On Friday, January 2, news broke that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will be voting on its long awaited Net Neutrality rules in February. The regular FCC meeting in February is scheduled for February 26. As Brian Fung of the Washington Post writes: read more
How is it possible that a single company can be America’s biggest cable television provider, its largest Internet Service Provider (ISP) and also own a major motion picture and television studio (NBC-Universal)? What happens when that company is allowed to get even bigger by gobbling up another huge ISP and cable provider?
Whether you’re looking for some holiday gift ideas or planning to spend some downtime by the fire this winter, here’s a selection of music books we especially enjoyed this year. We suggest picking them up at your local independent bookseller. Have we missed one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments!
I’ll Take You There: Mavis Staples, the Staple Singers, and the March Up Freedom’s Highway
by Greg Kot (Scribner)read more
When music is played on a non-interactive digital service like Pandora, Sirius XM, or cable radio, payment for the sound recording copyright is collected and distributed by SoundExchange, a non-profit performance rights organization. As we detail in our handy “Music and How the Money Flows” chart, this revenue is divided up in a standard formula: 45% goes to the featured artist, 50% goes to the sound recording copyright owner (usually a label), and 5% goes into a union-administered fund to compensate backing musicians and session players. We’re fond of this system because it treats all artists equally, ensuring direct payment that can’t be held against recoupable debt to a label, with equitable splits.
But what happens if you’re a self-released artist who doesn’t work with a label, but owns the copyrights to your sound recordings? You are entitled to collect both the artist share and the label share yourself. Unfortunately, many artists don’t know this, and end up missing out on money they ought to be collecting, because they’ve only registered for the artist share. Other artists haven’t registered with SoundExchange at all.
CD Baby, a popular distribution service with a large userbase of mostly self-released artists, recently announced a change to their terms of service that allows them to collect the label share from SoundExchange for their roster of distributed artists. This move was met with some minor controversy, as indeed, artists are entitled to collect that money themselves directly from SoundExchange, without the administrative cut that CD Baby charges. We decided to go directly to the source: CD Baby CEOTracy Maddux answered our questions this week via email.
You may already know that FMC is against the proposed merger between massive Internet/cable provider/NBC-Universal owner Comcast and the slightly less massive Time Warner Cable. Back in August of 2014, FMC and Writers Guild of America West (WGAW)—the folks who write the movies and TV shows you know and love—filed a “joint petition to deny” with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), urging them to block the deal.
Well, the list of folks against the merger just got bigger. Today, saw the launch of the Stop Mega Comcast Coalition, which includes FMC and WGAW, along with a diverse array of other groups who don’t want to see Comcast become even more powerful.
On the campus of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), there is a little cabin called The Ché Café, but it is actually much more than a simple vegan café. Since its founding in 1980, it’s grown to become a landmark of San Diego’s music scene, helping launch the careers of countless bands and hosting an array of internationally known touring acts like Green Day, Pennywise, At the Drive-In, Album Leaf and Jimmy Eat World. But persistent battles with the college administration have put the venue in peril.
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Athens, Georgia had been listed by Rolling Stone alongside Graceland, the Ryman Auditorium, and Sun Studios as one of the South’s musical treasures. The band now internationally known as R.E.M. played their very first concert inside the building on April 5, 1980. Even so, the main part of the church was demolished ten years later to make room for condominiums, despite its significance to the American music culture. The only remaining part of the building is the steeple, but it still stands as a reminder of St. Mary’s musical significance. read more
Commercial soft rock radio stations around the country frequently play Whitney Houston’s version of “I Will Always Love You” – a song written by Dolly Parton. Who receives public performance royalties for this consistent terrestrial airplay of the song?
A. Dolly Parton and Dolly’s publisher
B. The estate of Whitney Houston, the performer
C. The record label that released Whitney’s recording (Arista)
D. All of the above: (1) Dolly, (2) Dolly’s publisher, (3) Whitney’s estate and (4) Arista read more
At first, I was thrilled to be discussing something other than Taylor Swift and Spotify, but then I got a bit annoyed at the binary nature of the debate. Those in support of Albini tended to be musicians from older generations who in earlier years struggled with basic issues like access to audiences. Those moved by Steinhardt tended to be disillusioned about the economics of music today, accompanied by a general fatigue that comes with trying to cut through a noisy marketplace.
I won’t rehash the points made by either gentleman (which you can read here and here). Both critiques are relevant in the sense that they describe aspects of the challenges and opportunities of making a life in music. However, in both pieces there is a tendency towards totalizing one’s individual experience—however valid—and applying that to the music community writ large. This leaves a lot out, including other genres, genders, cultures, races, ages, business approaches and creative ambitions.
by Sam Redd, Communications Intern and Kevin Erickson, Communications Associate
It’s happening again: another contemporary hitmaker is involved in a lawsuit with the estate of a well-loved musician over alleged unauthorized use of elements of the latter’s past work. In this case, the issue is Robin Thicke’s 2013 hit “Blurred Lines” and the Gaye family’s claim that the song illegally appropriates elements from Marvin Gaye’s #1 hit “Got to Give it Up,” released in 1977. After more than a year of legal wrangling, it now appears that the dispute may be one of the rare infringement cases that makes it to trial. But there’s a surprising wrinkle: in the course of litigating this dispute, Thicke may have let slip one of the music business’s more troubling open secrets.