “There’s someone every day.   Musicians, comedians, writers….We book them a year ahead.  We have to fight them off.”

The singer-songwriter was signing passionately…but the vast majority of the cafeteria was paying little to no attention.

“I can’t imagine the budget for that, ” Mae said.

“Oh god, we don’t pay them.”

The Circle, by Dave Eggers

Once again, Zoë Keating provides a leading voice for artists rights and leads by personal example.  In her compelling viral blog post, “What Should I Do About YouTube,” Zoë describes a recent encounter with the demands of YouTube the definitive “new boss” monopoly video service owned by Google.

She…

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* MUST READ * YouTube’s Heartbreaking Extortion Of Musicians Begins… | Zoë Keating Explains New Rules

Below is the opener, after that – it gets worse…

“My Google Youtube rep contacted me the other day. They were nice and took time to explain everything clearly to me, but the message was firm: I have to decide. I need to sign on to the new Youtube music services agreement or I will have my Youtube channel blocked.
This new music service agreement covers my Content ID account and it includes mandatory participation in Youtube’s new subscription streaming service, called Music Key, along with all that participation entails. Here are some of the terms I have problems with:

1) All of my catalog must be included in both the free and premium music service. Even if I don’t deliver all my music, because I’m a music partner, anything that a 3rd party uploads with my info in the description will be automatically included in the music service too.

2) All songs will be set to “montetize”, meaning there will be ads on them.

3) I will be required to release new music on Youtube at the same time I release it anywhere else. So no more releasing to my core fans first on Bandcamp and then on iTunes.

4) All my catalog must be uploaded at high resolution, according to Google’s standard which is currently 320 kbps.

5) The contract lasts for 5 years.”

Seriously the whole post is an absolute must read, in full, probably at least two or three times to have it all sink in.

READ THE FULL POST ON ZOE KEATING’S BLOG:
http://zoekeating.tumblr.com/post/108898194009/what-should-i-do-about-youtube

Artist Rights Villians: Pandora’s Christopher Harrison

It’s common for lawyers to try to defend their poor moral choices in clients by saying, “I was just the lawyer,” kind of like “I was just following orders.”  If you were talking about a criminal defense lawyer or someone who chose to defend a controversial bad guy because everyone is entitled to a defense, that would be one thing.  Particularly if the lawyer was a poorly compensated public defender.  But when you’re talking about someone who takes a job complete with stock options that makes them rich, that “I was just the lawyer” thing is harder to rationalize.

Pandora’s Assistant General Counsel Christopher Harrison not only brings with him the Pandora baggage, but as Billboard reports, he’s seen this movie and he knows how it ends.  In Billboard’s post about the payola issues in Merlin’s direct deal with Pandora we discover some details about Harrison’s past that every artist and songwriter should know:

Merlin’s critics [who might they be, we wonder?] say the deal could backfire on artists and labels in another way. They point out that if incremental play produces an overall average per-stream royalty rate that is lower than the statutory rate, the Copyright Royalty Board could take the lower number as the market rate and lower the overall statutory figure in its revisions.

Why? Back in 2007-2010, when ASCAP and BMI rate court judges were involved in litigation between DMX and performance rights societies, the judges examined the direct licensing deals DMX cut with publishers. During that process, judges did not review the advances or any of the other aspects of the deal, and only looked at the reduced per-store royalty rate Consequently, in the case of BMI, this resulted in the per-store negotiated rate falling from $36.36 to a per-location fee of $18.91, much to the chagrin of the publishers, who stayed a part of the PROs’ blanket licenses. The ASCAP rate court returned a similar finding.

(Did we mention that Pandora vp of business affairs and assistant general counsel Chris Harrison was DMX’s vp of business affairs at the time of the rate court ruling in a lower per-location blanket fee?)

Harrison seems to have a thing about screwing artists and especially songwriters.  As Billboard reports, he has a particular modus operandi of twisting up a combination of direct deals with the government rate court’s boot on songwriters necks to profit his company and ultimately himself.  As former Googler Tim Quirk might say, Harrison  seems to have a royalty fetish.

You might even think that Pandora hired Harrison because he already made his bones screwing songwriters while he was at DMX.  Being “just the lawyer” when a certain group of people gets screwed once might be coincidence–but doing it twice at both DMX and Pandora is a little too coincidental.  What will he do for an encore?  You might get the idea that the guy actually likes it.

Meet the new boss, worse than the old boss–and we won’t get fooled again.

Google May Continue Driving Traffic To Pirate Sites After DMCA Notices by Using Its Google Alerts Product

thetrichordist:

Google’s ploy to get around 345 million shakedown notices

Originally posted on MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY:

Searchenginewatch reports that Google received 345 million takedown notices during 2014 for search results alone–i.e, not including YouTube, Blogger or other Google properties–and it also doesn’t count the links that Google repackages and sends out through Google Alerts.

If you’ve been following the daily updates in the Google Transparency Report, this 345 million number will come as no surprise, as Google has been clocking about 30 million notices a month for a while now (currently even higher at 36 million for the last 30 days).  But what about the links to pirate content that Google delivers to your inbox daily through Google Alerts along with social media links so you can “share” those links to others through Google+, Facebook and Twitter?

Janita G Alert Email

Why so many DMCA notices?  Google would like you to believe that the high number of DMCA notices is due to aggressive tactics by copyright owners.  The truth…

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A Guide to Music Performance Royalties, Part 1

Trichordist Editor:

A nice primer for musicians and songwriters from Music Tech Policy.

Originally posted on MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY:

Let’s start at the beginning.  Broadly speaking, each recording of a song contains two copyrights: the copyright in the “musical work” or what is commonly called the “song” and the copyright in the recording of the song, commonly called the “track” or the “master”.

90% of all mistakes made by anyone in discussions of the online music business (and really the music business in general) starts right there. If you made this mistake, don’t feel self-conscious.  You are not alone, believe me.  Sometimes shockingly not alone.

Ownership and the Inception of CreationA song is not a recording and a recording is not a song. Each can be, and usually is, created by different people.  Songs are created by a “songwriter” (usually teams of songwriters coming together to write a single songs or many songs).  Recordings are created by “artists,” usually teams of artists known as a group or…

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Involuntarily Distribution Business Subsidies | East Bay Ray

One of the talking points that various tech company commentators, academics and bloggers have used to try to justify companies exploiting an artist’s work without consent (a loophole in safe harbor) is that it would lessen the barrier for tech companies to start up. The idea is that creators should be required to give something up to facilitate this goal. Business start-ups are all well and good, but to require anyone to involuntarily subsidize a business, internet or otherwise, with something they have put time, effort, money, and skill into is extremely problematic.

Would these same people advocate that landlords and utility companies also give up income and the right of consent to help internet companies? That would also make it easier for them to start. But no one has suggested that.

It could be ruinous for creators to be required to be involuntarily involved in start-ups that may or not succeed, tying them to businesses that the artists has no way to vet to see if they even know how to distribute competently or honestly. If they are to survive, artists need to examine their licensees and distributors. I’ve seen many artist’s careers die prematurely from incompetent, greedy or dishonest businesses. (Compulsory licenses that are a last resort to negotiation, rather than the first resort to eliminate negotiation, is an alternative that has for decades shown itself to ensure artist’s sustainability.)

To put it into personal terms, I shouldn’t be forced, or any person for that matter, into being a lab rat for some click bait experiment. And then if the experiment is successful, none of the content creators share in any of the IPO rewards. A bit un-American I’d say and bad policy, it does not allocate rewards according to risk.

History has shown that exploitation of another person’s work with little compensation or without their consent to insure an enterprise’s survival is fraught with ethical and moral issues. If internet companies can not make money selling a product or service on merit and integrity, and treating the people that supply their “product” justly and with respect, something is not right. No matter how well intentioned by well meaning people, economic philosophies that ignore consent or fair compensation, rarely turn out good for society.

– – –
East Bay Ray is the guitarist, co-founder and one of two main songwriters for the band Dead Kennedys. He has been speaking out on issues facing independent artists—on National Public Radio, at Chico State University, and on panels for SXSW, Association of Independent Music Publishers, California Lawyers for the Arts, SF Music Tech conferences, Hastings Law School and Boalt Hall Law School. Ray has also met with members of the U.S. Congress in Washington, D.C. to advocate for artists’ rights.

Artist Rights Leaders: Taylor Swift

0202

 

After the Charlie Hebdo tragedy, we thought we should start recognizing and praising those who stand up for artist rights.  We will also identify those who oppose artist rights and tell you why we think they are villains.  Not all of these people will be famous and you may not recognize some of their names, but that’s kind of the point.  We also want to emphasize that we’re not comparing anyone to anyone else, we’re just appreciating people for what they do and who they are–on both sides.

When we look back on the last year, there’s probably no one who did more for artist rights than Taylor Swift.  She really did not need to take on these issues, she could easily have sat back and let the money roll in.

And yet she did.  She put her career on the line and challenged the definitive “new boss” digital business–Spotify.  She challenged them in a very straightforward way by simply saying no.  Taylor had a lot to lose, and she went above and beyond to stand up to the “new boss.”

Spotify’s Daniel Ek revealed himself and did his best to play the “Lars card”–he talked down to her and attacked her.  Not as badly as the calculated and well-financed humiliation of Metallica by Napster’s litigation PR team, but a strain of it.  Can you imagine Steve Jobs doing that?  No way.  But that’s OK, we finally got the evidence on who this guy Ek really is and what his company really stands for.  Same old same old.

Taylor also showed that you don’t need YouTube, either–and she turned her team loose to present herself on YouTube the way she wanted, not the way YouTube wanted to force her to be presented.

She challenged The Man 2.0 by simply being who she was and exercising her rights as an artist–the very rights that the “new boss” constantly tries to take away from us.  It’s really simple:  The new boss needs hits, and hits don’t need the new boss.

And Taylor Swift showed us that artists can be strong and classy and successful, all at the same time.  She reminded us that it’s OK to take care of our business the way each of us want.  And she said it in the Wall Street Journal!

Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for.

 

Satire is Serious Business

Originally posted on MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY:

I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death…

Though he flick my shoulders with his whip, I will not tell him which way the fox ran.
With his hoof on my breast, I will not tell him where the black boy hides in the swamp.
I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death; I am not on his pay-roll.

Conscientious Objectorby Edna St. Vincent Millay

It’s hard not to love the French in general and it’s actually quite impossible for me.  I realized I wasn’t going to win this one the first time I saw a McDonald’s on the Champs-Élysées and felt like I’d just been stabbed.  Or being moved to tears by Edith Piaf singing La Marseillaise (which is how I learned to roll my “r” in French, or try to).  Too late, I thought, they’ve really got…

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