Posts Tagged ‘music’


Good PR or Copyright Landmine?

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014
A screengrab of Shirt's nytimes.la site

A screengrab of Shirt's nytimes.la site

Earlier this month, a rapper named Shirt wrote an article about himself, but he did it under the byline of Jon Caramanica, a New York Times critic and hip-hop point man. He also selected snippets of text from previously-published articles, rounded it out with his own, and posted on the site nytimes.la, which was designed as a pretty good doppelganger for the real Times site.

Not only did Shirt, who did the site design himself, use the Times masthead and design, he also used the Times’ headlines, content preview, and photos. Of course, it doesn’t look completely identical –  among other things, the margins are different, the text isn’t as clear, and in his article, he made the style guide faux pas of writing “e-mail,” not “email.”

The nytimes.la homepage is a giant hyperlink to the real Times site, but is that enough to make up for using the New York Times proprietary design, not to mention the reporter’s name?

In the context of achieving his goal – getting attention – Shirt’s stunt was successful. But where is the line between great PR and breach of copyright? And is it a breach if he linked back to the Times? As with all copyright issues, it’s a murky one at best, and terms like fair use and parody are likely to come up if action is pursued.

We’ve discussed before that the FTC does not like ads disguised as editorial content, but that is in the context of paid native advertising, which this is not. So in building his own version of the New York Times online, did Shirt skirt the issue?

Like most brilliant PR moves , Shirt’s article got him a lot of press attention that he hadn’t previously received (including this insightful article from NPR about the struggles of hip-hop musicians trying to get noticed and about how Shirt operates). Getting noticed is the underlying directive of PR campaigns, which Shirt obviously did successfully, but the other question is, when the conversation moves on, will the few weeks of media notice make any difference?

Yes, it was a pretty good stunt. But PR pros know that good PR is a continuing dialogue, not a one-off shout into the ether. It will be interesting to see whether there are any aftershocks from Shirt’s article, or whether it disappears.

Where do you think the line is between good PR and copyright breach?

In PR and Media: September 1, 2011

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

J.C. Penny Pulls Controversial T-Shirt (Yahoo!/Shine)
“A few months ago, the Internet was up in arms over a white David & Goliath T-Shirt that read, in pink bubble letters, “I’m too pretty to do math.” Then there was the one with “Future Trophy Wife” written on it. But many parents think this one is worse…”

E-Books Get More Interactive With Amazon’s New Author Q&A Feature (ReadWriteWeb)
“Amazon nudged the experience of reading books ever-so-slightly further into the future today. The company announced a new feature for its Kindle reading platform that lets readers ask authors questions about their books as they’re reading.”

 Juror Pleads Guilty After ‘Friending’ Defendent (Mashable.com)
“Jurors and defendants are not meant to be friends — even if it’s just Facebook friends. Four charges of contempt of court probably drilled this point home for 22-year-old Jonathan Hudson of Arlington, Texas.”  

Apple’s Cloud Still Isn’t Streaming (AllThingsDigital.com)
“When is a stream not a stream? When it’s a download. While a video making the rounds today makes it seem as if Apple’s upcoming iTunes Match service will stream music from Apple’s servers to a user’s device, that’s not the case.”

Zuckerberg Tops Vanity Fair’s “New Establishment” List Again (And Look Who’s No. 40) (AllThingsDigital.com)
“Vanity Fair magazine put out its high-profile “New Establishment” list of the top 50 people, who are ‘an innovative new breed of buccaneering visionaries, engineering prodigies, and entrepreneurs, who quite often sport hoodies, floppy hair, and backpacks.’”

Ex-NYC Deputy Mayor: Hyperlocals Should Help Citizens ‘March on City Hall’ (StreetFightMag.com)
“Journalism and community are rapidly converging in the hyperlocal space. But the big missing piece is meaningful participation by local government.”

Nielsen 2011-12 Rankings: Washington DC, Seattle Move Up, While Atlanta and Phoenix Drop (TVSpy)
“The Top 20 local markets will see some changes this year, according to Nielsen. The 2011-12 list of DMAs, released today, measures Washington, DC and Seattle each moving up a rank — to 8 and 12, respectively — while Atlanta and Phoenix each drop down one spot, to 9 and 13.”

Artists and Record Labels Are At It Again … This Time It’s For Keeps

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

the doors at the whiskey a go go - Google ImagesThis past weekend I was lucky enough to catch the Sunset Strip Music Festival in LA.  Seeing Motley Crue and Public Enemy, playing live outside on the Strip, and The Doors, live at the Whiskey A Go- Go, where they started as a house band in the 60’s, (with David Brock on vocals doing a mind blowing rendition of Jim Morrison), was truly an unreal experience … and just what I needed. Working with the major music labels for the last eight years and following this beleaguered industry from the business side, I always rely on some good-old live, loud music to quickly put things back in perspective for me.

Last week the New York Times wrote an article reporting on yet another potential crushing blow to the music industry, a little known revision to a copyright law from the mid-seventies, dealing with musical artists regaining rights to their songs. Basically the law grants artists “termination rights,” allowing the artists to regain control of their work from the labels, 35 years after the songs release, provided they file the proper forms two years in advance.

“The recording industry has made a gazillion dollars on those masters, more than the artists have,” said Don Henley, a founder both of the Eagles and the Recording Artists Coalition. “So there’s an issue of parity here, of fairness. This is a bone of contention, and it’s going to get more contentious in the next couple of years.” Some big names released in 1978 and eligible to be granted termination rights in 2013 include, Bruce Springsteen’s “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” Billy Joel’s “52nd Street,” and the Doobie Brothers’ “Minute by Minute.

This will be a bone of contention for years and will certainly wind up in court and in the hands of lawyers, some of whom I’m sure were rockin’ right alongside me. Thirty-five years is a long time, but after seeing these bands perform over the weekend with passion and energy, sounding better than ever, something tells me they’re not going away anytime soon, and thank goodness!

Listening to bands tell their stories between songs during the festival reminded me of how this whole thing started and why it’s all here in the first place…and never a  mention of words like copyright or piracy. I say avoid the legal fees, pay the artists instead and let Don Henley go back to singing with his Eagles band mates.

Amazon, Apple, Google Race to Dominate the Cloud-Based Music Sharing Arena

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Record labels are once again under attack from the Internet, this time by companies eager to jump into the red hot “online music storage” arena. After what the labels have been through the last several years, you can bet they’ll be better prepared this time. Apple and Google have been working diligently on a new music sharing model which promises to give music fans more flexibility in accessing their media, wherever they iStock_000001626968XSmallare rather than tying them to a particular computer or mobile device (a service known as a music locker). Google, however, hasn’t been able to deliver anything to this point, despite promising to launch their service as far back as last Christmas. And neither has Apple’s which hasn’t launched yet. But surprisingly it was Amazon who became the first media company to launch a cloud-based consumer service – deciding to take a bold “Napster- like” approach last month with the launch of their version called “Cloud Drive,” as reported in this New York Times article.

Amazon initially thought they were sidestepping the sensitive music licensing problem by allowing its customers to upload their songs in MP3 or A.A.C. format and then storing it in the cloud, enabling consumers to play the music on any Android phone, Android tablet, Mac or PC, regardless of where they were. “We don’t need a license to store music,” said Craig Pape, director of music at Amazon in this Reuters article. “The functionality is the same as an external hard drive.” 

What Amazon neglected to do was license the rights, for this type of activity, from the major Hollywood film studios and record companies. The labels immediately fired back, but rather than engage in a nasty drawn out lawsuit the two sides quickly realized they needed each other (for now anyway) to compete in this new music sharing market, fueled by the changing desires of the consumer. Amazon is currently engaged in talks with all members of the big four (Sony Music Entertainment, EMI Group, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group) to discuss how this latest business model can make sense for both sides. If the two sides come to an agreement, the way we access music will change dramatically once again; however, the question remains, how will the music industry be affected by this sudden access to online stored music files. And other than the consumer, who stands to benefit the most from this new platform?

David Bowie predicted in 2002 that music would become “like running water or electricity,” notes this article penned by John Naughton, The Observer. At the time of the original interview, Apple’s iPod had only just been released. Bowie understood that “iPod users were, in fact, the audio equivalent of travelers to primitive countries who carry bottled water because public supplies are unreliable or unsafe. In a comprehensively networked world, Bowie surmised, people would eventually become more relaxed about carrying their supplies of bottled music: when they needed it, they would just get it streamed from the network.”

I wonder what artists think of their content, once again, being downloaded and potentially shared by millions of people without a licensing arrangement on the table. Will Mick Jagger shout, “Hey! You! Get off of my cloud” (ok, that one was too easy) or will Rihanna say, “Come on, come on, I like it, like it.”?

The music industry continues to struggle to keep up with the consumer’s demands, but finally appears to have recognized its better in the long run to accommodate music fans rather than waste time in court.

What are your thoughts? How do you think cloud-sharing with affect the music and media industries? Share your thoughts with me and the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.

The Music Business Rocks On… Shrugging Off Internet Challenges From The Past

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010
Image Source: The Age.com.au

Image Source: The Age.com.au

Over the last 10 years the music business has resembled the “boy” in lyrics from any of the countless number of songs written over the years about “boy meets girl,” “boy loses girl,” and/or “boys falls back in love with girl.” The music industry has been in a tailspin since 1999 (coincidentally the same year Napster was spawned). The advent of peer-to-peer services caused massive music piracy and, with free music just a click away, proved to be the direct blow that would send CD sales plummeting and ultimately crippling a once very profitable industry.

However, the music business seems to have bottomed out and actually managed to grow over the last two years (the entire British music business grew 5 percent from 2008 -2009). One way it has managed this is by returning to its roots – live performances. When I attended my first concert, (Ozzie Osborne –  What was I thinking?), I had no idea at the time Mr. Osborne, for the most part, was touring as a way to market his new album. Although I would like to think the bands I saw back in the day were there because they truly enjoyed playing live (I’m sure some did), the concert was more of a live commercial to promote their new albums and get people to buy them.

These days’ bands are touring again to cash in on booming ticket sales (with top acts commanding over 100 dollars) and are laughing all the way to the bank as they play in front of sold out crowds. “Many of the acts selling out stadiums are old,” says Rob Hallet, the president of international touring at AEG Live. The top three American touring acts last year were U2 (average age: 49), Bruce Springsteen (61) and a double bill of Billy Joel (61) and Elton John (63). All have contributed to a surge in ticket prices – tripling from $1.5 billion in 1999 to $4.6 billion in 2009.  It’s not that more people are going to live performances, but rather paying more per ticket. According to Pollstar, a research firm that tracks the market, the average ticket price should be $35.30 today if they increased in line with inflation. Instead the average price of a ticket costs a whopping $62.57.

Bands not only are relying on live performances. They also are looking to alternative revenue streams to help mitigate the drop in CD sales, such as merchandising, sponsorships, online streaming and emerging markets. One area that is booming is publishing. Music’s best customer is television “Watch any evening’s worth of TV and count how many times you hear music in the background,” says Jeremy Lascellas, chief executive of Chrysalis.

If the music business could figure out a way to share a synergistic relationship with the Internet, other forms of media and entertainment can surely learn from their long strange trip. Although the music industry is relying less on CD sales and more on alternative revenue streams – one thing is certain: people continue to pay a premium for quality content regardless of whether it’s coming from a 3-D movie screen ($20 average price per ticket in New York) or Mick Jagger’s 67 year old vocal pipes.