Wanted: Significant Copyright Revision

(Originally published in nekst.biz September 28, 2015)

Okay, I’m just going to just say it. For the sake of the music industry, I hope the recently introduced “Songwriters Equity Act” and the “Fair Play, Fair Pay” bills don’t pass.


Read the rest of the article at http://nekst.biz/wanted-significant-copyright-revision/

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Hey Publishers! You Need Glasses!

(Originally published in Nekst.biz, March 17, 2015)

It’s easy to yell, “You need glasses” to sports officials when they miss an obvious call, or to that driver who pulls out in front of us. Those are easy to spot, stupid mistakes that happen at the moment because someone didn’t see things clearly and made a bad decision. But what’s not as easy to recognize are obvious, mistakes that have bad consequences down the road, yet are still caused by someone not seeing things clearly. We could call those “myopic” mistakes, which is defined as “nearsightedness.” Music publishers (yes, I am one), have a history of mistakes that I’ll label, “music myopia.” Perhaps our future depends on us getting new glasses. Let me explain.

Read the rest of the article at http://nekst.biz/hey-publishers-you-need-glasses/

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5 Take-Aways From The Music Copyright Report

(Originally published February 16, 2015 in Nekst.biz)

In early 2013, the House Judiciary Committee of the U.S. Congress began a comprehensive review of the U.S. copyright laws to determine if the current laws are still relevant and working in the digital age. The results of the music copyright study are presented in the Office’s 245 page report which was published on Feb. 5.

One very profound, but not surprising, statement the Copyright Office made in the report is this. “The Office’s review of the issues has confirmed one overarching point: that our music licensing system is in need of repair.” I would add to that; great need of repair.

I’ve read the full report. While it was not a page turner like Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code”, it held my interest. This is real life, current, and very relevant to all of us in the music industry. It will likely impact our livelihood, and the future of music in the U.S.

(You can read the entire article at http://nekst.biz/5-take-aways-music-copyright-report/)

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Spotify Continued…More Thoughts on Subscribers, Pricing and Value

Okay…is it just me, or are some people just ignorant of reality when it comes to streaming music? Maybe they intentionally choose an adverse position just to stir things up. Either way, to me, it’s pretty clear that some of their conclusions are just flat out wrong. There have been some pretty off-based, (in my opinion), articles on streaming published in the last few weeks.

I recently had my opinion on Spotify, and streaming overall, and how that relates to the future of music, published in Nekst.biz. In that, after analyzing some history and crunching some numbers, I concluded that the streaming of music for free is not a good idea for the future of music. Even though advertisers may support such activities, and give the ability for service providers of free streams to actually pay royalties to the creators, it doesn’t compare to what the value of music really should be. Now, I realize that’s a subjective opinion, but again, it’s one based on some market and historical data. (The full article can be read here: http://nekst.biz/spotify-music-is-valuable-paid/ )

In the last few weeks, I’ve seen other articles and opinions published which I just don’t get. For instance, Paul Resnikoff, whom I really respect and normally agree with, in Digital Music News, published a headline that said, “Taylor Swift Created The Biggest Subscriber Gain In Spotify’s History…”. The article opines that, by boycotting Spotify in November, Taylor caused Spotify to add 2.5 million paying subscribers in just two months, which is “the biggest growth spurt in Spotify’s history”. The article ignored, until others began to comment, that perhaps the real reason for the increase were special promotions Spotify ran during the Christmas season to encourage people to sign up, such as heavily discounted student and family plans, holiday gifting, and a 3 month for $.99 program to entice subscribers to join. Would it not be safe to suggest that the promotions, and not one artist’s refusal to allow her music to be available through the service, might be the real reason for growth? I’m having a hard time connecting the dots to how one artist withholding their music would motivate users to join that service to begin with. What am I missing? Is Paul suggesting that what Taylor did was beneficial, or a detriment? Maybe Paul was just throwing that out there tongue in cheek to see if people like me would react.

Another article by Mark Mulligan, in Music Industry Blog, suggests that the current, standard monthly price for a Spotify, (or any streaming service) of $9.99, is too much. He points to current statistics that “only about 10% of music buyers spend $10 or more a month on music (across all recorded music formats)”. He believes a better price point might be $4.99 per month, or at most $7.99. In my opinion, that seems to be pointing to the wrong things and pointing in the wrong direction. (See another NEKST blog post titled, “Which Way To Go?” http://nekst.biz/taxes-and-tunes-which-way-go/ )

As we will probably see, many, and perhaps most, of those new 2.5 subscribers who joined the premium Spotify service will likely drop the service after the 90 day $.99 period. Why would they want to pony up $10.00 a month when it’s so easy to get free, and legal, streaming elsewhere? If there are two steak houses side by side, and they serve the exact same quality of steak, how many would eat at the place that charges three times more just because they don’t have advertisements on the menu and walls, or maybe there’s no waiter who tries to upsell an add-on to your meal? Now, I realize there would be some takers. There always are those who want some type of exclusive or “club” experience. But the mass market will go for the same product at a cheaper price every time. Where and when the same goods are available, price will be the determining factor more times than not.

So how can we expect consumers to pay more than $10 a month for music when they can get the exact same stuff without paying anything? Well, not quite all the same stuff. Not Taylor Swift stuff. If you want her music, and you want to be legal, you actually have to go somewhere and pay for it. (Now, I know that whole “legal” argument is another argument in and of itself). As I said in my earlier article, around 4 million units of Taylor’s record later, she seems to have made some kind of good decision. Would she have sold that many units if her music was on Spotify? I’m going to guess the answer is “no”. What would have been the difference? No one knows. But not only did her decision sell more records, it also supported the whole idea that music has a greater value than most of the current industry recognizes.

I wish we could get others to catch on to that idea.

John Barker

© 2015 John Barker. All rights reserved. Information contained in this Blog is of a general nature and should not be considered or relied on as legal advice. Any reader of this Blog who has legal matters related to information addressed in this Blog should consult with an experienced attorney. This Blog contains no warranties or representations that the information contained in it is true or accurate in all respects or that it is the most current or complete information on the subject matter covered. John Barker is President and CEO of ClearBox Rights, LLC.

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Dear Spotify: Music Is Valuable, It Should Be Paid For.

(Originally published in January 13, 2015 in nekst.biz).

Spotify has been in the spotlight these last few months, with Taylor Swift and others not allowing their music to be available on its services. I’ve been asked many times what I think of this. Is Spotify a good model that we as an industry should support, or is it the antithesis? I wasn’t sure about the correct response. So I dug in and here’s my conclusions.

Read the rest of the article at http://nekst.biz/spotify-music-is-valuable-paid/


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Fair Market, Free Market, or Flea Market?

(Originally published October 21, 2014 in Nekst.biz)

If you’ve read anything about copyright review in the last year, you’re likely familiar with the terms “willing buyer/willing seller,” “fair market value,” “free market” and “trained fleas.” Okay, maybe not that last one, but the first three are terms that seem to be getting nods of approval from most parties when it comes to potential changes in the copyright law. The fourth term is, unfortunately, something that maybe we’ve become. Let me explain…

Read the rest of the article at: http://www.nekst.biz/fair-market-free-market-flea-market/

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Taxes and Tunes: Which Way To Go?

(Originally published September 16, 2014 in Nekst.biz)

Some people say the future of music is more access. Spotify, Pandora, and other digital service providers should be able to offer all songs as inexpensively as possible, even free to consumers in some cases. Others say the future of music is dependent on more control. Music owners should have the right to make their songs available when and where they choose, and at a rate determined by the owner, including the right to say “no”. These appear to be two diametrically opposing directions. Which way is the best? Which direction will increase the overall music revenue marketplace?

To explore, let’s take a look at what we know about taxes and tunes.

Read the rest of the article at: http://www.nekst.biz/taxes-and-tunes-which-way-go/

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