@shirleyhalperin: New Apple Music Head Named as Service Surpasses 40 Million Subscribers

[And Apple leads Spotify in another metric, too.  Apple has not filed a single “address unknown” mass NOI–not one.  Spotify has filed millions.]

[An internal Apple] memo, obtained by Variety, [contained] the latest subscription milestone achieved by the three-year-old service. Apple Music now counts more than 40 million paid subscribers in 115 countries. With some 8 million auditioning the service via free trials, the service is gaining ground on its competitors — namely Spotify, which went public on April 3 — at a monthly growth rate of 5% (versus Spotify’s 2%), per a recent report in WSJ.

Read the post on Variety

@ArtistRightsNow: Action Alert on Music Modernization Act

@NMPAOrg: NMPA Members Win on Wolfgang’s Vault

PRESS RELEASE  
For Immediate Release: April 10, 2018
Media Contact: Charlotte Sellmyer

NMPA MEMBERS SECURE CRITICAL VICTORY OVER WOLFGANG’S VAULT 

Washington, D.C. – After nearly three years of litigation, NMPA publisher members Sony/ATV and EMI Music Publishing, Warner/Chappell, ABKCO, peermusic, Spirit Music, and Imagem Music, have secured an important win in their ongoing efforts against Wolfgang’s Vault, a prolific online distributor of unlicensed recordings. The copyrights in the suit include songs written by members of bands such as The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Talking Heads, R.E.M. and Green Day.

NMPA President & CEO David Israelite released the following statement on the victory: “Judge Ramos’ opinion is a dramatic vindication for our members Sony/ATV & EMI Music Publishing, Warner/Chappell, ABKCO, peermusic, Spirit Music, and Imagem Music whose works have been willfully infringed by Wolfgang’s Vault for years. NMPA is pleased to fully support its members in bringing their case and we look forward to the next phase where damages will be determined.”

Israelite added, “We wholeheartedly encourage fans being able to access the footage they want to watch, however the provider of that footage must obtain proper licenses and pay those who created and own it. We will continue to support this effort to ensure that copyright holders and songwriters rights’ are upheld.”

In a 54-page Opinion issued on March 30, 2018 (and made public on April 9), Judge Ramos of the Southern District of New York found all Wolfgang’s Vault defendants had infringed all copyrighted works at issue. Significantly, the Court found that Wolfgang’s Vault had willfully infringed all works which they had exploited in audio/visual format and certain other works for which they had failed to demonstrate the necessary consents required under the Copyright Act.

While the Summary Judgment determination only addresses the liability of the Wolfgang’s Vault defendants, the finding of willful infringement carries with it the possibility for an award of statutory damages under the Copyright Act of up to $150,000 for each infringement in the action. The case will next turn to assess Wolfgang’s Vault’s monetary liability for their infringement.

Must Read by @DavidGun10 and @justinhendrix: Mr. Zuckerberg, Here’s How You Should Be Regulated

[This is a highly insightful post by professors at the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia (ARW readers will recall that Terry hosted the first Artist Rights Symposium a couple months ago where I spoke and of course is where David Lowery teaches.  Gunton & Hendrix make the case for regulating Facebook which make for required reading alongside Jonathan Taplin’s work.  (Prof. Taplin keynoted the Artist Rights Symposium.)]

On Wednesday, Mark Zuckerberg finally ended days of silence and set out on a media tour to explain Facebook’s role in the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. CNN’s Laurie Segall asked him if he was worried about Facebook facing government regulation after what he admitted was a massive breach of trust between the platform and its users. “I actually am not sure we shouldn’t be regulated,” he said. “I think in general technology is an increasingly important trend in the world. I think the question is more what is the right regulation rather than ‘yes or no should we be regulated?’”

It is certainly time for a robust international conversation about how best to regulate social media platforms, and data privacy more generally. Major technology companies — including Facebook, Google, Twitter, SNAP and others — define the information ecosystem in much of the world. Barely regulated and rarely held accountable, these companies are completely transforming the public sphere. While these platforms present new opportunities to connect people around the world, they also create new spaces for bad actors that wish to spread misinformation, encourage terrorism or incite violence, engage in online harassment, steal personal data, restrict free speech and suppress dissent.

As this urgent conversation gets underway, here are some factors to consider when imagining new regulations…

Read the post on Just Security

Must Read by @MarcHogen: Congress Is Making Headway on a Bill to Modernize How [Songwriters] Are Paid

[Editor Charlie sez:  Marc Hogen, Senior Staff Writer at Pitchfork, takes a detailed and objective look at the Music Modernization Act and makes some critical recommendations for amendments to the MMA.  This is a must-read for all songwriters wanting to better understand the nuances of the legislation.]

In December, Collins introduced the Music Modernization Act(MMA), a 109-page piece of legislation he claims “would literally usher copyright laws into the 21st century.” A Senate version followed a month later. Born from a year of behind-the-scenes negotiations, the proposed law has bipartisan support and—unusual for music-related efforts in Congress—endorsements by lobbying groups representing a broad swath of the industry, from record labels and publishers to streaming services and FM broadcasters. (Some of the bill’s advocates haveargued that it should pass because this time, for once, it could pass.) Provisions of Collins’ bill are expected to be included as part of a package that the Grammys’ policy chief has expressed “very high confidence” will make it onto President Donald Trump’s desk sometime this year….

Though lawmakers are describing the MMA as a “consensus bill,” most of that consensus appears to have been between lobbyists at the negotiating table. While publishing and record-label trade groups advocating for the MMA claim they have cosigns from more than 26,000 songwriters, some in the industry question how much these survey respondents were really told about the nitty gritty. This bill simply shouldn’t be crammed through before the rest of the music community understands what it is and offers ways to improve it. And it’s not just that working-class musicians haven’t been invited to the table—it’s also that the biggest artist advocates they could find are folks like Dionne Warwick and Steven Tyler, neither exactly representative of where songwriting is headed and where royalties should follow….

This alphabet soup of administration would be a lot simpler than the current system, but the details matter. As proposed, the streaming services would fund the MLC, and a board of publishers and songwriters would oversee it. At last (unofficial) count, the board would consist of 10 publishers and only four songwriters. In an open letter, songwriter and big-band leader Maria Schneider has called for an equal, 50-50 split between publishers and songwriters, along with assurance that songwriters would be able to choose their own board representatives. She has a point, and Congress should make the change.

Read the post on Pitchfork.

 

@musicanswersnow Letter to @housejudiciary on Music Modernization Act Shortcomings

March 14, 2018

Hon. Robert Goodlatte
Hon. Jerrold Nadler
House Judiciary Committe
House of Representatives
Washington, D.C.

Dear Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Nadler,

We write to you as founders and directors of MusicAnswers, a non-profit grassroots organization now supported by more than 3,400 independent music creators across America, to express our profound concerns about the Music Modernization Act (“MMA”). We believe the current draft of the MMA completely fails in one of its primary goals: to ensure that all music creators, many of whom are independent and self-published or unpublished, are paid fairly for the use of their music by digital music services.

Instead, the MMA is being used by major music corporations to strengthen their grip over an industry undergoing an unprecedented period of fragmentation, disruption, and growth.  For the Music Modernization Act to live up to its name, it must truly embrace a modern approach to streaming royalties.

A key problem the MMA purports to solve is the disposition of royalties for tens of millions of unidentified works performed by digital music services. These royalties are generally not the property of established music publishers or their writers, entities with the resources and administrative expertise to ensure they are paid for their performances. They are, instead, primarily the property of tens of thousands of writers from around the world who have chosen to bypass the established music publishing paradigms and explore new ways to get their music to market.

So it is astonishing that the “Collective,” the entity designated by the MMA to take control over the entire process of licensing these works and administering the payment of royalties, will be dominated and controlled by major music publishers — the very businesses eschewed by many of the writers concerned. This would create a significant conflict of interest that would compromise the integrity of the MMA.

We draw your attention to the following:

  1. The Collective established by the MMA will be controlled by the major music publishers, with a Board of Directors made up of ten publishers and four writers. There is absolutely no justification for this inequity. The Board overseeing the MMA should have equal numbers of writers and publishers, including some guaranteed representation for self-published or unpublished writers and small, independent publishers. Moreover, members of that Board should be selected by their peers, not by the major publishers or their trade associations (as has been suggested by the CEO of the publishers’ trade association.)

  2. The MMA will create the world’s largest “black box” of unclaimed royalties, amounting to tens of millions of dollars. The process enshrined in the bill for the distribution of this money funnels it directly into the pockets of major publishers, while simultaneously creating a strong disincentive for the Collective to identify the proper owners, as this would only diminish their share of the black box. The distribution of any unclaimed money from digital music services must be accomplished in a way that ensures that the writers entitled to this money, and only those writers, share in this pool of money.

  3. The MMA offers indemnity to digital music services on behalf of hundreds of thousands of music creators, including independent writers who have not exercised their rights under the copyright law to seek damages for prior performances and who were not consulted and did not agree to this provision. It is unconscionable that the indemnity is, in effect, being proffered by entities that have already settled their past claims. Distribution of the unclaimed funds only to writers and publishers with legitimate claims could help to alleviate this concern. In addition, a portion of unclaimed funds could be used to mount a campaign to educate independent writers about the process and benefits of filing their claims.

Absent these kinds of modifications, none of which would imperil the fragile multilateral agreement between the digital music services, performing rights organizations, songwriter groups, and music publishers, this legislation will not benefit the songwriters whose rights and royalties you seek to protect. In fact, the MMA as currently drafted establishes a framework likely to deprive legitimate songwriters of their rights and royalties for the next several decades.

We note that proponents of the bill claim to have the support of the tens of thousands of music creators. We strongly believe that few, if any, of those writers understood the details of the bill or its implications when they were asked for support. (Indeed, the bill had not even been made public when its proponents began promoting online petitions in support, nor was its text included or a link to it provided.) And with all due respect to the songwriter organizations that were involved in the negotiations of this bill, their members do not represent the worldwide community of independent music creators for whom the MMA is supposed to be a solution.

On behalf of those independent music creators, many of whom we count as friends and colleagues, we ask you to be cognizant of the forces that are at work behind the scenes and the reasons for their actions, and to carefully consider the long-term consequences of these legislative efforts.

Sincerely,

Phil Galdston David Wolfert

cc: Member of the Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. House of Representatives
cc: Hon. Senators Alexander, Coons, Feinstein, Hatch, Leahy, and Schumer

Guest Post by @sarahickman: Streaming Royalties Are Ending Opportunities for Working Musicians

[Sara Hickman is one of Austin’s most beloved songwriters.  She has allowed us to republish her viral Facebook post on how streaming is hollowing out the “middle class musician”.  (If you want data on this phenomenon, see the Austin Music Census, the most comprehensive work of its kind that actually connects with working musicians as opposed to the usual hoorah Chamber of Commerce bunk.)  Trust me–it’s not just Austin. As Maria Schneider has written, low streaming royalty rates and increased consumption are essentially destroying the music infrastructure from the ground up.  And the recurring theme from the World Trade Center offices of Spotify is that royalties are too high.  We’re honored to republish Sara’s important post.  And a 44% increase in streaming rates is still $0.00144.]

There were many reasons why I retired from music last year. I’ve never explained them or felt the need to, so I’m not going to start today.

But I do want to point out something that made a chilling difference in my decision. And that is streaming and downloading music versus selling physical cds/vinyl/cassettes, what have you. You’ve all heard how it affects us: the songwriters, the musicians, the bands. I want to share a living example of what streaming does. Because streaming is killing the opportunities of musicians to make a living off of their creations.

My song “I Couldn’t Help Myself” was my biggest success, in consideration of what the industry expects, it wasn’t much. But when it came out in 1990, there was a lovely video, lots of airplay, touring, promotion teams and I was flown to radio stations all over the country to perform live and chat with the DJs. All this to say hard work helped move the song to #3. I was blessed to appear on “The Tonight Show” while it was the single.

All this to lead up to the fact that it is 2018 (28 years later)
and I just received my quarterly royalty statement from Warner Music Group for all the songs from “Shortstop”. Believe it or not, my songs still get airplay around the globe, which blows my mind and, of course, makes my heart smile.

I hope you’ve read this far.

Because the pay off is you’re not going to believe what I’m about to tell you.

I recognize the numbers I’m about to share don’t amount to beans when compared with musicians who have made it to the big, BIG time. But I’ve always considered myself a working middle class musician; I worked my ass off to make a decent living and I was cool with that. I had a niche. I learned how to diversify my talents, read contracts, distribute, create and publish content (music) to support my dream. I enjoyed understanding what I was making and releasing into the world, knowing there would be end results of, hopefully, satisfied listeners and a financial reward parallel to the work, time, effort and costs associated on my end.

Having said that, I’ve watched how income numbers on royalties have dropped since streaming/downloads started.

This new earnings notice (Oct-Dec 2017) shows “I Couldn’t Help Myself” played 14,789 times (U.S., Italy, Canada, Japan, United Kingdom, United Arab Em., Belgium, etc) and here’s what that provided:

$15.98

That’s right.

FIFTEEN DOLLARS AND NINETY EIGHT CENTS for 14,789 captured results of people listening to my song.

That equals .0010 per download or stream. It’s not even
a PENNY per play. And it’s not because it’s me. That’s the level playing field of payment for all of us in music on Spotify, YouTube, Amazon download, Apple iTunes, Google Play, Tidal, Rhapsody, Slacker…even something called Neurotic Media.

Let me hip you to how many of those were downloads (as in paid for content):

19

Here’s how much streaming this one song of mine received:

14,770 plays

As today is the International Day of Women, I thought it was important to remind you of not only how women musicians are treated, but how ALL musicians are compensated and WHY it is IMPORTANT to remember to pay for music.

Video may have killed the radio star, but streaming is ending wages and opportunities for your creators.