Posts Tagged ‘Artists’

Europe’s news agencies blast Google, Facebook for ‘plundering’ content

September 4, 2018

Europe’s biggest news agencies accused Google and Facebook of “plundering” news for free on Tuesday in a joint statement that called on the Internet giants to share more of their revenues with the media.

In a column signed by the CEOs of around 20 agencies including France’s Agence France-Presse, Britain’s Press Association and Germany’s Deutsche Presse-Agentur they called on the European Parliament to update copyright law in the EU to help address a “grotesque imbalance.”

Europe’s biggest news agencies claimed Facebook reported revenues of $40 billion in 2017 while Google made $12.7 billion. (AFP)

“The Internet giants’ plundering of the news media’s content and of their advertising revenue poses a threat both to consumers and to democracy,” the column said.

European Parliament lawmakers are to set to debate a new copyright law this month that would force the Internet giants to pay more for creative content used on their platforms such as news, music or movies.

A first draft of the law was rejected in July and the plans have been firmly opposed by US tech firms, as well as advocates of Internet freedom who fear that the regulations could lead to higher costs for consumers.

“Can the titans of the Internet compensate the media without asking people to pay for access to the Internet, as they claim they would be forced to? The answer is clearly ‘yes’,” the column said.

The joint statement from the agencies, which are major suppliers of news, photos and video, said Facebook reported revenues of $40 billion (€34 billion) in 2017 and profits of $16 billion, while Google made $12.7 billion on sales of $110 billion.

“Who could reasonably argue that they are not in a position to make fair payment for the content they use?” the agencies asked.

“What we are really talking about is introducing a fair payment by those who have ripped off the news. For the sake of Europe’s free press and democratic values, EU lawmakers should press ahead with copyright reform,” they added.

The column marks a new lobbying effort by media groups, backed by artists such as Paul McCartney, to sway European lawmakers as they prepare for a second vote on September 12.
The fight is over two parts of the planned law.

The first is Article 13, which would make platforms like Google-owned YouTube legally liable for copyrighted material to prevent content producers from seeing their work posted without pay.

The second is Article 11, which would create a so-called “neighboring right” meaning that newspapers, magazines and news agencies would have to be paid when Google or other websites link to their stories.

“Without paying for it, Internet giants such as Google and Facebook use vast quantities of news that is produced at great cost by press publishers and news agencies,” added the joint statement on Tuesday.

Critics argue that the reform would lead to blanket censorship by tech platforms because of copyright problems, reducing their role as a hub for creativity, especially YouTube.

They say it would also restrict the usage of memes and remixes by everyday Internet users who often use content without securing the rights.

The column was signed by the heads of TT in Sweden, STT in Finland, Belgium’s Belga and APA from Austria, as well as other media groups across the European continent.



Turkish Political Refugees Flock to Germany, Seeking Safety

August 20, 2017

BERLIN — The Turkish judge sits in a busy cafe in a big German city. Thirteen months ago, he was a respected public servant in his homeland. Now he is heartbroken and angry over the nightmarish turn of events that brought him here.

The day after a 2016 coup attempt shook Turkey, he was blacklisted along with thousands of other judges and prosecutors. The judge smiles, sadly, as he recounts hiding at a friend’s home, hugging his crying son goodbye and paying smugglers to get him to safety.

“I’m very sad I had to leave my country,” he said, asking for his name and location to be withheld out of fear that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government might track him down. “But at least I’m safe and out of Erdogan’s reach. He cannot hurt me anymore.”

Image result for erdogan, photos

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Germany has become the top destination for political refugees from Turkey since the failed July 15, 2016 coup. Some 5,742 Turkish citizens applied for asylum here last year, more than three times as many as the year before, according to the Interior Ministry. Another 3,000 Turks have requested protection in Germany this year.

The figures include people fleeing a long-simmering conflict in the Kurdish region of southeastern Turkey, but the vast majority belong to a new class of political refugees: diplomats, civil servants, military members, academics, artists, journalists and anti-Erdogan activists accused of supporting the coup.

With many of them university-educated and part of the former elite, “their escape has already turned into a brain-drain for Turkey,” said Caner Aver, a researcher at the Center for Turkish Studies and Integration Research in Essen.

Germany is a popular destination because it’s already home to about 3.5 million people with Turkish roots and has been more welcoming of the new diaspora than other Western nations, Aver said.

“Some of the highly qualified people also try getting to the U.S. and Canada because most speak English, not German. But it’s just much harder to get there,” Aver said. “Britain has always been popular, but less so now because of Brexit.”

Comparable figures for post-coup asylum requests from Turks were not available for other countries.

More than 50,000 people have been arrested in Turkey and 110,000 dismissed from their jobs for alleged links to political organizations the government has categorized as terror groups or to U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. Ankara blames the Muslim cleric, a former Erdogan ally, for the coup attempt. Gulen denies the claim.

The true number of recent Turkish arrivals to Germany exceeds official asylum requests. Many fleeing academics, artists and journalists came on scholarships from German universities or political foundations. Some got in via relatives. Others entered with visas obtained before the failed coup.

The judge, a slim man in his 30s with glasses, arrived illegally by paying thousands of euros to cross from Turkey to Greece on a rubber dinghy and then continuing on to Germany.

Two other Turks in Germany — an artist who asked for anonymity, fearing repercussions for her family back home, and a journalist sentenced to prison in absentia — also spoke of ostracism and flight.

Ismail Eskin, the journalist, left Turkey just before he was sentenced to 3½ years in prison on terrorism-related charges. The 29-year-old worked for the Ozgur Gundem newspaper and the Kurdish news agency Dicle Haber Ajansi until the government shut them down shortly after the failed coup.

Eskin tried to write for different online news sites but the Turkish government blocked them too. He reluctantly decided to leave when the situation became unbearably difficult for journalists — about 160 are now in jail.

“I kept changing places to avoid being arrested, and I hid that I was a journalist,” Eskin said, chain-smoking at a Kurdish immigrants’ center. He hasn’t applied for asylum but is studying German — an acknowledgment he might be here to stay.

The judge said he “never supported any kind of coup” and had no connection to the Gulen movement but took hurriedly packed a few belongings and went to a friend’s place after learning he was among more than 2,000 judges and prosecutors being investigated.

A few hours later, police searched his apartment and took his computer.

His wife and children had been out of town during the coup attempt. While he was in hiding, his wife was told she had 15 days to move out. Friends and relatives stopped talking to her. After several months, he chose to leave.

“Since there’s no independent justice in Turkey anymore, I would have been exposed to injustice, maybe be tortured, if I had surrendered,” he said.

He sold his car and paid 8,500 euros ($9,910) to a smuggler for a December boat trip to a Greek island. From there, he flew to Italy and on to Germany. He brought his wife, son and daughter to join him a few weeks later.

The number of Turkish citizens fleeing to Germany has complicated the already tense relations between Ankara and Berlin. Accusing Germany of harboring terrorists, Turkey has demanded the extradition of escaped Turkish military officers and diplomats.

At least 221 diplomats, 280 civil servants and their families have applied for asylum, Germany says. Along with refusing to comply with the extradition requests, Germany has lowered the bar for Turkish asylum-seekers — those given permission to remain increased from 8 percent of applicants last year to more than 23 percent in the first half of 2017.

Some Turkish emigres have started building new lives in exile.

The artist from Istanbul lost her university job in graphic design before the 2016 coup because she was one of more than 1,000 academics who triggered Erdogan’s ire by signing a “declaration for peace” in Turkey.

She went to Berlin on a university scholarship in September, not long after the attempted coup. In February, she discovered she’d been named a terror group supporter and her Turkish passport was invalidated.

“Now I’m forced into exile, but that’s better than to be inside the country,” the woman in her early 30s said.

The artist said she’s doing fine in Berlin. She enrolled at a university and has had her work exhibited at a small gallery. Yet with her family still in Turkey, some days the enormity of the change weighs on her.

“In the winter I was so homesick,” she said. “I really felt like a foreigner, in my veins and in my bones.”

The French That Preach “Tolerance” Can’t Stand Outsider Marine Le Pen “Nightmare”

April 8, 2017


© AFP/File / by Daphné BENOIT | While pollsters say far-right leader Marine Le Pen cannot win the decisive May 7 runoff in the French presidential election, a great many pundits were wrong about Brexit and Donald Trump after failing to feel the populist pulse

PARIS (AFP) – What if Marine Le Pen wins in May?

Two weeks before the French cast their first presidential ballots, the spectre of victory for the far-right leader who promises to crack down on immigration and outlaw gay marriage sends shivers down many a spine.

Pollsters say the anti-EU firebrand can count on the unwavering support of about one in four voters to get her past the first round of voting on April 23.

Although they also say the National Front (FN) leader cannot win in the decisive May 7 runoff whoever she faces, a great many pundits were wrong about Brexit and Donald Trump after failing to feel the populist pulse.

And with one in three voters still undecided at this late stage, pollsters would be wise to hedge their bets.

Predictions of a “nightmare” Le Pen presidency abound in bookstores and the media.

The 48-year-old candidate poses a “genuine peril”, according to Matthieu Croissandeau, editor-in-chief of the left-leaning newsweekly L’Obs, which ran a special report last month titled “Black Scenario of the First 100 Days”.

Dozens of actors, singers and other artists put their names to an op-ed in the Liberation daily last Sunday warning: “The National Front is on the threshold of power. We call for a bulwark against Marine Le Pen… in the name of freedom of thought and creativity.”

– Exile in Canada? –

Reminiscent of the runup to Trump’s election last year, many artists have said they would prefer exile to living under Le Pen. Like Americans virulently opposed to Trump, they say they are looking to Canada as a refuge.

“Just in case, I’m making plans to move to Quebec,” leftwing comedian Guy Bedos wrote in a book published in March. “I have an absolute aversion for the Le Pen family,” the 82-year-old told AFP.

In 2002, Le Pen’s father Jean-Marie Le Pen, now sidelined from the FN because of views even farther to the right than his daughter’s, caused a political earthquake in France by winning through to the runoff.

But in that second round, voters of various political stripes reluctantly joined conservatives to elect Jacques Chirac and block the far right.

Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio, the French-Mauritian author who won the Nobel prize for literature in 2008, said as far back as 2015 that he would hand in his French passport if Le Pen becomes president.

Others, including public figures, are promising active resistance to a government led by the far right.

France’s ambassador to Japan, Thierry Dana, wrote in an op-ed last month that he would “shelve all diplomatic duties” if Le Pen is elected.

– ‘Judges are fighting Trump’ –

The foreign ministry had to remind Dana of his obligation to remain neutral over the election.

Also throwing neutrality to the wind was Francois Durpaire, an educator and historian who co-authored a comic book titled “La Presidente” (using the feminine form of the noun) depicting France under Le Pen.

“For me as a professor of education sciences the question I would ask the next day (after a Le Pen victory) is: ‘How do you teach in French schools under Le Pen?'” he told AFP.

“I know what to do. I’ll stay in France, I’ll respect the outcome of the democratic vote, but I will resist with all my might any measure that goes against French law,” he said, citing Le Pen’s pledge to give French nationals priority access to public services including schools.

Keeping non-citizens out of French schools would be a “red line” for Durpaire.

“We will be able to mount not just moral resistance, but also legal resistance,” he said, noting: “Judges are fighting Trump, not just far-left activists.”

Trump’s efforts to bar entry to nationals of a string of mainly Muslim countries have been blocked by federal courts in several US states.

The head of the International Human Rights Federation, Dimitri Christopoulos, also said he would join the battle against a President Le Pen.

Her victory “would be a political defeat for human rights, but we would continue to fight,” he told AFP. “The ideological battle will be an existential priority for our societies,” said Christopoulos, a staunch defender of migrants’ rights who divides his time between France and Greece.

Laurent Joffrin, editor-in-chief of the leftwing daily Liberation, said resistance should begin with the legislative elections in June that will determine the shape of the future government.

“We won’t have fascism on day one,” he said. “France has a constitution and institutions, and laws need a majority to pass in parliament. So the immediate fight is to prevent the FN from winning a majority to implement its agenda.”

Joffrin also noted that if Le Pen wins, she is unlikely to have enough support outside her party to form a coalition government and would be forced into a co-habitation arrangement.

by Daphné BENOIT

Chinese Nobel Laureate Sends Message From Jail — Forgives His Tormentors

December 12, 2014


Imprisoned Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo

The Associated Press

Imprisoned Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo has told an overseas friend that he is relatively healthy and wants the world to pay more attention to other Chinese activists, in a rare message smuggled out of prison.

“The aura around me is enough already. I hope the world can pay more attention to other victims who are not well known, or not known at all,” said a message sent by Liu to dissident writer Liao Yiwu, who lives in exile in Berlin.

Liao, who posted the message Thursday on Facebook, did not say how he received it from Liu, who is serving an 11-year sentence on charges of inciting state subversion, but Liu’s friends have said the message is genuine.

While in prison, Liu was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for his calls for political reforms. The Nobel committee held Liu’s award ceremony in Oslo, Norway, with an empty chair on stage to mark his absence. Beijing condemned the award and put his wife, Liu Xia, under house arrest.  

The empty chair with a diploma and medal that should have been awarded to Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo  stands in Oslo City Hall

The empty chair with a diploma and medal that should have been awarded to Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo stands in Oslo City Hall Photo: 2010 AFP

Liu Xia still can visit her husband in prison, although their meetings are under tight watch. Because she is kept largely incommunicado, it is rare for the public to hear from the Nobel laureate. The message to Liao is possibly the first of its kind.

Liao said it was the first time he had heard from Liu in more than six years.

“My eyes are suddenly moist,” Liao said on Facebook.

In the message, Liu said he was doing well and had been reading and thinking.

“Through studies, I have become even more convinced that I have no personal enemies,” Liu said, repeating a statement from his trial five years ago that he held no grudge against those who prosecuted him.

Since Chinese President Xi Jinping took power two years ago, the stifling of dissent has been on the rise, with authorities hauling away human rights lawyers, social activists, journalists, writers, scholars and artists, most of whom are largely unknown to the outside world.


Photo: Chinese people wear face masks with “No to Kunming PX,” paraxylene, written, chant slogans as they hold protest against a planned refinery project in downtown Kunming in southwest China’s Yunnan province Saturday, May 4, 2013. After word spread about an environmental protest that was planned for Saturday in the central Chinese city of Chengdu, drugstores and printing shops were ordered to report anyone making certain purchases. Microbloggers say government fliers urged people not to demonstrate, and schools were told to stay open to keep students on campus. Meanwhile, hundreds of people – many wearing mouth masks – gathered in Kunming to protest a planned refinery project in the area. The demonstrators demanded information transparency and that public health be safeguarded. (AP Photo)

Chinese human rights activist Cao Shunli died after falling critically ill in police detention in China

Officials in eastern China must abandon plans to demolish churches and crosses and stop their

Parishioners line up outside the Sanjiang church in Wenzhou hoping to save it from demolition by the Chinese Communist government Photo: Tom

U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama delivers a speech at the Stanford Center at Peking University on March 22, 2014 in Beijing, China

U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama on her way to deliver a speech at the Stanford Center at Peking University on March 22, 2014 in Beijing, China Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Beijing's No 1 detention centre

Outside Beijing’s No 1 detention centre. Photograph: Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

China’s Xi Jinping

Former Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s extended family has controlled assets worth at least $2.7 billion, the New York Times reported, citing corporate and regulatory records and unidentified people familiar with the family’s investments.

China detains supporters of Hong Kong protest

October 9, 2014


Chinese poet faces jail for possession of umbrella

Wang Zang among those targeted by authorities over Hong Kong protests

The Associated Press

Artists and journalist among several people detained in Beijing, and accused of supporting Hong Kong demonstrations.

Chinese police have detained a well-known poet and seven other people ahead of a poetry reading planned in Beijing to support pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, relatives of the detained said.

Police apprehended poet Wang Zang in front of his Beijing home on the night of October 1 and then searched his apartment and confiscated a computer, a router and other materials, his wife Wang Li told the AP news agency on Wednesday.

On September 30, Wang had posted on Twitter a picture of himself raising his middle finger and holding an umbrella, a symbol of solidarity adopted by the protesters demanding open nominations for Hong Kong’s chief executive elections.

A message over the picture read: “Wearing black clothes, bald and holding an umbrella, I support Hong Kong.”

Lawyer Sui Muqing said his client was detained for “provoking trouble,” which he said carries a sentence of up to three years in prison.

“It’s likely related to the picture,” Sui said. “It has to do with the Hong Kong protests.”

Wang had been scheduled to speak at an October 2 poetry reading in Beijing’s Songzhuang art district billed to support Hong Kong protesters.

According to relatives, police apprehended seven others on their way to the event, including Chinese journalist Miao Zhang and artists Zhu Yanguang and Fei Xiaosheng.

Yang Wong, the brother of publicist Melanie Wang, said his sister was detained while heading to the event, which never started, and was being held at the Beijing No. 1 Detention Center for seeking to disturb public order.

Beijing's No 1 detention centre

Police guards stand in a hallway inside Beijing’s No 1 detention centre. Photograph: Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

Wang Li said she had not heard from her husband since his detention, and Sui said he was not sure when he would be available to meet with his client.

‘Always watched’

At least 37 people in mainland China have been detained for supporting the protesters, including posting pictures and messages online showing solidarity and planning to travel to Hong Kong to join protesters, according to human rights group Amnesty International.

Another 60 have been called in by police for questioning.

Wang Li said she and her husband had been repeatedly harassed for criticising Chinese officials and supporting workers’ rights.

“In Beijing, we’re always watched,” Wang Li said. “We’ve moved eight times. Police have knocked on our doors. They’ve left us with no way to live.”

Police officials said Wednesday they could not comment on the reported detentions.

Mainland Chinese media have tightly controlled information about the protests in Hong Kong, which peaked with tens of thousands of demonstrators, but have subsided after presenting Chinese leaders with their biggest political challenge in decades.

Only after several days of unrest did Chinese television and newspapers started to show pictures and video from Hong Kong’s streets, but with protesters already dispersed, while only quoting critics of the demonstrators.


Beijing's No 1 detention centre

Outside Beijing’s No 1 detention centre. Photograph: Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

How will artists make money? ‘The internet will suck all creative content out of the world’

October 12, 2013

The boom in digital streaming may generate profits for record labels and free content for consumers, but it spells disaster for today’s artists across the creative industries

David Byrne

The Guardian,              Friday 11 October 2013 10.53 EDT

David Byrne

.‘I’ve pulled as much of my catalogue from Spotify as I can’ … David Byrne. Photograph: Chris Sembrot for the Guardian

Awhile ago Thom Yorke and the rest of Radiohead got some attention when they pulled their recent record from Spotify. A number of other artists have also been in the news, publicly complaining about streaming music services (Black Keys, Aimee Mann and David Lowery of Camper van Beethoven and Cracker). Bob Dylan, Metallica and Pink Floyd were longtime Spotify holdouts – until recently. I’ve pulled as much of my catalogue from Spotify as I can. AC/DC, Garth Brooks and Led Zeppelin have never agreed to be on these services in the first place.

So, what’s the deal? What are these services, what do they do and why are these musicians complaining?

There are a number of ways to stream music online: Pandora is like a radio station that plays stuff you like but doesn’t take requests; YouTube plays individual songs that folks and corporations have uploaded and Spotify is a music library that plays whatever you want (if they have it), whenever you want it. Some of these services only work when you’re online, but some, like Spotify, allow you to download your playlist songs and carry them around. For many music listeners, the choice is obvious – why would you ever buy a CD or pay for a download when you can stream your favourite albums and artists either for free, or for a nominal monthly charge?

Not surprisingly, streaming looks to be the future of music consumption – it already is the future in Scandinavia, where Spotify (the largest streaming service) started, and in Spain. Other countries are following close behind. Spotify is the second largest source of digital music revenue for labels in Europe, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). Significantly, that’s income for labels, not artists. There are other streaming services, too – Deezer, Google Play, Apple and Jimmy Iovine of Interscope has one coming called Daisy – though my guess is that, as with most web-based businesses, only one will be left standing in the end. There aren’t two Facebooks or Amazons. Domination and monopoly is the name of the game in the web marketplace.

The amounts these services pay per stream is miniscule – their idea being that if enough people use the service those tiny grains of sand will pile up. Domination and ubiquity are therefore to be encouraged. We should readjust our values because in the web-based world we are told that monopoly is good for us. The major record labels usually siphon off most of this income, and then they dribble about 15-20% of what’s left down to their artists. Indie labels are often a lot fairer – sometimes sharing the income 50/50. Damon Krukowski (Galaxie 500, Damon & Naomi) has published abysmal data on payouts from Pandora and Spotify for his song “Tugboat” and Lowery even wrote a piece entitled “My Song Got Played on Pandora 1 Million Times and All I Got Was $16.89, Less Than What I Make from a Single T-shirt Sale!” For a band of four people that makes a 15% royalty from Spotify streams, it would take 236,549,020 streams for each person to earn a minimum wage of $15,080 (£9,435) a year. For perspective, Daft Punk‘s song of the summer, “Get Lucky”, reached 104,760,000 Spotify streams by the end of August: the two Daft Punk guys stand to make somewhere around $13,000 each. Not bad, but remember this is just one song from a lengthy recording that took a lot of time and money to develop. That won’t pay their bills if it’s their principal source of income. And what happens to the bands who don’t have massive international summer hits?

In future, if artists have to rely almost exclusively on the income from these services, they’ll be out of work within a year. Some of us have other sources of income, such as live concerts, and some of us have reached the point where we can play to decent numbers of people because a record label believed in us at some point in the past. I can’t deny that label-support gave me a leg up – though not every successful artist needs it. So, yes, I could conceivably survive, as I don’t rely on the pittance that comes my way from music streaming, as could Yorke and some of the others. But up-and-coming artists don’t have that advantage – some haven’t got to the point where they can make a living on live performances and licensing, so what do they think of these services?

Some artists and indie musicians see Spotify fairly positively – as a way of getting noticed, of getting your music out there where folks can hear it risk free. Daniel Glass, of Glassnote records, who have the very popular band Mumford & Sons says: “When you have quality and you’re in the sophomore stage of this band’s career, I think the fear of holding it back is worse than letting it go. Opening up the faucet and letting people hear it, stream it and all that stuff is definitely very healthy.” Cellist Zoë Keating sees it similarly: Spotify is “awesome as a listening platform. In my opinion artists should view it as a discovery service rather than a source of income.”

I can understand how having a place where people can listen to your work when they are told or read about it is helpful, but surely a lot of places already do that? I manage to check stuff out without using these services. I’ll go directly to an artist’s website, or Bandcamp, or even Amazon – and then, if I like what I hear, there is often the option to buy. Zoë also seems to assume there will be other sources of income (from recorded music). If these services fulfil their mandate, there won’t be.

I also don’t understand the claim of discovery that Spotify makes; the actual moment of discovery in most cases happens at the moment when someone else tells you about an artist or you read about them – not when you’re on the streaming service listening to what you have read about (though Spotify does indeed have a “discovery” page that, like Pandora’s algorithm, suggests artists you might like). There is also, I’m told, a way to see what your “friends” have on their playlists, though I’d be curious to know whether a significant number of people find new music in this way. I’d be even more curious if the folks who “discover” music on these services then go on to purchase it. Why would you click and go elsewhere and pay when the free version is sitting right in front of you? Am I crazy?

Aimee Mann performs at the Royal Festival Hall, London, Britain - 28 Jan 2013

Speaking out … Aimee Mann. Photograph: Jeff Barclay/Music Pics/Rex FeArtists often find this discovery argument seductive, but only up to a point. Patrick Carney of Black Keys said in 2011: “For unknown bands and smaller bands, it’s a really good thing to get yourself out there. But for a band that makes a living selling music,” streaming royalties are “not at a point yet to be feasible for us”. How do you make the transition from “I’ll give away anything to get noticed” to “Sorry, now you have to pay for my music”? Carney’s implied point is important – the core issue is about sustainability; how can artists survive in the long term beyond that initial surge of interest?

Are these services evil? Are they simply a legalised version of file-sharing sites such as Napster and Pirate Bay – with the difference being that with streaming services the big labels now get hefty advances?  The debate as to whether those pirate sites cannibalise possible sales goes on. Some say freeloaders wouldn’t have paid for music anyway, so there’s no real loss; others say freeloaders are mainly super-fans who end up paying artists in other ways, buying concert tickets and T-shirts, for example. Though, as author Chris Ruen points out in his book Freeloading, if you yourself didn’t pay for any of the music by your favourite bands, then don’t be surprised if they eventually call it quits for lack of funds.

Musicians are increasingly suspicious of the money and equity changing hands between these services and record labels – both money and equity has been exchanged based on content and assets that artists produced but seem to have no say over. Spotify gave $500m in advances to major labels in the US for the right to license their catalogues. That was an “advance” against income – so theoretically it’s not the labels’ money to pocket. Another chunk of change is soon to follow. The labels also got equity; so they are now partners and shareholders in Spotify, which is valued at around $3bn. That income from equity, when and if the service goes public, does not have to be shared with the artists. It seems obvious that some people are making a lot of money on this deal, while the artists have been left with meagre scraps.

The major labels are happy, the consumer is happy and the CEOs of the web services are happy. All good, except no one is left to speak for those who actually make the stuff. In response to this lack of representation, some artists – of all types, not just musicians – are forming an organisation called the Content Creators Coalition, an entity that speaks out on artists’ behalf.

Is there a fair solution? And does it matter? Historically, musicians who weren’t among the top pop stars were never well-paid – isn’t that just the way it goes if you decide to make music your calling? Like writers and fine artists, most of them will never make a living doing exclusively what they love doing? Is this griping equivalent to Metallica’s complaint about Napster – viewed by many as the moaning of a bunch of fat cats who were out of touch? Were recording artists simply spoiled for a few decades and now those days are gone? Even Wagner was always in debt and slept with rich women to get funding – so nothing’s new, right? I know quite a few fine artists who teach – presumably to make ends meet and to allow them the freedom to do what they want. But I don’t see hordes of band-members getting comfy spots in universities anytime soon.

The larger question is that if free or cheap streaming becomes the way we consume all (recorded) music and indeed a huge percentage of other creative content – TV, movies, games, art, porn – then perhaps we might stop for a moment and consider the effect these services and this technology will have, before “selling off” all our cultural assets the way the big record companies did. If, for instance, the future of the movie business comes to rely on the income from Netflix’s $8-a-month-streaming-service as a way to fund all films and TV production, then things will change very quickly. As with music, that model doesn’t seem sustainable if it becomes the dominant form of consumption. Musicians might, for now, challenge the major labels and get a fairer deal than 15% of a pittance, but it seems to me that the whole model is unsustainable as a means of supporting creative work of any kind. Not just music. The inevitable result would seem to be that the internet will suck the creative content out of the whole world until nothing is left. Writers, for example, can’t rely on making money from live performances – what are they supposed to do? Write ad copy?

As Lowery has pointed out, there’s no reason artists should simply accept the terms and join up with whatever new technology comes along. Now I’m starting to sound like a real Luddite, but taking a minute to think about the consequences before diving in seems like a pretty good idea in general. You shouldn’t have to give up your privacy, or allow all sorts of information about yourself to be used, whenever you go online, for example.

I don’t have an answer. I wish I could propose something besides what we’ve heard before: “Make money on live shows.” Or, “Get corporate support and sell your music to advertisers.”

What’s at stake is not so much the survival of artists like me, but that of emerging artists and those who have only a few records under their belts (such as St Vincent, my current touring partner, who is not exactly an unknown). Many musicians like her, who seem to be well established, well known and very talented, will eventually have to find employment elsewhere or change what they do to make more money. Without new artists coming up, our future as a musical culture looks grim. A culture of blockbusters is sad, and ultimately it’s bad for business. That’s not the world that inspired me when I was younger. Many a fan (myself included) has said that “music saved my life”, so there must be some incentive to keep that lifesaver available for future generations.

Standing Up To China: Philippine President Benigno Aquino III Honored — Says The Filipino People Deserve The Credit

April 20, 2013

It was a moment of glory for President Benigno Aquino III, but the honor of  landing in Time’s 100 most influential people of the world in 2012 belongs to  the country, the Chief Executive told reporters in an interview in Lapu-Lapu  City.

Mr. Aquino said he was merely the “face” of Filipinos, who have always been  there for him.


Saturday, April 20th,  2013

“First they gave me the chance to serve, and they continue to support me. I’m  accepting that honor on their behalf, rather than for myself,” he said.

“This is a recognition of all our countrymen, of the whole country, more than  anything. And I’m just the face; by way of speaking, I’m the first to respond to  a problem. That’s fine by me. But if we achieve success, this is the success of  everyone,” he said.

The President landed second on the Leaders’ List, behind Rand Paul, junior US  senator from Kentucky, and ahead of US President Barack Obama, who is No. 3.

The list is categorized into five—Titans, Leaders, Artists, Pioneers and  Icons.

In his article for Time, writer Howard Chua-Eoan cited Mr. Aquino’s courage  in pushing the reproductive health (RH) law despite opposition from the Catholic  Church, and brave stance in the regional confrontation with China over the West  Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

Mr. Aquino rallied lawmakers to approve the measure aimed at moderating rapid  population growth, reducing poverty and cutting down high maternal mortality,  and signed it into law last December. In March, the Supreme Court issued a  120-day status quo ante order against the RH law.

Rebuking Cambodia PM; Standing Up To China

At the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit in Phnom Penh in  November last year, Mr. Aquino rebuked Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen for  claiming that member-countries had reached a consensus against  internationalizing the West Philippine Sea conflict.

On his intervention, the Asean issued a joint communiqué excluding Hun Sen’s  remarks.

Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III  participates in the exchanges during the 7th East Asia Summit (EAS) Plenary  Session at the CM Meeting Room, 1st Floor, Peace Palace on Tuesday (November 20,  2012) at the sidelines of the 21st ASEAN Summit and Related Summits. Gil Nartea  / Malacañang Photo Bureau

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Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the article recognized “the  true grit which characterizes his (Mr. Aquino’s) leadership, and the optimism,  dynamism and renewed pride which has restored the standing of our nation in the  eyes of Filipinos and the world.”

“We take pride in how the ideas of good governance and inclusive growth that  are the major thrusts of the Aquino presidency resonate not just with Filipinos  but with the entire world. This is especially relevant today, as countries all  over are trying to become more inclusive economically, politically, and even  culturally, President Aquino is already doing it in the Philippines,” he said.

Impossible now possible

In his speech at the groundbreaking of the Mactan Circumferential Road in  Lapu-Lapu City, the President announced that the backlog of 66,800 classrooms  would be erased by the end of the year.

Initially the backlog seemed daunting, he said. In the six years of his  administration, the government could only fund the construction of 8,000  classrooms a year or 48,000 classrooms in six years.

“Solving this problem seemed impossible, but there’s cooperation. DepEd  (Department of Education) promised that by 2013, there won’t be any classroom  backlog of 66,800,” he said, but did not explain how the department would go  about this. “This will be matched by 60,000 teachers.”

Such reform became doable because of the Filipino people’s solidarity, Mr.  Aquino said.

“The impossible is now possible. What our predecessor has failed to do in  nine years, we’ll accomplish in three years, and this will even be fast-tracked.  But could Noynoy do this on his own? Of course not. We’ve been given the chance  to serve because of you. If reforms are taking place, that’s because of you. If  these are going to be carried out sooner, that’s all because of you,” he said.

Read more: o-the-filipino-people#ixzz2Qz7368Lm


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Above: People from the Philippines represent their government’s “ownership” of islands in the South China sea by flying their flag on islands China also says it owns….

Below: graphic shows that China thinks it “owns” all the South China Sea inside the dashed red area….
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