Sons of Anarchy’s Kurt Sutter Is A Rock Star for Creators Rights

We love Kurt Sutter’s unapologetic response to Google and Silicon Valley’s assault on creators. Below are links to Kurt’s two editorials that are essential reading for all creators to understand what the “internet economy” means for artists of all disciplines.

Kurt Sutter Attacks Google: Stop Profiting from Piracy (Guest Column) | Variety

Google is in the process of systematically destroying our artistic future, and more importantly, the future of our children and grandchildren. They’re spending tens of millions of dollars each year on eroding creative copyright laws. I believe that 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.

The last time this happened was in the 1950s, when the tobacco industry spent millions to hide the truth, and convince everyone that smoking cigarettes wasn’t really dangerous to your health.

Earlier this year, Kurt took to writing a response in Slate to an editorial by Google Lobbyist Marvin Ammori (which lead to a later editorial disclosure of Mr. Ammori’s relationships).

Not-So-Zen and the Art of Voluntary Agreements | Slate

Every writer, producer, actor, musician, director, tech wizard, and fine artist working today needs to be aware of what this all means for our future—we will lose the ability to protect and profit from our own work. Every kid out there who aspires to be an actor or musician or artist: This is your future that’s at stake. More importantly, everyone who enjoys quality entertainment: This impacts you most of all. Content excellence cannot sustain itself if it loses its capacity to reward the talent that creates it. Consider this clunky analogy: If your local car dealership started selling your favorite luxury car for $1,000, then $100, then started giving it away, what do you think would happen to the quality of that vehicle? Before long, the manufacturer would be forced to let go of the skilled laborer, the artisan, and the craftsman, and eventually cut back on everything in the production process. And before long, that fabulous, high-end car you so enjoyed will be a sheet of warped plywood on top of two rusty cans.

Yep, it’s cheap, and it’s shit.

Among the arguments that Kurt brings to light are the use of Merchants Of Doubt tactics by Silicon Valley interests, the mechanics employed by Google and YouTube detailed by The Digital Citizens Alliance and the ability for creatives of all disciplines to join Creative Future for a unified voice against these forces of exploitation.

Spotify’s Daniel Ek is Really Bad At Simple Math, “Artists Will Make a Decent Living Off Streaming In Just a Few Years”

The future of music for artist revenue streams seems more uncertain than ever. Digital Music News is reporting a quote from Spotify’s Daniel Ek on CNN Money which appears to show the failure of the companies CEO to perform simple math.

It should be noted that Daniel Ek was also the CEO of uTorrent, “the world’s most popular Bit-Torrent client” which is advertising funded.

Spotify CEO: “Artists Will Make a Decent Living Off Streaming In Just a Few Years” | Digital Music News

CNN: At what point can an artist survive on a Spotify income?

Ek: Well, I mean, the interesting thing here is that we’re just in its infancy when it comes to streaming. And we just last week had an artist announcement where we basically said if there would be 40 million subscribers paying for a service like Spotify, it would be more than anything else in the entire music industry, including iTunes.

We don’t want to say Mr.Ek is lying, but he does appear to be very bad at simple math and to be misinformed about the actual size of the record business and the revenue being generated by Apple’s Itunes.

Is anyone actually capable of doing simple math in a spreadsheet? Here goes. 40m Spotify Subs at $10 a month is only $3.3b in annual revenue to artists and rights holders at paying out 70% of gross. How is $3.3b “more than” the current $15b total annual global revenue or the $7b in domestic revenue in the US?

Here’s the simple math…

40,000,000 * $84 = $3,360,000,000

$84 dollars per subscriber annually is calculated at $10 per month per subscriber paying out 70% to Artists & Rights Holders or, $7 per month. $7 per month, multiplied by 12 months equals $84 per year, per subscriber payable to Artists and Rights Holders.

40m Subscribers x’s $84 per year = $3.3b in annual global revenue to artists and rights holders (assuming they really are paying out 70% of gross).

Simple math.

If you are an artist you might also read these links below:

Music Streaming Math, Can It All Add Up?

Venture Capitalist Admits Artists Can Not Make A Living On Streaming Royalties…

The Internet Empowered Artist? What 1 Million Streams Means To You!

Streaming Price Index : Now with YouTube pay rates!

It appears to us that music streaming can only truly be profitable to those with participating equity in the streaming company itself. Those with equity are leveraging their catalogs of assets against the potential revenue of an IPO (in which the catalog of assets is being leveraged for that equity). Thus far however, it appears that the artists and songwriters who have created those assets as the basis for that equity leverage do not participate in any profit sharing that the equity shares may earn.

So it’s not that music streaming can not be profitable, it’s just that it can not be profitable (or equitable) to artists.

Please tell us which artists are being compensated from the $3b sale of Beats music to Apple? Let’s see a show of hands… Bueller… Bueller… Bueller…

Remember when we were told that in countries where music streaming was the most successful that transactional sales also increased? We’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you too, and cheap. More food for thought below.

Streaming Isn’t Saving the Music Industry After All, Data Shows… | Digital Music News

Album Sales Hit A New Low | Billboard

No Surprise Here: Spotify Streams Soar While Track Sales Fall | Billboard

 

David Lowery: Here’s how Pandora is destroying musicians | Salon

David Lowery has become both beloved and notorious over the last year as one of the musicians most critical of the ways musicians are paid in the digital era. The Camper van Beethoven and Cracker singer brings an artist’s rage and a quant’s detached rigor to his analysis of the music business.

He’s currently fired up about a federal lawsuit filed in New York in which several record labels have sued Pandora (and before that, Sirius FM) for neglecting to pay royalties for songs recorded before Feb. 15, 1972. Here’s how Billboard summarizes the suit: “The labels say both digital music services take advantage of a copyright loophole, since the master recording for copyright wasn’t created federally until 1972. … But the labels claim that their master recordings are protected by individual state copyright laws and therefore deserve royalty payments.”

Lowery thinks the loophole provides a way for Pandora to simply not pay older musicians for their work — while profiting from it themselves. The case could get bigger and change in strange ways, with broad implications.

READ THE FULL STORY AT SALON:
http://www.salon.com/2014/08/31/david_lowery_heres_how_pandora_is_destroying_musicians/

Copyright Stifles Innovation And Creativity! (Says The Internet): It Doesn’t; And Here’s Why | Nova.Edu

By Stephen Carlisle, Nova Southeastern University

If you read the internet, copyright, and especially long copyright terms are an unfathomable evil. In their eyes copyright “hinders learning, destroys our cultural legacy, hurts innovation and the general public, but most importantly it impedes filmmakers, artists, DJ’s and other content creators that need to be able to build upon the work of others to create new content”. 1 There are lots of dire pronouncements, with lots of invective and insults hurled, particularly at the Walt Disney Company (quote “responsible for one of the greatest thefts in world history”) 2. Yet as typical with such cyberspace broadsides, there is very little explanation of precisely how this suppression of innovation occurs.

That’s because copyright doesn’t suppress either creativity or innovation. And here’s why:

READ THE FULL POST AT NOVA SOUTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY:
http://copyright.nova.edu/copyright-does-not-stifle-innovation-creativity/

“Fifteen years of utter bollocks”: how a generation’s freeloading has starved creativity | New Statesman

Arguments for digital piracy are drivel – it’s high time we steered away from this cultural cliff, argues author Chris Ruen.

Piracy may feel like victimless “free culture” to the user, but they are in fact participating in a digital black market. It’s not about information wanting to be free, but rather it’s about exploitative black marketeers and willfully blind tech companies wanting to get rich. They are simply capitalising on loopholes in the regulatory framework. In this sense, mass digital piracy is a symptom of underdevelopment. It’s the Internet Third World, with outdoor markets hawking counterfeit goods and purveyors bribing the local cops to look the other way.

Tech companies will go on skimming profits off the top of this black market until enlightened governments cooperate to squeeze out these illicit profiteers in an effective and transparent manner. As Google’s own Chief Economist Hal Varian has written, “all that is required is the political will to enforce intellectual property rights”.

READ THE FULL STORY AT THE NEW STATESMAN:
http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2014/07/fifteen-years-utter-bollocks-how-generation-s-freeloading-has-starved-creativity

Weatherley: ‘Cutting off ad revenue to illegal sites is key to piracy battle’ | Music Week

“Following the money is the key to shutting down the vast majority of websites that host illegal material,” said Weatherley. “This report explores a number of issues surrounding the piracy debate and I hope that it will spur further discussion both in the UK and, given the international nature of this problem, in other countries across the world.

“As the Intellectual Property Adviser to the Prime Minister, I feel that it is my role to highlight just how damaging piracy is to the UK economy. It is paramount that we curb advertising revenue that is going to pirates who are, in turn, seriously damaging our creative industries.”

Commander Steve Head, head of economic crime at City of London Police, said: “Disrupting revenue to pirate websites is vital to combating online intellectual property piracy and I therefore welcome the recommendations in Mike Weatherley’s report. We must take the profit out of this type of criminality and where legitimate companies, such as payment providers, are facilitating that profit they must be held to account if they fail to act.

READ THE FULL STORY AT MUSIC WEEK:
http://www.musicweek.com/news/read/weatherley-cutting-off-ad-revenue-to-illegal-sites-is-key-to-piracy-battle/058830

2.5 Million P2P Users Worldwide Illegally Shared The Top 60 Video Game Titles | Digital Journal

It’s not just music…

“With most of these games being $20 and $50 or more to download, the loss of revenue from this amount of piracy is huge,” said Kyle Reed, Co-Founder and COO, CEG TEK. “There’s been a lot of debate about whether or not piracy is really an issue for the massively successful video game business, but if publishers like Electronic Arts are losing nearly $30M a day in potential revenue on 13 of their hottest titles, that’s something to be concerned about.”

READ THE FULL STORY AT DIGITAL JOURNAL:
http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/1983503

Songwriter’s Pie Anyone? | Shelly Peiken @ HuffPo

Financially, it’s less and less possible for a songwriter to make a decent living. I know of a few who have contributed to hit songs that are still having trouble paying their rent. I can’t help but wonder about the aspiring up and comer with big dreams and empty pockets, pockets that might still be pretty bare even after their dream comes true. Some reason that if they get their name on a few big hits it will open the door to bigger and better opportunities. They may be right about that but it remains to be seen whether the resulting royalties will allow them to make a down payment or put their kids through college.

READ THE FULL POST AT THE HUFFINGTON POST:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shelly-peiken/songwriting-hollywood-music-industry_b_5509579.html

Artists Take To The Streets to Protest Google/YouTube in NYC | NY Times

Last week, the dispute spilled out into the streets of New York. On Saturday afternoon, a few dozen supporters of the Content Creators Coalition, an artists’ advocacy group, picketed Google’s office in Chelsea, playing New Orleans-style marches on horns and carrying signs like “Economic justice in the digital domain” and “What YouTube pays? Nothing.”

Marc Ribot, a guitarist who has played with stars like Tom Waits and Elvis Costello, summarized how the larger conflict over streaming revenue affected artists’ careers.

“If we can’t make enough from digital media to pay for the record that we’ve just made,” Mr. Ribot said, “then we can’t make another one.”

READ THE FULL STORY AT THE NEW YORK TIMES:
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/25/business/media/small-music-labels-see-youtube-battle-as-part-of-war-for-revenue.html

Rosanne Cash Testifies Before Congress In Defense Of Artists’ Rights | American Songwriter

I am a singer/songwriter, author and performer. I wanted to be a songwriter from the time I was a teenager. I thought songwriting was an honorable, even noble profession. I believe that songwriting is far beyond just self-­‐expression, but a powerful means of service: we, songwriters and musicians, help people to understand themselves better by helping them to feel— through music. We shine light on the dark corners of the soul. We help reveal the nooks and crannies of our shared humanity. We provide a community for the language of the heart. As Hans Christian Andersen said, where words fail, music speaks.

READ THE FULL STORY AT AMERICAN SONGWRITER:
http://www.americansongwriter.com/2014/06/songwriter-u-rosanne-cash-testifies-congress-defense-artists-rights/