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The MLC Unveils New Portal For Independent Music Distributors

The MLC has created a new portal for distributors called the Distributor Unmatched Recordings Portal (DURP).

DURP will allow users to see the publicly available data for the unmatched recordings they’ve released, allowing them to work with customers to register their songs with The MLC and claim unmatched royalties. This new feature joins the growing suite of tools that leverage The MLC’s publicly available data to improve data quality and pay rights-holders their mechanical royalties accurately and on time. The MLC hopes that, by using this feature, more distributors will share this information with their customers and encourage those customers to make sure their works are properly registered with The MLC.

Once a distributor sets up a DURP account, they will get access to a custom dashboard that shows them the publicly available data for sound recordings they have distributed that The MLC has accrued unmatched mechanical royalties for. The information about these recordings is derived from usage reports from DSPs, which generally include the name of the sound recording distributor along with the other metadata.

“Our data has identified millions of dollars in unmatched digital audio mechanical royalties due to creators for songs they’ve recorded and released through more than 1,800 independent music distributors, aggregators and labels around the world,” explains project lead Dae Bogan, The MLC’s Head of Third-Party Partnerships. “By giving these companies visibility into the data, we can help them serve their customers better and help The MLC reduce unclaimed royalties.”

The MLC will be offering an informational webinar for distributors led by Bogan on Oct. 14 to give prospective users an inside look into how they can use DURP to better serve the creators who use their distribution services. Distributors can sign up for this free webinar here.

For more information about DURP and to request access, click here.

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Maverick City Music Pushes ‘Pause’ with Singer Dante Bowe over ‘Inconsistent’ Behavior

Maverick City Music announced Monday night they will “pause” their relationship with singer Dante Bowe after a display of “inconsistent” behavior.

The worship collective has taken the Christian music industry by storm with songs like their Grammy-winning single “Jireh,” and “Promises”, which has 92 million views on YouTube.

Gospel singer Dante Bowe has been a part of the group since its inception in 2019, but on Tuesday they announced they were distancing themselves from Bowe, citing actions that contradict their values. 

“Due to behavior that is inconsistent with our core values and beliefs, we have decided to put a pause on our professional relationship with Dante Bowe,” the statement read. “Decisions like these are not easy because of the level of nuance, both professionally and personally, but we felt it necessary to address.” 

The group did not specify what exactly prompted the pause in their relationship.

Bowe announced on his Instagram account Tuesday morning that he was going to take a social media hiatus and made his Instagram page private. 

“In light of recent events and opinions, I’ve talked to some of wisest leaders and brothers around me,” he wrote. “I’ll be taking time off social media to rest mentally and physically.”

“Years ago, when I dreamt of all I would accomplish one day, I didn’t account for the pressure and opinions that would come with it. It’s important for everyone to know when to step back and refocus,” he added. 

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Earlier this month, Bowe received some criticism on social media because of singing along to a song titled “Despues De La Playa” by Bad Bunny, which contains explicit lyrics. According to The Focus, Bowe shared the video to his Instagram account of he and his friends, including some Maverick City affiliates, partying on a bus.

Maverick City music followers called out the musician for singing a song with explicit  lyrics. 

Some fans are applauding the group’s decision to publicly hold Bowe accountable, while others are criticizing it. 

“They didn’t cancel Dante Bowe,” one person tweeted. “Y’all only know acceptance and cancel culture. Taking corrections is far from y’all. This matter is proof.”

“Maverick City handled the whole Dante Bowe situation well. A lot of things must have been happen behind the scenes that have pushed them to this decision,” another person wrote. “Holding people accountable is needed.”

“This Dante Bowe thing shows a lot of us have gotten so used to religious leaders not being held accountable when they fall short, that we see accountability as harsh or unloving. I feel Maverick City’s statement came from a place of grace and love,” another person tweeted.

Others felt it was unnecessary for the group to make a public statement. 

“I feel like Maverick City should’ve just kept what they have going on with Dante Bowe private instead of bringing more attention to it cause half of us didn’t even know about the situation till they said something,” a Twitter user wrote. 

“Just hoping Dante Bowe has someone around him who extends God’s love & continuously reminds him that He is loved,” one person wrote criticizing the collective’s decision. “Public reprimand, humiliation, and shame are not easy & often feel isolating. So I hope he’s surrounded by love. That’s my prayer for him.”

Maverick City Music is urging fans to continue to support Bowe. 

“Each of us needs God’s grace and our hope is that we all pray and give him the same opportunity to grow in Christ as we give ourselves,” said Maverick.




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Mr Probz sues Sony Music again in ongoing royalties dispute

Artist News Business News Labels & Publishers Legal Top Stories

By | Published on Tuesday 27 September 2022

Mr Probz

The Dutch artist and producer Dennis Stehr, better known as Mr Probz, has filed new legal proceedings against Sony Music in the Amsterdam courts in an ongoing dispute over how the major calculates and reports his royalties.

He accuses the major of deliberately failing to calculate his cut of any income on an ‘at source’ basis and of withholding bookkeeping files that his accountants need to see in order to effectively audit the money he is due. The legal action seeks “full payment of royalties after the deduction of a reasonable distribution fee to Sony Music”, which Stehr reckons equates to millions of euros.

Stehr and his company Left Lane Recordings originally entered into a licensing deal with Sony in the Netherlands in 2013 in relation to his track ‘Waves’ and the Robin Schulz remix of that recording. A subsequent deal the following year gave the Sony-allied US-based dance label Ultra involvement in the tracks in North America.

The royalty rate Stehr and Left Lane received from those deals varied between 20% and 50% depending on the market and some other factors, but crucially with digital income the artist’s share was to be calculated based on the monies received from each digital service by any Sony subsidiary or partner in any market.

That provision – ie that the artist royalty be calculated based on ‘at source’ income – seeks to address a common gripe that artists have had over the years with record deals. Labels often allow local subsidiaries and partners to manage the release of their recordings in other markets, and those local subsidiaries and partners will then usually charge a commission on any income.

Which poses the key question, if the artist is due 20% of any monies generated by their recordings, is that 20% of what was received by the local subsidiary or partner, or 20% of what is received in the artist’s home country, ie after the local subsidiary or partner has taken their cut. With an ‘at source’ provision it should be the former.

Stehr’s then manager first raised concerns in 2018 about how Sony was calculating and reporting royalties stemming from the 2013 and 2014 licensing agreements, reckoning that his client was being underpaid by the major.

Based on those concerns, Stehr asked the accountants at Grant Thornton to undertake an audit the following year. But the auditors subsequently reported that they couldn’t get access to paperwork outside of the Netherlands to assess whether royalties were being properly calculated in other markets. Regarding North America, Sony seemingly said that the accountants should talk directly to Ultra, while Ultra said they should talk to Sony.

The dispute over royalty calculations and reporting then went legal in 2020, with Stehr and Left Lane accusing the major of being in breach of contract. And on that basis, they sought to cancel the licence relating to the Mr Probz recordings. Sony objected to those claims, but the producer prevailed in court.

In a statement regarding the new litigation, Left Lane summarises the outcome of the 2020 legal battle as follows: “In September 2020, Stehr and Left Lane BV successfully filed a lawsuit against Sony Music Entertainment and Ultra. Among other things, SME had not disbursed royalties correctly, transparently and timely. With this judgement, Stehr and his company retrieved all exploitation rights to Left Lane BV”.

“The court ruling also determined that SME had to provide various accounting documents”, the new statement continues. “Also, the already initiated audit, by Grant Thornton, at both SME and Ultra Records had to be completed. The audit verified whether SME and Ultra Records have complied with the ’at source’ provision in the licence agreements with Stehr and Left Lane BV in the past”.

“As a result of these audit reports, new facts and circumstances have emerged”, it confirms. “Grant Thornton’s audit reports conclusively show that SME and Ultra Records are unable to demonstrate that all royalties have been accounted and disbursed ‘at source’ to Stehr/Left Lane, as contractually agreed”.

It adds: “The audit reports also display that SME and Ultra, from the start, never intended to comply with this ’at source’ provision and apparently knew that such an agreement would not be honoured, given the contractual system SME has developed. By doing so, SME and Ultra Records have deceived and misled Stehr and Left Lane BV. If Stehr had known that SME withheld royalties in this way, he would never have entered into a contract with them”.

“The most striking finding”, it then says, “concerns that SME and Ultra mutually agreed on, unbeknownst to Stehr and Left Lane BV, charging distribution fees for exploiting Probz’s music rights (so-called inter-company discounts). These fees are deducted before calculating the artist’s royalty. However, an ’at source’ provision in a record contract does not allow two mutually related parties to deduct an agreed distribution fee, since the settlement basis is at the source”.

Based on what was unearthed during the audit, Stehr says that his new lawsuit “is demanding full payment of royalties after the deduction of a reasonable distribution fee to SME – this amounts to a multi-million-euro claim”.

Stehr himself adds: “It is important that this case is won, not only for myself but also for other artists who have signed into ‘at source’ agreements with one of the largest music entities in the world. This case can prove that artists have possibly not received the compensation to which they have been entitled to for years”.

“For an individual artist, filing a lawsuit of this size against a major is often impossible”, he goes on. “When there is a conflict, they often feel intimidated by these influential record labels. They usually don’t have the resources to compete against these giants in the music industry, on whom they are also financially dependent most of the time”.

“From the start, I have not received the compensation I was entitled to and I suspect I am not alone”, he concludes. “What we have discovered after years of litigation and the recent audits is so crooked that I have no choice but to take these steps”.



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New Napster has a new CEO

Business News Digital Industry People

By | Published on Tuesday 27 September 2022

Napster

Remember Napster? No, not that Napster. Not even that Napster. Although well done for remembering that Napster. But there are no points at all for remembering the original Napster. Although, I guess, that Napster did collapse more than two decades ago now. So if you’re under the age of 25, maybe you do get points for even being aware of that Napster. But not as many points as you get for remembering the other Napster.

Though, please do note, because this is really important, we’re not here to talk about that Napster or that Napster, the focus here is Napster.

Which Napster? The Web3 funtimes Napster, of course! That’s the Napster you were all meant to remember. Surely you’ve not forgotten the announcement in May that crypto companies Hivemind and Algorand had bought the Napster brand and were now getting ready to deliver some Web3 musical madness with it?

What’s that, you thought LimeWire was the long defunct file-sharing brand that had been weirdly acquired for a new music-based NFTs platform, presumably in the hope that a bunch of 30 year olds could be tricked into buying some non-fungible tokens by appealing to their nostalgia for the P2P hey-day of the mid-2000s? Yeah, well, that may be true.

But how about we trick some 37 year olds into buying some non-fungible tokens by appealing to their nostalgia for the actual P2P hey-day of the late 1990s?

Anyway, all-new Web3 Napster has a new CEO in the form of Jon Vlassopulos, who knows a thing or two about new-fangled digital nonsense from his previous role as Global Head Of Music over there at Roblox.

That appointment and some lovely new investment from a bunch of those investor types will “accelerate Napster’s Web3 initiatives”, which will include buying up a bunch of existing Web3-based music start-ups via a thing called Napster Ventures.

“In our early discussions with Jon, we quickly realised his vision of building a fresh, new and social online music service centred around connecting artists and fans in new ways, and leveraging Web3 technology, aligns perfectly with where we see Napster heading”, says W Sean Ford, CEO of Algorand.

“We believe Napster is the perfect brand and platform to lead the next generation of the music industry that goes beyond streaming or avatar-driven virtual concerts”, he adds. “Jon’s strong connectivity with the music industry and vast experience will give us the necessary leadership to make this a reality”.

Vlassopulos himself declares: “It’s an honour to take on this role and I am THRILLED to lead a company with such a rich history in the music industry. With the advent of Web3 technology, we now have an unprecedented opportunity to connect artists and fans in new, innovative ways while also making the fan experience more fun and social and creating new revenue streams for artists”.

“I have spent the last three years working hard to establish new, creative, and commercial opportunities for artists in the metaverse”, he goes on, “and I am looking forward to working alongside the amazing Napster team, our current and future partners, labels, artists, publishers, brands, and start-ups to bring mainstream fans to Web3”.

Lovely stuff. So, everybody, please, please, forget Napster the P2P platform sued into bankruptcy by the major labels. Forget Napster the download store that no one used, that morphed into Napster the streaming service that no one used, and which was then merged with a VR company in a deal no one understood. Those are the olden days. They’re gone. Forget them, forever. After all, now is now. And now is the time of Napster. Honest.



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Mr. Probz says he’s filed a ‘multi-million-euro’ lawsuit against Sony for allegedly withholding royalties

Dutch artist and producer Dennis Stehr, aka Mr. Probz, and his record label Left Lane, say that they’ve filed a lawsuit against Sony Music Entertainment in Amsterdam.

In a media statement issued Tuesday (September 27), Stehr and his company accuse Sony of “secretly” withholding royalties, and breaching an ’at source’ clause in his record contract.

They’re demanding full payment of the alleged unpaid royalties “after the deduction of a reasonable distribution fee to SME”.

Reuters reports that Stehr is seeking €9.66 million ($10m).

Mr. Probz achieved global success as the singer and songwriter behind the hit Waves in 2013 and the Waves-Remix by EDM German EDM producer Robin Schultz. The two tracks have over 900 million streams between them on Spotify.

Stehr’s legal dispute with SME follows a previous breach of contract lawsuit filed by him and his company, against the major back in 2019. In September 2020, a court in Amsterdam ruled in favor of Mr. Probz in summary proceedings filed against Sony Music Netherlands

At the time, the court ruled that Sony failed to fulfill its contractual obligations regarding license agreements entered into in 2013 and 2014 by Mr. Probz and his label with Sony Music and Ultra Records.

At the root of the latest proceedings, according to the press release issued by Stehr, is that his agreement signed with SME and Ultra Music in 2013 contained an ’at source’ provision which, he argues, wasn’t honored by SME.

Stehr claims that SME applied distribution fees to his royalties via its affiliates, which he says was in breach of the ’at source’ provision in his record contract, and which resulted in the alleged underpayment of his royalties.

He argues in the media statement that “an ’at source’ provision in a record contract does not allow two mutually related parties to deduct an agreed distribution fee, since the settlement basis is at the source”.

Stehr and his company claim further in the press release that two audit reports by accounting firm Grant Thornton “unveil how SME and its subsidiary Ultra Records have withheld royalties for years”.

They also claim that “SME deliberately failed to account Mr. Probz following the contractual ’at source’ provision and refuses to give Mr. Probz access to its bookkeeping, which is necessary to carry out an audit”.

“We categorically dispute the claims made and are in the process of reviewing the summons.”

Sony Music Netherlands

In a statement provided to MBW over email, Sony Music Netherlands, said: “We categorically dispute the claims made and are in the process of reviewing the summons. We will respond via the legal process and are unable to comment further.”

Stehr’s lawyer Pim Keulen, said: “With surprise and disbelief, we have read the findings of the Grant Thornton reports. SME apparently makes mutual intercompany agreements within a group, unbeknownst to artists, resulting in musicians missing out on significant income. They cannot rely on being correctly disbursed by SME.”

“From the start, I have not received the compensation I was entitled to and I suspect I am not alone.”

Dennis Stehr

Dennis Stehr said:  “It is important that this case is won, not only for myself but also for other artists who have signed into ‘at source’ agreements with one of the largest music entities in the world.

“This case can prove that artists have possibly not received the compensation to which they have been entitled to for years. For an individual artist, filing a lawsuit of this size against a major is often impossible. When there is a conflict, they often feel intimidated by these influential record labels.

Added Stehr: “They usually don’t have the resources to compete against these giants in th  music industry, on whom they are also financially dependent most of the time.

“From the start, I have not received the compensation I was entitled to and I suspect I am not alone.  What we have discovered after years of litigation and the recent audits is so crooked that I have no choice but to take these steps.”Music Business Worldwide


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Why Gen X Should Be Known As The ‘Disruptor Gen’

The is often referred to as “slacker generation”Or “latchkey kids,”Generation Xers are not lazy kids. Gen Xers are the most driven and ambitious generation. Gen Xers have quietly paved the path to some of life’s most exciting and radical changes.

Gen X Had A Unique Start

Although the definitions can vary, they are the same. Pew Research Center describes Generation XThey are those who were born between 1965-1980. They are estimated to account for 65 millions people in the United States. They have the potential to be the richest generation within the next few year.

Their success was due to many factors. The Gen X generation was the first to either grow up with one parent or both parents working. They learned early independence and self-reliance as a result. Because they started their careers in the dotcom boom, with the introduction of the internet, technology is now a more common tool for them to invent and realize their dreams.

RELATED: Dungeons & Dragons: The New Retirement Game

They were tagged as the “kids who never grew up”Because they were the ones who dialed back the formality of work and wore hoodies rather than ties. They also brought their dogs to work. These four Gen X innovators prove that it is possible to be the “innovator” instead of being called the “traditionalist”. “slacker generation,”The disruptor generation should be called Gen Xers.

Larry Page Has Disrupted Information Access

The first generation to have access to computers at home was Gen Xers. Given their tech savvy beginnings, it’s no surprise that Google was founded by Gen Xers Larry Page and fellow graduate student Sergey Brin. People had to visit the library to look up information in the dictionary or search through microfiche before Google. The way we search information and news has changed dramatically since Page’s creation and Google’s launch.

Jeff Bezos Has Disrupted the Retail Industry

Shopping was difficult before Amazon. It was difficult to shop online. You had to go to the store, look through the aisles for what you were looking for, then wait in line to purchase it. It was terrible. You can shop online for nearly anything and get it delivered the next day, thanks in part to Jeff Bezos, a Gen Xer.

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(lev radin/Shutterstock.com)

Customers loved the convenience of shopping online at Amazon and demanded that other retailers do the same. Today, the vast majority million American consumers shop online—some 80% of the population according to some estimates—and the number Only once did the pandemic strike, was it spiked. As a result of Jeff Bezos dream, Amazon is the fourth-most valuable U.S. company—behind Apple, Microsoft, and Google—with a market capitalization of Around $1.7 Trillion, greater than the gross domestic product of all but a dozen or so countries. Bezos’ latest focus seems to be using his unimaginable wealth to fund space travel.

Elon Musk Disrupted Transportation

Today, we have a choice on how we fuel our cars and the thought of taking a trip to space doesn’t sound like something out of a sci fi movie anymore, thanks to Gen Xer Elon Musk. Although many will remember him for his involvement with PayPal in the early days, he is most well-known for joining Tesla Motors in 2003. This made him an iconic part of popular culture. Musk disrupted the rail, automotive and space industries to change the way we travel. Musk is no slouch here. His portfolio includes everything, from electric cars and storage batteries to logistics in space and a new high-speed train.

Musk may not have invented the first electric vehicle or space travel, but he is often credited for making them more popular and mainstream. According to Statista, Tesla ranked as the most valuable automotive brand worldwide as of June 2022 and within the fifteen most valuable brands across all industries in 2021. SpaceX, his other major venture, is already a landmark. It was the first private company that delivered a spacecraft into orbit to the International Space Station. Musk is also developing a prototype reusable rocket called Grasshopper in order to make spaceflight less expensive and more efficient.

And if driving and space travel aren’t enough, his latest effort, Hyperloop, seeks to transform the way we commute with a high-speed transportation system with tubes for both commuters and companies.

Parker and Fanning Disrupt The Music Industry

Are you a child who waited at the radio to record your favorite song, or begged your parents to take you to Record World to buy an entire album? Imagine if your only option for finding new music was to listen on the local radio station.

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Thanks to Sean Parker and Sean Fanning, Gen Xers Sean Parker & Sean Fanning, this is no longer necessary. Napster, which was founded by Sean Parker and Sean Fanning in 1999, disrupted the music business. Instantly, all the albums you wanted were at your fingertips and easily downloaded. It also gave aspiring musicians without a record deal the opportunity to have their music heard by major labels.

When the public had free access to music, even though it was illegal, it seemed that we were living in a golden age. Napster sparked enough discussion, reflection and innovation to create the current state in music accessibility. It also paved the way towards online stores and streaming services such as Amazon, YouTube, Facebook and Facebook.

As the result of the Recording Industry Association of America’s lawsuit, Napster ended up shutting down in July 2001. Its creators were made to pay millions of dollars to copyright owners and artists. Napster was renamed Rhapsody in 2005 and has since been through numerous changes. Ironically, iTunes was founded the same year Napster crashed. It is now thriving.


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5 ways to make money from your music – Billboard

Are you starting to publish your music and not sure how to monetize it? Or are you an emerging artist who’s already beginning to be heard in Europe and has been touring for some time? Whether you’re just starting out or you think you know everything about the music industry, don’t miss these tips from five Latin music leaders on how to make money from your work right away. 

They are Cris Falcão, managing editor at Ingrooves Music Group, Brazil; Edgar Martinez, senior VP of Entertainment at Loud And Live; Omar Paredes, associate director of industry relations at SoundExchange; Horacio Rodriguez, CEO of WK Records and head of music for WK Entertainment; and Emilio Morales, publishing director at Rimas Publishing. Together they participated on Monday (Sept. 26) in a panel of Billboard’s Latin Music Week moderated by Leila Cobo in which, for the most part, they agreed all that you should educate yourself well about the business although music comes first. 

Here are the five most relevant points: 

Publishing: Unless you are a very local artist and your genre and scope are limited to your environment, once your music starts playing beyond your borders you should ideally hire the services of a publisher, says Morales. A publisher will help you maximize the collection of money and get international royalties faster, something that would otherwise be very difficult, he says. “It’s a very technical and complicated administrative job and a largely unknown area in this industry.” 

SoundExchange: A publisher will help you get the royalties from your music if you are the composer, but if you’re only the performer, SoundExchange will be your best ally. The nonprofit collective rights management organization collects money for the singer from non-interactive radio services like SiriusXM, and not just in the United States, Paredes said. SoundExchange helps record labels and publishers run their businesses better. It collects digital royalties on behalf of labels large and small and allows them to claim and track their music catalog. 

An advance: A record label will give emerging artists a cash advance so that they can support themselves while they develop their craft, adds Rodriguez. The label will be your partner for a long time and you need the business to always look good and be healthy for the company to keep investing in you.

Touring: Touring usually comes later and artists should know the appropriate size of their tour and their venues at any given moment in their career. Not everyone can fill the American Airlines Arena, says Martinez, but by studying the artist and scope, the right tour can be defined in order to get the most out of it. 

Hidden money: There are many opportunities in the industry to make additional money. Beyond sponsors or the typical merchandise, Martinez sees a source of income yet to be exploited in unique experiences like sound-checks, backstage tours or going on stage with the artist. “It is money that is not necessarily being exploited right now and there’s a real interest in this type of experience.” 

An additional tip per panelist: 

Cris Falcão: Don’t follow the numbers. Follow your heart, and the numbers will follow. 

Edgar Martinez: In my case, follow the numbers (laughs.) Actually, I think that the most important thing to be a touring artist is to focus on creating music, on really being different, unique. That’s what really makes an audience follow you for 20, 30 years. 

Omar Paredes: I am a huge advocate of the art… but also research, learn, constantly evolve, stay up to date. Work on your craft, but keep your eyes in the business as well. 

Emilio Morales: Work as a team from the beginning. No one wins a championship alone, you have to fight as a team. 

Horacio Rodriguez: Artist, producer and manager have to learn every line of income in the business, know where the money comes from, delegate, trust and work as a team. At the same time, above all, music comes first, always. 




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‘Waves’ musician Mr. Probz files $10 million suit against Sony over royalties

AMSTERDAM : Lawyers for Dutch musician Mr. Probz, known for his 2013-14 hit “Waves”, said on Tuesday they have filed a claim worth more than 10 million euros ($9.66 million) against Sony in Amsterdam over royalties the artist argues Sony fraudulently withheld.

Mr. Probz, whose real name is Dennis Stehr, argues that Sony deducted administration and distribution fees from his royalties as they were passed through the company’s subsidiaries, in violation of his contract which specified they should be determined when they were first collected – “at source”.

Sony denied the allegations.

“We categorically dispute the claims made and are in the process of reviewing the summons,” Sony Music Entertainment Netherlands said in an emailed response to Reuters questions.

Mr. Probz has around 5 million monthly listeners on Spotify and the radio edit remix of “Waves” with Robin Schulz has been streamed more than 800 million times. The Waves video has been viewed 500 million times on YouTube.

In a preliminary ruling in 2020, the Amsterdam District Court ordered Sony to return control of Stehr’s music to his company Left Lane BV, and to allow his auditor access to all documents relating to the exploitation of his music from 2013-20.

Stehr lawyer Pim Keulen said Sony had not given full access to auditor Grant Thornton, but audits showed that the company “systematically” wrongly deducted fees leading to underpayment of 3-6 per cent on royalties Left Lane should have received from Spotify, TIDAL, Amazon Music and Deezer among others.

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Record stores are treasure troves … and you can ask staff for recommendations.

‘There’s endless choice, but you’re not listening’: fans quitting Spotify to save their love of music | Music

Meg Lethem was working at her bakery job one morning in Boston when she had an epiphany. Tasked with choosing the day’s soundtrack, she opened Spotify, then flicked and flicked, endlessly searching for something to play. Nothing was perfect for the moment. She looked some more, through playlist after playlist. An uncomfortably familiar loop, it made her realise: she hated how music was being used in her life. “That was the problem,” she says. “Using music, rather than having it be its own experience … What kind of music am I going to use to set a mood for the day? What am I going to use to enjoy my walk? I started not really liking what that meant.”

It wasn’t just passive listening, but a utilitarian approach to music that felt like a creation of the streaming environment. “I decided that having music be this tool to [create] an experience instead of an experience itself was not something I was into,” she reflects. So she cut off her Spotify service, and later, Apple Music too, to focus on making her listening more “home-based” and less of a background experience.

Such reckonings have become increasingly commonplace in recent years, as dedicated music listeners continue to grapple with the unethical economics of streaming companies, and feel the effects of engagement-obsessed, habit-forming business models on their own listening and discovery habits. In the process, they are seeking alternatives.

“With streaming, things were starting to become quite throwaway and disposable,” says Finlay Shakespeare. A Bristol-based musician and audio engineer, Shakespeare recently deleted his streaming accounts and bought a used iPod on eBay for £40. With streaming, he says: “If I didn’t gel with an album or an artist’s work at first, I tended not to go back to it.” But he realised that a lot of his all-time favourite albums were ones that grew on him over time. “Streaming was actually contributing to some degree of dismissal of new music.” Even with digital downloads, he tended to give music more time and attention.

Jared Samuel Elioseff, a multi-instrumentalist who records as Invisible Familiars and owns a studio in Cambridge, New York, also felt the streaming environment was generally hindering his musical curiosity: “I’ve been Spotify-less for two years now. My musical experiences definitely feel more dedicated and focused. It’s not as convenient. I’ll reluctantly admit that I listen to less music. Although on Spotify, I wasn’t necessarily listening to stuff. I was checking out the first 15 seconds and hitting skip. Now, I have to work for it and I like that. I can use the internet as a search tool but I’m not using it as a means to listen. I really have to seek things out and research.

“Streaming makes the listening experience much more passive,” he continues. “The word ‘streaming’ is one of those things that’s gradually assimilated into everyone’s vocabulary. Before there was streaming music, what else was streaming? This idea that you can just turn on a faucet, and out comes music. It’s something that leaves everyone to take it for granted.”

Conversations around how digital marketplaces shape listening have long focused on the unbundling of the album. For some, though, this has felt distinctly tied to streaming. Nick Krawczeniuk, a music fan and network engineer who recently moved away from streaming, felt his listening habits were being particular affected by Spotify’s “liked songs” playlist: “I found myself selecting more and more just one-off songs from an artist, whereas before I’d been inclined to save a whole album.”

And Milesisbae, a 23-year-old hip-hop artist from Richmond, Virginia, who recently cancelled all streaming subscriptions after learning how little musicians were compensated, noted something similar: “I will listen to one song 100 times in a row, but I won’t give the rest of the album a chance. Before I used streaming services, I would listen to the whole thing.”

Miles says he increasingly sees artists selling CDs and downloads at shows; indeed, for some who have deleted Spotify and Apple Music accounts, leaving streaming has meant a big-picture reimagination of their relationship to MP3s. For Shakespeare, downloads are now his primary mode of consumption: he has replaced his iPod’s hard drive with a micro SD card dock to increase capacity, and loaded it with Bandcamp purchases and ripped CDs.

For Krawczeniuk, the move away from Spotify after eight years was partly inspired by the realisation that by using open source software, a home server and a VPN on his phone, he could build something similar himself. He is now using a project called Navidrome to create a self-hosted streaming library that he can stream from any location, across various devices. “It’s a little box that sits on my desk, plugged into my router,” he explains. The server holds all his music, including Bandcamp purchases and ripped CDs: “It’s a simple music library.” He sees moving away from Big Streaming as connected to a broader movement towards small-scale tech projects and open-source services that are not resource- or energy-intensive.

Nearly everyone interviewed for this piece pointed out the need for systemic change across the music industry, from rethinking how royalties are paid by streaming services to expanding public funding for artists. Still, leaving streaming has led to a more meaningful daily experience of music.

Jeff Tobias, a musician and composer who finally pulled the plug on Spotify for good in early 2022 as the company was making headlines for its deal with podcaster Joe Rogan, has an approach to streamless listening that’s uncomplicated: records, cassettes, Bandcamp, Mixcloud. When it comes to discovery, recommendations come from friends, Bandcamp editorial, and stuff he comes across at his job working at a local record shop. “It’s almost a pre-internet style relationship with music,” he says. “I am kind of going back to thinking, ‘Oh I wonder what that album sounds like’ until I really take it upon myself to actually seek it out.”

“I like music because it’s a communal artistic practice,” he adds. “And anything that I can do that allows me to listen to music in a way that connects me with either the artists or my friends, that’s what I want to be involved with. Spotify and streaming in general just has absolutely no connection with that relationship at all.”

Wendy Eisenberg, a musician and teacher who recently deleted their account with Napster Music (formerly called Rhapsody), put it this way: “The one thing I’ve noticed since divesting is that music sounds better to me because I’ve put in the work to either locate it on a hard drive or download it from a friend’s Bandcamp or something. And every time I listen to it, even if it’s just on the way to work, I can hear the spiritual irreverence of that choice. And so it doesn’t feel like I am just receiving music from some distant tastemaker. But it seems like I have some relationship to the music, of ritual, which is where I come to it as a practising musician.

“Taking the extra step to load it on to my phone, or the extra step to flip over the tape, or put the CD on in the car, it feels like something that I’m doing, rather than something I’m receiving,” they continue. “And that sense of agency makes me a more dedicated and involved listener than the kind of passive listening-without-listening that streaming was making me do.”

Lethem reported something similar: she now listens mostly to records, Bandcamp downloads, and a little radio she put in her kitchen. “The choices are very limited. But it’s actually freeing. [With streaming] there’s endless accessibility, but you’re not really listening to anything. At least that’s what it started feeling like to me. I’m experiencing so much music, but am I really listening to any of it?”

Record stores are treasure troves … and you can ask staff for recommendations.
Record stores are treasure troves … and you can ask staff for recommendations. Photograph: Cristóbal Herrera/EPA

DIY discovery: Six ways to find new music …

Bandcamp
Online music store Bandcamp is a key revenue driver for many artists, taking a scant cut of sales compared with streaming services. For fans and listeners, the Bandcamp Daily blog is a treasure trove of independent gems and curios, and a few hours spent trawling other users’ profiles or the site’s Discover function is always sure to yield a new favourite or two.

The human algorithm
A great way to discover new music can oftentimes be just dropping a message in your favourite group chat: “What’s everyone been listening to lately?” Even if your mates have the exact same taste as you, there’s bound to be some kind of variance, and those small differences are often where you’ll pick up the kind of track that an algorithm could never show you.

Your local record store
There are few better ways to find new music than simply going down to your local record store, telling the staff member at the counter what you’re into, and asking what they recommend. If you’re shy, don’t worry: many shops feature a staff picks section to trawl through.

Online radio
It’s easy to be paralysed by the repetitive cycles of streaming services. Online radio stations such as NTS, Worldwide FM, The Lot and Hope St Radio offer tailored, extraordinarily niche, and often mindblowingly good radio shows. Heavy hitters such as NTS have multiple channels and deep archives; newer, more DIY operations might only have a patchy, ultra-lo-fi stream and no tracklists. Either way, it’s a great way to hear something you have never heard before.

Artist interviews
Musicians can often provide the best recommendations, and even if you don’t have most pop stars on speed dial, interviews are generally the next best thing. A Björk profile, for example, may lead you to wild techno experimentalists Sideproject, while a podcast chat between Charli XCX and Rina Sawayama could lead you to discover your new favourite diva.

YouTube algorithm
If Spotify’s algorithm is disarmingly tailored, YouTube’s is shockingly loose. You almost never know what’s going to come next when you are listening to music on YouTube (which many people, especially among Gen Z, use as their sole streaming service). Sometimes, it will be another song by the same artist, at other times, it will be something extraordinarily unlikely, such as this 1994 performance of Fade Into You that, for about a year, was ubiquitous in many people’s algorithms. Either way, it’s a journey. Shaad D’Souza


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BlowUpRadio.com’s New & Notable NJ Music: 9/26/22

NEWS | FEATURES | PREVIEWS | EVENTS

By Lazlo



originally published: 09/26/2022

 BlowUpRadio.com

Lazlo, founder of BlowUpRadio.com (an online station based around New Jersey artists), shines a light on some of the many new releases from NJ based musicians each week with this column. This week Lazlo takes a look at releases by 9fm, Joe Juliano, Jon Caspi & The First Gun, Yawn Mower, Plus Tax, The Smithereens, Taser Video, and Old Smile.

9fm – “Uh Huh Yeah Okay”.  “Shoulda stuck to songs for Twilight Zone,” says the title track of the two new songs from 9fm, who used to solely write songs based around Twilight Zone stories. I think he is doing exactly what he need to do as, “uh huh yeah okay”, may in fact be my favorite 9fm song yet, and the b-side, “Too Big a Fire”, is also now amongst my favorites from Jarrod Pedone’s project. Also, all proceeds from uh huh yeah okay will be donated to relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Fiona.

Joe Juliano – “Fantasies”. Joe Juliano’s latest single is a beautiful ballad lamenting that fantasies don’t come true.

Jon Caspi & The First Gun – “The Studio 650 Sessions”. Recorded live in studio, this album manages to capture the band’s live energy on some of Jon Caspi & The First Gun’s most rocking tunes, along with covers of The Misfits, Black Flag, and The Greg Kihn Band. Rock on!

Yawn Mower – “To Each Their Own Coat”. Yawn Mover have been around 7 years, but this is somehow their first full length album. It also breaks the mold of their typical fuzz-rock sound, adding soundscapes that broaden their sound and add to their awesomeness!

 

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Plus Tax – “Plus Tax”. I don’t know anything about Plus Tax. Their Bandcamp page was all I could find and it had no bio or anything other than the 9 songs that make up their self-titled debut. But I do hope the band finds this review and knows how much I enjoyed this modern rock album, that I think may have been influenced by bands like Dinosaur Jr. and Screaming Trees.

The Smithereens – “The Lost Album”. Look, you shouldn’t need me to tell you who The Smithereens are, but in short, they are masters of Power-Pop since the 1980’s. This “new” album was recorded in the fall of 1993, which means it features the late Pat DiNizio on vocals. By their own admission, “The Lost Album remains only 80 percent finished and rough mixed.” Their 80 percent is better than most’s 100 percent. I happily put this into my Smithereens album collection right next to their other classics.

 

Taser Video – “Kennedy” [single]. If it was the early 00’s this type of indie-alt rock with hooks & background harmonies would have been a radio hit. I still love it, and it should still be a radio hit (it will be on BlowupRadio.com)! 

Old Smile – “Name” [single]. The new Old Smile single “Name”, evokes (to me at least) the melancholia of a latter day Lennon/McCartney tune. it is perfect accompaniment for the colder fall season descending upon us.

That’s all for this week.

Remember BlowUpRadio.com, plays these and many other New Jersey based artists on our internet radio station, so please check us out. #SupportGoodMusic – If you like any of the above artists, please purchase their music from their site. And if you would like to part of BlowUpRadio.com’s New & Notable, please send downloads or contact Lazlo at Lazlo-at-BlowUpRadio-dot-com

 


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