@musictechpolicy:Google Targeting Judiciary Ranking Member Position as Conyers Steps Down

Who can forget Zoe Lofgren, the Member from San Mateo (aka Google) who is currently the #3 most senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee?  You may remember Ms. Lofgren’s scorched earth campaign against Maria Pallante, the former head of the Copyright Office who I think was the subject of a retaliatory termination by the Librarian of Congress.  Lofgren’s campaign went absolutely nowhere and has been on the side of monopoly power emanating from Silicon Valley her entire career.  Which company does she favor with unwavering loyalty?

You guessed it–the Leviathan of Mountain View, the multibillion dollar multinational monopolist, Lessig’s long-time benefactor and funder of a host of NGOs–Google.  Google wants control of the House Judiciary Committee through their influence over Lofgren.

The current Ranking Member is Rep. John Conyers who has resigned his position as Ranking Member after harassment allegations and some allegations of misuse of funds to settle sexual harassment claims (which are coincidentally also surfacing or resurfacing about top Google executives like Andy Rubin, Larry Page, Sergey Brin and, of course, the notorious “serial womanizer” Eric “Uncle Sugar” Schmidt).  This leaves the Ranking Member seat open, although Rep. Jerry Nader is next in line in seniority, you know, like “Ranking Member” implies.  Rep. Nadler has long been a staunch ally of the little guy, especially our legacy artists on pre-72 recordings that Google made it their mission to screw over through their price fixing cartel and Lofgren pals, the MIC Coalition.

MIC Coaltion 8-15
Google’s MIC Coalition

This is nothing new, of course, as Lofgren has been measuring the curtains for a long time, way before the Conyers story came out.  Lofgren didn’t make any friends in her attacks on Maria Pallante after the House overcame the Google smear operation that Lofgren led in the House and voted 378-48 in favor of taking away the Librarian of Congress’s power to appoint the next Register.  (Even so, Google has been effective in stalling the Senate version of the bill despite Lofgren’s lopsided loss).

For recent historical reasons, the position of Ranking Member is not automatically filled by the most senior member of the applicable party.   That position now requires a vote of the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, which Nadler will surely win when his acting position comes for a vote by his colleagues–but–the Member from Google reminded members of her caucus that she wanted the gig real bad in a November 29 letter:

“Whenever an official vacancy at the top Democratic position of the Judiciary Committee may occur in accordance with Caucus Rules, I will put my credentials forward for my colleagues’ consideration.

I am confident that, as a 23-year veteran of the Committee with nearly 9 years of prior staff service, I fully meet all the criteria for the position as outlined in Caucus Rule 21.  That rule states that, in selecting a successor to a Ranking Member vacancy, the Democratic Caucus ‘shall consider all relevant factors, including merit, length of service on the committee and degree of commitment to the Democratic agenda, and the diversity of the Caucus,’ and that the top Committee position “need not necessarily follow seniority.”

But Ryan Grim and Lee Fang writing in the Intercept crystalize Lofgren’s problem:

Had Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., then well into his 80s, retired from Congress, Lofgren would have been well-positioned to claim the top-ranking seat on the Judiciary Committee. Yet he ran for re-election. Again. And again. And again.

He stayed so long that Lofgren’s brand of Silicon Valley politics is now past its expiration date, her once virtuous alliance with the forces of progress and innovation curdling into a protection racket for increasingly unpopular monopolies.

Conyers on Sunday announced he is stepping down as the top-ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, launching a battle for his successor that has pitted two Democratic rivals — Lofgren and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y. — against each other. On the one hand, his resignation comes in a politically fortuitous way for Lofgren, with Conyers felled not by age but by allegations of sexual harassment. The political logic of replacing him with a woman is obvious. But then there’s Google.

The race for committee chair threatens to become the first fight over monopoly politics after the rollout of House Democrats’ “Better Deal” platform for 2018, which was built on going after concentrated power, particularly in the tech sector. Elected to Congress in 1994, Lofgren represents San Jose and the Bay Area, and is far and away the most stalwart defender of big Silicon Valley firms among House Democrats.

“It certainly may raise questions to have someone from Silicon Valley in a position where one of the key responsibilities is to oversee the conduct of Silicon Valley,” said Jonathan Kanter, a prominent antitrust attorney.

The problem that The Intercept put their finger on is that very few–and I mean very, very few–in the Congressional leadership believes that the whole SOPA dustup was for real and was instead one of the worst cases of astroturf ever perpetrated against a legislative body and its shell shocked staff.  Lofgren associated herself with that assault and has been heard to bring it up as a threat that sounds more hollow by the day.

What we have to realize though is that even if Rep. Nadler–who is one of the truest blue progressives in the Congress–gets the Ranking Member position, in my view Lofgren clearly has her marching orders and will not stop until she’s told to stand down.  Her supporters clearly have a lot of cash to hand out and are feeling the consequences of the election which severely curtailed their influence in the Executive Branch.  And one of the ways that members get influence is not only raising money for themselves, but having the ability to raise money for other members or their party.

 

@rileynf: The Payola Blues: New Technology, Same Old Tune?

[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

the payola blues happy mag issue 6 spotify paid playlists

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

@crunchdigital Announces Digital Music Sandbox for App Developers

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 28, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Today Crunch Digital, a music metadata management, reporting, and licensing service that bridges music rights owners with content users, is announcing the launch of the Crunch Digital Sandbox™.

The Sandbox is a music licensing platform that enables qualified app developers to include music legally from participating major and indie record labels and music publishers under short-term developer licenses – and do it faster.

The Crunch Digital Sandbox™ directly addresses the much-publicized problems and concerns surrounding music licensing, which have stymied innovation critical to new business models and new revenue streams for the music industry.

On one side, you have innovators and startups who need licenses now – because tech moves fast.  On the other side, you have record labels and music publishers who are inundated with emails and pitches for licenses, all vying for their attention.  It’s unrealistic to expect record labels and music publishers to take time away from their core business to quickly vet and assess the viability of all the incoming license requests.  You also have investors who have been shying away from backing new music companies due to scary infringement lawsuits and high licensing transaction costs.

In making the announcement, Keith Bernstein, Founder of Crunch Digital said, “With the Crunch Digital Sandbox™, app developers can prove out their concepts and features before engaging in all-encompassing music licensing negotiations.  They will have a better opportunity to gain market traction and attract potential investment for a full product launch. For record labels and music publishers, the Sandbox helps them to focus their attention on viable opportunities.  For investors, they can invest in companies that show proof of concept and mitigate the concerns they have about music licensing.”

Getting started with the Sandbox is easy.  Interested developers submit an application to Crunch. Crunch will vet the applications.  Once an application has been approved, Crunch will work with the applicant to help present their idea to labels and publishers who are participating in the Sandbox.

Crunch will then assist developers in requesting a customized limited use license for access to catalogs, either for a period of time or until the company hits a certain success threshold.  Crunch will share growth metrics with participating labels and publishers – and standout developers can start the conversation to “graduate” from the Sandbox and move up to a long-term licensing deal.

Bernstein added, “For innovators and entrepreneurs, being a part of the Sandbox gives them an invaluable opportunity to go from having no meaningful knowledge about music licensing, no meaningful connections, and probably no awareness of who to contact at labels and publishers, to working with a team of people at Crunch who can help to put them on a path to legally launch with music that will help them find an audience.”

The Sandbox will officially launch in January 2018, and Crunch is already accepting applications at www.digitalmusicsandbox.com.  Record labels and music publishers can also visit the site to become a content participant.  View a fun video about the Sandbox here:

About Crunch Digital
crunchdigital.com

Crunch Digital is an independent technology firm based in Los Angeles, California with a long pedigree in the media & entertainment industry. Crunch Digital’s mission is to eliminate the barriers of music licensing and payments, ultimately fueling better revenue flow and reducing operating costs through streamlined workflows. We offer a full suite of solutions and services to provide a simple, affordable, compliant and reliable way to license and report the use of music content. We support content owners – including record labels and music publishers – by managing the flow of data to and from digital services. We also manage data flow for content licensees – digital service providers, multi-channel networks, game companies, app developers and mobile carriers – including royalty reporting and payments.

CONTACT INFORMATION
Crunch Digital
Julian McGreevy
186675@email4pr.com

View the post on Yahoo Finance

@christocarbone: Advertisers flee YouTube over videos exploiting children, ‘disturbing’ autofill results

[Editor Charlie sez:  And Google is opposing the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers legislation?]

Major companies have suspended advertising campaigns on YouTube after their ads were displayed with videos depicting children in threatening situations—while the tech giant investigates ‘disturbing’ autofill results that users flagged over the weekend.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Mars Inc., Adidas and Diageo, maker of spirits including Tanqueray and Captain Morgan, have suspended their advertising on YouTube.

The videos were highlighted in a BuzzFeed report that described a “vast, disturbing, and wildly popular universe of videos” that included live-action footage of children depicted in compromising situations. YouTube took down some videos and responded by saying it would do a better job of enforcing its community guidelines.

Dozens of users have also claimed that YouTube’s autofill results include phrases that promote pedophilia—for example, typing “how to have” into the search box brought up “how to have s*x with your kids.”

Read the post on Fox News

@AlanWolf_TWICE: Let’s Get Physical: Amazon and Google embrace brick-and-mortar

Wasn’t too long ago that pundits predicted the end of physical storefronts.

Now, in an ironic twist, the very forces of digital commerce that were supposed to do in brick-and-mortar have become hot for commercial real estate.

Two of the biggest proponents are smart-home contenders Amazon and Google. The e-tailer has opened bookstores, pop-up shops and in-store Kohl’s sections across the country, while the search engine giant is plying its proprietary Home products via temporary holiday stores in New York and Los Angeles.

TWICE visited two of these physical manifestations, which provide further proof that the corner store is here to stay.

Read the post on TWICE

@robertblevine_: Will Tech Startups Finally Make Record Labels Obsolete? Not So Fast

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Record labels are irrelevant because they’ve been disrupted by a venture-funded technology start-up. The major labels exploit artists, who can now distribute their music directly to consumers online, plus get the data they need to make money playing concerts, selling merch or doing sponsorships. Sound familiar?

It’s an old joke — on creators.

The latest telling involves UnitedMasters, a startup run by Steve Stoute, CEO of the marketing company Translation, and funded with $70 million by Google parent company Alphabet, venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and 21st Century Fox. UnitedMasters will distribute artists’ music online, apparently without requiring them to sign over copyright. It will use the data it gathers to better target consumers with ads, while artists can use it to better target fans with offers for tickets or t-shirts.

It’s a great story. An old business gets disrupted, a new company is built and artists grow more empowered. Andreessen Horowitz co-founder Ben Horowitztold the Journal that the idea came together at a “Google Camp” event in Italy. And why not? Google co-founder Larry Page “has a deep sensitivity for the artist,” as Stoute told TechCrunch. Artists worried about how little YouTube pays will be happy to hear this.

It’s hard to tell what, exactly, is new here.

Read the post on Billboard

@musictechpolicy: Facebook’s Music Licenses: What’s Not to Like?

Facebook pays no royalties for the music that gives significant value to the platform. That’s often a surprising proposition for artists and songwriters, much less the general public.

Yet it is true—hitmakers and new artists, pros and amateurs alike do not get a penny from Facebook and the company doesn’t even attempt to license their work. Why should a multibillion dollar multinational corporation that anchors a large piece of the Internet economy and whose founder is planning on running for President of the United States get to pay music makers in exposure bucks?

The answer is that Facebook, like YouTube and many other user-generated content platforms hide behind the legacy DMCA “safe harbor” and its nonnegotiable, unconscionable, adhesion contract that controls the use of its platform.

Rumor has it that Facebook is evidently coming to the table and is in at least semi-active negotiations with at least some labels and publishers.

One may well ask what took so long—but if it were not for Universal Music Group’s pursuit of Facebook’s infringements through DMCA notices, it’s likely that Facebook would be blithely rolling on its monopolist juggernaut.

On the other hand, this is actually a good time to be negotiating these deals give the Congressional scrutiny of Facebook’s involvement in the 2016 Presidential election campaigns. We have the benefit of public statements by Facebook representatives under oath regarding what they can do and what they so far refuse to do which may come in handy in licensing negotiations.

These negotiations with rights owners may result in what will seem like a very big pop of up-front cash—but is it? And whatever the number, how will that money be distributed to the artists and songwriters that make it happen?