back to article Big labels or Google - who is the songwriters' worst enemy?

Tired of being ignored by industry lobby groups, artists are now getting feisty about creators' digital rights. In the UK, the Featured Artists Coalition wants to take digital rights away from the nerds. In the US last year, Arts and Labs launched to counter big record labels and anti-copyright technology companies. A&L has …

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  1. Toastan Buttar
    Thumb Up

    Spotify

    I keep saying it, but I LOVE Spotify. It gives you pretty much any track you fancy almost instantly and the music industry gets a kickback. Spotify has made illegal file sharing seem like too much hard work. Now THAT's how you "compete with free".

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    A nearly sensible interview

    if only the guy had stopped bleating about piracy and focused more on something which is likely more significant: "The record labels ... insist that the artists now write or co-write all their songs. This has lead to a tremendous drop in ... the quality of the songs. The public is constantly complaining about having to pay US$12 to US$18 for an album with only one or two good songs on it." Well blow me down with a feather, how did he work that out?

    And where does most of that $12-18 go? The record company (and their lawyers and lobbyists), not the writer, not the artist.

    Fix those two little problems, and people might BUY more music (because the music would be better *and* cheaper). The artists/writers income might actually increase! Trebles all round (except for the now-redundant RIAA members).

    They don't have to worry about competing with "free", there are still plenty of people who will pay for the real thing, IF the price and the quality are right; meanwhile, finding people to pay $12-$18 for six minutes of tune and forty minutes of dross is always going to be hard work.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    Wow, a music-related article I can comment on?

    Cool!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This guy need to climb back out of his own arse

    Google is not for finding art.

    P2P is not for sharing music.

    Rock'n'roll will die when nobody listens to it anymore not when some whining little shit decides it's out of date.

    Artists create for art. If they're not creating for art they're just money-grubbers, slightly more cynical than everyone other money-grubber.

    I hope the modern music industry dies. The only remotely interesting I've heard in the last 20 years is Alabama 3. A sorry state of affairs.

  5. Britt Johnston
    Thumb Up

    when editing is all the cake there is

    Nice but sad article on the songwriter's point of view.

    The co-writing question was probably not designed as a mechanism for labels to rip off songwriters - in the field of classical music editing is the only tenuous hold on a publisher has on its output.

    A recent disaster in Germany arose when recordings of a new edition, which used to be mutually tolerated as they promote both causes, were mandated for copyright fees. If I remember rightly, Hänsseler almost went under with a project to record the complete works of J.S.Bach (competitors available for £89.99).

    This probably doesn't apply everywhere, each country is spiralling towards useless copyright laws in different ways.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Anonymous Coward

    > Google is not for finding art.

    Yeah, finding art requires you to use imslp.org or free-scores.com.

    > P2P is not for sharing music.

    Of course not - you can share photos, photographs, text files ... if you can digitise it, you can use P2P for sharing it.

    > Rock 'n' roll will die when nobody listens to it anymore not when some whining little shit decides it's out of date.

    Ah, so you're saying Gregorian Chant lives!

    > Artists create for art. If they're not creating for art they're just money-grubbers, slightly more cynical than everyone other money-grubber.

    Spoken like a true non-artist.

    Francis Bacon had acquired an estate of somewhere in the region of £11 million by the time he died.

    J. S. Bach was a shameless self-promoter.

    In fact most artists you know about are a mixture of skilled technician, creative visionary, and shameless self-promoter. The self-promotion is the reason you know about them, as opposed to the thousands of wannabees who you've never heard of.

    On top of that artists from the last 5- or 6-hundred years have had to feed themselves and required money in order to do this: Some have been fortunate enough to do exactly and only what they like but most of those have had to compromise in order to get there.

    > I hope the modern music industry dies.

    You wouldn't have Alabama 3 without it.

    > The only remotely interesting I've heard in the last 20 years is Alabama 3.

    You need to get out more. Alabama 3 write moderately interesting tunes, but great art they ain't. "Woke up this mornin'..." *yawn*.

    > A sorry state of affairs.

    And very poor taste.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    The songwriters' worst enemy is...

    ...the song writers themselves because they are living in the past. The glory days of professional song writers are largely gone, certainly in the terms of the old music biz. The problem has nothing to do with file sharing. If some kid downloads 100 songs a week that doesn't mean 100 sales have been lost because that kid could never afford to buy them all anyway. The industry needs to think of file sharing as marketing; getting the songs listened to by a wider audience.

    On top of that, music can now be written, performed, produced, arranged, mastered and distributed by kids in their bedrooms. Or DJs. Or anyone with a good idea, some talent and minimal kit. There is more music out there now than there ever was because there are more people making it.

    If the same amount of money was spent on music today as it was say 20 years ago, it would be diluted as there are more artists chasing the same pot of cash. As it happens there is even less money available because da yoof of today doesn't just spend their money on music and beer anymore. There are DVDs, games, mobile phone bills, etc., that suck up a large proportion of available income.

    One day the music biz will wake up and get a clue. If not it will go the way of the dinosaur and the 8-Track cartridge.

    Paris, because she knows about musicianship. I once saw her playing the pink oboe in a vid.

  8. Mark
    Pirate

    untitled

    "On top of that artists from the last 5- or 6-hundred years have had to feed themselves and required money in order to do this: Some have been fortunate enough to do exactly and only what they like but most of those have had to compromise in order to get there."

    And despite all that and the complete dearth of copyright for most of that time, we still had music. People still created it, listened to it, performed it and got paid for it (or had the time).

    So why should copyright he here now?

    Legislating someone to make money is as bad as any quango, yet doesn't get the same bad press.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @MahatmaCoat

    >The glory days of professional song writers are largely gone

    Quite right, they should work as something else. All this "song writing" is done for, who wants that any more?

    Why kids in a bedrooms are producing wonderful complex and intellectually inspiring songs every 30 seconds.

    Hopefully with the death of the music industry there'll be more live music, is my take on it.

    @AC

    >Artists create for art. If they're not creating for art they're just money-grubbers, slightly

    >more cynical than everyone other money-grubber.

    Ha ha what a twat!

    Oh yah it's not art unless they're begging for food on the street maaan.

  10. Julian Lawton

    Who gives them the right???

    It's interesting to note that if you follow the money trail for the EFF and similar anti-copyright groups and lobbyists, you will frequently find Google in there somewhere. So when the Google-funded EFF threatens to sue Warners for withdrawing their music from the Google-owned YouTube, is it just me that feels there is a slight conflict of interest??

    In response to Mark's comment - that's besides the point. We'll almost certainly have music as people will create it, just as people write crap books regardless of whether anyone wants to read them.

    What's been great about the copyright system is that it's allowed us to have talented people become full-time authors, say, rather than books largely being written as the hobby of the already independently wealthy.

    Every suggestion I've seen as to how we can move to a 'free' world has sucked, majorly - they largely pre-suppose a rock band based model, and secondly ignore the fact that the things they are proposing are not NEW business models - performers already play live and sell merchandise. At a cynical level I just have a picture of a load of people who think Phish or the Grateful Dead represent the epitome of how culture should work.

  11. Jason Harvey
    Alert

    @all the writer haters

    change this to any other industry... like the one you work in... say your job gets outsourced to some other country because the company can get cheaper labor. you're out on your arse now. wouldn't you prefer the company kept you on to do the job you'd been doing for the past 20 years?

    no? ok, you can stay on the curb and whine with your "laid off need help" sign. If you want your source of income back, time to get into a different industry or create your own.

    The songwriters have had their livelihood taken away due to cost cutting exercises just like millions of others in other industries. The bitter taste in their mouth is haters and whiners telling them it's for their own good. Right. Losing your income and having to do odd jobs is for their good. Sounds like a most ignorant argument if ever I heard one.

  12. IR
    Stop

    Looking in the wrong direction

    As much as he goes on about it, illegal downloading is not the big issue here. Basically, songwriters aren't employed so much because fewer songs need to be written by specialised songwriters. Real music came back, songs written by the artists themselves rather than the generic pop songs performed by a pretty face. Pop music became a cover version by a reality show contestant. It's the same in any industry; the labels thought that they weren't getting much profit from employing songwriters, so they got rid of them. Even if the profits stayed the same (even after the temporary high of the 90s) they would have been cut. Music sales haven't fallen even nearly as much as the record industry would like you to think, and with legal downloads they are making even more profit per album by keeping the prices almost the same but without any costs for manufacture/distribution. Not that the artists or songwriters get any of this additional revenue.

    I guess what goes around comes around. We got shafted for years by the turgid generic pop music put out by the publishing houses, and now they are crying that people aren't buying it anymore. Blame filesharing all you want, but it's really because people wanted something else. It's not the public's fault that the record companies sunk their cash into advertising their bland product and didn't make it back. Wait another ten years and I'm sure the market will be ripe for that awful stuff again.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here come the Aspergers children

    @Mark: "So why should copyright he here now?"

    he/be (sic): Same reason as ever: as an economic incentive.

    "Legislating someone to make money is as bad as any quango, yet doesn't get the same bad press."

    Which proves how badly you misunderstand copyright. Which part of "sell no copies, get no money" don't you understand?

    All of it, apparently.

    "If they're not creating for art they're just money-grubbers"

    Yeah, someone wrote a great song millions of people love. Send them back on the street! Or down the mines!

    What a pathetic attempt to make yourself morally superior. And what a miserable c*nt you are.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @SIMON

    "Spoken like a true non-artist."

    You nailed it. What most of the comments here will be exhibiting is a mental handicap. Pathologically antisocial nerds are happy to leech art, but they get very jealous of the people who do it. This comes out in the "give me your stuff for free, now go f*ck yourself" attitude with copyright haters.

    There's nothing to stop them going out and playing an instrument for fun, lots do. But they can't see any other way to express themselves other than coding and screeching on message boards - so why should some guy who makes music be paid for it.

    Maybe the guitarists, songwriters etc made out with all the hot chicks at school.... and the nerds have never got over it?

    (a different AC, obviously)

  15. Mike Moyle

    So many f*ckwits, so little time...

    @ By ACoward 15:43 GMT

    "Artists create for art. If they're not creating for art they're just money-grubbers, slightly more cynical than everyone other money-grubber."

    You appear to be saying that if someone enjoys doing something, they should not get paid for it.

    Let's see how that plays out...

    "Programmers program for art. If they're not programming for art they're just money-grubbers, slightly more cynical than everyone other money-grubber."

    "Doctors and nurses heal for the sake of helping. If they're not healing for the love of helping others they're just money-grubbers, slightly more cynical than everyone other money-grubber."

    "Engineers design and tweak for art. If they're not designing for its own sake they're just money-grubbers, slightly more cynical than everyone other money-grubber."

    "Truck drivers drive because they love being on the open road. If they're not driving for the love of driving they're just money-grubbers, slightly more cynical than everyone other money-grubber."

    ... Can we assume, BTW, that you hate and despise your job, and didn't end up in it because it was related to something that you enjoyed as a child? because, remember -- "(if you want to get paid for something that you get satisfaction from, you're just a) money-grubber, slightly more cynical than everyone other money-grubber."

    @ ACoward :: 16:12 GMT

    "Hey, why not sell the songs for a few pence a pop. I'd buy the ones I want from an album and not the others, we'd soon get better quality songs, because they're the ones that people will be prepared to buy..."

    So which music site DO you buy your music from? You CAN buy individual tracks from most of them, I believe. ARE you buying it, or are you "just download(ing) the whole album for free and delet(ing) the tracks the don't want"?

    Are you actual;ly putting your money where your mouth is, or just blowing wind?

    @ MahatmaCoat"

    On top of that, music can now be written, performed, produced, arranged, mastered and distributed by kids in their bedrooms."

    First off, I'll bet that that kid is listening to music that has been written, performed, and mastered by (reasonably) skilled professionals. ...You know... the ones that the ACoward above believes should be doing it for the joy of it, not because they want to make a living at it...

    Secondly, I'll wager that that kid has hopes of making a living doing something that s/he enjoys, like making music. Sorry, Kid... you're just "a money-grubber, slightly more cynical than everyone other money-grubber."

    So, when it reaches the point that all that kid in the bedroom hears is music written by other kids in their bedrooms, guess what all music will sound like...?

    When some kid in his bedroom creates something that is as glorious as Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, or as heart-wrenching as Gorney and Clare's "You're My Thrill" -- and releases it into the wild anonymously and for free -- then I might accept your point, as well as those of the ACowards above. Until then, not so much.

    "(...) Or DJs (...)"

    Again, the DJ's stock in trade is remixing what someone with more talent has created initially. You can take both a GOURMET beef dinner, and a lousy beef dinner and make hash out of them. You'll probably get better tasting hash if you make it from the gourmet dinner, so you'd better hope that there will always be chefs out there willing to create gourmet meals for free. Otherwise you'll have lousy source materials to make your hash from.

    ...But, in any case, it will STILL be hash.

    "(...) Or anyone with a good idea, some talent and minimal kit."

    Well, yes; having a good idea and talent ARE important -- you get THAT much, at least.

    That point that some DON'T seem to get is that, if someone creates something that you want, tTHEY ARE NOT REQUIRED TO GIVE IT TO YOU JUST BECAUSE YOU WANT IT! It might be a nice thing to do, but it is NOT required, any more than you should be required to give me all of your money just because I want it. If I want something that you have created (and I'm differentiating here, between "want" and "need" -- a difference that most children learn before they are 10, or so, but which some people never DO learn!) I should find something that YOU want and trade you for it.

    Now, that something that you want may be something as simple as me slapping my hands together rapidly and repeatedly after you give me that item, or it may be a huge wodge of cash, or something in between. If I think that the exchange is acceptable, we have a deal. if not, we don't make the exchange. The one right that I do NOT have is the right to force you to make the deal that only I want to make.

    Anyone who says that artists should only create "for the love of art" is saying that the artist does not have the right to determine the value to himself of his own output , but rather must accept others' determination and abide by it.

    That line of thought is one of the reasons why guilds, and unions, and Fair Trade commissions were invented. If anyone who argues that artists should only create" for the love of their art" works in a population that has benefitted from any of those sorts of groups, maybe s/he should re-think that position.

  16. Mark

    @Jason Harvey

    I have no problem with that.

    Before computers, I could not be a computer programmer. When computers program themselves, there will no longer be computer programmers.

    Shift happens. Get over it.

  17. Mark

    re: Who gives them the right???

    WE did. WE gave them the right. And in return we wanted to be able to learn from it and use it ourselves AFTER A LIMITED TIME.

    Then you wanted it extended in scope, power and time.

    Well, you broke the contract. We take back the right we have to do with our property as we wish. If you don't want to sing in case someone sings it too, then do something else.

  18. Damon Allen Davison

    Musicians are the largest group of songwriters in the independent music industry

    Here, here, Julian Lawton!

    People who write songs in order to sell them are of course going to be concerned about what the major record companies and music publishers are doing because those companies are their customers. However, I think that the largest group of songwriters are the people who write and perform their own music, and many (if not all) of these issues apply to them as much as to people who try to make a living by selling songs they've written. The mechanical royalty rate paid to songwriters in the UK is 8.5 percent of the dealer price (the price the retailer gets from the label) on physical product and 12 percent on digital (which is has been officially discounted to 8% for years), that 8-ish percent is added to whatever the artist's share of a band's sales royalties. Depending on the size of the band and the way they have decided to divide things amongst themselves, that can be a significant bonus to the songwriting members of a band. In the (truly) independent sector, it's normal for artists to get 50 percent or more of all sales profits after the label "recoups" the manufacturing and promotional costs from a particular release. That means that once those costs are covered it's often an even split between the artist and the label, although some deals favour the artist even more. This is clearly not how major labels do business.

    No one's really sure how much money the industry's losing through illegal downloads, but if the sales figures of the independent record labels are anything to go by, there is definitely a very significant effect. Of course the preferred "channels" of music delivery are different for the current generation of "digital natives", leaving labels like the one I work for wondering how to create new revenue streams and "monetise" the commodity that music has become. Our artists have been hard hit by this mainly because independents don't have the market share (i.e. massive sales) to cushion themselves from the blows of financial reality. And most independent artists aren't really “brands” that can be used to sell other things like, er... car insurance

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nice article

    Good to have some insight for a change instead of the usual information vacuum served up as a story (not that El Reg is particularly bad in that regard)

    However, I have to take issue with the interviewee's arrogance:

    "The most infuriating thing about being lectured by anti-copyright groups about how songwriters need to get a new "business plan" is who gave them the right to tell us how to make a living?"

    Actually, they get that right from the fact they are your customers - or at least they would be if you had anything they wanted to buy. Songwriters don't have a right to a living any more then anyone else. They need customers to survive. The absence of those customers is what dictates you need a new business plan, I'd say. Your potential customers are only pointing that out.

    Think yourself lucky they didn't put the advice you don't want on a CD and charge you 15 quid for it - like you would have done.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Um, whose property?

    "We take back the right we have to do with our property as we wish."

    It's not your property, and so it's not your right.

    You really, really don't understand copyright, do you?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    Wow...

    Even if there's truth in this article, it still reads like a bad parody of the way things should be.

    I'm not going to touch the alleged issue of piracy putting professional songwriters out of business. (to paraphrase)

    I find it hard to believe that music quality has gone down just because there are no longer professional songwriters retained "on staff" I think it's much more likely that poorly musically trained fools, mostly lacking in talent and creativity just find it easier to "make it" these days than in days past. And producers without a clue let them, expecting the target demographic to not know any better. (which sadly a lot of them don't seem to)

    I don't buy the line that pro songwriters are writing all the good songs and "making life meaningful", while the performing artists apparently are incapable of writing anything good-- that almost sounds like watching professional porn---you may be able to get off to it, and it may be sexy, but an hour after the blessed event is over, it's utterly forgettable. Which I think does apply to a lot of the music written today, regardless of who is actually doing the writing. If performing artists can't write their own stuff, they should be looking for a different career.

    /rant

  22. Ogdru
    Coat

    “Nothing competes with free”

    “If I may quote a real economist, “Nothing competes with free”.”

    I'd like this “real” economist to explain the bottled water industry to me. If nothing competes with free (which is a total lie) how is it that the Water Barons are making money hand over fist selling us a commodity that we can get essentially free from any tap or drinking fountain.

    Downloading music and songwriters have nothing to do with each other. He even says several times in the article about how the record industry screws songwriters (which I agree with) and how the popularity of uninspiring rock/pop music has made the modern songwriter obsolete (which I also agree with). If the ROI of a professionally written song isn't higher then some hack amateur's version why would a record company retain a large staff of songwriter? Wouldn't this be a waste of money?

    Even if you could throw a magic “no music downloading” switch and stop all music downloads, would this return the world to a fairy tale, songwriter's utopia? Would the music industry return to it's pre-P2P levels? Wasn't the record-able cassette tape supposed to be a harbinger of doom for songwriters and the music industry?

    It's much easier to blame the nameless, faceless evil of the phantom “music pirate” then to face the reality of changing trends. Whether or not one thinks that downloading music from the Internet is morally wrong / criminal, or progress is really a moot point. The genie is out of bottle. It's done.

    What we can do is stop whining about thing we have no control over. My god why doesn't this guy see that fact that the music industry is squandering the single greatest money making opportunity in the history of it's industry? All they would have had to do was package it better then the freetards and they would have made MORE money than the 90's. They would, most likely, have to hire twice as many songwriter. The music industry is the problem not the freetards.

    If the bottled water industry can build enough value into their product to compete competitively compete against the free water market, someone should be able to figure out how to sell music (and pay songwriters) on the Internet for profit.

    Nathan

    P.S. > Artists create for art. If they're not creating for art they're just money-grubbers, slightly more cynical than everyone other money-grubber.

    Wow, this guy doesn't get out a lot. I can't figure out if he's a freetard or just slow and angry.

    I think you're confused. Let me try to clear this up for you.

    An artist, like anyone else, has a right to “want” the maximum profit from his or her creation. Why would this in any way make a artist anymore “money-grubber” then lets say a Systems Admin who wants paid for preforming the art of network maintenance. Both persons may “want” $50 p/h but the market will determine the value of the creation. I really don't see any “money-grubber” in either of these persons.

  23. John

    me? pay for music? happily!

    First I must confess to the grubby crime of listening to lots of music via free poscasts, but I have gone on to buy CDs and downloads because of what I heard.

    I heard the Alabama 3 on John Peel's Radio 1 show, bought Exile On Coldharbour Lane and went to a concert, but I only ripped a few of the songs because of the swearin an a-cussin. U Don't Dans 2 Tekno is pure genius though.

    I used to be a big fan of the singer-songwriter concept. Then I heard Nirvana's Unplugged album (on a C90 - long before Napster :) ) and realised their best songs were written by other people. Further, Burt Baccarach can perform, but it took a real singer to make it magical. Sometimes division of labour pays off.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Trouble getting throught this...

    Having trouble reading this when he keeps blaming piracy for the evaporation of his mechanical royalties...

    Nothing to do with decreases in radio ownership and the breadth of music they play or the decrease in the # of cds released by the majors, both of which are using less and less songwriters.

    I'm no freetard, but blaming piracy instead of media consolidation and the majors is moronic.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Does it matter?

    As far as I know, every band I like write their own songs. Songwriters are for manufactured, crappy mainstream pop singers who lack the intelligence to come up with their own lyrics.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    @ "Does it matter?"

    "Songwriters are for manufactured, crappy mainstream pop singers who lack the intelligence to come up with their own lyrics."

    You mean... SONGWRITERS are for people who can ... SING?

    As in ... people who have a talent for singing, who give life to words in a unique way. Billie Holliday, for example. Or Pavrotti. As opposed to people "in a band" who mumble into a bottle, like a closing time drunk. But authentically so.

    Great vocal artists need great songs. Shame you can't see that.

    Your addition of the perjoratives "manufactured", "crappy" and "mainstream" simply shows that you like to wear your ignorance ,snobbery and elitism on a big orange badge, so everybody can see how thick you are.

    You actually want us to see you Fail.

  27. Rab S
    Flame

    Cry me a river

    Build me a bridge and get the fuck over it....boo fucking hoo...."its the evil downloaders <sob>".

    Try its the evil fuckers that sacked you...you been downsized get the fuck over it.

  28. Neoc

    Bottom line

    Man, I wish this guy would get off his high horse and actually look at the world for a moment. (disclosure: I am not an artist or a writer and *gasp* I do not download MP3s).

    Let's keep this to Music for this argument, but this can easily be extended to all parts of the "entertainment" industry....

    When I purchase a piece of music, or a song, I wish to purchase a licence to listen to *this performance*. Not "this CD" or "this MP3" or whatever, but "this performance of song Z by artist Y recorded on date Z". That's it.

    *How* I listen to it should be up to me to decide, not the writer, artist or label company.

    It also means that if I want to listen to a different cover of the same song, I would purchase the rights again - for *that* performance. Ditto for the same song, done by the same artists, but recorded 5 years later with a slightly different beat/feel/whatever.

    Get it? Sell me a *performance*.

    Splitting of monies from my purchase between the various performers, writers, executives, et al can be argued amongst themselves. And this percentage should be paid to each party on *every* sale (after all, when you listen to a performance you are listening to both the artists' *and* the writers' work).

    And Copyright on *any* part of a performance (that's the music, the lyrics, the vocals, etc...) should expire 25 years after first performance (recording, live show, etc). I don't understand why the "entertainment" industry (movies, music, books, etc) is the only one where artists (and companies) are allowed to get paid over and over again for a piece of work they did 75 years ago. The rest of us have to go to work everyday if we wish to get paid.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One question was missing

    How much of the money that has been awarded to the recording industry due to copyright violation has he or any other artiste or songrwiter even seen let alone been paid?

  30. Steve

    Re: Trouble getting throught this...

    "Having trouble reading this when he keeps blaming piracy for the evaporation of his mechanical royalties..."

    Me too. I was also a little confused how he reconciles, "Music piracy was the death knell for the day of music publishers having staffs of songwriters" with the fact that he was working as a songwriter almost 30 years after the introduction of the evil that is home taping.

    You can explain the falling number of song-writers by the industry's own behavior that he cites. They get young artists who will mostly have a 12-24 month lifespan and get them to co-write so that they get less royalties. That's inevitably going to lead to a reduction in the number of full-time songwriters.

    Every year or so they come up with a "new thing" (e.g. young, female singer-songwriter) and then 3 months later follow it with a flood of identikit copies so you end up will very little to choose from between the "big" artists and that reduces sales. Music isn't food. If you reduce the choice, people won't just keep on buying it because they need it to live, they'll reduce their spending.

    I've never had to throw out a CD because it went mouldy.

  31. chris
    Thumb Up

    fwiw

    Article good, most comments bad.

  32. Mark
    Pirate

    re: Bottom line

    "When I purchase a piece of music, or a song, I wish to purchase a licence to listen to *this performance*. Not "this CD" or "this MP3" or whatever, but "this performance of song Z by artist Y recorded on date Z". That's it."

    Alternatively, if I've bought the CD or whatever, it is now MY PROPERTY. Stop being all communist and telling me what I can do t o MY PROPERTY.

    Don't like it? Stop selling.

  33. Mark
    Pirate

    @Ogduru

    "Both persons may “want” $50 p/h but the market will determine the value of the creation. I really don't see any “money-grubber” in either of these persons."

    Except when the only reason why they went into their respective fields was the chance to get $50ph. When the dot-com boom was underway, LOTS of people took computer science courses. Why? Because you could leave with a degree and jump straight into a $150,000 job.

    They went into it for the money, not for the work.

    And when the dot-com bust turned up, was the government all on about how all these poor starving computer science graduates were unable to get the job they wanted and that there should be laws put in place to make sure that they get a cut from ANY website revenue?

    No. They were left to find out that if you go for a job for the money, there's nothing to do but retrain when the money moves elsewhere.

  34. Cris Page
    Flame

    *yawn* This old chestnut again.

    Another whine about piracy from a business that stubbornly refuses to recognise that the size and shape of the market has changed beyond recognition since the 70's, and would have done so even without the bogeyman of downloading.

    There have been a number of news items recently about schools closing due to faling rolls. this isnt a new situation. The market has shrunk, so the market for "current" music is smaller than that of 20 years ago - there are simply not as many teens out there now to buy the dross that many companies churn out of their mills, hence the yawnfest of someone going straight to number one rather than fighting its way up the charts. At one time a straight in at the top entry was noteworthy, but now it is an expectation, and the achievement is devalued because it is a routine event on the back of lower sales levels.

    The older music buying public has largely built their collections, I no longer feel drawn to buy some new music every week, simply put there isnt that much out there I want, add to that the loss of Woolies - in many areas all that is left is the very restricted range stocked by Tesco - nothing there for me - we have no independants left and my nearest HMV et al is 65 miles away.

    Im sick of reading the whining about downloading - its not the biggest problem, a shrinking market is, along with a steep decline in the quality of the content. Heres a clue, I am unlikely to buy - say - a ballad from 25 years ago thats been covered at a frantic pace with a bonkers beat,

    20/30 years ago... we had 45s and albums... and 3 channels on tv. Now we have consoles, multi channel tv piping MTV etc at us 24/7, mobile phones, all of this takes a toll, consoles and phones eat into disposable income, MTV and the like play to the disposable nautre of much music, why bother buying it when some channels will ram it down your throat 10 times a day until the next hot track comes along?

    Its a shame that so far down the road - this "industry" still has not woken up to the new world which has a smaller market and more competeing with it for attention and share of the disposable income - especially now when all around are tuning to liquidators.

  35. W

    Summary of my thoughts:

    *The guy being interviewed = Deluded and overly whiny, in claiming that illegal downloading is directly responsible for his waning career prospects instead of realising that songwriters who can't/don't perform their songs are hardly an essential cornerstone of life itself or in short supply.

    *Big record labels leeching money from artists = rife.

    *My idea of a fair price for CDs = £5.

    *My idea of a fair price for 12 downloaded songs = about 25p at most, considering that all they're offering is a just an on-demand compressed version of data that is otherwise available on a CD and for which I have to take full responsibility for backing up.

    *No of times I've used p2P = 0.

    *Frequency, whenever the "music downloading argument" crops up, that I cite allofmp3.com as an entirely workable model that the music industry will inevitably, an ironically, be forced to adopt if it really wants to sell mp3s in a viable way = every time.

    *The claim that Nirvana's best songs were their covers = laughable, but I'd recommend using Incesticide as a starting point for starting such an argument.

    *Rock & Roll as 'music played by 4 white guys in a beat combo' = not in the best of health ,admittedly.

    *Rock & Roll as in ' the unique musical outpouring of youthful energy = emphatically not dead. Only bitter old gits ever claim that Rock & Roll is dead. Rock & Roll is about more than just the music. Sometimes Rock & Roll isn't even music at all.

  36. W

    In response to the first guy, re: Spotify.

    It seems to do what it does fairly well and a lot of people seem to quite taken by it. I never really got into Pandora, so I couldn't compare. Not that I'm massively sold, just fairly impressed at this stage. And it's a different kettle of fish to Last.fm (but does scrobble to it, which is nice).

    Quote from the Drowned in Sound boards (where there's an ongoing creation of an über-playlist): "It's like having God's iTunes".

    Registration can be had for free at https://www.spotify.com/en/get-started

  37. Mark
    Pirate

    re: *yawn* This old chestnut again.

    Heck, before reliable recording, the recording industry didn't exist. Music was made. Before radio, the industry had to spend a LOT to advertise to a small number of people and had to rely on a lot of word-of-mouth. Music was made. When fragile shellac was changed to robust plastic polymer, breakage rates went down to nearly nil, but the accounting for losses didn't change. Now we see the beginnings of the future. For when digital downloads are assessed, you STILL have "breakage" reductions of the sales figures. How does one break a digital download? And can you ask for a new one for free if you happen to get one?

    No.

    Now the internet is wider spread than the radio, there's no need for connections in meatspace to let people know of your music. The replication is done by others, so no need to buy time in a pressing factory.

    What need is there for a recording industry?

    None.

    Not acceptable to the recording industry.

    Well, understandable, but not our problem, kids.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Mark

    >I didn't say the copyright. I said the music on the CD. The CD is MY PROPERTY. I can now do with it what I want.

    What is it you want to do with the CD though?

    Rip it to your hardrive, and on to your MP3 player? - I doubt you'll get prosecuted for that.

    Stick it online and give it to anyone who might want it? - Surely you can see the issue there?

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    @Mark:

    You don't understand economics either:

    "What need is there for a recording industry? None."

    The public willingly pays for musical recordings, creating opportunities for investment. A musician is entitled to seek investment for production, promotion and marketing. Whether "the recording industry" is owned EMI, Coca Cola or Verizon is irrelevant. It's going to be there.

    "there's no need for connections in meatspace to let people know of your music"

    Yah, right.

    What you really want is to make sure everyone is an underachieving failure in life - like you perhaps?

    What's your degree in? What's your current job? Is there a mismatch?

    That's my guess.

  40. Mark

    @JonB

    "What is it you want to do with the CD though?"

    What's it to do with you?

    "Stick it online and give it to anyone who might want it? - Surely you can see the issue there?"

    Only in terms of breaking the copyrights, but the owners have already done that, so why should I obey a contract that is only one-sided? Ever heard of "contract of adhesion"? Or UCTTA?

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Put your money where you mouth is please

    @Mark:

    "Only in terms of breaking the copyrights, but the owners have already done that"

    I thought that was a joke, but this twerp is actually serious:

    "so why should I obey a contract that is only one-sided? Ever heard of "contract of adhesion"? Or UCTTA?"

    Go on then mighty mouth - argue that in court.

    Please.

    Put your money where you mouth is.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Mark

    >What's it to do with you?

    Well, it was rhetorical hence the two lines below. However it's useful to know the specifics of the objection to understand what the problem is.

    > >"Stick it online and give it to anyone who might want it? - Surely you can see the issue there?"

    >Only in terms of breaking the copyrights,

    Not in terms of giving away something that someone else has made and hopes to make a living from their efforts thus depriving them of earnings?

    >but the owners have already done that, so why should I obey a contract that is only one-sided?

    They create, you buy, you're not allowed to re-sell or give away I don't see that it's so one sided.

    If you want full reproduction rights, why don't you buy them? They are normally for sale.

    >Ever heard of "contract of adhesion"?

    Yes, you mean you feel unfairly pressured to agree a contract where you can't negotiate terms?

    It'd be interesting to see how a court would react.

    >Or UCTTA?

    No. If you'd like to enlighten me it'd be much appreciated.

  43. Mark
    Paris Hilton

    UCTA

    http://www.bigmouthmedia.com/live/articles/the-consumer-protection-from-unfair-trading-regula.asp

    "They create, you buy, you're not allowed to re-sell or give away I don't see that it's so one sided."

    What is one-sided is that the terms of copyright have changed to enhance the value of copyright to the copyright owners but there is no commensurate increase to the value to the public from the change to contract.

    The contract was changed to a one-sided benefit.

    E.g. computer programs didn't used to be copyrightable. Are now. Personal copying was A-OK (and a turning copy is OK too) and you were not blocked from doing so either technically or legally. Piracy laws were crafted for commercial scale infringement and applied to non-commercial use.

    And much, much more.

    For which we, the publc, get less value from the copyrights (they do not expire in our lifetime anymore). We have to pay more and more taxes to policing, enforcing and prosecuting pissant scale copyright infringement. We get DRM which ignores copyright and time-bomb programs that die before copyright expires.

    One sided.

  44. Mark
    Paris Hilton

    Says someone without the courage to identify themselves

    > "so why should I obey a contract that is only one-sided? Ever heard of "contract of adhesion"? Or UCTTA?"

    > Go on then mighty mouth - argue that in court.

    > Please.

    > Put your money where you mouth is.

    Why?

    And I have, not in a court of law but to FOX. I mailed them and told them that I did not care if the DVD was protected, I would break that protection and if they didn't like it they could take me to court.

    Funnily enough, no court case ensued.

    I'm not going to take FOX to court just to say "I am breaking your encryption", but it seems like they don't want to either (so where's the damage?)

  45. Mark
    Paris Hilton

    Anonymous Coward Posted Friday 6th February 2009 13:13 GMT

    "A musician is entitled to seek investment for production, promotion and marketing. Whether "the recording industry" is owned EMI, Coca Cola or Verizon is irrelevant. It's going to be there."

    He's not entitled to any guaranteed profit from it. A Heinlen quote is appropriate. I will let you find it yourself.

    The rest of what you post is bullshit, pulling what ideas you think will make your case stronger and mine weaker, not because you think they may be true, but because you wish to lie to bolster your case.

    You don't know how successful I am.

  46. Luther Blissett

    Pigopoly, monetary evasion - and intransigence

    Would you like to swing on a star?

    Carry moonbeams home in a jar?

    And be better off than you are

    Or would you rather be a mule?

    A mule is an animal with long funny ears,

    Kicks up at anything he hears.

    His back is brawny but his brain is weak,

    He's just plain stupid with a stubborn streak.

    And by the way, if you hate to go to school,

    You may grow up to be a mule.

    Or would you like to swing on a star?

    Carry moonbeams home in a jar?

    And be better off than you are

    Or would you rather be a pig?

    A pig is an animal with dirt on his face;

    His shoes are a terrible disgrace.

    He has no manners when he eats his food,

    He's fat and lazy and extremely rude;

    But if you don't care a feather or a fig,

    You may grow up to be a pig.

    Or would you like to swing on a star?

    Carry moonbeams home in a jar?

    And be better off than you are

    Or would you rather be a fish?

    A fish won't do anything, but swim in a brook;

    He can't write his name or read a book.

    To fool the people is his only thought,

    And though he's slippery, he still gets caught;

    But then if that sort of life is what you wish,

    You may grow up to be a fish.

    And all the monkeys aren't in the zoo;

    Every day you meet quite a few.

    So you see it's all up to you --

    You can be better than you are,

    You could be swingin' on a star.

    ---------

    Words: Johnny Burke. Music: Jimmy Van Heusen. Recorded by Bing Crosby, 1944 (#1 for 9 weeks). From the 1944 movie "Going My Way," Academy Award Winner, Best Song.

    And a big round of applause to L.Reg for the formatting snafus.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Mark

    >For which we, the publc, get less value from the copyrights (they do not expire in our lifetime anymore).

    You have a point here actually for things purchased before the change in law the contract at the time of purchase should be binding, it would be interesting to try that one out with Beatles tracks.

    Your link was gibberish BTW but I see what you were referring to now, although with perhaps the most cryptic abbreviation ever conceived.

    >He's not entitled to any guaranteed profit from it.

    No-one guarantees any profit?

    >A Heinlen quote is appropriate. I will let you find it yourself.

    Uh-huh.

    Essentially you just want to be allowed to get somebody's work for free.

  48. Stephen McLeod Blythe

    Eh?

    So what happened to a band actually writing their own songs?

    Any bands I like certainly do - so if we're losing some of the more popular crap, so be it.

  49. Mark

    @JonB

    Yes, there is no guarantee of profit.

    No matter how much I think I should get paid for it, no matter how much effort I put in, I will not make a profit selling house jerseys (a jersey that fits around your house).

    NO MATTER HOW MUCH EFFORT.

  50. Mark

    @JonB

    ".>A Heinlen quote is appropriate. I will let you find it yourself.

    Uh-huh.

    Essentially you just want to be allowed to get somebody's work for free."

    What? You want me to find it for you? I'm not paid to teach idiots.

  51. Matware
    Boffin

    nobody will probably read this comment but...

    Um, if you are a good song writer and believe that you can assist the musicians in writing good song,s why not cut deals with the musicians directly? Some musicians make money for performing their songs live, so why not do deals with independents that see them and you making more money?

    On a different note, saying that Google and p2p have shafted you when you were actually sacked by the big music biz just decided to stop spending money on music 'R&D' seems a bit silly. In the tech world a smart young boffin will go out, create a startup, get venture capital,and release products that will kill their old employer. Why don't song writers do the same if they have this ability to produce popular product? Recording and distribution costs have dropped to zero, you have the 'hits' that everybody still apparently pays for on I tunes, and you decent studio musicians are a dime a dozen?

    Reading this interview it appears that you are just pissed that the times changed and would love someone to enact Proposition 457 'Bring back the good old days' which is a sure way to kill art dead.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Matware

    "In the tech world a smart young boffin will go out, create a startup, get venture capital,and release products that will kill their old employer."

    The VC only invests in the smart young boffin if they see a potential return. But if no one pays for recorded music then no one is going to invest in independents.

    That's a good way to kill art dead.

    "Some musicians make money for performing their songs live"

    A few do, but not very many. So either you're asking a few performing artists to voluntarily give up some their earnings to fill a big gap in revenue (translation: charity) OR you're asking for copyright rates to go up for live performance licenses. (This is paid by the venue not the performer).

    The record industry may exaggerate the evil of P2P - but you pretend it doesn't have any effect at all. Sooner or later you have to factor this new reality into your argument, and think of ways of rewarding people fairly.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ "By Mark Posted Friday 6th February 2009 23:41 GMT"

    @JonB:

    "Essentially you just want to be allowed to get somebody's work for free."

    Mark the troll can never answer a question.

    He likes to press the doorbell but always runs away when challenged by reason.

    @Mark: "so why should I obey a contract that is only one-sided? Ever heard of "contract of adhesion"? Or UCTTA?"

    @AC: Go on then mighty mouth - argue that in court. Please. Put your money where you mouth is."

    Ran away from that one too. Now watch him run away from this simple question:

    Why can't you pay for music, Mark?

  54. P. Lee
    Boffin

    Before you pick a job...

    you may want to consider if it will actually provide you with a living, or if its just a hobby.

    Alas, not everything I do makes me fabulously wealthy. I suspect others have this problem too.

    The bit about the exploitation of teen idol type tv and greedy media companies does ring true though.

    Personally, I suspect Doom, WoW and Facebook are just as much to blame for dropping revenues as p2p. The industry that pushed 3.5 minutes as the maximum human attention span, has been outdone by computer games which provide even more interactive stimulation than skimpy dresses on MTV.

    Switch it all off and go read a book.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Toastan Buttar Re: Spotify

    Whats the point bleating on about spotify when its a closed user group of invitees only?

    Its exactly this retarded corporate mentality of thinking that contributes to piracy.

    I could download it from Spotify or P2P/Torrent, oh but Spotify is only available to special handshake club members only???

    Little wonder the music biz is in a state ...these people are total muppets in control of a real business. With EMI running 2.5 BILLION of Debt and only making 0.3Million turnover the lawyers should be looking at suing EMI Board Management looking to jail them for gross incompetence and extreme financial mismanagement. I never knew a company could be run so badly?

    When VirginMedia was all up for starting the legal P2P i thought FAB but they have gone and knocked that one on the head because of objection... it seems nothing is good enough and they are only going to accept zero tolerance on piracy but that aint -ever- going to happen, even if everyone in the uk were millionaires they would still download for free because of the convenience. Simple as.

    They might as well accept a £1 media fee on top of everyones broadband sub per month and let us do what we want and they can divvy up the money between themselves and stop whining about this in the press.

    The uk government dont give a shit because they wont have users disconnected so what now???

    This makes downloading practically legal now!!!!

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Reality 101

    Dear songwriter, our society doesn't much like supporting people who don't seem to be putting much work into anything. You may be talented, artistic, even inspiring, but like everyone else when crunch time comes you will have to work harder to stay afloat or get a 2nd job when society deems your work lacking in enough value to suit your desired lifestyle.

    Suppose I'd love to make a living making mops, but I simply couldn't make enough mops in a day to pay for my expenses. I could lament that once upon a time ago people were paid enough to survive doing this in a contemporarily modern society, or I could accept that that time is past and get a job that pays the bills like everyone else.

    It is sad that a part of our culture is dying, but at the same time the more art we have the more it devalues each individual piece of it to anyone who isn't an insane, and insanely rich, collector. In the past people were isolated more from information including art, but with the information age we are not only exposed to other distractions, not only able to take a bit more work from others for free, but also to reap the benefits of this collective experience which is in a similar vein as the art itself.

    Online we have people contributing their time at things they care about for free. If songwriting is what you're really all about, show the world by contributing your free time to give songs to the world and get another job to pay for your lifestyle. The idea of monetizing art is over unless you want to serve rich individuals privately.

    Bill G., because nobody needs art when we have kool colored gradient icons and 3D window interfaces to look at pron and advertisements.

  57. Roger Heathcote
    Flame

    What an arrogant asshole.

    "For example, the music publisher I was writing for in 1998 had 12 great songwriters on staff"

    Well Boo-fucking-hoo. Maybe this tight vertical integration played a role in making the charts such a bland lowest common denominator pig-trough of a place for as long as I can remember.

    "The public is constantly complaining about having to pay US$12 to US$18 for an album with only one or two good songs on it."

    And they have been for decades, since way before the advent of broadband internet and Napster. The majority of music that is made is utter shit, always has been, always will be. Go look in a library's music collection, or a secondhand store - >80% total shit across the board. Only one in ten bands ever made any money because the other 9 weren't good enough - that has been the case for ever - what of it ???

    "The real role of songwriters in the music business is to add meaning to people’s lives. That is not a job you want to leave to amateurs. It is a job for professionals."

    You pompous cock! Almost none of the songs that have added any serious "meaning" to my life were written by "professionals" unless you count Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Polly Harvey, The Pixies, Richard D James or James Brown as "professionals".

    A truly good songwriter will always have a career and a demand for their services, a shit one - well maybe no longer. A songwriter no longer has to be relegated to a back room and subjugated to the performers of the world now either. They have the option to bypass the traditional stifling body facist music industry and the tightly controlled distribution channels and get direct access to the _real_ music fans, the kind that will spend a lot on the artists they love. Serious music fans don't care what songwriters or performers look like anyway, they never did, otherwise how can you explain Tom Waits? Janis Joplin? Neil Young? Biggie Smalls?

    Really, if no-one want to pay you and your friends to bang out hackneyed pop-songs and show-tunes for the Celine Dion's and Elton Johns of this world don't come crying to me - I never pirated your godawful corporate shchmaltz anyway - now fuck off back to Nashville before I set The Clash on you!

  58. Toastan Buttar
    Linux

    Re: Spotify @AC Sunday 8th February 2009 00:03 GMT

    I know I shouldn't feed the trolls, but...

    I put my name on the Spotify waiting list and got an invite about 2-3 weeks later. Once you register, you get given a whole pile of invites you can send out to friends and family (I've sent out about 13 so far). If you're on a music list, just ask if anyone has a spare invite that you could use. I'm sure there will be quite a few sitting on unused invites.

    However, if you're as confrontational on other lists/forums as you were with that juvenile rant, you might be waiting a while...

    "I could download it from Spotify or P2P/Torrent, oh but Spotify is only available to special handshake club members only???"

    You can't download it from Spotify - that's the reason the labels have bought into the model. You can only stream a track, and it's cached locally in encrypted form. That deals with recording industry concerns. Now, the attraction of Spotify TO THE USER is that it bypasses these steps necessary in P2P:

    1. Finding someone who's sharing the track / Finding a Torrent of the track.

    2. Hoping that there are enough people seeding at the time.

    3. Waiting for the track to download (which might be a while if you can only find the full album).

    4. Unpacking the track (if it's ZIPped or RARred).

    5. Playing it on your media player.

    and in some cases...

    6. Finding out you've just downloaded a Madonna lecture on why you suck.

    With Spotify, it's

    1. Type in the artist, album or track name. Search is QUICK.

    2. Click on the track title.

    3. Almost immediately, you're listening to it.

    I'll say it again - THAT's how you compete with free; Offer free AND more convenient.

    And don't forget to practice your secret handshake !

    Tux, cos the Spotify client runs under WINE.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    @JonB and Mike Moyle

    @ JonB

    I was referring to *professional* songwriters of the Tin Pan Alley type and I didn't say the zillions of kids producing music at home were creating "wonderful complex and intellectually inspiring songs every 30 seconds" but they are producing music and in much larger quantities than "commercial" music. More power to them too.

    @ Mike Moyle

    Yeah, yeah, that's all well and good but the point is that loads of kids are making music and giving it away for free already. Will they produce a "Beethoven's Ninth"? Unlikely but not many professional songwriters have either. At the last count it was one, Beethoven. And no doubt his first ever piece was written by him sitting alone in a room at home, just like the kids.

    @ both of you

    You've really both missed my main points:

    1. Music composition, performance, production, arrangement, mastering and distribution has now been democratised by cheap and ubiquitous technology.

    2. Record labels aren't really required unless someone wants to be a Top 20 puppet.

    3. Music sales are more likely to be affected by changes in spending habits than illegal downloading.

    4. The music biz still doesn't have a clue about life in the 21st century.

    Pirate icon, just to annoy a few people.

  60. Wayne Myers

    Not Entirely Unrelated Cartoon

    I drew a cartoon about this today: http://www.conniptions.org/index.shtml?20090209

    Arguably it's not the internet that is making life difficult for musicians economically. It's recording itself, and the widespread availability of cheap high quality playback equipment.

    Not so many decades ago any halfway competent musician could make a living from paid gigs without too much trouble - you couldn't put on a dance anywhere without hiring a band, there wouldn't be music in the cafe or restaurant unless musicians were hired to play it, etc etc. Every dance. Every place where you wanted music. It was all live. So there were orders of magnitude more gigs around for musicians and livings could be made.

    Technology moved on, and that world is gone.

    There was a short window of a few decades when a relatively small group of people made money from recordings, some but not all of whom were musicians or songwriters - and the death of this situation is what the original article is complaining about - but again, technology has continued to move on and that world is gone too. My point is that in the long scheme of things that period was a blip.

    I don't think anyone has any answers yet.

  61. W
    Boffin

    Re: @ Toastan Buttar Re: Spotify

    By Anonymous Coward Posted Sunday 8th February 2009 00:03 GMT

    As Toastan Buttar has ponted out, you're talking mince. If you'd read on a little, then you would've seen my comment: "In response to the first guy, re: Spotify."

    Registration can be had for free at https://www.spotify.com/en/get-started/

    The page is still there so I assume it'll still get you up and running. Check it out and let the rest of us know what you think of it.

  62. Muscleguy Silver badge
    Flame

    Will you not pity the poets?

    Poetry has always been there and is not different from 'songwriters'. Just about nobody makes a living from writing poetry, they have other jobs. There is some market for 'performance poetry' but nobody gets rich of it though they make more money than those who simply publish.

    If songwriters are automatically entitled to a living then why are poets not similarly entitled? Some of them in the past got by by attaching themselves to rich patrons (as did musos), this songwriter did the same thing except the patron was a music biz who decided they were no longer rich enough to maintain their stable. Çe la vie, find a new sugar daddy or figure out a new way of earning some dosh. Quite simple really. If they had properly saleable product they would have found a market, that they haven't means either their product is no longer saleable or they are crap at marketing (assumed since they let their sugar daddy do that). So learn marketing or find new sugar daddy.

  63. Tom

    Money forever...

    "Words: Johnny Burke. Music: Jimmy Van Heusen. Recorded by Bing Crosby, 1944 (#1 for 9 weeks). From the 1944 movie "Going My Way," Academy Award Winner, Best Song."

    All great artists, and all dead. Why do a bunch of relatives and record companies think I should keep paying them?

    My granddad built houses, one he built before I was born just sold for $1,250,000... where's my cut?

  64. Dave Bell

    Talented people, new ideas.

    I would venture that this guy is not memorably talented, though at least he has done the job, unlike some spokesmen.

    And he's half-right: P2P is a big part of the problem. But he also points at stuff going back to before the personal computer revolution.

    I'd suggest that the music industry has missed the chance on the administration side.

    I've written songs. One or two have been performed in public, in locations licensed by the PRS. But, the way the PRS works, they never knew, and signing up with them would never have earned me a penny. I'd be lost in the noise.

    There is a huge amount of institutional inertia. We're stuck with antique solutions to antique problems.

    But who needs the PRS when there is iTunes?

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ignorant and close minded

    "This has lead to a tremendous drop in the number of professional songwriters and, in most cases, the quality of the songs. The public is constantly complaining about having to pay US$12 to US$18 for an album with only one or two good songs on it."

    lol what? this has always been a problem. I find it quite amusing he's telling us professional song writers have all but dissapeared and yet here we are with absolutely no difference in quality of music contrary to what he believes. I guess songwriting isn't a special or rare skill at all then because I certainly hadn't noticed any decline in the amount of good music.

    "Songwriters were the number one losers of income in the US economy in 2004, with music piracy taking its toll, so we are used to tough times."

    Really? was it really because of piracy? Funny that, because music industry profits were at an all time high at that point! Maybe they were the number one losers because of the first point above- that they don't actually offer any worthwhile skill that isn't otherwise freely available everywhere you look.

    "I hope to see a bottom form somewhere in the steep drop in record sales and a rebound sometime in the next ten years. If that doesn’t happen I guess we will all end up sleeping in the subway!"

    Or you could just get a job. You know, like the rest of the world. I'm really sorry your scam that you had some magical "songwriting" skill has been busted and have to face the prospect of doing real work like everyone else.

    "The real role of songwriters in the music business is to add meaning to people’s lives. That is not a job you want to leave to amateurs. It is a job for professionals."

    Professional con men you mean?

    "And just for the record, I am not a fan of Google because I believe its search algorithm reduces all art to the lowest common denominator. That’s a real culture-killer if ever I saw one."

    So it rates it on real worth then rather than artificially manufactured worth? That's a real shame.

    "But seriously folks, songwriters don’t sell concert tickets or ancillary merchandise. We make our money on record sales and radio airplay. Or, we used to make our money on record sales. Illegal downloading ended that. Now we are looking for new jobs."

    Wedding photographers faced a similar problem in that they used to do the event cheap and make their money on selling prints. When people started scanning prints in their business went to hell so they had to adapt their model and just charge more for the actual event photography itself giving away the prints fairly cheap. Perhaps you should follow a similar pattern? What's that? No one wants to pay for your service? Well, sorry, but that's because you aren't providing a service worth paying for unlike even wedding photographers who proved they still provided a service people felt was worth paying for.

    "The most infuriating thing about being lectured by anti-copyright groups about how songwriters need to get a new "business plan" is who gave them the right to tell us how to make a living? Who are they to say we shouldn’t fight to defend our rights? In truth, I find their suggestions unbelievably arrogant and self-serving."

    Hehe! excellent, sheer hypocrisy at it's best. Who are you to tell people how you have the right to earn a living? Just think if we could all do that, then I'd be able to demand I get paid £1million a year to sit in my chair at home playing XBox! You don't have the right to make money with an obsolete business model just as British miners didn't have the right to make money by getting subsidised by everyone else to do a job that was no longer needed. It's pretty clear who is the arrogant and self serving one here. It is he who is unwilling to provide a skill required by the marketplace but then cries and demands he be paid to do it regardless of it's zero worth.

    "I mention his comment only because it was the first time that I ever saw these "self-appointed music industry experts" ever called on any of their malarkey by a real expert and the discussion was concluded in one sentence."

    Ah yes an economic "expert", we've seen how good they are at their jobs lately haven't we? I guess Redhat, Google and Sun are also nothing but magical imaginative entities because they and their competitors give all their main products away for free. It can't be possible they exist right? Concluded for you in your selfish "I deserve to be paid for being useless to society" mind maybe, but that comment didn't conclude it for anyone capable of realising there's some pretty damn big high value companies out there that have made a fortune of the alternative business models this economist has apparently never heard of.

    What a truly comical interview. It only demonstrated how out of touch the people in the music industry- oh wait sorry, "songwriting" industry are when it comes to making a living and running a business. For so long has life been so easy for them with their old employers the big labels running price fixing scams, their royalty protection rackets tearing out money from anyone who dare play music they've purchased anywhere other than in a dark sound proof room so that no music escapes by themselves in their house.

    But then my anger towards these utterly selfish, arrogant people dissapears because I remember- hey, they're the people unable to adapt to earn a living anymore whilst the rest of us continue to provide skills to the economy that matters and make a nice living in the process. They can whine and blame the magical piracy monster all they want, but it aint going anywhere, just as the big labels have realised "songwriters" have absolutely no worth and realise they have no need to employ them any more.

    So then, despite it being frustrating to hear these people whine, I guess it also simply doesn't matter, because their lack of will to see what even the big labels who are themselves rather slow to adapt sees is going to land them exactly where they deserve, broke and wallowing in their own self pity. Just as the British miners and such before them that felt they deserve to be subsidised by everyone else, their time will come to realise that it's the dole queue, or retrain to an employable job role.

    Excuse me if I have no sympathy for people who think the world owes them everything without them giving anything useful back.

  66. Matthew
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    He sounds dead

    You need to move with the times, I seriously doubt that record sales will increase within the next 10 years, but they will have to find alternative revenue. If songwriters won't accept that, buy say "how dare they dictate my life etc....) then they will be sleeping in the gutters I guess. Its the consumer that sets the rules..

    I also don't feel that music quality has decreased, It seams just as bad for the most part, with the few good groups just as good

  67. Anonymous Coward
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    Who cares about songwriters?

    The kid next door with the pirate copy of reason sure doesn't, and nobody can tell what he's saying anyway since he sucks as a mix engineer compared to loop-liner-upper.

    you dim twats

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