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.