Thanks mate - appreciate that
Don-thanks for this mate. I agree that there has been way too much misinformation on this topic, but I think both sides are guilty of this. Calling labels anti democratic or saying their motivation is to control peoples freedom and choices makes about as much sense as calling people who were against 92a pirates who don’t value creativity or the basic rule of law
Just for the record I think both of the above are laughable at best
I think that in the arguments that have gone around for the past 4 months both sides have been badly guilty of generalizing the others stance and motives, part of the reason I want to have this discussion is a genuine attempt to try and at least start a process where people are talking – as opposed to shouting at each other – on the issue. I run a small label and music marketing company in Auckland that employs four people, we are not a Major but we do work with them on a consistent basis (particularly Universal and their MD Adam Holt); I am also the chairman of the local Indie label trade body IMNZ and I sit on the MERLIN board and the NZ/Australia rep (http://www.merlinnetwork.org)
I look at allot of the decisions that have been made by organizations like the RIAA and cringe, suing college kids gets nobody anywhere and swinging a hammer when a friendly email will do is a fools errand. My viewpoint comes from a guy who works with local bands (The Datsuns/Minuit/Concord Dawn/Pig Out/Fur Patrol/Cut Off Your Hands etc) and tries to develop them to a point where they can have a career. I say this so you understand that I am not a copyright zealot who is towing the IFPI line (we have our own battles with them as indies as it is and are actually in the middle of suing them over the Kazaa settlement) and that you may at least be open to the fact that what I am trying to get across is from a NZ perspective.
To answer your points…
1. The Internet has, on balance, been a good thing for the music (and software) industry.
I would go further and say that the Internet has been the best thing that has ever happened to music. Yes piracy is a major problem, but the way in which you can now reach people without using the traditional gate keepers of radio and TV is amazing. Bands like Concord Dawn and Minuit would never have the career they have now without the web. This is of course balanced against file sharing which has of course been a disaster for music companies as it destroyed the limited supply/purchase model of the past 50 years. Same goes for opportunities for movies (blair witch project), software (linux), gaming (second life) and the list goes on. How the industry recovers from the change of model has yet to be seen-but the one major fact that will not change is that people love music and other people love making it, how that works out over the next 5 years is for everyone to figure out.
2. That our kids are *not* supporting drug dealers, the slave trade and arms dealers when they watch something on youtube or share an mp3.
This is a tough one-kiwi kids are not funding terrorism by copying a Datsuns song, I think that much is obvious. But I don’t believe that it is a harmless transaction. I don’t agree with the whole ‘I’ll try it and then buy it if I like it’ theory nor do I believe that because they are copies then it isn’t a lost sale. I think this is the same if I use a cracked copy of photoshop as opposed to buying a legit or if I buy a 2 dollar DVD of Lord of the Rings from a guy in Bangkok market. People have the right to create and charge what they want for their product, I don’t believe that people have the right to copy something because they want one. Historically there have been a sever lack of legitimate places to purchase music but that is no longer the case-maybe the industry now has to contend with a generation of people who are used to stealing music because they couldn’t get it in other places but to me that is no excuse not to try. These artists and their labels are creating their music because they love it but they are selling it because it creates income which allows those people to keep doing what they do. Arguments aside on the validity of this argument I can’t say that copying is okay, to me it is a simple fact of you don’t own it, you have no right to it, you can buy it legally and easily (and at better quality) you are just choosing not to.
Education has to play a big part to play in this
3. Admit that this is a battle between some mega corps for control of supply, or at least control of ticket clipping.
For us this is simply not the case. 83 Indie labels in NZ, all NZ owned, all of them trying to find a way through this mess. We don’t (and that is the position of the IMNZ who did consult its members through two separate organizational get togethers to discuss this position) feel that copying is justifiable nor do we believe that there should be a minimum quota allowed for ‘reasonable use’ through copying. We aren’t advocating knocking kids doors down or cutting off phone lines so grandma can’t call her ambulance when the heart machine stops working (my all time favorite scenario over the past 4 months) but we want to see a fair system (3rd party, low cost, presumption of innocence) that adjudicates over potential copyright infringement.
We want to protect the work that we create, and we feel that is a fair position. I am realistic about this, I know that I am probably in the minority on this thread in my views on copyright and the web but I truly do want to find a way where can at least start to find an answer.
Asking the ISP’s etc to pay us even more money is a bit over the top-lets start with some money and go from there is our attitude. Some ISP’s sell programs that are marketed for moving large amounts of data overnight. Call me crazy but this sounds like file sharing. I think ISP’s make good money on file sharing and the associated data cost, and I think that they can contribute to the cost of reducing it or paying compensation to people who are losing income because of what is happening on their networks.
Rightio, sorry that was so long
Hey Don, I wish Google was paying all musicians/labels, sadly that is not yet the case-but hopefully after 3 years of work and quarter of a million on legal fees the independent sector is actually going to get some remuneration from them. Allot of people have been working very hard to make this happen, including the MERLIN board which I have been lucky enough to sit on (along with Susan Ferris-who is a lovely lady) since 2006. It is also worth noting that both Yahoo and Google's first response to allegations of not paying Independent labels for use of their copyright was 'we don't pay independents-only majors'
I agree that criminalizing fans is a waste of time-Metallica proved that in spades. 'Lobbying for intrusive and chilling legislation' is an argument that could go for the next ten pages but I think it is fair to say we disagree on this point.
Yes I agree that the past effort was poorly written and didn't serve the purpose for which it was intended, but I strongly think that copyright must be balanced against fair use by the public but i personally don't feel that copying a work that you don't own is fair use of someone else’s property. If we (and I really do mean we) can find a half way point between the arguments that allows for people to consume media without being a criminal and allows copyright holders to have some level of protection from those who choose not to pay then we are part way there-how we can do that when I look at how far some of the parties are away from each other is an intimidating problem to say the least. I think copyright holders have to re-evaluate their position, but I don’t think they should have to "accept" that trading/copying files is the social norm so nothing should be done about it
take it with a grain of salt if you like but I believe the only way this is going to get anywhere is if some common ground is found
In NZ the amount of kiwi music actually getting out is growing year on year but it is increasingly difficult for these bands to make a living from what they do-particularly if they are geared to use sales of music as a primary revenue resource. One result is that the level of investment from Labels etc is either falling or else the nature of the deals is changing to include management or live income-aka the 360 model.
The start up capital for a band to get a record out the door still ranges anywhere from 5k to 150k with the true average somewhere around 30-40k. This includes promo/marketing/production etc, its not a small amount and when the original investor (let’s say the Label for arguments sake) is getting income only from only sales this model is ultimately flawed in today’s age. Sadly the knee jerk response from most (but not all) has been to cut artist share on deals downwards and try and grab a bigger piece of a smaller pie.
Its my personal belief that the future has to be about partnership and that these projects will become much more of a joint venture (which is already happening in this country) scenario. This is why what the industry calls ‘3rd party’ income becomes so important, whether it be You Tube or Radio play or C4 play or whatever the case is of someone using music to increase the value of their media tool artists and their partners need to be at the gate getting compensation that is fair for both sides and reflects the value that BOTH sides are receiving-which is of course allot easier said than done
I agree with your point Russell, it is a good one.
Without enough focus/volume/revenue for single points/web pages/bands it is incredibly hard for anyone to reach the critical mass of actually turning a profit on their investment, this has been the biggest change in the music industry in the past 10 years-you simply can’t get enough people to pay attention to one act for long enough for them to make a bunch of dough on it
So the model becomes how do you make a little bit of money from allot of people giving you only a small amount of their time-whilst at the same time not making disposable one-off shit product that is only designed to grab 15 seconds of fame. It is an incredibly tough problem and gets even harder when you have to balance the fact that you also have your true hardcore fans that will desert you in an instant if they feel you are selling out or compromising what you stand for
I have to agree with Bob Lefsetz that the days of making mega stars are either very limited or just over altogether, it is very much about small and mid level bands being smart about what they do and making an income through allot of various revenue points as opposed to a massive hit carving them out a fortune. My favorite quote at the moment is from Bryce Edge who manages Radiohead – “If you have 50,000 fans you have a business model”, he is correct in that it is about having a smaller number of people who truly believe in you and then looking after them and keeping them for a long period of time. The possibility of making a career out of music is still very much there, it’s just how you go about getting it is very different
On the You Tube front I find this very very frustrating. Yes there is promotional value in having your music clip viewed by a bunch of people on the web-only an idiot would argue otherwise. The question to me is how does that value balance against the value of owning a website that you sell advertising on when none of the copyright is yours (and in the vast majority of cases you have no rights to). Personally (and I know a bunch of people will disagree) I think that the value is tilted in favor of the rights holder and they should be compensated accordingly (particularly when you look at the capital value of sites such as You Tube), but this is an argument that has many sides and opinions with both sides making good points
Rich-fair call, the delay is in the billing and delivery and making it automatic and then making it work with our distributor and then making sure people understand it
just to clarify a couple of things
I jumped into this forum because I was hoping to get some different approaches to the way things are being handled at the moment with the copyright act and the proposals for notice and takedown etc. Please note that copyright holders and ISP's are currently trying to nut out a solution, so hopefully there will be something that satisfies both parties as a result. Thank you (seriously) for the ideas, I am the first to admit that we live in our world most of the time and it is refreshing to hear other peoples viewpoints on this
Don Christie (the Don part is awesome by the way), I realise that people have a right to not be accused of things and penalised before there is proof, the whole intention of this notice and takedown is to act as a deterrent, not to open a window for people to spy on people or take away their liberties. Granted that under the current proposal there may be room for this to happen, again I am one person involved in this who represents 70 local labels who are trying to find a way to protect their property, we are truly all ears but we are not going to quit and go and sell band t shirts for a living. My point earlier in this thread is that I don't think notice and notice is enough of a deterrent at all, I think there has to be something more than that in order for people to abide by the rules so to speak but this needs to be balanced with peoples right to do what they like without false accusation and penalty
Clarke-if i could currently provide the service you are asking for I would. I have a stereo that took me 2 years to build form various parts and components and all it really does now is show up how shit an MP3 sounds. I know it is convenient to say this but I spent this afternoon with a tech company trying to figure out different delivery methods for audio at different quality rates and hopefully this service will be up by Feb, we have been working on this for about 3 months now. The artists are desperate for this, they don’t want to have a year’s work sound like mud because someone decided to buy it off the web instead of on CD. Same goes for artwork, discounts to shows when you buy the record, t shirts the whole lot. We want to treat fans like the loyal people they are, we want them to actually be fans
Mathew Poole-we are obviously at a disagreement over whether or not taking something that you have no right to is theft or not. You can call it bullshit if you like (and have), but I will always think that if you make something you have the right for someone else not to take it/distribute it/copy it/sell advertising around it without your permission or consent. Hopefully one day someone takes your blogs and does exactly those things with them and makes a fortune from it and then pays you nothing. I don’t mean this is in a nasty way, but in that maybe this experience will give you the empathy for someone who has given up so much to create something only to have it taken from them - when under other circumstances they would of at least considered paying for it - and receive nothing for it, and then turn around and say it wasn’t theft
And for the record please don’t lump NZ Independent labels in with the RIAA and their actions, it makes about as much sense as comparing Public Address to Fox News
Russell-I use Hype machine it is a good service and I find some good tunes on it-my old promo manager used to live on this site and blast it through the office. My comment was more aimed towards sites that are using content to build value on other peoples copyright without compensation to the people who create it. Examples are sites such as You Tube, google video, Kazaa etc. I realise that I am about to open up an entire world of pain by saying this but if you are going to use peoples copyrights to bring people to a site and then advertise around it then you should pay for the content you are profiting from
I am fully aware that we as rights holders gain promotional value from people seeing our clips and then become interested in the act and maybe purchasing the CD as a result or going to a show. But this is not a new model or argument. In every western territory in the world radio use the same examples and pay a fee for it, usually a percentage of gross. Now in some cases the 4 Major Labels have done deals to compensate under threat of being sued, but the Independents (28% of the world market and 85% of the music released in NZ) are left out. This is a simple divide and conquer strategy from the media companies so that they don't have to deal with paying Indies.
For the past two years I have been on the board of an organisation called Merlin (www.merlinnetwork.org/home), there are 15 of us on the board and it includes people like Martin Mills (founder of the Beggars group) and Kevin Arnold (founder of IODA)-the whole list o the board is on the website. The whole aim of this organisation is to represent over 2000 labels in trying to create a level playing field for Independents when it comes to new media and emerging markets and models. It has been one of the most rewarding and frustrating things I have ever been involved in as trying to deal with the legal team at You Tube is like trying to catch sand in a wind storm, but progress is being made slowly but surely and the first deals are being signed that will allow NZ bands to receive income from these types of services and sites. Sorry if I come across as a little defensive, but 2 years of US justice department antitrust applications and 2am board calls has left me a little jaded when it comes to a debate over whether or not people should be compensated for their rights being used by someone else.
I am fully aware that most people look at the music industry and think that it is incredibly slow and behind the times, and to be honest it is a mostly fair call. But progress is being made, particularly here in NZ, largely thanks to some good work cooperation between the indies and the majors and a set of personalities who from both sides who realise that working together is the only option for success.
To be perfectly honest if someone wants to blog about one of my bands I am stoked about it, in the same way if Nick D decides to play a Minuit track on bfm I am happy for the exposure. But if you are going to build value around such a thing then everybody should share in the spoils
Like I said the web is a great tool for music, hell for a lot of people it is the only tool for music, but revenue gained from it has to be fair
Mr Christie, it is not just a timing issue. 28 days is unworkable because it has a zero deterrent value to the people who are using copyrights they don’t own. Telling someone off is no deterrent at all for using copyrights you do not own, there has to be another way.
Hey Russell, one thing worth noting is that originally it was I Tunes who wanted to place DRM on the music it sold. It was its own unique DRM so the tracks wouldn't play on other players other than apple products. Also we do use the web extensively for promoting music, it is an amazing and wonderful tool to talk to many people in a way that doesn't treat them as a moron, particularly for genres that don't have any radio coverage (metal etc), but we are starting to stray into a different argument now, sites such as the one you have pointed out have taken it a step further than allowing people to grab music as they wish, they are actually selling advertising around it and making money from copyright they don't own, which is a whole step up from stealing something. They are actually providing a means to download music and profiting from those who choose to do so
Mr Christie the reason I say the notice and notice take down action was unworkable was that they were proposing 28 days total from when an ISP was notified to when the person infringing copyright was given their second notice to remove content. 28 days is a very very long time before someone takes action and as we are all aware pulling something down after it has even just a small moment on the web is useless as it has already been copied and reposted, you have to stop them doing it in the first place if you are going to try at all
It is a fair point that Russell makes about people dying on roads, no they are not the same thing. But I don't believe that if you are going to provide a service that people can use then you cannot be held to have any responsibility whatsoever once it is plugged in and running (and of course you are billing for it). Again there has to be some balance here and quite frankly the notice and notice provision put forward by the ISP's was a joke and completely unworkable. Roads have speed cameras and while they aren't the same thing as we are discussing the principal is the same, use it legally and there won't be any need to do anything about it
Again fair comments about leaving recorded music behind and moving into other areas in order to monetise your investment, our company like many others has been doing this for some time but currently record labels are still the engine that drives new and established acts. This model is of course is changing rapidly as are record companies themselves are changing but at least for the short term future the investment and expertise to take a small indie band and get them out to enough people to reach a level of sustainability is going to come from labels. These labels need to make a return and the artists need to be exposed to people in order to open up these other revenue streams (live shows/merchandise etc) but as it stands record sales are still worth over 100 million dollars a year to the local industry, so we aren't ready to throw in the towel quite yet and go and be a touring agent. This is a fight that has real value
The thing that drives me on this is that I fundamentally believe that no one has the right to steal my property, and these bands recorded music is exactly that, property in the same way that your car is yours and your shirt is yours and you should be able to protect yourself from someone taking it or even building a video sharing website around its broadcast and selling it for 1.5 billion dollars without compensating me for it (which is a whole other thread)
I don't want to restrict anybody’s right to do anything, but stealing music isn't a right nor a privilege, its people taking what isn't there’s at someone else’s expense. Whole genres of music in NZ (this is not an exaggeration) no longer sell in any significant volume and the investment in those genres has fallen along with their sales. This is largely (but not solely) due to piracy and a whole generation who don't pay for music anymore. Education only goes so far and there has to be something put in place to stop the wholesale theft of people’s life’s work. Like I said it is a balance that so far has no real solution
And yes Cut Off Your Hands can be purchased on I Tunes