Canadian Musician - July/August 2017 - Page 11

CM: You also made the point that one of the promises of the digital age was that the middlemen would be cut out, but there are actually now more middlemen than ever. How is that? MM: I’m time poor as it is, so updating all of these different platforms we’re meant to be using and then all of the ones we have to pay for. Like, I pay to stream music, so I want to make sure I am up-to-date to have subscriptions, and also I pay for my Dropbox and I pay for my Soundcloud and I pay for atVenu, which is a thing that you have to subscribe to in order to submit your sales for SoundScan. I mean, ei- ther time poor and also just expensive at the end of the month. I pay so much more per month than I get from any streaming services in order to satisfy these middlemen. It’s quite frustrating. CM: You also make the interesting point regarding YouTube and its claim that it is a passive “pipeline” that shouldn’t be held accountable for the copyright infringe- ment it enables, and from which safe harbour provisions protect it. You point out Lyor Cohen recently bragged that 80 per cent of all watch time is recommended by YouTube itself. Why is this important? MM: I mean, it comes back to accountability, which is my favourite word. [They say] they’re not liable for the content and then to have the hubris to brag that they are the people who are sending those taste recommendations and things down this pipeline. Well you can’t have it both ways. For YouTube, it was a very unfortunate com- ment that was publicly made… Much of the work I have performed on is on YouTube and has millions of views for some of the larger bands I’ve been in. [As a performer with no writing credit] there is absolutely no remunera- tion for me for that. On top of that, there are no neighbouring rights. There is some trickling down of some neighbouring rights in other methods of dissemination… But it is interesting. When I think about some of these songs that I played on or developed a line for or wrote the parts for in Great Lake Swimmers that have millions and millions of views, but there is nothing coming down the line to me or any of my colleagues who don’t have any official writing credits for various reasons politically in that band. CM: Related to the lack of remuneration for performing artists, for film and TV score music, aside for the one-time union rate for the recording session, you get no royal- ties for the use of that music in a show or film. Is that the norm in the world, or is that unique to Canada? MM: There are 44 countries around the world, including France and Great Britain, which do acknowledge performers. Canada and the United States are two very large examples of non-compliance with that and that has to do with wording in the Copyright Act. It’s funny W W W. C A N A D I A N M U S I C I A N . CO M because my mother went to see the movie Maudie, which is about Maud Lewis, the folk artist, and she said, “Oh the violin was so nice. You could’ve done that!” I said, “Oh, well I did do that actually. That was me.” In this day and age, there are no credits for who performed what or anything. So she had no way of knowing and I will not be remunerated for that at all, except for my one-time fee because it is a soundtrack. CM: In reference to the streaming services, you said, “It is increasingly difficult for independent artists to land their songs on their ‘curated playlists’ in what is emerging as a 21 st century version of payola.” There is certainly a system in which larger artists and labels have greater influence on or access to those playlist makers. MM: A lot of the major labels obviously have the ability to have that sort of chat with Spotify and at least present their artists as they would in any meeting. If you go to the CBC, they have a meeting where they say, “These are the new artists I’m excited about and this is the new track that’s coming out.” When you have a voice like the majors, you have a voice that’s quite louder. In fact, I attempted to make some connection with Spotify be- cause I wanted to get in the game and at least start a conversation. I just said, “I’d love to come in and take a look at your office and just chat.” I know that when Blue Rodeo’s record came out, and I’m on the same management roster, they’d gone in and done the whole thing and I just said, “I just want to know what’s happening.” I was just referred back to, “Well this is our list of best practices and this is what you should try to do,” which is just a lot of work, honestly, for me. And as a label owner, sure, I’ll do it, but as an independent artist, it’s so tiring to keep being told that we need to keep advertising for them, you know? But obviously playlists are good when you can get on one. Har- row Fair got on one early on when our record came out and obvi- ously the number of streams went way up on the one track that had been on there, but what I found interesting was that there was no discovery. It’s not like people had gone to one track and said, “Oh, who’s that?” and then gone to our record and streamed that. Even though there had been around 20,000 plays on this one song, there was no change in the number of streams on the other songs [on the record.] So I feel it’s a very passive listening thing, as well. But the numbers are so crazy. I am looking at my income sheet here and for December, with that song when it was on a playlist, there were almost 6,000 streams on ad-supported Spotify, which equalled $12.15. That averages out to 0.002 cents per stream. In the same month on the paid subscriber version [of Spotify], it was around 7,400 streams and that gave us $48. That’s 0.006 cents per stream. Michael Raine is the Senior Editor of Canadian Musician. 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