solarbird: (korra-on-the-air)

I’ve been thinking more about Google/YouTube’s new music streaming service terms – the ones that require your whole library, that require 320bps source, that require five year terms, and so on. I wrote about it last week, talking about how Google is letting the old labels dictate away crowdfunding rewards and the like.

But I’ve been doing more thinking since that. It’s been churning in my brain. And I’ve realised the five-year term, the 320bps requirement, and whole library thing have a combined intent.

And that intent is to take away literally every last music sale you might make. As in, every last music sale.

It’s not presented as such, of course. I think they want artists to think of it as radio that pays. But two of the big streaming service problems have been 1. quality (smaller concern) and 2. stability of material (huge concern). All the television streaming services, for example, have been plagued by shows getting yanked on and off and moving around. Customers find that annoying.

Meanwhile, you have the label involvement, discussed before. They were, from all reports, pretty tightly into this new set of terms. And one of the big problems for the labels the last several years has been the rise of indie artists. The crowdfunding/long-tail model has given indie artists something more to live on, ways to make money outside of the label ecosystem.

This solves both sets of “problems.” Think about it:

Google will have everything you do for five years, listen-anytime, at functionally CD quality. They’ll have everything, and they’ll have it first, at optimal quality. What’s that mean?

It means Google/YouTube Music service members will have no reason to buy any goddamn thing from any artist which is on the service. No more early-access advantages to entice crowdfunding backers. No more deep tracks on albums to discover. No more alt-takes, no more remixes, no more mailing-list exclusives – Google will have it all. Not exclusively, of course! But they’ll have it.

If I’m reading this right, then even if you hold out on them – you don’t upload some tracks, in violation of the agreement – if and when somebody else does, and they identify it as yours, they’ll add it to the service automatically. Tell me I’m wrong (even though I’m not) because that’s what this sounds like:

So even if you don’t explicitly deliver us every single song in your catalog if we have assets and they are fingerprinted by content ID to contain that music then it will be included to the subscription service…
        — Zoë Keating’s Google rep., in conversation with Zoë

Which means there’s no more reason to buy anything from you. No reason for anyone to deal with you at all.

Five years is a long time. There will be no long tail – at least, not for you. It’s all going to them. Five years is also plenty long enough to keep you locked in once you figure all this out. And five years is more than long enough to try to make this the new standard.

That’s the point of this whole contract. To take everything else away, and thereby, to reinstate a kind of 1971, one managed by making both unlimited internet distribution and piracy completely irrelevant.

I have to say – it’s brilliant. It end-runs around the post-scarcity environment entirely, by co-opting it. The pirates and illegal uploaders will make sure your entire catalogue is up there, even if you hold out, and it’ll be included whether you like it or not – it’s genius!

Meanwhile, they’re “giving the music away” so you can’t make any money on it, stopping you from being able to reward patrons and backers so you can’t make any money there either, and tossing you a sharecropper’s pittance in ad revenue as a reward. And even that is a pittance you can never hope to make on your own. You don’t – and can’t – have the numbers.

It’s a plan that takes away the entire internet/indie route as they understand it. It’s to make them – both the old labels and Google, in alliance – the only viable path. It’s a plan to make it so that once again, you have to go through them.

And we all know what that has always meant, don’t we?

Run. Run like hell.

Additional Reading:

  • #WeBelieveTheCellist

    This is Part Eleven of Music in the Post-Scarcity Environment, a series of essays about, well, what it says on the tin. In the digital era, duplication is essentially free and there are no natural supply constraints which support scarcity, and therefore, prices. What the hell does a recording musician do then?

    Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
    Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

    solarbird: (Lecturing)

    Just back from the first movie I’ve seen in months, Maleficent. I wanted to see this before it fell out of theatres, mostly because of the trailers with her wings, because yeah.

    Let’s talk about the good parts, first: Angelina Jolie is wonderful. It looks great. The green fire which is signatory to this version of the character was lovingly rendered and just felt right. The christening scene, reinterpreted here? Perfection. The later interactions of Aurora and Maleficent, ages, oh, 13ish to the end of the story resonated well, and just worked.

    But… while so many things are right, I can’t get past “pretty good” as a response. Not great. Merely pretty good. That’s because I just can’t get past the fact that in this film, too many things are too easy. I don’t mean physically easy, tho’ there is some of that; those parts are not so important. No, I mean emotionally easy.

    And from here on out, we’ll be heading deep into spoiler territory, so you have now been warned.

    Let’s start with our antagonist, King Steffan.

    Sharlto Copley plays Doctor then King Steffan well, given what he has to work with. But there isn’t enough meat in the part. There should be; all the bones are there. But Steffan’s arc is missing too many important, difficult notes.

    His needed to be both a more political story – it’s a very political tale, after all – and a story about ruined love. Okay, sure, there was never “one true love,” as the film fairly points out – but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a kind of love there, and I think there was. And, well, betrayal of such things is a staple of royal histories. It’s entirely in theme.

    And so Steffan commits a great treachery, setting events in motion, becoming King Henry’s heir. But that sort of treachery – so personal a treachery – needs confronting. In the film, all we really get is a big fight scene.

    That’s letting him and the audience off easy, and it’s a failing. We in the audience need to know his self-justifications – how it was right for him to cut off and steal her wings, how it was right for him to seize the throne from a dying King Henry, how everything since then – the economic hardships, the battles – have proven how he and King Henry both were right to hate and desire the faerie lands.

    How it’s all self-defense. How it’s all her fault. Not his. Not King Henry’s. Her fault.

    Never his.

    We shouldn’t buy it, of course. We don’t need to believe it. We just need to believe he believes it – even if only by lying to himself so strenuously for so long. We needed Maleficent to confront his justifications, and deny them, laying the lies bare.

    We needed to see that, and we didn’t. Steffan’s descent into paranoia – see also, “uneasy rests the head that wears the crown” – played out well, but that’s not enough. We needed to get into his brain, and find him lacking.

    It also would’ve been nice to see some of this from Princess and then Queen Leah’s view. It’s clear that King Steffan’s isolation grows throughout the film; it would’ve been nice if we’d known some of that has come from Queen Leah’s knowing that something happened between him and Maleficent. Sure, she knows about the wings; that’s why he’s king. But there was more to it, more that he’s lying about, something both more and rotten. Something that makes her suspicious, then untrusting, then isolating.

    In short, his betrayal should ruin two potential loves. Ruined love already underlies the text; it should be a stronger undertheme, since it’s what unlocks his character. Love doesn’t have to be “one true love” to still be love; Steffan ruins it through betrayal for the sake of power, every time he acts.

    It would make a nice parallel to the the other easiness problem in the film: the too-easy relationship of Maleficent and Aurora.

    Maleficent’s affection for Aurora comes too quickly and too trivially, in film-time. Less so in story-time; it spans many years in character. But that’s not communicated well, and even in story-time, Maleficent’s saving Aurora’s life from the inept fairy trio’s overwhelming incompetence* mere days after cursing her to die.

    And it doesn’t resonate; it doesn’t work. Maleficent’s complex and multistage arc should be awesome – from young love, to betrayal and ruined love, to justified hate, to claiming her revenge… and then turning back from that, working through to regret, and to building an adult, parental love, and reclaiming her life for her own, from the wreckage wrought by Steffan.

    Most of the pieces are there, but… it’s hollow in the middle. We needed a better arc of her hate. The arc is set up nicely. The betrayal is agonising. And so, she cursed an innocent baby to “sleep like death” tragically on the cusp of adulthood, as per her symbolic death with the rending and theft of her wings, and we’re kind of on board with that. We can see how she gets there.

    So she can’t just step in and save Aurora over and over again without a good emotional reason, even if only to tell herself. Yes, it’s the turning point in her arc. Yes, from her own curse (irony!) she’s fated to love Princess Aurora in some form, as everyone who interacts with Aurora will come to love her, though not “true love” her. Maleficent is hoisted by her own petard here, and that’s fine.

    But as with Steffan, there are always rationalisations for things done. Steffan needs to rationalise his evil; Maleficent needs to rationalise her goodness, in symmetry.

    It could be simple – Aurora has to live to 16 so that Maleficent can see the curse she laid down become true, and watch King Steffan’s agony and failure to stop it. That’s a bit stock – a bit, heh, easy, really – but it’s a starting point.

    Saving infant Aurora is a critical change at a critical moment. We needed some emotional support for that, and we didn’t get it. I’m not looking for All! The! Angst! – I’m looking for more emotional struggle to sell me the progression of character. Maleficent initially needs to save Aurora out of hate and revenge, not out of “well, guess so.” “Might as well” is just too damned easy.

    Which is a damned shame.

    Still, pretty good. Not what it should’ve been, though. That always hurts; good and great are awesome, terrible is terrible, hilariously terrible is even better. They are what they are and could be. But the near-misses like this one… they hurt. Maleficent could’ve been brilliant. Instead, by letting characters and the audience off too easy, it was merely… pretty good.

    Not great. Pretty good.

    And that’s a damned shame.

    *: The three fairies were well too incompetent. It felt as though they were made even more spectacularly incompetent simply to provide more opportunities for Maleficent to step in and save Aurora. And again, that’s another case of letting things be Too Easy.

    Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
    Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

    solarbird: (pony-zebragirl)

    So one of the big events at nwcMUSIC every year at Norwescon is Cascadia’s Got Talent! which is our Gong Show-like talent show. It’s part actual talent show, part parody of talent shows, we have people who come in and demonstrate really cool talents, we give away terrible prizes, everybody has a good time.

    For me, as presenter, the terrible prizes are the best part. We have a trophy, we have a trip, we have smaller gifts… and the thing you have remember is that they’re all real and exactly what we say they are. They work. We give away junk, sure; but we don’t give away garbage.

    Which is why I was so excited about and looking forward to announcing:

    Help Me Make It Through the Night with Jim Nabors

    But I always make sure these things work, right? They have to be playable, and in pretty decent condition (unless the condition is part of the funny), so I got it out to clean the disc and make sure it played.

    Wait, What?


    Son of a bitch.


    Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
    Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

    solarbird: (korra-on-the-air)

    Via John Scalzi: Random House is trying to adopt ALL the wretched, musician-bankrupting models of the record labels, and force them onto writers, all at once.


    John’s post, with all the gruesome details. The imprint is called “Hydra,” but it’s Random House.


    This is EXACTLY the model that labels have used to take ALL the money from the artists – ALL of it, so strings of chart-topping hits never “make money” and send artists into bankruptcy after years of below-minimum-wage returns.

    DO NOT BUY IN. RUN from this. Run from it, and STOP OTHERS FROM SIGNING.

    Seriously. This new model from Random House is the EXACT model musicians are trying to work around and recover from. IT IS BUILT TO STRIP MINE YOU FOR EVERY PENNY YOU EVER MAKE, AND MORE.

    There is no winning here; not just for anyone who signs this agreement, but every other writer trying to sell their work. EVERYBODY loses – except the imprint, of course. And eventually even they even lose.

    DO. NOT. BUY. IN. And tell others. This cannot be allowed to fly.

    Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

    solarbird: (bubbles-is-hardcore)

    It’s Friday! I have people coming over to record stuff. Enjoy three pieces of art by other people; one written, two video.

    This first item isn’t what you’re going to think it is. I’m going to tell you what it is, and you’re going to go, ‘what? unlikely’ and not even read it, even though you should.

    It’s part crackfic, it’s part hard-SF singularity story, it’s kind of creepy, it’s kind of epic, and it’s also quite funny at parts, particularly if the term “paperclip AI” means anything to you. It’s one of the most amazing fanfic efforts I’ve read, and I’m not even in the fandom. Please enjoy:

    My Little Pony:

    Friendship is Optimal
    Caution: self-modifying code.

    And if that’s a little too out there for you, please instead (or in addition) please enjoy two mashups.

    From an art standpoint, I’m just really impressed by how well this actually just works as music. It’s the kind of mashup that kind of makes sense from the start – it may be R&B separated by time and great distance, but it’s still a collision of two R&B-oriented artists. Please enjoy FAROFF’s PSY vs. Ray Parker, Jr., in Gangnambusters:

    This last one’s pretty silly, two rather opposite 1980s pop acts slammed against each other. If you know anything about Billy Idol’s punk era and George Michael’s solo pop career, seeing the high-makeup punk crowd headbanging to George Michel’s high-accellerated crooning is both hysterical and somehow appropriate. It’s not bad musically, either; it sounds too fast at first, but there are reasons – they had to speed up both tracks just to get enough energy into Michel’s singing.

    Please enjoy Wax Audio’s Bill Idol vs. George Michael, Careless Rebel:

    We’re finally going to see Wreck-it Ralph (a.k.a. Sugar Rush) this weekend. What’re your plans?

    Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

    solarbird: (Default)

    [ profile] solarbird: I make it easier!
    [ profile] annathepiper: You have an odd definition of easier.
    [ profile] solarbird: I make everything easier!
    [ profile] annathepiper: Including explostions!
    [ profile] solarbird: Particularly explosions.

    solarbird: (vision)


    Clickie! CLICKIE!

    Anna is upgraded!

    solarbird: (molly-sleepy-not-asleep)
    So yeah, I was gone for a few days - I didn't sleep much but did discover that there in fact is a scotch I rather enjoy - and I'm skimming stuff but assume I'm declaring pants on my friendslist. Anything you want to call out, do it here.

    Which kind of makes this OPEN THREAD MONDAY! Go to. I have to leave anonymous comments disabled tho', sorry - long story.
    solarbird: (assassin)

    I finished the last remix today (“Shout at the Desert” – mostly a few vocal tweaks and bringing up the lower-pitched pipe organ, yes, we have to pipe organ tracks in this thing) and we’ve just sent the track set off to the mastering engineer.

    Holy shit, I recorded an album. O.o I want to say “Holy shit, it’s finished!” but it’s not, because there’s still lots to do – the mastering, of course, but also the cover, the booklet, all that.

    But the music part – that’s finished. That kind of breaks my brain.

    Keep watching for more news.

    Oh, separately, this TRON-inspired ice hotel in Sweden looks amazing. I mean, damn:

    I think I’ve found our new lair. Muah ha ha!

    Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil.

    solarbird: (assassin)

    While getting paper posters printed at the copy centre, I was talking to a couple of people about the band, and this older woman came up to me, and exclaimed:

    CRIME and the forces of EVIL? Where’s the positivity in THAT?!

    Yeah, lady, I got news. XD

    Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil.

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