Saturday, June 21, 2008

Cost of Touring Undermines Free-Music Theory

Free-music subsidized via tour income - widely utilized as an excuse in the justification of music piracy - has always been a long shot, unchallenged concept; but the rising cost of gasoline has recently shed light on just how difficult it is to make a living by touring - even in the best of times. Adding insult to injury, artist's creativity is now further taxed with deriving new ways to hit the road without going bankrupt in the process.

From Luciana Lopez, The Oregonian

Tune up the bikes and scrape up the french-fry grease: It's summer touring season for bands. As gas prices climb ever upward, musicians have had to get creative at something more than their music. Portland band Blind Pilot, for example, is traveling under pedal power, and nationally touring psych-rockers Apollo Sunshine are converting their van to run on vegetable oil. There's an easier way to save gas money, though: Portland rocker Michael Dean Damron is just flat-out canceling dates.

Different solutions, but all applied to the same problem: how to balance the need to tour set in motion by declining CD sales against the skyrocketing cost of gas, which makes touring more expensive and less profitable.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Music Performance Fund in Peril

From Mike Boehm, Los Angeles Times

For 60 years, the Music Performance Fund, an unsung charity financed by a small fraction of record company sales, has paid the piper -- and just about every other kind of musician -- by helping to bankroll thousands of free concerts annually all over North America.

Now, though, the popularity of music downloads and file-sharing via the Internet has eaten away at record company revenues. And as the industry has dwindled, so has the performance fund's ability to underwrite pro bono shows.

"'Dwindled' is an easy way of saying it's gone to pot," said John Hall, the trustee who has managed the Music Performance Fund for most of the last 18 years.

At its peak in the early 1980s, Hall said, the fund got more than $20 million a year from record companies. Last year, the figure was $3.4 million. In 1984, the fund helped pay musicians' salaries for 55,000 free performances. Last year, there were 9,060. The organization's staff is down from 36 to eight.

Monday, June 09, 2008

U2 Manager: ISPs Strangling Music Industry

From Patrick Frater, Variety:

U2 manager Paul McGuinness launched a blistering attack on the world's Internet providers Wednesday, accusing them of strangling the music industry.

Speaking at the Music Matters confab in Hong Kong, McGuinness likened ISPs to "shoplifters" and accused them of "turning their heads" away from the music industry's troubles and "rigging the market."

"The recorded music industry is in a crisis, and there is crucial help available but not being provided by companies who should be providing that help -- not just because it is morally right, but because it is in their commercial interest," McGuinness said.
Link Loses Warner Music on Demand

From Peter Kafka, Silicon Alley Insider:

Warner Music Group (WMG) has pulled its catalog out of's "on demand" free streaming service, which the CBS-owned service launched to great fanfare in January. Users can still hear Warner artists via the site's "radio" option, which doesn't allow you to select individual songs. But you can't order up individual songs from WMG artists.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

International Labels Push For Baidu Boycott Over Music Piracy

From Dow Jones:

Chinese and international record companies called Tuesday for an advertiser boycott of Inc., the country's leading search engine by search volume, over complaints of music piracy.

The statement was signed by record companies including Universal Music Group, EMI Group PLC, Sony BMG Entertainment, Warner Music Group Corp., and local Chinese companies.

The group of companies and associations has sent a letter to advertising companies asking them "to carefully consider whether they should continue to place advertisements on pirating media," the statement said.

Baidu's search engine provides links to thousands of sites that carry unlicensed copies of music. Record companies have filed a series of lawsuits against the site in
Chinese courts.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Recording Industry Lobbied $1.5M in 1st Quarter 2008

From AP:
Recording industry spent $1.5 million in first quarter to lobby on piracy, Internet broadcasts
The Recording Industry Association of America spent more than $1.5 million in the first quarter to lobby on copyright theft and other issues, according to a disclosure report.

As the main trade group for music recording companies, RIAA lobbied the federal government on legislation to strengthen U.S. laws against counterfeiting and piracy, including online theft of music. Piracy is one of the top issues for RIAA, which says music theft results in $12.5 billion annually in terms of lost jobs and wages, tax reeves, personal income tax and lost corporate income and production taxes.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Still No Proof of the Existence of Bigfoot, Ghosts, U.F.O.s, or Music 2.0


"I think it was a one-off response to a particular situation," Thom Yorke said of the band's decision last October to let viewers pay what they wanted for digital downloads of the new album "In Rainbows."

"Yes. It was a one-off in terms of a story. It was one of those things where we were in the position of everyone asking us what we were going to do. I don't think it would have the same significance now anyway, if we chose to give something away again. It was a moment in time."

Friday, April 18, 2008

A Bill of Rights for Songwriters and Composers

Created by ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers

We have the right to be compensated for the use of our creative works, and share in the revenues that they generate.

We have the right to license our works and control the ways in which they are used.

We have the right to withhold permission for uses of our works on artistic, economic or philosophical grounds.

We have the right to protect our creative works to the fullest extent of the law from all forms of piracy, theft and unauthorized use, which deprive us of our right to earn a living based on our creativity.

We have the right to choose when and where our creative works may be used for free.

We have the right to develop, document and distribute our works through new media channels - while retaining the right to a share in all associated profits.

We have the right to choose the organizations we want to represent us and to join our voices together to protect our rights and negotiate for the value of our music.

We have the right to earn compensation from all types of "performances," including direct, live renditions as well as indirect recordings, broadcasts, digital streams and more.

We have the right to decline participation in business models that require us to relinquish all or part of our creative rights - or which do not respect our right to be compensated for our work.

We have the right to advocate for strong laws protecting our creative works, and demand that our government vigorously uphold and protect our rights.


In the US, 58% of Music Isn't Paid For

From Guardian:

In 2007, there was an increase in the volume of music acquired for nothing and a sharp decline in the amount paid for, according to NPD's annual survey of Internet users.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Music Piracy is About the Money

If the reasonable logic that follows is accurate, then nothing short of an ISP filtering mandate will save music.

From Chuck Klosterman, Esquire:

Whenever writers try to explain the collapse of the music industry, they inevitably blame the labels themselves; they point out how wasteful and inefficient the corporate structure was at places like Elektra and Chrysalis, and how unfair it is to charge kids so many dollars for a disc that costs pennies to make, and that modern consumers have come to the realization that "music longs to be free." This may all be true, but I'm not sure it's a viable explanation for things like huge layoffs at Def Jam. Lots of industries succeed despite being poorly modeled. What happened is this: Young people needed more money to pay for their rising levels of self-imposed debt, so they unconsciously gravitated toward the first technology that provided a cost-saving alternative. Because four-minute digital-song files are relatively small (and thus easily compressed), ripping tracks for free became the easiest way to eliminate an extraneous cost. It wasn't political or countercultural, and it had almost nothing to do with music itself. It was fiscally practical. It was the first, best solution.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Chris Castle on WMG's Jim Griffin's ISP Tax

From Music Technology Policy:

Capitulating to the wisdom of mobs:

I view the ACS (alternative compensation scheme), voluntary or involuntary, as capitulation. Supporting these systems means that you have lost confidence that the legal system can enforce laws and that you are going to simply define the problem out of existence by making something that is illegal into something that is legal, the alchemy of mere analytics, the chorus of consultants, the wailing of the amicii, the proselytizing of the professoriate. Boy, I’m glad that they solved that problem.

Agreeing to ACS is like agreeing that the mob is right. And that’s a very, very dangerous step in a democracy.
Sampling mechanism could just as well facilitate filtering:

First, how do you answer the question that artists and songwriters will ask, namely “how much do I get paid?”

One way to divide up that money that advocates often raise is based on some kind of sampling of usage. (Jim’s EFF seems to think this is how ASCAP divides up their revenues.)

This sampling idea is, of course, dangerous ground for the defenders of Grokster at EFF. If you are going to sample peer-to-peer or BitTorrent files in order to divide up that disaggregated chunk of money, you need to identify tracks. That can be done with fingerprint technology, and there are several companies out there with fingerprinting tools. I personally don’t think fingerprinting works very well at the network level, but can work very well at the client level. There would have to be some discussion of how to get at the client.

If you can identify the tracks on P2P systems enough to sample—and this is where you would probably lose the EFF and apologists for piracy--you can identify the tracks enough to block and filter—meaning you could stop illegal tracks from ever getting onto the network in the first place.
Beating a dead horse:

This idea has been vetted, argued, legislated and rejected for a good five years, and actually goes back even further than that in the Internet world. Discussing ACS is like going to Thanksgiving dinner with your crazy uncle who always wants to argue who lost Poland. You get really tired of it after awhile.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

EMI's Ex-Google Merrill Clueless Out of Gate, Offers Platitudes, Panders to Pirates


Piracy bad, file-sharing okay. The industry's fight against piracy just got harder now that EMI is on record stating that it all depends on how you look at it:

"I'm passionate about data," Merrill said during a phone interview Wednesday with CNET "For example, there's a set of data that shows that file sharing is actually good for artists. Not bad for artists. So maybe we shouldn't be stopping it all the time. I don't know...I am generally speaking (against suing fans). Obviously, there is piracy that is quite destructive but again I think the data shows that in some cases file sharing might be okay. What we need to do is understand when is it good, when it is not good...Suing fans doesn't feel like a winning strategy."
Try anything and see what sticks - never mind how long this is going to take to deploy (and quantify) and that we might run out of cash first:

More specifically, Merrill said he would see whether a Google ad model will work for music. But he's willing to try music subscriptions and even an ISP fee. Certainly, what came across about what strategies Merrill intends to use is that he's not married to any one idea.
We've already witnessed ten years of failed experimentation, with the looting worse now then ever - systemic and virtually unfettered - yet EMI is keen to embark on a costly super-complication of the distribution of otherwise free content:

"I think there is going to be a lot of different models," Merrill said. "Those are two (subscriptions and ISP fees) you can imagine. I'm not sure that either one of those will be the most dominant model. But they are both interesting. We should try them and see what the data says. Other options will be things like you can imagine supporting music through relevant targeted ads, the Google model. There is a dozen of other things...we should try them all. We should see what the data says and whatever it says, we should follow the data, and follow our users and let them help guide us. We should engage in a broad conversation about art."
Spoken like a true geek department; or, now might be a good time to study the history of Motown, Atlantic, etc.:

"I think it's important to figure out where can record labels add value," Merrill said. "I don't know the answer."

Friday, March 28, 2008

Corporate Sponsorship: Bacardi, Groove Armada in 360 Deal

From Lars Brandle, Billboard:

Global spirits giant Bacardi has developed a serious thirst for music, via a 360-degree-style deal with British electronic duo Groove Armada.

The integrated marketing deal encompasses recordings, touring and audiovisual content, leading Bacardi global experiential manager Sarah Tinsley to declare: "Essentially we are taking over the role of a record label -- producing the music, promoting new music, and the artist is playing at our events."

"Bacardi doesn't see this as something that they want to earn money from, which is, quite rightly, something a label has to do," Groove Armada manager Dan O'Neil says. "They are looking at it from a point of view of association, and they're getting access to a license to use the music to implement their strategy worldwide."

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Music 2.0 and the New Economy

Don't buy the hype.

From Wikipedia:

New Economy was a term coined in late 1990s by pundits to describe what some thought was an evolution of the United States and other developed countries from an industrial/manufacturing-based wealth producing economy into a service sector asset based economy from globalization and currency manipulation by governments and their central banks. At the time, some analysts claimed that this change in the economic structure of the United States had created a state of permanent steady growth, low unemployment, and immunity to boom and bust macroeconomic cycles. Furthermore, they believed that the change rendered obsolete many business practices. When the stock market bubble burst, analysts soon realized they had been wrong.

A lot of start-ups were created and the stock value was very high where floated. Newspapers and business leaders were starting to talk of new business models. Some even claimed that the old laws of economics did not apply anymore and that new laws had taken their place.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Report: Japan to Strip Internet for Illegal Downloaders

From Yahoo News:

TOKYO (AFP) - Japanese companies plan to cut off the Internet connection of anyone who illegally downloads files in one of the world's toughest measures against online piracy, a report said Saturday.

Faced with mounting complaints from the music, movie and video-game industries, four associations representing Japan's Internet service providers have agreed to take drastic action, the Yomiuri Shimbun said.

The newspaper, quoting unnamed sources, said service providers would send e-mails to people who repeatedly made illegal copies and terminate their connections if they did not stop.

The Internet companies will set up a panel next month involving groups representing copyright holders to draft the new guidelines, the report said.

Company and government officials could not immediately be reached for comment on the report Saturday.

The actions would be among the strictest in fighting online piracy.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Pali Research: WMG Upgraded From Sell to Neutral

Music Industry Proposes a Piracy Surcharge on ISPs

From Frank Rose, Wired:

Having failed to stop piracy by suing internet users, the music industry is for the first time seriously considering a file sharing surcharge that internet service providers would collect from users.

In recent months, some of the major labels have warmed to a pitch by Jim Griffin, one of the idea's chief proponents, to seek an extra fee on broadband connections and to use the money to compensate rights holders for music that's shared online. Griffin, who consults on digital strategy for three of the four majors, will argue his case at what promises to be a heated discussion Friday at South by Southwest.

"It's monetizing the anarchy," says Peter Jenner, head of the International Music Manager's Forum, who plans to join Griffin on the panel.

Griffin's idea is to collect a fee from internet service providers -- something like $5 per user per month -- and put it into a pool that would be used to compensate songwriters, performers, publishers and music labels. A collecting agency would divvy up the money according to artists' popularity on P2P sites, just as ASCAP and BMI pay songwriters for broadcasts and live performances of their work.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Ambulance Chasing


If Trent Reznor (or anyone else) wants to do it the right honest way, he or she should support piracy and/or condemn the music industry in such a way that provides no opportunity for personal financial gain while doing so. Otherwise, all you have is self-interested, populist bullshit contrived to make money via capitalizing on the hype of the moment - all the while (wittingly or otherwise) selling their brethren down the river.

Irish ISP Taken to Court Over Illegal Music Downloads

From Mary Carolan, The Irish Times:

Four major record companies have brought a High Court action aimed at compelling Eircom to take measures to prevent its networks being used for the illegal downloading of music.

The case is the first in Ireland aimed at internet service providers, rather than individual illegal downloaders.

Eircom is the largest broadband internet service provider in the State.

Latest figures available, for 2006, indicate that 20 billion music files were illegally downloaded worldwide that year. The music industry estimates that for every single legal downloaded, there are 20 illegal ones.

The record companies are also challenging Eircom's refusal to use filtering technology or other measures to voluntary block, or filter, material from its network that is being used to download music in violation of the companies' copyright and/or licensing rights.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

New Music Model for Suckers


Where once ten or twelve bucks bought as many tunes, thanks to new 'models' we now have the $300 elite collection and/or multi-thousand dollar package including a personal appearance. Offers that unfortunately bilk those most loyal fans while allowing everyone else a free ride - on their generosity.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Brit Gov't: File-Sharing Legislation by 2009

From Lars Brandle, Billboard:

The British government has vowed to take up the fight on illegal file-sharing as part of a multi-stage action plan intended to ensure the prosperity of the country's creative industries.

Should the recording industry fail to break its impasse with Internet service providers on P2P activity by early 2009, the government will take action by means of legislation.

It's one of 26 key commitments for government and industry, published today in "Creative Britain: New Talents for the New Economy."

In the absence of a voluntary solution between rights holders and ISPs, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport report claims that the government "will shortly consult on options for a statutory solution," with a view to implementing
legislation by April 2009.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Why Advertising Supported Free-Music Ain't Gonna Happen


Lots of hype and bluster about ad supported free-music solutions lately. Well, it ain't gonna happen, and here's why:

Two ways to offer ad subsidized music: streaming and downloads.

The problem with downloads is that once the track is downloaded, the ad is no longer attached; unless the ad is audio and embedded in the tune - which would kill the idea.

Which brings us to DRM. DRM protected tracks with proprietary players would allow ads to be served while tracks are played. But again, limiting the use of tracks to certain players would kill the concept.

Streaming on dedicated players that serve ads is not a bad idea, but limited in application as a live internet connection is required to stream in real time. Thus, ad-supported streaming is DOA.

Remember, the industry is competing with free, unfettered mp3 downloading and listening (albeit illegally).

Beyond all this is the amount paid to the content providers.

For downloads, Amazon and Apple are charging .80 to .99 per track and netting back 70 cents or so to the labels. There is no way ads can generate anywhere near as much.

Now, why would the industry accept mere cents on the dollar when they are already receiving 70 cents per track for paid downloads?

Why then would the industry voluntarily kill the remaining CD business and developing paid download business - for a fraction of the music's market value?

Then there's the precedent. Should the industry allow music to be free - subsidized via anything else - it would be nearly impossible to return (if so desired) to charging for downloads.

Hence, for free-music subsidized via advertising to work, the industry would:

1.) have to accept much less than the market value of music.
2.) hasten the decline of its remaining CD business.
3.) render obsolete its burgeoning paid download business.
4.) have to accept sharing fractional revenue with third parties (portals).
5.) once and for all, establish that recorded music no longer has any intrinsic value in the marketplace.


In the interim however, should a tech player offer millions of dollars for the rights to stream (no downloads) content under an ad supported platform (imeem, for example), the labels will rightly take the money and run.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Unlimited Music Comes to UK Mobiles

From Jonathan Richards, Times Online:

Omnifone, the UK-based digital music company, has announced a service which will allow mobile users to download an unlimited number of songs to their phone as part of their monthly plan - and keep them even if they change their contract.

The service, called Music Station Max, will be rolled out in the UK in the first half of the year, and will initially be available on LG phones, though deals with other manufacturers would follow, the company said.

As part of the service, subscribers will be able to download an unlimited number of songs directly to their phone via the 3G network, and then 'sideload' them onto their computer, where they can create playlists and share proferences with friends using Omnifone's software.

If the user chooses to change his or her contract, they can either continue subscribing to an 'unlimited download' service for a monthly fee - similar to the Napster model, or leave the service, in which case a number of the downloaded songs will remain on their phone. The company has not said how many.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Music Pirates Face UK Internet Access Ban

From BBC:

People in the UK who go online and illegally download music and films may have their internet access cut under plans the government is considering. A draft consultation Green Paper suggests internet service providers would be required to take action over users who access pirated material.

Under a "three strikes" rule they would receive an e-mail warning, suspension, and then termination of their contract.


Monday, February 11, 2008

Victory Records Respond to Piracy

From the site:
At Victory we give away a lot of free music to help expose our artists. Unfortunately, there are some individuals that do things that are illegal, upsetting and sometimes offensive to them. Dead To Fall, Farewell To Freeway, Secret Lives of the Freemasons and Across Five Aprils have asked us to make a news post about one such person. He could have easily embedded VictorStream (which was mentioned to him) on his blog to share music and video but chose to continue to do otherwise. He has been asked nicely by the bands to take down their material. When he refused we had no choice but to defend our artists’ wishes by having a more official “take down” letter sent.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Civilization vs. Savagery

The central concern of Lord of the Flies is the conflict between two competing impulses that exist within all human beings: the instinct to live by rules, act peacefully, follow moral commands, and value the good of the group against the instinct to gratify one’s immediate desires, act violently to obtain supremacy over others, and enforce one’s will. This conflict might be expressed in a number of ways: civilization vs. savagery, order vs. chaos, reason vs. impulse, law vs. anarchy, or the broader heading of good vs. evil.

Verizon Rejects Hollywood’s Call to Aid Piracy Fight

From NYT:
More often than not companies in similar positions have similar views. But when Hollywood asked the two big phone companies to help with its fight against piracy, they responded in opposite ways. AT&T is talking about developing a system that would identify and block illicitly copied material being sent over its broadband network.

Verizon, however, opposes the concept.


Monday, February 04, 2008

China Companies Sued Over Music Piracy

From BBC:
The trade body representing the global record industry has launched piracy lawsuits against China's biggest internet companies.

Firms targeted in the legal action include Baidu, China's largest Internet business, and Yahoo China, in which US giant Yahoo has a 44% stake.

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry says the firms offer direct links to pirated music.

It estimates that 99% of all music files in China are pirated.

As a result, the trade body says the annual legal music market in China accounts for just $76m (£38m).

Friday, February 01, 2008

Yacht Rock Episode 9: Runnin with the Devil

Pirate Bay Founders Busted, May See Jail Time

From Reuters:

Four men linked to the popular file-sharing site Pirate Bay were charged by a Swedish prosecutor on Thursday with conspiracy to break copyright law and being an accessory.

The site was created in 2003 by a Swedish anti-copyright group but was soon taken over by individuals. It helps surfers swap mostly copyright-protected music, movie and game files.

Pirate Bay co-founders Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm, spokesman Peter Sunde and Carl Lundstrom, who is reported to have helped fund one of the world's most visited Web sites, could face up to two years in jail if convicted.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

For Which Team is Lefsetz Cheerleading?


There is no way to compete with free, and the proof is that no one has been able to figure out how to do so in the last decade - and there's been plenty of incentive in the form of boatloads of money waiting for whoever could put it together.

Yet, Mr. Platitudes continues with the straw man argument that the majors need to find a solution to music piracy that accommodates the pirates.

Lefsetz's allegiance is obviously with the tech crowd as he is clearly a spokesperson for their goals with regard to IP content - a shill for the geeks.

Have a look at this recent statement from his blog regarding ISP filtering:

This is a guy that appears quite desperate here.

(Lefsetz also goes out of his way to unnecessarily trash U2 and McGuinness; as well, he again resorts to utilizing hackneyed pro-piracy rhetoric throughout the post. Talk about going back to the nineties - he himself should accept "reality" and knock off this aged and condescending populism.)

Lefsetz - now clearly - is not only anti-label, but anti-artist and anti-music.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

U2 Manager: ISPs Should Cutoff Pirates, Artists Mistreated

From BBC:

The manager of rock band U2 has urged internet service providers (ISPs) to help end illegal music downloads, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Paul McGuinness called for policies on disconnecting those who acquired tracks illegally, using a speech in France to urge governments to take action.

McGuinness told the Midem conference in Cannes that it was time for artists to stand up against what he called the "shoddy, careless and downright dishonest way they have been treated in the digital age".

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Vivendi Chief: Music Industry Doom Exaggerated

From Reuters:

Vivendi Chief Executive Jean-Bernard Levy has no plans to spin off the music unit Universal and he said on Saturday he believed the gloom surrounding the industry had been over done.

Speaking at the annual Midem conference, Levy said the music industry was going through a huge transition at the moment, with new business models for mobile and Internet services appearing all the time.

But he predicted there would still be a viable market for physical products like CDs for many years to come and he said the industry's future lay, as always, in spotting the right creative talent.

"I think altogether today there is an exaggeration in the industry," he told the conference. "Of course it is not doing that well, but look at us, we have flat revenues, a good two digit margins and it's not as dark as what many people describe."

"Back in 2003 the numbers didn't look very good," he said "(But) as a shareholder of Universal, I have seen the numbers go up quite sharply. We had in '03 a 3 percent operating margin business and we have today a 12 percent operating margin business.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

IFPI: Governments Should Force ISPs to Fight Music Piracy

From CNN:

Speaking to Dow Jones Newswires IFPI CEO John Kennedy, said that piracy was still was still a major problem for the music industry. "For every music track downloaded legally, 20 are downloaded illegally," he said.

Thursday the IFPI renewed calls for governments to intervene to force internet service providers, or ISPs, to play a bigger role against digital music piracy, which has contributed to the decline in music sales and has prompted a wave of lawsuits by the industry against unauthorized downloaders.

From Telegraph:

Music Pirates 'Should Be Banned From Internet'

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Warner Music Acquires French Tour Company Camus

From Reuters:

The French division of Warner Music Group has acquired one of the country's leading tour production and promotion companies, Jean-Claude Camus Productions, for an undisclosed fee.

Camus Productions, which has staged concerts in France for international acts such as Madonna, Michael Jackson and the Rolling Stones, will remain largely autonomous and will continue to be led by Jean-Claude Camus.

Friday, January 18, 2008

More Hack Journalism Courtesy Chicago Tribune


Amazing that virtually no one in journalism is willing to stand up and support artists and the industry against piracy.

Greg Kot of Chicago Tribune writes:
In the last few years, the music industry has combated tumbling revenue by suing costumers (sic), decimating artist rosters and laying off thousands of employees.
Tumbling revenue is employed here as a euphemism for piracy; and as usual, customers is used to describe music pirates.
But in the last few days, one important segment of the music industry actually came up with a rescue strategy that didn’t smack of panic, malice or desperation.

The Songwriters Association of Canada is proposing a $5-a-month licensing fee on every wireless and Internet account in the country, in exchange for unlimited access to all recorded music.
Bad idea and I'm not about to waste my time explaining why, as no one ever bothers to explain the opposite when proffering such nostrums.

Personally, I think it's a terrible idea to ask everyone to pay for those that refuse to; however, the industry and its artists have no other choice. Writing about the looting that is occurring but blaming the providers for it while obfuscating its immorality and direct consequences - for fear of alienating those engaged - is simply reprehensible.

EMI, Warner Bid for Chrysalis

From AP:
LONDON (AP) -- EMI Group, which recently outlined a painful restructuring plan, has made a bid for independent music label Chrysalis Group PLC, a newspaper reported Friday.The report in The Times also said that Warner Chappell, the publishing arm of Warner Music Group Corp., had also made an offer.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Cost of Piracy


Guy Dixon, in his article Music: A New Era of Selling Out for Globe and Mail takes a shot at EMI for seeking corporate sponsorship to help underwrite the development of its artists:

Guy Hands, who is now chairman of EMI after his London-based investment Terra Firma bought the company and its many sublabels ranging from Virgin to Parlophone last year, said yesterday that artists may be in for a new era of selling out, with his suggestion that bands could be sponsored like British sports teams: "Football teams have very distinct corporate sponsorship. Why shouldn't some of the leading bands have the same sort of relationships?" the Financial Times quoted Hands as saying.
Unfortunately - and as usual - nowhere is it mentioned that piracy has contributed greatly to this development, as well as the loss of thousands of jobs and the cratering of record company valuations.

Mr. Dixon writes as though these things are occurring in a vacuum.

With regard to fans being jaded; perhaps artists are becoming a little fed up with the notion of playing minstrels to an audience consisting in large part of spoiled brats that hold them in contempt and consider their work worthless.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Motley Fool Trolls for Music Pirate Traffic With Hack Business Sense


Want easy traffic? Publish some pro-piracy dreck.

(Of course, no media outfit online is going to defend artists and the industry against piracy because that would result in the loss of the free-music advocate portion of their readership via boycott.)

"RIAA Blasts Its Customers, Again"

Let's get this straight once and for all, music pirates aren't customers.

Common sense dictates that should the RIAA cease going after people for piracy, the result would be that music would be considered free to download - greatly accelerating the decline in CD sales - and the industry would face imminent bankruptcy.

Representing the fight against piracy as resistance to technological innovation is ridiculous.

Motley Fool publishes this populist anti-RIAA nonsense for one reason - to lure traffic. However, it comes at the expense of their reputation for sound business and investment advice.

Monday, January 14, 2008

WMG Rebounding on Heavy Volume


WMG appears to have run into resistance last Wednesday at ~4.60, with buying into very heavy (4x) volume following on Thursday and Friday in an otherwise bearish market. Up another 2.7% this morning to 5.26.


EMI to Cut 2000 Jobs, Focus on Catalog

From Joseph Schuman, Wall Street Journal:

EMI tomorrow plans to announce a restructuring that could cutup to 2,000 jobs and emphasize the profitability of its catalogue -- with the likes of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Norah Jones -- rather than its recorded-music division, the Times of London reports. Guy Hands, head of Terra Firma Capital Partners, which acquired embattled EMI last year, is expected to stress how half of the company's profits come from the catalogue division, which employs 1,100 people, compared with the 4,500 who deal with newly recorded music, the Times says. Mr. Hands wants to centralize sales, marketing and other support functions and also scrap EMI's current bonus regime for managers -- which is based on album shipments -- and replace it with one based on group profits, the paper adds.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Amazon MP3 Store Adds Sony BMG DRM-Free

From Ed Christman, Billboard:

Sony BMG Music Entertainment is joining Amazon's MP3 party, and will allow its music to be sold via the unprotected format on the digital download store. The move comes on the heels of Sony BMG's announcement that it will sell album specific digital download gift cards that will be redeemed in the MP3 format.

While the latter announcement was limited in scope to 37 albums, the Amazon agreement represents a broad acceptance of the MP3 format by Sony BMG, which up until now, had been the major deemed the most resistant to abandon the concept of music protected by digital rights management software.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Washington Post Corrects Marc Fisher's RIAA Hit Piece

From Washington Post:

A Dec. 30 Style & Arts column incorrectly said that the recording industry "maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer." In a copyright-infringement lawsuit, the industry's lawyer argued that the actions of an Arizona man, the defendant, were illegal because the songs were located in a "shared folder" on his computer for distribution on a peer-to-peer network.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Sony BMG To Debut MP3 Album Cards

From Ed Christman, Billboard:

Sony BMG Music Entertainment will roll out its Platinum MusicPass series of digital album cards beginning Jan. 15 at Best Buy, Target and Fred's, with Trans World and Winn-Dixie coming to the party by the end of January.

In Canada, participating retailers include Best Buy, CD Plus, Shoppers Drug Mart, and Wal-Mart with HMV coming on board sometime during the first quarter.

The digital album gift cards, which retail for $12.99, will be artist-specific and feature album artwork, and will come with bonus material. The card will contain a scratch-off that will reveal a PIN number that can be redeemed for a download at

Friday, January 04, 2008

WMG Acquires

From Ed Christman, Billboard:

The Alternative Distribution Alliance, an independent distributor owned by the Warner Music Group, has acquired, the only indie music lifestyle store, sources confirm.

ADA apparently will use the Insound digital sales infrastructure as a back-end to allow its labels and indie accounts to open their own online download stores.

Trans World To Close 138 Stores

From Ed Christman, Billboard:
Trans World is preparing to shut down 138 of its 962 stores in another year-end pruning of its real-estate portfolio. Going-out-of business sales for the planned closures began on Dec. 7 and the closings are expected to be completed by the end of January.

Total Music Purchased Up 14% In 2007

From FMQB:

Nielsen SoundScan has released its annual year-end sales figures, and while total overall music purchases were up, album sales continued their steady decline in 2007. Overall music sales; which combines albums, singles, music videos and digital tracks; increased to 1,369,000 from 1,198,000 with a 14 percent increase. While overall album sales (which includes 'track equivalent albums') fell by 9.5 percent, total album sales were down by 15 percent from 588.2 million to 500.5 million. The purchasing of physical CDs online grew by 2.4 percent. Also, 20 percent of total album sales for the year took place in the last six weeks of 2007.

Trent Reznor: Saul Williams' Sales "Disheartening"

From Trent Reznor:

I have to assume the people knowing about this project must either be primarily Saul or NIN fans, as there was very little media coverage outside our direct influence. If that assumption is correct - that most of the people that chose to download Saul's record came from his or my own fan-base - is it good news that less than one in five feel it was worth $5? I'm not sure what I was expecting but that percentage - primarily from fans - seems disheartening.

Sony BMG to Drop DRM

From Catherine Holahan, BusinessWeek:

In a move that would mark the end of a digital music era, Sony BMG Music Entertainment is finalizing plans to sell songs without the copyright protection software that has long restricted the use of music downloaded from the Internet, has learned. Sony BMG, a joint venture of Sony and Bertelsmann, will make at least part of its collection available without so-called digital rights management, or DRM, software some time in the first quarter, according to people familiar with the matter.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Bon Jovi Joins Van Halen in Scalping Game

From Alfred Branch, Jr., Ticketnews:

It appears that you can add Bon Jovi to the list of artists scalping tickets to their own shows for hundreds, even thousands, of dollars above face value.

Bon Jovi joins Van Halen and other artists in the ticket scalping game as a way of maximizing revenues on their current tour. Band, promoters and venues are now routinely withholding blocks of premium tickets from fans, which they later resell at significantly higher prices through various means, such as StubHub!, fan sites, Ticketmaster or auction sites.

They typically get away with it because the identity of the reseller is not always obvious, but they also face a potential firestorm, as in case of the wildly popular Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus tour, if fans believe they are being duped.

Apple Label Speculation


Should Apple launch a record company, would the rest of the music industry continue to license content to iTunes - which would then represent a direct competitor's captive retail outlet?


Such a move makes sense however, if Apple anticipates eventually losing some or all of its current agreements and/or working relationships with the majors.

Actually, Apple buying WMG might make considerable sense in that case.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

U.K. Shops Fees Rise to Play Music

From Richard Tyler, Telegraph:

Shop owners face inflation-busting rises in the cost of playing music to entice customers into their stores from Tuesday.

The smallest shops - those up to 100 sq m - will see the royalty payments they have to make each year to play background music increase by 13pc. Those with larger premises face slightly smaller rises, with, for example, a 1,001 sq m shop now paying £495.50 a year to play CDs or the radio, up 6pc.

The Performing Right Society, which represents over 50,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers, said that increased shop opening hours and the growing the importance of music "in creating a brand and attracting customers" justified the price rises. It said it also planned to review the tariffs charged to other workplaces, like offices, pubs and restaurants.

Beijing Court Sides With Baidu in Music Piracy Case

From AFP:

BEIJING (AFP) — A Beijing appeals court has found top Chinese search engine not guilty of property rights infringement for posting links to websites offering illegal music downloads, state media said Monday.