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Study: Copyright Law Is Only Benefiting a Tiny Sliver of Musicians…

That’s according to an academic study just released by Northwestern University School of Law, which found that a vast majority of artists are not motivated by copyright protections, and frequently not benefiting from them.  Instead, the slim prospect of widescale popularity, fame, and recognition may be far stronger lures.

Even among those working in the real world, a large number of successful artists generate revenue from areas that are only indirectly linked to copyright protections, if at all, including live performance, session gigging, merchandising, or instruction.  Only those at the top are reaping large benefits from copyright (and therefore, care about it).

“Rather than providing marginal incentives to create to all musicians at all times, copyright law mostly affects the revenue of the highest­-income musicians in a direct fashion.

This is not a surprise, given the prevalence of winner-take-all markets in the entertainment industry.”

The study, conducted by Northwestern assistant professor Peter DiCola, used a previously-released survey of 5,000 musicians (through the Future of Music Coalition), primarily to determine the actual sources of income.  The intent was to find out (a) where musicians are making their money these days, and (b) how important copyright is to those revenue sources.

Here’s a breakdown of where musician incomes are derived.

revenue_mix_northwestern

And, how that maps to copryright protections.

revenue_mix_northwestern2

The harder question is how much musician behaviors and choices would change if copyright protections were strengthened (or respected more).  Indeed, this is an area the researchers discussed, noting that musicians are often adaptable creatures that shift depending on revenue prospects (conducting to teaching, composing to session gigging, etc.)

Beyond that, there’s the very real possibility that better copyright is better for all musicians and creative companies, directly or indirectly.  Indeed, there’s a very defensible argument that the entire ecosystem is now suffering.  ”For instance, better
enforcement could help record labels’ bottom lines to an extent that the
labels could begin offering larger advances and greater support to artists
again,” DiCola concedes. “Nothing in the [Future of Music] survey, which focused on the
money that reaches musicians’ bank accounts, can confirm or deny this story.

“Thus, it is important to remain open to the possibility that copyright enforcement might indirectly benefit musicians by strengthening the system in which they work.”

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Comments (59)
  1. Seth Keller

    If you’re talking about your average musician, this study makes sense and I believe it. Most have never written a hit song or a song that was used on a TV show or licensed for a commercial, game, etc.

    But for those artists who are also writers and for writers and composers big and small, copyright protection is huge…especially as the musician/writer gets older.
    I’ve had clients who own the copyrights to their compositions who make six figures on a yearly basis from songs they wrote 20-30 years ago that continue to receive airplay or get covered or sampled by new artists. These clients are not big name artists or writers, so it’s not just the stars who benefit.
    Beyond the financial aspect, there’s also the aspect of creative control when it comes to samples. One of these clients continually gets sampled by rap artists. While she approves most license requests, she denies many as well based on the lyrical content of the new composition that she finds objectionable.
    There’s also the use in songs for advertising and political causes and candidates. Not having copyright protection means those uses would happen regardless of whether you believe in the product, cause or person involved.
    It’s not always about money. Sometimes it is about integrity and values.


    Reply
    1. Zac Shaw

      Sometimes it’s about imposing your values on others?
      Why should the artist have the right to decide who is inspired by their work enough to incorporate it into their own?
      The copyright sampling laws are ludicrous and draconian. The District Court got it right in Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music. Like anyone can tell me Roy Orbison suffers from 2 Live Crew using his music here.
      Ditto for your client who’s too squeamish to give back to the greater good. If you’re worried about what’s going to happen to your precious creation when it gets set out into the big bad world, perhaps you do need a lawyer to hide behind.
      If I heard my lawyer or manager say, “it’s not about the money all the time” I would fire them. It is about the money, and middle class musicians are routinely getting screwed because some dead composer’s millionaire son-in-law is raking in $1m a year in compulsory licenses, money that could go to, you know, living people who are still have contributions to make to society.
      As a musician who’s played the game top to bottom, I still haven’t found a single defender of copyright who hasn’t already profited from it. Data like this lays bare the facts: most musicians don’t profit from copyright. Those that do are vampiric on innovation, new artists, new generes, new anything. Prying away your cold grip on royatlies will take generations, but thankfully we’re building a culture to circumvent copyright, and social norms are headed clearly toward free music, less exploitation, more patronage.


      Reply
      1. James

        > I still haven’t found a single defender of copyright who hasn’t already profited from it
        Well then, today’s your lucky day. I staunchly believe in copyright, and to date I’ve given away all my music for free. But then it seems to be one of the favourite tactics of the billion-dollar tech giants and their shills to try to persuade the public that only the big bad millionaires at the RIAA care about little things like copyright, piracy, and artists’ rights. The fact is, a whole lot of independent musicians care just as much about such things, but on our own our voices are too small to be heard, and when our unions speak for us they are dismissively caricatured alongside the RIAA.
        Honestly, your whole post is so contrary to everything I believe and indeed know to be true, I find it impossible to engage with you on the issues.


        Reply
      2. Seth Keller

        Hey Zac:
        Hit me up at seth@skmartists.com and let’s exchange phone numbers and have a discussion. Love to to get your take as a musician on how copyright has hindered your work and the ways you like to use the works of others to inspire your own.

        It would be great for us to talk and maybe come up with a piece for DMN that expresses our opposing views. I think the community would benefit from it. Look forward to hearing from you.


        Reply
      3. Visitor

        “most musicians don’t profit from copyright”
        …because they don’t create anything that can be copyrighted.
        So unfair, huh? :)


        Reply
      4. Saumon Sauvage

        So, then, you mean it is entirely legitimate to license a piece of software and reuse the portions of the source code without the permission the developer and without compensating him?


        Reply
  2. Zac Shaw

    I was waiting for someone to do something like this with the FMC data. It’s nice to have some hard evidence to point to in a sea of statistics polluted by trade orgs and PROs. Copyright is so compromised at this point that incremental reform is too far gone.

    Music is literally the act of sharing a song. Music is not a thing but something people do. The experience of listening exists in a moment, then it is gone. Music ownership is an illusion manufactured by the record business.
    A viable business model based on controlling the act of sharing through litigation and lobbying, can at best be described as a fluke of history instigated by brilliant lawyers and financiers with no regard for music’s true purpose — to bond us socially in shared experience. It’s because of the corruption of the record business we have come to regard music as mere entertainment product.
    It is because of people who are passionate about music and the greater good — people like you, Paul — that musicians and listeners are inspired to do the hard work necessary to restore music to its rightful place as an open-source cultural technology to be used for the greater good, not simply for profit.


    Reply
    1. Mike E

      “Music ownership is an illusion manufactured by the record business.”
      Zac, to follow your logic, it is analagous to say that ownership of real estate is also an illusion, manufactured by businesses other than the record businesses. The very shapes of US States would bear your argument out. Indigenous cultures would agree with your assessment. Borders, as we know, move all the time, again proving your point. Prussia, for instance…where did it go? Well, it was an illusion, a “fluke of history.”
      Moving to finance: Creation of an S-Corp? Fully illusory. A business on paper. Value of the US dollar? Well, it fluctuates, and has nothing solid backing it. It is, by definition, based on illusion.
      So it is with copyright law. It’s a construct, like the dollar itself, or the Mexican border.
      And yet you know Music’s Rightful Place? Or are you saying that the illusions that benefit you, personally, are the ones worth keeping?


      Reply
      1. You's Your Illusion

        But don’t drop there. Food is an illusion too, as is your stomach, so you have no need to eat anymore.
        “I heard it was you, talking of a world where all is free, it just couldn’t be, and only a fool would say that,” (c) Becker/Fagen, reproduced in limited fair use under US Copyright Act of 1976.


        Reply
    2. Musician

      I assume by “greater good” you mean Google, pirating sites and the other parasites that profit off of others hard work and talent. Let’s get rid of copyright so that Pandora doesn’t have to pay out on the billions they make. You’re a child. The “greater good” is what looters say when they want stuff for free.


      Reply
    3. wtf

      “music is not a thing it’s something people do , it’s experienced in the moment and then it’s gone”…
      …and then the people who have bought my cd (or mp3) hit “repeat” and hear that moment again.

      And maybe they like it enough to buy more of my music, which enables me to record more songs I’ve written. So, copyright makes more music.

      And you know, I ain’t never gonna tour Brazil, or Australia, or even Europe, so the only way people going to experience my moment of creation is by buying the song (well, the could d’load it).


      Reply
  3. Visitor

    Another misleading article….. learn the difference first off between MUSICIANS and COMPOSERS or SONGWRITERS. Copyright law protects and benefits those who write and compose, not all musicians….

    I would think that “Northwestern University School of Law” would know the difference, but oh well…..

    Copyright Law works great if you’re a musician who has written for Film or Television and hasn’t signed your rights away….. as a matter of fact it’s royalties that often keeps the poor musician from being homeless, and I’m one of them.


    Reply
    1. Zac Shaw

      So, because copyright works great for you, it works great in general?
      This is the absurd anecdotal defense of copyright every musician gives, and it’s a bald-faced logical fallacy.
      Copyright doesn’t work for the majority of musicians. It never has. Finding hard evidence to back this up has been almost impossible until about a decade ago when copyright lawyers started to seriously question if copyright was really filling its charter of growing our culture for the greater good (not to make a profit, as you seem to misinterpret the reason for copyright law).
      Turns out, paper after paper (this just the latest) has provided hard evidence that copyright benefits only an elite section of “musicians”… and you should know that musicians aren’t just professional composers, recording artists and performers… they include folks who aren’t “career” musicians as well, so-called “amateurs”. When factored in, copyright literally benefits less than 1% of all musicians. Even if you limited your scope to just those who consider themselves “professional” musicians, you’d find less than 1% ever had more thank one $40K year playing music — the dirty secret of music careers is they don’t last and when they’re done they’re often done.
      Modern day copyright is an ethical failure designed to prop up corporate interests until a new paradigm of control is reached so they can exploit musicians and music fans once again. I don’t think it’s going to happen though, they screwed up so royally. Unfortunately folks like you keep perpetuating this myth that because copyright benefits you, somehow it’s vital for all musicians.


      Reply
      1. Visitor

        I’m perpetrating a myth? You’re an idiot! Read the post above…. COPYRIGHT LAW BENEFITS COMPOSERS/SONGWRITERS!

        Nothing anecdotal about it…. I’ve worked in the music industry 20+ years and royalties are one of the few things that SONGWRITERS and COMPOSERS can count on…

        I guess composers/songwriters don’t deserve to make a living in your opinion? It’s a sick world…. :(


        Reply
      2. Mr. Flynt

        Zac you seem to think that copyright law permits the music industry to force musicians into some kind of indentured servitude. Musicians/composers don’t have to sign the contract.
        You don’t have to enforce your own copyrights, feel free to give them away.
        You don’t have to buy the product that is provided by the music industry. You may steal it if you have no moral problem with that. Technology has made that extremely easy.
        Finally, copyright law effects more than just the music industry. So if you want to change or toss copyright law completely you are going to have to convince many other industries that “copyright is an ethical failure.”


        Reply
      3. Visitor

        “Turns out, paper after paper (this just the latest) has provided hard evidence that copyright benefits only an elite section of “musicians”"
        What you don’t understand is that you need to create a product that can be copyrighted in order to benefit from Copyright Law.
        Copyright Law benefits everybody who creates such products!
        Could you please explain why symphonic orchestra musicians, session musicians and music teachers who do not create such products should benefit from Copyright Law?


        Reply
      4. too bad

        too bad zac that you haven’t written anything that you can make money from.


        Reply
        1. Visitor

          “too bad zac that you haven’t written anything that you can make money from”
          Ouch! :)
          One of the great side effects of Copyright Law is indeed that it inspires or provokes people to create new art, new music and new literature.
          It’s not an easy task to create something new — in fact it hurts like hell — but everybody’s happy when it’s done.
          Except the parasites who prefer to ride on the backs of others.


          Reply
      5. wha

        Except Zac that, when your music career is done (I assume you mean playing live)… you can still receive royalties for decades as a result of copyright protection.
        And that 5, 10, 20 or 50K you earn each year for the next couple decades is sure helping a lot of musicians (who also happen to be songwriters).


        Reply
      6. Visitor

        “…copyright lawyers started to seriously question if copyright was really filling its charter of growing our culture for the greater good (not to make a profit, as you seem to misinterpret the reason for copyright law).”
        This statement goes to the heart of the problem. Your understanding of the purpose of copyright is simply wrong. Copyright does not exist first and foremost for the common good; it exists to protect creators from the theft of their creations. The common good comes about as a result of this protection – more works are created, society benefits and the culture blooms. If you take away the protections of copyright, fewer people will create and society will have lost the benefit of their potential creations. It is clearly in the common good to have more creating, not less.


        Reply
    2. Visitor

      yeah, the headline that DMN put on this article does not match what the paper actually says. i know that when it comes to clickbait, youre supposed to say “don’t hate the playa, hate the game”. But, yeesh!


      Reply
    3. Learn the Law

      Someone says something fundamentally ignorant of the law and others agree?
      < <
      Another misleading article..... learn the difference first off between MUSICIANS and COMPOSERS or SONGWRITERS. Copyright law protects and benefits those who write and compose, not all musicians....

      >>
      Sound recordings are protected by the copyright act, not just compositions. Get it straight.


      Reply
  4. Visitor

    “Copyright Law Is Only Benefiting a Tiny Sliver of Musicians…”
    Most silly study ever.
    Very few musicians are content creators as well, and very few content creators are so good that we have to buy their tunes.
    That was true 500 years ago, and it’s true today.


    Reply
  5. steveh

    OMG who let the anti-copyright dogs out??


    Reply
  6. ye

    this headline is wrong; it should say “Copyright Law Is Only Benefiting Smart Musicians…”


    Reply
    1. Visitor

      “this headline is wrong; it should say “Copyright Law Is Only Benefiting Smart Musicians…”"
      Indeed! :)


      Reply
  7. David C Lowery

    any academics here? Bad science and bad academics must be critiqued and embarassed. I’d write the professor immediately as well as the journal that is gonna publish it.
    This is an academic studgy and he has made a serious logical flaw. that undermines the entire study. While this guy may not have permanently screwed up his career, he may have to wait a little longer to get past associate professor. here’s why
    As someone else pointed out copyright is supposed to incentivizee the songwriters and composers not musicians. When you poll all musicians you find very few of them are actually also the songwriters and composers.
    But it’s even worse than that. the musicians are barely more relevant to the copyright incentive than say the roadies, travel agent, studio engineers or music equipment supplier.
    If Mr. Dicola had published a paper and breathlessly proclaimed that a survey of 5000 roadies, sound engineers, and travel agents showed they recieved little revenue from copyright protection. We’d all be laughing our asses off at the guy.
    I can’t say it’s the stupidist academic paper ever, because there are a lot of stupid ones out there. But this should be an embarassment to the author.


    Reply
    1. steveh

      You are totally right Mr L. This study is maybe not the stupidest stdy in history but it is none the less pretty damn incredibly stupid…
      I sincerely think that the anti-copyright faction, as typified by Zac Shaw above, is psycho-cult similar to Scientology.
      The extreme illogicality of their creed is extraordinary to say the least.
      Keep up the good work sir!


      Reply
    2. Visitor

      “If Mr. Dicola had published a paper and breathlessly proclaimed that a survey of 5000 roadies, sound engineers, and travel agents showed they recieved little revenue from copyright protection. We’d all be laughing our asses off at the guy.”
      Nope, it would be seen as final proof that only evil Nazi MAFIAA artists, such as myself, benefit from Copyright Law.


      Reply
    3. Steve

      Yea my songs have been turned down by Taxi and most other entities I’ve submitted to…
      I’m a musician/songwriter and copyright is the basic protection from unlicensed use of my songs.
      The music business, especially music royalties for writers has been greatly weakened by illegal file-sharing developed by college kids!
      Hence the extensive/expensive touring that artists have to do to begin and mantain careers.
      Labels don’t have the income to invest in new acts as in the past.Any artist now has to work that much harder to have a career due to lack of royalties.
      Musicians who aren’t writers or are unsuccessful as writers have a difficult life due to the economy, and fewer club/venue opportunities;They turn to teaching, session work or another job to make a living…
      The pie certainly illustrates this present reality!


      Reply
  8. Peter DiCola

    Thanks to DMN for posting an article about my study! And thanks to all the commenters and critics. This is a working paper, so revisions will still happen before the Arizona Law Review publishes it this summer, and I appreciate all the thoughts people have shared.
    Just so everyone knows, the paper does distinguish between composers and all other musicians. (Just not in the two early tables that are excerpted here. I break composers out starting with Table 5 and until the end of the paper.) All composers rely a great deal on revenue sources directly related to copyright. I emphasize this in the paper, and I want composers to know about that aspect of the paper lest they think their experience isn’t reflected in the data, because it is. Higher-income musicians also rely a great deal on copyright. Table 7 in the paper shows all this the best. Here’s a link to the full paper available for free download at SSRN:
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2199058
    The commenters have a great point about the data not being all that surprising. Mr. Lowery had a great example about roadies. Of course, I think it’s a great point in part because I make the same point in the paper. It is not surprising that many musicians — like classical musicians receiving orchestra salaries — do not rely on copyright incentives. But policymakers and scholars often forget how much musical activity isn’t motivated by copyright. And so we get an insufficiently tailored copyright policy. One point of the paper is to show that musicians are diverse: some rely on copyright today, some might be motivated by the hope of earning money from it tomorrow, and some don’t rely on copyright at all. Another point of the paper is to attempt to quantify which musicians (e.g., all composers) depend on copyright, so that policymakers can better understand who they’re affecting with copyright policy.
    The big picture is that these kind of data on musicians’ revenue have never been collected before. I think the government should collect better data on the musicians’ labor market, especially when it considers changes to copyright law, but it doesn’t. Filling this gap was the motivation for the study. I think copyright owners and musicians can be helped more by a targeted and empirically informed policy.
    Just for the record, the paper reflects my views only and not those of Future of Music Coalition or Northwestern University.


    Reply
    1. Mike E

      Peter,
      Parsing the demographics of who is directly influenced by copyright law is impossible. If someone whose copyrights generate the income to hire musicians, studios, tour managers, etc., then all of those associated musicians, clubs, and yes, roadies and travel agents directly benefit. How? By getting paid.
      This means that they, too, directly rely on copyright incentives- just like other industries (Ford, Coke, Apple, etc.) Because who needs their skills, if not the people who are out there generating content and profit? And if you think “orchestral musicians” don’t benefit, then you just don’t know what the average orchestral musician does for a living.
      It really seems as if your intent is to fracture the ecosystem of music into “those affected” and those “not affected,” but music simply doesn’t work that way. Your distinction between “musicians” and “composers” is valueless, and also presupposes that some kind of wall exists between the two.
      Please note that I haven’t even come down on whether I’m for or against copyright laws, because the logistical basis for your study is so flawed, copyright itself is beside the point.
      In short: You don’t know the subject you’ve researched. That should be painfully obvious to anyone who is a) a composer, b) a musician, c) a touring musician, d) someone who works with, or for, any of the above.
      Further: Your study does violence to the ongoing debate by incorrectly defining its basic terms. So, the net result is that you are spreading a false perception of the people you’ve studied.
      Perhaps the Arizona Law Review will have insight to this topic that you so transparently do not.


      Reply
      1. jonweisberger

        I’m all of those things – composer, musician, blah blah blah – and I don’t have any problem understanding the difference between “direct” and “indirect.” When I’m paid royalties – say, for airplay on a song I’ve written – I’m a direct beneficiary of copyright; when I’m hired for a set fee – say, to play on a demo – by someone who’s paid royalties, I’m an indirect beneficiary.
        Where I find the DMN presentation and much of the discussion misleading – and I haven’t had a chance to read the paper yet to see whether it’s the source – is in the apparent equation of (or, at least, insufficient distinction between) these two statements:
        -Direct benefits from copyright account for 12% of musicians’ incomes
        -Direct benefits from copyright constitute the income of 12% of musicians
        Most of the discussion, from Paul’s original piece on (and perhaps from the paper first), appears to be based on the second, but my bet is that the underlying data show a much more complex figure, where substantial numbers of musicians are deriving small, but still significant, portions of their income as direct benefits from copyright. That’s certainly true of a great number of my colleagues, for whom directly copyright-derived income – from both compositions and sound recordings (as the author clearly states, indicating that he does, in fact, understand and take into account the distinction between performer and composer) – constitute one revenue stream, but not the only or even the biggest.
        If that’s true – that significant numbers of musicians derive some, but not the preponderant, portion of their income directly from exploiting copyrights – then that has a bearing on the matter of how widely copyright operates to provide an incentive to create.


        Reply
    2. paul

      Peter,
      I’ll add the link to the paper in the article, thanks for adding that (and responding in the thread).
      /paul


      Reply
    3. if u asked

      If you asked all musicians this question:

      “If you personally could benefit financially due to strict copyright laws, would you agree that copyright is a good thing?”

      I suspect 100% would agree.


      Reply
    4. FarePlay

      More junk science that will be picked up by some idiot to make a point.


      Reply
  9. Songwriterbyttrade

    I thought this was a place for reasoned discussion for the greater good of musicians as a whole. I was obviously wrong.
    Seems to me what’s happening here is simple. All posts in favor of copyright understand the reality of working in the business, trying to keep head above water as a creative person. All persons against copyright clearly don’t have a clue. It’s the drummer syndrome. The drummer wants to be the lead singer and therefore hates everything good that happens to him/her.
    Copyright is the last twig that stops songwriters falling into an abyss of poverty and struggle. How can songwriters be creative if they are not getting paid for it? Why again do songwriters or anyone involved in music continually (still) get placed in the (its ok to not pay them cause they musicians). I put this to you all gigging musicians who have never written a note I your life, what about if us songwriter said ok no copyright, me goes for gigs, no pay for gigs , you obviously doing it “for the greater good of culture”..
    Get real man. Instead of bickering on this ridiculous issue we should be uniting and trying to push forward the benefits of all those in music. Power to the musicians as a united entity.. And yeah cord companies profit from copyright, but that’s like saying I’m not going to buy clothes for my kids cause the store makes money off it.. It’s called reality. Man I’m crazy right now I need to go write a song about this.. :0)


    Reply
    1. Visitor

      “How can songwriters be creative if they are not getting paid for it?”
      The anti-copyright warriors will ask: Who cares?
      So here’s the answer: We all care.
      Most of the hits we all love — and that includes the most pirated songs — are written by non-performing, professional songwriters.
      Guess what happens if these professional songwriters are forced to find new jobs…


      Reply
      1. lifer

        Then we’ll have to listen to jazz or classical or world or folk or read a book or talk to a human being. Because professionally written pop songs are crucial. Crucial, i tell ya!


        Reply
        1. Thanks

          Blessing if it ever were so, lifer. Give us will.i.am ” Bill” Evans , more interesting and fulfilling to listen to then … Will.i.am whatever his name is.


          Reply
        2. Visitor

          “Then we’ll have to listen to jazz or classical”
          The classical music we all love was written by professional composers who, in most cases, were paid extremely well for their services.
          Had they not been paid, they would have been forced to find other jobs..


          Reply
          1. lifer

            Much of it based on “folk” music created by uncredited non-professionals. Virtually sampled.
            Additionally do you suggest that classical composer and pop songwriter are synonyms?
            Additionally you seem to suggest that music should be free to the public and Bill Gates should have a pianist live in his house. How silly…


            Reply
            1. Visitor

              “Much of it based on “folk” music created by uncredited non-professionals. Virtually sampled.”
              That’s true today, too. Thousands of fantastic note sequences are in the Public Domain and can be used for free.
              “Additionally do you suggest that classical composer and pop songwriter are synonyms?”
              Of course not. It’s far more demanding today:
              1) The available number of great sounding new note sequences are extremely diminished so you have to be more creative today.
              2) You can’t get away with only two or three jewels in a very long theme anymore. Every second counts today.


              Reply
  10. Sababa

    While more popular artists do make more off of royalties than average artists. That’s a fact of life and capitalism. Those who do well, make more money. More controls could harm the system even more.


    Reply
  11. lifer

    This thread is so cute.
    Mr Strident Anti Copyright reminds of the “anarchists” from AveA/Tompkins Square in NY’s East Village back in the 70s-80s.
    So many of them have been “exposed as ex-posers” who turned into what they hated about their own parents as soon as they had to support their own families.

    Others have gone onto change their communities in big and small ways (for better or worse depending on perspective).

    Wonder where Mr Strident Anti Copyright will turn up.


    Reply
  12. jcodec

    Study shows copyright laws only benefit a tiny minority of musicians. In other news, water is wet.


    Reply
  13. @mensdrea

    Trademark your band name though!


    Reply
  14. zogg

    I’m all for Copyright protection but isn’t the data being used here quite old? Though I doubt if it was done today much would change but the argument still exist , musicians need to be better educated in relation to their own careers.


    Reply
  15. realworlddata

    Most of the argument in these posts is completely irrelevant – it’s all about what rights musicians should have, who should benefit, who does benefit, what is ethical, etc.
    None of this matters. The reality is that if you think you can make money by restricting access to a digital product to those willing to pay, you are doomed. If you are willing to take the unlicensed copying to get the sales, you may stand a chance, but you’d probably be better off with a different business model.
    If I was an artist with a good-sized fan base and a bunch of tunes waiting to be recorded, I’d be using Kickstarter to finance the recording and turn a basic profit, in return supplying DRM-free MP3s of the content to my backers as soon as the mastering was done. After that, all sales are a bonus.
    The record companies are the ones who really depend on copyright for their business, and losing some of them will do nothing at all to hurt musicians, whose ability to do without them gets greater every year, from affordable quality recording to free global distribution channels. Why do we need a company to put our CDs in shops when no-one is buying CDs and the shops are going bankrupt?


    Reply
    1. Visitor

      “If I was an artist with a good-sized fan base and a bunch of tunes waiting to be recorded, I’d be using Kickstarter to finance the recording and turn a basic profit”
      Oh my god…
      Where did you find that bunch of tunes? :)))
      If you have a ‘good-sized fan base and a bunch of tunes’, then you’re already a professional artist and composer, and you won’t need Kickstarter at all…


      Reply
    2. and if

      … and if i had a unicorn i would ride it to find all the gold at the end the rainbow.
      your whole text is so ignorant of making a product and selling, or running a business, period. your idea for a magical profit from kickstarter, then providing drm free mp3s back to the world and touring to your instant giant fan base… well.
      sounds like it was written from your parent’s basement after being on the net all day downloading other people’s creations , while attending college that you are also not paying for, perhaps hanging out with musicians who have no bills but good beards, or perhaps hanging out with programmers who think they are the next great net millionaire, but who also don’t have bills yet, and not even good beards.


      Reply
  16. hank alrich

    Maybe I missed it in the comments, but I see no mention of copyright in the sound recording(s), apart from the composition. Copyright via Form SR can/could/used to benefit more than just the composer, depending on contractural agreements between the players on a given recording.


    Reply
  17. hippydog

    Quote Peter DiCola “For most musicians, copyright does not provide much of a direct financial reward for what they are producing currently.”
    For me the biggest problem with the study is the premise that ‘the copywrite itself is not providing the financial reward’.
    Yet the study itself acknowledged, this is technically untrue and that the huge majority of artists elect to join a collective of some sort (either directly or indirectly.) .. IE: Very few artists directly administer or control their own copywrite.
    So if there is a problem, its most likely not a “copywrite” issue, but how the copywrites are being administered, and that points to the collectives..


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  18. Visitor

    Copyright is the foundation for the royalty bridgework. Increasing penalties isn’t going to make any dramatic shift in how royalties are collected and distributed. I don’t forsee any government taskforce being created any time in the future to monitor copyright infringement, nor do i forsee the government even able to efficently provide such a service in the future. Therefore the copyright reach will forever be limited to the awareness of the artists, or the label. speaking of the label, consider that the label could also be a big reason why the artists isn’t making much money on royalties. How many new artists even own their mechanical and creative rights in the current business method?
    the RIAA made some bad moves and really destroyed public opinion. Baiscally, music is going to be disposible for a long time to come. We all have a big ugly beast to put down before we ever have a chance of music being as relavant as it was in the 70′s-90′s


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  19. lifer

    If some of these “artists” had day jobs then they might have something interesting to write about.
    There ought to be a law…in order to call yourself an artist you have to “get a life.”
    Then write about it and share with humanity.

    Listening to Who’s Next on Vinyl


    Reply
    1. Visitor

      “If some of these “artists” had day jobs then they might have something interesting to write about.”
      Yeah, if only somebody had told Beatles that.
      Imagine all the interesting songs they could have written, instead of all that love, love, love…


      Reply

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