“We started talking about all of these things that we could do if someone would just give us a city and put us in charge?
So whether you call it Trudeauville or Googleville, not since the Treaty of Westphalia has a private company more powerful than the British East India Company had quite such a choice opportunity. (And no, they won’t call it the “Goolag”.) Google gets a chance to fulfill the dream of every hacker since Peter Lamborn Wilson wrote Temporary Autonomous Zones, Bruce Sterling on pirate utopias, Napster thought of locating its servers on Sealand, or White House aide Susan Crawford sighed about how she aspired to “geek around the nation state.”
Yes, Google gets its own city. And who do you think will enforce the Laws of Google? Why robot cops, of course. Cops like Officer Atlas, from Google’s own Boston Dynamics subsidiary.
via Watch Out Toronto, Robocop is coming to Googleville — MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY
The digital music business is booming, representing more than 80 percent of U.S. recorded music revenue in the first half of 2017, according to the RIAA, with streaming alone accounting for 62 percent. But keeping this market growing — and keeping it diverse, so that one or two companies can’t dominate it — requires encouraging more startups to enter a market that’s generally perceived as difficult and complicated.
Could another startup have the answer? Crunch Digital, which helps technology companies handle accounting and payments for the music they use, today announced that it’s launching Crunch Digital Sandbox, a platform that will expedite for app developers the process of licensing music from big labels and publishers. The idea isn’t to negotiate the kinds of complicated contracts needed by big online music distributors — just to quickly create what Crunch Digital founder Keith Bernstein calls “an experimental license” so they can prove their concepts.
Crunch will not license music itself. Rather, it will bring together startups with rightsholders that are participating in the Sandbox program, including BMG Rights Management. “Sandbox strikes the perfect balance, allowing startups to properly license music while ensuring that songwriters are fairly compensated,” says Keith Hauprich, BMG general counsel and senior vp business and legal affairs, North America. “This new model squarely addresses a long-standing concern of the industry.”
Read the post on Billboard
[Editor Charlie sez: Meet the new boss, way, way, way worse than the old boss.]
Google, as with many large companies, has skeletons in its closet that it would probably wish to keep quiet. But after interviewing almost 40 current and previous Google employees, The Information has found that there is an internal culture that has virtually normalized inappropriate relationships. The reasoning for this is primarily because most who have been found in these relationships were not penalized or punished for their actions.
While there are the widely reported and known about relationships like those between Larry Page and Marissa Mayer, Sergey Brin and Amanda Rosenberg, as well as Eric Schmidt and Marcy Simon, The Information was able to identify another previously unreported relationship. This time, it was between David Drummond, Google’s chief legal officer, and Jennifer Blakely, a paralegal in the legal department.
This relationship was kept secret from the HR department until the two had a child together. At that point, the company was forced to intervene and moved Blakely to the sales department and into a position that was not her specialty. Her then coworkers, as interviewed by The Information, stated that Google handled the situation poorly and unfairly. Blakely ultimately ended up leaving Google and the relationship. [But David Drummond is still Google’s Chief Legal Officer.]
This isn’t the only story of misconduct within Google, though. Throughout multiple interviews, employees discussed the downplaying by male employees whenever a female would get a promotion or get one-on-one time with a high-level manager. In many instances, comments were made about the female employees sleeping with bosses or providing other favors to advance their careers.
Read the post on 9to5Google
During a hearing on Friday (Dec. 1) in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York before Judge Alison J. Nathan, lawyers for Spotify and the putative class argued for final approval of the settlement, while two other rightsholders filed objections that the damages for each composition streamed were insufficient. Under the terms of the settlement, the writers of compositions that have been streamed between zero and 100 times would receive a minimum payment, while the rest of the money would be divided on a pro rata basis.
The basic issue is fairly straightforward: Spotify didn’t license mechanical rights for the compositions it streamed, even when it had rights to recordings of them. Although the company says that poor record keeping makes it very difficult to identify and find rightsholders, it also failed to issue the appropriate NOIs — Notices Of Intent — with the U.S. Copyright Office. In March 2016, Spotify agreed to a $30 million settlement with the National Music Publishers Association. Rightsholders can choose to opt out of the settlement and sue on their own, as several have already done.
Dealing with the issue is proving more complicated, especially since Spotify hasn’t said — and no one else knows — exactly how many compositions the company has infringed. That means lawyers for the putative class couldn’t say how much each class member would receive. “It’s hard to give a precise range,” said a lawyer for the putative class.
“How about an imprecise range?” Judge Nathan asked.
This, too, was difficult, apparently, although a lawyer for Spotify, Andrew Pincus of Mayer Brown, suggested a “ballpark” estimate that the company had infringed 300,000 songs. That would mean each rightsholder would get an average of about $100, although the actual numbers would vary widely. Statutory damages for willful copyright infringement range from $750 to $150,000.
Read the post on Billboard
[Editor Charlie sez: Just in time for the Spotify IPO…or debt rollover…Billboard is poised to visit agita on streaming boosters when it corrects the absurd equal weighting of free streams and subscription streams in its sales/airplay/streaming chart, which should also change the way some people…ahem…average the revenue value of the ad/paid streams.]
One of the biggest stories of 2017 is playing out right now, as Billboard works on a revamp of its Top 200 album chart that will give greater weight to paid streams, while ad-supported streams will be devalued. Most majors have been lobbying for just such a revenue-based revamp.
Presently, all streams are weighted equally, with 1,500 streams counted as one album. Those in the know believe the formula for paid streams will be adjusted to 1,250:1, while ad-supported streams will be devalued to 5,000:1. In other words, premium streams would have four times the weight of ad-supported. Under the existing metric, 100m streams of any kind would count as 66,667 albums, while under the new proposal, 100m ad-supported streams would count as just 20k albums, and 100m paid streams would count as 80k albums. On the other hand, albums that rely heavily on ad-supported streams for long periods of time could lose thousands of chart units.
YouTube streams will supposedly continue to be excluded from the Top 200, following vehement protests by rights holders over their possible inclusion.
Read the must read on HITS Daily Double
[Ed. Charlie sez: Here’s more on the disturbing payola-by-another-name issue. NPR’s Laura Sydell first reported on the online payola issue with the “steering deal” in the Merlin-Pandora license and David Lowery raised directly to the Obama FCC in comments to the FCC on the payola issue]
The power of curated streaming playlists cannot be understated. With their capacity to break unknown artists on an international scale, the recording industry is using every means at their disposal to cast their influence over these lists and those creating them. Looking above and below the board raises questions as to whether the sleazier business practices of radio’s past are slithering their way into the world of streaming present.
As streaming services grow to scale, they steadily erode terrestrial radio’s monopoly on breaking artists. Diehard fans alongside a newer generation of listeners are increasingly discovering their music exclusively online. While terrestrial radio still commands a majority audience share, many suggest streaming services could very well become the preferred method for listening to new music.
This article appears in Happy Mag Issue 6. Grab your copy here.
Is a golden era of streaming passing us by in the blink of an eye?
As of 2017, market leader Spotify hosts playlists which are hitting into the millions of followers. Its Are & Blist boasts a 3.6 million plus subscribership, while RapCaviar enjoys more than 8 million. These seemingly harmless collections of tunes dwarf the reach, scale, and engagement of humble domestic radio. To provide an example of scale, as of 2015 leading Aussie broadcaster triple j was dealing in a figure of around 2 million listeners per week across five capital cities.
Such playlists operate as simply as you might expect. Something appears on a popular list and listeners add it to their own. From here, friends of these listeners follow suit and it’s at this point that an artist can explode.
Lorde provides an enduring example. In 2012, Ella Yelich-O’Connor was virtual unknown outside of Australia and New Zealand. Her debut single, Royals, was uploaded to Spotify in March 2013. It languished in relative obscurity before cropping up on tech billionaire [and dopamine pimp] Sean Parker’s Hipster International Spotify playlist on April 2nd. Six days later it was jumping into the Spotify charts. By June, Royals had been picked up by commercial radio in the US. The streaming sparked a buzz, momentum and attention which paved the way for the 16-year-old’s debut album and global chart-topper Pure Heroine.
Lorde’s story is impressive but not unique. There are hosts of interested parties seeking to emulate this path to lucrative success. And in the cut-throat world of music industry megabucks, not everybody is content playing above the board.
Read the post on Happy Mag