Music review podcast

So me and a friend do a album review podcast – you should listen and if you like subscribe

So in the latest podcast we discuss the following albums:

Meat maybe murder, but is listening to the new Morrissey album tasty or tasteless?

Morrissey – World Peace is None of your Business

5 Seconds of Summer – 5 Seconds of Summer

Yes – Heaven & Earth

La Roux – Trouble in Paradise

Cut/Copy – Free Your Mind

Jenny Lewis – The Voyager 

Check out this episode!

Swift Music Analysis

It’s always nice to read someone who is passionate about music, the ‘album’, and about the future of the music ‘industry’ – becoming a bit of a dying breed, but Taylor Swift has written an engaging opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) where she sees a bright future for all of these things.

It is appropriate that one of her best songs is called Love Story, because as she says that is often what music is about – connecting with a song and/or an artist. As she says:
“The way I see it, fans view music the way they view their relationships. Some music is just for fun, a passing fling … Some songs and albums represent seasons of our lives, like relationships that we hold dear in our memories but had their time and place in the past. However, some artists will be like finding “the one.” We will cherish every album they put out until they retire and we will play their music for our children and grandchildren.”

I have to say I agree.

Ministry of Sound hits wrong note with Spotify lawsuit

Music Ally are reporting that UK dance brand Ministry of Sound (MoS) is suing Spotify for copyright infringement, claiming that the service has refused to remove user playlists that mirror Ministry of Sound compilation albums, including some which use the MoS brand in their playlist titles.

What is it all about ? Well in an opinion piece in The Guardian MoS chief executive, Lohan Presencer first waffles about how Spotify is not all it’s cracked up to be etc etc before saying: -

“You won’t find our compilation albums on Spotify. Why not? Because its business model does not recognise that our products have any material value. It doesn’t consider them worth licensing. Which would be entirely its prerogative had our paths not crossed. But last year we noticed something on Spotify. Users of the service were copying our compilations. They were posting them as their own playlists and calling them “Ministry of Sound”. We assumed it was an oversight on Spotify’s part and contacted the company to request it remove the offending playlists. It declined, claiming there was no infringement and it wasn’t its responsibility to police its users.”

It seems to me MoS is more annoyed that Spotify wont licence their compilations than anything else. It is about licensing, plain and simple. The fact that users are re-creating MoS ‘albums’ from the individual tracks from the original artists seems a bit of a red herring. Although (depending on just how many people are doing this) it does give weight to an argument that Spotify should be licensing their compilations if users are showing there is a market for them. And I presume that is a user plays Calvin Harris’ I Need Your Love (Feat. Ellie Goulding) from MoS’s latest annual Ibiza album rather than Harris’s own it gets recorded as such.

But let us, for a moment, forget all about that.

Without seeing the documents they have filed with the court it is hard to make a definitive judgement on what they are going after Spotify with, but I think new can immediately say primary infringement is a non-starter as Spotify are not creating any MoS playlists themselves or in my knowledge as a user of the service, actively encouraging users to do so. So that leaves the notion of secondary infringement – basically if anyone is infringing it would be the Spotify users creating the playlists, but as is the case when p2p sites and Youtbe etc are sued the argument is that the service provider should be preventing this happened and by not doing so it is condoning it . Now, even leaving aside the ‘mere conduit’ defence that Spotify could mount here, I still feel MoS case is quite weak. These users are not ‘copying [their] compilations’ because their compilations are not there to copy. They are recreating them from the individual tracks available on Spotify. Some are then calling them MoS to help themselves identify their playlist. Are MoS planning to run ‘passing off’ charges against individual Spotify users or Spotify for secondary ‘passing off’ of playlists implying they are real MoS ones??

Again, if Spotify was licensing MoS content you can bet your life that they would not be complaining about this.

And of course all this still rests upon whether a court will even rule that MoS’s compilations merit copyright protection.

Does collecting a specific group of songs into a compilation merit protection? Or would it only get protection if the tracks were presented in a specific order? – and as a recent documentary on the NTWICM compilation pointed out there is a lot of wrangling and money involved in getting places such as track one.

Now if they could argue that a digital copy of their compilation albums were in fact ‘databases’ then they could try and argue that through the selection or arrangement of the data, the database’s author expressed his creative ability in an original manner by making the creative choices in arranging the tracks – adding , if you will, his or her “personal touch” . That might, if the courts followed the ECJ when it examined the Sports Dataco football fixtures cases, be an argument that could hold water … but I still think it would be a pointless argument.

And once all that is decided that still leaves the question , as the Music Ally article author puts it is, if a compilation album’s structure can be copyrighted, surely that would also mean (in this digital world) that it could also logically apply to a Spotify playlist created by you or I ? And therefore if any record company’s future compilation album’s tracklisting mirrored one you’d already created in a streaming playlist you would have copyright infringement case against them too.

EU pushes for US style music copyright extention

European Commissioner Charlie McCreevy today showed he’s an idiot. He has announced the term of copyright protection for European performers should be increased from 50 to 95 years. How American of him.

According to McCreevy:

“I strongly believe that copyright protection for Europe’s performers represents a moral right to control the use of their work and earn a living from their performances. I have not seen a convincing reason why a composer of music should benefit from a term of copyright which extends to the composer’s life and 70 years beyond, while the performer should only enjoy 50 years, often not even covering his lifetime It is the performer who gives life to the composition and while most of us have no idea who wrote our favourite song – we can usually name the performer.”

Now, I do have a lot of sympathy with the basic argument here. It is unfair that the two terms are not the same. However, the solution would be to REDUCE, yes reduce, composer protection to 50yrs if you are looking for parity. McCreevy’s logic is, because we have no ideas of our own, let’s just follow what the Americans do, and go for 95 years.

If nothing is done, thousands of European performers who recorded in the late fifties and sixties will lose all of their airplay royalties over the next ten years. “I am not talking about featured artists like Cliff Richard or Charles Aznavour. I am talking about the thousands of anonymous session musicians who contributed to sound recordings in the late fifties and sixties. They will no longer get airplay royalties from their recordings. But these royalties are often their sole pension”, says Commissioner Charlie McCreevy in describing the rationale behind his proposal.

How many times do we have to say this – copyright is NOT supposed to function as a pension. Have session musician’s often got royally screwed? Absolutely, but it is not copyright laws role to provide them with a pension. If they live in the UK and paid their taxes, they’ll have the state pension like everyone else. If they wanted more money, they could also have set up a personal pension – just like the rest of us.

To be fair, he is also suggesting a ‘use it or lose it’ provision. That means that, in case a record company is unwilling to re-release a performance during the extended term, the performer can move to another label. However, this proposal is still ill thought out, and a bad idea.

Rundgren says traditional record companies becoming extict

The latest issue of the IEEE’s Spectrum Magazine has an article on DRM which includes a number of quotes from Todd Rundgren . ‘Rundgren believes traditional record companies are on a path to extinction. To survive, he says, they’ll have to become more entrepreneurial, promote their artists better, and recoup their investments in artists by sharing in performance income or other ventures, not through selling recorded music.’

“The reality of the music industry,” he said in a phone interview from Raleigh, N.C., “is that artists don’t see money from their recordings; we capitalize on music we have recorded by going out and performing live. It is actually more worthwhile to give your music away—and make it up in terms of ticket sales.”

We7

The long awaited arrival of ad supported ‘free’ music downloads is at last with us (in a kind of proof of concept way at least) in the shape of the Peter Gabriel backed venture We7. The idea is that users get to download free (and DRM free) music tracks, but that each track will have a 10 second ‘ad’ attached to it. The idea is for these ads to be targetted with users choosing the sort of ads they receive. Also after 4 weeks to ability to detatch the ads from the tracks will be offered.

At long last, 2007 looks like being the year that online music actually starts to get interesting and offer more choice/options. I have signed up to the site and downloaded a few of their test tracks. I think they could be onto a winner here, especially if the tracks become ‘clean’ after a set period. Worth checking out/keeping an eye on.

Update: Peter Gabriel talks about his reasons for supporting We7 in The Times.

Mind the Gap

The Times is reporting that an album has been created to target MPs over the issue of copyright protection in sound recordings. The album, entitled The Heart Bleeds ( sorry my mistake, it’s called the Copyright Gap) is designed to raise awareness of the likes of Lonnie Donegan’s widow, who when his songs start going out of copyright (from a sound recording perspective) next year, faces losing her husband’s performance royalties of £30,000 to £40,000 a year, a move that is going to leave her destitute apparently.

I’m sorry, but what a load of old bollocks.

When you read stuff like this or the likes of Sir Cliff prattling on it really annoys me. Anyone would think they didn’t know what the copyright protection term was and that it had suddenly appeared out of the blue without warning. Maybe some of these people should have thought about SAVING some money or investing some of these royalties over the years in a personal pension – that’s what us ordinary folk have to do.

Back to Mrs Donegan “What seems most unfair about all this is that someone like Lonnie works all his life and then there’s nothing at the end of it, not even a pension.” Where did her state pension go? Also, and I don’t know how many times this can be said – obviously not enough for the likes of the impoverished Sir Cliff – but Copyright is not meant to be a pension – a pension is meant to be a pension. Get over it.

IPKat also cover this heartbreaking story