Downloading Music and Rights

Started by APK, April 19, 2009, 12:51:09 PM

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judd stephens

Whoa, hold the phone!

Amazon even has Robert Rich's new Live Archive for a lot cheaper than Music Zeit ???

Here's one of them


Quote from: judd stephens on April 19, 2009, 10:35:38 PM
Maybe it has something to do with relative demand?

My guess would be that this is the unfortunate result of having to go through a middleman for digital distribution and losing all control over the terms ultimately reached with the digital retail company at the other end.  EMusic's monthly subscription plan is by the number of downloads, and not by track length, so you could probably download several longform ambient albums for the price of, say, a digital Nick Lowe album.  I don't know what the net royalty would be from the sale of a longform album on Emusic, but my guess is that would be less than what the artist would have received on Itunes.

Re Immersion's comments:  I have paid for Robert Rich's mastering services and the licensing of Mark Mushet's professional images for the cover of my next CD.  This comes directly out of my own pocket, and I hope to at least break "even" (and by that, I am not even thinking about any of my own time spent, which is considerable) on the CD through sales, physical and digital.  I could not even hope for that to happen if everyone adopted Immersion's attitude that all digital music should be free for the taking.



Sorry to say that, but Immersion is full of shit. His whole arguing is so incredibly naive and stupid
that it almost hurts. But in the end its bullshit to even argue with him. I stopped arguing on the
internet, since the last time it was a monkey who was in front of the other pc.

Just one last question. Did Immersion ever released his own Cd? If not, then he is certainly
disqualified to discuss this thing here. Plain and simple.


Immersions comment that listeners/consumers have rights but artists do not is the basic assumption that throws everything out. Despite the possibility of language misunderstandings and the difference between 'younger' and 'older' generations I add my twopenny worth.

No One has any rights, rights are just agreements between 'civilised' people and when societies are basic and violent the concept does not exist. A right has no physical reality, Christ! it's only a few years ago that we would have all been sweeping chimneys or down mines at 7 years old - no time for rights then (I only mention this as evidence of statement, not wishing we were 'back' then or anything).....and within Immersions arguments anything that has no physical reality can be ignored. The 'right' to have music for free can be taken away as easily as the 'right' to life - just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Music may not hold any value because the internet, big companies or listeners devalue it, but just because the flow of information makes it so easy does not make it right. If someone managed to organise the flow of our belongings out of our homes that would not make that right either.

my disagreement is simple. I don't think things (music or otherwise) should be taken for free - if someone chooses to give something for free that is different...

Wayne Higgins

Damn, I go home for a weekend and Monday morning WHAM!!!

There have been quite a few threads on this topic in many different forms.  I'm upset with copyright laws and confused about licensing.  This argument seems to be a buy or not buy argument.  Greed of musicians?  If we musicians were greedy, we'd be something else.  Gene Simmons says that the only reason one becomes a musician is to get laid.  I have always said that if you are running a restaurant and someone is stealing money, the person who comes to you (the manager) privately everyday with new information on who may be responsible for the disappearance is your thief.  In other words, those who accuse are the ones who are guilty.  There is a lot of finger pointing here, please, lets tone it down.

Here's my take on the issue.......

We make music, we own the copyright.  No one can take that away from us, but we can sell it.  We can sell the copyright off to a record company, giant or inde, and they can sell of the liscense to anyone who pays.  If I write a little tune and Miller want's to use it for a beer commercial and gives me enough to make a house payment, cool.  If I write a boss hit bound single which is sung by the latest winner on the American Idolatry show, there is a vast number of options for the royalties to be received.  It's how you write the contract. 

Take a step back to our world.  We are not making music here that sells millions.  Some of us work quite hard at organizing and establishing an independent label that will provide our own music as well as the music of others to the public.  If it makes grocery money for that slow month at work, or provides a bit of money to buy a bike for the kid a Christmas, I personally cannot define this as "greed".  The point is that I think makes this a heated issue is based on the idea that if the pop music industry can make millions producing the same crap year after year, why shouldn't we make $25 producing a work of art?  That's what I felt when I started the Oenyaw, LLC kingdom in cyberspace, and that's how I still feel even after slitting the throat of Oenyaw and throwing the kingdom in a vat of sulfuric acid.  Basically, if the money's there, I'd like a slice of the pie and would be happy with the crumbs.

The reality facing us in the 21st century is that the technology of music availability is changing constantly.  Once upon a time, musicians made records for record companies, the records were played on the radio and sold in stores.  The investment and risk was on the shoulders of the record company.  Then came cds, and the record companies cashed in big time on selling the same records over again but now in a different format.  Then came the ability for the public to burn their own cds, as well as the ability to download music for free off of the internet, and the shit hit the fan.  There is a huge difference between sitting in your room with a portable radio and cassette player, waiting for your favorite song to come on so that you can record it without buying it for $1.  Now you can find the song, download it in a few seconds, and then burn it on to a cd with close to the same quality as buying it in the store for $20.

My problem with the present situation is that the copyright, royalty, licensing laws are more and more apparant to be written and enforced on the side of the companies, and that the notion that they are "protecting the artist" is ludicrous.  Furthermore, the balance is on the sides of the biggest companies.  The attitude of the big three is no longer "here's a record you kids will really dig"; it's become "hand me the pliers and pry that little bastard out of his corner cyberspace and crucify him!"  The record companies have never been on the side of the buyer, no company is.  But in recent years, they've become zombies eating the flesh of anyone that gets in the way.  Sadly, this doesn't only apply to the big three, but to many of the indes as well.


The whole notion has arisen that the music can be free (notice, I didn't say should be).  Humor me on this one before you rise in defense.  Let's say I start a website that offers the music as free downloads.  All 80 hours of it.  Each work as a Non-derivative Creative Commons license.  This translates to I  "I let others copy, distribute, display, and perform only verbatim copies of your work, not derivative works based upon it".  It becomes "some rights reserved" instead of "all rights reserved".  My music is there for free download, only stipulation is that they register on my site and provide me with their e-mail address.  If someone wants to hear it for free, let them.  They are going to find a way anyway. (I had a piece released on a free compilation disc that accompanied a magazine in Italy.  There were torrents for pirated downloads of the disc on the internet before I received my copy.)  I make hard copies of the discs available for sale.  One of the things I am considering is the "make your own disc" option.  Send me a list of the tracks you want, send me a picture, and a title and you'll get a custom cd.  Hell, I may sell two or three of those!  Other options, send my your Ipod and I'll fill it up for you.  Just a couple of ideas I plan on offering.  If I make enough money to cover the cost of the website, I'll be doing better than Oenyaw, LLC did.  If not, so what.  I plan on getting a cheaper site anyway.  Just my idea on a different way of doing it.  Two things I don't want on my "products" are UPC bar codes and FBI warnings.
So, I'm a "Sr Member", huh?  In June it's SENIOR DISCOUNT TIME!!!


Sheesh, kids these days... ::)

It's funny to me how just because we now have the technology to be able to do so, that it makes it somehow "okay" to steal music from artists. It IS stealing, though, no matter how much you try to put a "music is, like, ethereal, man- you can't hold it in your hands, so you shouldn't have to, like, BUY it" spin on it.

I'm all for technological advancement and being able to download music from the internet, (after paying for it, of course), but it's still someone's work and it's still someone's product, just as much as the aforementioned muffin man's product.

Somehow, since being able to download music and no longer having a physical product that goes along with it which you can hold in your hands, the artist's work been cheapened and made to seem almost worthless. Well, it's not worthless. It's still just as important as if you walked into a music store and bought a physical CD. Just because there's no little disc, paper booklet and plastic case, that doesn't make it any less important or real. And just because my art form happens to be music rather than painting or sculpture, how dare you tell me that it can have no monetary value? It is real, it is mine, and people who take it for free are thieves, plain and simple.

When I die, I'm leaving my body to science fiction.


Am i'm the only Person that is still into Vinyl? Most of my Music Collection exists only on Vinyl.
Probably 80% of every Music i own. There is nothing better then getting a Mailer with a new
Vinyl in it. Unpack it. Open it slightly. Get the Vinyl out and put it on the Turntable. Enjoying
the Music while looking at the Sleeve in its big Entity.

A few Days i received my "Jimi Hendrix Experience" 8xLP Box and i felt like a little Child (and i
am not even that old, 22).

Technology wont safe me from that Feeling. Fortunately. :)

Wayne Higgins

I get most of my vinyl at antique stores, flea markets and Goodwill.  I bought about 10 cds in 2008, and about 200 vinyl lps.

Last week for example:
Wednesday at Goodwill
Vangelis Opera Sauvague
Tomita Kosmos
Jean Luc Ponty  Enigmatic Ocean

Saturday at the Flea Market
The Monkees Headquarters
More Of The Monkees
The Beatles Let it Be
Meet The Beatles (AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

I love vinyl and the product, and most of all I love the sound of vinyl.

I agree with Lena that a product is a product, no matter how big or small.  (Dimensions of length, width, height, duration, popularity included.)

Are we getting upset with those that steal as much as those that steal and then throw it out on the net for free with out our permission?  Hopefully the later.

A question prevails:  "When did $0.99 become the accepted cost of a song?"
So, I'm a "Sr Member", huh?  In June it's SENIOR DISCOUNT TIME!!!


I think CD is as likely 5to dissapear as vinyl was supposed to - mind you it is still impossible to make an vinyl in your 'office' or 'bedroom'

And I agree with Lena - just because we can do it does not mean we should - guns are getting easier to get hold of, but should we all have them?, let alone get them for free..... ;D

My last comment on this is that I respect Immersions 'right' to listen to free music, as long as he respects the 'rights' of those artists who don't want theirs available for nothing on the internet.....


Adding a new slant to this topic:

The cost of downloadable albums has been steadily rising. I've even seen on some sites the same price for the physical and the digital album (with added shipping for the physical). One thing that will promote illegal downloading is this trend of rising download costs. People are not stupid, they know you put the album up once and it can be downloaded a million times with no further work involved on the part of the seller or artist. Sure there are still web costs involved and maintenance, but does it justify the kind of prices that are becoming common?

I've noticed the same trend with VST audio plugins over the years (and I've followed them from the beginning). The prices have been rising until they have begun to match, in many cases, the cost of similar hardware units. And yet they clearly lack that added hardware cost factor. And there have certainly been cases of questionable quality plugins being sold at high prices (and with pretty graphics) because in people's minds the higher price (and nice interface) must mean higher quality.  Some free plugins out there are still quite a bit better than many of the costly ones. 

Software is getting itself in the corner where it must charge more and more for the product to earn a living (because of pirated versions), but there is so much pirating precisely because of the excessively high prices. They should (in my mind) reverse this pricing trend and sell at a more reasonable cost where people will be prepared to pay for the legitimate software.

Anyway, interesting stuff.
The Circular Ruins / Lammergeyer / Nunc Stans


I have often thought that paying $9 or $10 to download an album when I could get the physical copy for $15 is lame. After all if I don't like the album, it can be sold back on Ebay or the record store to make up the difference in cost. I am old fashioned to the point of fetishism when it comes to music and art. I think I have actually purchased only one download release in all my years of music buying, and that was because the album was unavailable in hard copy. And even though that album is a completely legit download, I find that I don't listen to it as often, because I have this weird sense that it's not quite real. Usually, when I sell an album of which I have the hard copy, it means I need money or I dislike the album. I usually do burn the album for future reference. But I find I don't often change my mind, and end up never listening to those albums again. This actually could be another wrinkle in the problem. Is it wrong to keep a burned copy of an album you sold back to the record store? I would say no, but it's something to consider.

I find that more and more, I am refusing to buy any cd in a jewel case, unless it's an artist I really really want, or know already. I'm gravitating to digipak and digisleeve now, and much more boutique packaging, because I want that extra tactile step, that ritual. I even enjoy waiting in the mail, and excitedly checking the mailbox every afternoon, when I know a new album is arriving.

Last night I was tempted to buy a download of one of those recently released Rich live albums. That Due Acque one was just sounding so good to me. It is damn cheap on Amazon, almost a crime. But the thought of instantly getting it, and putting it through my lame Windows media player (I have no Ipod or Itunes) and then burning it so I could listen to it actually (and I am being a total whiner here) dampened my spirits and made me not want to get it. Just another burned, faceless disc going into the burn pile.

So, is the music buying public, or at least for our corner of the music realm, by necessity going to be narrowed down to the collectors and packaging fetishists, and those with the good conscience and common sense to want to give back to the artist?


I also want to add that I feel special about buying an album from an actual record store. I love the idea of the different hands it has had to pass through to get to the actual building. It somehow makes that copy more magical, an object infused with magic, and I will pay a fuller price for that experience (in addition to the immediacy of it). We have some really nice record stores here in Seattle, with choice selection, so I guess that makes it easy. What fun to be going throughout the rest of one's day, knowing that album is sitting in the top pocket of the backpack, waiting to be taken home...

michael sandler

Quote from: judd stephens on April 19, 2009, 10:35:38 PM
This is going to veer just a bit off the beaten topic here, but I may have found a way to legally rip off some artists' music, and I don't know what to think of it.'s download site is full of artists work that is surprisingly cheap.  Many of the download albums go for just 99 cents per song, so if the album is one or 2 long tracks, it's just a buck or two.  For example, Brian Eno's Neroli album is just 99 cents.  Many of Thom Brennan and Mathias Grassow's work goes for under 3 bucks per album.  Even a new release like Robert Rich's Zerkalo is just around 6 bucks, and the download costs almost 10 at cdbaby!  What's so surprising is that these prices seem to be well below market value, not just for your average ambient download album, but for the same album as compared to another website.

The list goes on, so I'm wondering how they get away with doing this, and if the artists are in agreement with Amazon's cheap prices.  Maybe they are, and other artists choose not to be so generous.  Steve Roach's material, for example, does not follow the trend mentioned above, with his catalogue costing a consistent 9 dollars or so.  Maybe it has something to do with relative demand?

Apparently they're counting Neroli as a single because it is one continuous track. But I also have an hour-long continuous track for sale on Amazon, and it goes for $8.99. The difference would, I suppose, be attributable to the decisions of distributors. (I have nothing to do with the pricing at digital outlets). Why an unknown like me costs nine times what Brian Eno costs is an interesting question, but I doubt the low price of Neroli amounts to ripping off Eno. I would think a mainstream outlet like Amazon plays by the rules, and a pro like Eno knew whatever he was signing when it came to digital distribution rights.

So IMHO, anyone who doesn't already have Neroli should take advantage of this.


judd stephens

People are comparing pottery, paintings and muffins to music.  Well I think all are a little different in their own right.  When it comes to food, sure if it's your 1st trip to this bakery, you don't know what to expect.  Maybe they're offering free samples, but it's a risk you take, at least the first time.  Yes, there's many things on the menu, but once you tried the things you like, you can return confidently to the bakery or restaurant, knowing that you can expect the exact same thing as what you ordered last time.  And if it's completely botched, well I may get my meal compped, or at least remade to satisfaction. 

None of that is like a musician, whose work constantly changes from album to album, and once it is bought, the outcome (as in the quality of the "experience", which has been eloquently described earlier) is up in the air and irrelevant to the transaction that just took place.  I may think I know what to expect from a musician, then they try a new style or edge... but regardless each effort is a different creation from the previous- it's not like ordering the same chocolate muffin you had last week.  In other words, it's a risk, albeit modest sometimes, each and every time you buy an album.

Music, next to Movies and theatre, is a medium which you gamble that you will find the art appealing to you.... unless of course you saw the dvd at a friend's, or listened to another's cd before the act of buying.  You can look at a vase, observe a painting in a gallery, and perhaps touch a sculpture, long before deciding on whether you want to buy it or not.  Of course you don't know exactly how it's going to look in your house, but you still get a full preview of the work of art, before dropping any money down. 

In that sense I sympathize with Immersion to the point that musicians ought to have generous streaming music that is not downloadable.  I've noticed Steve Roach's sound samples have become very long- minutes, it seems like for each track.  Somehow I doubt the generosity is hurting his cause.  Some consumers will appreciate the artist putting the music out there, on their site in streaming form, which will save them from that "ripped off feeling" that Immersion, 9Dragons, Cromag and others mentioned on this topic.  In the long run that strategy might actually benefit the artist.  Now I know another side of the argument is that there's music that grows on you, and aren't you just as well off taking the risk without hearing it?  Certainly it happens, but it's nice to give the listener that ability to decide beforehand, to at least make a more informed decision.  I still don't mind the gamble, personally, but I do like it when the artist streams the album or nearly all of it without feeling that his work has been compromised.

I'm wondering now why most artists don't see it that way?   Why not just stream the whole album, or everything but the last minute or 30 sec. of each track?  I've heard a lot of words like arrogance and selfishness thrown Immersion's way, but is the musician arrogant to expect money from someone who listens to their work, whether or not it is enjoyed?  Is it because the mystery, the anticipation, sells the music just as much as the actual music itself?  Maybe there are other factors.  I don't mean that to sound like a patronizing question, so please, it's not.     

judd stephens

Quote from: APK on April 19, 2009, 03:00:03 PM
Thinking that because something CAN be shared is reason for it being justifiably shared is rubbish. Not even radical socialism would be so stupid as to say that.

Oh yes they can... well, maybe not say it... ;D


Quote from: judd stephens on April 20, 2009, 08:56:53 PM
I'm wondering now why most artists don't see it that way?   Why not just stream the whole album, or everything but the last minute or 30 sec. of each track?   

I don't think there is a "one size fits all" solution to this issue.  Two labels I have worked with (Projekt and Cuneiform) have made sample tracks available through sampler compilations.  Another label (Foundry) embedded two tracks from my album with Carl Weingarten (Invisibility) in a podcast interview, which I thought was a pretty creative approach.  One problem I have with streaming is that it is too easy to capture the stream digitally using software.  If the stream is hi-fi, it is too easily captured and rendered into MP3.  If the stream is lo-fi, it degrades the listening experience and may not be representative of what the track actually sounds like.  (Try listening to Thomas Koner at 128 kbps!)


Brian Bieniowski

Over the years I've met a lot of big music fans who only download their music and never pay for any of it.  The trouble, aside from the obvious piracy/copyright issues, is that we've moved into a society where most people really don't care about the effort it takes to produce a memorable product—it's the instant gratification of something new, which is quickly shuffled away to be replaced by the next new thing, and so on.  It's a problem, and one that widespread access to the internet has only exacerbated: absolute access to whatever you want, generally for free.  It will almost certainly get to the point (perhaps we are already there) where people expect quality product (whether it be news, books, music, movies, etc.) for free, and will resent the honest artist who cares to make a little money by selling his or her work. 

I don't know what the solution to this issue is, but I'm pretty sure the creative-commons based viral meritocracy approach I see bandied about now and again by people like Cory Doctorow and the like is not going to be it.  I'm glad when stuff is given away for free by the artist (though I prefer to possess quality reproductions intended to last beyond the limited life of my hard drive), but, as we see with things like the current state of YouTube, I'm not convinced that this Free Art society is necessarily going to get the best work into the hands of the people who are looking for it, and still earn profit for the more marginal artists and creators.

For my own part, I do use the various "music blogs" (better we should call them pirate sites!) to sample music I can't already sample elsewhere, or to possess music that is unavailable/out of print (I'm really tired of limited edition CDr releases).  My feeling is that if the album is something I will listen to more than once or twice, it's worth the $12 or so dollars for a physical copy.  Otherwise, I delete the files from my hard drive.

Brian Bieniowski

Quote from: ffcal on April 20, 2009, 10:11:23 PMAnother label (Foundry) embedded two tracks from my album with Carl Weingarten (Invisibility) in a podcast interview, which I thought was a pretty creative approach.

I really like the promotional potential of podcasting and homespun mix-sharing (and not just because I do my own).  It's a little bit like what radio used to be like before it went into the pockets of major media corporations.  It's a creative medium, and not a piratical one like blogs with whole albums available for download.  I've found a ton of great electronic music from various podcasts (the Ghostly Int. one is great, and the Foundry one Michael was doing was extremely entertaining, not to mention the efforts of Dave Michuda/Undershadow/Rick Leon, among others), and much of it lead to me buying music I didn't previously know about.  I think it would be great if more labels and music fans created these.

Oh, and on the note of the topic at hand:   ;D


A lovely circular argument... have to agree with Bill... we'll never change Immersion's mind so what's the point?

edit:   decided not to say what I said...    I'll leave the rest though.   John K-N


Regarding pricing of downloads at the big stores like iTunes, Amazon, eMusic, Rhapsody, etc...  again - we're kind of back to the artists and labels at our level of the music industry - our little tiny niche of awesomely cool music that most people don't buy...  well... we can't really drive those prices.   They're set by the digital provider.   If you want to get your music into those sites to get the additional exposure - that's the price you pay - losing control.   iTunes can choose what to price it, whether to sell tracks individually or make them 'album only' etc...   

At AtmoWorks we've been looking very hard at all these types of sites and how to get into them in the best way that works for us - and we've found it... but yes - ultimately it means we lose some control over the release.   Our ultimate goal with getting our releases into iTunes, etc... is not the additional revenue that will come back - but hopefully reaching some casual fans of ambient and electronic and getting them to come directly to our artists and our store.   It's more about marketing/promotion.

John Koch-Northrup .: jkn [AT] .: owner / artist .: .: .:


I love this topic!  Very current and appropriate for the times!  I agree that music in any medium is REAL and up to the artist to decide if money should be charged for the work.  If they decide this, and someone doesn't pay, then in short, it's stealing plain and simple.  With that said, I found this article online that I thought I would share as it seemed appropriate for this topic.  Flame on!

Study Finds Pirates Buy 10x More Music Online than Non-Pirates