Getting the Government Out of Songwriting: Voluntary Licenses Should Replace Consent Decrees or Compulsory Licenses

Music Technology Policy

[Editor Charlie sez, this article originally appeared in the Huffington Post.]

Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) is holding a useful series of thought provoking hearings before the House Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet reviewing the current state of the U.S. Copyright Act. The most recent hearing in this series was on September 18, entitled “The Role of Voluntary Agreements in the U.S. Intellectual Property System“.

This is a very important subject to songwriters. It is not widely known that songwriters are highly regulated by the government through two primary mechanisms — the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees dating from the middle of the last century and the compulsory mechanical license dating from 1909. The Congress should consider abandoning both in favor of voluntary licenses.

Terminate the ASCAP and BMI Consent Decrees

ASCAP and BMI each grant blanket licenses for the exclusive right to publicly perform…

View original post 626 more words


The Train Song

Live performance at the Ohio Music Shop in Kent, Ohio
I was honored to open for the Mayfields!

BREAKING: Pandora Runs to the Government to Screw Songwriters Again

The Trichordist

Good news: Pandora is scheduled to come to the stock market with a “secondary offering”, meaning the company is essentially having a second IPO. According to the Wall Street Journal:

The Internet radio company and its venture-capital backer Crosslink Capital Inc. are slated to offer 14 million shares late Thursday[, i.e., tomorrow], a stake that was worth $336 million when it was announced after Monday’s close.

So music is good business, right? It sure is–for everyone but the songwriters and artists.

In case any songwriter wondered, Pandora has more money than you and they intend to use it to screw you as hard as they possibly can to enrich themselves.

Today Pandora won a truly Pandora-style “victory” in the ASCAP rate court by getting a federal judge to rule that Pandora–a monopolist in webcasting–can use the out of date ASCAP consent decree to force songwriters to license to them.


View original post 90 more words

UnSound : New Film Explores Artists Rights in The Digital Age (Video Clip)

The Trichordist

From the forthcoming documentary Unsound: Bad Religion guitarist and Epitaph Records founder Brett Gurewitz talks about how large tech corporations make millions of dollars selling advertising- essentially making people the product, without them even realizing. The promise of free or cheap music is often used to draw eyeballs to websites, apps, and social networking platforms, allowing corporations to make large amounts of money from advertising. The public is generally unaware and happy to have free/cheap music, corporations make tons of money from advertising, but how is the musician benefiting from this?


Unsound uncovers the dramatic collapse of the music industry and its impact on musicians and creators of all kinds trying to survive in the ‘age of free’.

View original post

ALICE IN CHAINS : Illegal Music Downloaders Are ‘Sticking It To Themselves’

The Trichordist

“People think they’re sticking it to ‘the man’ by not paying for a record, BitTorrenting and all this stuff. They’re not [sticking it to ‘the man’]. They’re sticking it to their favorite band, they’re sticking it to their favorite artist, and ultimately, they’re sticking it to themselves. Because eventually, those [artists] won’t be able to tour so readily. A lot of bands are gonna break up. A lot of bands already have broken up.

View original post

Announcing The Content Creators Coalition | Brooklyn NYC Meeting Sept 24th

The Trichordist

A new Artists Rights collective is forming by Artists & Creators, for Artists & Creators.

There is a group meeting in Brooklyn on Sept. 24th.

Sign up here to get more details about the CCC and request meeting information:

A dedicated group of artists, creators, and stakeholders are forming a new and unprecedented coalition. This coalition will allow the people who create the content that powers the web — recording artists, songwriters, journalists, filmmakers, producers, photographers, visual artists, and performers — to join together and exercise their collective voice in shaping the future of their industries.

If you are a professional artist, manager, or creator of what is often described as ‘content’, please join us. Sign up on our email list and we will contact you soon with details on how you can get involved.

Creators of all content have the right…

View original post 139 more words

Carefully Co-writing without Creative Commons

Music Technology Policy

Co-writing with your producer, friends, band mates or [other] professional songwriters is a good thing. But remember–you’re creating a piece of property when you write a song (or record a master for that matter, but that will be the subject of another post). This time that property is intellectual property. Like any other form of property, intellectual property has certain rules of the road that can have some twists, turns and dangerous shoals. You wouldn’t build a house with a partner if you didn’t understand the legal issues of co-owning real estate, and neither should you create a piece of intellectual property with someone without knowing at least a bit about intellectual property law, and particularly the law of copyright.

The other thing you should be clear about is that when you record a song, there are two separate and distinct copyrights in play (no pun intended): the sound recording…

View original post 1,921 more words

Don’t Cut Funding for the Arts and Arts Education | Americans for the Arts

The Trichordist

With a 49% budget cut, the NEA will be forced to drastically scale back their grant-making. These disproportionate cuts of $71 million are short-sighted and will ultimately be devastating when combined with the additional loss of $639 million in potential matching funds for the arts. For every dollar the NEA invests in a nonprofit arts organization, it is matched on average 9-to-1 by additional grants. Communities rely on NEA grants to leverage additional support for the arts, generate local economic activity, and fuel innovation. Through the relatively small investments made by Congress, NEA is making possible extraordinary things all across the country, including seeding new jobs in the creative economy.

Stand with us as we protect this important educational and economic investment in our country, by telling Congress that cutting funding to the NEA is not an option. Now is the time to make sure that they hear our voice…

View original post 26 more words

The Smoking Gun of Internet Exploitation of Musicians and Songwriters

The Trichordist

There have been a lot of predictions about how the internet was going to empower musicians and create a new professional middle class. Unfortunately, the year end  numbers from Soundscan for the last two years just do not support those claims.


in 2011 there were 76,865 new releases, only 3,148 sold more than 2,000 units = 4% of new releases sold over 2,000 units

in 2011 there were 878,369 total releases in print, only 15,613 sold more than 2,000 units = 2% of ALL RELEASES in print sold more than 2,000 units.


in 2012 there were 76,882 new releases, only 3,074 sold more than 2,000 units = 4% of new releases sold over 2,000 units

in 2012 there were 909,799 total releases in print, only 15,507 sold more than 2,000 units = 2% of ALL RELEASES in print sold more than 2,000 units.

So in the last two…

View original post 567 more words

Pirates Won’t Stop Us from Creating, They’ll Stop Us from Sharing…

The Trichordist

We recently reblogged a link to Trent Reznor’s interview in Spin Magazine where he stated his current feelings over the value of music as a creator. Below is a comment in response to that article that we felt deserved it’s own post.

Music, like a certain other activity, is usually done for love or money. A lot of pirates nod enthusiastically at this right up until they realize that, if there’s no money in it and a musician has to do it for love … that if I don’t love you, you don’t get any. :-)

They keep missing this part. Yes, musicians will MAKE music no matter what. But we don’t have to share it with anyone other than the people we want to share it with. In order to get into that room, now you need to persuade me you should…

View original post 204 more words