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Copyright compromise: Music Modernization Act signed into law

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Musicians are celebrating as the Music Modernization Act, an attempt to drag copyright and royalty rules into the 21st century, is signed into law after unanimous passage through Congress. The act aims to centralize and simplify the process by which artists are tracked and paid on digital services like Spotify and Pandora, and also extends the royalty treatment to songs recorded before 1972.

The problems in this space have affected pretty much every party. Copyright law and music industry practices were, as you might remember, totally unprepared for the music piracy wave at the turn of the century, and also for the shift to streaming over the last few years. Predictably, it isn’t the labels, distributors or new services that got hosed — it’s artists, who often saw comically small royalty payments from streams if they saw anything at all.

Even so, the MMA has enjoyed rather across-the-board support from all parties, because existing law is so obscure and inadequate. And it will remain that way to a certain extent — this isn’t layman territory and things will remain obscure. But the act will address some of the glaring issues current in the media landscape.

The biggest change is probably the creation of the Mechanical Licensing Collective. This new organization centralizes the bookkeeping and royalty payment process, replacing a patchwork of agreements that required lots of paperwork from all sides (and as usual, artists were often the ones left out in the cold as a result). The MLC will be funded by companies like Pandora or Google that want to enter into digital licensing agreements, meaning there will be no additional commission or fee for the MLC, but the entity will actually be run by music creators and publishers.

Previously digital services and music publishers would enter into separately negotiated agreements, a complex and costly process if you want to offer a comprehensive library of music — one that stifled new entrants to the market. Nothing in the new law prevents companies from making these agreements now, as some companies will surely prefer to do, but the MLC offers a simple, straightforward solution and also a blanket license option where you can just pay for all the music in its registry. This could in theory nurture new services that can’t spare the cash for the hundred lawyers required for other methods.

There’s one other benefit to using the MLC: you’re shielded from liability for statutory damages. Assuming a company uses it correctly and pays their dues, they’re no longer vulnerable to lawsuits that allege underpayment or other shenanigans — the kind of thing streaming providers have been weathering in the courts for years, with potentially massive settlements.

The law also improves payouts for producers and engineers, who have historically been under-recognized and certainly under-compensated for their roles in music creation. Writers and performers are critical, of course, but they’re not the only components to a great song or album, and it’s important to recognize this formally.

The last component of the MMA, the CLASSICS Act, is its most controversial, though even its critics seem to admit that it’s better than what we had before. CLASSICS essentially extends standard copyright rules to works created before 1972, during which year copyright law changed considerably and left pre-1972 works largely out of the bargain.

What’s the problem? Well, it turns out that many works that would otherwise enter the public domain would be copyright-protected (or something like it — there are some technical differences) until 2067, giving them an abnormally long term of protection. And what’s more, these works would be put under this new protection automatically, with no need for the artists to register them. That may sound convenient, but it also means that thousands of old works would be essentially copyrighted even though their creators, if they’re even alive, have asserted no intention of seeking that status.

A simple registry for those works was proposed by a group of data freedom advocates, but their cries were not heard by those crafting and re-crafting the law. Admittedly it’s something of an idealistic objection, and the harm to users is largely theoretical. The bill proceeded more or less as written.

At all events the Music Modernization Act is now law; its unanimous passage is something of an achievement these days, though God knows both sides need as many wins as they can get.

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Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/H05FxkyStv8/

#EntertainmentNews, #Headlines, #music, #TheNewz, #Video

Prince Estate Releases Piano & A Microphone 1983 Album & “Mary Don’t You Weep” Video

Prince - Piano & A Microphone 1983There’s a new Prince album out today. Piano & A Microphone 1983 is fairly self-explanatory: a nine-song live set mastered from a cassette recording Prince made of himself playing alone at a piano in his home studio 35 years ago. More »

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Source: https://www.stereogum.com/2015512/prince-piano-a-microphone-1983/video/

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Spotify will now let indie artists upload their own music

Spotify today is taking another step that may make record labels uncomfortable. Fresh off reports that the streaming service is cutting its own licensing deals with independent artists, the company this morning announced it will now allow indie artists to directly upload their music to its service, too.

The upload feature is today launching into beta on Spotify for Artists, the online dashboard that arrived publicly last year. This dashboard and its accompanying mobile app allow artists to track metrics surrounding their streams and their fan base demographics.

Through the new upload tool, artists will now be able to add their own tracks to the streaming service in just a few clicks.

Explains Spotify, artists will upload the music, preview how things will appear, then edit the music’s metadata, if need be. They’ll also be able to choose when those new tracks “go live” on Spotify. (No more new music Fridays, perhaps.)

Most importantly, Spotify says that artists are paid as usual for their uploaded music – the royalty payments will simply be direct deposited to artists’ bank accounts every month.

Another new report in the dashboard will detail how much the uploaded streams are earning and when they can expect to be paid.

The upload option is free, and Spotify says it won’t deduct any fees or commissions of its own.

The move is likely to concern labels, who have traditionally acted as gatekeepers between artists and fans. But through digital media platforms, artists have been exploring new ways to build their audience.

For example, on SoundCloud – a service Spotify once considered acquiring –  indie musicians, DJs, bands and other performers have been able to attract followings. Similarly, YouTube has often served as a discovery vehicle for unknowns.

Both services will be impacted by this move, as it’s one of the reasons they’re used by artists. Now, they’ll be able to point fan bases directly to their Spotify tracks.

Those who are able to gain fans on their own may be able to route around the need for a label, and subsequently keep more of their earnings in the process.

“Artists receive 50% of net revenues from the songs they upload, and Spotify also accounts to publishers and collection societies for additional royalties related to the music composition,” said Kene Anoliefo, the Senior Product Lead for Spotify’s Creator Marketplace, confirming the payout structure.

Meanwhile, according to a recent report by The NYT, artists working with labels may see much smaller percentages. The report said that Spotify typically pays a record label around 52 percent of the revenue generated by each stream. The label, in turn, then pays the artist a royalty of anywhere from 15% to as high as 50%.

If artists are dealing directly with Spotify, they could be making more money.

Labels suggested that they could retaliate against Spotify for overstepping. The NYT had also said. They may do things like withhold licenses Spotify needs for key international expansions, like India, or not agree to new terms after existing contracts expire.

They could also offer more exclusives and promos to Spotify’s rivals, like Apple Music, which has surged ahead in the U.S. and is now neck-and-neck here with Spotify for paid subscribers. (Some reports, as well as Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, have claimed Apple Music is ahead in North America.)

Spotify has historically downplayed these concerns to investors, saying that it’s building a two-sided marketplace, and that it’s always licensed music from creators both “large and small” and will continue to license music from whomever owns the rights.

A music upload feature also means artists who own their own rights could break out big on Spotify if they catch the attention of playlist editors – something that Spotify now makes it easier for them to do, as well.

In addition, having indies upload music directly means Spotify could better compete against Apple Music by attracting more artists and their fans to its platform.

The upload feature is debuting in beta on an invite-only basis in the U.S., Spotify says.

A small handful of independent artists are already on board, including Noname, Michael Brun, VIAA, and Hot Shade. They provided Spotify with some initial feedback in earlier testing ahead of the beta launch, the company says.

“We started off by working with artists who are both deeply engaged in our platform – so they use Spotify for
Artists often –  and they also release music often,” said Anoliefo, adding that music upload has been one of artists’ most requested features.

“We used the test with them to shape the tool and make an upload process that we think is really easy, transparent and flexible. It’ll enable artists to use the tool to upload music through Spotify for Artists whenever they like. There are no barriers or constraints. And they can upload as often as they’d like. And as many times as they like,” she said.

Over the next few months, Spotify will email other artists to ask them to try out the feature, as well.

Initially, it will open up access to a few hundred more, before rolling it out publicly to the over 200,000 monthly active users of the Spotify for Artists platform.

At launch, music upload will be a web-only feature. The company wouldn’t comment on its plans to bring the feature to mobile.

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Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/3C4okBczl9s/

#Entertainment, #EntertainmentNews, #Headlines, #IndieBrew, #music, #People, #politics, #SCOTUS, #TheNewz, #Trump

John Legend Stars in Ad Opposing Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court Confirmation

After Dr. Christine Blasey Ford revealed herself as the individual who claimed that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her as a high school student in the ’80s, notable figures — from Monica Lewinsky to Julia Louis-Dreyfus — have voiced their support and spoken out against Kavanaugh’s nomination. More »

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Source: https://www.stereogum.com/2015217/brett-kavanaugh-sexual-assault-supreme-court-john-legend/video/

#Headlines, #music, #politics, #Protest, #Russia, #TheNewz

Man behind Pussy Riot seriously ill & may have been poisoned, say family

Preview A controversial underground artist, best known for being the brain behind punk band Pussy Riot, is seriously ill in hospital. His family say he may have been poisoned.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Source: https://www.rt.com/politics/438403-verzilov-hopsital-poisoning-claim/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS