Dead Kennedys’ East Bay Ray Explains How YouTube Is Stealing From Musicians | New York Observer

Taylor Swift recently brought these “robber baron” business tactics into the mainstream. When she removed her catalog from Spotify, they were trying to force a bad deal on her. Dead Kennedys had Spotify figured out early on, we pulled most but not all of our tracks off of Spotify back at the start of 2013. Musicians are not against streaming, but we are against “plantation/sharecropping” business practices. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Educate yourself about what’s really going on and the reality is shocking. Don’t buy the lies and memes, educate people, share this article, stand up. The Internet is not like the weather, it was created by humans and can be changed by humans. It’s not about regulating the Internet, it’s about regulating businesses. (They’ll try to confuse that, too.)

Privacy Trumps Piracy: Google’s Double Standard | Creativity Tech

Google’s Poor Track Record on Piracy

We reported on the 100 million takedown request milestone that Google sheepishly pushed past earlier this year. Compared with the rapid action the company has taken on European privacy rights, the earlier figure and the lack of action that it represents is even more astonishing.

And it’s not only privacy where Google flexes its significant muscle to disrupt illicit operations.

Since becoming the world’s most popular search engine, accounting for roughly 70% of North American searches and as much as 90% of those in Europe, the company has worked tirelessly to upgrade its algorithm to destroy low quality sites that aim to game Google’s system.

Those sites, it says, devalue its search product and leave users frustrated from a sub par experience. Sounds a lot like poor quality piracy sites that are riddled with malware, doesn’t it? So those sites should really receive similar punishment in the form of demotion or even being stripped from Google’s results. Instead, the company maintains a double standard that now stretches back more than a decade.


YouTube Squeeze on Indies Instructive | Illusion Of More

Very insightful and accurate analysis of our digital life and the online ecosystem which devalues the rights of the individual in favor of unprecedented corporate power against citizens.

Tube, yes. You, not so much.

If there has been one consistent theme in everything I’ve written since diving into the morass we call the digital age, it’s that the Internet is not ours despite all appearances to the contrary. Like it or not, all the populist, free-speech rhetoric that’s been spoon-fed to the public by the chief propellorheads of the land is just a gateway drug meant to dull our senses so we don’t notice the monopolistic power grab that’s been taking place. No, the Internet is not ours so much as it belongs to a very small consortium players, most especially Google, which controls nearly all search and nearly all advertising worldwide.

As I argued during the heated squabble over SOPA, these companies don’t really give a damn about free speech or about liberating creators and consumers of content from the media elite gatekeepers; they simply want to be the new media elite, and have the potential to be far more ruthless gatekeepers. Instead of an oligopoly of studios, labels, and publishers we’re gleefully handing over absolute power to a couple of companies, not only calling it progress but even more shockingly calling it democratic.


YouTube’s Attack On Indies Gets Strong Response From WIN, But It’s Time For Artists To Take Action | Hypebot

YouTube/Google and Amazon Are Using Their Power Against Creatives

If you’ve been watching the last 15 years or so of web development, you’ve seen a relatively wide open field of entrepreneurial potential gradually get taken over by major corporations in a manner similar to what occurred in industrial societies beginning in the late 1800s. They may be dropping fewer bodies than did the industrial giants but close-to-monopoly digital land grabs by companies like Google and Amazon have put them in a situation where they seem to feel that any terms they name are acceptable if they have the power to force compliance.

Amazon’s current battle with Hachette is but one example of how they’ve used their dominating position in book and ebook retail on the web to have their way with companies that are often struggling to survive.

YouTube’s dominance of the web video space sets up a similar near-monopoly situation in which they’re willing to use their position to behave in monopolistic fashion and force non-compliant entities into line.


Everyone hates the DMCA | VOX INDIE

Unfortunately, rather than manage copyright, it’s provided a huge loophole through which a number of online pirate entrepreneurs sail blissfully through. Known as the “safe harbor” provision, this oft-abused language has served to shelter digital thieves at the expense of rights holders. ”Safe Harbor” has enabled the growth of a criminal cancer and it’s a cancer–that as of now–cannot be beaten, only kept (marginally) at bay. As Wikipedia notes, “The DMCA’s principal innovation in the field of copyright is the exemption from direct and indirect liability of internet service providers and other intermediaries.” As I’ve suggested previously, any update to the law should include a requirement that in order to qualify for the limitations to liability that safe-harbor offers, certain user-generated content sites must implement reasonable technology to mitigate content theft.


BitTorrent, “Not Designed For Piracy”… Really? Seriously? 99% Infringing…

Bit Torrent creator Bram Cohen is either one of the most misinformed people on earth, or one of the most intellectually dishonest… and here’s why… Remember this one?

BitTorrent: Bram Cohen Says ‘I commit digital piracy’?

I build systems to disseminate information, commit digital piracy, synthesize drugs, maintain untrusted contacts, purchase anonymously, and secure machines and homes. I release my code and writings freely, and publish all of my ideas early to make them unpatentable.

Uhmmmm…. So why this is surprising?

Only 0.3% of files on BitTorrent confirmed to be legal | Ars Technica

This report echoes similar results out of Princeton that were published earlier this year. Though the top categories were slightly different—Princeton found that movies and TV were the most popular, while music fell behind games/software, pornography, and unclassifiable files—that study found that all of the movie, TV, and music content being shared was indeed infringing.

Overall, Princeton said that 99 percent of the content on BitTorrent was illegal.

Oh and that Princeton Study…

BitTorrent census: about 99% of files copyright infringing | Ars Technica

It has never been a secret that the majority of files being shared over BitTorrent are movies and music that are likely being shared illegally.

But wait there’s more…

Census of Files Available via BitTorrent

Overall, we classified ten of the 1021 files, or approximately 1%, as likely non-infringing, This result should be interpreted with caution, as we may have missed some non-infringing files, and our sample is of files available, not files actually downloaded.

Still, the result suggests strongly that copyright infringement is widespread among BitTorrent users.

Fast forward to 2012…

Keen On… Bram Cohen: Has BitTorrent Killed The Music Industry?

His denial was categorical. Not only did Bram deny any role in shrinking the sale of recorded music, but he actually disputed that the music industry is in decline, claiming “data” showed it to be in a quite healthy state.

Well Bram, you might want to look at this, and this

and… as another #SFMusicTech begins BitTorrent is one of the lead sponsors… To be fair, SFMusicTech get’s to run it’s event and do business with whom it chooses. Unfortunately musicians are not given the same choice of having their work “torrented.” So how about a little honesty?

This conversation is really just about consent and compensation. Two very simple fundamental principles that pretty much everyone can agree are the foundations of not just ethical business practices, but also the basis for a fair and just society.


Music Tech Policy explores the question, “Can 5 Billion Ads Served a Month Be Wrong”:
MTP : BitTorrent Profits from Piracy By Serving Ads To UTorrent Client

Sign the @musiciansunion (AFM) Letter: Friends don’t let friends get IRFA’d!

If you’ve been following the growing opposition to IRFA, the Internet Radio Fairness Act (aka the “Pandora Shakedown Act”), you won’t be surprised to know that Pandora has now enlisted the Über National Association of Broadcasters to help them screw musicians.  (NASDAQ: P)

You’ll remember the NAB–they are the ones who led the dirty tricks campaign against the Performance Rights Act that would have really leveled the playing field by paying American musicians and singers for the same rights that every other country pays them for when records are played on the radio.

So it’s not surprising to see Pandora lining up the lobbying muscle and huge political donations of the dreaded NAB, one of the few trade associations that has a news outlet in every Congressional district.

Do we just have to take it and get bullied?  Not without fighting back.

Here’s a start, a few things you can do:

First–make sure you and your band are registered to vote.  Can I Vote? is a good place to start if you’re not.  If you’re going to be on the road on election day, be sure you find out about early voting or getting an absentee ballot.

You can look up your representative at Tweet Congress and tweet them to vote against IRFA.

You can follow us on Twitter and search for #opposeirfa, then you can decide if you want to retweet our tweets or RTs to Members of Congress, especially members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, or

You can use the letter to Congress interface that the American Federation of Musicians has put together for you.  The link will lead you to an interface to enter your zip code to find out who your representatives are, then it pulls up an editable suggested form letter.  You can either use that letter or write your own using the web page.

And remember–friends don’t let friends get IRFA’d!

Pandora, Please Stop discrimination against Musicians!

Below is a letter from Tim Westergren, Founder of Pandora (NASDAQ: P) urging consumers to help him discriminate against musicians by attempting to reduce his royalty obligations.

This letter is highly misleading. Pandora is not Radio!! Pandora is a near-on demand streaming service.  Having a subscription to Pandora is like virtually owning every album on earth. (This is complex and we try to talk it through on a high level later in this post.) Pandora should and does pay higher royalties than XM radio for that reason!  It is completely manipulative of Mr. Westergren to compare his royalties to radio royalties.  Shame on him.  Shame on him for trying to get his subscribers to manipulate our government into screwing musicians. I am sad to see that Pandora has come to this:

Just another Silicon Valley firm who can’t make their business model work asking for a bailout from the US government and Musicians.  -David Lowery

We all love Pandora, we love that it pays on time and is honest in its approach and it provides a great platform for independent music. In fact, we’ve seen some estimates that 30% of Pandora’s spins are independent music.

Here’s what the lawyer for the webcasters said about the statutory webcasting rates at the time of the last settlement (and he never mentions artists, by the way):

In sum, while far from a perfect deal that webcasters would have selected on their own, this deal does provide another option for webcasters with substantial advantages in many area to those that qualify for treatment under this deal. While no doubt the fight will continue over the standards that should be used to determine royalties in future proceedings, so that parties don’t need to enter into these after-the-fact settlements [which is not happening now because the 2009 deal is in place until 2015] when one party has a substantial bargaining advantage with a favorable decision already in hand, SoundExchange [including the artist unions] should be credited for agreeing to reach this deal when there was no compulsion that they do so. This deal presents certainty for many webcasters – eliminating further litigation and negotiation costs while setting rates at which a class of webcasters can go on with their operations.

But what’s happening now ain’t personal, it’s just business. Pandora apparently doesn’t like paying artists a fair royalty–at a rate that Pandora negotiated and was all happy with a few years ago–and now is lobbying in Washington to use their political influence to force artists to take lower rates. Pandora compares itself to Sirius:

Consider this: last year Pandora generated $274MM of gross revenue, and paid $136MM of performance royalties — approximately 50 percent of the total revenue. In the same year, SiriusXM, on revenues of $2.7B paid $205M in royalties, or 7.5 percent. Radio delivered over cable television pays 15 percent of revenue. Radio delivered over the FM/AM spectrum pays nothing to performers.

This is, unfortunately, slight of hand–SiriusXM is primarily a subscription service and Pandora is primarily an ad supported service. Apples and oranges aside from low artist royalties–we have issues with Sirius, too, but that’s another story. The fact that over the air radio pays nothing is not exactly something to be proud of as we will spin out a bit in this post. But here’s the point we think is important: If Pandora wants to compare apples to apples and feels it is unfairly penalized by the rate setting procedure, it ain’t exactly like they weren’t represented in the past or now.

If Pandora would like artist support for some changes that would help them be more profitable going forward without reducing rates to artists, then all they have to do is ask and if what they want really is fair, they’d probably get artist support. But we didn’t hear that ask and we don’t see that proposal. What we see is the typical Big Tech Washington cronyism that artists simply can’t compete with.

You’re going to hear a lot of talk about “fairness” and “stifling innovation” as Pandora spends big lobbying bucks to grease the skids for the Congress to set price controls in its favor. Just remember–Pandora gets those big lobbying bucks from a wildly successful initial public offering of the company’s stock. And the reason Pandora had a wildly successful IPO is because they make a great product that is 100% dependent on your music. No music, no Pandora.

This is why the musicians union president recently called out Pandora founder Tim Westergren about this end run around artists

Of course, this technological innovation moves much faster than the laws out of Washington, which still treat each radio platform a little differently. That means some radio platforms, like Pandora, compensate artists when they play their recordings, while regular over-the-air “terrestrial” radio stations don’t pay musicians a dime for playing those same recordings.

That’s not fair to musicians that depend on those performance royalties to put bread on the table. And it’s not fair to expect some radio companies to pay while others get a free pass.

It sounds like Pandora never picked up the phone to discuss their beef with either the musicians union or the singers union (now SAG-AFTRA). This was a major oopsie for Pandora founder and Chief Strategy Officer Tim Westergren, an ex-record producer .

Unlike American Federation of Musicians President Ray Hair, Westergren ain’t elected and he only represents Pandora–even though Time Magazine says Tim is one of the 100 most influential people in the world. So it seems that when you have that kind of influence, you don’t need to call a mere elected union president whose members supply your company with its only product, but whose members had their bargaining rights taken away by the compulsory webcasting license. No strikes–just the way they like it in the Valley.

This is important because Pandora now wants to reduce their already low rates royalty rates to even lower rates. This is just like when Sirius and their PR machine wanted you to focus on how bad things were for Sirius Radio a few years ago when Sirius got a 50% off deal on their royalties. Now Sirius and their lobbyists and lawyers want you to ignore that Sirius suddenly has an extra $1,000,000,000 in cash–that’s right, a BILLION IN CASH. When the bad times came, the artists gave Sirius a deal. Sirius has no intention of returning the favor in the good times. We applaud their success, but where is the love?

The joke is that things are so bad for Pandora, they just went public. So don’t expect any love from Pandora, either.

Because just like Sirius, Pandora doesn’t answer to the artists for their 100% dependence on music.

Pandora answers to Wall Street, which is to be expected for a public company.

So we say to Tim Westergren, we love you, man, but face facts–you are The Man 2.0. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that Time Magazine knows anything about the music business. It’s really OK, we get you, we’re used to dealing with The Old Boss and The New Boss.

You made your choice, so just be honest about who you are when you are moving the goal posts.

Pandora’s Backstory

You’ve probably heard how difficult it is for “innovators” to license music because the major labels ask for big up front payments. This can be confusing because different types of music services qualify for different types of licenses. Here’s where Pandora, Sirius and lots of other Internet radio and satellite music services get a real advantage over other types of competing digital music services. (Digital radio licensing is a complex area, so we’re going to give you the high points and stay out the weeds.)

Back in 1995, the U.S. Congress effectively took away the artist’s and record company’s right to negotiate private deals with Internet radio when Congress established the limited public performance right for sound recordings. Due to a quirk of US law, recording artists were never paid for radio play unlike songwriters. The US Congress partly changed that in 1995.

So quick—how many of you thought all these years that the artists got paid when a song was played on over the air radio? (Call it “broadcast radio” to distinguish it from Internet and satellite radio, call those “digital radio”.)

Well, you’d all be wrong. Except for digital radio. (The most important difference between a Spotify-type service and Pandora is that Spotify allows you to choose which tracks you want to listen to (“on demand” or “interactive” and less like broadcast radio) and Pandora and Sirius “choose” them for you–“non-interactive” and more like broadcast radio.  There’s also a bunch of other government mandated restrictions called the “sound recording performance compliment”–too much to go into here.  Although we would argue that Pandora’s music genome allows it to be “near-on demand” but that’s another story.)

The compulsory license for digital radio does not cover broadcast radio or on-demand services. So far, artists have not been able to move that needle to include broadcast, although we’ve tried. Hard. Going up against the broadcast radio lobby is like going up against Google—limitless lobbying budgets, tremendous political influence, control over a significant portion of the dissemination of news. There is, after all, a radio station in every Congressional district. And most of all, an unbridled willingness to crush anyone who gets in their way. Like artists, for example.

This is a good time to mention a key fact—almost every other country in the world requires broadcasters to pay artists for performances on both broadcast and digital radio. (“Almost” because North Korea and China don’t.) So it is American broadcasters who get out of paying the artists, including American artists. This is why the broadcasters (including digital radio like Pandora) don’t like the Internet radio rates.

Even so, the digital radio royalty and statutory license have actually worked, which is more than you can say for the DMCA. What that means is that no one can refuse to license for digital radio and the royalty rates are set by the government. More on that later.

These SoundExchange royalties are split 50/50 between the sound recording owners on one hand and the featured artists, session vocalists and session musicians on the other. And—if the royalties are paid through SoundExchange (the non-profit that collects and administers the compulsory license), the artist money is paid directly to the artists on a nonrecoupment basis, meaning that the artists keep 100% of their digital radio royalty regardless of whether they are recouped under their record deals, current or historical. (Remember, SoundExchange receives royalties at many different rates, takes out some administration fees and then splits the money 50/50.  This is too complicated to go into here, but take a look at the SoundExchange website for more information.)

Spotify, for example, had to license recordings and songs piecemeal because Spotify’s on-demand service doesn’t qualify for the digital radio royalty. That’s why it took so long for them to launch in the US. (Although Spotify launched a side-by-side statutory digital radio service at the end of 2011 as a companion to their on-demand service.)

Pandora has leveraged this government-mandated compulsory license to get its business going. Unlike Spotify, all Pandora had to do to get its content licensed was send a notice to the Copyright Office and to SoundExchange, get blanket licenses for the songs and they were in business. No piecemeal negotiations with anybody, no advances to anybody, just send the notice, build their technology and get going. Artists get paid, labels get paid, innovators can form companies without paying any advances.

Of course, Pandora lead the charge in 2009 against the digital radio royalty rates. But they paid up when they got the deal they wanted. Or the deal that they wanted long enough for the company to bring to market an initial public offering of its stock.

Now they want a different deal.

And as the Bard sayeth, therein lies the rub.

This Time, It’s About Money. Period.

Remember—Pandora has great technology, superior technology even. Pandora is a highly innovative and music driven company. We love Pandora. But because it is music driven it has one product—music.

Pandora last negotiated licensing rates for the music they profit from in 2009. That was a long and painful process. We heard sanctimony from Pandora’s Tim Westergren at every turn about how Pandora was going to go out of business if they couldn’t get cheap licensing rates on music.

A lot of people said privately that they’d like to know where it was written that Pandora was guaranteed the right to stay in business when musicians weren’t. But Pandora looked like a promising investment, so artists invested in the company the way artists usually invest—do the same work for less money. Pandora got a special deal on royalties and they stayed in business.

That 2009 deal comes to an end in 2015 and new rates are now being litigated.   (The current “pureplay” webcaster rate for nonsubscription services that we understand Pandora qualifies for is a formula, the greater of 25% of US gross revenues or a per-play rate of $0.00110 ($0.0020 for subscription/bundled services like Pandora), going to $0.00120 in 2013, $0.00130 in 2014 and $0.00140 in 2015.  (Subscription/bundled services are a little higher per play rates.) Maybe–things are so good that Pandora may be about to shift into the 25% of gross revenues part of the formula and that’s the beef?)

Now Pandora are back again with the same song—they want to pay even less. So what happened? They must be having a really hard time like last time, right? Scraping by?

No, actually what happened between 2009 and now was that the company “went public” in 2011 with a billion dollar-plus valuation, the dream of every Silicon Valley entrepreneur. The founders and their VCs cashed out. We’re happy for them and glad to see a stand-alone digital music service trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Westergren is apparently not as rich as Daniel Ek (the 10th richest man in the music business), but surely he got a nice payday when Pandora went public (which we think he totally deserved for years and years of hard work, by the way). Pandora has a market cap roughly that of a major label. But now that it’s public, Pandora has to make its revenue numbers to keep Wall Street happy. So there’s a couple different ways they can do that.

One way is to throw all their resources at growing their revenues. That’s what most people will do.

The other way is to decrease their costs. Like their royalty costs, for example. It is simple math: Every dollar that Pandora pays in royalties is a dollar less for Wall Street. The fastest way for Pandora to increase its profits—and theoretically its stock price–is to pay lower royalties to artists.

And when you look around the Pandora board meeting, there’s a face at the table to oppose cutting every cost item–except one.

This will be familiar to artists—it’s the same fight that artists are having with Spotify. And just like Spotify, we don’t see Pandora coming to the artists and offering to pay a bonus to everyone who gave them a deal on royalties so that Pandora could be successful and go public.

For years we’ve heard from Westergren about how artists should aspire to be middle class, to make a good middle class living, don’t expect too much, be happy with what you have. Lowering expectations.

Meet the new boss.

Pandora’s Box

Now we know why. The other shoe is dropping now, and Pandora’s true agenda is becoming obvious. Rather than devote themselves to growing their revenues to satisfy Wall Street, instead they want to spend their resources on lobbying the government to force artists to accept lower rates knowing that the artists on whom they depend cannot compete with lobbying dollars of their own.

The Greek name “Pandora” translates into she who received gifts from all. And boy does that ever fit this company.

Here’s the deal—Pandora gets the gift of certainty in licensing, certainty in rates and low startup licensing costs. This gift allows them to devote their resources to innovating delivery and discovery of music which they have done masterfully.

What do they give back for this gift? We don’t get equity in their company, so when they went public, we got nothing while they joined the Valley elite. (Just like artists won’t get anything when Spotify goes public.)

And now Pandora wants even more gifts. And they want to use their public company political clout to force artists to accept less so Pandora’s shareholders can get more.

And yes, it is a zero sum game and yes it is that simple. Pandora keeps Wall Street happy while they get rich from our gifts and now they take their riches to lobby the Congress to pay them even more of our money.

So at the end of the day there is very likely going to be another Big Tech driven SOPA-style hissy fit over digital radio rates. And remember, it was Pandora that originated the hissy-fit technique that Google perfected with SOPA so expect that threat just any day now from one of the Most Influential People in the Known Universe.

But this time—don’t let them fool you into thinking that somehow they are doing this to protect the “middle class artist” or “innovation”.

Because they are not.

This time it’s just about money and we won’t get fooled again.


Updated 9/22/12 to include clarification on “near on-demand”, SoundExchange splits, Pureplay rates and Oxenford quote.

Occupy Amanda Palmer?

Unless you’ve  been living in a cave on a some remote South Pacific island, by now you’ve heard that Amanda Palmer created quite a controversy when she announced that she was asking for string and brass section “volunteers” to work for her on many of the dates on her tour.  Ms. Palmer became an even bigger celebrity this last year when she did a Kickstarter for this album and tour and raised $1.2 million dollars. A full million dollars more than she needed for the project.

For the last week, I’ve tried to avoid joining the anti-Amanda Palmer internet pile-on that has captivated many in the music business and tech world. Why? For one simple reason. I believe in the artist’s right to monetize their songs and performances in any way they see fit.

If Ms. Palmer had told her Kickstarter fans that she intended to record her entire new album in one take with one microphone into an iPad, post it on the internet and pocket the 1.2 million dollars that is her right. (Well, hers and the IRS’s.) Yes even a punk cabaret singer deeply involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement has the right to get rich from her art and music. It’s nobody else’s business. Yes, that may clash with her public profile, and her fans can also choose to not support her if they think this is somehow hypocritical. But she has no obligation to give away all her earned riches–or gifts for that matter. Further, she has no obligation to be transparent about her finances, as she is a private individual. Although I understand why publicly asking for money on Kickstarter may change that for many artists. I stay out of this part of the debate, cause it seems to be mostly about  the million dollars and whether Amanda Palmer has the right to make a comfortable living in privacy. Of course she does.

However, I do agree with the criticisms of others on nearly every other count.

This appears to be the blog post that started the whole controversy, Amy Vaillancourt-Sal of Classical Revolution Portland:

My friends and I are looking to bring back the respect that  musicians deserve. As a personnel manager for my branch at Classical  Revolution, I’ve been working towards assuring that my musicians are  compensated for their talents and hard work. So, looking back at your  ultra successful kickstarter and your request… Here you are, and you’ve  raised over $1 million for your tour and album release. Here we are as  musicians on foodstamps, maxing out their credit cards to keep the  lights on, are hoping that we have enough money to pay next months rent,  and have instruments that are in need of repair, need to be replaced,  and even need to be insured. We are looking at you now and your request  for musicians to come play with you for free, and most of us have even  fallen in love with you and your music, and how do you think we’ll  respond? We’re f*&king perplexed, agitated and disheartened, to put  it mildly! What would you say to you if you were in our shoes? I have a  pretty good guess…

The naive ones will say “sign me up!” I most certainly had that as  my first response. But in looking at the whole picture, this time you’re  coming across as the 1% looking to exploit us. I’m guessing this is not  the impression you were going for. If this is the case, please respect  the musicians who are giving you their time and specialized skills. We  would love to play for you! Please do the right thing, Amanda. This all seems so contrary to your vision.

The  future of music is musicians being compensated for their specialized  skills and the beauty and difference that their craft brings to the world! We all know you can  certainly afford it…

Ms. Palmer then somewhat defensively responded:

your concern reminds me of the complaints i’ve seen from musicians who insist that i’m “devaluing” their own recordings by giving my music away for free and encouraging people to pay what they want for it (which is how i just released my new record). i get the impression that they see me as a force of evil who is miseducating the public to think that “music should be free.”

here’s what i think about all that, and it also applies to this paid/non-paid musician kerfuffle:


especially in this day and age, it’s becoming more and more essential that artists allow each other space to figure out their own systems.

the minute YOU make black and white rules about how other artists should value their own art and time, you disempower them.

The thing is–Amy never said she was trying to make rules. She’s not the employer. We’re not talking about sitting in, or a jam. Ms. Palmer is an employer and she does make the rules on her stage. Other musicians–like Amy and me–don’t have to like her rules. We are free, however, to point out that this employer does not pay fair wages. This is a collective bargaining/workers rights issue. Nothing more. Please don’t try to make musicians feel that questioning the ethics of a rock star employer is somehow violating the rock star’s human rights. That’s disingenuous.

Justin Colletti also made some good points…..

Is it  noble to support musicians only with “exposure”? Exposure for what? So  that they might be selected to play the next cash-rich tour for free as well?  Or are we talking about the kind of “exposure” that musicians will be  subject to when they can’t pay their rent?

Let’s not make  false equivalencies in this debate. It’s important to remember that  we’re not talking about a friend of Ms. Palmer’s jumping up on stage to  play a guitar solo or sing backup on a song. Rather, we’re  talking about working or aspiring musicians who are expected to send in an audition tape, learn the material in advance, arrive punctually for a high-pressure rehearsal, and then arrive punctually again for a  high-profile performance in which they will be an essential part of the emotional and aesthetic  impact of many of the songs.

This kind of work deserves  compensation — even if its just a token sum from an artist who cannot  afford to pay a more traditional rate….

Palmer is paying her promotional team and her management team  handsomely, but not the musicians? In doing this, she is becoming the  very thing that she has told us she is railing against.

If a concert stands to make no money at all, or if it does stand to make money but the proceeds are  meant to go to a humanitarian cause, then playing for free can be a very noble thing to do. But it’s important to remember that Amanda Palmer is not a  charity. She is now running a significant for-profit entertainment business. And she’s doing a very savvy job of it. Other entertainment entrepreneurs would be well-advised to learn a lot from her. But not this.

I sympathize with Ms. Palmer. I understand how she found herself in this situation. It looks like over the last three years her shows have averaged about 600 paid attendance each night. An artist is lucky to receive a $6,000 dollar performance fee on that kind of attendance. If you consider the fact that a 8 person string and brass section costs money–my guess is close to $2,300-$3,500 a night in fees (based on local AFM scale) you can understand why she was reluctant to spend that kind of money.  She would still have to pay all her other expenses out of what is left.  I personally would not spend that kind of money (instead I would use backing tracks rather than ask people to play for free), but that’s her choice.

But now that Ms Palmer is playing for more than 1200 people a night and her shows are grossing between 30-60k a night, most reasonable people would agree that Ms Palmer would and should pay ALL her musicians. Just as this petition at Change dot Org  suggests:

Amanda Palmer: Pay ALL the Musicians that Perform On Your Tour

It appears that Ms Palmer has very conservative financial instincts she probably learned by years of down and dirty touring. I get that. Her  mistake is she didn’t realize that her financial situation has changed, and many of the old rationales are not there anymore. Once there is profit it should be shared equitably.  She simply failed to adjust to her new success. If Ms. Palmer is able to adjust her thinking and accept that she is now an employer in the 1% of musicians and pay all her musicians, we should all move on.  Until then I am adding my voice to those asking her to fairly compensate all her musicians.

Jared Leto Exploited by Rapidshare, VW, Go Pro, LG, Emirates Airlines, Adobe, Ford and Target

In this round we find advertisers exploiting Jared Leto‘s band 30 Seconds To Mars by Volkswagon, Go Pro cameras, LG electronics and appliances, Emirates Airlines, Adobe software, Ford and Target. It’s also interesting to note that in this series of screen shots the infringing links appear to be hosted on Rapidshare. This is the same Rapidshare that has been offended by being put on a piracy watch list. It seems to us that if Rapidshare wants to champion best practices for cyberlockers, they would do well to clean up their own business first.

The hits just keep on coming… How much money do we have to follow before there is some accountability on behalf of the brands and advertising networks? Let us be clear about this. Piracy is being financed by advertising dollars, originating with major brands, trusted to advertising agencies and then ultimately distributed to questionable online advertising networks and then to the pirate sites themselves.

This is not about free speech. This is not about censorship. It’s about money. It’s about a lot of money. It’s about a lot of money being made by advertising networks and pirate sites and not paying artists a penny. This is the exploitation economy where anyone and everyone can profit from a creators work, except the creator themselves.

FilesTube points to Rapidshare as a host of infringing uploads of artists work. Also not the Adobe advertising. Wouldn’t be ironic if users searched FilesTube and RapidShare for Adobe software products?