Category Archives: Music

Where the Money Leaving Music Sales is Really Going

Charles Arthur did a little research:
But the reality is that nowadays, one can choose between a game costing £40 that will last weeks, or a £10 CD with two great tracks and eight dud ones. I think a lot of people are choosing the game – and downloading the two tracks. That’s real discretion in spending. It’s hurting the music industry, sure. But let’s not cloud the argument with false claims about downloads.
Or keep making such claims and keep electing Pirate Party members the the EU Parliament. Either way such claims have a limited life span.

Viral Viral: Pretending to Cheat Worked Better Than Cheating for Avril Lavigne Fans

Photo: Arista Records
Avril Lavigne fans push their girl's video to #1 on YouTube by pretending to cheat:
On June 19th, the Avril Lavigne fansite Avril Bandaids launched a “Girlfriend” YouTube Viewer (It’s now been retired) with the intention of making “Girlfriend” the #1 YouTube video of all time. The url that hosted the viewer reloaded the video every 15 seconds. The theory was that Avril fans could load up that url, let it run, and Avril would get the top video spot in no time.

Well, Entertainment Tonight, Perez Hilton,, The Globe and Mail, The Sydney Morning Herald, and many others picked up the story and started crying “foul.” How dare this hardcore group choose the number one YouTube video for us!? How dare they! And that’s where this story gets good.

There was no foul. YouTube caps it’s views per specific IP at 200 per day. (That may sound like a lot, but it’s not enough for a small legion of hardcore fans to make a dent in a number approacing 100,000,000.) There was no way they could game YouTube in the way they were purporting; and they knew it all along.

“Girlfriend” Video Tops YouTube With Viral Viral Marketing (not a typo), by Wade,, 20th August 2008

So they leveraged their leverage by provoking media outrage, causing millions of people to watch the video to see what it's about, and now causing a third wave of blog posts, thus producing still more views.

Now that's clever.

Not the sort of thing you'll ever see come out of telcos or cablecos, either.


Payola for the Duopoly

up-need_to_know.jpg ISP meddling with net neutrality could unite indy musicians and record labels against the duopoly:
For the music business, the failure of net neutrality presents several big problems. Musicians are at the vanguard of digital distribution of music files, video files, and other space-gobbling content. Traffic throttling will almost certainly result in placing severe limitations on the amount and kind of content musicians can put out there — and it’s pretty likely that musicians will then be forced into partnering with businesses that have fewer limits and greater access, no doubt for a fee, to get their gear online. Another issue is that, as covered recently in this column, we are seeing a whole new universe of music-related business models, and we need to see some predictability in terms of licensing methods and how artists and copyright owners get paid. One of the most compelling proposals is that P2P music sharing should be rendered commercially viable and copyright-legal by the imposition of a blanket license that would be paid at the gate (i,e., through the ISPs). Institutionalized throttling would take this plan out at the knees.

Another problem is that record labels, distributors and retail chains who are already in desperate jeopardy can’t compete with ISPs and cellular providers who, having launched their own music stores, have all the incentive in the world to steer music consumers to their own services rather than open the pipe for folks to shop elsewhere.

Net Neutrality, By Allison Outhit, Need to Know, June 2008

This observation comes from Canada, where current attempts by some to pass legislation similar to the U.S. Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) has suddenly gotten noticed as a path to something music lovers have seen before:
McKie is referring to proposed changes modelled on the American Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which call for a much heavier-handed approach to interpreting what kind of content uses are protected by copyright. At the same time a Canadian DMCA would accord “safe harbour” status to service providers to shelter them from a potential onslaught of copyright litigation provided they act quickly to block infringing and illegal actions on their networks. A Canadian DMCA could impact net neutrality by putting police power in the hands of the networks, while providing ISPs with strong incentives to prefer privately-negotiated content distribution deals over the chaos of user-generated traffic. The bottom line is that musicians have come to rely on the net as their number one go-to distribution and marketing tool. The net got that way by being neutral to all comers. Whether you were a platinum seller on Universal, or a couple of unknown basement-dwellers, your video had an equal chance of going viral. Without net neutrality, all the good pipe will get eaten up by whoever has the power to make the deal. Which sounds a lot like the payola days all over again.
Yep, that’s what we’ll get if we don’t have net neutrality: payola for the duopoly.


Why Amazon Won’t Get Its Own Channel: Amazon MP3 Without DRM

mp3-logo-200x90._V25853857_.gif Amazon has started a DRM-free music store:
Every song and album on Amazon MP3 is available exclusively in the MP3 format without digital rights management (DRM) software. This means that Amazon MP3 customers are free to enjoy their music downloads using any hardware device, including PCs, Macs™, iPods™, Zunes™, Zens™, iPhones™, RAZRs™, and BlackBerrys™; organize their music using any music management application such as iTunes™ or Windows Media Player™; and burn songs to CDs. Launches Public Beta of Amazon MP3, a Digital Music Store Offering Customers Earth’s Biggest Selection of a la Carte DRM-Free MP3 Music Downloads,, BusinessWire, 25 Sep 2007

Interesting how they didn’t mention Linux or Unix or any other free software platform.

Still, this is probably enough to keep Amazon from getting its own channel on the telco and cableco-planned closed Internet.

PS: Seen on BoingBoing.

Content Protect v. Internet Freedom

content_protection.png Here’s another view of what the telcos and cablecos have in mind for us, or, rather, what they want in our minds: approved content. This is substantially different from the Internet freedom we have today to look at whatever we want to and to publish our own content.


AT&T Inc. has joined Hollywood studios and recording companies in trying to keep pirated films, music and other content off its network — the first major carrier of Internet traffic to do so.
Get ready for the Amazon Channel or settle for Internet Base Service. Continue reading

Rage Against Distributive and Content Control

And now you do what they told ya,
now you’re under control
The Pearl Jam (and John Butler Trio and Flaming Lips and Rage Against the Machine) AT&T censorship fiasco has reached the attention of an FCC commissioner:
FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, fire-breathing advocate of network neutrality regulation and opponent of media consolidation, has taken a stand on AT&T’s now infamous censorship of Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder’s anti-Bush remarks at Lollapalooza. In an interview with’s Matt Stoller, Copps supported the idea that there’s a link between AT&T’s deletion of Vedder’s political comments from a webcast of the concert and the network neutrality fight that’s brewing in the halls of Congress.

“Events like this are connected to the larger issue of network neutrality, so it is very very important,” Copps said in response to a question about whether or not AT&T’s censorship of Vedder has any implications for network neutrality. He went on to say, “So when something like the episode occurs with Pearl Jam that you’re referencing that ought to concern all of us… because if you can do it for one group, you can do it to any group and say ‘Well, it’s not intentional,’ and things like that. But nobody should have that power to do that and then be able to exercise distributive control over the distribution and control over the content too.

FCC Commissioner: Pearl Jam censorship linked to net neutrality fight, By Jon Stokes, ars technica, Published: August 17, 2007 – 01:56PM

And it’s good that Copps sees the connection between this episode and media consolidation. Copps talks a good talk, but will he do more than “grudgingly accept” this sort of thing, like he did the bogus 700Mhz auction rules? Will he vote against, and will he persuade other commissioners to do the same? And can someone persuade Congress to change the FCC’s tune? It’s all very well to rage against the machine, but who’s going to change it?

Or can we get some Internet access competition? Then we could have Internet freedom.


Pearl Jam Censored by AT&T?

Photo: AP Photo/Magnus Johansson-MaanIm
Political censorship?
After concluding our Sunday night show at Lollapalooza, fans informed us that portions of that performance were missing and may have been censored by AT&T during the “Blue Room” Live Lollapalooza Webcast.

When asked about the missing performance, AT&T informed Lollapalooza that portions of the show were in fact missing from the webcast, and that their content monitor had made a mistake in cutting them.


So, “a mistake”.


But it gets better. Continue reading

Education Entertainment

EDUCAUSE is up in arms about a proposed amendment to the Higher Education Reauthorization Act that the Senate is supposed to be considering today. It basically makes the Secretary of Education an arm of the MPAA and requires institutions of higher education to police file sharing. I think this is the most interesting part of the amendment, where it’s saying it will:
(1) the 25 institutions of higher education participating in programs under this title, which have received during the previous calendar year the highest number of written notices fromm copyright owners, or persons authorized to act on behalf of copyright holders, alleging infringement of copyright by users of the institution’s information technology systems, where such notices identify with specificity the works alleged to the infringed, or a representative list of works alleged to be infringed, the date and time of the alleged infringing conduct together with information sufficient to identify the infringing user, and information sufficient to contact the copyright owner or its authorized representative; and

Text of Amendments, SA 2314, Congressional Record — Senate, 17 July 2007

So universities are supposed to keep lists of allegations against their students (or staff or faculty) and those lists can be used to determine their funding. Allegations, mind you, not convictions. This is once again the entertainment industry tail wagging the dog, in this case higher education. Hm, I suppose that’s a bad analogy, since the entertainment industry seems to only understand the big head, not the long tail….

And as if to demonstrate Republicans have no monopoly on horribly bad ideas, this amendment is proposed by the Senate Majority Leader, Democrat Harry Reid. Is the Internet really that hard to understand?


Russian Music Contracts

russian_music_instruments.jpg Fergie notes that a Russian court ruled for contract over copyright:
After the IFPI [International Federation of the Phonographic Industry] pressured credit card companies not to process payments to, the company sued in a Russian court, claiming that its credit card processing contract had been broken illegally. Now, despite the fact that AllOfMP3 is no more, the company behind the service has apparently won a judgment against Visa’s Russian agent.

According to CNews, a Russian technology site, the backers of AllOfMP3 have just won their case against Rosbank, the Russian company that does much of Visa’s processing in that country. The court ruled that Visa can only break its contracts with merchants are when they are found guilty of breaking the law; breaking those contracts after talking to business groups like the IFPI was ruled illegal.

The ruling means that Visa may be forced to start processing payments to sites like and MP3sparks, the AllOfMP3 replacement site, and Visa apparently does not plan to appeal.

Russian court rules that Visa must process payments for, By Nate Anderson, ars technica, Published: July 16, 2007 – 01:59PM CT

Will this last? Continue reading

Apple vs. AT&T

balsillie.jpg Apple has a reputation for “using its partners to its benefit”:
Blackberry Co-CEO Jim Balsillie sees the same thing happening with the recent launch of the iPhone.

Balsillie recently criticized Apple’s seeming willingness to commoditize the iPhone as an Apple product, rather than bringing AT&T Wireless in as an equal partner.

He also has issues with the iPhone being free of AT&T’s logo and with activation having to go through Apple’s iTunes music store rather than the AT&T Mobility site.“It’s a dangerous strategy,” says Balsillie.

“It’s a tremendous amount of control. And the more control of the platform that goes out of the carrier, the more they shift into a commodity pipe.”

Blackberry CEO Says Steve Jobs & Apple Screwing Over AT&T. CEOSmack 7 July 2007

Meanwhile, AT&T is still locking the customer into a 2 year contract, even though the customer is paying full price for the iPhone, unlike most other phones AT&T sells. So it would appear AT&T is using Apple to gain AT&T customers.

And maybe Apple didn’t want AT&T as a full partner because Apple perhaps is preparing to have iPhone work on other networks, as well? That would be a good thing.