In April, we reported that SoundCloud’s new copyright infringement software was removing DJ mixes from various websites, including FACT’s.
Things appear to have got worse. London internet station Radar Radio has today had its entire account taken down, despite clocking up over 900,000 plays.
We spoke to Radar Radio, who told us that they were originally told that they had seven days to sort out any copyright infringements on their page, but the account was closed the next day.
Mystifyingly, on top of that DJ Plastician has had his account suspended over a track that he produced, released and owns the publishing rights to.
Behold, once again, the perils of automatic copyright-detection software combined with intense legal pressure from outside forces. There’s no real mystery why Radar Radio was penalized — I’m sure they were posting shows with content that triggered the detection software — but the DJ who claims to have ownership of every facet of the removed track seems to have been a victim of electronic misidentification. (Update: Another possibility I just considered is that his distributor may have claimed the copyright which triggered the take-down. It wouldn’t seem that a distributor would hold the necessary rights to be able to do this, but I do know — from experience — that INgrooves was causing some take-downs for a while. If that’s still happening or how common a practice this is among digital distribution entities is unknown to me.)
I was told that SoundCloud had a ‘three strikes’ rule, where an account would be terminated if this threshold of copyright infringement had been reached. This was worrisome for me as I have a lot of Q-Burns Abstract Message content on my SoundCloud account that have master rights ownership by various entities, though I am the songwriter and publisher. Legally the master holders do have the right to flag my content, but I am always able to work it out with them to keep these tracks live on my account. But every time SoundCloud updates this detection software (or new audio fingerprints are added en masse) then I’m confronted with a number of new take-downs to dispute. It’s annoying, but even more annoying is the fear of suddenly acquiring three take-downs at once for my own compositions, and then I’m going through the hassle of reinstating my terminated account.
One should not have to use a service — and pay for it, as I am — while being fearful that it could be taken from you for reasons outside of your control. Surely this can’t be the way forward.
I am pretty certain SoundCloud are sick about all this and wish it weren’t the case. Indeed, our friends at Universal, Sony, et al are to blame. And credit where credit is due — when I do have to deal with a take-down, SoundCloud are always reasonably swift to consider my dispute and have the track reinstated. As always, I remain interested, though not necessarily optimistic, in how the company works to resolve their own dispute with the major label bullies.
The American Federation of Musicians (AFM) claims that the majors signed a collective bargaining agreement in 1994, and further amendments over the next decade, in which it committed to paying AFM members 0.5% of all receipts from digital statutory and non-statutory music licenses – including audio streams, ‘non-permanent downloads’ and ringback tones – both in North America and abroad.
The AFM’s Pension Fund has now filed a lawsuit in New York claiming its independent auditors recently discovered that the majors have failed to make promised contributions in three areas: (i) from streaming receipts outside the US; (ii) from non-permanent downloads outside the US; and (iii) from sales of ringback tones in the US and abroad.
“The record companies should stop playing games about their streaming revenue and pay musicians and their pension fund every dime that is owed,” said Ray Hair, AFM International President. “Fairness and transparency are severely lacking in this business. We are changing that.”
We’ll probably see a lot more of this over the next several years as we continue to navigate our covered wagons through the wild west of the streaming economy. It’s common knowledge — almost to the point of being grudgingly accepted — that the majors (and many independents) practice fuzzy mathematics when it comes to bookkeeping. But this will get tougher to obscure as the exact science of calculating ones and zeroes connecting to a user’s device replaces hand-counting the number of CD units leaving on a truck from the distributor’s warehouse. Keeping the gatekeepers honest (Spotify, Pandora, etc) will be the key. They aren’t angels, but they don’t have as much of an incentive for smoke-and-mirrors as a record label does.
We’ve been working with the New Delhi-based deep house label Wind Horse Records since the early days of 8DPromo and are excited to be involved in the continuing growth of this ambitious imprint. As Wind Horse moves into its twenty-fifth release, there is more of a global feel, with the Indian talent that label-founder Hamza works hard to expose rubbing shoulders with renowned producers outside of South Asia.
This latest single from Thakur Kartik AKA Kartech exhibits the exotic musicality and expressive range of dynamics that set Wind Horse apart from other house music labels. Indian producers Llewellyn Hilt and Aaryan are on hand to remix, as are Alvaro Hylander, a prolific DJ and label owner (DeepWit Recordings) from Denmark-via-Spain, and UK duo City Soul Project. It’s our latest promotions project here at 8DPromo … here’s a preview of the “Larrisa” single:
Columbia House offered you Incredible Deals™ when you signed up: you’d get a bunch of free albums for a penny, and in turn you promised to buy a set number of albums over the coming year. (To make things easy for you, Columbia House would automatically send you some albums unless you told them not to.) Mail-order convenience was big back then, and the idea of a subscription music service that came to your door was pretty appealing. But times change and mediums mutate, and now Columbia House has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Columbia House, my nostalgic heart will miss you. You taught me how much fun it was to buy music, and you taught me to avoid mail-order offers at all costs. In a way, you were the good and the bad of capitalism, all wrapped up in one shiny TV Guide ad.
Columbia House was such a strange thing, and is there anyone out there over the age of 35 who didn’t try it (or try to scam it) at least once in your teenage years? Or who isn’t amazed that it was still around until just now?
Is it a coincidence that, after not entering our thoughts for years, Columbia House was a recent topic of social media conversation, when this excellent article came out exactly two months ago on The A.V. Club? :
Filmmaker Chris Wilcha captured what it was like working at Columbia House during this boom time in a low-key, first-person documentary called The Target Shoots First. Incredibly, few people seemed to bat an eye at the camera, which allowed Wilcha to capture the weird tension between the freewheeling creative department and responsibility-burdened marketing team, the old-guard music executives and the younger employees versed in the nascent alternative music culture, and a corporate environment not quite sure what to do with the next generation.
Twenty years after it was filmed, what’s incredible about Wilcha’s documentary is how the experience of working at Columbia House informs (and, at times, even parallels) the modern media landscape.
The article becomes a fascinating roundtable discussion between the filmmaker and three of his Columbia House co-workers. There’s a lot of talk about the culture at this red-headed stepchild of the music industry, as well as attempting to decipher the nuts-and-bolts of how “8 CDs for a penny” could actually be so profitable. It’s a long read but highly recommended.
Via Retronaut, take a well-earned five minute break to gaze at these wonderful photos of vintage diving suits (1900-1934).
“Record contracts are just like — I’m gonna say the word – slavery,” Prince told a group of 10 journalists Saturday night, during a meet and greet at his Paisley Park Studios in Minneapolis. “I would tell any young artist … don’t sign.”
His pitch to the group was simple: Typical record company contracts turn artists into indentured servants with little control over how their music is used, particularly when it comes to revenue from streaming services playing their music online — and he wants to change that. He (also) advocated seeing artists paid directly from streaming services for use of their music, so that record companies and middlemen couldn’t take a share.
A good, if intentionally hyperbolic, message from The Purple One. His behavior regarding his catalog seems, from the outside, a bit erratic (to say the least) but he appears content in that he’s making these choices himself, and that’s commendable. However, if Prince is really interested in shaking things up then I’d love to see him follow Louis C.K.’s lead rather than hitching himself to Tidal.
Music curation community This Is My Jam is shuttering its service next month. Co-founders Matthew Ogle and Hannah Donovan explained in a blog post that, in addition to wanting to move on to other projects, it became difficult to keep up with changes to services like YouTube, SoundCloud, Twitter and more that the site depends on.
Over 2 million tracks have been shared over the last four years of This Is My Jam’s existence. When it launched, it focused on careful curation over frequent sharing — and that’s what made it special.
If you pull apart some of the backstory behind the end of a service called “This Is My Jam,” you’ll come across an unnerving reality of the way music on the Web is evolving (or devolving).
Apart from This Is My Jam, I still have to think that independent producers and labels ultimately benefit from a more open Web. Embedding players means more data about would-be fans and listens, data that’s hugely valuable to musicians. It means the flexibility to easily get your music where you want it. And ultimately, it means easily facilitated sharing, which is vitally important in an age of abundant music from around the world.
I don’t mean to suggest that we should go back to the tools we had. But simply giving up the possibilities of sharing is a retreat, not an advancement. We ought to be able to do more with the Internet.
I’m probably like a lot of people out there in that I really like This Is My Jam, but I don’t use it that much. That’s too bad as it was a fine, though ultimately flawed, idea. Now and then I’d recall a song that I love and that would inspire me to post it to This Is My Jam, eventually making my account serve as a repository of these great songs that pleasantly interrupted my days. I also know someone who would post a song every morning as a sort of ‘good morning, friends!’ message. Things like this made TIMJ a warm and personable way to share music, a lot more so than what is available on the other music services. Additionally, TIMJ’s main feature which gave you a stream of your friends’ favorite songs — and just their favorite songs, as was the unwritten rule — made for some appealing and educational sonic excursions, especially if you kept your ‘friends’ list limited to those whose musical taste you admired.
But, alas, TIMJ relied on other services that were outside of its control. TIMJ created its stream of music from shares of content already posted on YouTube, SoundCloud, and a few others who are understandably working to drive traffic to their own sites and services. It was an easy peasy work-around from having to cough up licensing fees (technically, it was the host of the original stream paying). So, for reasons described in the Create Digital Music article, TIMJ is doomed as the world of online music becomes more insular within its specific services. Cymbal, who I’ve mentioned previously, will also likely meet this fate.
The oft-repeated moral of the story: relying on all these different services whose only goal is to make profit from your content is sure to end in heartache. I’m not saying to abandon them, but be very aware of your place in their solar system. Rather than having your fan outreach dependent on external services, have them compliment your own self-reliant architecture — preferably based around your own site — which can’t be screwed with.
After calling out the audiophile cable gods, I’d come to settle the score. I’d brought a $340 “audiophile grade” Ethernet cable, and I was ready to put it to the test with the assistance of the James Randi Educational Foundation in front of a live audience of several hundred people. The goal was to find out if (this) cable made any difference when you’re using it to connect a computer to a NAS on which music was stored. To all common sense and science, the answer was “no,” but that hasn’t stopped a certain subset of audiophiles from believing in them—and from other silliness like decrying the efficacy of the scientific method when it comes to audio testing.
JREF agreed to the proposed collaboration for several reasons. One is that the foundation regarded the claims being made—that the Ethernet cables can make a “plain as day” difference in audio quality—as pseudoscientific, and therefore worthy of testing. Also, one of the foundational principles of scientific skepticism is consumer protection; the JREF says that this is why it engages in debunking other similar pseudoscientific claims of homeopathy or of “power band” bracelets (a version of which the JREF has tested at past events).
But, what if an audience of skeptics—some of whom potentially might see the cable’s failure as a validation of the skeptical point of view—were themselves predisposed to believe they heard no difference?
This is a compelling article that not only addresses the (spoiler alert) fallacy of the $340 Ethernet cable, but also goes into interesting detail on the process and complexity of staging a fair testing environment for something like this.
Writing for FACT, Laurent Fintoni and John Twells have compiled a list of the fifty best trip-hop albums. (Before you freak out, realize that particularly big artists all only get one entry, and the list is confined to the 1990s.) The list is reproduced inside, with links to entry pages, artist info, and (when available) YouTube streams.
Trip-hop is a maligned term but I never had a problem with it. It sort of sums up the sound perfectly … psychedelic hip hop, right? It’s there on the tin. This isn’t a bad list at all, serving to send me down the memory lane of my early DJ days when this was all I would play (I even had a 100 BPM speed limit for a while). The top two are appropriate: no other albums, to me, epitomize ‘trip-hop’ more than Tricky’s Maxinquaye and Portishead’s Dummy. But is Blue Lines really a trip-hop album? Of course I understand the influence of some of its songs on the genre, but, as an album, I don’t feel Massive Attack delved head-on into the sound until afterwards. Also, this list reminds me how much trip-hop was (is?) stronger as a singles / 12″ genre. UNKLE’s Psyence Fiction is an okay album, but it comes nowhere close to touching the trip-hop perfection that is their 1994 single “The Time Has Come” (in collaboration with Major Force). Cue a music break:
Here’s more on “Happy Birthday”, via Boing Boing:
This suit was nearing its conclusion when a thrilling last-minute piece of evidence emerged from Warner/Chappell: an excerpt of a 1927 title called The Everyday Song Book produced by the piano-making firm, The Cable Company. The song, numbered 16, is called “Good Morning and Birthday Song” with the main lyrics under the score, and “optional” words below for “Happy Birthday.” The ostensible copyright notice was blurred in the version supplied by the music company.
Nelson’s lawyer noted it was not the first edition, and were able to get a library to dig up the 1922 version. The same version appears there without a legally required statement of copyright.
This would seem to be the end of the line for “Happy Birthday.” The (plaintiff) should prevail; fees collected starting in 2009, within the statute of limitations at the time the suit was filed, should be refunded; and a clear future would be established for public-domain use. But copyright is a crooked path.
It would be nice to close the book on “Happy Birthday,” but it doesn’t close the book on copyright absurdity. An abundance of material from 1923 is poised to enter the public domain in 2019 unless a further taking of the public interest occurs, as the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act did in 1998, adding an unnecessary 20 years to the existing 50 years’ protection past an authors’ death.
I’ve been following this convoluted case for a while, and the article on Boing Boing quoted above is perhaps the best summation of the whole thing that I’ve seen. It also includes background on the sisters who wrote “Happy Birthday” … their story, which I didn’t really know, is fascinating.