Big Stories

Why The Punk Community Should Stand Against Concert Cancelations Like Electric Zoo

by Zack Zarrillo - Sep 5, 2013

The final day of the Electric Zoo Music Festival was cancelled this past weekend due to two drug-related deaths, and the news has reached major mainstream outlets. Jesse Cannon, author of Get More Fans: The DIY Guide To The New Music Business and the man behind Cannon Found Soundation, has written a special Contributor Blog article for us with his view of how this past weekend’s events could begin to leave major marks on our music scene and others as well. Read it, and let us know your thoughts, below!

I know PropertyOfZack is not where you go to hear about festivals where idiots like Steve Aoki serve up watered down remixes to what you might consider drug addled morons. But after local government insisted that Electric Zoo cancel their festival this weekend when two concert goers overdosed on a truly excessive amount of MDMA, I got to thinking that this is probably the beginning of a truly awful trend in music that I have also seen affect the punk scene. 

As a punk kid you’ve probably experienced the thoughts of those who don’t exist in our scene don’t understand the truth about our community. Adults see a bunch of weird looking kids hanging around and figure everyone is worshipping Satan while doing meth in order to listen to the screams that come out of your favorite singer. You know this to not be true and that even if some people are drunk or stoned at a show, the real high you are going for is the music. 

You go to shows for the music, the community, the friends you make and the release that it gives you. In fact, many people say this community is what has kept them going, kept them from committing suicide and taking drugs that outsiders think happen at these shows.

As a punk kid, you probably don’t think too highly of dance music culture, but let me tell you this: as someone who grew up as a punk rocker, I also spent my fair share of time in the dance music scene. As a teenager, while I was promoting shows for Dillinger Escape Plan, Saves The Day, and Kid Dynamite, I also spent my free nights going to underground dance shows. I have known both of these scenes well all of my life and while punk was always my first love, dance was my second home that gave me a community punk didn’t always fill.

While the sounds of Lifetime gave me a way to fill my teenage emotional voids, Refused an outlet for my frustrations with capitalism, and Rancid a way to express my anger, the dance sounds of Atari Teenage Riot entertained me with their innovation, Aphex Twin challenged my musical mind with what composition could include and Plastikman gave me a way to dance away my thoughts that a mosh pit never did. All of these groups gave me something different and none of them were seen by those on the outside the way I actually saw them being a part of it.

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POZ Special: The Industry With Jesse Cannon - Patreon, A Personal Way To Support Your Bands

by Zack Zarrillo - Aug 6, 2013

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Patreon is a very interesting and new pledge-type service in the vein of Kickstarter, PledgeMusic, and IndieGoGo, but it takes a more natural and direct way of supporting your favorite bands. Jesse Cannon, author of Get More Fans: The DIY Guide To The New Music Business and the man behind Cannon Found Soundation, is back to do a special Industry feature on Patreon to explain its positioning in the pledge market, how it can help bands, and much more. Read up on the Industry feature below!

Whenever you read discussions of music on the Internet, it’s only a matter of time before someone throws down the trump card of “I buy records to support the musicians I love.” Then some asshole writes back that they’re glad they don’t have to buy records to find out if they like a record or not and that’s why leaks and illegal downloads are great (see Erik’s fantastic article he did for POZ this week). Then we get into discussions about how Spotify is about to kill iTunes and the like and musicians get paid very poorly by Spotify at the present time. We also see musicians pleading with their fans via Kickstarter campaigns that they need money to do things like tour, make videos or records etc. To put it lightly there’s a big problem where musicians aren’t compensated for their work and often need help getting it together to do the things you enjoy from them.

There’s another problem many fans don’t often see in the music world. Musicians (even the big ones) get very irregular paychecks. As someone who has handled accounting for musicians, you’d be shocked at the ups and downs of it. One month you may get a huge check because you did a huge tour and put out a record, but around the winter when you’re not touring it may be a pretty pitiful check since you’re not doing much and still need to pay rent, for the van etc. This really sucks when it comes time to pay rent and your significant other or parent has to bail you out (again) or worse yet you need to sell a guitar in order to make the rent. Trust me, I’ve lived and worked with musicians for a decade and a half, I’ve literally seen it on the 31st of every month hundreds of times.

Musicians want to live a stable life and while they have a cool job, it really is disheartening to always wonder if you’re gonna have enough money to survive from month to month. This is where Patreon steps in. As a music fan,` you tell Patreon which acts you enjoy (as long as they are signed up with the service) and how much money you are willing to give to the musicians you love each month to fund what they do. You set a maximum amount of money to be billed each month and if a musician you love does something (like put out a new song) they will get paid by you. If you start to hate what they do, outgrow them, join a cult, go broke or whatever—you can always stop funding them. Because of your genoristy the musicians will give you benefits like presales, hangouts, lessons or whatever they choose. 

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POZ Special: The Industry With Jesse Cannon - On Thom Yorke Boycotting Spotify

by Zack Zarrillo - Jul 21, 2013

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The big topic of music industry news this week has been Thom Yorke and his decision to boycott Spotify by removing Atoms For Peace from the streaming service. There has been a great deal of debate back and forth over his decision, and Jesse Cannon, author of Get More Fans: The DIY Guide To The New Music Business and the man behind Cannon Found Soundation, is back to do a special Industry feature today on the news. Read up on the Industry feature below!

Alright people, let’s do this one last time, so we don’t have to do this ever-a-fucking-gain…Cause really—we’ve been through this five too many times now. This week, Thom Yorke didn’t exactly see straight when him and his producer-bud Nigel Godrich decided to take their prog-rock opus Atoms for Peace off of Spotify, saying they’re on the smaller musician’s side and that small acts don’t get paid enough so they want to stand with them. Pretty damn, noble right? Yes actually, but unfortunately this stance is very short-sighted. Like many opinions that make sense on the surface, once you do a little more thinking there is a much more interesting answer. Just don’t try telling this to your moron friend posting about how George Zimmerman was in the right, he’s a hopeless asshole.

Ok back to it, let’s back up a bit. Remember 5 years ago when every music business article said, “How do we save the music business?” Have you noticed those shit-for-brains think pieces have disappeared like Blood on the Dance Floor fans after the awkwardness of puberty ends? Yeah, me too! This is because there is actually progress happening in getting torrenting and piracy to decrease. The reason Napster, Limewire, Soulseek, The Pirate Bay, Oink!, etc, were winning against iTunes and record stores was because it was easier to get music that way through the illegal means than it was the legal means. You see, music fans (myself included) are always going to ingest music in whatever way is easiest.

Spotify, Rdio, MOG, etc. have all made it easier to listen to music than through torrents/P2P downloading, and it’s even more fun to use these service when you can use all the fun apps in Spotify. As streaming music becomes more popular in a particular region, illegal downloads decrease there. So with the dwindling of torrents/P2P, musicians get paid instead of getting zero compensation when their music is pirated. But let’s recognize this is only the first step in getting fans away from piracy in a long fight.

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POZ Special: The Industry With Jesse Cannon - On iTunes Radio

by Zack Zarrillo - Jun 11, 2013

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iTunes Radio has been a large topic of discussion for months now, and Apple finally took the wraps off of the service today at WWDC. We thought it’d be great to have Jesse Cannon, author of Get More Fans: The DIY Guide To The New Music Business and the man behind Cannon Found Soundation, to do a special Industry feature today on the platform. If you want any more education on iTunes Radio or just more commentary on it, make sure to read all up on it below!

Apple announced iTunes Radio today, making iTunes a competitor against Pandora, Spotify, Rdio, MOG and Google’s streaming radio services. The service looks easy to use and clean–working itself seamlessly into the Music app in iOS as well as iTunes interface on both Mac and PCs and Apple TV. The service will be ad-supported if you do not wish to pay for it or if you don’t want the ads it will be $24.99 a year (making it the lowest priced radio service in the game) as a part of Apple’s iTunes Match service.

It seems they will be trying to make up for this low entry price with sales in the iTunes store, as well as by tapping into their already existing network of advertisers in iOS. Not to mention, hoping that when users hear a song in the radio stream, they will then want to pony up money to be able to hear it when they want. A feature that will generate cash, but also puts them at a disadvantage to other streaming services which can easily take a song offline to be listened to as often as a user wants.

While Apple has a huge advantage in adding this service right into an interface millions of people use each day, the big question is still whether they can build a good recommendation algorithm where so many others have failed. While Apple’s engineers are no doubt geniuses (I mean, did you see how good iOS 7 looks?) this has been a tough terrain to navigate and Pandora remains the only service who has put the man hours into coding a great system. Though this could easily change, if Apple’s recommendations are annoying to users, the service will go the way of Ping and die a quick death.

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POZ Special: The Industry With Jesse Cannon - On Google Music All Access

by Zack Zarrillo - May 16, 2013

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Google launched Google Music All Access, a direct competitor to streaming services like Spotify and Rdio. There seem to be more major streaming services every few months, but is anyone switching from their favorites?

We thought it’d be great to have Jesse Cannon (Musformation bookCannon Found Soundation Recording Studios) do a special Industry feature today on All Access to give us his thoughts on streaming services overall and Google’s future in the came. Make sure to read all up on it below!

Yes! Just what the world needs! Another streaming music service! At that, one from Google who’s launched frivolous services (Google+, sure is working out well) and killing the one’s their users love (RIP Google Reader in about 2 weeks), because they’re made of money and can afford to experiment. So why on earth would we want a Spotify/Rdio competitor from Google? Especially when Apple and the smart people at MOG/Daisy also have services on the way. If that weren’t enough, there are already a bunch of other crummy ones out there (Rhapsody, XBox Music) crowding the market. The answer is basically that Google already owns you and they can own some more of you, so why not? 

If Google doesn’t already own you, why would you care about this news? Well Google Music All Access, makes life very easy if you are on an Android Phone since it will sync up easily, especially if you are already using Google Play for your music listening habits. Secondly, at $7.99, it is $2 cheaper per month than any of the other services. While they offer a free trial, you need to input your credit card (using Google Wallet) to start the trial and you’ll be billed monthly once the trial is over. Whereas with Spotify, MOG and Rdio you get a free music option—even if there are annoying ads from time to time. It has a Pandora-like recommendation radio function, but all the other streaming services do too and none of them come anywhere near Pandora in being able to give usable suggestions. 

If you’re a musician looking to connect with your fans, Google Music has long offered musicians a better backend set of tools than any other music service. With the ability to connect with fans and control your prices and content easily, they offer a great tool to musicians, if they want to employ it. Their recommendation engine allows your music to be suggested to new fans, which is very important in getting new fans, no matter who you are. Thankfully, if your music was already aggregated to Google Music, it will be available on this service as well. If it’s not there you can sign up here.

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POZ Special: The Industry With Jesse Cannon

by Zack Zarrillo - Apr 28, 2013

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Jesse Cannon, the man behind Cannon Found Soundation Recording Studios (Man Overboard, The Menzingers, Transit, Lifetime) is back, but this week is a little more special than most. Jesse released his new book, Get More Fans, and if you’re in a band or the Industry itself, it’s a must read, so check it out here. In this week’s feature, Jesse tackles his book,  MTV, Will.I.Am, Vine, and more. Check it all out below!

Obviously I would love to include the book and a link to the in the opening paragraph.

What I would like to think is big news for the music business is I released by book Get More Fans: The DIY Guide To The New Music Business. The reason I would like to think this is big news is because never before has there been a more complete guide to what is happening in the music business and how DIY musicians can take advantage of a flattening playing field. Thankfully, Hypebot seems to agree and said “If you had to go with just one book on DIY music biz, this would be the one.” I hope you will check it out and download a free excerpt.

If you have ever wondered why your favorite band doesn’t have a YouTube video for your favorite song of theirs, YouTube is trying to help solve your first world problem. YouTube has released a guide for musicians in how to use their service better. The guide details many basics as well as some ideas that aren’t so common and can really help every musician do what they do better.

We are coming close to the fact that it has been a decade since MTV actually cared about playing music videos. Musicians big and small all still dream of getting their video on to MTV airplay and to be packed into a musical sandwich between Ke$ha and Katy Perry (OK, sorry I may be talking about some weird pop fantasy I have). Anyway, MTV has now harnessed the power of the Internet and allows any band to submit their music for airplay via their MySpace-the-next-generation-social-network Artists.MTV. If you upload your latest video of your drummer playing with his grumpy-cat-look-alike it now has the potential to get into rotation in one of MTV’s many stations. Run, don’t walk.

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POZ Special: The Industry With Jesse Cannon

by Zack Zarrillo - Apr 14, 2013

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Jesse Cannon, the man behind Cannon Found Soundation Recording Studios (Man Overboard, The Menzingers, Transit, Lifetime) and Musformation, is back with a new Industry feature in our ongoing series. In this week’s feature, Jesse tackles Twitter Music, Piki, autio-rip from Amazon, Vdio, and more. Check it all out below!

The most exciting news of the week (since there was no Notorious BIG hologram at Coachella) is that Twitter’s acquisition of Internet music buzz chart, We Are Hunted, will be coming into fruition this week in the form of Twitter Music. The service will act as a way of seeing the music that is currently being talked about on Twitter. While The Hype Machine already does a chart of what is popular on Twitter, the true potential to see what the world is actually talking about how never come into full fruition. Hopefully, we will see it in the form of this new service.

The disgusting pigs from presidential-loser Mitt Romney’s former company Bain Capital who manage Guitar Center have cut the wages of employees at the company and there is a petition now demanding that they be paid better. Signing this petition helps the thousands of musicians you love who have cut their teeth working at the store before going full time in their musical endeavor. Sign up here.

The folks from Turntable.FM have launched a new service called Piki, which allows you to have a Pandora style recommendation based radio channel, that is curated by what your friends listen to. The service seems like a great way to know what is going on around your circle of friends and is surely a lot more interesting than the filtered pictures of their pets and food.

The US Courts ruled this week that the resale of a MP3 is officially illegal. In fact so illegal that a service like ReDigi can’t even exist anymore. While armchair music business philosophers love to say this resale is the same as reselling CDs and that these laws are ridiculous. The recent government case against open information activist Aaron Swartz illustrated that stealing digital files is nothing like stealing physical goods. Well, whether you agree with it or not, it is now the law of the land.

Amazon is now offering their Auto-rip service for vinyl releases. This means if you buy vinyl through Amazon you can now easily get a free MP3 download of your music, instead of trying to navigate the clunky interface many download cards offer. Thanks for the great technology—a few years too late—when all of us have the music we buy on vinyl available to us on Spotify and Rdio.

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POZ Special: The Industry With Jesse Cannon

by Zack Zarrillo - Mar 23, 2013

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Jesse Cannon, the man behind Cannon Found Soundation Recording Studios (Man Overboard, The Menzingers, Transit, Lifetime) and Musformation, is back with a new Industry feature in our ongoing series. In this week’s feature, Jesse tackles Justin Timberlake’s return, Dave Grohl at SXSW, Bandpage, and much more. Check it all out below!

This week everyone is buzzing because alpha-dog-male-heartthrob Justin Timberlake finally released his newest record after 7 years (you know a time when the world didn’t even know Lady GaGa, Katy Perry or The Beib?) to much excitement and acclaim. But did you know that in the UK a DIY musician who has built his fanbase off of making YouTube connection for the last 7 years ended up charting higher than Mr. Timberlake on his release day? Meet Alex Day, a talented musician who has been building one-on-one fan connections with musicians for the last 7 years instead of pursuing an acting career. While the UK is always a strange place for music, this shows how level the playing field has gotten in the music business. When one artist has all of the strength of a major label thrust behind him and another has the strength of connection he built with fans and that artist comes out on top, we know this world has changed.

Considering YouTube just crossed the billion users mark, “Harlem Shake” has been number one for 5 weeks and stories like Alex Day’s eventually becoming the normal. If you are a musician and you aren’t making YouTube your top priority, you are a fool.

The music business has been fearing that eventually subscription streaming services like Spotify, Rdio and MOG will cannibalize album download sales. Guess what? It’s happening! Nielsen Soundscan has projected this will be the first year that download sales will begin to shrink. This is bad news if these services don’t begin to get more paying subscribers and return their profits at a higher rate to musicians, since so many are dependant on this income to keep their music career afloat.

Between being in one of the greatest bands of all time, making Foo Fighters records and one of the best movies about music ever made, somehow Dave Grohl found the time to make one of the greatest speeches about music ever made. Check out his SXSW keynote speech if you want to get inspired and hear an amazing talk about how to nurture great musicians. 

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POZ Special: The Industry With Jesse Cannon

by Zack Zarrillo - Mar 10, 2013

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Jesse Cannon, the man behind Cannon Found Soundation Recording Studios (Man Overboard, The Menzingers, Transit, Lifetime) and Musformation, is back with a new Industry feature in our ongoing series. In this week’s feature, Jesse tackles Pandora, the amount of Americans streaming music, a TED talk with Amanda Palmer, video experiences, and more. Check it all out below!

Let’s be honest here, the past two weeks of the music business have been pretty boring. Sure, as we have been talking about for a year Pandora is in a heap of trouble. Despite having huge numbers of users they find it hard to be profitable and now need a new CEO. Facebook got a redesign and inside it is a music tab so you can keep up with your favorite bands, but it is still a miserable experience having to land on some stupid timeline instead of a music player based page. 19% of Americans use streaming subscription services, which is why you are hearing a constant buzz that Apple may buy Beat’s MOG and that Google Play and YouTube are teaming up for a Spotify competitor. And of course we learned that The Pirate Bay may have moved its servers to a country that the USA may soon turn into a nuclear parking lot, if they keep on doing stupid things like testing nukes and hanging out with Dennis Rodman.

But all of this is kind of boring, so instead I present to you a few pieces of music business genius you hopefully didn’t miss in the past few months. First is the must-see TED speech from Amanda Palmer in which she discusses how we need to stop trying to make people pay for music and instead figure out how we ask them to do so.

Secondly, Macklemore does a great job showing exactly what every musician should be doing for their fans on a daily basis.

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POZ Special: The Industry With Jesse Cannon

by Zack Zarrillo - Feb 24, 2013

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Jesse Cannon, the man behind Cannon Found Soundation Recording Studios (Man Overboard, The Menzingers, Transit, Lifetime) and Musformation, is back with a great new Industry feature in our ongoing series. In this week’s feature, Jesse tackles Billboard adding YouTube to their charts, how it will affect Top 40, and those special wristbands you see at clubs. Check it all out below!

The biggest news in the music business this week is that Billboard has decided that they should get hip and start taking into account the biggest way people consume music in America today. That method being YouTube. Because of this change, Bauer’s memetastic Trap/Dance hit  “Harlem Shake” is now at the top of the charts. This news sent a shake up every major label executive’s leg, much akin to the shake one might feel when being shook down for your money and power in 1970’s Harlem (if you haven’t been lately it really is a beautiful place these days). 

The fact is major labels and big radio has made the music aggregated to the masses more boring than it should be. While I love Katy Perry and Ke$ha, the idea that their singles are tied with the Beatles “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” for being the longest running number one singles. This is because radio never stops playing a #1 song and radio playlists have never been more uniform than today. Despite this, we are seeing major labels lose their power and more small artists are able to carve out niche markets for themselves and artists baring no major label backing, like Macklemore are able to get to #1 by forcing themselves into big radio with fan connections and of course YouTube views. Despite the fact that a song’s hype, streams and consumption may die, big radio keeps playing them over and over and over and over and over (I love me an illustrative metaphor). This has meant radio has been out of sync with listening habits for some time and is preventing other songs from getting inside that coveted Top 40 bubble that gets artists exposure and their day in the sun for the public to audition them.

With this move Billboard may have diminished the trend and will help bring our Top40 chart closer to what we are really listening to. Sadly, there is a catch. What we watch on YouTube is not necessarily the music we are loving and instead what we are laughing at. While I think that the world of music today got get a bit more of a sense of humor— if what we are trying to reflect in a music chart is the music people are listening to and enjoying it may not be best to figure every YouTube music video into the equation. For example, under this new model it is very well possible that Rebecca Black’s “Friday” and Tay Zonday’s “Chocolate Rain” could easily have been #1 hits had this equation been in place at the time of their meme hey day. Granted, it is hard to discern the deserved acknowledgement these songs should receive as being inferior to lyrics like “wake up in the morning feeling like P. Diddy” or “Because you’re hot and you’re cold/you’re yes and you’re no” but the Top 40 chart has always been a way of trying recognise the achievement of an artist. 

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POZ Special: The Industry With Jesse Cannon

by Zack Zarrillo - Feb 9, 2013

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Jesse Cannon, the man behind Cannon Found Soundation Recording Studios (Man Overboard, The Menzingers, Transit, Lifetime) and Musformation, is back with a great new Industry feature in our ongoing series. In this week’s feature, Jesse tackles MySpace’s failures, Warner purchasing Parlophone, Justin Bieber’s fifth number one record, music-related movies, and much more. Check it all out below!

If it wasn’t obvious to you already, the reinvention of MySpace under Justin Timberlake’s watchful eye has been a total failure. MySpace forgot a huge detail—what once made it a powerful tool was it was the ultimate fan and musician relationship builder. Now the fans are mostly absent from the service and MySpace has barely made space for these “connections.” If that weren’t enough, it seems that MySpace has also sucked up nearly every ability to be able to customise your page with outside services. Great job Timberlake, can’t wait to see what you do with Bud Light Platinum.

Warner Brothers Records has purchased Parlophone Records. Many in the industry are wondering why this move would come about when the label has been weak in current catalog but strong in back catalog for years. These people are idiots. Parlophone is home to Coldplay, Radiohead, Kate Bush, David Guetta, Daft Punk and some of Pink Floyd’s catalog. And if you haven’t noticed, we are about to legalise Marijuana in a lot of this country and these records are more enjoyable with the more of it you smoke (and pretty unenjoyable without it). Where others see stupidity, I see a vision.

My Bloody Valentine released one of the most teased records of all time (they have been teasing it longer than this site’s founder has been alive afterall). For many of us who were eagerly anticipating this release, we had to wait a few hours more long as their site crashed non-stop with the demand for this record. The release of the record did show one thing, when band’s don’t send out pre-releases and let the fans react at the same time as the critics, you can inspire a wave of praise and a more egalitarian look at your record. An interesting case for sure.

BandsInTown launched a cool version of their service in the form of a Spotify App. You can make the App show you when your favorite band’s are playing your area, as well as have the App make you a playlist of bands who are similar to the ones you like that are playing local to you. Technology rules.

If you read this column you are obviously interested in the music business and this week three of the coolest music movies were made available on the Internet:

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POZ Special: The Industry With Jesse Cannon

by Zack Zarrillo - Jan 27, 2013

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Jesse Cannon, the man behind Cannon Found Soundation Recording Studios (Man Overboard, The Menzingers, Transit, Lifetime) and Musformation, is back with a great new Industry feature in our ongoing series. In this week’s feature, Jesse touches on Mega again, I Fight Dragons, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, MySpace, Tunecore, Beyonce, and more. Check it all out below!

If you didn’t hear, Kim Dotcom the head honcho of the defunct MegaUpload has now launched a new service entitled Mega which can be a huge deal in the world of copyrights. I wrote a very long explanation of this site for PropertyOfZack, earlier in the week. 

In one of the biggest moments of pulling back the music industry curtain on the silliness that goes into writing a “hit song”—the group I Fight Dragons has posted an amazing video and Soundcloud playlist that details the 18 versions and 7.5 top songwriters they used to write a rejected hit song. Apparently Atlantic Records wasn’t happy with Greg Wells (Katy Perry, All American Rejects, Adele), Rivers Cuomo (your favorite band that hasn’t made a good record since Pinkerton,) and Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne) all tweaking a song and just didn’t feel it was a hit. If you have any interest in pop songwriting you cannot miss checking this out. 

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis has hit #1 with their single “Thrift Store” which is a big seeing as they are a DIY artist on their own label. Contrary to popular belief this isn’t the first time this has happened—Lisa Loeb’s (who is now pop punk cool since she did a record with Chad Gilbert, right?) single “Stay” actually hold the title of being first to achieve this. You go girl. 

MySpace has relaunched and it does look great, but honestly, does anyone care? When Bandcamp, SoundCloud and Artists.MTV all offer a better service without the spamming BS of this service it seems that the only thing the service will ever have going for it is exclusive Justin Timberlake material and maybe a livechat with Jeffree Star. Oh yeah, guess what? They didn’t get proper licensing for a lot of the music on the site. So much for artist friendly. 

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POZ Perspective: Why Mega Is A Mega Big Deal

by Zack Zarrillo - Jan 21, 2013

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MegaUpload relaunched this past weekend as Mega, and much of the Internet has been busy since trying to sign up and test the new network out. PropertyOfZack is posting a new Perspective today written by Jesse Cannon dissecting the service, founder Kim Dotcom, and what it means for music, among many other items. Check out the Perspective on Mega below!

This weekend you’ve probably been discussing whether that weirdo Mormon football player really had an Internet girlfriend, or watching some badass girl go after Osama Bin Laden in the feel good movie of the winter. All the while, you have probably seen all your technologically adept friends buzzing about that real-life-version-of-the-Stay-Puft-Marshmellow-Man-looking-dude-Kim-Dotcom launching a new service called Mega, and subsequently freaking out about it like it may be the apocalypse. Just like the Ghostbusters did when they saw the sugar-filled monster roaming Manhattan. And they have good reason to freak out: Mega is going to bring about a huge change in our culture and possibly the way we all pay for the media we enjoy.

While we all have been able to share files with our friends through IM, YouSendIt, Dropbox or torrents for years, what makes Mega such a mega-game-changer is that it employs many unique features to make sure the government can’t intervene in their service like they did Mr. Dotcom’s previous endeavor, Megaupload/Megavideo, or the many torrent sites that have been recently shut down. Using Megaupload, you were able to upload files — be it books, music or movies — and send the link to your friend. But what was in your Megaupload folder was easily searchable using Google or specialized services like FilesTube. What Mega does differently is that it encrypts (jumbles a code so you can’t see whether you are uploading Zero Dark Thirty or your latest song about how cute your boyfriend looks in skinny jeans) on the uploader’s computer and then uploads it to a cloud where you are able to get a link and send it to all of your friends. 

This means that if the government wants to take Mega to task for hosting illegal downloads of, say, Zero Dark Thirty, they can’t actually find all of those downloads since the contents of these downloads are hidden, making it impossible to know that ZDT is actually on the Mega servers. This, along with the fact that Mr. Dotcom gives non-paying users 50GB of storage, makes this site a big fucking deal for file sharing.

Mega’s encryption feature allows those who fear the RIAA or Kathryn Bigelow — ZDT director who went on a suing spree aimed at those who torrented her previous work, The Hurt Locker — coming after them for illegal downloads to share without fear of getting caught. This means that media will be more shared and we all will become less likely to purchase it. If your friends already have ZDT, they can pass it along to you with no repercussions or lawsuits. This, along with an easy to use interface, means that users will be sharing files more than ever. As we have seen as free culture has moved through the world in the past decade and a half, once consumers get used to not paying for media, it’s hard to get them paying again. 

If Mega is successful, users will be sharing files more than ever and inevitably not giving money to the filmmakers, musicians and authors who create the media users enjoy. How much “less” is remains to be seen, but it undoubtedly will be less. The subsequent defunding will take away the ability for many of these creators to fund future endeavors, and if free media does become widespread enough, the ability to make a movie with bold productions may become more rare. After all, a movie like The Hurt Locker takes millions of dollars to make: there is no way around that. 

We have all seen rants of musicians complaining about fans not paying for their records, but we have all seen many musicians reap the rewards of free music building them a fan base (in fact, I just wrote a book all about that). But filmmakers and authors have a different set of problems. An author doesn’t tour, license his or her writing to commercials or sell cute T-shirts that make your tats look cool. A filmmaker would need to rely on only those profits made from a theatrical release, which are not sustainable and will mean budgets and productions will end up being cut. This means that the quality of films and books is sure to degrade if they are illegally shared and the creators are defunded. It will leave them with little means to make high quality work.

The argument about this sharing is a long and complicated one when dealing with music, which was the first of the arts to get vastly defunded. Musicians turned to other income streams, but this may not be possible in every medium. Streaming services like Netflix and Spotify have made it so it isn’t as convenient to share media through services like Mega, since there is inherent upload and download times in order to get a file with the service. Whereas these streaming services offer users a more immediate and convenient interface to enjoy the media the way they want for a price that gives back to the creators, even if these profits are minimal. If films are made more readily available on these services, Mega could be rendered relatively useless, but that takes a lot of change in the world of film and for books would require an already defunded industry to figure out a new service and payment model.

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POZ Special: The Industry With Jesse Cannon

by Zack Zarrillo - Jan 12, 2013

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It may be a New Year, but Jesse Cannon, the man behind Cannon Found Soundation Recording Studios (Man Overboard, The Menzingers, Transit, Lifetime) and Musformation, is back with a great new Industry feature in our ongoing series. In this week’s feature, Jesse tackles Beats by Dre and MOG, Bandcamp’s social jump, Macklemore and independent musicians, digital holiday sales, and much more. Check it all out below!

Happy New Year! After a little time away I am glad to say 2013 already looks like it’s shaping up to be an awesome year. The first insanely cool announcement is Beats by Dre’s streaming music service MOG, is joining forces with TopSpin to bring forth an update to the service which will be centered around direct-to-fan experiences. The service took on CEO Ian Rogers who I have long considered to be the smartest voice in today’s music business. The union’s forecast reads as if it will be concentrating on the ways musicians will be able to connect with fans and keep them updated. As a music listener I look forward to the idea that the musicians I enjoy will be able to inform me of what they are up to. This service looks like it may end the plague of having to ‘Like” a musician on a social network and will instead bring fan connections to those who are regularly listening to musician’s songs. Very exciting stuff. 

Bandcamp is now a social network! Many musicians have longed for the day that Bandcamp’s smart ways would bring a version of what MySpace once-was and fix all of the flaws. Well, that day is upon us, since you can now sign up to be a fan on Bandcamp and begin to share in showing off the music you support. I am sure this is going to bring some great things to the fan-musician experience including a great way to tangibly show that you support the musicians you love. 

After those two huge announcements you might think to yourself, “Jesse, it’s only 11 days into 2013—and one of them I spent puking all over my girlfriend’s dog after too many Jaegerbombs on NYE—how on earth could this year be any better for the new music business where musicians can directly connect with fans?” Well let me tell you Snookie, it does get better. It has long been music industry common knowledge that if you weren’t on a major label or at least a huge indie you had no chance of getting high on the pop charts nevermind have your single go Platinum. Not the case anymore. Macklemore’s single “Thrift Shop” has gone Platinum and sure enough he is a DIY musician with no label backing, marketing guru pushing him on the world or any of the other BS people think goes into pop success. That’s right, no more excuses, if you are a smart musician and connect with fans you can now sell a million copies of your record without ever signing away your soul to some major label dickwad. Happy days are upon us. 

Have you ever bought a CD from Amazon? If so they now have a very cool service, entitled AutoRip, which will give you a digital copy of any CD you have purchased through them. This means all those hours you were going to spend digitizing your Smashmouth CDs (now that Zack gave them a huge comeback) will be time saved, that you can spend on other fantastic activities. Like say, reading the archives of this column.

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POZ Special: The Industry With Jesse Cannon

by Zack Zarrillo - Dec 15, 2012

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Jesse Cannon, the man behind Cannon Found Soundation Recording Studios (Man Overboard, The Menzingers, Transit, Lifetime) and Musformation, is back with a great new Industry feature in our ongoing series. In this week’s feature, Jesse gets to the bottom of his thoughts on the recent Future Ghosts controversy, Skrillex entering streaming, Trent Reznor and Dr. Dre, the Grammys, and Courtney Love on Nirvana. Check it all out below!

Full disclosure: I work with Future Ghosts (North Carolina) and produced their latest record.

In what continues to be a trend in the subject for this column—-this week the group Future Ghosts (North Carolina) were the victim of another abuse in trademark claims by another group named Future Ghosts (Chicago). Just as we discussed recently, when Panic Records abused the power they have as a rightsholder and unjustly pulled Pentimento’s music down from YouTube. Future Ghosts (Chicago) served notice that they were the owners of a trademark claim. After telling Future Ghosts (NC) that  “A period of 5 business days should be sufficient for a grace period.” Within 12 hours the NC Future Ghosts saw their Facebook page, ReverbNation and Bandcamp all removed following a complaint from Future Ghosts (Chicago).

Despite the fact that Future Ghosts (Chicago) has been a largely inactive group (which is needed to hold rights to a Trademark) and has no presence on many of music’s main commerce sites (in order to lay claim to a Trademark a musician must sell their music over state borders for the Trademark to be active), they aggressively abused the powers they granted themselves through registering a Trademark. Like the Pentimento incident, this is another showcase of how easily the trademark system is abused by those claiming rights over others’ intellectual property. Without sufficient notice, Future Ghosts (North Carolina) had their hard work and ability to communicate with their fanbase destroyed by an amatuer at trademark law.

The abuses all of the music services (ReverbNation, Bandcamp and Facebook, in this case) allow, by running scared whenever someone claims to be a rightsholder have very little oversight. Even if you are the only person using a particular band name—-ex-lovers, angry fans or other disgruntled troublemakers can all abuse this system and destroy a musician’s progress and fanbase with very little documentation and recourse to correct the mishap for the musician who is the victim of these attacks. These abuses need a better oversight system.

Your favorite haircut… errr… I mean DJ, Skrillex’s label is the latest to try to attempt to make subscription services be appealing to a rabid fanbase. Despite past failures, Skrilly’s OWSLA label is now offering a subscription service, entitled The Nest—-which will offer fans goodies including early access to OWSLA releases, weekly Nest-exclusive downloads from up-and-coming artists and ticket presales all for $12 a month. The endeavor is powered by subscription backend Drip.FM which powers many other label and musician subscriptions. With a fanbase as rabid as Skrillex’s it could just work. Afterall, who would’ve thought the dude from a teenage screamo band would become one of the biggest electronic artists in just a few short years?

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Ernie Ball