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T-Bone Burnett versus Pandora and Serious XM

 

Many
of you know who T-Bone Burnett is, especially if you have enjoyed some
of his work.  There was an article in the News Tribune I would like to
repeat in total because of what T-Bone is saying, and because I agree
with so much of what he believes and tells us…..”Music opened my life
to an array of experiences.  I remember New York’s Washington Square
Park in the 1960’s as a laboratory alive with musicians playing folk,
old-time country, jazz and everything in between.  The creativity in
that one small space was vibrant and passionate.  The artists there
changed us, just as Sam Phillips, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee
Lewis and Roy Orbinson did from Memphis, Tenn., a decade earlier.  A
circle of talented innovators with the courage to explore new things –
be they topics or techniques – reshaped our culture and the world. 
Melodies, the accompanying lyrics and the way artists and musicians
bring them together have the ability to break down barriers, cross
borders, educate and inspire.  Music is uniquely durable and, as a
result, has for centuries been the medium through which knowledge and
insights are passed from generation to generation.  Fans can still hear
the work of America’s musical pioneers, thanks to online and mobile
services.  Through downloads and streams and services such as Pandora
and Sirius XM Radio, these giants’ recordings continue to captivate and
influence young musicians, singers, songwriters, and producers.  Yet
some of these same companies have made the decision to devalue the music
of these artists for their own profit by not paying for it.  In doing
this, they devalue the substance of their own medium.  For the last 20
years we’ve witnessed an assault on the arts by the technology community
– especially when it comes to music.  This devaluation is troubling
because music is not only the creation of people who make this art for
us; it is how they earn a living.  Music is how they feed their kids and
provide for their futures.  I have been blessed with successes beyond
anything I could have dreamed.  but I am also acutely aware that for too
many artists, the music business has become unstable and financially
unrewarding.  At some point record sales wither, or touring – an
expensive and arduous enterprise to begin with – becomes too hard, and
then a great many of our artists find themselves in a fix.  Several
lawsuits have been filed over the last year on behalf of artists and
copyright owners against Pandora or Sirius XM to rectify this disregard
for what legacy artists created.  It turns out that recordings made
before 1972 are protected by state law, and newer recordings are
protected by federal law.  It’s a distinction that matters to lawyers
but not to those who make music for a living – or their fans.  And why
should it?  But digital music services such as Pandora and Serious XM
read the legal idiosyncrasy as a hook to withhold from artists and right
holders any payment for recordings made before 1972.  It is quite
obvious that without the music there are no music services.  And it
shouldn’t take a lawsuit, or a bipartisan bill introduced in Congress
last week, to make it clear that businesses that include pre-1972
recordings in the play lists they deliver to their customers should pay
the creators who brought those recordings to life.  A band’s artistry is
the culmination of years of work and decades of collective knowledge. 
It is wrong to laud the know-how behind a technology, or shower
executives with stock options, but disregard the genius captured in a
recording.  I hope all those who are part of the 21st-century music
marketplace will honor the fundamental rights of artist and rights
holders so that services, creators and music fans can reap the benefits
the Internet has to offer.”
T-Bone Burnett is a 13-time Grammy Award-winning musician,
songwriter and soundtrack and record producer.  He wrote this for the
Los Angeles Times….. I hold with all he says, and I would like to add
to this barbaric greed mongering by Pandora and Serius XM radio.  When
the very first recordings came out, way back in Edison wax cylinder and
then 78rpm records days, the only licensing agency was ASCAP.  This
organization held so much power, they refused to license mountain music
for radio airplay because they felt it was unfit for humans to listen
too.  Talk about discrimination.  This practice has not stopped for this
licensing agency.  About 9 years ago they went on a rampage across
American suing every small venue, household living room, coffee house
they could find music being played, and either managed to force these
extremely small enterprises to pay huge sums of money or close up shop. 
Many of them could not, under any circumstances pay the fees ASCAP
demanded, so they went out of business.  Can you imagine the number of
‘live’ music performers they put out of business, these very same
musicians that T-Bone is talking about who were feeding their families
from the performances they gave in these small venues.  Somehow this has
to stop, somehow this ‘greed’ among the powerful must
stop….permanently….stop.
 
Bob Everhart for Country Music News International

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