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Posted on August 13th, 2010 by Nicole Kobie

A graphic illustration of music industry madness

Earlier this week, Pure unveiled a new music download service, letting anyone with a Flow-branded radio buy music directly from the device.

Alongside systems such as Spotify and Last.FM, FlowMusic is hoping to encourage listeners to keep it legal by making it as easy as possible to buy tracks – which I’d say is the right tactic to discouraging music piracy. Make it easy, keep it cheap.

However, there’s one area constantly throwing a wrench in the works: sorting out the rights.

At the FlowMusic launch, Pure’s CEO Hossein Yassaie shared a slide showing the complicated mess his company had to decipher when it came to paying out royalties to the various parties involved. He said this one slide took three hours to be explained to him. (Click image to enlarge.)

rights  loyalties slide

“I didn’t believe it at first… being an intellectual property company we understand licensing,” he said. “But I have to say I have never seen anything as complicated at this.”

And if that doesn’t make your eyes bleed and your mind start to leak, it’s worth noting that’s the dumbed-down, simplified version. As Yassaie said: “There were times along the way I almost gave up.”

Despite clearly trying — and getting PRS for Music onside — Pure couldn’t sort out all of the rights issues before launch, with debate remaining over who gets paid for streaming songs. Director of connected services Pete Downton said: “This is new ground in the industry… we’re trying to find a model that works for everyone. If we wait for the copyright legislation written in 1709 to be amended to reflect the reality of technology today, we’ll be waiting a long time to launch these services, but we start from a fundamental position that we respect copyright.”

And there’s the problem. Even if a company can figure out the tech side and come up with an appealing commercial idea, sorting out the licensing can knock the whole thing down. Ever notice how songs in your Spotify playlists quietly get greyed out and won’t play? That’s over rights issues.

The musicians, songwriters, and yes, even marketeers in the music industry deserve to get paid for their work. But somehow rights need to be simplified or the industry risks causing those music companies trying to encourage legal downloads – such as Pure – to give up and leave music distribution to the pirates.

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23 Responses to “ A graphic illustration of music industry madness ”

  1. james016 Says:
    August 13th, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    That slide is just mental

  2. Steve Cassidy Says:
    August 13th, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    it’s certainly phenomenally badly laid out. There are rules for handling complexity like that, and these guys haven’t followed them. My normal approach is to put the entities with the higest number of interlinks in a circle, and then divide the less-interlinked entities into a group inside the circle, or outside, according to the priorities of the links they have. I wonder if there’s any automatic relationship-diagram software out there that would make this simpler?

  3. james016 Says:
    August 13th, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    A picture of a bowl of spaghetti would have made more sense than the slide. It wouldn’t need 3 hours of explanation either

  4. Mac Says:
    August 13th, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Why are foreign words with accents and Punctuation appearing in the Captcha?

  5. Sean Says:
    August 13th, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    The responsibility of figuring out a pre-existing system in order to profit from it rests with the entity who wishes to profit. Yes, rightsholder interaction in the music industry can seem complicated and can be frustrating for everyone involved. The same can be said of the pharmaceutical industry, textbook publishing, television writing and various other media where intellectual property is sold or licensed. Making self-serving diagrams like this is no excuse for any company or individual to refuse to respect the functioning system that is already in place. This is nothing but a slimy piece of PR, and does nothing to shift the moral responsibility of copyright infringers onto the music industry. It is NOT the responsibility of the music industry to make the system simpler to newcomers. No amount of complication of the system justifies stealing from it either. Enough of these half-heartedly disguised justifications for filesharing. You take it, you pay for it. Simple. If it’s not simple enough for you to figure out yourself, there are plenty of music publishing companies available who you can hire to do the thinking for you.

  6. Johnathan Sia Says:
    August 13th, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    I believe in musicians getting their fair share but bloody hell, look at everyone else that’s getting money from the jukebox….

  7. Mononymous Says:
    August 13th, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    If a company or a guy (or girl) can figure this stuff out then they will make millions!

  8. GR138Legend Says:
    August 13th, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    @ Sean – You’re completely missing the point. It’s not about file sharing, it’s about streaming music and the horrendous 18th century system they have to work within, with all of the confusion abound as shown in the powerpoint slide above. If you want to talk about the patently illegal aspects of file-sharing, find an appropriate blog page to make such comments, if you don’t mind.

  9. Steve Cassidy Says:
    August 13th, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    Why is his view so hard to stomach, GR138? IN fact, the industry *contributes* to legislation but it doesn’t *define* it – it surely didn’t define it in 1709, for example. File sharers or any new entrants to any business are welcome to propose regulatory changes on their way in – but to the lawmakers, not their competitors.

  10. thedenmaster Says:
    August 14th, 2010 at 8:07 am

    If anyone has found a cleaner version from the artist standpoint, I’d love to see it. His did seem a little strange in places too. It didn’t have to look like that at all.

  11. milliganp Says:
    August 15th, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    I used to repair mainframes to component level, so this diagram is a model of clarity ;)
    However, if you’re involved and know what you’re talking about it’s actually not that hard to follow.
    The real sadness in all of this is how little money gets back to artists, songwriters and composers.

  12. Chris Castle Says:
    August 17th, 2010 at 3:22 am

    About half of the info on that slide would not apply to Pure.

  13. AM Says:
    August 17th, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    agreed that this is a lot of hype. i mean…”session musicians”? no download or streaming service needs to get involved on that level.

  14. Angus Margerison Says:
    August 17th, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    Agreed with AM….this is a map of all the relationships between all parties in music, mainly irrelevant to Pure . For Pure it is very simple, you have to pay two people, the people who represent the rights of the writer/composer of the music (music publishers) and the people who represent the performance/recording of the music (record companies)….simple really once you realise that the person performing/recording the music may not have written it. PRS and PPL are just collection agencies which provide a service so that music users dont have to deal with thousands of record companies and publishers. This stinks of Pure trying to stir up publicity to the detriment of their suppliers, and PCPRO fell for it.

  15. simon Says:
    August 18th, 2010 at 10:05 am

    very self serving by Pure, as Chris pointed out a large amount of these connections are irrelevant to Pure’s licensing discussions, unless they are licensing directy from or to all the players in the diagram, if so, I think they need some better legal advice !

  16. Stephen Says:
    August 18th, 2010 at 11:02 am

    You have to love the way that “Record Companies” has more incoming arrows that “Artist” and “Songwriter” put together. Says it all really.

  17. Ryan Says:
    August 18th, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    I agree with Simon (15), this is a bit self serving by Pure, most of it is irrelevant to what they are trying to achieve. I work in Royalties and Publishing and understand this diagram, it’s really not all that complicated if you break it down. This diagram has been around for years in various forms, I’m surprised everybody’s making such a fuss – It’s not as if this is the first time anyone has ever managed to unravel the overly complicated and archaic system that is British royalty licensing and payments. If it really took Mr Yassaie 3 hours to understand this diagram, he probably shouldn’t be closely involved with a project that relies so heavily on what this diagram represents.

  18. mikeos Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 8:33 am

    of course it is complicated… how else do the money grabbing luddites screw musicians (and us)out of their money?
    If it were simple everyone would see where the real money goes and then piracy would really become an issue

  19. Herman Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 11:45 am

    This chart is not complete, it should include the cinema audience money flow to the popcorn stand and the artist managers car leasing relationship.

  20. S Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    I’d love to see the more complex one. – Hilarious!

  21. Wilbert3 Says:
    August 26th, 2010 at 10:08 am

    …and this is just the ‘Music Royalties’ diagram – the one for ‘Film Royalties’ would be about 3 times the size and complexity. Stealing music infringes about 3 copyright laws, stealing films infringes about 7. Maybe somebody’s still trying to fit that one together!

  22. Robert Dyson Says:
    August 31st, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    Wow, bizarre graphic.

  23. Julio Calzadilla Says:
    May 10th, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    betting roulette


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