Friday, December 15, 2017

Certain Songs #1073: Magnapop – “Favorite Writer” | Medialoper

Album: Magnapop
Year: 1992

Once upon a time, there was a band from Athens, Georgia called Oh-OK. Of course, once upon a time, there were so many bands from Athens they made a documentary about it, largely because of the popularity of two bands you might have heard of, R.E.M. and The B-52’s.

Oh-OK had already broken up by that time, so none of their members were in the documentary, and they would have been a footnote if not for who was actually in the band at the time of their Mitch Easter-produced Furthermore What EP, which got decent traction on KFSR in 1983 because of the catchiness of a future Certain Song called “Such ‘n’ Such,” which happened to be written — but not sung! — by their bassist, Lynda Stipe.

Of course, these days, Oh-OK is remembered mostly because it featured some of the earliest recordings of Matthew Sweet and the woman who actually sang on “Such ‘n’ Such,” Linda Hopper.

Fast-forward to 1990. R.E.M. is on the verge of becoming huge, Matthew Sweet has long since abandoned Athens and is working with Lloyd Cole, and Hopper calls Lynda Stipe’s brother Michael to produce some songs for the self-titled debut album of her new band, Magnapop, the highlight of which is a jangly guitar gem called “Favorite Writer.”

In Corsica the engines blew
Your favorite writer died
In a car, in a crash
Died in a fire, imagine that

At first, “Favorite Writer” is halting, with drummer (and fellow Oh-OK refugee) David McNair laying back as guitarist Ruthie Morris creates a lot of space, but then, McNair kicks into a straight beat, and Morris stridently strums an acoustic guitar as they roll into the chorus.

In a car, in a crash
Die in a fire imagine that
Engine, engineer

“Favorite Writer” doesn’t ever achieve full takeoff — even the uptempo parts are practically introspective — but it gets by on an absolutely gorgeous melody and a subject matter that you don’t normally get in even an indie-pop song.

So by the time Hopper gets around to singing the first verse again, you’re fully on board with the whole song, especially she switches up from “Engine, engineer” to “Angel engineer” on the very last iteration of the chorus.

“Favorite Writer” was easily the standout of Magnapop’s debut album (2nd place went to a version of Big Star’s “13” that featured loud, crunchy guitars), and Michael Stipe liked it so much that a decade later, R.E.M. covered and even played it on tour for awhile.

“Favorite Writer”

“Favorite Writer” performed live in 2017

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CBS Drops Lawsuit Over ‘Pirated’ Screenshot of 59-Year-Old TV Show | TorrentFreak

Over the past year, dozens of independent photographers have taken mainstream media outlets to court, accusing the companies of using their work without permission.

While the photographers only have a tiny fraction of the legal budgets of their wealthy adversaries, they have managed to score several settlements.

This is no surprise, as the evidence in these cases is often undisputed. However, New York photographer Jon Tannen learned that going up against a media mogul is not without risk. When he sued CBS Broadcasting a few weeks ago, the company ‘retaliated’ in a highly unusual way.

Instead of resolving the matter behind closed doors, CBS came out guns blazing. The company filed a lawsuit against the photographer accusing him of posting a copyright-infringing screenshot of a TV show on social media – the 59-year-old show Gunsmoke.

While posting a half-century old screenshot of an episode is quite different from using a recent photograph in a commercial publication, CBS branded Tannen a hypocrite in the complaint.

Follow up filings revealed how things spiraled out of control. Both parties were not able to agree on a settlement. According to CBS, Tannen demanded more than 100 times the value of a license, which they refused to pay.

Instead, they filed a lawsuit of their own. It was a clear retaliatory move and without informing the photographer in advance, attorney Richard Liebowitz wrote to the court.

“[I]n the midst of settlement negotiations on this case, Ballard Spahr LLP, the same law firm which serves as defense counsel here, filed a patently frivolous copyright infringement case on behalf of CBS against Tannen in obvious retaliation for this lawsuit,” he writes.

“Patently frivolous”

While lawsuits over TV show screenshots are highly unusual, this one apparently revitalized the settlement negotiations.

Both parties recently informed the court that they are finalizing an agreement in the initial lawsuit, which will end the case. As a result, CBS also dismissed its case against the photographer this week. As is usual, details of the settlement are not disclosed.

Meanwhile, another photographer filed a lawsuit against CBS this week, again represented by attorney Richard Liebowitz, who’s not hesitant in targeting the company again.

In this case the photographer, New York-based Lawrence Schwartzwald, accuses CBS Interactive of using a photo he took of actress Barbara Streisand and actor Jeff Bridges on without obtaining permission.

With a screenshot of the photo of the site on file, the evidence looks quite compelling. However, let’s see if CBS can dig up some dirt on the photographer’s social media accounts this time round.

A copy of Schwartzwald’s complaint is available here (pdf).

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN discounts, offers and coupons


Top Silicon Valley tech battle judge probed over sex pest claims | The Register

Alex Kozinski accused of showing women clerks porn, sexually harassing staff

A misconduct inquiry has been opened into top US tech judge Alex Kozinski over allegations that he showed female law clerks pornography and repeatedly asked inappropriate sexual questions.…


Copyright Royalty Board Raises Rates SiriusXM Pays For Music 40% | hypebot

SiriusxmResponding to a request from SoundExchange and other artist advocates, the US Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) yesterday issued rate changes for for Sirius XM’s satellite radio service, as well as for cable and satellite television music services provided by Music Choice and Muzak, from 2018 through 2022.


Up arrows

The CRB has increased the rates for Sirius XM by more than 40%, from 11% of revenue to 15.5% of revenue, effective January 1, 2018. Sirius XM is the only satellite radio service in the United States and reported revenues of $5 billion in 2016.

By contrast, the CRB reduced the rates for Music Choice’s and Muzak’s services from 8.5% to 7.5% of revenue. 

“We thank the CRB for its work and appreciate their consideration of the case we laid out,” SoundExchange President and CEO Michael Huppe said is a statement. “SoundExchange is dedicated to our mission of ensuring that creators are properly recognized and compensated for the use of their work. And while the Copyright Royalty Board did not adopt the rates we proposed for Sirius XM, its ruling demonstrates an important step in the right direction toward valuing the contributions of the music creators represented by SoundExchange.”

In the view of many in the music industry,  Sirius XM has paid below-market rates for years, and the recording artists and rights owners SoundExchange represents have subsidized the company’s growth. Likewise, Music Choice and Muzak pay significantly lower rates than their non-grandfathered competitors offering the same service. SoundExchange and others are urging Congress to establish rate standard parity so all digital services are subject to a “willing buyer/willing seller” standard.

“There’s no reason recording artists and record labels should subsidize a company as profitable as Sirius XM,” Huppe said. “Everyone should play by the same rules, and it is long past time for Congress to change the standard that currently forces music creators to subsidize flourishing companies whose success is built on top of the music.”

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Disney, Netflix and the Squeezed Middle: The Real Story Behind Net Neutrality | Music Industry Blog

Unless you have been hiding under a rock this last couple of weeks you’ll have heard at least something about the build up to the decision over turning net neutrality in the US, a decision that was confirmed yesterday. See Zach Fuller’s post for a great summary of what it means. In highly simplistic terms, the implications are that telcos will be able to prioritize access to their networks, which could mean that any digital service will only be able to guarantee their US users a high quality of service if they broker a deal with each and every telco. As Zach explains, we could see similar moves in Europe and elsewhere. If you are a media company or a digital content provider your world just got turned upside down. But this ruling is in many ways an inevitable result of a fundamental shift in value across digital value chains.

net neutrality value chains

Although the ruling effectively only overturns a 2015 ruling that had previously guaranteeing net neutrality, the world has moved on a lot since then, not least with regards to the emergence of the streaming economy across video, music and games. In short, there is a lot more bandwidth being taken up by streaming services and little or no extra value reverting to the upgraded networks.

Value is shifting from rights to distribution

Although the exact timing with the Disney / Fox deal (see Tim Mulligan’s take here) was coincidental the broad timing was not. The last few years have seen a major shift in value from rights companies (eg Disney, Universal Music, EA Games) through to distribution companies (eg Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Spotify) with the value shift largely bypassing the infrastructure companies (ie the telcos).

The accelerating revenue growth and valuations of the tech majors and the streaming giants have left media companies trailing in their wake. The Disney / Fox deal was two of the world’s biggest media companies realising that consolidation was the only way to even get on the same lap as the tech majors. They needed to do so because those tech majors are all either already or about to become content companies too, using their vast financial fire power to outbid traditional media companies for content.

The value shift has bypassed infrastructure companies

Meanwhile telcos have been left stranded between rock and a hard place. Telcos have long been concerned about becoming relegated to the role of dumb pipes and most had given up any real hope of being content companies themselves (other than the TV companies who also have telco divisions). They see regulatory support for better monetizing their networks by levying access fees to tech companies as their last resort.

In its most basic form, this regulatory decision will allow telcos to throttle the bandwidth available to streaming services either in favour of their favoured partners or until an access fee is paid. The common thought is that telcos are becoming the new gatekeepers. In most instances they are more likely to become toll booths. But in some instances they may well shy away from any semblance of neutrality. For example, Sprint might well decide that it wants to give its part-owned streaming service Tidal a leg up, and throttle access for Spotify and Apple Music for Sprint users. Eventually Spotify and Apple Music users will realise they either need to switch streaming service or mobile provider. Given that one is a need-to-have, contract-based utility and the other is nice-to-have and no contract and is fundamentally the same underlying proposition, a streaming music switch is the more likely option. Similarly, AT&T could opt to throttle access for Netflix in order to give its DirecTV Now service a leg up. Those telcos without strong content plays could find themselves in the market for acquisitions. For example, Verizon could make a bid for Spotify pre-listing, or even post-listing.

The FCC ruling still needs congressional approval and is subject to legal challenges from a bunch of states so it could yet be blocked. If it is not, then the above is how the world will look. Make no mistake, this is the biggest growing pain the streaming economy has yet faced, even if it just ends up with those services having to carve out an extra slice of their wafer-thin margins in order reach their customers.


Splice Raises $35 Million To Expand Digital Hub For Musicians, $5 Million Paid To Creators | hypebot

image from splice.comFour years after launching, online music creators hub Splice announced that it has paid out $5 million to artists, as well as, completed a new $35 million funding round to expand the service. One of the samples available from Splice even anchored “Sorry Not Sorry,”  the #1 hit for Demi Lovato last summer.


Hear the "snap" that kicks in around the 29-second mark of “Sorry Not Sorry,”  the #1 hit for Demi Lovato, and repeats throughout the song? Producer Oak Felder got that sample from Splice, as part of a monthly subscription he has with the online service.

Splice has just raised $35 million in new funding let by DFJ Growth to expand. The company previously raised $12.25 million in three rounds.  

image from

Splice streamlines the process of creating and sharing music by bringing all of the steps into a single digital home. The Splice community also provides artists with a new means to connect with fans and other artists to solicit feedback throughout the creative process.

One of Splice's most popular features is a legal sample subscription service that costs between $8 and $30 a month, and comes with no strings or royalties attached. Since launching four years ago, Splice has paid $5 million to creators. 

Founded by entrepreneurs Steve Martocci and Matt Aimonetti, Splice is headquartered in New York, NY, with an office in Los Angeles.

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Musician's Guide To Building A Social Media Foundation | hypebot

1For DIY artists, social media is something of a mixed blessing. On the one hand it has made self-promotion much more accessible, but it can also be a challenge to know where to begin. Here we look at some of the most important tips for gaining a following of fans online, and promoting your merch and music to the digital hordes.


Guest post by Kayla Rigler of DIY Musician

Social media has made self-promotion for indie artists easy. The main problem is that there are so many different platforms, it’s difficult to know where to start. You don’t have time or money to waste. You want to get potential fans hooked and buying tickets and downloads.

Before social media, bands and musicians had to wait on the goodwill of their record label for promotion. That’s if they [even] had a recording contract to begin with. In the past, DIY music production and sales were unheard of. In the post-Myspace era, bands can now record, produce, distribute, sell, and promote their music without an A&R rep ever darkening their door.

Here are the top tips for creating a following, gaining fans, and promoting your music and merch to the masses via social media:

1. Create a YouTube Channel

YouTube has replaced MySpace for band promotion. It’s one of the most-used social media platforms for music fans. The search features make it a powerhouse for finding a new audience. YouTube promotes you in “Related Videos” to the fans of bands in your genre, making it easy to capture an ever-widening base of music lovers. You might find you’re getting more traffic from other bands’ channels than organic searches.

Get our free guide to promoting your music on YouTube.

Tip: Be sure to enter a description and tags that’ll help people who like your kind of music find your videos.

2. Create a Facebook Fan Page

Although not as popular with the under-35 demographic as it once was, it’s still the social media platform that most people go to connect with artists. Twitter is great, but it’s no Facebook. Set up a fan page for yourself or your band, and put the time it to make it look good. To engage fans, consider the following:

Schedule content updates.

You’re going to want to share several different types of content on your Facebook page. Upcoming events and new releases are vital, but fans also want to see candid shots, rehearsal videos, even some personal day-in-the-life content. Make sure you have a regular stream of content by using a social media scheduling tool like Hootsuite. Keep it relevant to your work, but make it relatable and fun.

Interact with your followers.

Take some time out of your day to respond to fans commenting on your Facebook posts. Let them know that you’re paying attention to their feedback and that you appreciate their support.

Use Facebook ads.

Set up your gigs as Facebook events and use the Facebook ads manager to zero in on your target audience and sell more tickets. You can narrow your audience by age, location, gender, even income. Then target your ads at those who like bands like yours.

3. Connect Your Facebook and Instagram

Save time by integrating your posts to deliver to your fans on both Facebook and Instagram. These social media platforms have different strengths, but combining them saves time.

  • Instagram is more casual and fun, so use your feed to plug other bands in the lineup and selfies with fans.
  • Instagram relies heavily on tags for targeting content to the right audience, and even Facebook is somewhat responsive to tags, so don’t forget to tag your posts.

4. Learn to Livestream

There are several ways to livestream your performances online. Gain new fans by broadcasting performances, signing events, even fan chats. Fans love to feel that they have a direct connection to their favorite musicians, and letting them in on your day as you rehearse, record, even pick up new equipment can be a memorable event. Facebook allows you to livestream right from your band page or personal profile.

Learn how one indie artist used Facebook Live to earn more than $74k in under a year.

5. Get on SoundCloud

SoundCloud is one of the biggest audio file-sharing services around. You can share your tracks with fans, potential fans, and music reviewers anywhere on the web. The widget allows play on a variety of social media platforms to share exclusives with dedicated fans, and it even keeps stats on plays, so you know where to focus your marketing efforts.

6. Distribute your music

All the social media promotion in the world won’t help you much if people can’t access your music on the platforms they already subscribe to (Spotify, Apple Music, etc.) So make your music available globally! With CD Baby, it’s simple — and there’s never any annual fees!

7. Use Social Media to Create an Email List

Social media has become swamped ― even your grandma has signed up. But email marketing is so old-school that it’s new all over again. People love free stuff. People also want a sample of something before they hand over their hard-earned bucks. It’s been a tough economy out there for everyone. Offer incentives to get potential fans to sign up for your mailing list.

People blank out on ads, most still scan their inbox daily. Use your social media platforms to put together an email list by offering some cool exclusives only available to your most devoted fans ― those willing to part with an email address.

You can offer subscribers exclusive materials:

  • Recording studio video footage
  • Pre-release access to new music
  • Exclusive or free-to-download songs
  • Song demos
  • Early ticket access
  • Merch or other swag

Don’t Just Create a Product, Create a Culture

Music is more than a product, it’s a lifestyle, and genre identity is a thing. Become a social media influencer by offering your fans more than just your music. Plug other bands on the lineup for every gig.

Livestream interaction with other musicians and fans at the venue. You’ve probably already targeted your market, and you know what other bands will appeal to them. You might even have an idea of what clothes, movies, or video games they like.

Find your niche and give your potential fans the whole experience. Recommend venues and boost other musicians on their road to success ― they’ll probably return the favor. You’ll find that marketing your genre is a lot more effective than just advertising your latest song.