Posts Tagged ‘ASCAP’

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The History of Music Media Postscript: The Future

April 8, 2010

 

Behold! The future of music! Um... keytars... I guess...

Senores y senoras: nosotros tenemos mas influencia.

The music industry is dead. After numerous attempts to kill the industry, it has finally happened.

It took turning music into an infinite good to finally do it. And while that may have cut it deeply, it was the self-inflicted wounds that finished it off.

The endless abuse of the very artists it was supposed to cultivate and protect. Locking musicians into expensive, constraining contracts. An intentionally faulty royalty scheme that keeps artists separated from their money. An entire amalgamation of inept management, vindictive legal battles, rent-seeking that serves to keep ASCAP, BMI, the PRS, the RIAA, etc. rolling in money and a perverse (and thoroughly broken) trickle-down effect that only benefits the top 5%.

As much as the record labels and their accompanying dollar-sniffing dogs would like to return to the rapacious days of the $19 CD and its money-printing ability, it’s just never going to happen. So they force it, suing 14-year-old kids and 80-year-old grandmothers. They send out bills to Mom & Pop stores, cop shops, charities, animal shelters, the Girl Scouts, etc. They browbeat or seduce your elected officials into legislating your rights away and otherwise throw all their energy into tipping the playing field back in the direction of their gaping and insatiable maw.

Perhaps it's too subtle...

Take a quick look at the “business plan” of the performance right groups. They send out bill after bill for bogus “public” performance fees (“public” meaning heard by more than one person). This is nothing more than mass mailing. Spam.

Their methodology is no different from the guy at the bar that asks each passing lady if the like anal sex. Yeah, he’ll take a lot of abuse but sooner or later, he’ll get lucky. And to him, it’s worth the damage to his reputation.

Same thing here. They’ll demand money from anybody and everybody, hoping for a 5% return or whatever. If the public can’t shame them in to stopping or the courts refuse to make them stop, they’ll keep hopping from patron to patron, hoping to get lucky.

They waste their time, money and effort on fighting a battle they have already lost, rather than finding new and better ways to help their artists promote themselves or work within the “constraints” of the digital age.

As long as music is an infinite good (and that’s for the rest of forever, folks), it is self-defeating to thrown your energy into clicking your heels and wishing for 1991.

There are thousands of bands giving away thousands of songs every day, having realized that it’s better to get their music in your ears and their name on your tongues than to bemoan every “lost” sale or play penny-ante royalty poker with the major labels and their legal friends.

Thanks Chain Music Store! I never would have found Dinowalrus without your invaluable flaunting of mainstream artists!

Despite what everyone may be hearing from spoiled rotten artists like Garth Brooks and Bono, there has never been a better time than now to be a musician. No matter how small you are, you can get heard.

In the old brick-and-mortar + mainstream radio world, would you or I ever heard of the bands like Dinowalrus, Micro Titanic, Grave Babies, Whitey, Human People, etc.? If they even made their way into the local Musicland, they likely would have been in and out within days, thanks to sales of $0.

Here’s a message for those who still doubt and fear to cast your pearls before thieving swine. A message for every musician out there who thinks that piracy will deprive them of a livelihood. A message for those who think that the only way to self-sufficiency is through the same routes that have been obliterated by a flood of new options.

WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?

You can’t sell your music? Well, maybe your product is no good. Maybe you’re not spending enough time promoting it. Maybe you’ve self-imposed a premium on your time and effort that no small amount of money will satisfy.

How can you NOT get your product out?

Case in fucking point: I bought Whitey’s new album from Amazon at 4 am. It took about 5 minutes from beginning to end. By the time I left for work at 4:15, I had it cued up on my mp3 player. And you want to tell me that we should go back to plastic discs? That I should have to wait to whenever it’s convenient for the local music shoppe to open its doors and then, hopefully, have whatever it is I’m looking for?

Another person forgoes the crapshoot of a 9-to-5 for the steady paycheck of a musician.

Message #2:

LOSE YOUR INFLATED SENSE OF ENTITLEMENT.

Since when did becoming a musician become a path to financial freedom? Did your parents ever sit you down and implore you to form a band? “Drop out of college and form a band, son. You’ll be set for life.”

Don’t look to us for sympathy if doing the thing you love has failed to put steaks in the freezer (or veggieburgers or whatever) and a late-model vehicle in the driveway. Many of us don’t even get the chance to do what we really want to. At least you’ll have a few albums or singles out and some gigs under your belt. You went out, got sweaty and drunk and played music for people. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Whatever artistic line you take, whether it’s music, painting, writing, stand-up, etc. is never guaranteed to repay your time and effort. If it does, you’re one of the truly blessed. If not, well, at least you spent some time doing what you loved.

Don’t go down that path. Don’t follow your predecessors in their jaundiced thinking. Their fever dreams of a few hit singles financing their retirements. That a copyright and 12 minutes of music should allow them to want for nothing. It’s sickening to think that your “art” should be used as leverage, as a weapon, against small businesses, charities, animal shelters, etc. If you’re currently riding this diseased gravy train, please, for everyone’s sake: get the fuck off.

Major Labels: It’s too late to adapt. If you hadn’t been so busy squeezing every cent out of music buyers for the last 40 years, you might still have some goodwill left. And it’s not just the fans you’ve been fucking. It’s also a majority of your artists.

The RIAA: If the only trick you have up your sleeve is “We’ll see you in court,” well… there’s just really no hope for you. You assholes don’t even pretend you want to adapt. Fuck you.

ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, the PRS, etc.: The only thing the digital age has done for you is given you the opportunity to attach yourself like remora to any passing revenue stream. Unfortunately, you tend to kill off every stream with your overenthusiastic sucking. You’re nothing but parasites. Spam generators. Aggressive panhandlers.

Good riddance to you all. Musicians don’t need you. Customers never did. You’re as essential and pleasant as a vestigial tail.

-CLT

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The Stabbing Knife Vol. 2 – Garth Brooks

October 17, 2009
Roberto prepares for Daylight Savings Time with several stabbing and thrusting exercises.

Roberto prepares for Daylight Savings Time with several stabbing and thrusting exercises.

Garth Brooks is back. Ending eight years of self-imposed retirement to start an open-ended run of shows at the Wynn in Las Vegas, Brooks has dusted off his hat, boots and false sense of entitlement.

Picking up where he left off in 1993, Garth is moaning about how he’s getting fucked by all his freeloading fans. Granted, he does mention other “artists” (of course, none by name) and breaks out his gold-plated hanky for a good old bitchfest.

Brooks prepares for his rigorous Wynn shows by "tripling-up" at their famous buffet.

Brooks prepares for his rigorous Wynn shows by "tripling-up" at their famous buffet.

Our government’s not doing anything about piracy. Until we can hear what a day of radio is like with no music, until this place sits silent because the music creators and the artists and copyright (holders) are not happy because they’re not being protected like everyone else is, then, yeah, I would like that power myself.”

First of all, what the fucking fuck? The government’s not doing anything about piracy? Where in the hell did he get that idea? Did he spend the last 8 years living in a tin-foil coated basement somewhere in Montana?

The government is spending a great deal of time bedding down with ASCAP and the RIAA to make sure that copyright protection continues its steady march to perpetuity. Just last week the House Judiciary Committee approved the hilariously named “Performance Rights Act” which will ensure that radio stations get to pay even more for the privilege of advertising the major labels’ artists.

On top of that ASCAP and BMI are pushing their respective legislators to increase the performance royalty fees that radio stations already pay.

So first the RIAA tags the stations for playing the sound recording and then ASCAP reams them again for royalties due to the musicians playing on the recording. A nice double-dip with all the subtlety of a revolving-door gangbang.

So, obviously Brooks is ill-informed or just genuinely stupid. Let’s flashback to his original enemy: used CDs.

Garth used his considerable weight to blackmail Capitol into blocking shipments of his latest album to stores that sold used CDs. This came back to bite him right in his label’s ass thanks to some anti-trust activity. Despite his best efforts to piss everyone off, In Pieces went on to sell 10 million copies in the U.S. alone.

The end result of 6 months of "cheek sucking" workouts.

The end result of 6 months of "cheek sucking" workouts.

Not content to rest on his huge piles of money, Garth continued to bitch and moan about his hard knock life until he was tossed under the wheels of pop culture with his ridiculous Chris Gaines “concept album,” which touted the soul-patched pop-country  pre=”pop-country “>chubster as a “conflicted artist” who was all angsted-up by life in the public eye.

So what is Garth Brooks’ problem?

Tough to say. According to the RIAA, he’s the best-selling solo artist of all time.

Brooks has sold more than 128 million albums in the U.S., according to the Recoding Industry Assn. of America, second only to the Beatles’ 170 million albums. Brooks has outsold the Fab Four — more than 68 million to the Beatles’ 58 million — in the 18 years since Nielsen SoundScan began monitoring retail sales in 1991, two years after Brooks released his first single.”

Couple that with his lucrative concert tours and the man has to have more money than Oprah Winfrey (or possibly U2).

So why can’t he shut the fuck up and enjoy his success?

Garth appears to be one of those (highly-stabbable) “sore winners” whose life revolves around concerns that his boatloads of millions may be leaking nickels and dimes somewhere. Apparently all the time off allowed him to mellow into a fat, bitter shit who wants everyone to pay for everything, like they used to in the good old days before people could decide what they wanted to do with their purchased property (CDs) or had any choice in how they got their music delivered (single-song mp3 downloads or *gasp* piracy).

Check out his “I showed them” take on his meeting with iTunes:

“Sweet guys. They’ve allowed me to come into their building several times and pretty much tell them how much I didn’t like the system. They listen. But iTunes won’t do what (it) needs to until (musicians) find a way to join together, and show them what an iPod sounds like with no music. … They truly think that they’re saving music. I looked at them right across the table with all the love in the world and told them they were killing it. Until we get variable pricing, until we get album-only (downloads), then they are not a true retailer for my stuff, and you won’t see my stuff on there.”

I cannot fathom how this must sound to him when it comes out of his mouth. I’m sure he feels he’s coming down from Mt. Sinai with the tablets but to anyone else who has actually seen how the real world (and music industry) work now, it must sound like the disjointed ravings of bitter retiree who’s sure the world would be better if we could just go back to the good old days of poodle skirts, lead paint, asbestos and the labels raping you out of $17.99 for a couple of good tracks and 50 minutes of filler.

“Album-only downloads?” I’m sure Garth is invested heavily in Time Machines of America if he thinks he can get a majority of Americans to welcome his “Buy One, Buy ‘Em All” plan. That shit went out with Discmans and Fen-phen.

Garth displays his vestigial opposable thumbs.

Garth displays his vestigial opposable thumbs.

But he’s not through yet. Garth’s mouth has unlimited foot space (possibly due to elective surgery). Here’s his contradictory and pure evil plan for getting back what’s his:

“I’d love to see us get it together, and that’s one of the things for the next five years is to try and figure out how. Athletics has it — anti-trust. That’s the only way these guys get the attention of the leagues they work for. Until we can unionize, until we can bond together, we have no power.”

Pause for breath and some oxygen to the brain. He likes anti-trust but wants to unionize into one group that would oversee the entire record industry, presumably with the power to set prices regardless of market demand and constrict delivery methods. Sounds like a monopoly to me.

Back to King Garth, RIAA mouthpiece and jackass supreme:

“I want us to be able to come together and represent as a whole to tell the nation. … It has to be placed in the right hands, so it can’t be one person, but a board that represents music, its creators and its content owners. I think that’d be more than fair to stand up and say, ‘Look, you’ve ignored us, because there’s 50,000 of us and 300 million voters. You’ve ignored us, and now to show you, we would like to just simply stop for a day,’ and see how dry this world gets.”

Wow.

Garth is no longer just interested in the music-buying public. He now wants 300 million voters to take it in the ass because starving artists like himself are outnumbered and outgunned by Joe Public and his considerable lobbying power.

Hey, public. Meet dictator-for-life Garth Brooks. He’d like to welcome you with a hearty “fuck you” in appreciation for your purchase of 128 million albums during the course of his career.

There is a silver lining to this colossal bullshitstorm: Garth is offering to swing his massive, platinum-encrusted weight around until he gets his way, even if that means pulling all major label music off the radio for an entire day, just to show us stupid “little people” what’s the motherfucking what.

To raise awareness for "totally screwed" multi-platinum artists like himself, Garth Brooks will eat all major label music for one day.

To raise awareness for "totally screwed" multi-platinum artists like himself, Garth Brooks will eat all major label music for one day.

I say let him.

I haven’t listened to the radio in years and there are millions of hours of independent music just dying to fill the void. It would be better for the radio stations, the indie artists and the world in general.

So please please please. Pull that shit off the air. Teach us a lesson, Garth, you spoiled 47-year-old brat. Smack us around with your superiority. Kick us right in our deserving asses with your size 3 jack-boots of cowboy justice (+1). Show your loyal customers that you made them, not the other way around.

Or better yet, SHUT THE FUCK UP.

Go home and count your money, you fat bastard. Pile it all into huge stacks, knock ’em over and start again. Go wander your mansion or take one of your several cars (or horses… whatever) out for a spin. Go get a botched tonsillectomy and a good case of tetanus. Whatever shuts you up.

Go Roberto. Get him. Fuck you, Garth.

Sincerely,
Joe Fucking Public
300 Million Strong

-CLT

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Our Sincerest Apologies: Retractions and Corrections

July 29, 2009
The Fancy Plans Mailroom - where the "magic" happens, as Juanita will find out, shortly before filing a sexual harassment suit.

The Fancy Plans Mailroom - where the "magic" happens, as Juanita will find out, shortly before filing a sexual harassment suit.

Over the past seven months, we at Fancy Plans have made over 300 posts, most of them riddled with errors, false statements and speculation. Whether this can be chalked up to laziness, stupidity or ignorance remains to be seen. One thing is for sure: our mailroom is starting to fill up.

In an attempt to clear the slate heading into the back half of the year, Fancy Plans would like to issue the following corrections and retractions:

Our slogan is: “You’ve got questions? We’ve got answers.” Not: “You’ve got questions? We’ve got questions. Wanna fuck?” (Radio Shack)

Arizona and Indiana are not the freak states, despite their refusal to join the rest of the nation’s proud, but outdated, tradition of Daylight Savings Time. A joint statement issued by representatives of both states reads: “Not only will we not show up at work at the wrong time twice a year, but when the revolution comes, you know who will be ahead of the curve. That’s right, baby. The “freaks!” I think. Unless the revolution starts in the spring. And in the fall… I guess we’d be arriving at the same time… Viva la revolucion!” (The Freak States)

ASCAP and its worldwide associates are not solely comprised of “thug-like shakedown artists, whose dispassionate soullessness allows them to finally empathize with lawyers (even patent lawyers).” ASCAP points out: “We also have lawyers.” Touché. (ASCAP)

Snapple points out that, while they are “made of the best stuff on earth,” most Snapple drinks do not include elements of “titanium, platinum, uncut diamonds, black tar heroin, really fucking good acid, vegemite, Krispy Kreme donuts, weapons-grade plutonium, additional brain cells, pixie dust, or the sperm of several Nobel Prize winners.” (Snapple)

Dirk Cussler, unlike Jimmy Carter, can “fart and chew bubblegum at the same time.” Video evidence was provided, but required the installation of RealPlayer. So you’ll just have to take our word for it. (Dirk Cussler Trust Fund, LLC.)

Our art department would like to apologize for being

Our art department would like to apologize for being "too literal" when bogarting retraction photos.

The estate of Jim Morrison would like to point out that his nickname was not “Van” as previously stated several times. It was “Jimmy,” like all good American boys. His mother would also like to point out that she “does not believe that Jimmy ever showed his penis in public,” and that she “was only propositioned once or twice by Jim, at the most,” blaming it on his absinthe usage. (Estate of James “Jimmy Van M” Morrison)

Nietzsche did not coin the phrase: “Say it with flowers.” (FTD)

At no time, in the New Testament or Old, does the Bible refer to God “laying his pimp hand down.” (Strong’s Concordance)

Clive Cussler’s middle name is not “Fucking.” It is “Eugene.” (C. F. Cussler’s Adventure Novel Mill)

ASCAP does not consider the statement, “Sure, other people can hear my music, but I can guarantee they’re not enjoying it,” to be a legitimate denial of wrongdoing. (ASCAP, again)

Printing someone’s unlisted address and phone number is not a victimless crime, according to lawyer Joseph Merritt, who lives at 3431 Placid Terrace, Ft. Lauderdale, FL. The best time to reach him is after 6 pm (EST) at his home number (805) 421-1991. (Stevenson Law Firm of Ft. Lauderdale)

General note: the pants have rarely matched the plan. Sorry for the confusion. (CLT)

Chad Kroeger (Nickelback) has apparently won several fights with kiddie pools (and other inanimate objects) despite earlier reports. Also mentioned in this retraction request: Gwenyth Paltrow v. mirror, Keanu Reeves v. folding chair and Scott Stapp (Creed) v. “Pull” door. (We Can Smart Anti-Defamation League)

President Barack Obama has not “gone one toke over the line.” (Office of the President)

Smoking, drinking and drugs are not cool, despite all evidence to the contrary. So go to bed, kids and give mom/moms/dad/dads back his/her/their computer and paraphernalia. (D.A.R.E.)

Neither is all that excessive swearing. (Mom)

WordPress.com would like to point out that we do not actually have a “mailroom” and should drop this conceit as soon as possible. (WordPress.com)

The art department also thought this would be "clever." They have since been told that they are not paid to think, or at all from this point on.

The art department also thought this would be "clever." They have since been told that they are not paid to think, or at all from this point on.

Eric Clapton’s nickname is not “Pimp Hand.” Please refrain from using this or any other derogatory terms when referring to His Holiness, God II. Also, you already used the pimp joke earlier. (Clapton Publicity, LLC. aka “Voice of God”)

My blog may not contain the exact address of my Bacharach Men’s Fashion store, but I have left several clues like “Vernon Hills” and “Cubs game.” In fact, I’d like to think my site combines the visceral thrill of reading ad copy with the blustering excitement of a round of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? (Phil Alper:4U2C)

Your continued refusal to purchase medicine at outposts and general stores will greatly increase the chance of a party member dying of dysentery. (Oregon Trail Historical Society and Event Generator)

Help! I’m stuck in your spam filter! (Ramblin’ Rooster)

-CLT

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The Stabbing Knife Vol. 1 – ASCAP

July 21, 2009

Roberto_jpg

Time to unpack the stabbing knife. Kids: don’t read any further than this unless a.) you really want to, or b.) no one’s stopping you.

Pity the poor music industry. Or don’t. Any group that claims to speak out for “poor artists” at press conferences while sending packs of lawyers out the back door doesn’t deserve your pity. Contempt, perhaps. But not pity.

Having long ago run out of sane ideas on how to maintain their wealth, ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Performers) has decided that everyone, everywhere should be forced to pay in perpetuity for listening to music. It’s just not enough to buy the album these days.

First, a little rundown on their targets. A rogue’s gallery of copyright violators and pirates of every shade. Here’s who ASCAP is billing now:

Anyone who embeds video on their website.
So pretty much everyone at every blog site and everyone everywhere else. Specifically, this goes after YouTube, which is a bit of a stretch, especially considering YouTube has already agreed to pay them $1.6 million for hosting the videos. Now ASCAP would like to collect again. And again. And again.

The town of New Milford, CT.
ASCAP would like $280 because the town center “sometimes has music playing.” The city council voted to ignore the billing, tabling it indefinitely. BMI and SESAC responded by increasing the amount of their claims to $3,000 and $1,500.

Everyone who owns a cellphone.
Well, maybe not everybody. Not if you’ve never purchased a ringtone featuring a popular artist. ASCAP is claiming that your cellphone, while doing its job of alerting you to an incoming call, is performing publicly and thus subject to royalty charges. Better put that phone on vibrate. Those easily excited can just set it to mute.

Hosts of open mic nights.
ASCAP and BMI have hit owners of small coffeeshops and bars with bills ranging from $350 to $6000 to cover “performance royalties.” Some have had to shut the open mic nights down, thus cutting off several fledgling artists from finding a venue in which to perform. Others have tried to get their acts to sign waivers stating that they will only perform original material. ASCAP has ignored these.

Here’s an incredibly arrogant and ignorant quote on the subject:

Vince Candilora, ASCAP’s vice president for licensing, says the fees are set at a “very good rate,” adding, “What gives anyone the right to use someone else’s property, even though they’re not making money on it? I can guarantee you the phone company’s going to charge you whether you’re making money or not.”

So… a band playing a cover song is like the phone service? Always on? Multiple lines? Phone companies bill for services provided. You’re charging the bar owner for what exactly? The music played? The instruments provided? The soundsystem? What exactly are you providing in exchange for this money?

Related: a nightclub owner in Vail, CO paid $40,000 to ASCAP because a band played 10 cover songs during its appearance. A real bargain, considering ASCAP originally wanted $30,000 per song.

Anybody who sings Happy Birthday.
Over 1% of the total money collected by ASCAP comes from this one song, arguably the most popular song ever. And that copyright claim they collect on may be completely bogus. But who needs facts and research when threats and intimidation will accomplish more in less time?

Bitches better have my money...

Bitches better have my money...

The Girl Scouts of America.
We can debate the propriety and taste of teaching the little cookie-pushers the Macarena, but really… threatening the Girl Scouts? A bunch of 8-year old girls who are now afraid to dance and sing… I hope you’re happy. Perhaps the lawyers will stop by and kill their pets while they’re away at camp.

In all fairness, ASCAP dropped the campaign to wring money out of a beloved American institution. But only after the public shaming. And what the fuck? Who greenlighted this action? If anything highlights the antagonistic entitlement these jackasses feel, this does.

And that just covers some recent stupidity from America. Here’s a very brief rundown on what’s going on in the rest of the world:

These actions mark performance rights groups as true bullies, never willing to go head-to-head with a comparable foe, but rather beat up on charities, small businesses and little girls.

You’d think that an industry so strained for cash would want to have as many people as possible exposed to their product. Apparently it would be easier for them if one person paid royalties over and over again via this business model:

  • Buy CD. ($10-15)
  • Play CD at work. (Pay public performance royalties.)
  • Play CD on car ride home with windows down and stereo up. (Performance royalties.)
  • Throw a little house party. Get new CD pumpin’. (More performance royalties.)
  • Sing a little of the CD in the shower the next morning. Whoops. Left the door open. (Performance royalties.)
  • Etc.

ASCAP continues its push, getting into bed with Congress (although, let’s face it, our representatives have all the self-restraint and self-respect as any “Girl Gone Wild”) in an effort to collect additional performance fees anytime a song gets played on the radio. This hypocritical gouging is covered in a delightful ironic sauce, as ASCAP and the RIAA have both been in hot water for paying the radio stations to play their music.

Awwww... a rescue shelter! Look at that dog with three legs! He's trying to jump. Awww... Anyway. Pay the fuck up.

Awwww... a rescue shelter! Look at that dog with three legs! He's trying to jump! Adorable... Anyway. Pay the fuck up.

Now the shoe is on the other litigious foot, and their favorite promotional vehicle has now become a sacrificial cash cow.

All that ASCAP will do is ensure that they and their lawyers get paid. Some of the top 5% of their stable of artists will get some trickledown (think U2, Rolling Stones, etc.) Those slightly below this threshold may see some tiny residuals. And everyone else gets jackshit. Nothing but fewer places to play and promote their music.

I haven’t sent one out for awhile but I think the time has come:

Fuck you, ASCAP. Fuck your ignorance, your false sense of entitlement and your abusive tactics. Fuck you just like you’re fucking 95% of the artists on your roster.

Stick it to the man. Play your music loud. Invite your friends over and play all the music you can. Promote your favorite bands. Embed their videos everywhere. Support your local cover band. Donate to your favorite charities. Buy Girl Scout cookies.

-CLT