The problem is the music-streaming companies | The Hill – Paul Williams

Be sure to read both articles. They give some real insight in to the struggle and confusion of today’s music industry concerning fairness, transparency and profitability. Who’s the bad guy? Where is the real source of the problem? Why do the artists always get the short end of the stick? It’s always best to have the whole picture, at least as much as one can garner, before making a decision/taking sides/having an opinion.

The Trichordist

Songwriters have a number of allies in the ongoing fight to update our nation’s horribly outdated music licensing laws. But after reading the recent post by CALInnovate’s Mike Montgomery (“Songwriters are fighting the wrong fight,” 10/5/15), it’s clear that he is not one of them. On what grounds can Montgomery, who represents technology industry interests, claim that he speaks on behalf of songwriters?

As a songwriter elected to represent the interests of ASCAP’s more than 550,000 music creator members, I find Montgomery’s arguments absurd and grossly misleading.


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Is a Novelty Item Becoming a Staple?

Vinyl Sales Generate More Revenue Than Free Spotify, YouTube, and VEVO Combined

Seems like Vinyl albums may be the way of the future for physical sales. CDs will soon diminish and join the ranks of cassettes and a-tracks, only to be replaced by their ancestor.  How interesting it is to imagine the future of the industry in this way. To think, one day consumers will listen “on the go” via streaming (possibly DDL’s) whilst at home, they will listen a la turntable and vinyl. Once again, every household will have at least one turntable amidst all their high tech and digital home appliances. Imagine the Jetsons, but with a turntable!

The surge in vinyl sales isn’t much of a surprise. There’s no real purpose for buying physical formats any longer. The one thing vinyl has above all other listening platforms, including digital, is a superb listening experience.  The sound picked up by vinyl is pure, full, warm and imperfect. The slight imperfections give the music a real or “human” quality that is a miss with digital. It seems to me that when most decide they want a physical copy of their favorite music, they don’t just want a CD. The consumer wants the full and intimate experience one can only get from holding vinyl in their hands. The vinyl record is art, and highly collectible art at that. There is a sense of pride when one can claim ownership of a vinyl record, or declares to their friends, “I collect vinyl.” Also, vinyl records are considerably more expensive than their digital counterparts. Couple that with demand because of the cool factor, and you have soaring revenues! 

Every other format has vanished or diminished considerably, except for vinyl. The vinyl record has gone under the radar since its first inception but has never truly disappeared. Now it has been revived in all its glory! Seems like we did it right the first time. 

Maybe vinyl will help you keep it sounding right…

1979 20/20 Talks New Wave and Punk

Fun and interesting window on the perspective of a significant period in our musical history as it happened!

December 1979, 20/20 talks about the 1980’s new wave and punk phenomena. 

Original two part video segments are at the bottom of the article!

(Bit of a disclaimer… There are some parts I have issue with that I believe are not 100% accurate, but hey, it’s still cool.)

A Single Source

The Failure Of The Global Repertoire Database
Trying to source copyrights and royalties is like trying to trace your ancestry without the help of DNA and a geneologist. It’s doable, but get ready for a hassle and a half. 

Tracing rights and royalties can be a time consuming and expensive task. Largely due to the fact that there is no centralized database for such information. There have been quite a few attempts to create one by PROs (performing rights organizations) and other rights agencies, but all have failed. The most successful attempt was the GRD WG (Global Database Repetoire Working Group)  back in 2008. All was going swimmingly up until this past year in 2014. The project could move forward no longer once certain PROs, namely ASCAP (American Society Of Composers Authors and Publishers), pulled out. It seems no one could agree on who would run the whole shin dig. A lot of agencies were also concerned about losing business if clients could just source and license from the database directly. They would then become obsolete.  

I don’t see why they can’t just make the database like a world wide directory or library of some sort… The article I have linked at the top of this post is a good read. It goes into more detail. 

Any questions, concerns, ideas? Comment at the bottom, and remember, keep it sounding right. 

The Monopolistic Norm

News Review: Who will survive the music streaming wars? Apple Music, SoundCloud, Vevo: what were the industry’s biggest trends this summer? Find out now!
So we’ve all seen in some form or capacity the big hullabaloo about the media streaming world. Particularly for music it’s been Spotify this, Apple Music that, Tidal barely there, Soundcloud’s up and coming, etc.. Who will be the next big thing? Who will get it right? Who will dominate the market and steal the competition’s listeners? 

I don’t know guys. Is it just me or is something a little off here?

All that the article I’ve pasted above and many others like it tell me is how accepting and expectant we as a society have become of our economy’s oligopolistic, and potentially  monopolistic state. I mean, we all know our ideal of a true competitive market doesn’t and hasn’t really existed for a while now as far as major markets go, but now it seems like we don’t even care anymore. In fact, we’re pushing for it. It seems as if we’ve come to a point where we demand a champion of the market. We as the consumer and market analyst expect an undefeated ruler to reign over all the rest. “Who will survive the music streaming wars…” as stated in the title of the article pasted above. 

What happened to, “Oh ok, streaming’s the new big thing and here are our players amongst which consumers can take their pick…” Instead of, “Apple Music seems to be having little impact on existing, rival streaming services.“(Quoted from the article I have pasted above.) Notice the excessive focus on impact of RIVAL competitors and market domination. I feel like I’m reading about a joust or boxing match to the death! It seems that we’re obsessed with the senseless, unforgiving slaughter and complete obliteration of competition.

Hear ye, hear ye! Streaming market gladiators fight to the death in the music industry coliseum! Only one will live and be crowned victor across the lands! (I’m crossing some period lines here, but you get the picture)

Weren’t we taught in school that healthy competition is good for the economy and monopolies are bad? I feel like I’m asking, “Didn’t your mama teach you any manners?” Apparently we’re getting all swept up in the hype and threw “manners” clear out the window!

I think it’s high time we check ourselves people, and keep it sounding right… 

P.S. I have to say, I do love the image Pierre Ziemniak, the author, used for his article. Major brownie points.  May the force be with you…

Sleeping Through a Revolution

Sleeping Through a RevolutionBy Johnathan Taplin

I strongly suggest watching this lecture by film producer, writer, scholar, etc. Jonathan Taplin. 

Taplin brings up a lot of excellent points to think on and discuss with one another. Points like the state of the Internet, its ethics (if there are any), net neutrality, the internet’s effects on business and market structure, the “creative class”, our humanity and the loss of it; among other things. 

Till next time, keep those cogs ever rolling and have them sounding right…

Playola, Payola… It’s All the Same to Me

How ‘Playola’ is Infiltrating Streaming Services: Pay for Play is Definitely Happening -Billboard Magazine

Payola is the acceptance of payment from a label to a radio DJ as incentive to air the label’s latest artist. This practice of taking such bribes is illegal and for good reason I may add. 

The major labels now pay streaming services to place them on the streaming services’ most popular playlists. 

Sounds pretty similar doesn’t it? My point exactly. However you look at it, or what ever you call it, paying to be played is illegal. 

Seems like Spotify will attempt to rectify the situation by implementing a policy that would strictly prohibit such practices. Penalties would include deletion of playlist that accepted payment, a ban on the label or account user, etc. 

Till next time, keep it sounding right. 

The Streaming Struggle

Spotify Considering Major Restrictions on Free Tier
Spotify is the streaming equivalent of the early 2000’s Napster debacle. 

Yet again the music industry has no idea what it’s doing and is stupidly stumbling all over itself.  It’s like Napster was the toddler years and now we’re in the awkward and rebellious teen stage with streaming. Good news is they’ll grow out of it, right?

Spotify is finally catching on and realizing that free, or close to free doesn’t work. It’s called stealing and slave labor. Own up and pay up. Support the artists that complete your life and make you happy. It’s not cheap making music and it takes a whole lot of dedication, a whole lot of love, and a whole lot of courage. There are folks out there that invest nothing, doing mindless work that get a larger income than most musicians. 

Here’s hoping to the future.

And remember, keep it sounding right!

Easy to Read Rights and Royalties

So, here we are. Hope everyone is having a wonderful summer!

Today  will be the first of a short series of weekly entries. For you my dear readers, I will clarify the infamously grey and misty area that is rights and royalties. After this, you should have a clearer understanding of their purpose, what goes to who, which you should concern yourself with and when. And please, if you have any questions, leave a comment below or email me!

We will run through:


Performance Rights

Mechanical Royalties

Artist Royalties

Compulsory License and Fees

Songwriters and Publishers vs. Musical Artists and Performers


A) All this means is that you own the right to copy your musical work (i.e. music and/or lyrics). By owning this right, you also own the right to license this right to anyone of your choosing. (For a fee of course. Unless you don’t mind handing it out for free. You own the rights, you do what you will.)

It is true that once you think of or create something you do in fact own the rights to it. The only problem is you have no real concrete evidence to prove it is yours. A registered copyright is an official (sign sealed and stamped) government document that is undeniable proof of ownership. It’s your choice. Defend your ownership with word of mouth, dated material, possibly a postmarked self delivered letter containing your work –OR– a letter from the United States Copyright Office officially declaring your rightful ownership.

Your work must be fixed to something tangible in order to register it. Whether it be a file in Pro Tools, a voice memo on your phone, on sheet music or even scribbled on a napkin… You can’t copyright an idea that’s possibly floating around in the deep recesses of your mind. We don’t have the technology to tap into that yet.

What are you waiting for? Hurry up and register! Protect that beautiful work of yours from scavenging idea mongers. Best of all, copyright registration is super easy and online!

B) Aside from owning the rights to your musical work (song and/or lyrics), you can also own the particular master or sound recording of a musical work. A musical work can have many masters, but only one owner. Many sound recording copyrights, but only one musical work copyright.

For example, say I write a song and own it. Let’s call it “Naima’s Jam.” From here I can decide to produce the recording myself, or I can just stick to being a songwriter and license it to someone else to produce it. Let’s say I produce it…

We sit in the studio, record it, engineer it, tweak it, and all goes well. “Naima’s Jam” out on iTunes! Down load now! Woo hoo! To recap, I own the musical work “Naima’s Jam”, as well as the rights to this particular recording of “Naima’s Jam”. Now let’s say a few weeks, months, or even the next day, some artist (oh hell, let’s say David Byrne) hears it and loves it so much he wants to record it. David Byrne must contact me, or my secretary because I’m such a big shot songwriter, to request the right to record “Naima’s Jam”. I say yes, and he buys the license, or the right, to record my song. (When I say my song, I mean the musical work, not the recording that was already made) Now there are two recordings of “Naima’s Jam”. One by Naima, the songwriter, and the other by David Byrne. One owner of the musical work, and two masters or sound recordings of the musical work. There is no limit to the number of masters as long as the artists seeks permission and the permission is granted by the songwriter/owner of the musical work.

The sound recording copyright comes in handy for sampling. Say Masta Ace heard “Naima’s Jam” by David Byrne and he wants to record a new album because of it. Masta Ace wants to sample a segment of David Byrne’s recording of “Naima’s Jam” in one, or two, or three or all of the tracks on his new album! Doesn’t matter how small or large the sample is (“if the sample is small enough you can use it without asking permission” is a flat out myth!). Masta Ace would have to request permission to sample from both myself as songwriter and owner of the original musical work, and David Byrne as producer and owner his recording of my musical work. He must acquire permission from both of us in order to move forward and sample the recording. If one of us says yea, and the other nay, it is a “no go” for Masta Ace’s masta plans.

Miscellaneous Tidbits:

As long as permission is granted, terms are discussed, contracts signed and fees paid, anyone can be the owner of a musical work or master.

A songwriter can be the copyright owner, but an owner doesn’t have to be a songwriter. The songwriter or copyright owner can always sell his or her rights to another. The song could also  be commissioned a “work for hire”. A work for hire is work done for a salary or one time commission fee. You as songwriter write something for your employer at their behest and you relinquish ownership of what ever work you do while under their employment. Sounds sad, but hey, you signed the contract! (Hint: try to avoid gigs like this, and always own your songs)

As far as owning the master goes, that could be just about anyone. This is usually the producer of the album who in turn could be the one who organizes and provides the capital, the recording artist, the sound engineer, the mixer, or just some one who really is obsessed and loves a particular recording and paid copious amounts of money to claim the rights. Anything is possible as long as ‘permission is granted, terms are discussed, contracts signed and fees paid’.

That’s all for now kids… and remember, keep it sounding right.


What a time to pick to be out of commission. I want to send my sincerest apologies to all of you for my lack of a presence these past few weeks. A lot has been going on, and is coming up. Not to mention the oh so dreaded finals week! cue ominous music Don’t worry, I have not abandoned my duties oh dear reader!

A lot has happened since last I’ve written, hasn’t it? The world of radio is on the verge of change with the #irespectmusic campaign and the newly proposed legislation, Canada joins the band wagon with the US and extends their copyright from life+50 to life+70 years, Jay Z launches Tidal with a reportedly awkward beginning and the uncertainty for what Tidal may actually bring to the table if anything at all. (See, I’ve been keeping up, ;] )

Now that we’re back in full force, expect a lot of informative entries. I think we’ll talk about royalties and licensing next. Really break it down and clarify the differences between mechanical, statutory, and compulsory royalties. A discussion in class last week revealed to me that not a lot of us are very clear in our understanding of such things. That’s what I’m here for!

Until next time, keep it sounding right…