Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Rough TImes: From YouTube to Cafe Wha?

In an editorial on Neil Young’s official website, the singer/songwriter spoke out in support of Warner Brothers Reprise’s recent yank-down of his videos off of YouTube, 24bit reports.

Young defends the actions saying that he is being “penalized for being early,” as his label signed a less lucrative deal with YouTube earlier than music labels that negotiated better deals later. Oops. So, is this how he "renegotiates?" He seems to think he's a victim and YouTube is the bad guy. I say, get a new distributor.

“Radio used to introduce music to the masses and was crucial to every new release, with identical compensation for every artist and label," Neil Young says. "Since You Tube has given some labels better deals that others, the Media Giant is treating artists unequally, depending on which label they are on.” Well boo hoo hoo.

So YouTube is now a "Media Giant?" And Warner Brother is - what?

But wait there's more. Time for government to regulate YouTube! Yeah! Neil Young wants “industry wide standards of artist’s compensation on the web” (yeah, and so apparently want Warner Brothers that hasn't been doing so well lately on the market) and suggests that the Internet could be a perfect place for artists, as there is nothing standing between them and their audience. But of course, there is something standing between him and his audience. That's the whole point, isn't it?

"Without “a level playing field,” he then warns, "these problems may not go away.” Where have we heard this before?

And who gets to enforce those "industry wide standards?" Time again to check the Bail Out Bill.

The bottom line, Warner Brothers & Neil Young want more money. Their way of forcing YouTube's hand to give them more money is to take down Neil Young's videos on YouTube, I guess assuming there will be an outcry. Is there an outcry?

And what's this "level playing field" business? Haven't we heard that before? What happened to market driven competition? If Neil is worth it, negotiate. If there's no deal, then stop whining and smell those roses poking out of the snow. Won't raise the stock by ticking off the fans, which WB seems to be forgetting a lot lately.

And Neil Young? It's obvious he (or his handlers) don't get the new media at all. Whine, whine, whine. At least Coldplay knows how to Twitter.

Meanwhile, over at the historic Cafe Wha? in Greenwich Village we have this little news item:

Broadcast Music Inc. and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers have apparently filed suit against the New York City club where Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen, and many other rock legends performed in their start-up years.

The suit claims Café Wha? is guilty of copyright infringement, allowing performances of “Hey Joe,” a Billy Roberts song made famous by Jimi Hendrix, and 16 other songs without authorization. Would someone tell Woody Guthrie to call his office?

New York Post (via PR Inside) reports that songs by James Brown, Prince, Lenny Kravitz, and Tom Petty were among the 16 hits to have been allegedly performed without permission at the Greenwich Village landmark, which of course is just a few steps down from Carnegie Hall - okay, about fifty floors down.

More oops. Obviously, things aren't going well in the music business if they are going to trouble to sue this little club that has seen better days (hasn't is always seen better days?).

One can only imagine what would have happened to Bob Dylan in the early days if Woody Guthrie had sued the Cafe Wha? when Dylan was there. He not only "borrowed" the songs her performed (and sometimes the records themselves, which I guess he still has), he rewrote them, or adapted them, or inserted new lyrics and put his name on them, and performed them. Why, he even took Dave Van Rock's arrangement of House of the Rising Sun and put it on his first album and told Dave about it later. Then, according to Van Rock, the Animals borrowed it from Dylan and put it on their album and got one of their greatest hits ever. But no lawsuits, at least not about that one.

Read more at 24Bit Music News.

Here's more on House of the Rising Sun from the Scorsese documentary, No Direction Home:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Copyrights shouldn't last in perpetuity, all music should go into the public domain after 10 or 15 years. Heirs are suing each other over royalty checks from songs written 50 years ago.
Music is derivative by nature, copyright hammers creativity.
Don't believe me? Listen to the radio.