@paulxmccarthy: Spotify may soon dominate music the way Google does search — this is why

[Editor Charlie sez:  Mr. Ek, meet Commissioner  Vestager….we’ve been hearing this from the “quiet angel” for a while now.]

While competition online starts the same way as that in offline markets, my research shows it often settles very differently online.

Both have seen lots of competitors emerge in a new area underpinned by new technologies. But online, consolidation ends in a high-stakes winner-takes-most “title fight” between the two strongest players.

In search this was AltaVista vs Google, in social media it was MySpace vs Facebook and in business networking Spoke vs LinkedIn. The result is that the victor at this critical juncture goes on to dominate their corner of the market and becomes almost unassailable in that space.

Facebook vanquished early industry leader MySpace in Social Media….

The evidence is mounting that Swedish music streaming company Spotify is on the verge of seizing the crown in music.

Pandora has been for some time the dominant real-time streaming service in the United States. Three years ago it had a clear lead but competition from Spotify appears to be stronger than ever. Pandora was a mass market pioneer in the online “radio” style streaming format where users pick stations and the music is compiled for them, whereas Spotify adopted an on-demand model which has prevailed.

Read the post on The Conversation

@davidclowery: Does Sensenbrenner Bill Mean It’s Time for a Grand Jury?

What appears to be a backdated NOI sent to the author. If this was intentionally backdated this is fraud. Note MRI is simply a third party that sent the notice on behalf of the service.  All legal responsibility rests with the service. 

Digital music services are trying to end songwriters ability to ever sue broadcasters and digital music services for copyright infringement with this bill.   In order to sue for copyright infringement you have to mount a case in a federal court.  Not your local district court.  This is extremely expensive.   I would estimate you need about $250,000 to effectively fight a case.   This bill takes away statutory penalties and legal fees, even when the songwriter prevails.  This makes it impossible for independent songwriters to exercise their legal rights. NAB Broadcasters and digital services like YouTube and Spotify can safely ignore songwriters, especially independent songwriters with no resources. Songwriters and publishers would have never been able to achieve the recent settlements against Spotify, without statutory penalties and legal fees.

So this may surprise you but I say “fine!” Take away our ability to mount copyright infringement lawsuits?  We still have plenty of other (sometimes much more severe) remedies available.  Most songwriters don’t really care about the money.  The royalties are pretty paltry to begin with.  This is really about the principle. This is about justice.

I’m no lawyer but the more I learn about the predicament of songwriters in the US, it feels like something more than just copyright infringement seems to be going on.  My layman’s reading of the situation makes me wonder if this isn’t exactly what the authors of the RICO laws had in mind.  [RICO stands for “Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act”.  Copyright infringement has long been one of the RICO “predicates”.]

Read the post on Hypebot

The 21st Century Marketing Restriction: No licensing for AI

After the money, one of the most important parts of a recording artist negotiation is the “marketing restrictions”.  These are restrictions on what the record company or music publisher can do with your work–what type of licenses they can, or more frequently cannot, grant to third parties, for example.  Essentially, whatever is not prohibited is permitted.

Marketing restrictions also have a temporal element–during or after the term, recouped or not recouped.  There are some restrictions that are acknowledged to be verboten and are usually easy and unrestricted concessions.  An example of these would be licensing for certain types of commercials such as tobacco, firearms, grooming or hygiene products and alcohol.

Stewart Dredge has an excellent article this week in the Guardian which brings to mind Laura Kobylecky‘s post on MusicTechPolicy drawing comparisons between Spotify’s “fake artist” problem and “The Next Rembrandt” with echoes of the fictional  “versificator” operated by Big Brother’s “Music Department” in 1984.  According to Stewart, there are dozens of AI music startups getting funded that all essentially do the same thing.  Using a library of recordings (sometimes called a “corpus”), the algorithms “create” new recordings based on the songs and recordings in the corpus.  Google is, of course, a leader in the space (not that different from how they used Google Books to train their translation algorithm, a process called “corpus machine translation”–the librarians will be next).

Those recordings can then be sold or licensed at a very low price which, as Laura and others have noted, can be used to drive down the royalties payable to all other artists on digital music services.

This is, of course, not dissimilar to Silicon Valley companies hiring lower paid foreign workers and ordering the employees who they are to replace participate in training their replacements.  The difference is, of course, that those recordings have to come from somewhere.

It’s time to start adding to the list of marketing restrictions that the song or recording cannot be licensed for AI purposes of any kind.

Guest Post: Making Fake Art: “1984”, The New Rembrandt, and The “Fake Artist” — MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY

Laura Kobylecky draws striking parallels from the fictional machine-made music in Orwell’s “1984” to Spotify’s fake artist scandal and “The Next Rembrandt”–art created from human works by machine algorithm.

via Guest Post: Making Fake Art: “1984”, The New Rembrandt, and The “Fake Artist” — MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY

@davidclowery: Sensenbrenner’s Extreme Moral Hazard: Bill rewards infringers and punishes songwriter victims

The company that claims to organize the worlds information, could not figure out how locate a songwriter named Brian Wilson, he wrote a little song called “Surfer Girl.”   They filed an “address unknown” notice with the US Copyright Office.  Wtf?

Rep. Sensenbrenner has introduced a bill called “The Transparency in Licensing Act.”  We songwriters call it “The Shiv Act.” It’s pure doublespeak. It has nothing to do with “transparency.”  It is clearly designed to stab songwriters in the back while greatly benefitting the largest members of the Mic-Coalition.org. Read more here,here and here.

In case you are not familiar, the Mic-Coalition is an astroturf group made up of mostly tech behemoths and broadcasters.  At last count these companies’ combined market share exceeded 1.5 trillion dollars. The bill purports to support small businesses like the independent brewers represented by The Brewers Alliance, but it does not.  In fact my unscientific sampling of independent brewers seems to indicate 1) Independent Brewers didn’t know they were supporting this bill, 2) are unaware they were even part of the alliance 3)didn’t know they had urgent music licensing concerns requiring legislative fix. (Maybe the DC policy rep for Brewers Association should explain rationale to members?).

This bill seems to have been designed by the Very Large Business Administration (as opposed to the Small Business Administration). The bill is a complete giveaway to the likes of  Google, and ClearChannel. So just normal pay to play government legislation, right? Nothing to see here people, move along.

Read the post on The Trichordist

@davidclowery: Here’s How You Know Mic-Coalition “Shiv Act” Is About Screwing Songwriters Not Transparency — The Trichordist

Yesterday we detailed one of the main problems with the so-called “Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act” or as Artist Rights Watch termed it “The Shiv Act.” The bill would take away from songwriters legal remedies like attorney’s fees and statutory damages. Thus making it virtually impossible for individual songwriters and small […]

via Here’s How You Know Mic-Coalition “Shiv Act” Is About Screwing Songwriters Not Transparency — The Trichordist

@musicbizworld: Spotify denies it’s playlisting fake artists. So why are all these fake artists on its playlists?

Well… this is awkward.

Last summer, MBW ran a widely-read story which blew the lid off the fact that Spotify’s platform was being deliberately clogged up with music by ‘fake’ artists.

We were told that Daniel Ek’s company was encouraging and even paying producers to create tracks under untraceable pseudonyms – within specific musical guidelines – which were then being drafted into key first-party playlists.

After some consideration, Spotify declined to comment.


On Friday (July 7), nearly a year after our article appeared, Spotify issued a fierce denial of such accusations.

“We do not and have never created ‘fake’ artists and put them on Spotify playlists. Categorically untrue, full stop,” said a spokeperson in response to a Vulture articlewhich cited MBW’s story.

“We pay royalties -sound and publishing – for all tracks on Spotify, and for everything we playlist.

“We do not own rights, we’re not a label, all our music is licensed from rights-holders and we pay them – we don’t pay ourselves.”

What’s essential to remember here: amongst Spotify’s indignant yet carefully-worded statement, you might have missed the bit where they deny that their service is littered with fake artists.

That’s because they can’t.

Read the post on Music Business Worldwide