Last Week in the Music Business

Music Business Week In Review

This week had its definite highs and lows, with solid numbers for Wiz Khalifa and TiDown being taken down. But it seems all anyone wanted to talk about was Michael Jackson and Apple’s Keynote.

We’ve reached the end of the standard work here at Digital Music News, so it’s time to go right ahead and check out what made waves this week.

The past week started off with the news of the death of controversial and legendary figure, Jerry Heller. Digital Music News had previously reported that Jerry Heller was suing the producers of “Straight Outta Compton” for $250 million. Heller didn’t live long enough to see the end of the lawsuit, as he suffered a heart attack while driving and then got into a car accident. We also followed up with the complicated legacy he left behind.

Monday

What we considered to be a slow news day definitely wasn’t that. Labor Day started off with the news that lawyers for Tidal had filed a DMCA takedown notice on GitHub. What for, exactly? They had requested that TiDown be taken down. The TiDown tool was a command-line tool with images posted on Imgur to help users quickly figure out how to download songs, albums, and even playlists. After being made fun of for releasing the Spotify mp3 downloader, German coder Lordmau 5 created the TiDown website with a campy, very old school internet feel and a mock ‘trashy promo’ video. Here’s where things get a tad bit confusing. According to Lordmau5, the actual DMCA request was illegal, and he could actually take Tidal to court if he knew a lawyer and had the money to pay for the lawsuit. Commenter Versus called out Lordmau5’s hypocrisy on crying foul for the DMCA, writing,

He’s a hypocrite in violating the law on the one hand by disregarding intellectual property rights, and then using the law to criticize the use of the DMCA as “illegal” on the other hand.”

We also brought the news that Tesla is very close to integrating Spotify here in the States, specifically with U.S. models S and X. All of this is still rumored, of course, but as we posited, Tesla wouldn’t have to wait for a public or private beta test of the service, as Spotify integration has already been public in Europe since December 2015.

There was also good news for Jessie J and UMG, as the lawsuit against the singer’s breakout song, “Domino,” was once again dismissed, this time at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The reason? Will Loomis had filed the lawsuit with evidence based on pure speculation.

Overseas, a German court ruled that ticket agency CTS Eventim nor any other ticket agency can nor should charge customers an additional fee for printing out their tickets at home. The only bad news? The court ruling is not yet legally binding in the country, but it does open up doors to similar lawsuits against ticket agencies in Germany. CTS Eventim called the ruling “materially incorrect” and plans to appeal to a higher court.

Editor-in-chief Paul Resnikoff brought the news that rappers J. Cole and Trey Songz were both seen wearing jerseys bearing the number of now-controversial 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Readers will remember Kaepernick has taken a lot of heat for sitting down during a rendition of the U.S. National Anthem. The reason? To protest the poor treatment of African-Americans in the country. Paul also brought the news that more than 100 million people now pay for streaming music services.

In what seems to be the most commented piece of the article (and possibly the whole month to date), I wrote an article detailing my journey investigating the missing PDF that Radar Online pulled after July 10, weeks before the tabloid site was hit with a $100 million libel lawsuit. Was the piece that great? In my opinion, no, but DMN commenters have been bitterly divided between the contents of the PDF. Some say that the PDF is not actually from the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department and was only published to trash Michael Jackson. Others do admit that the contents may actually have been real, showing that yes, Michael Jackson was indeed a pedophile. Comments have ranged from pacific to downright nasty. This writer attempted to steer clear of the accusations, hopefully retaining a neutral stance.

Tuesday

Tuesday began with the news that a judge is now forcing charges on Indian citizens for simply viewing a torrent site.

In unsurprising news, we found out that 1 out of 60 attendees at Nocturnal Wonderland ended up being arrested this year.

There was also the news that Pandora may be looking to charge a $5 monthly rate, which would strongly undercut Apple Music and Spotify’s rates and may position the company as a solid alternative. The only problem? Major label deals simply aren’t in place.

Ice Cube also commented on Jerry Heller’s passing, telling Hot 107.5 that he wasn’t going to “lose no sleep.” One poster commented, “How is this relevant to anything?” to which editor Resnikoff responded, “Always a worthwhile question.”

The Copyright Alliance also posted an online letter to the 2016 presidential candidates, asking them to back copyright laws. DMN noted that the Copyright Alliance does include notable copyright bullies, like the RIAA, the MPAA, and Viacom.

The next most commented article on the site this week was guest Gary Shapiro’s piece on why the DMCA may actually be the best thing that has ever happened to music artists. Gary Shapiro is the current head of the Consumer Technology Association, and argued that the technology industry and the DMCA have actually created a free platform for a new class of creators to thrive. Comments ranged from criticizing the argument to downright shock that Digital Music News would actually allow such a post to be written. One of the most poignant comments came from Troglite, who sarcastically yet accurately pointed out,

“Based on the number of comments, 3 times the number of musicians are interested in talking about michael jackson than the DMCA. Not a good sign for those of us who would like to see stronger protections from tech companies who feel entitled to use our copyrighted works without direct compensation.”

Paul also posted a quick summary of the new iPhone 7, labeling it to be a “huge letdown.”

In continuing with our partnership with Kill Rock Stars, I asked the question, “Should Terrestrial Radio Pay Performers?” and quickly investigated whatever happened to Representative Jerrold Nadler’s “Fair Play, Fair Pay” Act. Commenters were divided, with some feeling that yes, artists do deserve to get paid. One user’s question and comment stood out above the rest, however.

“How does making radio stations who are backed by publicly traded money pay for royalties fair to digital radio operators? All this does is legitimizes the extortion placed upon digital broadcasters.”

Wednesday

Wednesday proved to be a slow news day. We asked and analyzed why CEO Tim Cook vowed to continue the practice of timed album exclusives.

Thursday

After Tuesday, it seemed all anyone could talk about was Apple’s Keynote. We reported on Beats’s revamped high-end wireless headphone line. Paul also reported on the rumor that Samsung was looking to explore developing their own proprietary headphone port. We also covered Belkin’s solution to the “Listen to music or charge my phone?” dilemma: the Lightning Audio + Charge RockStar earphones.

One piece I did asked the question, “Does ‘This Land is Your Land’ Belong In the Public Domain?” I broke down The Richmond Organization and Ludlow’s Music argument against Satorii. The only response?

“Yes.”

Just 2 days before his birthday, Wiz Khalifa became the second artist in history to reach 2 billion views on YouTube, behind South Korean K-Pop star Psy.

Ari Herstand also provided a piece on how to legally release cover videos on YouTube.

Friday

The week ended with rather mixed article. Priscilla Kim began the day posting an interesting piece on the ultimate playlist for improving your brainpower.

I also analyzed the first 30 seconds of Slayer’s music video Pride in Prejudice and asked if the video had actually gone too far with explicit violence.

The European Court of Justice also ruled that no, linking to illegal content doesn’t count as infringement, if and when you’re not actually linking to make money off said links.

Paul also gave us a technical piece on why the headphones jack may actually be history, as Bluetooth headphone dollar sales overtook non-Bluetooth sales just 3 months ago. He also found out that Amazon is actually selling the book Radar Online had labeled as child pornography.

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