Frankly, it’s all rather obscure and arcane. But government policy makers and various players in the music industry are trying to update music copyright laws. These are the laws about who owns music, what can be done with it, how much radio and internet providers must pay when its played (royalties), what buyers can do with the music once they own it, etc. Essentially, these laws cover everything after a song is written and how we, the consumers, interact with it. And, unfortunately, we’re not talking much about these potentially seismic changes.
Here’s the back story. Songwriters are upset about how many folks cover their songs. And music industry groups like the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) are fuming because they don’t believe songwriters get paid enough from Internet radio like Pandora and streaming sites like rdio and Spotify. These groups feel like the current laws are too old and don’t work for the Internet age. And they want artists and writers to have a lot more control over when and how their work is available over the internet.
Look, I’m all for artists getting paid. But it’s been true for a long time that even with sales of CDs and records, artists and writers don’t get paid that much for their work and usually make most of their money through touring and sales of merchandise. The music industry has a long history of funny games with artists (think Motown). So actually I’m skeptical of the intentions of the music industry. They didn’t have the best response back when digital music first came around, and suddenly 80 year old grandmothers were getting sued for copyright infringement. Yes, many consumers illegally downloaded everything though this wasn’t the only reason that the music industry went into crisis. Many argue that Apple rescued the industry with iTunes—offering a convenient and legal platform for music. Now with streaming music like Soundcloud and rdio, it’s a whole different story. We’re consuming music left and right. It’s a feast and the promise of the internet where we have access to everything all the time. Even Apple sees this future and is getting into the game.Even when artists like Taylor Swift and Sam Smith keep their music away from streaming for a while, it still works out.
Now with this updating taking place, some of the proposals sound scary even if it’s a little opaque right now. And while nothing has been decided yet, it certainly sounds like your iTunes and your Spotify could be up for some major shakeups.I mean, it’s already annoying when songs come and go on Spotify. What is being proposed could make that process even worse, vastly more expensive and could potentially even kill streaming as a viable service. Awk.
1999. Napster is launched. Vast amounts of music had never been closer to peoples’ fingertips. Also it had never been free-er. This made many bands very angry, especially Metallica, who filed a lawsuit against Napster.
The lawsuit ultimately succeeded, and Napster declared bankruptcy. But it was too late. The music industry would never be the same.
“Solving specific problems is what drives me. I am not interested in having a career. I never have been. This in no way resembles a career. I think a career is something your father brings home in a briefcase every night, looking kind of tired.”