The Future Of Music According to Gene Simmons and Jaron Lanier…

Gene Simmons may not be the most sympathetic figure in conversations about artists rights in the digital age but there is something to be said when he and Jaron Lanier make essentially the same observations about the future of music and artist revenue streams.

Simmons is quoted in a new interview in Esquire Magazine, “Rock Is Finally Dead”:

“The masses do not recognize file-sharing and downloading as stealing because there’s a copy left behind for you — it’s not that copy that’s the problem, it’s the other one that someone received but didn’t pay for. The problem is that nobody will pay you for the 10,000 hours you put in to create what you created. I can only imagine the frustration of all that work, and having no one value it enough to pay you for it.

It’s very sad for new bands. My heart goes out to them. They just don’t have a chance. If you play guitar, it’s almost impossible. You’re better off not even learning how to play guitar or write songs, and just singing in the shower and auditioning for The X Factor. And I’m not slamming The X Factor, or pop singers. But where’s the next Bob Dylan? Where’s the next Beatles? Where are the songwriters? Where are the creators? Many of them now have to work behind the scenes, to prop up pop acts and write their stuff for them.”

Simmons goes on to state that music and culture have stagnated.  He asks what great bands and artists have emerged in the post internet era?

Jaron Lanier made essentially the same observation back in 2010 in an interview with The New York Times, “The Madness of Crowds and an Internet Delusion.

“…authors, journalists, musicians and artists are encouraged to treat the fruits of their intellects and imaginations as fragments to be given without pay to the hive mind. Reciprocity takes the form of self-promotion. Culture is to become precisely nothing but advertising.

It’s as if culture froze just before it became digitally open, and all we can do now is mine the past like salvagers picking over a garbage dump,” Mr. Lanier writes. Or, to use another of his grim metaphors: “Creative people — the new peasants — come to resemble animals converging on shrinking oases of old media in a depleted desert.”

It speaks volumes when two people of such different backgrounds and perspectives make the same observation.

Swimming Against the Stream: Musicians Fight for Their Worth in the Internet Era | SF Weekly

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:
http://www.sfweekly.com/2014-06-04/music/beats-apple-unsound-spotify/

Camper Van Beethoven’s 2013 Net Profit Was $645 Million Dollars Higher Than Twitter.

Technologists in Silicon Valley love to tell artists we need to update our business model.

This is hilarious since each of my businesses have been profitable for decades. Stunning when you look at just how unprofitable these Silicon Valley Companies actually are.  Twitter for instance lost $645 million dollars last year.   Jaw dropping when you consider that their total revenues were $646 million dollars.   They spent 2 dollars for every 1 dollar of revenue.  And if you look at their losses they are accelerating.

Screen shot 2014-02-19 at 10.59.36 AM

Source: https://investor.twitterinc.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=823321

Now consider the fact that the City of San Francisco also gave them approximately $56 million in tax beaks.  This is while the city has been pushing to slash benefits to city workers. 

Yes maybe Camper Van Beethoven needs to update our business model to include tax breaks and political cronyism.

RELATED:

http://irespectmusic.org

Internet Consultants Are Wrong : Confused About Musicians, The Internet and Piracy

My Song Got Played On Pandora 1 Million Times and All I Got Was $16.89

The “Bad Romance” of Musicians and Silicon Valley : Happy Valentines Day

You’ve heard this story before, or actually – you’ve seen the movie. This is like a John Hughes film the 80s. You know the ones about High School Romance. The plot lines from these movies remind us a lot of the bad romance between Silicon Valley and Musicians over the last decade or so.

You’ve heard this one before…Before the internet musicians had a largely dysfunctional but not entirely bad relationship with record labels, like the self obsessed jock. Labels would wine and dine artists, buy them gifts, lure them back to the fancy label HQ and fawn all over them. This love affair would usually continue through the making of the record and up and until the album was released. After that, the honeymoon period would be over and disagreements over money and creative issues would start to surface. Eventually, artists would become increasingly dissatisfied with their partner and the dirty laundry would become public. Labels would be accused of taking the artist for granted, not giving them enough attention and be unresponsive to their needs.

Then one day, the Silicon Valley drives up the school in a shiny new Ferrari convertible, music blasting, well dressed and charming. Silicon Valley says all the right things to artists, “labels are bad news, they don’t appreciate you.” Artists are wooed by the possibilities of their wind blowing in the air in the passenger seat of the Ferrari on their way to a better future. Silicon Valley tells the artists that not only do they not need the labels, but Silicon Valley will empower the artist to be truly independent. The artist, enamored with this world of possibility and opportunity joins hand in hand with Silicon Valley. And all seems well, for a while…

Over time the artist seems to notice that things are not really getting better. Silicon Valley becomes less available to the artist and less responsive than the label. Making maters worse, Silicon Valley insists the artists path to freedom is self reliance, and Silicon Valley refuses to support the artist unless the artist is willing to do more work from themselves.

The artist starts to reflect on the relationship with the label. The label paid for dinners, bought them gifts, and offered support. Silicon Valley made a lot of promises but never actually delivered. Silicon Valley had become more demanding, and refuses to communicate with the artist in any way other than barking orders and suggesting that the artist use their primary asset to make money on their own, unless they want to give up their new found freedom.

As the plot develops we see that Silicon Valley’s wealth has been earned by going from town to town and helping artists join the worlds oldest profession for “personal empowerment.” Of course, Silicon Valley connects the artists to customers and controls the flow of revenue to the artist. If the artist protests, Silicon Valley gets very angry and berates and bullies the artists with insults and threats of poverty.

The artist reflects on what Silicon Valley “freedom” really is and decides to speak up and speak out to help other artists break free of the exploitation they have experienced. As the Prom approaches the label and the artist make fleeting eye contact passing in the hallway. In the end the artist, having had the experience of being with both the label and Silicon Valley arrives at the prom empowered, with other artists, and hopeful for a better future.

Don Henley Talks Google Versus Musicians | LA Times

In the technocratic world of Google (which owns YouTube), my musical brethren and I are no longer artists; we’re not creators — we are merely “content providers.” Copyright and intellectual property mean nothing to the technocracy. They’ve built multi-billion-dollar, global empires on the backs of creative, working people who are uncompensated. They’re wrecking entire industries.

There might be a legislative fix, but there seems to be no political will. Google alone has about a dozen lobbyists on Capitol Hill. Google spent over $11 million last year on lobbying and over $18 million the previous year. They spread the money and the propaganda around like manna, employing their favorite buzz words like “innovation.” Regulation, they say, will “stifle innovation,” and the legislators all nod in agreement. It’s an oligarchy, plain and simple.

READ THE FULL INTERVIEW AT THE LA TIMES:
http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/music/posts/la-et-ms-don-henley-qa-20140115,0,5745299.story

David Byrne: “Do you really think people are going to keep putting time and effort into this, if no one is making any money?” | Salon

Start the stopwatch for the synchronized swimming rapid response team… David Byrne in Salon:

The musical genius shares his songwriting secrets, opens up his finances and ponders the future of art and the Web

Lots of us believe that musicians, along with other artists, are struck by inspiration and have this emotion which they must express and share. But you argue in your book that it is actually the opposite — that the idea of the songwriter pouring heart, soul and autobiography into his or her music is wrong-headed. “The accepted narrative,” you write, “that the rock and roll singer is driven by desire and demons, and out bursts this amazing, perfectly shaped song that had to be three minutes and 12 seconds. This is the romantic notion of how creative work comes to be, but I think the path of creation is almost 180 degrees from this model.”

READ THE FULL STORY AT SALON:
http://www.salon.com/2013/12/21/david_byrne_do_you_really_think_people_are_going_to_keep_putting_time_and_effort_into_this_if_no_one_is_making_any_money/

16 Artists That Are Now Speaking Out Against Streaming… | DMN

We’re seeing more and more artists speaking up and speaking out against the unsustainable economics of the exploitation economy. We also hope more artists will also be speaking up about the Ad Funded Piracy that creates the downward pressure to justify these bad business models.

There used to be one band with the courage to do this sort of thing: Metallica. Now, there are dozens of high-profile artists, with outspoken critics like David Lowery and Thom Yorke leading a previously-unthinkable level of protest against streaming and content devaluation. Here are just a few of those voices that emerged in 2013.

READ THE FULL POST AT DIGITAL MUSIC NEWS:
http://www.digitalmusicnews.com/permalink/2013/12/02/artistspiracy

Or Pandora Could Add Another Minute Of Advertising And Raise Their Revenue 50%

Silicon Valley tech gurus  love to tell musicians that they “need new business models.”  This is kind of funny when you consider that most of these folks work for companies that have never shown a profit. Never!  Whereas my web-enabled businesses Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven  (like many bands) have been profitable for decades.  So can someone please tell mewhy we’re supposed to  listen to these serial failures with their snake oil schemes?

I think it’s high time that artists turn the tables.  We should tell these folks how to run their businesses for a change.  Quit whining and bootstrap it! Just like we had to when we were starting our bands.  Sell T-shirts or something!

For instance here’s how Pandora can increase their revenue 50%:

1. Pandora plays one minute of commercials per hour.  Satellite radio plays about thirteen minutes an hour. Pandora could easily double the number of ads and still have a very pleasant consumer experience.

2. Pandora made approximately $86 million from advertising on total revenues of $101 million last quarter.  Let’s say they double the amount of advertising and they only generate another 65 million from doubling ads.  This gives them a minimum of $151 million in revenue. And that is an increase of 50%.

But seriously folks, have investors considered that the so-called Internet Radio Fairness act could take years to pass?  And then once it passes it requires the President to appoint new judges that would have to be approved by the Senate.  Does that sound like a quick fix to you folks?  But that’s not all . These new judges would then have to convene new hearings on the royalty rates under the new below fair market value standards.    This would take years.

On the other hand Pandora could start increasing revenue tomorrow by simply airing more ads.  This is what most main street businesses do.  They need more revenue?  They generate more revenue.  They don’t run to the federal government to force their suppliers to lower their prices!  Adapt or die Pandora!

Of course we know the IRFA is about more than royalty rates.  This is about agency capture.  It’s about replacing current judges with judges that are more friendly to the the Tech and Broadcast industry’s agenda.  It’s about not allowing artists and their representatives to speak out when mega-broadcasters propose direct licensing deals that benefit labels at the expense of artists.   We artists could be prosecuted under The Sherman Act if this bill passes!

Let’s just hope that congress sees this for what it is: Crony Capitalism.