Copyright Law – Are Artists Asking For More Than Their Fair Share?

This from TechDirt:

The main backers of the online video site Hulu, NBC Universal and News Corp., are two of the stronger supporters of our copyright system, and have, at times, been known to push to make it even more stringent in order to “protect” their works. So, it’s interesting to see them discovering that draconian copyright rules can come back and bite them as well. We were just covering some of the problems various TV shows have had being put on DVD due to licensing problems, and now it appears those same problems are making it difficult to get some shows up on Hulu — despite the fact producers would like those shows online.

One of our readers, named Mark, wrote in to let us know that he and his wife had been watching the old TV show The Pretender on Hulu, when they realized that some of the episodes were simply missing (including the entire final season). He wrote to Hulu to ask why, and was told:

“Thank for letting us know that some episodes from The Pretender appear to be missing from our lineup. Individual episodes are sometimes held up due to rights issues, quite often related to music used in the show – and that’s the case this time – some of the music in episodes 17 and 18 couldn’t be cleared for online streaming. We’ll continue to request them from our content partner, but at this time we can’t offer them though we’d love to.”

It’s still difficult to understand why we would ever design copyright law and licensing policy in this manner. After all, having certain songs included in a TV show is never going to hurt the commercial viability of a song.

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The question being asked by many non-musicians and non-artists consumers (mostly who just want to buy the complete season of CSI on DVD) is this: are musicians and composers asking too much to be paid each time their song is aired in a TV show? If a piece of clothing is sold, for example Ben buys a shirt, the clothing designer only get paid once, even though the shirt may be worn hundreds of times by Ben. So why should a song in a TV show generate a royalty for each broadcast and subsequent DVD of the same show? Should composers be paid once, up front, for the usage, and then let that be it? What about when the TV show get’s put on DVD? Is it the same product still? Are artists and copyright law correct in demanding additional compensation? Do the laws need to be changed?

I, for one, am a proponent of intellectual property rights. A copyright owner should be able to sell and license a work as he or she sees fit. If a consumer cannot afford the cost of one artist’s work, move on to the next offer, or write your own song. An artist should be compensated for the time and expertise it took to create such a high-demand piece of art. If TV networks are unwilling to pay the cost of licensing, they have the ability to move to the next option on the affordability chain. It’s their responsibility to balance cost against the demand of their audience.

Film Composer Survival Guide

I recently found this “white paper” from Filmmusic.net while perusing the filmandgamecomposers.com forums:

http://www.filmmusic.net/dlx/Getting_Your_Music_Into_Film_TV_in_Economy_Today.pdf

Mainly, it explains that, in today’s economy, the value of custom work is being diminished daily by over-saturation of talent and declining budgets and spending. The key to success in the creative field of composing relies heavily on a little financial savvy and a whole lot of networking.

While it’s an excellent practical guide for career survival in today’s marketplace, I have to disagree with their notion that music libraries are partially to blame for the devaluation of custom scoring work. Custom work and library music serve two distinct market segments that have traditionally been separated by budget and deadlines/production process. Low budget films, student projects, fly-by-night radio ads, low budget and local tv commercials, all call for quick, low-cost solutions that simply cannot be met by a composer who specializes in custom work. Extend that to personal slide shows, corporate office presentations and the like. The meetings, spotting, and time commitment, not to mention creative mind-power required for custom scores are simply not worth the allotted budget for these types of projects. Hence the need for low-cost library music. On the other hand, scoring a feature film, or a national commercial campaign, or a mass-market video game release all call for a huge time commitment and a high level of expertise.

The mentality that composers should avoid the music library business is ridiculous, especially if one wants to survive in today’s business climate. Creatives should embrace the opportunity to diversify their business, and expand into new creative markets. If devaluation is a concern, Productiontrax.com gives all of our contributors full price control.

It is true that there are a ton of composers and songwriters today, and it seems as though everyone with a Mac is a musician. But media buyers, music supervisors, and film directors are not stupid — they have ears for musical quality as well, and for both library music and custom scoring jobs alike, there is always room at the top for the uniquely qualified and super talented.

NAMM 2009: Native Instruments Maschine

Anyone who works with groove boxes and drum samplers knows that one of the drawbacks of sequencing is the slow hardware programming. This year, Native Instruments has combined the flexibility of the computer-based workstation with the ease and tactile process of the groove box with Maschine.

Maschine combines an intuitive on-sceen sequencer, sampler and over 20 high quality effects with real-time control and flexible routing into an inspiring Groove Production Studio. The hardware component features 16 pads, 41 buttons, and 11 rotary encoders dedicated to playing, recording, sequencing, automation, and arrangement. The software interface is a graphical editing environment that is eerily similar to Apple’s built in groove plug-in for Logic Pro. Easy inegration via VST, Audio Units, or RTAS into any host DAW.

From a musical standpoint, Maschine boasts over 5 gigs of studio-quality sounds and 14,000 plus samples. The onboard loops and patterns are perfectly suited for electronic, urban, and indirtronic genres.

More info online at www.native-instruments.com/maschine

NAMM 2009: Celemony Melodyne Editor

One of my favorite and most useful tools in the studio is Melodyne. It’s great for making normal singers sound phenomenal and poor singers sound normal. It’s pitch correction an quantization features make cleaning up any audio mess a relative breeze.

One of the features sorely missed, however, has been the ability to edit different pitches on the same audio track, ie vocal harmonies where both singers are on the same track, but not on the same page intonation-wise. I missed it until now.

Celemony unveiled their new DNA technology this week, which allows for the recognition, correction, and editing of individual melodic parts within a polyphonic setting. Never again will your choirs have to sing in tune.

Other applications include cleaning up instrumental recordings, fixing guitar tuning, creative harmonization, etc… Scheduled for release in the spring

New Royalty Free Media on Productiontrax.com

The Productiontrax.com team has assembled a list of the latest royalty free music, sound effects, stock footage, and photos uploaded to the Productiontrax.com library. Click Here to Visit Productiontrax..

Here is a sample of the newest royalty free media on Productiontrax.com:
New dramatic film moods
Sports sound effects
Stock video footage for kids and teens
Stock photography of small towns and villiages
Latest pop music tracks
Cartoon sound effects
Ambient film moods

For the latest Productiontrax news and information, or to leave us comments, visit us on Facebook and Myspace, or read our blog. And don’t forget to send information about your projects to yourproject@productiontrax.com.

Thank you for your continued support of Productiontrax.com. We look forward to providing media for all your upcoming projects.

Songsmith – Intuitive Music Creation Tool or Just Plain Creativity-Zapping

Songsmith (http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/redmond/projects/songsmith/), a supposed creative tool for music novices and professional musicians alike, is the latest arrival onto the computer music scene. However, unlike samples, loops, and other instrument tools, Songsmith auto-generates a musical track to your singing. Sounds pretty cool, huh?

Now, anyone who can hold together a tune, or has a musical idea in their head, can quickly find the chords to their musical thought — all without a lick of musical theory knowledge or performance experience.

My first inclination was to gag. But maybe it’s just the videos that Microsoft put on their site to show off the product. After all, this is the holy grail of song-writing — it’s as close to writing what you hear as you can get without having to spend 10,000 hours of cultivating musical expertise. I can see a product like this leading to musical innovation in a time when creativity has seemed to stagnate.

I can also see our creativity stagnating further as a result of complete stupification… Just rely on the computer to do the creative work for you. Soon we’ll have thousands of “new” songs where the emotion and creativity has been thrown out the window and replaced with computer generated algorithms. So much for personality and originality.

So how do you feel about it? An incredible music composition tool in the beginning stages? Or the complete and utter demise of the craft and creativity involved in creating new music?