In the wake of COVID-19, Musicians Unite For Unemployment Benefits

In a petition to the “US House and Senate, and all US State Governments,” artists are requesting an extension in unemployment and “other benefits to all musicians, DJs, and all gig economy workers who have lost their income due to COVID-19” to be added to the next Federal relief package in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic. 

The collective action requests an “increase and expansion” of unemployment income for workers classified as 1099 employees. 

Artists who have signed the petition include Enongo Lumumba-Kasongo, Downtown Boys, Neutral Milk Hotel, Bikini Kill, and Fugazi.

Read/sign the petition here.

Tech Industry Grifters, Small and Large, Continue to Profiteer From The Work of Artists

In another example of our self-appointed tech-overlords enriching themselves off of the fruits of others’ labour, a group of independent artists discovered earlier this week that their work had been illegally distributed by Amuse, a Stockholm based company linked to will.i.am. On Tuesday, musician Brett Basil, Philadelphia based funk-rock band You Do You, and others discovered that their songs were illegally hosted on Amazon Music, YouTube, and Spotify. 

Adding insult to injury, and reading like celebrity hotel check-in aliases, the uploaded songs were credited to “Kingston Seth,” “Maryn Camors,” and “Zayed Crossley.” The albums were entitled with equally goofy, ESOL-esque, algorithmic word salad, such as “A gospel choir,”Your languid childhood,” and “Heartless Floppy Disks.” The party apparently responsible for stealing, and producing the terrible album artwork, is RikiMusic, which appears to be another fly-by-night music biz/tech startup. 

The company seeks to provide “daily news and commentary on the music industry, technology and social media that drives it, for music industry professionals, indie labels, and d.i.y. Musicians.” The website contains only apparently stolen content; all news stories, which make up the bulk of the website, appear lifted from hypebot

Truly, the next game-changer that will disrupt the industry. Additionally, other apparently stolen albums appear on the website as well, however, the original artists have not yet been found.

When Basil contacted Amuse, they responded to their law breaking by removing the album and “inactivat[ing] (sic) his account.” The predictable new normal of the money-hungry, “shoot first ask questions later” ethics of the tech startup industry.

Instead of doing their due diligence to ensure that works are owned by copyright owners before distributing songs to streaming platforms, Amuse has thrust the burden upon the artist to navigate a sea of data to determine if they are actively being robbed of their work. Amazon and the usual suspects are equally guilty for not employing safeguards to prevent such wanton theft of intellectual property and for allowing such poorly managed distribution services to provide music to their platforms. 

Amuse’s actions seem to ruin counter to their stated belief of “giving control back to artists,” by instead giving control to disreputable tech-bros and neglecting to ensure that songs distributed by their platform are indeed owned by the party uploading the tracks.

This pilfering ménage à trois seems par for the course in our current unchecked technological dystopia.  

At time of writing, Spotify still hosts the infringing material.