Tuesday, September 26, 2017

What Does All Of This Action On Healthcare Mean For Musicians? | hypebot

image from futureofmusic.orgMusicians, by the nature of their craft are often self-employed and under capitalized making them particularly vulnerable to changes in health care and insurance. But there is so much noise coming out of Washington that it's impossible to keep track. So Kevin Ericson of The Future Of Music Coalition did the research and shares an important update.

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Future of MusicGuest post by Kevin Ericson of The Future of Music Coalition

It’s often challenging for musicians to try and keep track of all the policy issues that can potentially impact their lives and livelihoods. In the unprecedented day-to-day chaos and unpredictability of our current unconventional political environment, it can be even harder.

So here’s a quick update on one of the most important issues facing musicians, some questions answered, and some thoughts about what may lie ahead.

What’s happened so far?

In 2016, Donald Trump made promises to repeal the Affordable Care Act a central feature of his campaign. After inauguration day, however, lawmakers were confronted with a massive mobilization of grassroots activism, including calls, emails, rallies, marches, op-eds, angry town halls, and direct action. This mobilization, coupled with the fact that would-be-repealers were deeply divided on the details of replacement plans, stalled the repeal attempts. In a dramatic late-night vote in July 2017, the Senate’s “skinny repeal” bill to repeal Obamacare failed.

All through 2017, FMC has been working to help represent how musicians are impacted by these potential legislative moves, both on Capitol Hill and in media coverage on the issue. We’ve drawn on our original research (in partnership with AHIRC) that shows that before the Affordable Care Act, musicians reported that they were nearly 3 times as likely as the general population to be uninsured—we can’t go back. We’ve described the structural reasons that musicians have specific coverage needs, and emphasized the importance of provisions guaranteeing coverage of essential benefits like mental health care and substance abuse treatment. And we’ve encouraged musicians and their fans to tell their health care stories: often personal accounts are particularly powerful in helping policymakers and fans alike understand our concerns.

And as we work to defend the Affordable Care Act, we’ve also pointed out that there is much more to be done to improve the current system and make health care truly comprehensive and affordable for musicians, both at home and on the road.

Collectively, citizen activist efforts have transformed the debate about health care in the United States, and musicians and fans have played an important role in that progress (so give yourselves a pat on the back!).

What’s happening this week? Should we be sounding the alarm?

Although previous attempts to pass repeal legislation have failed, a last-ditch effort has been mounted by Sen. Lindsay Graham and Sen. Bill Cassidy to pass an updated bill before the reconcilation period ends Sept 30 (after this date, a health bill would need 60 votes to pass the Senate). While three Republican senators now are have announced their opposition to the Graham-Cassidy bill—enough to doom it—it’s possible that yet another version might be introduced. Reports do indicate that Republican leadership and the White House are pulling out all the stops to try and acquire the necessary votes.

So, yes, it’s very much worth contacting your Senators at (202) 224-3121 and making your voice heard, as a vote could come any day before Sept 30. And remember, it’s just as important to thank elected officials when they do the right thing for musicians as it is to express disapproval when they let us down.

What would the impact of this legislation be on musicians?

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office hasn’t even assessed the bill, but some have estimated as many as 30 million more people would be uninsured, and this would include countless musicians. For those with insurance, the quality of plans could go down dramatically—states could waive essential benefits like mental health coverage, maternity, etc. And pre-existing conditions could lead to astronomically higher premiums. Here’s a full rundown from Vox.

What’s all this new talk about single payer?

The more people learn about our health care system, the better single-payer approaches start to look. As debate over the fate of ACA has progressed, and advocates have described ways the ACA could be improved, we’ve seen a groundswell of support for #medicareforall, and accompanying legislative proposals: Rep. John Conyers’ bill in the house of representatives and Sen. Bernie Sanders’ bill in the Senate. Rep. Conyers is perhaps best known to the music community as a longtime advocate for artist compensation on issues like the AM/FM radio performance right; he’s actually been introducing versions of the single payer idea in every Congress for some time.  Notably, this year’s bill has 119 cosponsors in the House compared to 49 in 2015’s version—clearly, the idea is becoming more and more a part of mainstream policy discussion.

A single-payer system would be infinitely simpler and more humane, and is a goal worth working for. That said, #medicareforall is likely to be a long-game kind of policy victory—acheived after years of work rather than months. The good news is that musicians are good at the long game! As we’ve argued before:

There’s a basic structural similarity between the kind of slow and steady work it takes to hone your craft as a composer or performer over many years, keeping your eyes on what opportunities and challenges lie around the corner while working to address your present needs, and the slow and steady process of building movements for justice. Making an impact in either policy or music often requires the same kind of passion and perspective.

So it’s important to talk seriously about single payer and the ways it could address shortcomings of the current system. At the same time, we have some immediate tasks ahead of us. Those include:

  • Fight to preserve the progress made by the Affordable Care Act.
  • Work to stabilize and improve the existing system.
  • Make sure as many musicians as possible get the information, support, and assistance they need to get enrolled during the forthcoming open enrollment period.

On that last item: I read that advertising budgets for open enrollment have been cut. Is that true?

Yes, and budgets for navigators to help with enrollment are down too. That means it’s even more important for musicians and their allies to help spread the word. This year, the enrollment period starts November 1, and there will be less time to shop for a plan. In the coming weeks and months, FMC will be working to give you some tools and resources to help get the word out.

What’s the takeaway?

Even if the worst case scenario happens and the Graham/Cassidy bill passes, it will take some time before it takes effect. ACA marketplace subsidies will still be available for 2018, as well as Medicaid expansion in the states where it currently exists. If you’re currently uninsured, you should definitely endeavor to get covered. And if you currently get coverage through the marketplace, you should plan to update your coverage details. The details of what plans are available and in what markets may be in flux, so mark your calendar now and plan to spend some time in November researching your options.

So don’t panic, don’t lose hope, don’t hesitate to take action, and don’t underestimate what musicians and our fellow citizens can accomplish together.

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Introducing The Amazing New Podcast: “Inside The Exorcist” | Hear 2.0

I was floored by the amazing reception to Inside Psycho a few months ago, and I am now very proud to introduce to you my second collaboration with incomparable audio designer Jeff Schmidt and the terrific folks at Wondery: Inside The Exorcist.

This project has been months in the making and I can honestly say I am as proud of it as anything I have ever done.

Listen (if you dare) and I think you’ll hear some of the most compelling audio you will ever hear. That’s how good I think this is, and I hope you agree.

The teaser launches today and the series kicks off on October 10, just in time for Halloween.

Listen here.

The backstory: In 1973 Hell came home and invaded the body of a young girl. This is the story of a movie and its makers. It’s a tale of dark and light, of loss and love. A story of faith and fury, of causes and curses, of horrors real and imagined, of unbridled ego and brute force filmmaking. It’s the movie critics called “religious pornography” and “occultist claptrap.” The movie that left audiences…hysterical. Decades later, it remains perhaps the most frightening movie we will ever see.

Inside The Exorcist is a seven-part deep dive inspired by the story behind the classic movie.

Please give it a listen and subscribe here. And if you like what you hear, please consider giving the show a 5-star review on the platform of your choice.

And…Happy Halloween.

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Spotify's Ongoing War With The Music Industry | hypebot

1Spotify has a long and sordid history of failing to pay proper mechanical royalties to creators and publishers, and has already been hit with two major class action lawsuits relating to such. Here we take a look at the legal details negating Spotify's claim that it doesn't need to pay these royalties.

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Guest post by Erin M. Jacobson of The Music Industry Lawyer

Spotify has waged a war with the music industry. The streaming company has a history of not paying mechanical royalties to songwriters and music publishers, and has already settled two separate class action lawsuits for failure to pay mechanical royalties – the first brought on behalf of music publishers by the National Music Publisher’s Association (NMPA) and the second, known as the Lowery/Ferrick case, brought by independent songwriters. Now, a host of top songwriters, including Tom Petty and members of Rage Against the Machine, Weezer, The Black Keys, and more, have come forward urging the court not to approve the terms of the Lowery/Ferrick case. These songwriters oppose the settlement amount in the Lowery/Ferrick case because when the costs are broken down, Spotify’s liability for not paying mechanical royalties would be to pay a mere $3.82 per infringed composition. The maximum liability under the law for copyright infringement is $150,000 per infringed composition. Quite the difference.

As I previously reported, Spotify was also hit with two independent lawsuits – again for failure to pay mechanical royalties -- brought by songwriter/publisher Bob Gaudio and music administrator Bluewater Services Corporation. Even more recently, seven other music publishers have sued Spotify for the same violation.

The Gaudio/Bluewater suits accused Spotify’s practices being reminiscent of Napster, which caused Spotify to fire back with the outrageous claim that Spotify should not have to pay mechanical royalties to songwriters and music publishers at all. More realistically, Spotify has argued that copyright law does not define streaming and places the burden on the plaintiffs to show that Spotify is creating a “reproduction” and therefore required to pay mechanical royalties.

As I explained in my last article, streaming requires several licenses – sound recording licenses from the record labels; performance licenses for the compositions from performance rights organizations such as ASCAP and BMI; and mechanical licenses for the reproduction of the compositions. Spotify now argues that it is akin to other streaming services like Pandora, who only have to pay performance royalties. However, Spotify’s argument is flawed for several reasons.

  • 0001First, Pandora and similar services online radio services are classified as non-interactive services because a user cannot choose to listen to a specific song on demand. This is similar to terrestrial radio, except it’s online instead of on the FM dial. In contrast, a Spotify user can choose and play any song the user wishes on demand, which makes Spotify an interactive service. Copyright law makes important distinctions between non-interactive and interactive services, and for the relevant purposes here, the most important difference is that non-interactive services are only required to pay performance royalties (as the use is only a performance, again, like terrestrial radio) and interactive services are required to pay both performance and mechanical royalties (because the nature of the technology actually consists of a reproduction of the data file in addition to the performance itself). Therefore, Spotify cannot rely on the requirements of a separately classified type of service when those requirements don’t apply to Spotify’s service.
  • Second, Spotify has previously stated that it “needs” mechanical rights as part of its operations and has argued in rate court proceedings to weigh in on what mechanical rate amounts it should have to pay. It is both hypocritical and faulty reasoning for Spotify to say it needs certain rights and subsequently argue the opposite.
  • Third, Spotify has previously settled the two class action lawsuits mentioned above in order to rectify its previous non-payment of mechanical royalties. Spotify’s excuse in these cases was that it was too difficult to pay everyone owed due to the lack of a comprehensive music industry database. Once again, Spotify previously accepted that it needed to pay mechanical royalties, but made excuses for its failure to do so, which is in direct opposition to its current claim that it does not need to pay mechanical royalties at all.
  • Fourth, the music industry has long ago come to a consensus that an interactive stream does require a mechanical license and there is evidence that Spotify actually does create reproductions of the files, specifically on users’ mobile phones. 

While Spotify’s argument that a stream does not require a mechanical license was recently rejected in court, Spotify can still continue asserting that argument going forward. If a legal decision in Spotify’s favor set a precedent on this issue, it could mean massive losses of income to songwriters, music publishers, and the music industry as a whole. While there are several theories as to why Spotify has taken this approach, the simplest answer seems the most obvious – Spotify doesn’t want to pay. The scariest part of this whole situation is that with Spotify’s massive amount of funds, it has the power to continue litigating this issue with efforts to change the laws and practices of the industry to conform to its unwillingness to pay for the music it uses. It is unacceptable that Spotify has built its entire business on the usage of music content, but yet continually tries to get out of paying for the very content that sustains its customer base. Without music, there is no Spotify and it’s time Spotify stopped making excuses and started to value the music that built its business.

*This article does not constitute legal advice.

Erin M. Jacobson is a music attorney whose clients include Grammy and Emmy Award winners, legacy clients and catalogs, songwriters, music publishers, record labels, and independent artists and companies. She is based in Los Angeles where she handles a wide variety of music agreements and negotiations, in addition to owning and overseeing all operations for Indie Artist Resource, the independent musician’s resource for legal and business protection. Ms. Jacobson also serves on the boards of the California Copyright Conference (CCC) and Association of Independent Music Publishers (AIMP).

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How To (Properly) Release Music Online [FREE WEBINAR] | hypebot

Release MusicIf you're confused about the best ways to release your music online, have we got a free webinar for you! Getting music up for sale is the easy part. The key is to have a strategy for where your music goes up for sale, and when. Join the Bandzoogle team online Wednesday to learn more.

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Bandzoogle

Join Bandzoogle team members Dave & Allison tomorrow (Wednesday) for a free webinar to find out which platforms you should focus on, how to maximize your revenues, and how to drive more music sales. Hypebot is proud to be a media sponsor of this free webinar series.

During the webinar you’ll learn:

  • The best places to sell your music online to maximize revenue
  • Where & when you should make your music available for sale
  • Which tools to use during each phase of your album release
  • The biggest mistake artists make when releasing an album
  • Ideas and strategies to drive more sales of your music
  • Lots of additional resources will be shared throughout the webinar, plus several Q&A breaks to ask any questions you have!

Date: Wednesday, September 27th

Time: 12:00pm EST

RSVP to the free webinar here.

*Can't make it to the live webinar? No worries! Just register to get a replay link to watch the webinar anytime.

 

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