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Don Henley, Alanis Morissette on Napster

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout' started by TheFreak, Apr 4, 2001.

  1. TheFreak

    TheFreak Contributing Member

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    Here is an interesting take on the Napster situation.

    Don Henley, Alanis Morissette Testify On Napster Debate
    April 3, 2001, 3:25 pm PT

    The ongoing war over digital music hit the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday (April 3), where a selection of artists and industry leaders -- some for, some against -- spoke out on Napster and the future of online entertainment.

    "We have now clearly evolved into a new and exciting digital era in which we are discovering new ways to share our music directly and interactively," said Alanis Morissette before the committee. "Though I cannot speak for every artist, my initial resistance to the new services created online was based on the debate having been framed in terms of 'piracy.' Being labeled as such by the record companies, it understandably sent a ripple effect of panic throughout the artistic community.

    "But what I have since come to realize is that for the majority of artists, this so-called 'piracy' may have actually been working in their favor," she continued. "Most recording artists never receive royalties past their initial advance due to the financial structure of most record company contracts. From these artists' viewpoint, their music is free since they do not, in the end, receive money from any of the sales. That 'free' internet distribution allows the artist to aggregate an audience and create a direct relationship with that audience as well as develop a community among the people who love their music. This in turn allows that artist to generate compensation through other outlets such as touring and merchandise. For the majority of artists, this amounts to making enough money to be in survival mode."

    Napster CEO Hank Barry called for Congress to enact a compulsory license in much the same way as it did for radio many years ago. "The question before us today is what does it take to make music on the Internet a fair and profitable business," said Barry. "I believe it will take an Act of Congress -- a change to the laws to provide a industry-wide license for the transmission of music over the Internet. The Internet needs a simple and comprehensive solution, similar to the one that allowed radio to succeed -- not another decade of litigation."

    Morissette agreed. "In the big picture, it will benefit the exact companies who have resisted it the most," said the singer. "History has proven time and again that a greater variety of formats and distribution opportunities lead to more choices for consumers, increased awareness of the artists and their music and ultimately a continued and greater reward financially, creatively, and personally for everybody involved."

    Compulsory licensing allows a government to license to a company, government agency, or other party the right to use a patent without the title holder's consent. Barry pointed out that this solution has worked for radio, cable television, and satellite television. "Music on the radio works because of what is functionally a industry-wide license," said Barry. "Cable television. Satellite television. Web casting. You in the Congress have effectively encouraged new technologies through industry-wide licensing in a way that fostered competition and benefited consumers and creators alike."

    Eagles rocker Don Henley also sees the struggle as unnecessary. Henley testified that the fight should be kept free from the courts and decided by the people. "Lawsuits should not be used to destroy a viable and independent distribution system," said Henley, as quoted by CNN. "The solution lies in the marketplace and not the courtroom."

    RIAA President and CEO Hilary Rosen called Napster old news in her speech, however. "Napster was exciting, but giving away someone else's music without their permission is yesterday's news," said Rosen. "Online entertainment isn't coming soon. It's here and it's getting better everyday."

    Rosen pointed to Monday (April 2)'s deal between AOL Time Warner, EMI, Bertelsmann, Inc., and Real Networks which creates MusicNet, a fee-based Napster rival, which stands as a "music clearinghouse to license its platform to companies seeking to sell subscriptions services under their own brands," as an example of the future of digital music. That is, to point consumers in the direction of "legitimately licensed" music that is currently available online.

    Meanwhile, Napster's struggle to survives continues, as the latest action taking by the RIAA was last Tuesday's (allstar, March 27) filing of a non-compliance report in U.S. District Court, accusing the file-swapping software company of not complying with a March 5 (allstar, March 6 ) injunction ordering it to immediately begin the process of removing requested copyrighted material from its service.
     
  2. Jeff

    Jeff Clutch Crew

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    Interesting stuff, Freak.

    I think that Henley put it best in another story when he said what artists really want is a seat at the table when discussing matters like this.

    The ironic thing is that record companies don't own most of the copyrights that are being infringed upon. Most of those are owned by the artists. Copyrights come in two forms - song and performance. The record labels get a percentage of the performance, but they get none of the song copyright.

    The primary difference is the delivery. When a song is written and put on tape (even just a cheap portable cassette recording will suffice) and sent off to the US copyright office, the music and lyrics are protected. When that song is recorded in a studio (or live) for purposes of distribution, a second copyright is issued - performance. As part of record deals, a portion of that copyright is forfeited by the artist.

    So, if someone else records my song, I get ALL the song copyright royalties but none of the performance royalties (unless I performed on the song). Those go to the artist performing it and the record company.

    How this is damaging is that a song performed by, say, Faith Hill, but not written by her, if licenced to Napster by the industry, would apply payments to Faith Hill and whomever the record company has as part of the performance royalty contract. However, the person(s) who wrote the song would get NADA!

    While Napster might be great for the RIAA and even performers if licencing is applied properly, it could be disastorous for songwriters who don't perform or for songwriters whose song gets re-recorded by another artist. For instance, if a Bob Dylan song was re-done by the Backstreet Boys (GOOD GOD, let's hope not!) and licenced to Napster, Dylan would see NONE of the revenue from sales because his copyright wouldn't count as part of the licencing process.

    He would get money from record sales and from radio airplay, but the licencing process doesn't take into account the writer - just the performer.

    I agree that the internet is a tremendous medium for promoting and even distributing music, but the artists must have a voice in it or they will, as usual, just get lost in the shuffle.

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    And then, depression set in...
     
  3. Jeff

    Jeff Clutch Crew

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    Radio stations pay dues and submit their playlists to large organizations that recoup performance royalties. For example, if 1,000 songs were played on the radio (or in supermarkets, or in clubs, or in the elevator because all of these lists are submitted) and my song represented 2 percent of that, I would recieve 2 percent of the total collected dues (less the company's fee) for that day.

    Obviously, that is an oversimplification, but when you add up all the radio stations, television station (videos), restaurants, clubs, supermarkets, etc, etc, and all their dues, you can see why it is important to artists.

    Artists have provisions in their record contract that apply to performance royalties and how they are divided amongst the artist, the record company, the producer, etc.

    While the radio does provide for promotion, it makes more money for the artist in performance royalty than anything. Since royalties on album sales are extremely limited (usually less than 3% of sales minus the cost of making the record!), performance royalties are extremely important.

    In addition, the placement of a song can be extremely important to licencing. Some artists licence their songs out to companies for use in commercials, for example. Companies are very picky about what they use and overexposure of songs can be just as bad as underexposure.

    Companies want people asking about the commercial and the song and associating them with one another. Napster can have a deliterious effect on that as well.


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    And then, depression set in...
     
  4. Behad

    Behad Contributing Member

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    Alanis Morrisette as "God".

    I think she can do what she wants.

    [​IMG]

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    Behad
    Sergeant at Arms of the Clutch BBS
     
  5. Band Geek Mobster

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    Dogma is one of my all-time favs.

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  6. Ty_Webb

    Ty_Webb Member

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    very interesting indeed.

    just curious for the Anti-Napster faction. What is the Philosophical difference in me listening to a song on the Radio and listening to one I downloaded off Napster?

    I am not sure of exactly how artist are compensated for music played on the Radio, but I did notice mention of that in the article. Any insight into that would be appreciated.

    Thanks!

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    Now this shirt is chafing me
     
  7. Timing

    Timing Member

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    Damn how did I miss this thread!? Alanis is cool...

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    The ox is slow but the Earth is patient.
     

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