Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Public Good

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  • Russell Brown,

    One more "equally disgraceful": those Bic-bashing dickheads on "Your Views". I'm no huge fan, but what kind of person is mean and nasty to Bic Runga?

    The Herald managed it once, when it went ballistic over a comment she'd made in a newspaper interview (in Ireland) about residual racism in New Zealand. Everything she said about growing up in a hard part of Christchurch was true, but, hey, there was a fuss to be had ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18957 posts Report Reply

  • 81stcolumn,

    Am I really that naïve ?

    I have back purchased most of my LP collection and just about all of the pirated stuff from a few years back when I had loans to pay.

    My purchase rate has gone down largely because I have recovered all my back catalogue and because they only way new music gets to me (except via elsewhere) is from friends sending me non-DRM MP3’s.

    To try and use legislation to wind back the clock because a format shift was missed by the recording industry just seems dumb. Serves them right, they made a killing over the shift to CD’s. They surely can’t imagine guys like me will continue to repurchase in a third format can they ?

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 727 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    This is not online yet but is rather relevant (and I apologise for breaking any fair use provisos, but its a freely provided email):

    Famous for being in the right place at the right time, as of June 1st, Jimmy Iovine will no longer be employed by Universal Music. He is ankling the firm to return to New York City to run LimeWire, the P2P service based on the Gnutella protocol.

    Two factors seem to have triggered Jimmy's departure, the radical drop in CD sales and his kids' reaction to the RIAA lawsuits. Always in touch with the younger generation, the true Dick Clark, Jimmy thought it was time to get out while the getting was good. His move reminds one of nothing so much as that old Graham Parker chestnut, crawling from the wreckage into a brand new car.

    So how did Jimmy get out of his Universal deal?

    Turns out his contract has got a bonus structure based on sales volume. And, if a certain volume is not reached, either party can terminate the deal. There was some debate as to whether digital sales counted in the formula, but unfortunately for Universal, even when they were added in, the sales target was not reached. Doug Morris was flabbergasted that Jimmy would want to move on, then again, unlike Mr. Iovine, Mr. Morris is notorious for still living in the twentieth century, still believing in the formula of getting records on terrestrial radio and seeing if they react at sales outlets. Hanging out with Steve Jobs, Jimmy has now seen that podcasts are a better way to reach the public, that new media is the way to go, so he got up and left.

    But why not start his own label?

    Because distribution is king. Universal might own all this fabulous content, but if they can't get paid for it, what difference does it make? It's best to be where the rubber meets the road, where people acquire and pay.

    Yes, but who's paying for LimeWire now?

    That's just the point. Mr. Iovine believes Ted Cohen's editorial in "Billboard" this week represents the tipping point. It's time to license P2P and see how it all turns out. Negotiating a fifty percent interest in the company, for his imprimatur, Jimmy is now the licensing point person. And smart money has him closing deals.

    The new pay LimeWire will at first feature unique content that eclipses anything ever offered at the iTunes Store. To save the business, now that he's got the ball rolling saving Africa, Bono will cut a solo track, only available via LimeWire. Turns out that there's no solo deal in U2's contract, and that Bono is free. Everyone felt U2 was like Metallica, and no solo discs would be allowed, but Bono doesn't need to leave the band like Jason Newsted to make his own music, his effort is condoned by Edge and the other two.

    But that's just a start. There's a whole Stevie Nicks/Tom Petty duets album in the can. Each cut as good or better than "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around".

    And Jon Landau inserted a key man clause in Bruce Springsteen's contract with Sony. Turns out if Andy Lack isn't in charge of a combined SonyBMG, if he's not top dog, Bruce can walk. Being a man of the people, Bruce is leaving the big bucks behind, to do something for the good of the business, for his fans. Then again, will he end up making more money when everybody owns his albums, when they can be purchased for such a low price? As to Jimmy producing said record, nothing has been confirmed. However there are still some unreleased tracks from the "Darkness At The Edge Of Town" sessions, and Max Weinberg has said they're every bit as good as "Candy's Room". However, believing in the new paradigm, Bruce is not going to appear on Conan. You see to be exclusive to LimeWire, you can't do television. Word of mouth will drive sales/trading. Jimmy feels this is the only way for acts to maintain their cred, and their longevity.

    Of course there have been negotiations with Irving Azoff for the Eagles. Jimmy thought he had the inside line, since he produced Don Henley's duet with the aforementioned Stevie Nicks on her debut solo album. But Irving wanted fifty percent of Jimmy's action, twenty five percent of the company, to close the deal. And still believing in the major label mantra, that the executive is bigger than the act, Jimmy said no.

    Of course the Pussycat Dolls can't come along. But Jimmy believes it's only a matter of time before the majors cave and make a deal with him, and he has all the content. And despite the flash and hype of the new acts, all the money is in the heritage acts anyway, so Jimmy's starting there. It is believed the acts that get broken on LimeWire in the future will be more akin to the classic acts anyway. That they'll be able to sing and play, and will write hummable tunes. Timbaland is in negotiations with Kazaa, as is Snoop, for that company is offering elephant bucks to performers to make a big splash upon relaunch, but Jimmy turned those dollars down, famously saying it would be like making a deal with Sony Connect. Who wants to be king of nothing? Dre? Dre's still up in the air, blown away his godfather walked out without telling him. He's worried his new album on Universal will stiff without Jimmy there to steer it, so he's sitting on the sidelines for now. He tried to get Jimmy to stay through its release, but expediency has always trumped loyalty in Jimmy's book.

    So how's it going to work?

    At first, before the major labels sign on, LimeWire will cost two dollars a month. Then, every time a major label group signs on, another two dollars will be added to your bill. So when all the majors are on board, it will cost ten dollars a month for all you can eat, unprotected MP3s. There will be no indie bonus. The indies, although a growing percentage of overall sales, are getting screwed again. Yes, you see every time a major signs on $100 million is transferred to their account, which, of course, goes straight to their bottom line, staving off Wall Street until LimeWire truly takes hold. For it's envisioned that once LimeWire takes off, within the next twelve months or so, there will be so much money distributed, the majors will be rolling in profits.

    The deal is LimeWire skims fifteen percent right off the top. The rest is distributed to the labels owning the traded tracks, a la ASCAP or BMI payments. How that money is then distributed is up in the air. One hopes fifty percent will go to acts, and that publishers will go to a percentage rate, but expect big battles. The only way to avoid all this is to make a deal with LimeWire directly. Then Jimmy coughs of up fifty percent of the revenue. Of course, then he keeps fifty percent. On top of his fifteen percent distribution fee. It's not clear if Jimmy wants to expand this sphere of the business or not. After all, the money's truly in distribution, a fiber cable never called in the middle of the night looking for dope or crying about its girlfriend leaving. Advisors are telling Jimmy to just make enough deals to launch the ultimately truly legal service. But can Jimmy avoid double-dipping? Only time will tell.

    And what's in it for the consumer, you ask? Well, in addition to the exclusive content, Jimmy has made a deal with Mitch Bainwol and the RIAA. Anybody owning a LimeWire license will be exempted, immune from lawsuits. Yes, a credit card bill will with a LimeWire charge will be an absolute defense against a lawsuit. Jimmy's kids told him that college students still would not pay, but blanket trading licenses for universities are being negotiated as I write this.

    The future has finally arrived. And contrary to all the spin, it was not brought to you by Steve Jobs, but someone from the music business, who understands relationships, who understands musicians, who understands the audience. Mark April 1st down on your calendar as the day the music business was saved

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3208 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    They surely can’t imagine guys like me will continue to repurchase in a third format can they ?

    if the Jobs / EMI press conference in London tomorrow is about what everyone thinks it is is about..then yes

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3208 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    They surely can’t imagine guys like me will continue to repurchase in a third format can they?

    Dude, what with "bonus track editions", "special tour editions", "xxth Anniversary Remastered editions" and the like, they gleefully get people to repurchase second and third times on the same format, whilst at the same time asserting that you can't copy it for the car, because you're not buying the CD, you're buying the license for private use of the material within.

    Which reminds me of another important point. How much industry revenue these days (compared to 20 years ago) is from long-since-paid-for back catalogue?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • djb,

    Great post Russell! Good to see some common sense forwarded in this debate. One of the things that irritates me the most about the media industry in this discussion is how intent they are in misrepresenting the basis of intellectual property rights and intimidating the customers who are the source of their existence. They know that it's a bundle of rights and there is no such thing as pure property ownership in any common-law based system, and that copyright is not a property right anyway, but they keep at it.

    In Australia, the director of the Federation Against Copyright Theft (see, call it theft enough times and it will stick), said a couple of years back about the consumer's right to back up their media:

    Consumers are not entitled to replacement goods if they break their crystal glasses or stain their new clothes. Once a right exists to create an unprotected copy of a DVD film, that film is then exposed to unrestricted copying, whether a single copy for personal use or 10,000 copies for sale around the world.

    .

    Since Dec 2006 • 9 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    From the WSJ..also not online yet:

    **EMI to Sell Much of its Music Without Antipiracy Software**

    In a major reversal of the music industry's longstanding antipiracy strategy, EMI Group PLC is set to announce Monday that it plans to sell significant amounts of its catalog without anticopying software, according to people familiar with the matter.

    The London-based music company is to make its announcement in a press conference that will feature Apple Inc. Chief Executive Steve Jobs. EMI is to sell songs without the software -- known as digital rights management, or DRM -- through Apple's iTunes Store and possibly through other online outlets, too.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3208 posts Report Reply

  • Grant McDougall,

    Good post, Russell.

    I'm with Eddie Raynor on this: non ones admitting it, but everyone's doing it.

    I think the music biz-types are hypocritical about this: for years I've known musicians, music writers, djs, plain ol' music fans and every single one has taped (as it was then), burnt or down-loaded music.

    Regardless of the ethics, it's done because the music's available, because we're music addicts. If a mate's got a bootleg by a favourite band are we going to turn it down ? No way.

    Also, I think that actual burning is a red herring. The major problem is actual, simple economics.
    Why the hell should I pay $35 for a new cd, when I can hire it from the library for $2 and burn it?

    Finally, a value judgement: it was hilarious to see some guy from Tadpole moaning and blaming down-loading on poor albums sales.

    Funny, I would've thought that the piss-poor, mediocre, insipid, banal music they made was more to blame.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 612 posts Report Reply

  • Jason Kemp,

    Famous for being in the right place at the right time, as of June 1st, Jimmy Iovine will no longer be employed by Universal Music. He is ankling the firm to return to New York City to run LimeWire, the P2P service based on the Gnutella protocol.......someone from the music business, who understands relationships, who understands musicians, who understands the audience.

    Enjoyed this extra info from Simon - great to hear of another angle -thanks for that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 215 posts Report Reply

  • peter mclennan,

    isn't this debate a great lead-in to NZ Msusc Month in May? Bet NZOA is loving that one....

    AK Central • Since Nov 2006 • 152 posts Report Reply

  • peter mclennan,

    isn't this debate a great lead-in to NZ Music Month in May? Bet NZOA is loving that one....
    EDIT

    AK Central • Since Nov 2006 • 152 posts Report Reply

  • Glen Wright,

    Apparently, EMI is about to release non-DRM music through iTunes. Another point for the Jobs' reality distortion field.

    Since Nov 2006 • 29 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The future has finally arrived. And contrary to all the spin, it was not brought to you by Steve Jobs, but someone from the music business, who understands relationships, who understands musicians, who understands the audience. Mark April 1st down on your calendar as the day the music business was saved

    This is simply massive - the media news of the century so far, if it's true.

    But ... that April 1 dateline. Are you sure it's not a joke?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18957 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Thats what I wondered of course, thus I posted without comment. The parts about various unsigned acts are very odd......

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3208 posts Report Reply

  • Hamboy,

    How many of those that do illegal downloads or share with their friends, would have purchased the music if the 'free' copies were unavailable?
    I know you are getting something illegally, but this thing about taking money out of the pockets of struggling artists, when they weren't going to get the money anyway, seems a bit much.

    Perhaps I'm just a goodie good, that prefers the legitimacy of something earned or paid for.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 162 posts Report Reply

  • william boot,

    It wasn't music, but I watched Idiocracy over the weekend thanks to a friend of a friend of a friend who downloaded and then burnt it, and I was so glad to have seen it I wanted to send Mike Judge some money to say thank you.

    Though I probably won't. On the other hand, given that the movie had zero publicity and was barely even released, maybe I can discharge my debt by telling you all to - by whatever means you choose - see it. It's satire, it's funny, Fox hated it. What's to lose?

    I think if you're illegally downloading some artist you really like, maybe you should just buy the t-shirt or the concert ticket instead. They make way better margins on gigs and merch.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Hah. Just did a 30-seconds notice chat with Graeme Hill on Radio Live about the Beatles' online deal. Had to tell him in real time that the latest crop of news stories were saying no Beatles deal, but instead the MP3 thing ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18957 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    It wasn't music, but I watched Idiocracy over the weekend thanks to a friend of a friend of a friend who downloaded and then burnt it, and I was so glad to have seen it I wanted to send Mike Judge some money to say thank you.

    Though I probably won't.

    You need Electric Koha attached to the files ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18957 posts Report Reply

  • Jon L,

    I've been a downloader for years......it's massively widened my musical base, I've bought CD's of bands I'd never heard of before (where possible) and - I hardly ever download modern popular music, because it doesn't appeal to me. I downloaded FFD's last CD, because it's not available in rural W.A and my copy came online from a kiwi in Japan!
    With a taste in music history - tell me Einsteins - where do I go to buy a copy of Thomas Edison reciting "Mary had a little Lamb", pre 1914 - hell - pre 1900 recordings of all sorts, obscure comedy tracks we used to have on 78's, long broken. Many recordings, long out of pressing and with no likelihood of ever being re released! - from artists no ones ever heard of now. A lot of recordings I have resorted to downloading after giving up on ever finding a copy for sale, world wide! I think the RIAA and their ilk have long missed the boat - a lot of the bands, complaining, haven't got anything anyone would want to buy , anyway, so, I think they have a damn gall to complain about "illegal downloads" affecting their sales. If I want to spend money on a group - I'd rather go and see them live. That way, I know they will get a bit more of what I've shelled out, than they would an a CD sale.
    When it comes to NZ music - I have it available on my computer for download - that way, it can (and does) spread to a worldwide audience. A sample here, a sample there, it's how I discovered what bands are good and what bands just aren't worth the effort.

    W.A. • Since Nov 2006 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • peter mclennan,

    nothing on Google News about Jimmy Iovine and Limewire....

    AK Central • Since Nov 2006 • 152 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    You need Electric Koha attached to the files ...

    Just two letters away.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2968 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    With a taste in music history - tell me Einsteins - where do I go to buy a copy of Thomas Edison reciting "Mary had a little Lamb", pre 1914 - hell - pre 1900 recordings of all sorts, obscure comedy tracks we used to have on 78's, long broken.

    http://www.archive.org/details/EDIS-SCD-02

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie,

    Jon L:

    With a taste in music history - tell me Einsteins - where do I go to buy a copy of Thomas Edison reciting "Mary had a little Lamb", pre 1914 - hell - pre 1900 recordings of all sorts...

    You don't need to, Einstein. They're out of copyright...

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1130 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    No, its an April 1 thingy (Bob Lefsatz has a Led Zep reunion thing up on his site as a April Fools joke too..he thinks he is a funny man) but it was clearly meant to have a slightly political bite.

    But the mindset is very slowly changing (as Apple / EMI indicates) ..I had this forwarded to me by 5 people today, or maybe everybody in the music industry is utterly gullible. Sadly RIANZ seem to be not only behind the eightball but searching for the cue & the table.

    But April Fools joke or not, the subscription model, as pushed repeatedly by UK & US pundits (Peter Jenner was one last December), and varied a little by eMusic seems to me to be the only sensible way forward. It just needs somebody, like a Jimmy Iovine with enough power & foresight to take a leap.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3208 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Hah. Just did a 30-seconds notice chat with Graeme Hill on Radio Live about the Beatles' online deal. Had to tell him in real time that the latest crop of news stories were saying no Beatles deal, but instead the MP3 thing ...

    oh boy, do I really want those Fabs remasters though....but..only..on...CD..and..vinyl

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3208 posts Report Reply

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