Tuesday, January 31, 2006

RIAA Sequentially Repeating Edison's Mistakes

RIAA Sequentially Repeating Edison's Mistakes

By George Ziemann 10/14/03

There is something that I find incredibly mystifying about the entire chain of events from Napster to the present. This entire scenario has played out before.

Which makes it all the more curious why the RIAA is following it step by step. In today's news, we learn that the RIAA has now advanced to using strongarm, mob-style tactics by conducting warrantless search-and-seize missions against independent music stores who dare to sell music that the RIAA doesn't own.

On September 23, Berry's Music in Indianapolis, Indiana, was raided:

"According to proprietor Alan Berry, police confiscated $10,000 worth of mix discs by the likes of DJ World and DJ Paul Bunyan.

'The record labels want the independent record stores out of the business,' Berry says.
'They'd rather deal with Target, Best Buy, Circuit City -- it's consolidation, just like any other industry. The RIAA knows that mixes are an integral part of urban stores' culture and profit margin. By eliminating them, they can eliminate a lot of indie stores'."

City Music, also in Indianapolis, was raided on October 1, with manager Jerome Avery quoted as saying, "They came in and took anything that was on a recordable CD. The only DJ mixes I had were behind the counter for personal listening, and they confiscated them. How can it be illegal if the artist is making them for the street? They came without a notice - no warrant, no nothing. They're making up their own laws, if you ask me."

The City Music raid happened the day Universal's new prices went into effect - "more bad news for small, independent record stores. Universal's widely publicized $9.09 wholesale prices only apply to the largest retail chains, and only to stores that are willing to buy 30 copies of a disc at one time. Most smaller stores, though, deal with 'one-stop' sub-distributors that can fill orders for a disc or two quickly, and take a markup of their own. And many retailers are frustrated that customers have been coming in for weeks, asking where their $9 CDs are.

Eric Haight of Record World in Petoskey, Michigan, notes that a new Sting album before the price drop cost the store $12.69, with a suggested retail price of $18.98. Now it costs them $10.79, with a retail price of $12.98 - the profit margin has been slashed by almost two-thirds, and Universal will no longer help them out with advertising costs.

After watching the RIAA's public Dance of Death closely for only about a year, everything they do is so predictable that I'm beginning to wonder if they even have any control over their own destiny. For some inexplicable reason, they seem compelled to follow through until the final scene, perhaps unaware that there's been a rewrite in the ending over the last 90 years.

While suggested reading is the series I did earlier on Thomas Edison, here is a synopsis of how Edison's approach to running an entertainment industry so closely parallels what the RIAA is trying to do.

After all, the goal is the same -- to maintain a monopoly.

Step 1 -- Acquire the rights. All of them.

In Edison's case, patents were the prize possession. His realm was the movie industry. Edison, or those who worked for him, had basically invented the entire movie industry, along with all the pieces and parts that made it happen. The RIAA uses copyrights in the same manner by gathering all the industry's top players, thus creating a collective ownership base to wield the same power.

Step 2 -- Define the standards

Once you own all of the rights, you have to find a way to make competing prohibitively expensive. This requires defining the standard to include some proprietary part, method, equipment, etc. Edison's means of achieving this goal was with the film size and even the spacing of the little holes along the edges, still Kodak's standard.

For decades, the vinyl record served this purpose for the music industry. It was a capability that required special equipment, preventing your average person on the street from being able to replicate the product or compete with it. For this very reason, the electronics industry owns a great deal of the recording industry today. Sony is the best example.

Step 3 -- Dominate the market

The easiest way to dominate the market is by being the only game in town. The second easiest way is to get together with the top competitors and come up with a market strategy that everyone can play by. Both methods carry the likelihood of being looked at as anti-competitive, depending how the parties involved act. The public and the government will actually tolerate a benevolent monopoly for quite some time if no one complains about it. Major league baseball is a perfect example -- there's no such thing as an independent major league baseball team, at least not that I've ever heard of. Even if there are, they're certainly not going to make it into the World Series. The public doesn't complain because all the teams are apparently subject to the same rules. No team "wins" just because they have the richest owner.

And we know the players get paid.

So it has been with radio airplay, the preferred method of choice for selling music for decades. The hypothesis is that a person must hear a song several times in order to entice them to buy the record. Pretty simple. Very effective. The barrier to entry is very high, basically keeping competition limited to the major labels.

We now know that the players in this game are not being paid.

Step 4 -- Assume the creative community is expendable

Edison's mistake was that he felt that it did not matter who the performers were. It was the movie, the finished product, that was important, not the people in it. The general public was unfortunately not aware of this importance, preferring to follow their favorite stars. Edison underestimated the value of his performers and they abandoned him.

The recording industry has always been a bit more blatant in their cold-hearted willingness to discard performers. Edison simply was wrong in his assessment; the music industry is intentionally bent to minimize an artist's financial benefit, while constantly portraying themselves as acting in the best interests of the artists.

At least Edison was honest.

Step 5 -- Eliminate independent competition

In both cases, had Step Four not taken place, there would be no Step 5. As in the case of baseball, benevolent market domination can be tolerated by the public for extended periods of time.

The recording industry had a lock on the business until the advent of the CD, followed by the recordable CD. Expensive at first, but now significantly dwindled in price, the recordable CD and computerized audio mastering tools like Sonar, ProTools and Cakewalk have put professional audio capability into the hands of almost anyone.

The kid down the street now has the capability of making a CD that sounds as good as one from Warner Music. Whether he succeeds or not is another issue. The fact is that he's got the capability. If he puts a few mp3 files on the Internet, it's entirely possible that he can sell some CDs of his own music at a reasonable price. So, to make this scenario as difficult as possible to achieve, the industry has systematically painted recordable media, the Internet and mp3 files as contraband, its users as thieves and any artist not signed with a major label as illegitimate.

Add to this the strong-arm tactics now raised by the Village Voice, and the pattern of systematically elimination independent competition is almost identical to those methods used by the Motion Picture Patents Company 95 years ago.

Step 6 -- Alienate the public

Edison did his best to squash his competitors, but he never stooped so low as to try suing moviegoers for attending "unlicensed" movies. Step 6 is an RIAA original, I believe. For the life of me, I cannot comprehend why anyone ever thought this was a good idea on any level.

Now we see that they had intended to combat falling sales by a $4 price hike.

Step 7 -- Government intervention

The government allowed the Motion Picture Patents Company, which had been formed in December, 1908, to get away with their anti-competitive control over the industry for less than four years. The U.S. government brought an antitrust suit against the MPPC in 1912 and declared it illegal in 1915.

Considering that the government has a) been trying to diffuse the voice of the music industry for a half century, if not silence it altogether and b) four of the five major labels are foreign-owned, sooner or later someone at the top end of government is going to possess the lucidity to wonder why the government should even care what happens to the record industry.

The only real issue is how long we have to wait. Step 8 should be worth waiting for -- the same independent renaissance that filmmakers enjoyed in the 1920s and 30s when Edison's movie empire fell apart. But the indie filmmakers didn't even wait for the government. They simply walked away and started over.

Kind of like what's happening now.

©2002 George Ziemann
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Mixtapes: Record Label Friend or Foe?

Hip Hop Mixtapes: The Dilemna between free exposure and giving away music freely as a means of promotion has plagued the Music industry since the day Radio first started playing their songs freely on the air.

When looking for New Hip Hop Music fans often search out Hot Mixtapes
Because of this, Mixtapes offer music artists the opportunity to get tons of exposure they wouldn't find otherwise. Many of todays Hip Hop artists utilize mixtapes as a form of radio exposure for the streets.

Mixtapes give artists street credibility and expand their fanbase. they expose the artists to tons of otherwise unreachable listeners, transforming many into new Fans. The Record companies figured this out long ago, and send their latest music to many DJs in attempts to get "put on" in the Clubs on the Radio and on as many hot mixtapes as possible.

When radio first started playing songs on the air the record executives considered Radio to be a competitor, a threat that took away from record sales. Now they realize the viral effect constant listening has on their consumers and are more than willing to pay for airplay.
With Mixtapes emerging as a large marketing avenue, The industry is torn, many executives see mixtapes as a great marketing tool. Some executives however feel they are a potential threat to record sales. The dilemna is the same one plaguing the music industry when it comes to free music downloads. Does the exposure and promotion they generate bring in enough money to justify giving the music away?

Though mixtapes have been around for several decades and were partly responsible in creating and growing one of the music industries largest succesful genres, Hip Hop Music, Mixtapes and DJs still haven't gained the full respect from the music industry and have even recieved some recent backlash from the RIAA.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Radio Bums to launch Mixtape Website

The Official Launch of
Coming soon.

DJ Chonz of the Radio Bums released news of a new Official Radio Bums DJ Mixtape website launch. The mixtape website will feature Hip Hop and reggae Mixtapes by prominent members of The Radio Bums DJ Crew. DJ Chonz- a prominent Mixtape and Radio Mixshow DJ and radio personality for KS1075 Denver Radio started "The Bums" with humble beginings in his home office. Over the years he moved into a proffesional office space and has recruited and expanded the Radio Bums to include some of the top skilled and most influential DJs in The States.

All Radio Bums DJs feature a high degree of DJ skills and currently are holding down jobs for many hot nightclubs, Sporting events and Radio Stations. The DJs are syndicated over several radio stations across the country, Through Zeo Radio Mix Shows, Ks1075 Radio Denver, 95.7 mega Reggaton, The Next Level TV Show Denver and several other Media venues.

Amongst the other many distinctions Radio Bums DJs DJ Bedz and DJ Psycho are also official DJs of The Denver Nuggets Basketball Team, and mix it up for thousands of screaming basketball fans before and during every game.

Currently the Radio Bums consists of a 30 DJ deep Record Pool which also features about 10 official Radio Bums DJ's who represent the company on the radio, in major sporting and music events and in most major nightclubs. Radio Bums DJs have been very prominent in the Mixtape Scene making it a neccesity to make their mixtapes more readily available.

The Mixtape site should launch soon and will feature one spot where you can collect mixtapes by all the official Radio Bums DJs. Mixtapes will be available from the Reggaton Commision's DJ Psycho, Radio Bums leader and Vilator DJ's DJ Chonz, DJ Mantis, and of course Radio Bums and Shadyville DJ- DJ Bedz who along with DJ Petey have put out more quality Mixtapes than anyone can possibly hold in their arms.

Unlike Most Mixtape Sites These Mixtapes will Be Mixed!
The Radio Bums DJs take pride in their mixes and their mixtapes, so you can expect each mixtape to be completely mixed with skill and precision not found on many other mixtapes. With your new favorite music and special cameo exclusive tracks made specifically for the Radio Bums DJs by Superstar rap artists such as Mad Skillz.

We'll keep you posted when the site finally launches. Stay tuned it's gonna be hot.

Notorious BIG's Family Finally Recieves Judgement

Judge Florence Marie Cooper has ordered that $1.3 Million be paid by the City of Los Angeles to the late rappers family for legal expenses stemming from the family’s civil lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles that ended in a mistrial last July. The mistrial was declared because the judge, at that time, expressed concern that the Los Angeles Police Department had deliberately withheld evidence from the court.

The revelation that a police detective may have hid statements linking the killing of Notorious B.I.G. to former LAPD Officers David Mack and Rafael Perez. When U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper declared the mistrial in July she wrote “The detective, acting alone or in concert with others, made a decision to conceal from the plaintiffs in this case information which would have supported their contention that David Mack was responsible for the murder.“ The FBI had spent 18 months also investigating the possibility that a rogue Los Angeles police officer working with rap mogul and CEO of Death Row Records, Marion "Suge" Knight had orchestrated Notorious B.I.G.'s killing. They also had closed the case due to a lack of any evidence to support the family’s allegations; allegations fueled by theories based on disgruntled ex-police officer Russell Poole.

Civil Suit Will Be Re-filed
Biggie's family civil suit did not name Marion ‘Suge’ Knight, Mack, Perez or the alleged shooter, and none of them have ever been formally named suspects in the case or arrested in connection with the crime.

Marion ‘Suge’ Knight, whose Death Row Records was the label of late rap idol Tupac Shakur (2Pac), has always denied he had any participation in the killing of notorious B.I.G.

Tupac (2Pac) and Biggie were rivals and some say the assassination of Tupac is what is behind the murder of Notorious B.I.G.. The murders of Tupac Shakur (2pac) and Notorious B.I.G. have never been solved. The Family of Christopher Wallace originally sought $2 Million in this matter. The family has re-filed their civil wrongful death suit and it will be heard again later this year.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

A Hot DJ To Tear up The Dance Club

Hot Nightclub DJ

Your nightclub is packed, but the people complain about the music every week, and little by little your numbers are declining. Perhaps it's not that bad but you just need a change of pace, something to hype the club up and create some buzz. Well Now you can have that crazy Mixtape turntable wizard DJ Emir of the Next Level TV Show come down to your event anywhere in the world! I've used him for a few of my events and have been amazed everytime.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Singer Akon ready to move into The Movie Business

Singer Akon To Start Producing Gangster Docu-Movies
Akon's Mega-hit single "Locked Up" helped him become a hot new breakout star in 2005. His subsequent hits and collaborations with Stylez-P, Young Jeezy and many others have kept him in the spotlight.

Akon's new music label Konvict Music has also done well recently with the successful addition of his own brother T-Pain (picture at left) with the mega-hit single I'm Sprung and the hit and album it subsequently sprung into the spotlight. But it seems there's a different spotlight Akon is now after...

Now, Akon is ready to lock up Hollywood with his newly formed entertainment company, Konvict Films. Akon mentioned "We'll be doing movies based on gangsters locked up in prison and presenting their whole life stories."Akon's first project will be the cautionary film Trouble, which he plans to shoot in 2006.

West Coast Customs Leaves 'Pimp My Ride'

West Coast Customs Leaves 'Pimp My Ride'
The company responsible for those amazing car makovers on the highly successful car customizing show "Pimp My Ride" is finally moving on. After a long run as one of the most successful television shows for MTV, West Coast Customs is moving to another channel and changing the format. WCC will be developing a new show on the Discovery Channel with the producers of "American Chopper" and "American Hot Rod." And instead of creating over-the-top designs like "Pimp My Ride," the show will be based around the work they do on a daily basis.
Although West Coast Customs is moving on, The popular MTV show"Pimp My Ride" is not being canceled. According to an MTV spokesperson, new episodes are scheduled to air Spring of 2006.

Hip Hop Music Top 100 List

Hip Hop Music Top 100 List
Great site for finding tons of Hip Hop websites from around the world. The site itself appears to be in Europe and gets many sites Hip Hop Music websites from that area of the world but also has many top notch United States Rap Music websites as well. Check it out whwnevr you are searching for new sites.
Note: The only thing I don't like about the site which I feel the owners should get rid of is the floating advertisment box which tends to block the view of the website until someone closes the advertisment, very annoying feature that's starting to pop up everywhere on the internet these days.