The Return of Brand Sponsored Piracy: Google’s Artist Shakedown Continues But This Time They Really, Really, Really Mean It

Trichordist readers will recall our many posts about how Google uses search to drive traffic to unlicensed sites where Google Adsense or Doubleclick serves the advertising that keeps the illegal site operating.  And turns a nice profit for Google.  This is the principal way Google profits from piracy as far as we can tell.

Today there’s a story in the BBC about Google’s latest charm offensive to try to demonstrate to the world–or at least to the European Commission antitrust regulators–that far from profiting from piracy, Google actually fights piracy.

This is, of course, utter bullshit.  We’re not going to go through the whole song and dance again, but take a look at this screen shot showing Google’s Doubleclick serving an ad to Grooveshark.  That would be the adjudicated infringer Grooveshark:

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Here’s what Google told the BBC:

Google has announced changes to its search engine in an attempt to curb online piracy.

The company has long been criticised for enabling people to find sites to download entertainment illegally.

The entertainment industry has argued that illegal sites should be “demoted” in search results.

The new measures, mostly welcomed by music trade group the BPI, will instead point users towards legal alternatives such as Spotify [Google is on the Spotify board so presumably owns shares in Spotify] and Google Play [aka the Genco Pura Olive Oil Company 2.0].

Google will now list these legal services in a box at the top of the search results, as well as in a box on the right-hand side of the page.

Crucially, however, these will be adverts – meaning if legal sites want to appear there, they will need to pay Google for the placement.

The BPI said that while it was “broadly” pleased with Google’s changes, it did not think sites should have to pay.

“There should be no cost when it comes to serving consumers with results for legal services,” a spokesman told the BBC.

Well, allow us to retort:

This is a motherfucking shakedown.

We suspect that’s a more accurate assessment of what the BPI was probably thinking but felt constrained to say.

Combine this with thursdays Digital Music News story and we can only conclude:

Google drives traffic to illegal sites while forcing legitimate sites to pay!  How is this good news?

 

When Iggy Pop can’t live off his art, what chance do the rest have? | The Globe and Mail

But a new reality has tripped him up and it’s the same one shafting artists all across the world: Namely, that everyone wants to listen, and no one wants to pay. This week, Iggy gave a lecture for the British Broadcasting Corp. called Free Music in a Capitalist Society. Artists have always been ripped off by corporations, he said; now the public is in on the free ride, too: “The cat is out of the bag and the new electronic devices, which estrange people from their morals, also make it easier to steal music than to pay for it.”

To keep skinny body and maverick soul together, Iggy’s become a DJ, a car-insurance pitchman and a fashion model. If he had to live off royalties, he said, he’d have to “tend bars between sets.” As I listened to his enthusiastic stoner Midwestern drawl, I thought: If Iggy Pop can’t make it, what message does that send to all the baby Iggys out there? In a society where worth is judged by price, for better or worse, what are you saying to someone when you won’t pay for the thing he’s crafted?

READ THE FULL STORY AT:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/when-iggy-pop-cant-live-off-his-art-what-chance-do-the-rest-have/article21154663/

c3 : DEMONSTRATE TO SUPPORT ARTISTS RIGHTS !

Announcement From c3 (The Content Creators Coalition)

“Google is in the process of systematically destroying our artistic future… if the creative community doesn’t intervene now, and by now, I mean, fucking now — we will be bound to a multigenerational clusterfuck that will take 40 to 50 years to unravel.” - Kurt Sutter Attacks Google: Stop Profiting from Piracy (Guest Column) | Variety

DEMONSTRATE TO SUPPORT ARTISTS RIGHTS
when:  THIS SUNDAY, Oct 19th, at 4:30-5:00pm
where: Google 8th ave btwn 15th and 16th sts in Manhattan)

MARCH WITH US at 4pm sharp from Le Poisson Rouge
(158 Bleecker St., btwn Sullivan and Thompson in Manhattan )
—OR—
MEET US at Kelly Park at 4:15 pm
(W 16th St., btwn 8th and 9th avenue in Manhattan)

This action is sponsored by the c3, the Content Creators Coalition, a non-profit organization dedicated to the achievement of economic justice in the digital domain.

*  Google: Stop the Attack on Artists’ Rights.
*  Google/YouTube: Pay Creators For All Use Of Copyrighted Materials: When Profit Is Being Made, The Artist Must Be Paid:  Support An Artists Right To Choose: Take-Down-Means-Stay-Down!
*  Google: Stop brokering ads to corporate black market sites.

Please Forward

SUPPORT ARTISTS RIGHTS! #supportartistsrights
Join Us: ccc-nyc.org http://ccc-nyc.org/

c3_NYC101814

Shootout at the Fantasy Factory: What’s the Value of a Stream?

Trichordist Editor:

Chris Castle at Music Tech Policy beats us to the punch on more Spotify shenanigans… if 100 streams = 1 song download, why don’t the economics match?

Originally posted on MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY:

The erudite Harley Brown reported in Billboard about Spotify’s artist relations charm offensive in New York that:

[Blake Morgan's] main complaints were manifold, but two were based on the meeting’s central tenets: that the per-stream rate is never going to go up (70 percent of revenue goes to royalties) and 100 song streams equals a sale on the Billboard charts and the U.K.’s Official Charts Company. With regard to the former, both [Mark] Williamson [of Spotify] and [Paul] Pacifico [of the Featured Artist Coalition] stress that Morgan (and a few other malcontents) didn’t pipe down long enough to let Spotify help the uninitiated artists in the room understand their position.

“What I was trying to explain,” Williamson says, exasperation emanating from his voice over the phone, “Is that we’re a revenue share model. How do we increase the amount of revenue — the pot of royalties — which increases the amount we…

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Safe Harbor Not Loophole: Five Things We Could Do Right Now to Make the DMCA Notice and Takedown Work Better

Originally posted on The Trichordist:

By Chris Castle

There has been considerable discussion about how the DMCA notice and takedown procedures are “broken.”  We don’t think that this is quite true—the procedures are manipulated, misunderstood and abused on a grand scale.  That doesn’t mean that the notice and takedown procedure is “broken” any more than the laws against burglary, theft and tax evasion are “broken.”  No statute can control unethical behavior by those who use the law as a flimsy excuse to get away with bad behavior.

Many Internet companies have interpreted the DMCA to permit bad behavior until the victim of the bad behavior notified the bad actor that they were behaving badly—each time they behaved badly.  This “catch me if you can” interpretation of the DMCA was not at all what the Congress had in mind.  We would go further and suggest that not only was it not what the Congress had in mind, it…

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Streaming Is the Future, Spotify Is Not. Let’s talk Solutions.

It’s not that streaming can’t work. It can. It’s that Spotify is a bad business model that has unsustainable economics and exploits artists because it is a wall street financial instrument and not a music company.

We’ve previously published a couple posts on streaming music where we explore how access models and windowing are working for the film industry and could serve as a guide to the record business. We’ve also shown how transactional music purchases have made legal music consumption the best value in the history of recorded music.

The key to building streaming business models that make sense and are sustainable is to increase the subscription fees, utilize well thought-out windowing models and experiment with new pricing tiers for access based services.

Historically the music business has employed the use of special markets such record clubs  (remember 11 CD’s for one penny). It’s not that record clubs were bad, in fact numerous studies found them to be great source of additional revenue if managed in a way that did not cannibalize front line sales. (Remember 12 month record club holdbacks?) Now we need to strike the same balance with streaming services.

So let’s get real, the Spotify business model and streaming math just does not work and can not work in it’s current form.

Here are five suggestions to get music streaming back on track as a viable business model.

1) Minimum Payment Per Play

You want to give your service away? Fine, but artists and rights holders are not going to subsidize your business by devaluing our work. No plays without a minimum royalty–including the “free service”–and all plays pay at paid subscription rates. If you can’t sustain your business doing this, then you need to rethink how your business works. Your bad business model is not our problem. Maybe an unlimited, non-graduated free tier is a really, really, really bad idea. 30 Day trial offer, ok. Virtually unlimited free access, no.

2) Windowing

The music business must embrace windowing to maximize revenues across all distribution channels and platforms. It’s so basic we can’t believe artists and labels are not utilizing this to greater effect. The first 30 days of a new release could be limited to transactional streaming access by the day, week, or the month at different price points. Likewise, perhaps only two songs from an album are made available on streaming platforms for the first year of release. There are many unexplored variations and options.

3) Transactional Streaming

The music business needs to embrace new models such as “transactional streaming” much like VOD exists for film versus transactional downloads or physical product. There is no reason why streaming distributors should have every title, ever released, for one fixed, flat price. Again, new releases in particular should be priced as transactional streams where the consumer can chose between low cost limited access to a new release, or pay more for a transactional download.

4) Tiered Pricing based on Access and Consumer Value Proposition

Just like cable tv and SiriusXM, one possible solution is to create price tiers based on access. For example, catalogs can be curated into genre and lifestyle packages. Creating bundled packages adds value to both the end user and the streaming service. Individual packages can be as little as $4.99 a month, and complete access could priced at $49.99 a month. Again, there are many unexplored variations and options.

5) Move Beyond Stockholm Syndrome

The answer to every attempt to introduce real world economics to the marketplace can not be met with “or else they’ll steal it.” We already know that. They have been stealing it for over a decade (thank you Mr. Ek for your contributions to uTorrent). The film industry is not approaching streaming with a gun to it’s head offering every title ever made on every platform for one low monthly fee. Itunes is the single most successful dedicated online music business ever, and it doesn’t have a “free-tier”.

Isn’t it odd that companies like Pandora and Spotify that are not profitable and don’t support artists are thought to behold some kind of gnostic wisdom of economics that defies all logic and reason? Last year Twitter lost $645 million dollars. Record labels have been profitable for over half a century with a sustainable ecosystem that invests in artists and new talent, while also creating hits and stars. It’s time to leave the rainbow unicorn school of economics and faith healing behind and develop real business models based on real economics.

Anyone remember the dot com bubble? Where is mp3.com now? Things can and do change fast in web/tech. Any talk of the “record industry” without MySpace in 2004 and you would have been laughed out to the room. Where is MySpace now? Spotify can (and very well may) quickly become MySpace. So let us all focus on how to make streaming actually work for all stakeholders and not only those with equity… it’s just math.

RELATED:

Who will be the First Fired Label Execs over Spotify Fiasco & Cannibalization?

Why Spotify is not Netflix (But Maybe It Should Be)

Mythbusting : Music Is Too Expensive!?

Marc Ribot Talks Respecting Artists’ Rights | The Talk House

We’re organizing to fight back. We’re going to give value to the ineffable, uncountable and immeasurable beauty being destroyed. We’re going to give voice to the creators whose work — and lives — are being devalued by tech-corporate greed. We’re going to fight for the sustainability of the culture we all enjoy. We don’t have the lobbying millions of the tech-corporate giants, but we’re going to win. Because the truth is a powerful slingshot.

Editor’s note: If you’re in the New York area, by all means go to “Benefit for Content Creators Coalition (c3): Defend Artists’ Rights: Economic Justice in the Digital Domain!” on Saturday, October 18, 2014 at Roulette.  The show features: John Zorn, Eric Slick (Dr. Dog), Steve Coleman, Marc Ribot, Henry Grimes, Marina Rosenfeld, Trevor Dunn, Brandon Seabrook, Satomi Matsuzaki (Deerhoof), Amir ElSaffar and more. You can buy tickets here.

READ THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE:
http://thetalkhouse.com/music/talks/marc-ribot-talks-respecting-artists-rights/

Mythbusting : Music Is Too Expensive!?

trichordist:

Something to consider amongst the chatter of proposals to reduce streaming subscription costs. We couldn’t think of anything more silly, and here’s why…

Originally posted on The Trichordist:

Music has never been less expensive to own, legally. We often hear that if music were cheaper, artists would sell more, but this is simply not true. Myth busted, read on.

Digital Music News – Worse Than Worst Ever? Tommy Boy Starts Number-Crunching Again…

“The first Beatles album in America came out in 1964 at $4.98 list,” Tommy Boy continued. “In today’s dollars that would be $35 for a 28 minute, monophonic 8-song album.”

In other words, using today’s pricing of $9.99 for an Itunes album would have only cost $1.35 in 1964… Even if you wanted to entertain a $20 CD (are there any $20 CDs these days?), the same would have only cost $2.70 in 1964. That’s nearly half of what it actually cost then.

So in the very worst case scenario, music is STILL 45% less expensive today than it was in 1964! And that’s calculated on…

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Will Spotify IPO Show Managers and Artists Got Options and Stock? Who Will Get Legal Scrutiny?

I can’t wait for the Spotify IPO filing.  That’s when Spotify must disclose all kinds of things.  Like which artists, artists representatives and managers  got stock options.

It’s  entirely possible that a bunch of artists and managers are gonna find themselves on the wrong end of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s pointy stick.

Why? When you present yourself as an expert in the music business and sing the praises of a music business company  going public  without disclosing that you have a financial stake you can end up in a lot of trouble.

Those managers, artist representatives  and artists who have been blogging or writing guest editorials  concerning the financial viability of Spotify and streaming  have the biggest problems.  An attorney can argue that they were part of a conspiracy to defraud investors if the company goes belly up because it has no viable business model.

Even those that spoke at the invitation-only Spotify meetings the last few weeks may be in trouble as well. There may have been  potential investors  in the room or what was said may get repeated to potential investors.  The SEC doesn’t like it when you don’t disclose your financial stake in those situations public or private.

If someone somewhere knows that the company is a piece of shit this is PUMP AND DUMP and then EVERYONE gets investigated. And if you didn’t disclose your financial stake in the company? You’re gonna look guilty whether you are or not.   Might as well put a big target on your back.

Shit, you may be in trouble if you took anything of value from Spotify?  Data? Promotion?  Promise of a job?

Doesn’t matter how smart you may think you are,  it just takes one idiot to screw it up for everyone.

So how do we know that Spotify is gonna tank?  Do the math.   $5 a month streaming subscription even at 100 million households (the penetration of cable and satellite)  70% of revenue to rightsholders means that recorded music is a $4.2 billion dollar business.  That is mass adoption of Spotify shrinks the business dramatically from it’s current 7 billion.  THIS IS SIMPLE MATH AND ANY EXECUTIVE WHO CAN”T DO THIS MATH SHOULD BE FIRED.

But it is highly unlikely that all the streaming services put together will ever reach that level of paid subscriptions.   Why?   they offer a free version.   Why would 100 million subscribers pay for something they get for free?  It’s more likely that streaming creates a much more dramatic drop in recorded music revenue.

Do you think someone like  Lucian Grainge is gonna let his revenue get cut in half? or worse?  No he isn’t.  Therefore Spotify in it’s current incarnation and model dies.  If you don’t want to be investigated by the SEC you better hope that this happens before the IPO.

We also believe (we have access to Soundscan too!) the widely reported dramatic drop in paid downloads radically understates the problem to record labels. Digital downloads have a higher “net” to the recorded music business than physical sales.  Physical sales have much higher expenses associated with their manufacture, distribution and delivery.   Outside of the magic unicorn land of Silicon Valley, profits do matter.  And profits are gonna get nuked this year.  This means real job cuts and real salary reductions.

Finally we should mention we had  moles in many meetings on the recent Spotify roadshow.  Including the manager only meetings.  WE KNOW WHO ATTENDED AND WHAT WAS SAID.  This could really end up being a shit show.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Later this week:  How  record executives may be PERSONALLY  liable in potential lawsuits that argue that artists were defrauded in the deals labels cut with Spotify.

 

 

 

Is Google still serving ads on illegal sites?

I searched a website during my panel at Columbia Law School. It’s a website that is well known for infringing content. I also captured the source code. There is code on this website that shows this site is expecting advertising from parts of Google’s Advertising ecosystem. I have reason to believe this site and advertising code will shortly disappear. II post these screenshots here to preserve the evidence.

 

Dilandau.eu  (redirectes to dilandua.la)  by Google’s own DMCA Transparency Report ranks this site as #3 in the number of takedown notices received.

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Here is website.

 

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“served” source code clearly showing the website is expecting “ads by google” to be served into this page.  It also displays some sort of publisher ID which would presumably identify this website to the Google Ad servers.

 

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A second block of code farther down the page which also seems to be waiting for google ads to be served.  Again note the publisher ID.

 

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