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How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby merlyn » Thu Jul 30, 2020 12:29 pm

CS70 wrote:A difficult one. It depends on the point of view I guess.

Not really. The law making machines are catching up and the CEOs of tech companies are facing the music as you can read about in this Guardian article.

The fact that Youtube is a monopoly, or is breaking anti-trust laws doesn't stop me watching it. I don't see why you use free market concepts to justify the system as it is, when Youtube is facing Congress for not playing by the rules of the free market.

Commercial exploitation of the internet happened faster than the machinery that creates laws can cope with. Tech companies suck up money as they please -- market forces don't apply, and having vast amounts of money means tech companies can hire armies of lawyers to get out of paying tax.

The internet broke the free market -- that means Ayn Rand was wrong and it would be good if we recognised that.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby CS70 » Thu Jul 30, 2020 1:34 pm

merlyn wrote:
Not really. The law making machines are catching up and the CEOs of tech companies are facing the music as you can read about in this Guardian article.

The fact that Youtube is a monopoly

Repeating something a million times doesn't make it true. Monopoly of what?

YouTube is no more a monopoly than Apple is at making computers. It's just f***g big.

, or is breaking anti-trust laws doesn't stop me watching it. I don't see why you use free market concepts to justify the system as it is, when Youtube is facing Congress for not playing by the rules of the free market.

If you care to read what I wrote, you'll find that I am not justifying anything. I am very much against copyright (and royalty payments) violations (or better, misusing of the safe harbor concept) which are perpetrated by YouTube. That still does NOT make YouTube a monopoly of any sort (at least in any meaningful, operational definition).

Mixing up general accusations without any base towards YouTube only further confuses the situation for the musos who already know little and understand less, but would like to make a living of their music...

The reality is that historically there has been little political interest in pushing for application of the existing copyright laws to actors like YouTube, which misuse the safe harbor idea, applying to something that a) was never intended for b) cannot reasonably be adapted to.

And the sad part is that a lot of the reason for that is the fact that too many musos cannot be assed to understand what they are talking about - and therefore come up with meaningful arguments with which to lobby politicians.

Commercial exploitation of the internet happened faster than the machinery that creates laws can cope with.

That's exactly what I said.

Tech companies suck up money as they please -- market forces don't apply, and having vast amounts of money means tech companies can hire armies of lawyers to get out of paying tax.

These are exactly the conspiratorial tones which serve absolutely nothing and just make you look like a lunatic. And, incidentally, can be quashed in any court even by your uncle - no army of lawyers needed.

I completely agree that there is no perfect free market, but the tech companies live in one of the best approximations.. which is not a pretty place, and which is why the one which survive become so big. Because they're smart - smarter, at least, than lots of the people who are exploited by them - who often don't seem to have the faintest clue on what they're robbed of and how.

The internet broke the free market

That it's true - it did. There's no free market in the jungle. Now let's make sure it doesn't keep doing it, shall we?

-- that means Ayn Rand was wrong and it would be good if we recognised that.

WTF? Couldn't care less.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby CS70 » Thu Jul 30, 2020 1:50 pm

Dr Huge Longjohns wrote:
One (imho good) side effect of the internet is that it breaks social circles. In traditional physical interactions everyone after a while tend to surround themselves with like-minded people and can go on happily ignoring the rest. On forums and social media, you can't.

Actually, I think the opposite is true. When you had just five tv channels you were forced to be exposed to other points of view. But with the internet, esp social media, you are served opinions and posts that entirely reinforce your own interests and opinions. This is how algorithms are set up, to give the people more of what they want and like. It narrows their viewpoint and opportunity to see the other person's point of view. If you're into mad conspiracy theories about Bill Gates, the internet will happily feed your addiction, to the exclusion of all reality.

A fair point.

Still, before Facebook and Twitter I'd very seldom came across people who inspired a "are you serious?" reaction. Now it's a daily occurrence - especially the bozo in the White House. :D

Actually, I can vividly remember the first occurrence of that.. around 1994. The web was not yet a thing, but the gates of mass access had begun to open into usenet. I and others, members of a nice and well populated discussion group, suddenly found ourselves "talking" with a gang of people who preached the healing properties of crystals and other assorted bullshit, and seemed strangely resistent to evidence, facts or even ridicule (sounds familiar?). It was hilarious back then, but a sign of things to come.

While the group was about cultural and art/humanistic stuff, the population wasn't. Until then, the usenet had been the province of people who worked or lived in scientific universities and institutions and there was a common line of understanding about how to go about finding what was what in the world. The people who suddenly entered the group couldn't find a fish from a rock if it hit their head. These gates, of course, never closed again.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby merlyn » Thu Jul 30, 2020 4:22 pm

CS70 wrote:Repeating something a million times doesn't make it true. Monopoly of what?

It looks like you didn't click the link.

The Guardian wrote:'Too much power': Congress grills top tech CEOs in combative antitrust hearing

The US Congress see a problem under the antitrust laws which deal with ... eh, monopolies amongst other things.

CS70 wrote:YouTube is no more a monopoly than Apple is at making computers. It's just f***g big.

This is precisely what antitrust laws deal with. I'm sure you won't be surprised that "we're just big" was Facebook's first line of defence.

These are exactly the conspiratorial tones which serve absolutely nothing and just make you look like a lunatic.

Thanks. Doesn't mean I'm wrong, though.

Channel 4 FactCheck wrote:The company’s [Amazon] pre-tax profits increased from £24m in 2016 to £72m in 2017, but its tax bill fell from £7.4m to £4.6m.

All perfectly legal of course, and it probably didn't take an army of lawyers. :lol:
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby CS70 » Thu Jul 30, 2020 6:39 pm

merlyn wrote:It looks like you didn't click the link.

No, I tend not to - especially for this kind of scandalistic takes.
If you could just reply, I would appreciate: monopoly of what?

The Guardian wrote:'Too much power': Congress grills top tech CEOs in combative antitrust hearing
The US Congress see a problem under the antitrust laws which deal with ... eh, monopolies amongst other things.

God bless, and that gives you what? The US Congress is political organization. The previous republican congress saw a problem with lots of stuff that wasn't evangelical enough. Did it make it real?

If enough morons demanded it, political organizations - including the US congress - would hold hearings on whether the moon made of cheese. For god's sake, look at the moron in the white house (and what the US Senate allows him to do) - do you see anything rational into his behavior?

If your hope is in the knowledge and understanding of Congress politicians - of any color - good luck with that.

CS70 wrote:YouTube is no more a monopoly than Apple is at making computers. It's just f***g big.

This is precisely what antitrust laws deal with. I'm sure you won't be surprised that "we're just big" was Facebook's first line of defence.

And?

These are exactly the conspiratorial tones which serve absolutely nothing and just make you look like a lunatic.

Thanks. Doesn't mean I'm wrong, though.

It makes it hard to take you seriously. And it creates just noise for the otherwise interesting question "how to make a healthier ecosystem that empowers musician financially?".. rings a bell?

Channel 4 FactCheck wrote:The company’s [Amazon] pre-tax profits increased from £24m in 2016 to £72m in 2017, but its tax bill fell from £7.4m to £4.6m.

All perfectly legal of course, and it probably didn't take an army of lawyers. :lol:

Er.. ok. And?
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby blinddrew » Thu Jul 30, 2020 8:11 pm

I'm just gonna wander back in here on one point, and that's the idea that somehow congress was given the run around by the big tech companies.
Well, firstly, section 230 came out in 1996. Big tech then was Cisco, Microsoft and Yahoo! Apple was just starting its ressurection - and UGC really wasn't even a thing because internet speeds were soooo slow.
But secondly, here's one of the drafters of section 230 talking about it and how they were very careful about how that law was drafted and how they fully understood it was about putting liability in the right place. https://www.commerce.senate.gov/service ... 6CDE546D71
That's a long old read, so here's a summary with a bit more context too: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20200 ... ting.shtml

Oh yeah, and on the antitrust hearings, here's a summary there as well: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20200 ... ceos.shtml

So for clarity, there are senators and congressmen who understand this stuff, but there are also those who are just grandstanding because it's an election year.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby merlyn » Fri Jul 31, 2020 1:54 pm

CS70 wrote:If you could just reply, I would appreciate: monopoly of what?

Certainly of cat videos. If you put 'cat video' into a search engine (I use 'duck duck go' to bust mono... my apologies, I forgot about your allergy to that word, to make the market more competitive) Youtube comes out first, and second, and third and ...

Now to compare that with a more competitive market -- how about guitar strings? Putting 'guitar strings' into a search engine gives a range of brands. Too vague maybe? OK, I'll put in '11 nickel guitar strings' and again there is a range of brands. We can at least say internet video hosting is not a competitive market.

Let's take a competitor to Youtube -- Dailymotion. It's not the same is it? Dailymotion doesn't have the same community with endless comments below videos. Youtube is making money from user data in a way that Dailymotion can't dream of. Youtube can use data from every Android phone, every Google account and all Google search histories to target marketing with surgical precision and sell that service to advertisers. Does being number one in a field of one make a business a monopoly? That's up to a court to decide, not a matter of "point of view".

I don't necessarily have a problem with a monopoly -- it could be state owned and run as a public service. Electricity, water and wi-fi are candidates for this approach. What that means, though, is that repeating what economists say on TV doesn't apply. The free market is still broken and may never be fixed, and that's not necessarily a bad thing -- but if the tech companies want to rule the world they'll have to fix roads, build schools, pay nurses and incur other inconvenient expenses.

You started presenting your ideas with "musicians are ten a penny" and now defend multi-national corporations with the apparent assumption that the system these corporations exist within has solid foundations, requiring only a few minor tweaks to be fit for purpose. I would suggest a different attitude would make the music ecosystem healthier.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby CS70 » Fri Jul 31, 2020 7:35 pm

blinddrew wrote:So for clarity, there are senators and congressmen who understand this stuff, but there are also those who are just grandstanding because it's an election year.

Absolutely, a good point - but for most politician the overwhelming priority is to be re-elected. Bar the ones who are retiring (and most often they do because they have no chance of re-election :)).

So if doing the right thing aligns with (or at least does not impact) their popularity, fair enough. But if it does not...
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby CS70 » Fri Jul 31, 2020 8:19 pm

merlyn wrote:
CS70 wrote:If you could just reply, I would appreciate: monopoly of what?

Certainly of cat videos. If you put 'cat video' into a search engine (I use 'duck duck go' to bust mono... my apologies, I forgot about your allergy to that word, to make the market more competitive) Youtube comes out first, and second, and third and ...

Now to compare that with a more competitive market -- how about guitar strings? Putting 'guitar strings' into a search engine gives a range of brands. Too vague maybe? OK, I'll put in '11 nickel guitar strings' and again there is a range of brands. We can at least say internet video hosting is not a competitive market.

Let's take a competitor to Youtube -- Dailymotion.

Ahah, no problems with the word monopoly. I love pizza and love cheese, but if you take some cheese and call it pizza, I'll raise the same objection. It's just uselessly confusing.

Yours is a good example - which well illustrates why YT's got nothing to do with a monopoly. How much do you pay for cat videos? Cat videos are not a market. They have no economic value.
YT does not prevent you to upload to Dailymotion (notably, both say Standard Oil and Microsoft did prevent you to do something, with the precise intent to undermine competitors and prevent them to grow).

"biggest" is not the same as "monopoly". Otherwise SOS would be a monopoly as well.. after all, it's the best recording technology magazine ;-) and probably the biggest in terms of sales and the easiest to find at any given counter.. but they do not, in my knowledge, systematically prevent other magazines to appear on the same counters or price cut in order to make them fail and be able to buy them...

That Google comes up with many YT results says more about Google's ranking algorithm than anything else. Besides, Dailymotion results do come up for video searches - I did learn of Dailymotion existence exactly from clicking on some video and - surprisingly - finding aftre a while I wasn't on YT. Nothing stops Google from showing Dailymotion results other than - well - its algorithm finds less content on Dailymotion.

I get what you mean. YT is big indeed. But if you go and learn what a monopoly is (in the sense of the word that can be used to legally force a company to break up) you will find that a monopoly it ain't. "Big" isn't enough, nor is "biggest".

Whereas if say a certain music company would place restrictions on dealers to prevent them to sell competition's product or practice price manipulation to ensure said competition don't make a profit... ;-)

I don't necessarily have a problem with a monopoly -- it could be state owned and run as a public service. Electricity, water and wi-fi are candidates for this approach.

Well, monopolies are generally bad because they allow arbitrary pricing and other nasties that impact everybody. But that's nothing to do with music business, so I'd rather stick with the subject.


The free market is still broken and may never be fixed, and that's not necessarily a bad thing -- but if the tech companies want to rule the world they'll have to fix roads, build schools, pay nurses and incur other inconvenient expenses.

No idea precisely to what you refer - it does sound like an empty slogan.

The specific music market (that is: the sale of recorded music) was broken by a (perhaps unforeseen, as Drew says) consequence of freeing platforms from being responsible of the content that passes thru them, which in turn allowed YT (and others) to declare themselves such platforms and allow all sort of copying of copyrighted material to be in practice to be available to everybody for free, thus reducing the economic value of recorded music to zero.

In turn, this allowed players like Spotify and other streamers to present themselves as saviors and provide the same content with a little better packaging and a little more convenience, while paying a pittance to recording artists instead of the market rate that had come so far, because a little money is better than no money when you're hungry. So long piracy and systematically copyright violation is not pursued actively, the situation will stay the same.

What you and I can do about it, is to pressure our political representative and, since pressure better works in numbers, coalesce and create organizations that do so more effectively that single individuals alone, with the goal of ensuring that we can reliably make money out of our creations.

That has indeed been happening in the last years, with more and more musicians recognizing how things are.

But paradoxically one of the major obstacles has been that loads of musos seem to take pride in not understanding crap about business and economy - and even to be arrogant and pigheaded about it, because the world does not work as they think it should. The same attitude that got them generally shafted by the traditional recording businesses.

Luckily, that's less and less the case..

You started presenting your ideas with "musicians are ten a penny" and now defend multi-national corporations with the apparent assumption that the system these corporations exist within has solid foundations, requiring only a few minor tweaks to be fit for purpose. I would suggest a different attitude would make the music ecosystem healthier.

Talent is ten a penny. Even less. It's not my fault, it's just how it is. Look around. Really look, without prejudice. Open a random Facebook group and check some of the stuff. There'll be lots of fuff, sure, but at least once a day there will be something that you go - wow. Multiply that for seven billion people. And even the fuff very often could be nurtured and massaged into something really good - it's just that for some reason (unfathomable to me) people like to put out their unfinished fuff as if everybody else was just begging for it.

The distance however, from having talent and actually making money out of it is quite large, in music. It's the same in many businesses: good ideas are usually a dime a dozen - the persistence, tenacity and resistance to make any of them become a money-making business... not so much. Inspiration and perspiration and all that.

As for YT, you seem to have a knack for not getting it (or surely, it's me not writing clearly).
I am not defending them at all. I think YT has and is abusing the copyright safe harbor concept and by allowing indiscriminate upload in enormous volumes without verifying licensing for the material, has contributed in large part to keeping the music recording business unviable after it had been made so by indiscriminate, unpunished piracy. I think they should bloody pay for the royalties they own, and not decide themselves how much and when to do so.

It was perhaps understandable that they did so at their inception. But that they keep doing it today when the tech exists to do otherwise and they have the means to deploy it, it's inexcusable.

This does not prevent me to tell you that if you claim that YT is a monopoly, you're factually wrong. The two things got nothing to do with each other. I don't particularly like the Røde NT1A, but if you say it's a banana I will raise my hand and say "er.. no".

Hope it's clearer..
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby DC-Choppah » Fri Jul 31, 2020 11:24 pm

This statement from the US congress concerning Google is quite striking.

The evidence we collected show that Google pursued a multi-prong attack (against Yelp and other web sites that had increasing traffic). First Google began to steal other web pages content. For example in 2010 Google stole restaurant reviews from Yelp to bootstrap its own rival local search business. When Yelp asked Google to stop stealing their reviews, Google's response was to de-list Yelp entirely. In other words, the choice Google gave them was let us steal your content or effectively disappear from the web.

The evidence seems very clear to me. As Google became the gateway to the internet, it began to abuse its power. It used its surveillance over web traffic to identify competitive threats, and crush them. It has dampened innovation and new business growth and has dramatically increased the prices of accessing users on the internet, virtually insuring that any business that wants to be found on the web must pay Google a tax.


Please consider how this played out during the earlier years of the internet with these same gangster tactics. Music was available for pay. Then, it was stolen. Then a wall built around that stolen property to give people access to it.

This was always their business plan, and the US congress has evidence that they are about to use against Google in a massive anti-trust case. The US is following the lead of the EU in this regard. But since Google acts the same regardless of continent, the results are the same regardless if one is in Brussels or Washington D.C.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby CS70 » Fri Jul 31, 2020 11:52 pm

Yes google is a different matter.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby blinddrew » Sat Aug 01, 2020 10:09 am

Indeed, their 'do no evil' strategy seemed to get ditched about 5 minutes after the IPO.
Which isn't an unusual phenomenon. :(
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby DC-Choppah » Sun Aug 02, 2020 1:55 am

Indeed. Some folks worried that when the EU hit Google for massive anti-trust fines, that there would be a chilling effect on the internet. Now with over €8 billion in fines, nobody is worried about that chilling effect.

Instead, the concern now is that Google so powerful that there is no fine that will have any effect on their behavior.

I believe that speaks to what we are about to see happen.

If you own Google stock, you may want to consider what will happen to its value.

The issue is no longer about money. It's about the existence of an entity that has too much power.
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby CS70 » Sun Aug 02, 2020 10:43 am

DC-Choppah wrote:Indeed. Some folks worried that when the EU hit Google for massive anti-trust fines, that there would be a chilling effect on the internet. Now with over €8 billion in fines, nobody is worried about that chilling effect.

Instead, the concern now is that Google so powerful that there is no fine that will have any effect on their behavior.

I believe that speaks to what we are about to see happen.

If you own Google stock, you may want to consider what will happen to its value.

The issue is no longer about money. It's about the existence of an entity that has too much power.

Well, I wouldn't be so worried about that. The political power is still the power: witness China, Russia, Turkey. That's the lesson from Standard Oil - size is not an effective shield (unless it's banks or critical infrastructure... search for consumers and advertising for businesses it's not critical).

If fines do not work, governments can simply prevent Google (or any company) to operate if they so wish. It does not happen often and it shouldn't, but it is in their remit. Power is in governments. It's only in deeply corrupted societies that government's power can be bought - and while most democracies aren't in the red zone (the one that are, don't stay democracies for long) that is something I worry much more about. In the US - the normalization of crookery pursued by the Trump administration is making - I think - the most lasting damage to US democracy.

As of Google - it's been looking at Amazon's success and Microsoft's successful reinvention and it's now selling cloud services as there's no tomorrow, leveraging the enormous infrastructure it's been developing for years to support massive scale consumer and business services. Nobody knows what percentage of its business that represents today, but it's definitely a huge growth area - if not the growth area.

That actually could - in time - make it critical infrastructure.. and be specifically targeted for separation and break up. But it's early days, hard to say...

They seem to have been using anti-competitive practices and have been found and punished. That the fines aren't fatally crippling - it's how it should be.. after all, a parking ticket or a speed ticket need to be sizable, but not bankrupt you, right?

They will be found again should they try again.. so long they cannot buy the EU commission people (not because of lack of money, but because the people don't let themselves be bought) I think it's fine.

And one of the main advantages of the EU - due to its inherent fragmentation - is that's it's damn hard to buy..
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Re: How do we create a healthier music ecosystem that empowers musicians financially?

Postby MOF » Sat Aug 08, 2020 12:56 pm

And one of the main advantages of the EU - due to its inherent fragmentation - is that's it's damn hard to buy..
Until it becomes Federal, though I can’t see that happening, essentially northern countries refusing to bail out southern countries, but who knows?
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