Old Music Business Is Yelling at New Music Business Again

Old Music Business vs. New Music Business

We’ve seen it time and time again.

Old business heads who cling to the past and have no vision for the future. They know what the music business was in (what they think were) the glory days and desperately are trying to return to that era. Make the music business great again!

Just one problem. The music business was never truly great for artists and no matter how hard you try to move backwards, through frivolous lawsuits (see Lowery v Spotify) or take down notices (see Facebook / UMG), we’re never returning to the days of sleazy record men, ignorant artists, opaque accounting practices, plastic discs, clunky file transfers or, how can I put this, no internet.

You’re being ignorant, shortsighted and closed minded to think that the way to solve the future (and the present) is to stand by laws of the past.

What am I talking about?

Well after I posted Facebook Is Aggressively Ripping Down Cover Videos, David “Get Off My Lawn” Lowery wrote “David Benjamin (UMG) Stands Up To Facebook for Songwriters, Ari Herstand? Not So Much.” And synch-license music library company owner, Matt Thompson, wrote a self-serving piece on DMN, “Stop Blaming The Victim of Facebook’s Blatant Copyright Theft.

David Benjamin is not standing up for songwriters. He’s standing up for Universal Music Publishing Group.

Do not conflate the two. What most people don’t realize is that when major publishing companies and major labels strike deals with new platforms like YouTube, Spotify and Soundcloud, they get these platforms to pay them huge ‘advances,’ guarantees and sometimes even equity in the company that never finds its way down to songwriters or artists they supposedly represent. UMG is trying to shake down Facebook to pay UMG. They don’t give two f*cks about songwriters.

Poor little multi-national, multi-billion dollar corporation. Such a victim.

Telling me to stop blaming the ‘victim’ in this case (Universal), is like saying stop blaming ‘victim’ Donald Trump for sexually assaulting women because you’re hurting his reputation. Poor little Donald. Poor little Universal.

The majors historically (and currently) have always found ways to screw their artists any which way they can.

It’s not even a secret. They don’t care about their artists. If they did, they wouldn’t trick them into signing blanket deals that entitled them to zero streaming money. If they did, they would be completely transparent with their accounting and show their artists and songwriters where every single penny comes from. Instead, when questioned on accounting, the majors hand over thousands of sheets of (physical, unsearchable) paper in small font with millions of lines of data and say “here you go!”

Songwriters and artists are finally understanding they don’t need the majors to have a major career. That’s why so many are fleeing them for Kobalt, CD Baby, DistroKid, Tunecore, SongTrust and others who offer complete transparency, no ownership and low commissions.

+Want To Know Who The Best Digital Distribution Company Is? 

Ok, let me break this down for people who aren’t following the play by play, day by day.

Basically, to recap, to legally synch a song to a video, you need a synch license. There is not a government-set rate for this like there is if you just want to release a cover song (without video). To release a cover song, you don’t need permission. You just need to pay the compulsory statutory rate for the license. Every synch, however, needs to be negotiated on a case by case basis. This worked fine and dandy when the only synchs were TV shows, movies and commercials. But now that everyone is an iPhone film maker and their own studio owner with YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, etc as their network, it is virtually impossible for every creator to negotiate directly with a publisher for each cover video they want to post. Believe me, I’ve tried. The majors don’t have the time (or desire) for this.

So, there have been patchwork fixes for this like what We Are The Hits is now doing – which has struck deals with all major publishers and many indies to license and monetize cover videos on YouTube.

+How To Legally Release Cover Videos on YouTube

But remember, YouTube wasn’t licensed for years and was ripping down fan videos until they realized it was only helping promote their artists’ work.

YouTube created Content ID which could catch most of the songs and slap ads on them or remove them (most publishers and labels chose to put ads on them and start earning revenue from the fan videos). Remember, though, every video was illegal until it was caught by Content ID and the publisher and/or label agreed to put an ad on it.

Yes, YouTube has licensed every major label and publisher. And YouTube did this by paying them massive advances and guarantees. You wonder why you never get ad revenue reports from international views? It’s because of the advances paid to the major publishers.

But (it seems) Facebook has no agreements with anyone yet. At least it’s not public if they do. So, yeah, Universal is fully within their rights to ask Facebook to rip down every cover video. Whether it’s your daughter’s 3rd grade class singing a song from Hamilton or an emerging artist posting a cover of them playing a DNCE song in their bedroom. Or Taylor Swift singing along to Kendrick Lamar (which by the way, her video not only infringes on the copyright of the composition but the sound recording too!). Why isn’t everyone roasting Taylor for her copyright infringement? Why hasn’t Interscope demanded Facebook remove Taylor’s infringing video? It has over 9 million views. Talk about infringement! Taylor could have afforded a synch license.

 

But that would have defeated the purpose of her video which was meant to capture a mood, in the moment and upload it immediately. You’re telling me Taylor Swift is ignorant to how synch licensing works?

That Taylor Swift doesn’t care about intellectual property? That goes against what she stood for when she pulled her music from Spotify and convinced Apple to pay royalties for their 3 month trial on Apple Music.

Is Taylor Swift a hypocrite?

You’re either saying that:

A) She didn’t know this was illegal (ignorance)

B) Didn’t care it was illegal and went ahead with it (hypocrisy)

C) She thinks this kind of video should fall into a completely separate category for which the laws do not currently cover.

Pretty much every reasonable person would choose C.

Well, except Matt Thompson and David Lowery of course. But they’re not being reasonable. They are tying themselves to outdated philosophies and dogma. I have to applaud their commitment and consistency, though. They believe the same thing on Wednesday as they did on Monday, NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENED ON TUESDAY. (Thanks Colbert for that one).

It’s time to think differently. And move with the times.

What’s wrong and right in the music business? The reason I compared blocking emerging artists from their Facebook accounts to suing grandmas and tweens (in the Napster era) is because both were done by the majors ‘defending intellectual property’ and well within the rights of the majors to do. Well, within the laws currently in place. But was that right? The laws will never catch up.

This is corporate intimidation 2016 edition. Sure in 2006 it was suing fans. In 2016 it’s equally damaging, just done in a less blatantly offensive manner.

Stop using the laws as your moral compass.

It was the law that black people couldn’t drink from white drinking fountains, use white bathrooms or sit at the front of the bus. It was the law that women couldn’t vote. Were those laws right? They were the law. The reason the Songwriter Equity Act (to be able to negotiate for higher rates for songwriters and publishers from Pandora et al) has been introduced into congress (by PROs’ lobbying) is because PROs understand that the current laws in place don’t reflect the realities of the times and songwriters are getting screwed. The reason the #IRespectMusic movement (to get artists and labels paid from AM/FM radio plays) is lobbying congress to change the laws is because they realize the laws don’t represent the times.

So, laws aren’t always right. And they will always be behind the times.

That’s why I proposed a completely new way to think about how songwriters should be compensated. Without waiting for the laws to catch up.

+It’s Time To Completely Rethink How Songwriters Get Paid

Artists who don’t know any better are getting blocked from their Musician Pages – which is hurting their business a hell of a lot more than Universal’s or DNCE’s or any other major label / major publisher act whose work is being ‘infringed upon’ via fan-made videos.

It’s unfortunate that Lowery is so misguided in his crusade. He is now standing with corporations and against indie artists.

Oh how the times have changed. He used to be such an indie darling. Always damming the man. Now he’s trying to squash indie artists’ creativity and fighting for corporate rights.

Nearly every cover video ever posted online was illegal. If these were never posted (or immediately ripped down), artists like Justin Bieber, Lindsey Sterling, Pentatonix, Jacob Collier, Peter Hollens, David Choi, Pomplamoose, Boyce Avenue, Walk Off The Earth, Mike Tompkins, The Piano Guys, Tyler Ward, Madilyn Bailey, Megan Nicole, Kina Grannis, Alex Goot and literally thousands more would not have careers.

All of these artists built their careers by posting cover songs online. And they were not making a living off of YouTube’s paltry ad revenue payouts.

The creators never actually made much from YouTube’s ad revenue anyway. You know who did make money? Publishers and labels. Again, because of the massive guarantees and advances AND because they just have the sheer volume of content.

This is why Jack Conte (of Pomplamoose) created Patreon. He had over 150 million YouTube views and wasn’t making a livable income from YouTube ad revenue. It’s easy to blame YouTube for low payouts, but it’s more accurate to blame the major labels and publishers for how they negotiated these deals to favor themselves (not artists or songwriters).

It’s time to get creative. Think differently. And break yourself from outdated dogma of what is ‘right and wrong’ in the new music business.

Ari Herstand is the author of How To Make It in the New Music Business, a Los Angeles based singer/songwriter and the creator of the music biz advice blog, Ari’s Take. Follow him on Twitter: @aristake

Photo is by Jason Taylor from Flickr and used with the Creative Commons license

This original article contained the phrase ‘old white men’ which came across as offensive. I didn’t mean it as such. It was meant in jest to personify the ‘old music business.’ 

56 Responses

  1. Matt Thompson

    Wow! Protecting your copyrights is equal to sexually assaulting women? Amazing deductive reasoning, Ari.

    I’d be happy to own the self-serving title as long as you do the same. Although I’m not sure if I can own the “get off my lawn” type moniker when I run the first (and still only) sync licensing company to have pre-cleared licenses setup with all major labels and publishers as well as monster “indie” publishers like Kobalt and BMG. Seems every bit as progressive as the We Are The Hits service for which you continue to plug. Even if it seems like you are on their marketing payroll, I will admit that I like their service and wish more would use it.

    There’s so many things wrong with your Marxist ideas for the industry that it would take more time than I have today to respond but there are just a couple things that I just can’t pass up…

    How big does a company have to be for it to be ok to steal from them? “Poor little multi-national, multi-billion dollar corporation. Such a victim.” So only the biggest kids on the playground can be bullies? Where is the line? Once an indie publisher reaches 10% market share like Kobalt are they fair game? Or do they only need to be smaller still?

    As far as using the law as a moral compass, I can’t completely disagree. However, you’ll have to explain the logic on how wanting to protect and control something you own is somehow immoral. Again, your going to pretty extreme measures by comparing copyright law to racism. Now anyone that wants to protect their copyrights are apparently racist rapists?

    Reply
  2. A-J Charron

    CD Baby was sold a few times and now belongs to a venture capital firm. The day CD Baby stops making enough profit, it’s closed down. This should be obvious to anyone who has ever dealt with them, they end up being a lot more expensive than what they advertise. And they offer no promotional help at all. A regular distributor does.

    Kobalt doesn’t hesitate to use Google capital to develop. Google is certainly not artist-friendly. This by itself should make you want to stay far away from them.

    Not all labels are majors and they certainly don’t all act in complete disregard to the artists. In short, don’t look to Ari to find out who gets paid what, as he clearly has no idea what he’s talking about.

    Reply
    • Steve Hass

      This article spews more bullshit than Donald Trump. In 1990, even the “C” team of freelance musicians was bringing home nearly a 6 figure salary. They owned homes had multiple cars, families . Today, the “A” team can’t even do this. Artists had much more income and were able to pay proper salaries. Music was selling at an incredible rate. Today only a select few are living the high life and even that isn’t what it used to be. Their wealth is average. Anyone with any logic can see that this all the proof you need , to know that the current music business is shit. The slime comes with any “business” in any decade. Wherever there is money to be made, you’ll have your slime. There wasn’t any more back then than there is now. Screens have made people dumber, slower thinkers. Today, 20 year olds watch a dancing imbisile press a start button, and they believe they’re seeing live music. Thank Christ for artists like John Mayer who still play real live music with great bands.

      Reply
  3. Anom Nom

    Interesting topic and one that resonates with tons of music people.

    Within this article it mentions the old record business vs the new and when I look back I think of all the opportunities I should have taken and things I should have ton as there was so much money that could have been made by writing and producing hit songs in the 70s and 80s in particular.

    I think the best market for hits and money would have been Britain as back in the day you could easily make enough off a hit single to buy a large house with a swimming pool, one or two Rolls Royce’s and live the rock and roll lifestyle..

    Companies like Rak Records were always good to their artists, writers & producers and everyone who had hits got rich..

    Have a string of hits like writing/production duo Chinn & Chapman and you’re setup for life..

    See the magic of back then was that in comparison to today there was such limited direct competition and so few radio and TV stations..

    In England your main selling platforms for exposure were BBC Radio 1 and the Top Of The Pops TV show (BBC 1 TV).

    If I had a time machine I would zoom back, book a studio and make a ton of hits..
    and then retire to the English countryside and live life as a gentleman.. foxhunting on Sundays mornings, clay pigeon shooting in the afternoon and playing Bridge with the Baron on Friday nights..

    In 2016 you have every Tom, Dick and Harry clogging up iTunes and YouTube with their nonsense that it’s so hard to 1. get noticed 2. get sales 3. get rich…

    Reply
  4. Christian H

    Just reading the first line: “Old white men who cling to the past and have no vision for the future…” Doesn’t deserve any further reading.

    Reply
  5. George Johnson

    Ari, I know you mean well, but I stopped reading you about a year ago.

    You are so uninformed about copyright law and economics, it’s staggering.

    But, now you have become the racist you condemn others for being. Old white people with no vision for the future, really?

    You truly are a moron who clearly doesn’t understand “old law” like copyright, property rights, natural rights, or the Constitution – which not only contain your “exclusive rights” that used to protect your wonderful music, but also protects the drivel you wrote above about David Lowery and Universal.

    Instead of hating people for being white or old, Ari Herstand, you might shut up long enough to learn from these “basket of deplorables”.

    Ari, you should apologize to David Lowery, seriously.

    David Lowery should be commended for his heroic efforts to protect copyright and music creators.

    David Lowery is the smartest guy in the room who has the brains to understand copyright, is an extremely talented singer-songwriter, but has the balls to do something real about it, in court, unlike yourself Ari Herstand!

    David is 100% correct in his lawsuit against Spotify and your response is incredibly naive.

    I really can’t believe you would say old white men have no vision Ari and I take offense. What is wrong with being white Ari, or old? What if I said “old jewish men with no vision”, you would be offended, right Ari?

    Why is it that you associate being white with being stupid Ari?

    Let’s be clear, Ari Herstand’s “vision for the future” is another 100 years of Soviet style central economic planning for American copyright owners at $.00 cents per stream and more compulsory licenses – which in no way is to be considered “clinging to the past”.

    The problem with the new music business, and you Ari, is everybody wants to bring their angry, delusional progressive identity politics to a music royalty fight and nobody cares or has time for that bullshit anymore, especially with the task at hand, and especially when you insult white people and old people as having no vision.

    Only Ari has vision.

    Why would you insult the good people who are actually doing something productive to increase your royalty? Instead of being a racist Ari, you might go read the Constitution and see how it protects your dumb ass, whether you know it or not.

    Ari Herstand and those with your “vision” should be nowhere near copyright royalty issues. The rest of us would truly be better off if you stayed home writing great songs about peace and love, posting them on Spotify for free, and dutifully keeping Daniel Ek in the lifestyle he is now accustomed to.

    Btw Ari, you are going to be old someday too, just hopefully not just as uninformed, progressive and racist as you are today.

    George

    Reply
    • ThomasH

      What does the constitution have anything to do with this? But since you brought it up, freedom of religion? Freedom of the press? Aren’t those things in the constitution. Your beloved Trump clearly hasn’t read it, but you can wave it around all you want to make yourself feel good. Wasn’t Trump the one who proposed banning Muslims? That’s kind of completely against the constitution. He wants to limit freedom of the press by ‘freeing up’ libel laws. Is “progressive” a dirty word now? Progressives gave women the right to vote. Progressives gave African Americans equal rights under the law. Progressives made it so we have breathable air. Progressives made it illegal for health insurance companies to deny sick people coverage. Progressives created social security (socialism!! ah!) and Medicare (socialism!!!! AHHHH). I don’t know man, it seems history shows that progressives seem to know where we should be heading.

      Reply
      • George Johnson

        Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 is the “copyright clause” of the United State’s Constitution which contains the “exclusive right” for individual authors to own and financially exploit what they create – words, books, articles, lyrics, music, paintings, photographs, drawings, animation, motion pictures, etc. There is also a First Amendment right to copyright and an intellectual property right since copyright is property, like a home or land. That is what the Constitution has to do with Copyright, it was so important, it was in the Constitution 2 years before the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights. Is all.

        Reply
    • Old White Man

      How is Ari being racist by stating that white men ran the old music business and are clinging to their outdated beliefs? Last I checked every top level person at labels/publishing cos for the decades leading up to Napster was a white man. That’s just kind of the facts are they not? And now, they’re all old. Making them, old white men. Like me. I’m bald too. Dammit! And from his photos, Ari looks to be white. What’s the racism going on here?

      Pretty sure the quote is “Old white men who cling to the past and have no vision for the future.” Note where “who” lies in the sentence. Old white men WHO cling to the past and have no vision for the future. He’s not saying ALL old white men cling to the past, he’s saying that THE old white men WHO cling to the past AND have no vision are trying to return to the old music business. He probably has an old white dad or an old white grandpa. And probably knows lots of old white men. I would wager a guess that Ari doesn’t believe ALL old white men have no vision. Maybe he means just the old white men WHO cling to the music business past. Kind of a HUGE difference if you ask me.

      I’d like to think this old white man still has some vision left in me. I see Ari’s points here. I agree, it’s time to “think differently.”

      Reply
  6. Paul Resnikoff
    Paul Resnikoff

    I think major publishers are unfortunately guilty of bad behavior in the past, and it has prevented them from being able to grow in the future. There are considerable fears of major publishers not passing through royalties to their songwriters, and I can’t help but think that has helped to drive overbearing decisions recently by the DOJ and judges.

    Industry lawyers, most notably Steve Gordon, have been raising a red flag about what an unregulated, free market for publishers might look like for songwriters. I’m not sure I disagree with him.

    Reply
    • Stupid Digital Music retards.

      Paul: so what you are saying is alleged bad behavior by publishers, means Facebook shouldnt pay performance royalties? Thus punishing songwriters a second time? That’s what you are saying right?

      Reply
      • Paul Resnikoff
        Paul Resnikoff

        Actually, that’s not what I’m saying. But thanks for making up something you think I might have been thinking (but wasn’t).

        What I stated is that music publishers have demonstrated unethical behaviors in the past, and this is impacting their ability to grow in the future. Many of the executives are different, but the companies (and legacies) are the same.

        It’s a more general statement, not specific to Facebook.

        Reply
  7. david lowery

    Ari: I’m too old and white to understand this. So why is it bad that major publishers didn’t pay songwriters, but it’s okay that Facebook doesn’t pay songwriters?

    This 2000 word public meltdown is because someone challenged you on this apparent contradiction? You need to grow up.

    Also

    Paul: I used to have great respect for you. Now you are posting ad hominem attacks in the guise of journalism. Lose my number.

    Reply
    • Paul Resnikoff
      Paul Resnikoff

      Well that’s your choice, David. But this seems like a really worthwhile debate; frankly I can see merit on both sides. Maybe learn to take a jab?

      Reply
  8. Minnesota Hillbilly

    Ari: the funniest part of this is when you try to bludgeon Lowery with The Songwriters Equity act. It’s an open secret that Lowery is behind that bill. Or do you really believe a rural Georgia Republican came up with that out of the blue? Let’s see who lives in Rep Doug Collins district….,

    Reply
        • Anonymous

          The Songwriter Equity Act gives ASCAP and BMI more flexibility with their negotiating tactics with their rate court judges. It only benefits ASCAP and BMI. You are mistaken that they weren’t behind this from the start. It doesn’t benefit anyone but ASCAP and BMI.

          Reply
          • Stupid Digital Music retards.

            The Songwriter equity act was originally about section 115. Mechanical royalties. BMI and ASCAP only deal with performance royalties. You can look this up. But hey this is digital music news let’s not let facts get in the way!!!

    • George Johnson

      I actually thought of the original idea that became the Songwriter Equity Act, but it was much different and started out as a “songwriter’s bill” when I presented it to Congress, before it was looted by bad progressive music lobbyists. 🙂 It’s just a marker bill and will never pass, thank goodness. We need a real songwriter’s bill, but Congress can’t agree that it’s Thursday, plus 2/3rds of Congress hate music and could care less about it.

      Reply
  9. Andrew

    Curious to hear Lowery and Thompson’s response to:

    “Nearly every cover video ever posted online was illegal. If these were never posted (or immediately ripped down), artists like Justin Bieber, Lindsey Sterling, Pentatonix, Jacob Collier, Peter Hollens, David Choi, Pomplamoose, Boyce Avenue, Walk Off The Earth, Mike Tompkins, The Piano Guys, Tyler Ward, Madilyn Bailey, Megan Nicole, Kina Grannis, Alex Goot and literally thousands more would not have careers.”

    What do you say to these artists who wouldn’t have careers if they weren’t allowed to post cover videos?

    Reply
    • Minnesota Hillbilly

      OMG a world without Pomplamoose and David Choi! Where do I sign up?

      Reply
    • Eric Mixerman Sarafin

      What an absurd argument.

      Had Youtube disallowed cover songs “thousands” of artists wouldn’t have gotten their start?

      Here’s what I have to say about that: Well, boo fucking hoo.

      I mean, how in the hell did anyone get their start before Youtube?

      This is just a further propagation of the “exposure” argument. It’s the same argument that was made by radio against paying Performance Royalties. It was a bullshit argument then, it’s a bullshit argument now.

      Singers (they aren’t artists until they write their own damn music) can play covers at bars because bars pay out to the PROs who disburse the money to the songwriters.

      Singers can have their music on the radio because the radio stations have to pay out to the PROs who disburse the money to the songwriters.

      Singers can sell a cover of any song by virtue of a “compulsory license” by paying $0.091 (that’s 9.1 cents) per sale. If a singer can’t figure out how to make money on their SR after they pay 9.1 cents to use someone else’s song, they may as well give up.

      Of course, we’ll never know those singers—that is, the ones who gave up—which makes missing them hard to do, and your argument even more dubious.

      All UMG (with it’s 1.5 billion per year in revenue) is doing is forcing the issue against Facebook (with it’s 17 billion per year in revenue). This has nothing to do with the poor, poor, singers looking for exposure.

      Why would anyone want to break into a business in which they systemically can’t get paid, all under the pretense of making it easier for them to break into it in the first place?

      I mean, that’s just as dumb as dumb gets.

      Mixerman

      Reply
      • Eric Mixerman Sarafin

        My previous reply is to Andrew. I didn’t write realize how lousy this commenting system was.

        Enjoy!

        Mixerman.net

        Reply
  10. Christy Crowl @promusicdb

    In case any “Cover video artists” are still reading comments, here is a relevant article on YouTube “Stars” that granted was published in 2014, but even then, some of the artists who initially did well left the platform (and were even given $1 million in a YouTube grant), were quoted as saying:

    “We were huge fans of YouTube,” he said in a recent email exchange, “but we are not creating content anymore because it’s simply not sustainable. YouTube is an awesome place to build a brand, but it is a horrible place to build a business.”

    Here’s a link to the full article: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/02/02/business/chasing-their-star-on-youtube.html?_r=4&referer=

    So, it would seem relevant to say that even if FB were to negotiate licenses, this way of seeking to make a name for yourself, as a “Cover Video Artist,” is still not sustainable, and just adds another problem for Copyright Owners to figure out instead of focusing on what really is at hand, which is the value of copyright in music to begin with.

    Ari, you have a lot of influence, and you have put in the time and effort in feeding your audience a lot of good information in the past. But this current trend seems way out of balance and character for what the spirit of the indie music scene should be moving forward.

    Attacking fellow musicians/music creators, who, of their own accord have taken it upon themselves to dig into the law and bring real validity to this issue is in really poor form (in my opinion). What beef do you really have with David Lowery? Or SONA? Is it because they’re doing something you’re really not doing? Where’s your self-funded lawsuit or technology company that could even be a player at this table?

    It takes a LOT to actually do something that results in change…far more than making a “proposal” for change and sending it out to your readers. Have you started your own organization to help songwriters get paid more fairly? Have you funded your own technology company that will, as you claim, “fix” everything and pay songwriters what they need and deserve as in your proposal? Or is someone else supposed to see what you’ve written and take it upon themselves to implement for the whole industry?

    Encouraging indie artists (and I believe these were “cover video artists” that started this off) who aren’t as “in the know” as you are to look down on the sincere and valid efforts of other ORIGINAL music creators (or even in this case labels, trying to defend their copyright) trying to fix any part of the problem they can is well, in really poor taste.

    I hope you can think past the popularity of your articles to the harm your views can really have on the good work that good people are trying to do to right the ship.

    Reply
  11. Minnesota Hillbilly

    Wait! did Ari really just compare the plight of suburban kids not being able post cover videos on Facebook to segregation in the Deep South? Holey fucking suburban white midwestners Batman!

    Reply
  12. Troy

    Ari and David make some really solid points. Everyone is caught up on ‘old white man.’ Chill the fuck out and why not engage in the real debate of the time: how can songwriters get paid.

    Old white men ran the fucking industry. FACT. Why you trying to pretend that ain’t the truth.

    Reply
    • Beverly Hillbilly deplorable

      Looks like Lowery did just that. Asked why Facebook isn’t paying and Ari responded with a aging almost teen idol tirade. Ari is the only idiot here.

      And since you told us not to make a big deal about the racial component? just curious: when someone says “old white men” ran the music business is white supposed to include or exclude Jewish men? And I don’t exactly see many historically underrepresented minorities running the new music business. Are we sure we really want to go there?

      Reply
  13. Neil Turkewitz

    Hard to know where to start. Ari obviously grew up going to summer camps where the food sucked and there wasn’t enough of it, making a life of cognitive dissonance feel completely natural. I understand that there are countless points of view about how to reform legislation and business practices to respond to the challenges of technology, and that is critical as the issues are complex and important. I personally think Ari is on the wrong track, and that the key to creating conditions that will sustain creators is to empower them by ensuring that they can control the uses of their works, rather than by introducing more compulsory licensing as Ari proposes. You see, I think that permission and consent are the bedrock principles of a just and decent society, and that fueling permissionless uses undermines our humanity. But that’s just me. I can at least understand why some people like the idea of compulsory licensing. It seems so modern, even though this “modernity” masks the fact that it is a government mandated form of misappropriation of property.

    But that’s for another day. Today, I wanted to explore Ari’s hate and duplicity, not his misguided ideas. Ari says to David Lowery: “Stop using the laws as your moral compass. It was the law that black people couldn’t drink from white drinking fountains, use white bathrooms or sit at the front of the bus. It was the law that women couldn’t vote. Were those laws right? They were the law.” Really Ari? Because David is involved in a lawsuit, by association he is therefore supporting all laws, past and present? Another commenter mentioned that you owe David an apology. That is manifestly true, but more than that, you owe the world an apology for seeking to appropriate outrage over past injustices for an unrelated personal crusade against a committed and passionate crusader for artists with whom you have a disagreement. Shame on you. I know that you know better. David was not using laws as his moral compass–he was using morality as his legal compass. You seem to have gotten lost here.

    As for your tired old “blame the labels and publishers” rant, all I can say is that you are apparently immune to your own observations. In this very same article, you observe that artists no longer need labels or publishers, and that they are better off without them. If that is true, then they are no longer necessary gatekeepers to the kingdom, are they? And if they are no longer gatekeepers, then a decision made by an artist or songwriter to sign is an exercise in free will, no? But you want to replace their judgment with yours since your understanding is so much greater than theirs, eh? Personally, I don’t think we yet live in that world where artists are so free to determine the course of their careers amongst a variety of viable options. You know why? Because too many uses of their works don’t require their permission, and because even where permission is required, enforcement of their decisions is too difficult. So if you want to engineer an environment in which artists can determine the creative and business conditions of their lives (what they want to sell and what they want to give away; who they want to license, and the modality therefore; whether they want to sign with a label or publisher) then work to reform the system that effectively removes this independent decision-making. By looking forward and working together, we can expand meaningful choice. Or we can demean people trying to make a difference. Tough one, huh?

    Reply
    • Jeff Kingfisher

      “… the key to creating conditions that will sustain creators is to empower them by ensuring that they can control the uses of their works, rather than by introducing more compulsory licensing…permission and consent are the bedrock principles of a just and decent society…” That’s the place to start. I found this comment as a whole more insightful than the article.

      Reply
  14. Anonymous

    Hm, seems to me you’re the one doing the yelling.

    But perhaps you’re just getting old.

    Reply
  15. Versus

    “You’re being ignorant, shortsighted and closed minded to think that the way to solve the future (and the present) is to stand by laws of the past.”

    While we are throwing around irrelevant ad hominem insults, right back at you:

    “You’re being ignorant, shortsighted and closed minded to think that the way to solve the future (and the present) is to reject the laws of the past.”

    Not all change is “progress”. We should aim for reform, not revolution: a hybrid of what was best about the past with what the present and future technologies offer.

    Reply
  16. Anonymous

    This appears to be the “let’s poke the bear and see what happens” style of journalism. It gets some decent traffic, but alienates the core readership. Doesn’t really help long term.

    Facebook is to blame. If they just want to operate under safe harbor, that’s one thing. However, in addition to that, they are encouraging artists to post directly to FB, and punishing artists who post Youtube links instead, by ranking Youtube links lower than direct FB posts. And when FB receives DMCA notices from UMPG, it’s the artists who get punished with threats to have their accounts closed. That’s not right. FB can’t have its cake and eat it too, at the expense of artists and songwriters.

    Somewhere in the rambling nonsense above, one valid point was brought up. There needs to be a market solution (if there isn’t already) that allows artists to legally license music to be used in cover videos. Solutions already exist to license covers for audio-only uses. However, for a sync use, if you want to do it the right way (i.e. not relying on Youtube’s safe harbor and contentID nonsense, but something that actually allows a copyright owner to give permission before use), you’re at the mercy of the publisher, who isn’t going to spend their time licensing something that won’t make them any money. Their sync departments are focused on getting the music licensed for TV, movies, commercials, stuff that pays thousands of dollars. They just don’t have the resources to handle this kind of licensing.

    I think that’s what Ari means by creating a new use type. A “non-commercial sync use” perhaps (though that probably is still a misnomer, since when you use a cover to promote an artist’s career, that is still technically a commercial use). Do such solutions exist in the marketplace now? I would think HFA and Audiam would be well positioned to provide such services on behalf of copyright owners.

    Reply
  17. Alex Garcia

    There is already a market based solution. We Are The Hits has video sync cover licenses in place. Not for every song but its pretty comprehensive. And Ari is already plugging this service. He plugs it so often, I’ve always assumed that is where Ari gets his money. He certainly isn’t making any money from his musical career. That’s what makes this personal attack on Lowery and Thompson so ridiculous. Ari accuses Thompson of being “self serving” but I suspect that it’s really Ari that has a commercial interest in this whole thing. Like trying to get UMPG to license songs to We Are The Hits for use on Facebook. Also you should be careful letting your writers characterize Lowery’s lawsuit as “frivolous” as that has a specific legal connotation. Especially when your writer exhibits malice towards lowery, and it’s clear the lawsuit is not frivolous as it was not dismissed.

    Reply
  18. Flappy

    Old white (and jewish) men ran the record industry. Like most gatekeepers in most businesses, they kept more for themselves and screwed over the artists, who were often naive and sensitive people. Artists getting screwed over is not anything new.

    I don’t understand why the wrongs of the past justify the wrongs of Google, Facebook, Spotify and the other new nasties out there. Sure, the big labels are noone to trust, but at least they were forced over decades through litigation to set up SOME systems to get artists paid. With these modern tech behemoths (all of whom should be broken up under antitrust laws at this point), they can just play dumb, and fudge any of the numbers they want, because there is noone checking the numbers but them.

    Btw, the new bosses are still run by white (and jewish) younger men. BFD! I’m not surprised a jew won’t identify his own, also.

    Reply
  19. Alex Garcia

    There is no old music business and no new music business. But let’s pretend their is, what Ari defines as “old” music business seems to be making shit tons more money, while what Ari defines as the new music business is a pathetic failure. Spotify unprofitable. Pandora unprofitable, YouTube is profitable until their legacy advertising model is crushed by a subscription service like Netflix. And YouTube is only profitable now because they have so much infringing content and pay such shitty rates on the licensed content. Someone is gonna come along and crush YouTube, and all it takes is better monetization.

    Even in the DIY world this is a ridiculous dichotomy. CD Baby if they are making any money are clearly getting the shit beat out of them by BandCamp. And BandCamp uses a hybrid old school/new school model. Direct sales to consumer including physical product, totally artist control of kind of pricing and distribution enabled by great technology.

    Reply
  20. Alex Garcia

    Paul maybe you should learn to not post insults (I assume you did the graphics) and people would take you and Digital Music News more seriously. And read my other comments. You’re gonna get yourself sued again.

    Reply
  21. Anonymous

    Funny I just saw both of these guys you slag at the Production Music Conference in Santa Monica. Both were funny, intelligent and measured. Lowery played the optimist in his panel on the DOJ 100% ruling. He spent a good deal of time on how the ruling would hurt the digital services, venues and other broadcasters. Your characterization seems wildly off base.

    Reply
  22. Michelle Shocked

    Me, personally, I’m glad Lowery’s seasoned badassery intimidated this callow, tech apologist whip-cracker.

    It’s an indisputable fact. Too many uses of our work don’t require our permission, and because “even where permission is required, enforcement of [our] decisions is too difficult.” Thinly-disguised shillery for another compulsory license solution is a shameless outrage.

    This is what smells like nirvana: “an environment in which artists can determine the creative and business conditions of their lives (what they want to sell and what they want to give away; who they want to license, and the modality therefore; whether they want to sign with a label or publisher”

    Until there is greater equity in the system, songwriters will simply choose to refuse.

    Reply
  23. FarePlay

    If nothing else it is good to how far we’ve come in defending artists rights. Interestingly, it is Ari whose turned into the bitter white guy.

    And at this point in time is the one holding on to an old broken business model. Change in of itself is nothing to be worshiped, unless it deserves to be.

    Reply
  24. Paul Abrahams

    Listening to this podcast by Seth Godin, I don’t care how loud someone yells at me about the way things use to be, Seth has the best attitude about the music business.

    Reply
  25. Shayne

    Ari,
    Leave out your anti white racist political posturing. You will lose support doing this. Instead of accusing people of getting caught up in the comment, take responsibility for such a dumb move. I don’t think you would make a similar statement about black men in a way that applied to a them specifically. Be better, and think next time.

    Reply

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