Opt out of agreements allowing AI to use your music to build more tracks for a production music library

I don’t have music in any of these libraries, so this is not about Envato specifically, it applies to all of them.

I would suggest to opt-out even though I am very well aware that of course it will not stop these type. of companies (or any for that matter) from implementing AI-driven content and catalogs.

But we don’t have to make it too easy for them.

“Composers/musicians using the website @AudioJungle by @envato to sell royalty free music – Envato have ‘updated’ – their T&C’s to **now have AI train on your items that you have authored and uploaded** You are opted in AUTOMATICALLY. Additionally, your items will now be licensed “in perpetuity” becuase an AI cannot ‘forget’ what it has learned. There is no mention of any profit share for authors from AI works derived from authors’ compositions. If you don’t want your items to be trained by AI, you need to remove them from the marketplace by June 1st. There is (currently) no opt-out available. While I appreciate AI is inevitable and some people will be embracing this, the immediacy with which @envato has gone about it while seemingly going against some of their core values is striking. I can’t believe they didn’t give authors a choice, and have only given 20 days notice to find an alternative. For those who might be dependent on income from the site, it puts them in a massive quandary, especially with the lack of time to find an alternate solution. It’s frankly shameful behavior. I’ve had an author account there since 2009 – which I will now remove. It kept me afloat during my early years in the industry. I also reviewed items on the site. This policy change and sudden implementation is disgraceful, and I’m now sorry to have been associated with @audiojungle and @envato in any way.”

Mitglied der IETF verteidigt undemokratische Strukturen – Chaosradio

In der Sendung CR219 Backstage im Netz eines der Sprachrohe des Chaos Computer Clubs Chaosradio, war Clemens Schrimpe, Mitglied des IETF zu Gast.

In der Sendung sollte es um all die Technologien gehen, die im Hintergrund das Internet funktionieren lassen. Erstes Thema war natürlich, wie immer, gleich mal eine Fehlermeldung zum Fehler 451, der von allerlei Webseiten benutzt wurde schon bevor (!!) er zum Standard wurde. Dabei kann es sich natürlich nur um eine politische Nachricht handeln.

Schrimpe stellte dann weiterhin die Arbeit des IETF vor. Der IETF ist ein nicht demokratisch legitimiertes Gremium von zufällig zusammengestellten Menschen, die sich darüber Gedanken machen, wie denn das Internet am Besten zu funktionieren habe. Uns wird das dann nachher als Freiheit verkauft, aber darauf möchte ich an dieser Stelle gar nicht so tief eingehen. Fachleute haben sehr wohl ihre Berechtigung, es geht am Ende aber eben um Transparente (!!), offenen und vor allem demokratisch legitimierte Gremien.

Bei ca Minute 33 erwähnt Schremp ziemlich abfällig und ins lächerliche ziehend, dass ja die staatlichen Standardisierungsorgane  immer so neidisch seien auf Organisationen wie die IETF und man kann deutlich heraushören, dass er der Meinung ist, die hätten ja auch keine Ahnung und sollten sich aus unserem Internet mal besser raushalten.

Ich finde die Einstellung, die hinter derartigen Aussagen steht reichlich unerhört. Auf der einen Seite schreit die Netzgemeinde immer und immer wieder nach Transparenz, Offenheit und demokratisch legitimierten Strukturen, aber wenn es um die eigene Sache geht, dann soll bitte die Demokratie die Klappe halten und die Arbeit den Fachleuten überlassen.

Diese Doppelzüngigkeit und Doppelmoral von vielen im Umfeld der Netzpolitik und Netztechnologie gepaart mit deren Selbstüberschätzung aufgrund ihres technischen, aber niemals hinterfragten sozialpolitischen Kenntnisse grenzt ans unerträgliche.

Und mit diesem Artikel habe ich wohl die letzte Chance vertan, jemals Mitglied im Chaos Computer Club zu werden (Mitglied wird nur, wen der Vorstand Mitglied werden lässt), obwohl mir deren Arbeit und Themen an vielen vielen Stellen sehr nah am Herzen liegen.

Ressourcen – Innere und äußere Kraftquellen – 24.06.2015

Bin heute morgen etwas früher aufgewacht und habe die Sendung “Ressourcen – Innere und äußere Kraftquellen” vom 24.06.2015 gehört.

Gute Sendung, allerdings fehlen mir bei derartigen Sendungen immer wieder Hinweise zu weiterführender Literatur oder ächäm… zusätzlichen Quellen zum Thema.

Was aber wirklich hängen geblieben ist, war der Rahmen, in den die Sendung gesetzt wurde: die auswegslose Situation und Ermordung durch die Nazis von Helmuth James von Moltke. Und speziell ein Passage aus dem Abschiedsbrief an seine Söhne hat mich doch sehr stark berührt:

Die Sache, wegen derer ich umgebracht werde, wird in die Geschichte eingehen, und kein Mensch weiß, wie. Euch will ich aber folgendes sagen: ich habe mein ganzes Leben lang, schon in der Schule, gegen einen Geist der Enge und der Gewalt, der Überheblichkeit und der mangelnden Ehrfurcht von Anderen, der Intoleranz und des Absoluten erbarmungslos Konsequenten angekämpft, der in den Deutschen steckt und der seinen Ausdruck in dem nationalsozialistischen Staat gefunden hat. Ich habe mich auch dafür eingesetzt, dass dieser Geist mit seinen schlimmen Folgeerscheinungen wie Nationalismus und Exzess, Rassenverfolgung, Glaubenlosigkeit, Materialismus überwunden werde. Insofern werde ich vom nationasozialistischen Standpunkt zu Recht umgebracht.

Nun kann ich persönlich nicht die ganze Geschichte über Moltke nachprüfen. Das Zitat aber blieb an mir hängen!

Thank you Aloe Blacc: Streaming Services Need to Pay Songwriters Fairly | WIRED

I would like to elaborate on two arguments being made in the comments of the article (link at the end of this article):

Argument: labels should better compensate songwriters / authors

This argument stems usually from a basic misunderstanding of how music is created and who does which job. A songwriter writes a song. He then licenses this song to whoever wants to use it and is generally only paid a fee for the song if it is commissioned, which, as far as I know from colleagues, is a rare case because most of the times, the songwriter writes his songs and then shops them around. The songwriter profits when the song is being used. Usages are

  • duplication (CDs, vinyl, etc)
  • performance (concerts, public mechanical performance like radios/jukeboxes in businesses like bars, hairdressers etc)
  • broadcasting (TV, radio, cable, satellite)
  • downloads (iTunes, Amazon etc…)
  • streaming (Spotify, Deezer, Beats, etc…)
  • film (use of a pre-exisitng work in a film)

In all of the above use cases except film the songwriter has very little to no personal influence on the level of compensation. The license fees are set / negotiated between the performance rights organisations (PROs) and the businesses behind the use cases above. Once a song is published the songwriter _must_ license his works under theses conditions and the PRO _must_ license to anyone asking. It’s called a compulsory license.

 Argument: a stream pays more than a radio spin

While it is true that streaming does in fact compensate better per “person” consuming the work, we have to look at this from a different perspective to make it obvious why that is the correct way to handle it. It is important to understand the differences for the end consumer between streaming and radio:

Streaming means: free choice of

  • what
  • where
  • when
  • how
  • on what device

to listen to

Radio means: listening to whatever someone else decides at any given moment in other words, no real control and freedom of what to listen to.

From this I think it should be abundantly clear, that the end consumer is getting a way better experience with streaming than with any other form of consumption. Which is obviously the reason why many people choose to consume music in this fashion. And rightfully so!

But there is absolutely _nothing_ wrong with songwriters asking for a better compensation for this sort of service to the end consumer. It’s a great service and great experience and it is worth something. To suggest that we cannot or should not make our voices heard in this power network is a specious argument that denies us free speech and access on a level playing field to a marketplace. That’s just wrong.

And like Aloe Blacc says: songwriters get nothing from the fees that streaming services pay to labels, because that’s not how the licensing is set up. Songwriters license their works (the composition/lyrics) directly (to the labels, to the stations, to the streaming services etc) while the labels license their product (the particular recording) to the streaming service.

Aloe Blacc: Streaming Services Need to Pay Songwriters Fairly | WIRED.

Can you say shill? Neelie Kroes and the net neutrality misunderstanding

There’s a great great article over in the register about the missing European internet policy. Read the whole thing, but two quotes are just too sweet not to pass upfront:

It’s all very strange. What, then, may explain the commissioner’s puppyish eagerness to please Silicon Valley? Or to patronise? Surely even if the commissioner herself is off frolicking with the unicorns, her technocratic advisors can’t be quite so gullible? And no, I don’t think they are. They’re just desperately eager to be seen to be with it.

And in what really is behind the whole debate around net neutrality at the moment, the truth behind internet traffic. By the way: the distance between the peering entity and the ISP would be perfect for cultural and entertainment content creators to anonymously (!! meaning without knowing who the end consumer is) monitor the usage of their works and would then be able to correctly distribute any revenue that may come from blanket licensing. You know, the blanket license everybody loves but then wonders why the money doesn’t end up where it belongs. To understand this, you’ll have to read up on peering a little bit.

Today, the world’s internet video travels over private networks. Over two decades, the public backbone has been run down to the extent it cannot carry video. If you’re a startup, European or otherwise, you have to buy a peering arrangement. Hence the controversy over peering deals, and the high anxiety expressing itself in the net neutrality campaign.

Surveillance and free human beings

In the past couple of weeks we’ve seen where peoples’ desire for security will lead us: to the surveillance state, as has been revealed by the publication of PRISM.

For me personally it takes me back a bit to what happened surrounding the introduction of the SOPA and ACTA bills. Back then, if you remember, “the whole internet”™ went into an uproar unlike anything ever seen in the technology world. Google went black. Wikipedia went black. Reddit went black. The world pretty much ended according to people who are more than interested in removing any individual rights that may be in the way of the tech industry moving forwards.

Where is the outrage now? Where are the demonstrations now? Where is the political youth opposing this surveillance and promoting a free civilized society based on the rule of law? Unfortunately they are nowhere and here are my thoughts about why:

In the case of the copyright debate the primary reason for the outcry was, just as many colleagues had suspected all along, purely about the filesharing aspect of the privacy debate. None of the true political implications that came along with it. And all the talk about privacy and surveillance state and the likes where smokescreens in order to justify taking away the rights (and by extension the ability to monetize their works) of millions of authors in order to personally not be liable for watching TV series, movies and listening to music without paying for it. Because, in no way would copyright lead to what this article in the guardian talks about and I share a quick quote:

Lavabit has been told that they would face serious criminal sanctions if they publicly discuss what is being done to their company. Thus we get hostage-message-sounding missives like this:

I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what’s going on – the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests.”

I have been of both sides of the copyright debate: when Napster came out I was just starting out in the industry and felt like the industry kept me out by design. I was happy that something “interrupted them” and “put them in their place” and defended it.

But after slowly making my way into the industry and starting to actually understand how the industry works, how the different institutions function (many of whom I still don’t agree with, but that doesn’t warrant taking away their right to exist!!) and what the struggle being a media creator supporting a family really means, but first and foremost: that the only thing I, as a media creator, have to sell is a license, I have felt the attacks of the copyleft movement to be intimately personal, vile and solely aimed at taking away my possibility to monetize my work. And for musicians and composers who don’t see the media industry as a “late teen/early twenties let’s form a band and play some cool parties for our friends” but as a way of making business with each other and who have spent countless hours practicing, studying, throwing away sketches, being unsatisfied with ideas (in short: artists struggle) it’s not quite as possible to just switch gears and work for a consultancy or social media consultancy company.

A lot of us (media creators) went into this field exactly because it is not possible for us or not desirable to live the kind of life where you have to give up a lot of your own personality and convictions in order to actively be popular and appeal to market interests. We’re all forced by market interests, that I understand. But there’s a difference with sticking to what you believe in and relinquishing it in order to “not offend”!

Authors rights have given individuals the freedom to live their dreams, to break away from trodden paths, in essence to be truly free human beings. And that is, at least to me, the ultimate goal and worth fighting for.

The quirks of the music subscription service model

I read this very noteworthy article recently on the sustainability of the music subscription services and here are my thoughts on it.

I’m sure Spotify can be very successful and profitable in just offering those all-time mega hit songs and the summer hit songs. Those songs tend to engage the audience throughout their lifetime.

But when you look at what kind of service that would make, it seems to me to be the model of the “oldies but goodies” radio stations. A very conservative form of both media “broadcast” (in the wider sense not the technical sense) and listener behavior.

I would like to ask a different question:

Would spotify as a service that focused only on those all-time-great songs and not on a catalogue as big as possible be an attractive place for the curious music lover?

I remember an instance in 2006 or 2007 when I visited my friends in Los Angeles and drove around in my rental car listening to the world famous KROQ. What happened was that I felt like every time I turned on the station and drove for about 45 minutes (the average drive time in LA) I would hear

* City of Angels, Red Hot Chilli Pepper
* Enter Sandman, Metallica
* The Pretender, Foo Fighters

This is all fine and dandy, they can play whatever they want and how often they want, that’s not my point and on top of that, I love those songs.

The curious music lover

But from a curious listener standpoint those forms of media are becoming less and less interesting to me. I would like to explore new songs, find voices I haven’t heard before, dive into the experimental, challenge my taste expand my horizon and so on. Which is where all the indie artists come into play that make up the bulk of Spotfiys catalogue and in my opinion, they make up the real attractiveness of the service.

Unfortunately for those artists, music subscription services will never amount to a reasonable or even noteworthy level of income stream as the calculations in the article reveal. But the calculations in the article make it abundantly clear that the royalty rate that the subscription services pay today are the only ones that are viable with the currently assumed listening behavior. I get that and I respect that. Please read the section on the promotional aspects in the article for consideration of that argument. Basically subscription based music consumption promotion will lead to more subscription based music consumption and as such to the lowest possible roaylty for the artist.

My conclusion:

Subscription services are great discovery tools if they actually work at presenting you things that you don’t know. But if you truly would like to support an artist, there is no other and no better way than to purchase the music from him or her directly. And hopefully the artists retained enough rights to the music to be able to sell on a distribution platform that has a fair revenue sharing model. I don’t want to advertise any, we can discuss them in the comments if you like.


Startups: Innovation Through Inferiority!

I know I write this too often, but I’ve been thinking exactly what this article puts into the right words. Disruption is all fine and dandy, but what does it really do for a society and especially the middle class?

What this means is that Silicon Valley venture-backed startup companies generally make worse, not better products. Their main advantage is that they are cheaper and therefore more accessible to the average person, which enables populist-sounding marketing. So Airbnb is cheaper but worse than a hotel; blogs are cheaper but worse than newspapers; user-generated content in general is free but worse than professionally produced content.

Startups: Innovation Through Inferiority!.

Interview with the Guardian editors who broke the PRISM news

This interview raises a couple of discussion points that are central in the debate about government surveillance and that are really the issues we as a society have to talk about and balance with our need for security.

– oversight

– the ability of citizens to dissent (a central element in a democracy) without going into self-censoring

– journalists ability to privately communicate with sources and in doing so protecting those sources

It’s worth watching: