Archive

PROs

http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/2013/01/louis_pouzin_internet_hall/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+wired%2Findex+%28Wired%3A+Top+Stories%29

No Al Gore didn’t invent the internet, however, some little known Frenchman — Louis Pouzin — played a major role in the birth of the Internet that greatly influenced Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn (the birth fathers of TCP/IP).

What I like most about this Wired magazine article is how it acknowledges “simple” as a prerequisite to the open nature of the world wide web: Without Pouzin’s work on datagrams, plus Cerf & Kahn’s work of course, we wouldn’t have networks capable of freely exchanging information.

What did you set out to do as an artist with a label deal — create? connect?? and collect???  Use to be all you had control over was the creative process, then again that was seriously compromised because of the money you were borrowing from your label to connect with your fans; touring, videos, press & promo junkets, radio promotions, etc. – all of it costs money and you pay for it because of the recoupable clause in your recording agreement.  And forget about collecting the money you earned, you’re entirely at the mercy of the labels, publishers and their PRO cronies (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, Harry Fox, and now SoundExchange) which should explain your paltry royalties.

Record labels are banks today, and the terms of their loans are still as bad as they were years ago. Create on your own time and dime; connect directly with your fans; collect directly from your fans, and their friends, and friends of their friends.  Embrace technology; be digital; create content not just music; speak directly and daily to your fans; give some of it away and it will come back to you tenfold.

Remember this tip from my uncle Pouzin: keep it simple stupid 😉

Advertisements

Knock knock.  Who’s there?  Spotify.  Spotify who? Right, did you spot who’s got my royalty check!

If you’re a recording artist looking for a payout from music streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, Grooveshark, Last.fm, MOG, Rdio, iTunes Radio (in the works) and the list goes on — have you heard of Soundhalo, that’s the UK start-up Thom York & Nigel Godrich ditched Spotify for? — and you’ve only now begun to complain about the lack of dollars on your royalties checks, then I’ve got one simple question for you: Where the fuck have you been?

Bye bye Thom and Nigel… What’s that Mr. Lowery (of Camper Van Beethoven & Cracker fame), you don’t like the internet “exploitation economy”?  Come again Pink Floyd, Pandora’s founder TIm Westergren is deceitful because he wants to cut Pandora’s royalty rates!!!

Dave, Roger, Nick WTF you’re Pink Floyd, what’s wrong with you guys? I realize you’re just a tad removed from your progressive heyday but that’s no reason to shit on Westergren because the poor bastard is trying to run a business against entrenched radio titans like Clear Channel and Cumulus, who by-the-way (in case you didn’t know) still do not pay a dime of royalty to the artists performing the songs on their airwaves, let alone to the labels.  Did you know the US is the only industrialized nation that does not have a terrestrial broadcast performance right for sound recordings?  This puts us in the same league as Cuba, Iran and North Korea.  I know you think nothing of charging $1,000+ for a concert ticket today and that it’s because of your demi-god status that Pandora should have split its IPO raise 50/50 with you to justify Pink Floyd’s presence on their service, but c’mon!!!

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) recently took out newspaper advertisements claiming having to pay performers when playing their music is “bad for radio, bad for artists and bad for listeners.”  Pandora’s operating at a loss of $36MM for last year and Spotify has shelled out over $500MM since launch.  So where is all this money from streaming services going if not in your artist pockets?

It’s paying to maintain this broken, antiquated, lardish, myopic industry starting with the labels, who this time said we’re getting paid no matter what, and the artists, well, fuck the artists… we (the labels) working in cahoots with our PRO (Performance Rights Organization) partner, SoundExchange, are going to make sure this piggy gets fed right and first… and the artists, well fuck them!  But the industry failing doesn’t stop with the labels.  If a home purchased by Pandora’s CTO is news, then when are the gluttonous salaries of label, music publisher, and PRO Presidents & CEOs going to be news?  The entire edifice is crumbling because no one wants to change.  ASCAP, BMI & SESAC are supposed to be not-for-profit PROs for crying out loud, at the service of their songwriters & publishers membership, yet their collective enforcement power is clearly in NAB’s pocket and they too like radio programmers must be bought.

Artists, when are you going to start talking about boycotting radio and pulling music from the terrestrial airwaves so you’re finally and fairly compensated by an industry that has been milking you dry, sucking at your teet for decades?  Don’t you see the problem isn’t solely Spotify, or Pandora or any of these other streaming services?  When are you going to ask the labels to provide you with transparent accounting so you can see how much they’re skimming from the top?  When are you going to have the guts to say “Fuck this” and find ways to connect with your fans directly and once-in-for-all disintermediate this flailing music industry instead of sending off lame-ass tweets like “It’s up to streaming providers to come back with a better way of supporting new music producers..” (Nigel Godrich)?  In fairness to Godrich this tweet is part of a series in which he points to the salacious behind the scenes deal making major labels did with Spotify to both own a piece of the company and get more favorable royalty rates, but still.

Until that time, do not complain until you’re actively doing something to personally shake up the status quo, and enjoy the simple fact that your music can now be heard by millions more people because Spotify, Pandora and others are actually carrying it.

In the Battles of SOPA and PIPA, Who Should Control the Internet?

Every now and again a great article, like this one in this month’s Vanity Fair, springs forth from the cabals of cultural journalism to adroitly and accurately summarize what’s in play when it comes to the Internet.  More importantly this is the first time I hear of the forces of Organized Chaos being up against the forces of Order & Disorder.

While some may find this way of framing the battle for the Internet as overly simplistic, I have long argued artists have the best chances for success when they collaborate and cooperate to embrace the chaotic forces of the Internet.  This is how a Chaordic Organization functions as defined by the CEO Emeritus of Visa, Dee Hock:

By chaord, I mean any self-organizing, adaptive, nonlinear complex system, whether physical, biological, or social, the behavior of which exhibits characteristics of both order and chaos or loosely translated to business terminology, cooperation and competition.

* Dee W. Hock “The Chaordic Organization – Out of control and Into Order – 1998

In his amazing book, Birth of the Chaordic Age, Hock provides a blueprint for all artists to follow, one that requires artists to get away from music being sold solely as a product to one that emphasizes the importance of music being consumed as a 24/7/365 global service: A service that does away with sovereignty, drowns out piracy, respects privacy and provides security.  How?

Just like Hock convinced Bank of America to give up ownership and control of their BankAmericard credit card program and turn it into a non-stock membership corporation equally owned by all of its member banks eventually called VISA, I am suggesting all artists worldwide give up on sovereign copyright protectionism and embrace a global copyright exchange, called ToBeDigital, equally owned by all of its copyright bearing members be they artists, labels, songwriters or publishers.

Just like VISA facilitates EFTs (electronic funds transfers) throughout the world, ToBeDigital would facilitate ERTs (electronic rights transfers) granting immediate, redeemable access to music to fans on any playback device once they’ve paid a nominal interchange fee + the value of the music purchased set by the merchant.

For a fraction of what artists pay out today to Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) around the world, not only would artists get paid much faster on what they sell, they’d get paid on everything they sell and do away with weightings which are employed by PROs to assign a greater or lesser monetary value to music performances in broadcast media.

And for music fans there would be nothing but complete clarity, total ubiquity and pure enjoyment.

After 244 Years, Encyclopaedia Britannica Stops the Presses – NYTimes.com.

…to figure out that at a cost of $1,500.00 for 32 leather bound volumes they could no longer afford to compete with the free, user generated, 11 years old, encyclopedic website Wikipedia.  It took a decade for a digital phenom to disintermediate a nearly two and half century old business.  Why hasn’t there been a similar, swift change of the guard when it comes to music?

If we credit Edison’s 1886 patent for the wax coated recording cylinder as the start of the recorded music industry, then the business of music today is in its 124th year.  That said mp3 files have been on the internet since 1994, so applying the same disintermediation arithmetic to music means it should have taken about 5 years for the physical consumption of music to go the way of the Dodo bird.  Ironically, 1999 was the music industry’s zenith with global sales topping out at nearly $27B.  Many well known factors (from the failed draconian enforcements of the Copyright Cartels, to the steady adoption of broadband, to the falling costs of technology, to the rebirth of Apple, and the P2P revolution launched by Napster) have since reversed that trend with sales of music dropping steadily every year.

So, again, why is it taking so long for things to change?  Some say CDs are here to stay, that they serve a qualitative and nostalgic purpose.  One good friend, who sells physical CDs online, argues that millions of CD buyers are still out there looking for what he has to offer, and with less competition from brick and mortar stores he’s poised to make a seven figure a year income.  OK, but for how long?  The CD is well on its way to becoming a collectors item and, like the Encyclopaedia Britannica, physically obsolete.

Music fans have spoken, they want 24 hours access to their music wherever they might be, in an easy and cost effective manner.  The way forward is mobile streaming because when fans leave the house it’s their keys, wallet, and cellphone that they take with them.

The Spotify music streaming service is the closest thing they have to that desired ubiquity, but cost for the service and its condescension for indie artists & labels has made for a spotty service.  Spotify is not the future, it’s the staid present under the watchful eye (and ownership) of major labels.  If major labels and their cronies (publishers, PROs, trade organizations) aren’t the agents of change, then why do artists still appear dumbfounded by the fact that change is being spearheaded by TechCos?

What is it going to take for artists to embrace change on their own terms and scale their musical offerings to a global marketplace instead of falling prey to copyright politics defined country by country?

Today your customer is global from the moment you make your music available.  Isn’t it time you started competing and cooperating with each other on a global scale to meet the needs of your fans?  That’s the genius of the Visa credit card: No single owner, no centralized power, no country by country politics, instead a global marketplace defined by a financial exchange between all merchants for the customer and all customers for the merchant.

So why not all artists for the fan and all fans for the artist?