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REDIGI PLEDGES TO PAY CUT OF RESALE REVENUE TO ARTISTS
As much previously reported, opinion is already divided as to whether a platform that enables consumers to resell digital content is allowed under copyright law. ReDigi's founders insist that the American copyright rule that allows music fans to resell their used CDs also applies to MP3s. The record companies, however, disagree, arguing that ReDigi is enabling copyright infringement, even if its system can, as the company claims, verify the origins of the MP3 being sold (ie check it didn't come from a file-sharing network) and ensure that the original digital file is deleted after sale.
As previously reported, EMI is leading the legal challenge on this one. The major had hoped to win a summary judgement in its favour, but the judge hearing the case said that the matter should get a full court hearing which, he reckoned, could result in some "fascinating" debate on copyright issues, and the application of physical world copyright rules in the digital domain.
In the meantime, it's business as usual at ReDigi. The most interesting of the firm's new initiatives is definitely the so called Artist Syndication Progam, which pledges to give artists 20% of the transaction fee ReDigi charges every time one of their songs is resold via the resale platform.
Says ReDigi chief John Ossenmacher: "Artists have always been a great priority of ours. When the digital landscape eroded album sales and bands were realising only a fraction of what they previously earned - not to mention streaming, which has compounded this problem even more - we knew we had an opportunity to do something big to reverse this trend. Artist Syndication provides eligible artists the opportunity, at no cost to them, to realise a wholly new and significant revenue stream generated from the resale of their digital tracks".
ReDigi points out that artists never benefited from the resale of CDs, making this offer revolutionary. But more than that, many artists don't benefit directly from the first sale of their CDs, in that their label will likely take 100% of the money until they have recouped on their original record contract, and even then most artists will often only receive a minority share of record sale revenue. So you can see that the artist community might respond favourably to this new offer, though for the labels it will be just another reason to want ReDigi to fail.
The record companies will almost certainly argue that, as they own the sound recording copyrights in most of the tracks being resold via ReDigi, if anyone gets a cut of the digital firm's transaction fee it should be them. Not that they'd accept it anyway, given that doing so would legitimise the resale company's business model.
Of course even within the artist community, the proposed Syndication Program will likely have critics. Although artists registering to receive their cut of the money are asked to provide photo ID, managers can also register on their artists' behalf, and it's less clear how their legitimacy will be verified. And what about defunct bands whose back catalogue still sells, can each member register individually, and if so who is to decide the split, and who identifies which former band members were involved in which recordings? And what about session musicians, guest artists and - particularly once you start reselling hip hop tracks - the artists whose work has been sampled? And if this is about winning favour with the artistic community to help in a fight against the rights owning corporates, what about the songwriters? All in all, even on the creator side of the music business, this programme could piss off more people than it pleases.
The other announcements made by ReDigi this week were less innovative, but therefore less potentially controversial. First, the company has joined Apple's affiliate programme, meaning that its platform now also includes links to where users can buy tracks in a more conventional way via iTunes (with a slightly complicated system inbuilt that means money generated by a user's resales can be used to buy new tracks from the Apple store). And second, ReDigi has announced plans to launch a direct-to-fan download platform - Bandcamp and ReverbNation style - later this year for self-releasing artists.
Though the much more interesting event due to happen later this year will be the EMI v ReDigi court case, which will decide the long term future of digital start-up's business. One would assume labels will put off getting hot and bothered about the Artist Syndication Program until after that court hearing. Though perhaps not.
FORMER NEW YORK JUDGE CALLS US PROSECUTOR'S ATTITUDE TO LOST MEGAUPLOAD DATA "OUTRAGEOUS"
As much previously reported, a warehouse full of servers owned by a company called Carpathia Hosting that contain much of the data stored on the MegaUpload cloud locker platform remain switched off. Former customers who lost access to their files have been calling on the authorities to return their data, but the authorities have washed their hand of the digital stash. The case has gone legal thanks to one former MegaUpload customer called Kyle Goodwin, who is being supported by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The EFF recently requested that the US courts take direct action to reconnect Goodwin with his files, a previous judicial demand that involved parties reach a voluntary agreement on the matter having not been met.
But, responding to that request, American prosecutors last week said that court action was not required, and that affected customers should either hire, at great expense, IT experts to go into Carpathia's warehouse and retrieve their data, or should just sue MegaUpload and/or its server provider for damages. Though, as the prosecution have themselves previously pointed out, technically MegaUpload's terms and conditions ensure the digital firm was not liable for lost data. So that doesn't really help.
Talking to Wired, Judge Abraham David Sofaer says that that response by prosecutors is "really quite outrageous", adding that he believes the American authorities have not yet learned about the realities of the digital world. He notes that if the assets of a bank were seized in a criminal investigation, the authorities would definitely take it upon themselves to help former customers reclaim their deposits, and suggests that their failure to do so in this case shows that prosecutors simply don't understand the value and importance of digital data.
Sofaer: "[The prosecution's behaviour] is really quite outrageous, frankly. This is a perfect example of how they are failing to apply traditional standards in the new context". Referencing the banking example again, he continues: "You can see very clearly that the government is acting in a manner that is indiscriminate [here, and] that's a dangerous road".
Sofaer is now donating his expertise to the EFF for free, and is calling for the courts to appoint an expert to oversee a temporary amnesty that would allow former MegaUpload customers to reclaim any legitimate data from the file-transfer site's former servers. It remains to be seen how the courts respond.
TENTH DINOSAUR JR LP IMMINENT
So that's all pretty gratifying to hear, especially after the three-year wait since 2009's 'Farm' we've all had to endure.
And as further reward, here's a tracklisting:
Don't Pretend You Didn't Know
KID KOALA ANNOUNCES ALBUM
Recorded in real time on the E-mu SP-1200 sampler San had coveted since childhood, the back-to-basics long player is out via Ninja Tune on 17 Sep. KK will preview part of it during a set at the Southbank-based London Wonderground festival, splitting the live bill with DJ Food on 2 Jul.
MENOMENA NAME LONG PLAYER
Since said trailer states the LP's all-American release date will fall on 18 Sep, it should be out in all good British record shops on 17 Sep.
Have a look at this: www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsXc2ta5hdo
BAT FOR LASHES TO TOUR NEW LP
And for those who didn't make it to Khan's low-key Cambridge concert yesterday, she's also listed a generous live outing to coincide with the new record.
8 Oct: Inverness, Ironworks
YEASAYER ANNOUNCE LONDON SHOW
NINE BLACK ALPS ARE BACK
Taken from this is 'Don't Forget To Breathe' (available as a free downloaded via the band's BandCamp page), the video for which is screening after these just-announced NBA tour dates:
10 Oct: Glasgow, King Tuts
TURBOWOLF LIST HEADLINE DATES
And the dates concerned are:
2 Oct: Newcastle, Academy 2
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
BESTIVAL, Robin Hill Country Park, Isle of Wight, 6-9 Sep: Teeth Of The Sea, Bo Ningen, The Memory Band and This Is The Kit will all add live soundtracks to an eclectic cinema programme as part of a Bestival takeover by the Branchage Film Festival. They join New Order, Stevie Wonder, Orbital, The xx, Sigur Rós, Justice, Two Door Cinema Club and Hot Chip on the line-up at large. www.bestival.net
LARMER TREE, Larmer Tree Gardens, Salisbury, Dorset, 11-15 Jul: Yes Sir Boss, Chavo, Shivering Blaze, Tom Hingley and Melodica, Melody & Me provide a worthy final flourish to this year's Larmer Tree line-up, as is headlined by Jools Holland, Levellers, Amadou & Mariam, Roots Manuva and comedy roster supremo Tim Minchin. www.larmertreefestival.co.uk
WOMAD, Charlton Park, near Malmesbury, Wiltshire, 27-29 Jul: Just-announced WOMAD artists Linton Kwesi & The Dennis Bovell Dub Band, Patrick Wolf and Hollie Cook are now destined to join Robert Plant's Sensational Space Shifters, Hugh Masekela, Jimmy Cliff, Toddla T & MC Serocee, Buena Vista Social Club and many more besides on this festival's internationally-sourced live listings. www.womad.org
ELIZABETH ARDEN BUYS BIEBER AND MINAJ PERFUMES
Confirming the deal, a memo to Arden staff from CEO E Scott Beattie said: ''We are pleased to announce that today we signed an agreement to acquire the licenses for the Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj fragrance brands from Give Back Brands".
He continued: "We've been keen observers of Justin Bieber's fragrance and his participation in it. When you look at the combination of Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift's Wonderstruck [an existing Arden product], together they accounted for half of the US growth in fragrance last season. Our growth agenda allowed for a certain amount of acquisitions and when this became available we recognised it was a great opportunity. It made sense to us given the size and breadth of our celebrity portfolio".
The exact terms of the deal, and what Give Back Brands, Bieber and Minaj will each receive from the acquisition, aren't known, nor is what the arrangement means for the charitable element of the GBB perfumes. Bieber originally made much of the fact that he'd allied with a not-for-profit for the launch of his first perfume product which would donate its profits on the fragrance to children's charities because, as the GBB website tell us: "We believe that the future of humanity lies with our children".
Forbes notes that when first launching 'Someday', Bieber said: "'Someday' is the idea that we can change the world, make our dreams come true, and even be with the one person that means everything. Giving back has always been incredibly important to me, but let's be honest... I wanted to create a fragrance for my female fans that I can't get enough of [and] that I want to get next to and I can't stay away from. I know they'll love the scent, but also the opportunity to support some amazing charities. It's a gift that gives back".
Whether a cut of the profits will continue to go the charity, and/or whether the brand acquisition will give GBB a big one-off payout that can be handed over to the causes it supports, isn't clear. Though for certain, Arden is not a not-for-profit that believes the future of humanity lies with our children. Well, presumably it does believe that - it being something of an indisputable fact - but the company doesn't make it its business to routinely support the kids with every product sold.
REVENUES UP FOR PPL IN 2011, PLUS MOST PLAYED CHARTS OF 2011
Elsewhere during the proceedings, PPL staffers Tony Clark and Ben Lambert, the body's former CEO and now Chairman Fran Nevrkla, and Beggars Group boss Martin Mills and EMI's James Mullan were all re-elected to the organisation's board. Meanwhile newish CEO Peter Leathem bigged up all that revenue growth, and discussed tariffs, copyright reviews and the ambition for more collaboration with publishing rights collecting society PRS (something also discussed at their AGM last week).
Ahead of the AGM shenanigans, Team PPL also revealed three charts, the most played pop songs of 2011, the most played classical pieces of the same year, and the most played artists overall, based on TV, radio and other public performance data collected by the organisation. And look, here they are...
Most Played Pop Songs Of 2011
Most Played Classical Pieces Of 2011
Most Played Artists Of 2011
NMPA CHIEF SAYS HE WILL GET PUBLISHERS A SHARE OF VEVO ROYALTIES
Though perhaps most interesting was what Israelite had to say about music videos, and the ways in which American record labels are utilising legacy contract clauses to avoid giving publishers their share when they are paid by online video sites.
This relates to comments made by Matt Pincus of American indie publisher Songs Music Publishing earlier this year in relation to music video site VEVO. He said his company was receiving very little income from the booming music video service, because in the US VEVO had deals with the record companies that put the obligation to pay publishing royalties onto the labels, rather than paying royalties direct to the publishers of songs that feature in videos on the site.
But, Pincus said, where artists performed their own songs, labels were using a common clause in artist contracts that says publishing royalties are not due when music videos are used for promotional purposes. This disadvantaged independent publishing companies like his, he added, because unlike the majors he didn't also own a big record company that was concurrently benefiting from this increasingly contentious interpretation of the 'no royalty in promo' contract clause.
That said, the major publishers probably aren't that happy with the situation either, even if it's being led by and benefiting their sister company record labels. And certainly Israelite has this issue high up on his agenda, arguing that, as YouTube and VEVO grow, music videos are no longer just promotional tools - rather they have become key revenue streams of which publishers should have a share.
Said the NMPA chief: "Today you have VEVO talking about reaching $150 million in revenue and wanting to grow to $1 billion, and a large amount of the music videos being played are not getting licensed [by our members] and publishers are not being paid. NMPA is going to put an end to that".
It's worth re-noting this anomaly does not apply in the UK, where VEVO is licensed directly by PRS on behalf of the publishers.
ITUNES PING TO BE PHASED OUT
Ping was Apple's attempt to move into the social networking space, encouraging users to share their music recommendations with other iTunes customers, mainly with a view to those other customers then wanting to buy recommended tracks. But it never really took off, not least because music fans were already used to doing such recommending via Twitter and Facebook, providing YouTube or Spotify links where those on the receiving end could check out recommended tracks in full.
The phasing out of Ping comes as Apple looks to more deeply integrate Twitter and Facebook into its mobile operating system.
EIGHT GROUPS BID TO OWN .MUSIC DOMAIN
Another organisation bidding for .music is called .MUSIC, and has been lobbying for such a domain to be introduced since 2005. With support from a number of independent digital music firms, the .MUSIC organisation says that it would ensure .music domains were distributed in a fair and transparent way.
The group's founder Constantine Roussos told CMU: ".MUSIC's priority is to make the .music domain widely available to the global music community while balancing the needs for inclusiveness and security. We're committed to running a neutral, transparent community-based [top level domain] that serves all music stakeholders, prevents abuses and gives music entities a validated industry standard that internet users can trust. The .MUSIC [top level domain] will provide a safe haven for legal music consumption and ensure monies flow to the music community - not to pirates or unlicensed websites".
AMAZON NEGOTIATING LICENCES FOR LOCKER SERVICE
Amazon, like Google, launched a music-focused online storage service in the US last year without any licences from record companies or music publishers, arguing that its customers could upload copies of digital files to its servers without infringing copyright, utilising their private copy right.
While that is technically true, many label execs argued that playback functionality offered by Amazon and Google was not covered by that exemption, though the subsequent slow consumer uptake of the locker services has meant little formal action has been taken against the web giants.
The inaction may also have been motivated by the fact that many reckon that digital locker services will only succeed if they can offer more sophisticated functionality, like the scan and match element of Apple's iCloud, and those extra services definitely do need licenses from the labels (and the Apple service is therefore licensed).
This means Google and Amazon were always likely to enter into negotiations with the music firms at some point anyway. And, seemingly, that has been happening as far as Amazon is concerned. Though quite what those deals will allow, and how close they are to being signed, isn't entirely clear just yet.
COLDPLAY GLOWBANDS HAUNT FANS AT NIGHT
"My Xyloband woke me up in the middle of the night and it's still glowing", complained one fan via an online message forum, while a Belgian wristband-wearer wrote: "Mine is alive! It started flickering about an hour ago".
As sinister as all this might sound, Clive Banks of Xyloband-makers RB Concepts insists that neither he nor the band are part of any evil conspiracy to enslave the human race - "there's no mind control or tracking, they are just for fun", he told the Independent. Explaining the malfunctioning, he said the bands may re-light if ever in a two kilometre radius of a Coldplay concert. If I was mean, I'd now say something about not wanting to go within a million kilometres of a Coldplay concert anyway, Xylobands or no Xylobands. But I'm not, so I won't.
Elsewhere in Xyloband news, Chris Martin recently complained about the expense of the bands, with new ones having to be handed out for every show because lawyers ruled against re-use so as not to transmit wrist-based diseases from fan to fan (hear that Coldplay fans? They just called you diseased). Said the Coldplay frontman: "Most of the money we're earning on the tour is put into the wristbands. We have to figure out how to keep it going without going broke because it's a crucial part of the concert".
ANDREW WK TO SPEAK AT MY LITTLE PONY CONVENTION
WK will take 'In The Flesh: What Would Pinkie Pie Do?' as his keynote topic, discussing what an official press release summarises in the following words: "Party party party, she wants to have a party! Pinkie Pie is certainly a party animal, but what happens when you can't be a candy-coloured pony in an equestrian world? We break the fourth wall to present Andrew WK, the artist behind hits 'She Is Beautiful' and 'Party Hard', to answer the dire question: 'What Would Pinkie Pie Do'? Join us for a look into how to make your job as fun as your party, and your party as important as your job".
Whilst that literally makes no sense, here is an artist's representation of Pinkie Pie: images.wikia.com/mlp/images/f/fb/Pinkie_Pie_Sugarcube_Corner_door_S2E13.png