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/

Jaron Lanier on Internet and middle class: “We have screwed things up” | Salon

Salon Q&A: Tech visionary Jaron Lanier on Thomas Piketty, Jeff Bezos and Amazon, how to save the creative class

His latest book, published in the U.S. last May, covers an enormous amount of ground in what’s often a personal and eccentric style. “Who Owns the Future?” describes in especially stark terms the Internet’s false promise to artists – “trinkets tossed into the crowd spread illusions and false hopes” — and the larger creative class. “The clamor for online attention only turns into money for a token minority of ordinary people, but there is another new, tiny class of people who always benefit,” he writes on the book’s opening page. “Those who keep the new ledgers, the giant computing services that model you, spy on you, and predict your actions, turn your life activities into the greatest fortunes in history.”

The book received mostly positive reviews, though some objected to his proposed solution – that citizens be reimbursed with micro-payments whenever their personal information led to the generation of revenue. Since people’s Facebook preferences help companies sell, for instance, and the work of human translators provide the basis for online translation programs, these people should be compensated: “A new kind of middle class, and a more genuine, growing information economy, could come about if we could break out of the ‘free information’ idea and into a universal micro-payment system.”

We spoke to the Berkeley-based Lanier about “Who Owns the Future?,” the explosion of surveillance, Amazon’s policies, Kickstarter and his role as a critic both inside and outside the beast.

READ THE INTERVIEW AT SALON:
http://www.salon.com/2014/06/01/jaron_lanier_on_internet_and_middle_class_we_have_screwed_things_up/

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/

Pussy Riot to finally walk free this week | Salon

A report from the Guardian suggests the imprisoned activists could be home as early as Thursday

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, the two incarcerated members of Pussy Riot, will be released from prison this week, potentially as early as Thursday, according to a report from the Guardian.

The Russian parliament voted Wednesday to approve an amnesty law that would grant reprieve to first-time offenders, minors and women with young children. The deal still must be signed by President Vladimir Putin, which is expected to happen this week.

READ THE FULL STORY AT SALON:
http://www.salon.com/2013/12/18/pussy_riot_to_finally_walk_free_this_week/

David Lowery: Silicon Valley must be stopped, or creativity will be destroyed | SALON

Below is just one excerpt from the interview with the always insightful David Lowery in Salon.

Silicon Valley’s making money off the work of others. David Lowery is on a crusade for copyright, fairness and art

SALON : People sometimes use the Industrial Revolution metaphor. They talk about how factories replaced the artisan and the farmer, and it took decades for things like child labor, dangerous working conditions, and pollution and all the stuff that industry brought to Britain and the U.S. to be eradicated, or made humane and sustainable.

LOWERY: But whenever anybody — I mean, you’ve just brought up David Allen, and we’ve just posted this idea on my Trichordist blog that we should have an ethical, fair-trade Internet, but you’ve got people like David Allen saying you can’t have that. That would be like in the Industrial Revolution saying, “You can’t have a non-polluting factory; you can’t have a factory that doesn’t have child labor; you can’t have a factory that’s safe to work in.” Of course you can!

We’re the ****ing masters of our own destiny, we pass the laws for this country, we create this country, we decide what kind of a society we’re going to have — not the Internet. And, besides, the Internet is coded by humans. We can make the Internet do what it needs to do. I’m a technologist. I program computers. This is what I did before I played in bands.

There is nothing deterministic about the Internet. Basically, what these people are saying is that this is the first technology whereby we must change our principles to match the technology — that’s what these people are saying. Do you want to live in a world like that, with these people running it?

READ THE FULL STORY HERE AT SALON:
http://www.salon.com/2013/12/04/david_lowery_silicon_valley_must_be_stopped_or_creativity_will_be_destroyed/

The Smoking Gun of Internet Exploitation of Musicians and Songwriters

There have been a lot of predictions about how the internet was going to empower musicians and create a new professional middle class. Unfortunately, the year end  numbers from Soundscan for the last two years just do not support those claims.

2011:

in 2011 there were 76,865 new releases, only 3,148 sold more than 2,000 units = 4% of new releases sold over 2,000 units

in 2011 there were 878,369 total releases in print, only 15,613 sold more than 2,000 units = 2% of ALL RELEASES in print sold more than 2,000 units.

2012:

in 2012 there were 76,882 new releases, only 3,074 sold more than 2,000 units = 4% of new releases sold over 2,000 units

in 2012 there were 909,799 total releases in print, only 15,507 sold more than 2,000 units = 2% of ALL RELEASES in print sold more than 2,000 units.

So in the last two calendar years only 4% of New Releases and only 2% of ALL releases managed to sell more than 2,000 units.

That means 96% of all music released and in print sells less then 2,000 units per year. Please tell us again about all of this internet empowerment?

Who do you really think is selling more than 2,000 units a year, the Indie/DIY artist uploading to TuneCore, or the artist with label support? Let us not forget, the indie/DIY artist is spending their own money now on marketing, PR, social media, everything – without those cost and expenses being advanced to the band as investments by a label.

A decade in from predictions of empowerment what we have found is more exploitation in the facts.

Overall, industry wide revenue from recorded sales is down over 50% as the growth of illegally operating infringing businesses continue to climb.

This means THREE things:

1) The overall pie for revenue opportunities is getting SMALLER, not larger.

2) The distribution of wealth is more concentrated with the largest (and legacy) artists getting a bigger overall share.

3) There are LESS opportunities for new artists to have sustainable careers without the aid of label financing.

These numbers are also consistent with this report from Salon:

No Sympathy for the Creative Class | Salon

Of course, those who continue to work in the creative class are the lucky ones. Employment numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show just how badly the press and media have missed the story.

Other fields show how the recession aggravated existing trends, but reveal that an implosion arrived before the market crash and has continued through our supposed recovery. “Musical groups and artists” plummeted by 45.3 percent between August 2002 and August of 2011. “Newspaper, book and directory publishers” are down 35.9 percent between January 2002 and a decade later; jobs among “periodical publishers” fell by 31.6 percent during the same period.

And then there’s this from Digital Music News:

Recording Sales Declines & Musician Employment, 1999-2011…| Digital Music News

There’s more music being created than ever before, but paradoxically, musicians are making less. Which means there are also fewer musicians and music professionals enjoying gainful employment, thanks to a deflated ecosystem once primed by major labels and marked-up CDs.

It’s a difficult reality to stomach, especially given years of misguided assumptions about digital platforms. But it’s not really a revolution if it’s not getting people paid. And according to stats supplied by the US Department of Labor, there are 41 percent fewer paid musicians since 1999.

So there you have it from two different independent sources both arriving at a reduction of 40%+ fewer full time working middle class musicians since 1999 and 2002 respectively.

As we like to say around here, “If The Internet Is Working For Musicians, Why aren’t More Musicians Working Professionally?” and “Artists, Know They Enemy – Who’s Ripping You Off And How.

The enemy are the for profit businesses making money from our recordings and songwriting illegally. Let’s be clear about this, our battle is with businesses ripping us off by illegally distributing and exploiting our work for profit. This is not about our fans. It is about commercial companies in the businesses of profiting from our work, paying us nothing and then telling us to blame our fans. That is the ultimate in cowardice and dishonesty.