In case after case, the major record labels have sued everyone from college students to Napster, ostensibly on behalf of their artists. Unfortunately, it seems these gardian angels of the music industry may be less vigilant when it comes to their own accounting. According to Billboard, Weird Al Yankovic is suing Sony Music through his company, Ear Booker Enterprises, for $5,000,000. Yankovic is accusing Sony of acting improperly as the company took duplicate recoupments of his music – resulting in lower royalty payments. In addition, it is alleged the company has fallen short on their licensing contract with Yankovic – merely paying straight royalties for download sales instead of the 50% of revenues Yankovic’s licensing deal entitles him to. Most notably, Yankovic is accusing Sony Music of hypocritically refusing to share any money it received from lawsuit settlements from sites such as Napster, Kazaa and Grokster. Further, the lawsuit states that Yankovic is entitled to a portion of deal Sony made with YouTube – providing the website with “White and Nerdy” and other “official” Weird Al content.
Billboard reports Sony Music has yet to respond publicly to the allegations.
That’s what John Taylor of Duran Duran recently told Time Out Melbourne on the subject of illegal downloading. When I read Taylor’s comments, I applauded as if his band had just completed a rousing encore of Skin Trade. Finally, a pop star who understands what it’s like to be low on cash but high on music.
Back in the old pre-Internet days, before iTunes, Amazon and having access to the latest hits 24/7 on YouTube, if you couldn’t afford to pay to listen to the music you loved anytime you wanted to, you had to improvise. For me, and, apparently, for Taylor, that meant pushing a tape recorder up the speakers of the radio, waiting for your favorite song to come on, pressing play when it did, and praying for no outside noise to interfere with the sweet music coming from the speakers.
We all know how much the music industry is changing. Technology is evolving and most people have ditched their CD collection for an iTunes library full of illegally-downloaded music. And while file-sharing seems to be the most prominent headline these days, there’s other music news to report. Music licensing has fast become a crucial aspect of the music industry, especially when it comes to making money. When someone owns the copyright to a piece of work, others must obtain a license from the artist in order to use said work. For example, music supervisors must get a synchronization license to use someone’s song in a movie or TV show. Recently, there’s been a lot going on in the world of music licensing. Here are some of the important music licensing stories we think you should know about!
- YouTube settled in a lawsuit with the NMPA (National Music Publishers Association of America) by agreeing to pay publishers a portion of their ad revenue in order to keep their artists’ music up on the site (this includes fan made videos with artists’ songs in them). The important thing to know about music publishers is that they represent writers. Sometimes a performer of a song is also the writer, but that’s not always the case. So, only the writers and their publishers will benefit from this settlement.
- Back in the ’70s, copyright law was revised to allow artists to reclaim their work (termination rights) after thirty-five years, so long as they apply two years in advance. Right now, record labels own the master recordings of huge artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Bob Dylan and Tom Petty. The first wave of recordings that this rule applies to is from 1978 and record labels are anxiously preparing to fight back. If they lose the rights to these recordings, they will lose a huge source of income.
- A judge found that MP3tunes, in a case against EMI, was not guilty of promoting infringement. The Web site is a music cloud service that allows users to access their own music as well as the songs found through a search engine, which is the main point of concern. The case started out based on the allegation that 33,000 of the songs were infringing on copyright but the case brought it down to only 350 tracks.
Technology is changing the world as we know it every day. We all know that new technology and advanced knowledge may lead to incredible achievements but they also result in criticism. When technology is used properly, an industry can do great things. But there will always be the people who want things done “the old-fashioned way”. Within in the music industry, new technology has completely changed the way things are done and the opportunities available. From social-networking Web sites to digital music and illegal downloading, the way that people consume and connect with music has changed drastically in recent years.
One prominent example of this involves music festivals. Not able to afford a ticket? Live thousands of miles away? You no longer have to worry because most of these events now bring the entertainment to you for free…and you don’t even have to leave the house! This year, many of the big music festivals began live streaming their performances online. Coachella used YouTube, where fans could choose between three different stages at any given time to watch their favorite acts. NPR Music and Limelight Networks provided SXSW with the means to stream featured performances over the course of the festival. HullabaLOU Music Festival, Pitchfork Music Festival and Bonnaroo Music And Art Festival also followed this growing trend. In addition to festivals, Ben Folds even took to Chatroulette during one of his live performances last year and improvised songs about the random people he was connected with through the Web site. Overseas, BBC aired performances from the huge Glastonbury Festival, which takes place every year in England.
Legendary lead singer of the rock band The Who, Roger Daltrey has been vocal about his aversion to the concept of airing live music festivals. In speaking to BBC Radio in Scotland last month he certainly didn’t hold back, saying that the TV coverage makes him “want to puke”. He elaborated by explaining that “most of the mystique is taken away” with this recent development. He also criticized the idea because he doesn’t believe artists are able to benefit much from it. Daltrey commented on the industry as a whole, saying, “I think the record industry has been decimated by free downloading and touring is becoming incredible expensive”. Having been a part of the music world for a long time now, he certainly has a different perspective on the way it has been shifting. But, are his complaints valid? (more…)