This month, on the eve of a headlining performance at Chicago’s Pitchfork Music Festival, the rock band Wilco released a surprise new LP entitled Star Wars, making it available for free download through the band’s official website, in exchange for an email address (it’s also available for free though leading digital retailers iTunes and Amazon).
After we’d all had a few days to listen, the band followed up with an emailed note to everyone who downloaded the album:
[…]Now a bit of background… We consider ourselves lucky to be in the position to give you this music free of charge, but we do so knowing not every band, label or studio can do the same. Much of the “music business” relies on physical sales to keep the lights on and the mics up. Without that support, well, it gets tougher and tougher to make it all work.
With the many headlines that have been seen over the past couple years regarding streaming services and artist revenue-related topics, even the casual music fan and average U.S. citizen may have begun to wonder what is going on behind-the-scenes of the music business as it relates to these topics. […]
Kristin Thomson, the Co-Director of the US-based non-profit Future of Music Coalition’s Artist Revenue Streams research project, has shared her perspective as representative of FMC which has covered the measure in depth: read more
“Is there any limit to Taylor Swift’s power?” Tim Lordan asks.
It’s just before 1 p.m. this past Friday, and Lordan — the executive director of the Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee — is moderating a Capitol Hill panel discussion on the public policy of music streaming. With just hours to go before the weekend, he’s assembled a group of experts to answer a playful and provocative question: between Swift and Congress, who has a greater effect on the streaming industry?
[…]“(Streaming) is not about demand or the Internet being good or bad, it’s more about the value we put into it and how to foster what we get out of it to make sure some of it gets back to the creators,” Future of Music Coalition CEO Casey Rae said.
Rae says streaming also raises important questions about access to art as more and more music, movies, TV and other art is distributed online: Who gets to put a price tag on culture?
“If you’re paying more than $100 for an Internet connection and more for mobile plan, how much money does someone have for a streaming subscription?” Rae said. “There are bigger questions about the economics of cultural production that haven’t been resolved, and streaming is one of them.”
[…]But, as The Future of Music Coalition reports, independent music labels deserve some of the credit for Apple’s reversal as well. “It wasn’t just Taylor Swift,” Casey Rae of the Future of Music Coalition told NPR. “There was a huge chunk of the indie label community that was simply not willing to let Apple have a free pass.”
In February 2014, 19 Recordings—a record label representing artists from the TV show “American Idol” like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood—sued Sony Music for allegedly withholding royalty payments totaling $7 million. In March of this year, U.S. District Court Judge Ronnie Abrams issued a ruling allowing some of these claims to go to trial. The upshot is that, while some components of the case will move forward, the court decided that others don’t hold water. Even more recently, Sony swung back with allegations of fiduciary mismanagement at 19.
Today (June 26, 2015), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) announced that satellite radio company SiriusXMhave settled a lawsuit brought by labels against the service for not paying royalties on older recordings.
The $210 million settlement is being touted as a win for labels, and potentially a resolution to an open legal question that has bedeviled the industry for a while now: whether recordings made before February 15, 1972 are eligible for royalties when “publicly performed” on digital radio. read more
Every so often your pals at FMC take the weekend to do stuff like… make music. Seems like whenever we do, a major industry story breaks.
To wit: Taylor Swift’s open letter to Apple regarding the “free trial” period for Apple Music, during which the 12th largest company in world decided it would not be paying royalties to artists and rightsholders.read more
Current copyright royalty formulas rest on a legal framework that dates back to the early part of last century, and “the time is ripe to question the existing paradigm,” U.S. Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante said in a 245-page February report on “Copyright and the Music Marketplace.”
The copyright board’s proceeding covers the bulk of payments to recording artists and labels made by Pandora and other digital music providers. By December, the board will decide Internet radio royalty rates through 2020.
Traditional AM and FM radio stations — such as KXMZ — are exempt from these royalties. read more