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?
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 )
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.
SUPPORT ARTISTS RIGHTS! #supportartistsrights
Join Us: ccc-nyc.org http://ccc-nyc.org/
Saturday, October 18, 2014 @ 8:00 pm
Featuring 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!
The event will also feature a short screening of highlights from Michael Count Eldridge’s upcoming documentary film “Unsound”.
General Admission: $20 pre-sale (ends at noon on 10/18) $25 at Doors
Special Artist Rights Supporter tickets include reserved balcony seating and access to a one hour meet and greet prior to the show // Doors at 7pm
Above Pandora CFO Mike Herring shows how down with the gays Pandora really is! The link goes to a custom Pandora radio station for “Oakland Pride Radio.” Wow that’s really going out on a limb there Pandora! I bet some of your best friends are gay! I wonder what Oakland Pride thinks of Pandora using them as a prop to excuse their donations to an anti-gay demagogue? And what will they say when they find out Pandora ran ads for “Speak Up University?”
When I worked for Pandora, I took my job seriously. My title was “Listener Advocate”, and, as a listener myself, I tried to bring the opinions of the listeners to the company. Of course, most of our job was helping people to be able to simply listen to the online station, sort of minimal tech support. However, there were several legitimate things that we initiated meetings with management about, and many times these were met with new ways to word our responses to ameliorate listener concerns.
After I had been there for about a year, and had responded to many complaints about specific ads, we started hosting tons of ads for Meg Whitman, who was running as the republican candidate in the California gubernatorial race, 2010. She came from being CEO of Ebay, (then to Hewlett-Packard afterwards) and was rich as hell, and apparently spent more of her own money on the race than any other political candidate in history ($144 million, $178 million including donations). The company was thrilled to take her money and run her ads all the time, which of course generated complaints, which I thought a lot about, and then brought them to the company.
I advocated on behalf of establishing a rule that we take ads only selling goods and services, and nothing dogmatic (i.e. politics or religion.) The company’s party line was that we would accept any advertising that ran on “major mass media”, ignoring the fact that the term “major mass media” is essentially so vague as to be meaningless. For example, we explicitly stated that we would not accept advertising about pornography or gambling, while Clear Channel, which is obviously mass media, ran billboards advertising gambling casinos all up and down the state.
I had several conversations with Joe Kennedy and Tim Westergren about this. Joe basically heard me out and then dismissed me. With Tim it was more difficult. One thing that I pointed out to him was that when we played political or dogmatic ads, it reflected on the company’s political stance. He absolutely did not believe that, he said “TV stations always run advertising for all political parties”. I said, “yes, but we see television companies as being driven only by money, so we distrust them implicitly.” Tim, as well, refused to believe that his public political action had any bearing on how the company was seen by the public-at-large. I thought that this was very short-sighted of him, and said to him that simply because he was very visibly active in politics, for example asking our listeners to advocate on the company’s behalf vis-a-vis royalty rates or other congressional mandates, that anything political that the listener hears on Pandora would be viewed with the inherent politics of the company in mind.
I brought up the hypothetical situation of running ads promoting Proposition 8, which was on the California ballot at that time, which was opposing same-sex marriage.
Tim blew me off on this, adding cryptically “I’d love to argue about this, I’m a student of Chomsky!” If he actually were, I would think he would currently be living in some sort of nightmare of cognitive dissonance. Anyway, I still advocated the idea of only advertising goods and services, and questioned the whole idea of trying to be parochial to “major mass media”. If we wanted to be a shining light in the field of “radio”, we should make our own rules, we absolutely did not have to be mini-Clear Channels. I tend to think that making our own rules about such things would work out better in the end, both internally and externally.
I didn’t realize at the time how the lip service we gave to being “pro-music” and being “about music” was covering that fact that it was, indeed, in the end, all about money, and only about money. Being moral has nothing to do with business, especially if you are in the United States, and, it seems, especially if you in the tech world. One of the engineers came by my desk and mentioned that the Meg Whitman ads were paying dollars where other paid nickels, so she was gonna get those ads placed in any case. (She lost that election, regardless.)
It was the following year that the company held its IPO and became a publicly traded entity. Then it got really bad. While Joe Kennedy claimed “an IPO is just another round of funding”, being even more beholden to the investors started to become evident. The advertising and programming choices became even more suspect, listeners began wondering what was happening. And along with the political things, came advertising that was even weirder. We got many complaints about “Speak Up University”, who appear to be a support group for “straight Christians”, but a little more research into the Speak Up organization proves it to be essentially and anti-gay hate group, among other things.
(It’s a fallacy to think that any dominant culture would need support in the face of abused minorities, the same way that there is no such thing as “masculinism” battling the tenets of feminism: feminism strives for equality; being against it is being for the current inequality of all people, regardless of gender. Nonetheless, there is so much misunderstanding of it that people are duped into thinking that they should be against it because somehow it promotes more power to one side (women in this example,) instead of simply promoting equality. One would think that the anti-gay marriage proponents believed that allowing it would make it mandatory—or Worse!)
I brought this up to the management, again. This, surely, was a moral line we should not cross in our blind acceptance of money for political or dogmatic advertising. This slightly stirred things up, partially because my team had several gay members, to say nothing of those who were simply trying to advocate morality and refused to accept that there was any difference between people regardless, and hence advertising that is divisive or hateful in any way should be avoided. We never really got closure on this, as the advertising sales people were the cream of the business crop, in their own little money-driven world, and couldn’t be bothered so much with whom they sold to, so long as they sold time or web space.
I realized at this point that the entire area of “customer service” within Pandora was backwards. The listeners were not the customers, the advertisers were. The listeners got music in exchange for listening to ads. That was the deal. Again, music was irrelevant, we could have been pumping sausage through a pipe into their mouths all day long, in exchange for watching ads. But the public perception of the company was still that it was somehow “pro-music and musicians.”
I tried to accept this all, but still had to speak out when we ran ads for “Minnesotans for Marriage”, another anti-gay hate group opposing gay marriage in Minnesota. And, looking around, our very team was segregated: the gay contingent was off to one end by themselves…This time was the last straw for management, I was brought into a meeting and told to “stop questioning decisions that had been made by the company”, that is, get with the program or get out. They said “you have some tough decisions to make”. The next day I was told to clean out my desk. Many people asked me about whether I wrote this article after I was fired (I didn’t, but it is all true.) Take a look.
Losing my job was bad, of course, that always is, and it makes one a pariah in the tech world to simply care about the morality of what is done. I wrote this a year later: http://jsegel.wordpress.com/2013/03/21/pandora-now-a-year-down-the-road-from-me/
(To repeat some of that blog entry, when I was told by the new over-manager “you can’t keep questioning things that the company has already made decisions on”, I replied that of course I have to keep questioning! What if people hadn’t kept questioning during the civil rights protests in the 1960s? He became really angry and reared up and said, you can’t compare these things to racial issues! I said, “uh, yes you can, I’m talking about civil rights, this ad is for an anti-homosexual group…?” When I left that day and went to a yoga class, I spoke with an expert: none other than Angela Davis was a student in the same yoga class that I went to in Oakland. She was fairly adamant that I was on the right track!)
In the past two years, Tim Westergren has proven that all he really cared about all along was the money, he and many of the other upper management and investors have been cashing out millions of dollars in stocks all the while lobbying against royalty rates to pay for the music that supposedly the whole Pandora concept is based on. And as he, and the company, become more and more politically involved, it reflects more and more on the company as a whole.
Now it has come out that Tim and Joe and others even donated to the radical right wing anti-gay congressman Jason Chaffetz. Presumably, they simply did this to throw money at him to sponsor IRFA, the “Internet Radio Fairness Act” (a very Orwellian name!) Of course doing so supports him in his entire agenda. So, they really don’t care? Or is the company based in such a sense of pseudo-morality that these people like Tim are actually supporting Chaffetz’ anti-gay agenda? How could we know?
If it is that, then this company is sick at its core. If it is only about money, then the company is amoral. That same sort of amorality and hypocrisy permeates the rich industrialists of the world, see here for example regarding the Koch family.
In any event, the Pandora bosses have made out like bandits already, so I doubt they care what happens. Maybe the company will wither, and in its withering prevent similar IPO-based “funding”.
We can only hope that they are replaced by music streaming companies that really care about music.
-post by Jonathan Segel
So what’s going on with Google, YouTube and Indie labels?
And there’s also this update that Google may be revising its position now.
Why is the contract so bad? Wait, is it really bad?
READ THE FULL POST AT WILDCAT BLOG:
Recently, my band Katagory V created a crowdsourcing campaign to finance the release of our latest album, which had been completed (recorded, mixed, and mastered) over three years ago. As much as Silicon Valley seems to laud this as “the way” to finance a musician’s work, I personally was very resistant to it for a long time. This was more of a moral issue for myself than one of not wanting to “get with the times”, as we artists are so often accused of. Recently, however, it became far more than a moral problem; it became a political one, too.
Don’t get me wrong. I think the whole crowdsourcing concept is brilliant. It’s a fantastic way to kick-start your craft if you have no capital to work with and arejust getting started as a band, filmmaker, writer, etc. It is something I wish had existed when I started my musical endeavor years ago. However, the more I look at it concerning my own band which has existed for 15 years, I feel like we are essentially panhandling. It is one thing, in my opinion, to use this to “kickstart” your dream career, it is another creature all together when you rely on it as your sole source of income to maintain it.
With that said, let’s not mince words here and just call it what it really is — crowdsourcing is panhandling on the internet. I can’t be the only person that sees it this way…or am I? I was raised to believe that hard work and perseverance gets rewarded, and when you reap these rewards, you do so with absolute humility. Panhandling completely negates what I was taught. Granted, people who contribute get “perks” or a finished product IF…if it succeeds. However, it is still asking for money for something that doesn’t actually exist yet. Money for a promise: this is where my moral compass just spins out of control. Are we asking consumers, our fans, to become investors now?
The part that goes beyond my moral problems with this is that we are not crowdsourcing our unreleased album to get our career started, rebooted, as a noble cause, or even to try and break away from the whole record label cycle. We are doing it because after three years, we have no other choice. Labels are reluctant to take risks or give advances, consumers are using streaming or free options, both of which obviously pay us nothing, and we don’t have any more capital ourselves to fund it. Nothing is more frustrating or humiliating than doing something that you find absolutely immoral AND politically backwards, yet knowing that you HAVE to do it as a means to an end. There is no Plan B or C; this is the ONLY plan left. It’s very ironic, but one of the songs we had written for this unreleased album, “I Am Change,” lyrically and inadvertently prophesied this very situation.
When I told the members of my band that I was going forward with this panhandling scheme, I insisted that our campaign bio had to explain to our fans WHY we were doing it. Unlike most artists doing these funding projects, I wanted it spelled out in big bold letterson the front page of the campaign, that thanks to the “new boss,” we had no choice but to have our fans directly fund our work. Otherwise, this album would never be released.
There are several paragraphs in our campaign explaining what has happened in the music business in the last decade, why our “middle-class” band had been forced at gunpoint to climb aboard the express train to “poverty,” and why we are now holding out our hands, begging for spare change. By laying out the truth and thus risking the possibility of being viewed as sniveling and whiny, we may be pushing our potential contributors away.
Why would these potential contributors be turned off? Because NO ONE likes cry-baby musicians. They literally tune them right out. Music consumers don’t want to hear our problems. They just stuff cotton in their ears and mouse click over to the next free meal. And you know what? I don’t care…it’s already been three years. I can wait another three, ten, or even twenty years if it means standing my ground on how I feel about the digital age and how we as artists are being bent over the proverbial barrel more than ever in the history of the music business.
The band was surprisingly supportive of this idea to add this segment to the campaign. I had been preaching this possible doomsday scenario to them (and anyone else who would listen) as far back as 2007. I always knew it was going to get worse before it got better when we started recording this album back in 2010; I just never imagined it would get THIS bad with no real resolution in sight. I can’t help but wonder if this is the end of days for music.
Our fans (and others looking to contribute) need to know the truth. Of course we want people to contribute; we want this album out there just as much as our fans do, or else we wouldn’t have resorted to creating a panhandling campaign! If it doesn’t work, this album is going to go back on the shelf indefinitely. Even if people don’t contribute and they walk away from it with a little education and a better understanding of how things work (or don’t work) in the world of music today, I will personally feel a little better about having to resort to this fundraising tactic. I can only hope we don’t ever have to take this route again.
The financial ecosystem in which our band had worked under for over a decade has been eradicated. It’s as if we are living out that John Carpenter movie, “They Live.” The music industry isn’t even an industry anymore; they/we are the puppets of this new boss. We put in thousands of dollars of our own money into this album thinking that things would get better, that someone would find this miracle “new business model” that would restore the balance to the force, and that we would at least see a return that would pay back our expenses. This has yet to happen and, sadly, probably never will. So now, after three years of waiting for the other shoe to drop, we decided to stop bruising our backsides from sitting on the fence, swallow our pride, and fund our music by turning our band into a PBS pledge drive. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be panhandling for my career in music.
Bassist/songwriter – Katagory V
The cops were getting lots of calls. Drivers were worried. There was a woman walking down the road — the narrow part of Highway 1, just north of L.A. And she was pushing a baby carriage.
When the cops found her, it turned out she was not a crazy person. She wasn’t even a mother.
She was a musician on a mission.
The woman was Suzana Barbosa, a longtime Toronto singer and leader of the band Lumanova, who had lately become fed up with the state of the music industry. She’d had it with the paltry amounts paid to songwriters and performers by streaming services like Spotify. She’d had it with our culture’s preference for glamorizing starving artists instead of paying them decently.
Barbosa was so fed up with the music business that she decided to walk some 400 miles, from Los Angeles to the Google campus in Mountain View, to publicize what she sees as an existential threat to the world’s independent musicians.
READ THE FULL STORY AT THE SF WEEKLY:
Forty years ago, co-writing a song with Ringo Starr would have provided me a house and a pool. Now, estimating 100,000 plays on Spotify, we guessed we’d split about $80. When I got home, on closer study, I found out we were way too optimistic. Spotify (on par with other streamers) pays only .00065 cents per play.
There’s less support for all the arts today, and the blade gets duller with every cut in arts funding. It degrades dance, opera, even academia and, significantly, the art of journalism. As a result, in the U.S., public opinion suffers from what we call “infotainment.” That’s a genre of media news that is not informing, entertaining, or remedial. And it’s a direct result of a vacuum of patronage (and by patronage, I don’t mean just Medici-style sponsorship but the willingness of all arts consumers to pay for what they listen to, read, and watch, and for the industry to fairly recompense creators).
READ THE FULL STORY AT THE DAILY BEAST:
Fans can still hear the work of America’s musical pioneers, thanks to online and mobile services. Through downloads and streams and services such as Pandora and Sirius XM Radio, these giants’ recordings continue to captivate and influence young musicians, singers, songwriters and producers.
Yet some of these same companies have made the decision to devalue the music of these artists for their own profit by not paying for it. In doing this, they devalue the substance of their own medium. For the last 20 years we’ve witnessed an assault on the arts by the technology community — especially when it comes to music.
This devaluation is troubling because music is not only the creation of people who make this art for us; it is how they earn a living. Music is how they feed their kids and provide for their futures.
READ THE FULL STORY AT THE LA TIMES: