Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Friday Music: Good ideas and grumbles

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  • Ian Jorgensen, in reply to Samuel Scott,

    It is my personal experience that they are a very transparent organisation and one that is pretty much a union for songwriters

    haha. They must treat members very different from the people who pay them. Ie: I have no idea if they pay you guys after you play camp? I assume they do...i pay them. I dunno. Why can't they show me? Seems a fair question to ask yeah? Can you tell? If not, why not?

    Damn you sucking me back in cuz. I was trying to head out for some snacks.

    The argument is not is there a point to having an APRA or not, yeah, shit, a PRO is very important and a lifeline but I feel they need to be just as accountable as any other business. If you feel they are 100% transparent enough to you, well, that is a different story. The statements i've seen that they give to songwriters don't clarify anywhere near enough information, and when those artists ask for that information - its not forthcoming, or they can't be told it - haha, though I'm sure some songwriters are more equal than others ;)

    (they used to send out thorough breakdowns of where you earnings come from, like giant phone books, i doubt anyone read them).

    We questioned Ant on this and why this information wasn't at least available online for songwriters to discover if they wanted. Seems relevant to me.

    Even if it was in 500 retail outlets and cafes chosen at random to use as sampling it could work.

    Don seems to think the best idea is already in place ;) my suggestions of sampling seem to get dismissed, but yeah...it seems a much more satisfying (albeit not perfect) way than the current system.

    wellington • Since Apr 2010 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • Samuel Scott,

    I can't believe I am coming across as so establishment and non-cynical.

    Believe me, I hate a lot of shit about the NZ music industry and I am really bitter and twisted.

    But most of my frustrations come from the lack of support at commercial radio and big media. And the audiences for live music. I am so freakin into Ian's approach to putting on gigs and running venues. I have said this many times; you need a champion for live music in every NZ town. Every town needs an Ian Jorgensen. And unlicensed, off the radar clubs are brilliant.

    South Wellington • Since Feb 2008 • 315 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Jorgensen,

    They generally care about music and why shouldn't people who have been working in the industry for that long get the sweet deal jobs.

    this is so correct and yeah, haha, I don't wish to see a bunch of 19 year olds running the industry (though that would be fascinating). I would love to see more consultation and involvement from young people in these organisations though.

    wellington • Since Apr 2010 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • Samuel Scott,

    Don seems to think the best idea is already in place ;) my suggestions of sampling seem to get dismissed, but yeah…it seems a much more satisfying (albeit not perfect) way than the current system.

    This was my only problem with Don's response. How can basing it on radio play be the best they can do? Most businesses I go to in Newtown/Berhampore have ipads running cloud POS software. If new businesses are running their cash registers in cyberspace why can't they scrobble their tunes (yeah, scrobbling, thats only been around about 10 years FREAKY NEW WORLD) to a database. I don't want to be an ass here, but I hear my own band in cafe's an awful lot, and we such tiny amounts of mainstream radio play...and as for Fat Freddy's, well they should be getting about 30% of retail royalties.

    South Wellington • Since Feb 2008 • 315 posts Report Reply

  • Samuel Scott,

    As for the live return stuff. I know that we get paid based on our actual gigs because I can tell the difference between a big and small year. When we do most of our shows overseas our live return is bleak. When we've done something like a tour supporting Split Enz in NZ arenas, it comes back looking really good. At really big shows (like BDO/Laneways) they have reps making sure every band fills in their setlist forms. So they obviously take it seriously, Maybe they don't have the resources/time to explain it. They should explain it. You pay them money, you should be allowed to know it is going to the right people.

    South Wellington • Since Feb 2008 • 315 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Jorgensen, in reply to Samuel Scott,

    They should explain it. You pay them money, you should be allowed to know it is going to the right people.

    This is the crux of it and my argument, but somehow my sideswipe and snotty comments aimed at the Silver Scrolls (when I was totally just using that as an illustration) have taken away from the real issue.

    I know that we get paid based on our actual gigs because I can tell the difference between a big and small year.

    Yeah, It's not really bands like yours who have people who make sure that paperwork is filed which are the issue. Its the huge number of bands who don't file returns, but whom venues are still being asked to pay for which is the problem.
    But yeah, haha, you should know you get paid on actual gigs because you get to see a list of those gigs and the amount collected from each - not just seeing the difference from a big to a small year....

    wellington • Since Apr 2010 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • Samuel Scott,

    I would love to see more consultation and involvement from young people in these organisations though.

    Definitely. And to be honest, I feel there is a distinct lack of young bands breaking through in the funny land between total-indie and yucky-mainstream that acts who emerged in the early noughties (Mint Chicks, Brunettes, Pluto, Goodshirt, my band, lots of shitty bands) seemed to operate in. I guess this is probably because there is no money in music at all so why fucking bother trying to be in anything other than your own boss in cyber land. Is it a good thing? Do the young bands who play Camp want to cross over, be on TV (but what TV), play bigger festivals (but what festivals).

    I guess Doprah and Race Banyon are coming up out of the DIY scene.

    South Wellington • Since Feb 2008 • 315 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Jorgensen, in reply to Samuel Scott,

    I feel there is a distinct lack of young bands breaking through in the funny land between total-indie and yucky-mainstream that acts who emerged in the early noughties (Mint Chicks, Brunettes, Pluto, Goodshirt, my band, lots of shitty bands)

    RIP Channel Z (and a much more supportive live scene)

    wellington • Since Apr 2010 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • Samuel Scott,

    Its the huge number of bands who don’t file returns, but whom venues are still being asked to pay for which is the problem.

    Don't tell the other guys in TPF (coz I bitch and moan about it) but filing a live return takes about 20 minutes and can it makes you money. If bands are not engaging with APRA then they are just being silly.

    And this is the problem I do have with what you wrote Ian. Young bands look up to you and they could easily read what you wrote and go 'yeah fuck apra, I'm not gonna bother with that shit'. I thought APRA was a waste of time, 'oh a check for 30 cents great' (i still have this check)... but then the next time is $200 and then its $2000...and then its $200 again and you think 'FUCK I GOTTA GET BACK ON THE RADIO'.

    But my point is that it is SOME MONEY. And there is so often NO MONEY. The amount times APRA royalties have popped up and saved my bacon is unbelievable (they always seem to arrive just before I am due to go tour with no money in pocket). They wont make you rich if you're not making commercial dribble but they might help. And young bands should be getting every tiny cent that is owed to them.

    South Wellington • Since Feb 2008 • 315 posts Report Reply

  • Samuel Scott,

    RIP Channel Z (and a much more supportive live scene)

    the Bnet was stronger then too. The b-net awards were a big deal. Getting played on BFM meant sales and people at your gigs. That's what Bnet stations always had over commercial stations; play on bnet meant people at gigs. The bands who were getting smashed on commercial stations didn't seem to get mass gigs.

    The gigs that do well now seem to be old bands with old fans or EDM shows that I do not understand. I am oldddd OLLLLLDDDDD

    South Wellington • Since Feb 2008 • 315 posts Report Reply

  • Samuel Scott,

    OK I am off to a NEW ZEALAND BAND IN A SMALL VENUE

    nighty night

    (hey Ian, we just a chat on a forum with different opinions and we didn't argue...we are so mature)

    South Wellington • Since Feb 2008 • 315 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher, in reply to Ian Jorgensen,

    The past six months I’ve been visiting many cafes and restaurants and much to the chagrin of my girlfriend, moaning about how the music they are playing is not reflected on any radio station I am aware of – rock, easy listening, pop, student etc.

    This is so true. In fact, I'd say that music that works on radio is generally not music that works in a cafe. Cafe music needs to be cool background music that isn't going to interfere with your coffee, lunch or chat. I'm sure there is a bit of crossover, but it's almost its own genre, far removed from the more engaging music of pop radio.

    I fondly remember the day I heard the 1974 song "Swahililand" by American jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal playing in Espressoholic in Wellington. I Shazaam'd it and happily downloaded it. This is not the sort of thing I'd expect to hear on an FM radio station.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Samuel Scott,

    I hear my own band in cafe's an awful lot, and we such tiny amounts of mainstream radio play...and as for Fat Freddy's, well they should be getting about 30% of retail royalties.

    Exackery

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Jorgensen,

    And this is the problem I do have with what you wrote Ian. Young bands look up to you and they could easily read what you wrote and go 'yeah fuck apra, I'm not gonna bother with that shit'.

    After listening to Anthony Healey talk for a couple of hours, a member of one of the most prolific live bands around who have put out a couple of releases and is not a member of APRA summed it up best with "If APRA was a product, I wouldn't buy it".

    And why would you?

    They are a company who collects money on your behalf without you knowing and makes no proper effort to contact you, forcing you to sign up to them to receive money which is rightfully yours. By signing up, you effectively endorse their extortion practises - and like the title of this particular essay - their members are (according to my research) unaware of the particulars of their collection processes.
    I know Russell isn't a fan of me using that extort word, but I don't know how else to describe it? They ask money from music users but don't show them where it's going and don't give them any evidence of where its gone and threaten them (legal action/imprisonment/fines) when they don't pay but simply ask to see where the money is going.

    I think the more songwriters who question APRAs reporting and collection the better. For people just to blindly sign up to them and assume that their collection practises are legit is wrong. If someobody is going around asking others for money for you, its in your best interests to understand exactly how they go about asking for that money and the ways they treat those people. (They are doing it in your name after all)

    It wouldn't take much at all for APRA to fix all of this. It's just data and finding the right way to collect and report and distribute accurately - the core of their business and they need to get it right, they currently don't.

    Extort: To obtain from another by intimidation.
    APRA's lawyers sent me a letter threatening legal action, 5 years imprisonment or a 150,000 fine if I didn't pay my background music fee the second year - and it seems the one thing we can agree on is their background music collection is not 100% accurate. To me this is extortion. If its something else, please enlighten.

    wellington • Since Apr 2010 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    I’m over my word limit so I’ll keep this brief: some issues I’m a little unclear about: Craig, you said:

    It seems to me, from the outside, a lot of organizations could learn from APRA when it comes to genuine and constructive engagement with its critics.

    Ant met with Blink and then went on record in the SST:

    "Blink [Jorgensen] is wrong on many points"…But APRA isn’t backing down. Healey says they will not be changing policy

    Samuel you said:

    But my point is that it is SOME MONEY. And there is so often NO MONEY.

    Could that not be more money, all the money? If the APRA Board sets aside 1.75% of distributable revenue each year to fund this long list of projects, does that mean they’re taxing your income to that tune or is it specifically coming from overseas acts?

    As Russell said:

    I don’t see how scrapping support for all awards and grants in order to send more money offshore would be a good thing.

    Is all this funding for these projects being siphoned from income due to offshore rights holders? I’m unclear what you’re advocating here.

    Regardless, and not playing favorites, if a rights holder is in New Plymouth or New Dehli, I’d actually prefer APRA and PPNZ, through sleet and snow, do their damnedest to ensure that this license income is distributed back to the appropriate music rights holders. Because, objectively, after all, that’s just their frigging job. APRA have 1.75% of their distributable income set aside to get absolutely cracking on finding ways to fulfill that responsibility.

    Blink, sorry my paypal got limited (again) when I tried to buy your book, it’s a great read. I’ll ensure you get all the money I owe you for it in due course (however insignificant my contribution may be*).

    [pause]

    *Rather than using the sum to hold a party✝ here, which would be, I might add, of considerable value to the community.

    [instrumental break]

    ✝We’ll still be announcing the winners of the local hoop jumping comp, just no party - we don't have the capacity for all members of the community.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Howe, in reply to Russell Brown,

    The people in charge do as much as they can within (and probably sometimes beyond) their remit – so what else would change things? That’s a genuine question, btw.

    I agree totally Russell that the people in charge do a massive amount within (and beyond) their remit, although maybe I didn't make this clear enough. My point is that the structure they are working within is problematic for local music.

    I think what needs to happen is

    1. A legislated for local music quota starting at 20%. Clearly the "code" isn't working, and when it came in many years ago the idea was that if radio didn't stick to it then there would be legislation. They have rarely met the 20% "target", and currently it is around 17%. Australia, Canada and many other countries with stronger and larger local industries have a quota to protect themselves. In Australia ARIA has a policy of supporting the local quota.

    2. Explore ways where One Music licensees are either measured more accurately OR can opt in to playing a certain % of local music (via some kind of separate agreement). Although I realise the issues with measuring accurately, and also the danger that the local % may in fact go down, I think many small business would embrace the idea of playing local music and this would give us the opportunity to lobby them to do so with actual financial results. For example I will always go to a local cafe over starbucks. I would also be happy to promote local businesses who did this via the various FN/AH etc channels. If indeed measuring more accurately is totally impossible/impractical, then explore ways where licensees can nominate that they will play X% of local music, and royalties be distributed on that basis. I believe small local businesses would also get behind this, though I am also aware there may be some practical issues around these ideas I am unaware of.

    A quota would bring more money to the local music industry/artists, and although there is some risk, I think the second idea, if managed correctly, would also bring more money to NZ music.

    If Recorded Music NZ and APRA adopt a 20% quota as a formal policy and start lobbying government (alongside the other organisations) for this, then I don't mind eating my hat on my former comments. Likewise if they come up with a solution to the second issue.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2009 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ian Jorgensen,

    They are a company who collects money on your behalf without you knowing and makes no proper effort to contact you, forcing you to sign up to them to receive money which is rightfully yours.

    So Apra is supposed to magically know what songs you’ve written and performed and when, find out where you live and send you money without you ever registering, proving your identity or claiming those songs? Really?

    They do actually advertise a list of non-member authors they think are due royalties (mostly in tiny amounts) but it’s hard to see how they can pay anyone who refuses to register their authorship.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ben Howe,

    Explore ways where One Music licensees are either measured more accurately OR can opt in to playing a certain % of local music (via some kind of separate agreement). Although I realise the issues with measuring accurately, and also the danger that the local % may in fact go down, I think many small business would embrace the idea of playing local music and this would give us the opportunity to lobby them to do so with actual financial results. For example I will always go to a local cafe over starbucks. I would also be happy to promote local businesses who did this via the various FN/AH etc channels.

    I like all this, and it’s not like Apra hasn’t been flexible in the past. When I did a keynote at the Australian-NZ Internet Awards last year, I concluded by encouraging companies and people present to pay for music they used in their businesses.

    It would need:

    - A brand
    - A website
    - Window stickers and posters
    - A loyalty card for customers?
    - An accepted means of accounting for use. I do not believe that this is impossible, or even difficult. RMNZ already has a sponsorship relationship with with Spotify and it’s hardly a big step to sort out “powered by Spotify” logging.

    It wouldn’t matter if not every premise participated, but there would be a reputational benefit to those that did. I’d be happy to help, throw in advertising, whatever.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Jorgensen,

    So Apra is supposed to magically know what songs you’ve written and performed and when, find out where you live and send you money without you ever registering, proving your identity or claiming those songs? Really?

    i don't think you're quite aware of their event collection processes. One of my major beefs and I keep reiterating on is that they DO have all this info. Ie: for camp each year, every band that performs completes a setlist, and includes, yes, their contact details. APRA are meant to contact every band who is not a member and sign them up - I pay them on this proviso. They don't. I have copies of emails with them reiterating these details and I've heard from those bands that no contact was ever made. I have still paid for them.

    Also. Haha, you have the same atittude to APRA when it comes to royalty collection and distribution. You look at something as being too difficult because you don't understand how it could be simple. It is VERY simple to find contact details for any band on the internet. If an employee at APRA was to spend 1.5 seconds entering a name into Google they would probably be returned with that info - and yes, it IS their responsibility. They are going around collecting that money on the assumption that it will be paid to the artists in question - if it requires little effort to track people down, they should do it.

    They should have someone in their employ whose job it is to do this. After every show at every venue in the country they should have someone send those bands a formatted email outlining the procedure of signing up. It wouldn't be too hard at all if someone kept on top of it.

    wellington • Since Apr 2010 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Jorgensen,

    I like all this, and it’s not like Apra hasn’t been flexible in the past

    Though Ben, of course, formed it much better, haha, this concept is exactly what I allude to in my essay. If APRA can't work out how to record the data correctly, they need to work out how to exploit these businesses into broadcast opportunities. It makes so much sense.

    wellington • Since Apr 2010 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Jorgensen,

    hmm. an interesting idea. If its venues who are now paying the fees for live performance, venues could be used as ways to enlist songwriters and perhaps be offered a discount for the fee on the nights they sign up brand new songwriters. This takes work out of APRAs hands and gets venues more on board seeing that money wil actually go to the right people.

    wellington • Since Apr 2010 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • Samuel Scott,

    If Recorded Music NZ and APRA adopt a 20% quota as a formal policy and start lobbying government (alongside the other organisations) for this, then I don’t mind eating my hat on my former comments. Likewise if they come up with a solution to the second issue.

    I am so in favour of a quota. I think it is INSANE that we don't have one already. Radio stations work because of advertising. Then what is like 1.75% (i can't recall the figure, I know it went up recently) of that advertising spend goes to music (which is, one assumes, what people listen to radio for) then 80% of that 1.75% is going straight off shore. How is this acceptable? In canada most commercial stations play 40% local music content. 40%...

    If all stations upped their NZ content to say 25% are people going to suddenly stop listening to the radio?

    To my way of thinking this is the number one issue right now.

    South Wellington • Since Feb 2008 • 315 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Jorgensen,

    sorry russell for my patronising post above, didn't mean to come out like that :/

    trying to raise the quota to a small audience seems not as important to me as just making a larger audience. Quotas can be increased if needed, but building an audience is the priority.

    wellington • Since Apr 2010 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • Samuel Scott,

    trying to raise the quota to a small audience

    but its not a small audience if you're talking commercial radio. It's the 'normals'. Gotta get those 'normals' to ya gigs if ya wanna make a career out of it.

    South Wellington • Since Feb 2008 • 315 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Jorgensen,

    but its not a small audience if you're talking commercial radio. It's the 'normals'. Gotta get those 'normals' to ya gigs if ya wanna make a career out of it.

    but its as you pointed out before and I point out in the book. 'normals' dont come to shows. Its about creating passionate music supporters, not casual listeners, this can only come about from direct engagement - ideally from a young age.

    obvs I'm all for an increased quota, i just don't think its the only answer. Making music something that like sports the average NZ really gets excited about is my wish. That comes from a total reboot

    wellington • Since Apr 2010 • 34 posts Report Reply

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