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July 04, 2016

Us versus them... (tmi3rd)

Hi there, Morons and Moronettes. tmi3rd with you again, and this time, it's just giving a little extra content while the boss's eyes recover.

A long read on the dividing line in this country beneath the fold...


So, the DOJ recently handed down a ruling that really hurts the songwriting industry.

Each songwriter belongs to a PRO. That PRO is responsible for collecting royalties on the songwriter’s behalf when a composition is licensed, including licenses for digital stream services, use in public places, on radio stations, TV shows, etc. When a song has more than one writer, it’s common for PROs to share administration rights to the song specific to their individual writer member, meaning each party must license the song to be used on radio or offered to a digital music company for performance rights licensing. For example, a song with three co-writers might be equally administered by BMI, ASCAP and SESAC depending on the PRO affiliation of the writers.

The songwriting community, led by ASCAP and BMI and other songwriter advocacy groups like NSAI, has been negotiating changes to the Consent Decree with the DOJ for more than three years. The DOJ denied virtually all requests from music publishers and songwriters, and also ruled that each PRO can license 100% of a song for use, regardless of what percentage of the song a PRO represents. This is a problem because it will discourage songwriters from collaborating with other writers outside their own PRO (essentially, many of your favorite songs might have gone unwritten) and create havoc on a licensing and administration side, as each PRO currently lacks most information about writers outside their own organization.

Also in the ruling, the DOJ denied requests from songwriters to be able to withdraw their catalog from digital licensing services, which would essentially allow them to negotiate fair market rate payments from digital services like Spotify, Soundcloud and Apple AAPL +0.35% Music. Record labels and recording artists, who are not bound by the pre-WWII Consent Decrees, already have these rights. This issue is at the root of reports you’ve probably heard about songwriters getting ridiculously low payouts from digital streaming services, including “All About That Bass” songwriter Kevin Kadish’s claim he made $5,679 from 178 million plays on Spotify.


Now, the reaction to this is complex. On one hand, many artists with ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC are likely devoted Obama voters, and one can be forgiven for saying "ha ha, that's what you get for voting for him". On the other hand, the songwriting community is too small- even with its large megaphone- to merit any special considerations from the feds.

In essence, the result is, "hey, these guys are too small to do anything about it, so we can stiff them to our heart's content." It's a payout to groups like Google, Spotify, Apple, and the like so that they don't have to pay out big royalties to songwriters who get it right.

Now, as a matter of full disclosure, I have a few songs that are licensed under one of these houses, but none of my stuff is in any danger of widespread downloading or broadcast, so I don't suffer the financial impact that many of my friends do who have hit tunes out there.

So, it's the same story as usual- crony capitalism wins, where the cronies have the backing of the feds. This isn't a surprise, but it's still just as wrong when it happens to them as when it happens to us.

That's a rather long setup to get into John Ziegler's piece on how media divides us as part of its business model.

Today, “Broadcasting” (other than the Super Bowl) no longer exists. It has been replaced by “Narrowcasting,” in which outlets are cynically designed to appeal to nothing but a tiny sliver of demographic for the purposes of maximizing advertising efficiency. This is destructive enough in the fantasy world of entertainment (no current TV show could even remotely claim to be well-known to a majority of Americans), but this has been absolutely catastrophic in the realm of news.

Almost all of our news outlets now can be easily identified as having a particular, and often very narrow, political bent and they act like nothing more than TV sit-coms desperately searching for a sellable demographic which will keep them afloat (see Breitbart.com & Donald Trump). This means that most “news” organizations are only interested in stories and truths that their audience will want to hear. Quite simply, nothing could be more antithetical to both the pursuit of truth (which is quite often very UN-popular) as well as the maintenance of a country which has enough “knowledge” in common so as to be able to function as remotely unified society.

Taking this concept out of the theoretical and placing it into the practical, this is exactly why we saw such deeply divergent opinions among the races regarding the very simple O.J. Simpson murder case (as well as numerous other similar “racial” episodes which have followed) and are currently seeing a civil war among conservatives about the equally clear-cut candidacy of Donald Trump. Each different demographic slice of the American Pie is now simply living in totally separate worlds with completely different realities.


So this creates a hell of a conundrum. On one hand, if you're reading this, staying informed is important to you, and you probably scan the papers, and perhaps the local news. On the other hand, when you go see that movie, or you watch that game on TV, or what have you, you're helping subsidize the bad guys.

To tag onto what I was saying the other night on the ONT, and that Instapundit put perfectly, the most out-of-touch people in the nation at the moment are journalists and academics, followed closely by politicians. The journalists- who are, in my experience, usually not very bright- work under a business model that requires them to divide us to get you to click, watch, or otherwise consume their product. It doesn't matter if it's Rush, Hannity, or Hewitt on our side, or Maddow, Sally Kohn, or Markos Moulitsas on the other side; they make their chunk of change by keeping you pissed off at your neighbor.

We can go back and forth about who controls the narrative, but the bottom line is that you have a triangle of academics, journalists, and politicians (in alphabetical, not pyramidal, order) that have set this in motion. Some are more aware than others about how badly they've screwed it up, but the bottom line is, we have a generation or two of people who don't know how to interact with each other, and that has helped immeasurably to lead us to the cultural divorce we seem to be staring at.

This is already too long, but given what we appear to be staring at, if you want to make a difference, you do it by drawing people out in person. We've disconnected from society via the magic of social media, and that has allowed us to be further divided. The psychopaths you encounter on Twitter are largely not who they appear to be, no matter how big they talk.

The "us versus them" mentality plays exactly the game that the most out-of touch people want played. It keeps everyone else distracted while the self-titled elites do what they do, nefarious and otherwise.

So, my friends, I urge you to try to engage people in person and find that common ground in order to reject the culture the Ugly Triangle is trying to propagate. If you can, get away from the laptop. Don't fight the Village Idiot on Twitter (who may just get off on being a dick), but go make your interactions FUN. Draw people to you by being nice; by being FUN. It's a hell of a lot more persuasive than your average Twitter leftist.

On this Independence Day, my friends, this is a GREAT time to remember Dalton's rules (obviously, you can ignore past "How do we know when that is?"), and that might- emphasis on MIGHT- help bridge some of those gaps.


Stay safe, Happy Independence Day, and thanks for reading!

-tmi3rd

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posted by Open Blogger at 08:30 PM

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