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The Rambler (22)


The Rambler by Graham Henderson: Analyzing Premier Wynne’s Inaugural Throne Speech’s Impact on Music

Graham_headphones3Blog ThumbnailThe Rambler is a column by Graham Henderson, President of Music Canada. Graham writes from time to time about developments in the music industry, new trends or just about music! Let’s face it, Graham has been around for a long time and has a lot to ramble on about.

After having gone MIA for a few weeks in terms of my contributions to the Rambler, I am back with an analysis of Premier Wynne’s inaugural throne speech.

The last few months have been good ones for music in Ontario. Under the leadership of Minister Michael Chan, the Ontario government launched an ambitious plan to turn Ontario into one of THE global destination for music tourism. And with good reason. Music tourism is Ontario’s hidden, un-accessed super power, fueled by our live music scene. This is timely and visionary because the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, just this week, identified Canada’s poor performance in the tourism sector as one of our top 10 barriers to competitiveness. You can read about Ontario’s plan here.

So what do we know about Ontario? We know from our economic impact study that there are more than 7400 employed in live music in Canada, and we have estimated that over HALF of them are here. We know that we have one of the largest, most diverse music scenes in the world. That gives us a built in advantage. We know from the Discovering Ontario report that tourism is the largest employer of young people in this province. We know from a report by the Ontario Arts Council that 9.5 million overnight tourists to Ontario participated in arts and culture activities during their trips in 2010. For almost half of them music was the motivation for their trip. It is also a fact that arts and culture tourists stay longer and spend more. And that’s without a coordinated marketing plan. Imagine what we could do if we had a plan and devoted even modest resources to this? Well, that plan in underway NOW.

Last Friday I was honoured to have been invited to Premier Wynne’s first “Jobs Roundtable”. Meeting participants were asked to share their insights and recommendations on what the government and businesses can do together to create jobs – particularly for youth – in the immediate term. I had three specific, achievable recommendations in the areas of tax credits, music tourism and music education. All of which seemed to have been very well received.

Then today came the Throne Speech which included, likely for the first time in history, a mention of music. While the reference was muted, it nonetheless came in a key economic section and in the same breathe as sectors that have long enjoyed powerhouse status in Ontario, automotive and agriculture. Here is the reference:

“[The Government] will look to stimulate productivity across all sectors, from automotive and agriculture to film, music, and digital media; from small business to start-ups and social entrepreneurs.”

The proposals we have put in front of the Government would help to do exactly this, and in an achievable, manageable way. Ontario’s music cluster is ripe for growth. Over 80 percent of the economic activity of the sound recording industry in Canada takes place here. This sector is one of Ontario’s competitive advantages, as the Ontario Chamber of Commerce has noted. Revenues for the Ontario sound recording industry totaled $408 million in 2010. Ontario has not yet fully capitalized on the strategic advantage it enjoys in the global music industry. Targeted provincial support is needed. According to an independent analysis, strategic productivity and jobs-focused supports for Ontario’s sound recording industry would trigger 60 million dollars in additional spending, generate 1,300 new jobs and result in almost $300 million in new economic output. This proposal was highlighted in the Ontario Chamber’s Emerging Stronger 2.0 document.

While music was not specifically mentioned again, arts and culture was highlighted as one of the aspects of our society that makes Ontario a great place to live:

“It will prove once again that Ontario is a great place to work and live, but also to visit, to invest in, to believe in. It will celebrate our hard work, our ingenuity, our diversity, our arts and culture, and protect the beauty of our natural environment.”

And this is the message that we have delivered repeatedly to all levels of government for the past year or more. Arts and culture and in particular music, serve to both attract and retain talented people. This in turn has a significant impact on business recruitment, retention, and expansion, as well as local entrepreneurship. An economic plan that stimulates the music community will in turn help to stimulate the economy at large. The Throne Speech noted that creative jobs are in every region of Ontario noting as an example that “We have authors and artists and actors in Timmins…”

On the subject of education, the Throne Speech noted that:

“Our young people will experience a world of which we can now only dream, and we must all work together to ensure they are equipped with the appropriate tools for their time. They must be literate in the languages of tomorrow; encouraged to pursue the paths of their choosing and prepared for the challenges ahead. We must emphasize critical thinking, creativity, teamwork and an entrepreneurial spirit.”

What is encouraging here is that while not specifically mentioned, music education is widely regarded as a key component in developing young minds and preparing them for careers in not just music, but in science, technology and mathematics. But as I pointed out at the Jobs Roundtable, music education is Ontario’s abandoned “game changer”. There are many people reading this who will understand me when I point out that music has a transformative power to open minds, to enhance collaborative skills and to change lives. Highly successful people in various fields, including Commander Chris Hadfield, have spoken of the important role music education played in preparing them for their career. It should not be discarded and lost in the shuffle. Music Canada recently announced a major donation to music education through our partners at MusiCounts. A $250,000 dollar grant to acquire musical instruments for at risk music programmes. You can read about it here.

Our hope, therefore, is that this government will easily grasp the role music can play in helping to achieve its educational objectives. We will certainly stand ready to help.

All in all, another great day for music in Ontario.

Graham Henderson is the President of Music Canada. He also writes on an eclectic range of topics on his personal blog at


The Rambler by Graham Henderson: Pandora opens the box

Graham_headphones3Blog ThumbnailThe Rambler is a column by Graham Henderson, President of Music Canada. Graham writes from time to time about developments in the music industry, new trends or just about music! Let’s face it, Graham has been around for a long time and has a lot to ramble on about.

It is not time to yet celebrate the trashing of Tim Westergren’s embarrassing bout of Congressional panhandling…but we are getting close. I can’t imagine that anyone in our industry is unaware that rather than update its business model, Pandora sided with entrenched media and Internet companies and went to Congress in an effort to force a reduction in royalty rates paid to performers. Separately, Pandora has sued ASCAP to lower royalty rates paid to songwriters — just for good measure.

Pandora’s Tim Westergren and Joe Kennedy complained to Congress that Pandora pays a high proportion of revenues in royalties. The problem with this argument is that Pandora CREATED the profit squeeze they complain of by adopting a business model that artificially limited advertising to a single minute every hour. Had Pandora adjusted their model by airing one minute more, Pandora’s profits would dramatically improve.

As David Lowery relates in the Trichordist, the Committee opened up a can of whup-ass on Pandora. Tim Westergren, who just a week or so ago happily showed up at the Future of Music conference (with tousled hair and a hoodie), dodged the Congressional lion’s den altogether. #Coward. Instead, Pandora sent its CEO, Joe Kennedy, to the slaughter.

And a slaughter it was. From all sides of the spectrum abuse was heaped on the idea that Congressional lawmakers should get involved in a private dispute over the payment of royalties–at rates that Westergren himself crowed only a few short years ago was a fine solution for Pandora. In fact, the entire event pinwheeled out of control when lawmakers started asking inconvenient questions about why performers were not receiving royalties when their music was performed on terrestrial radio. This plum presented itself to lawmakers because, inexplicably, Pandora had enlisted lobbying support from terrestrial broadcasters. Of course, terrestrial radio in the US does not pay a performance royalty for sound recordings played on their air. No one knows this better than the Members of the very Congressional subcommittee holding yesterday’s hearing. Rep. Sensenbrenner told Pandora that the subcommittee has devoted more time to this issue than any other in his long service. So for Pandora to throw in their lot with the broadcasters was a very odd choice of bedfellows that put the lack of a performance royalty for US terrestrial radio squarely on display – Member, after Member, after Member raised this issue.

As far as Pandora’s issue with rates–the Subcommittee members nearly unanimously asked “when is a deal a deal” and recited back to Pandora Tim Westergren’s own words from three years ago in which he had celebrated the end of the “royalty crisis!”

It is also worth noting that Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the bill’s author, got little or no support from his co-sponsors. Only one co-sponsor spoke and had little to say in defense of the bill. After sitting through an hour and a half of uniformly negative statements by his colleagues, Rep. Chaffetz became so agitated that he actually insulted the mother of the head of SoundExchange in an extraordinary breach of Congressional decorum. Moms are sacrosanct…even in the bear pit that is Congress. Stay classy, Congressman.

I have always thought Pandora’s choice of name might come back to haunt them. Those of you with even a passing familiarity with the classics will recall that the Titan Epimetheus (brother of the more famous fire-stealer, Prometheus) was given a “gift” by Zeus – it was the beautiful, god-crafted Pandora. Now his brother Prometheus had warned him NEVER to accept gifts from Zeus (the two were not exactly on good terms since Prometheus had been chained by Zeus to a rock for all eternity while his liver was repeatedly eaten out by a Vulture.)

Epimetheus forgot his brother’s advice. He accepted Pandora from Zeus and he was even more delighted when he saw that with Pandora came an unusual, sealed chest.

He was told NOT to open it under any circumstances. One day when her husband was away, Pandora, consumed with curiosity (a fatal flaw “programmed” into her by Zeus himself), was unable to resist her impulses – she opened the chest. The moment she did, out flew a ghostly parade of demonic forms that represented every evil Zeus had wished to visit upon mankind. Men and Women had, for example, been free from work – they lolled around living off the largesse of heaven and the gods. After the chest was open, they were condemned to actually WORK for a living.

Well, Westergren, it appears, has opened his own version of this chest….and what demon has he unleashed. It looks Pandora is going to have to WORK to adapt their business model to the market…there will be no heavenly handouts from the congressional gods. But he can hope: Pandora did.

Graham Henderson is the President of Music Canada. He also writes on an eclectic range of topics on his personal blog at


The Rambler by Graham Henderson: Still Searching for Results in Google’s Wasteland of Illegal Sites and Takedown Notices

Graham_headphones3Blog ThumbnailThe Rambler is a column by Graham Henderson, President of Music Canada. Graham writes from time to time about developments in the music industry, new trends or just about music! Let’s face it, Graham has been around for a long time and has a lot to ramble on about.

As readers will know Google announced in August that they were going to update to their search algorithm in an effort to push pirate sites down in rankings. While it sounded like a good thing I decided to periodically undertake a reality check. My early tests suggested that nothing had actually happened – there were no change in the rankings. It was starting to feel like Google has just made another empty promise to help creators. Later I blogged how Google let Grooveshark back into their App Store – a decision which seemed incomprehensible given their publicly stated desire to enhance the results for legal music sources. Then there came Google’s promise to remove pirate sites from Autocomplete returns; a promise that was also shown to be more talk than action.

So I took a moment to see how Canada’s Carly Rae Jepsen is faring a few weeks on. Where are the legal sites; is it easy to find legal sources for music? Well, you can see the mountains of DMCA take-down notices that have accumulated. By the second page, about half the returns are takedown notices. Is this Google’s way of helping?


Google’s Transparency Report gives a glimpse into the problem – over 7.5 Million takedown notices in the past month. Here you will find the Vancouver-based isoHunt, ranked at #5 for most take-downs received – an ignominious distinction. Now, as an example, here is one of the DMCA notices sent by our British colleagues, the BPI. You can see they sent takedown notices to 20 sites on behalf of Interscope.

It is interesting to see how Google has chosen to handle these notices. Chilling Effects is a website that archives these takedown notices. Ellen Seidler has previously described this as a “clearly an ill-conceived attempt to intimidate those whose rights have actually been infringed.” A quick look at the sites that BPI was targeting shows that they clearly are not legitimate outlets – they are pirate organizations who distribute Jepsen’s work for their own profit.

CarlyRaeTakedownsUnfortunately the legitimate retailers are still hidden behind pages of pirate sites, plus the DMCA takedown links. Anyone interested in acquiring music legitimately has to wade through a wasteland of illegal sites and takedown notices. It is patently ridiculous. I would again compare the situation to that of someone interested in buying a Black and Decker toaster.


Buyers are sent straight to a plethora of legal sites. Wouldn’t the web be a better place for artists, consumers, and digital entrepreneurs if search engines promoted legitimate sites instead of leaving them behind in the pirate site/takedown notice wasteland?

So, ten weeks in…Google’s promise to “help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily” has turned out to be as empty as we thought it was at the outset.

Graham Henderson is the President of Music Canada. He also writes on an eclectic range of topics on his personal blog at


The Rambler by Graham Henderson: A #RUSHTheVote update

Graham_headphones3Blog ThumbnailThe Rambler is a column by Graham Henderson, President of Music Canada. Graham writes from time to time about developments in the music industry, new trends or just about music! Let’s face it, Graham has been around for a long time and has a lot to ramble on about.

Earlier this month, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced the nominees for the 2013 induction class, and for the first time, allowed music fans vote for the five artists they believe to be most deserving of induction. With nearly 25% of the vote, RUSH is currently leading the way in the online poll to determine the “fans’ ballot” that will be tallied along with the other ballots to choose the 2013 inductees! Following behind them are Deep Purple at 17% and Heart at 12%. Voting continues until December 3, so there’s still time to #RUSHTheVote and make sure this iconic Canadian band gets their due in the Rock Hall.

Canadians have taken up the challenge – including politicians at every level. Minister of Canadian Heritage James Moore helped get out the vote to his Twitter followers, as did MP Brian Masse. David Zimmer, MPP for Willowdale, the area where Geddy and Alex grew up, also promoted the #RUSHTheVote movement online as well as inside the Ontario legislature. At the municipal level, Toronto councillor & staunch music supporter Josh Colle helped spread the word online. Sunrise Records is hosting the poll on their site as well, which Universal Music’s deep catalog division is directing traffic to.

This outpouring of support is just another reminder of the impact and value our music has to Canadian culture. That’s something that’s always worth supporting and promoting, so please take a minute and help #RUSHTheVote!

Graham Henderson is the President of Music Canada. He also writes on an eclectic range of topics on his personal blog at


The Rambler by Graham Henderson: Music Tourism – Cranking it up a Notch

Graham_headphones3Blog ThumbnailThe Rambler is a column by Graham Henderson, President of Music Canada. Graham writes from time to time about developments in the music industry, new trends or just about music! Let’s face it, Graham has been around for a long time and has a lot to ramble on about.

Music tourism is big business and represents a major opportunity for Toronto and Ontario. This is one of the primary conclusions from Music Canada’s study on accelerating the music industry in Toronto that we released in June this year. And people are taking notice.

In 2011, Music Canada commissioned two landmark studies. The first was designed to estimate the economic impact of the recorded music and live performance sectors in Canada. Music Canada retained the services of PwC to perform the former study and the Titan Music group to perform the latter.

The impact study was released publicly at our Annual General Meeting on June 13th in Toronto. Then, the following day, at NXNE, we released Accelerating Toronto’s Music Industry Growth, Leveraging Best Practices from Austin, Texas. The two studies were designed to work together and to afford for the first time an understanding of the importance of recorded music and live performance to the economy of Ontario and, in particular, Toronto.

This is familiar history by now. What may not be known is the extent to which these studies have gained traction in the music community and at all levels of government. While the role our community plays in weaving the cultural fabric of our country is well understood in the general population and is understood by the federal government and to some extent at the provincial level, the importance of music as an economic driver in Canada was virtually unknown. Assistance was provided to the music community, not because it was thought to be an important economic actor, but because it was “the right thing to do”, because it was thought possible in this way to safeguard a distinctive Canadian culture. No government ever thought to assist the music community in the way, say, the film and the video game sectors are supported – because it is a large, vibrant, desirable economic actor. It’s the difference between looking at music as “art” or as “commerce” – a key difference noted in our second study between Toronto and Austin. In Toronto, and indeed in Ontario and Canada, the tendency is to look at music as “art”.

Well, the PwC study established beyond a doubt that music was about high quality jobs, largely focused in the younger demographic. It proved beyond a doubt that music had an economic impact and not just a cultural one. This is an impact that, by the way, extends far beyond our borders. I would argue that Canada, Ontario and Toronto have failed utterly (to their collective detriment) to recognize the importance of music to the cultural and economic cocktail that makes up “brand Canada”. The cultural and economic one-two punch of music makes it more than a lightweight, more than a middleweight, it makes music a HEAVYWEIGHT. Understanding this has helped us to bring music in from the “policy maker’s cold”; it has helped us to gain respect for our community; it has put us on the map.

And speaking of maps, one of the more stunning conclusions of the PwC study was that the majority of economic activity in the music sector is concentrated in Ontario and particularly the GTA: over 80% of it. For a province and a city desperate to differentiate themselves from other regions, a healthy and in the case of live performance, booming, music sector represents a godsend. Aside from the sort of intangible benefits that a thriving music sector can lend to a city (as so amply demonstrated in the writing of Richard Florida), aside from the jobs it can provide to enthusiastic young people, there is yet another aspect which has gone completely unnoticed and undervalued: music tourism.

The reason we commissioned our unprecedented “tale of two cities”, comparing the music scenes in Toronto and Austin, was to demonstrate exactly how valuable an asset music can be to a local economy. The Austin study demonstrated in a graphic manner what a community like Austin can do when it harnesses the economic potential of music: it is worth hundreds of millions to the economy, possibly billions.

Beginning in the late 1980s, and founded largely on two principal assets, Austin City Limits and the SXSW music festival, Austin developed a plan and worked what amounts to an economic miracle. The economic impact on the economy was astonishing, first measured at around 600 million dollars, it rapidly almost TRIPLED. Austin began marketing itself as the Live Music Capital of the World and ensured that visitors don’t go home without experiencing live music.

The result? Nearly half of all economic activity generated by the commercial music sector in Austin is music tourism – about $800 million in 2010. Austin’s two largest music events, South by Southwest Film, Interactive and Music Conference, and Austin City Limits Festival, each grew by $25 million per year from 2005 to 2010. A whopping 20% of the economic activity generated in ALL tourism in Austin is attributed to music tourism.

Now, imagine what Toronto and Ontario could do….if they only understood the nature of the asset and had a plan. As the study’s authors pointed out, Toronto starts from a place far ahead of where Austin is even now. Toronto has the 4th largest number of live music establishments per capita in North America; we have world class recording studios; we produce international stars who have received their start in the Toronto music scene, creating a bevy of musical “landmarks” for the avid fan; Toronto is home to the head offices of all three major labels and 16 of the largest domestic independent labels. Any night of the week you can find music of every genre, from every Diaspora of the world – performed at famous, brilliantly equipped venues such as the Horseshoe Tavern and the Molson Amphitheatre. Toronto is, without a doubt, the music capital of Canada and one of the great music centres of the world.

People already travel to Toronto to see concerts, festivals and to experience the myriad of diverse live music events the city offers. This organic activity has created a strong foundation. It’s time to crank it up a notch or two.

It’s time to INVITE people to our city to experience live music.

This idea has galvanized two levels of government. At the City of Toronto, the Economic Development Committee, with strong leadership from Councillors Thompson, Colle and Carroll, received the Austin study with enthusiasm, sending it to staff with a demand that they bring forward recommendations. Support has been voiced across the political spectrum at council and right to the Mayor’s office. At the Provincial level, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, The Honourable Michael Chan, who seems to be remaking himself as the “music minister”, similarly sought ideas from his staff about how to harness the power of music tourism. My impression is that at both levels of government, the uptake is moving at near light speed. Both City and Province are behaving in an exemplary, entrepreneurial and business-like manner.

One very concrete example of our progress can be found here.  For the first time Ontario Tourism has undertaken a specific focus on music. Their fall travel guide highlights live music events in Ontario – music festivals, concerts and clubs get profiled beside some of the more traditional features like fall driving trips and wine and culinary experiences. Though surprisingly slower on the uptake, Toronto Tourism seems to be recognizing the potential as well. In a recent interview on Here and Now, Andrew Weir of Tourism Toronto mentioned the music scene as a key attraction for overseas visitors.

Toronto and Ontario have one of the most active and most diverse live music markets in the world. It’s time we started telling someone. The new, global digital environment has changed the rules of the game for all of us. In the music industry, we need a new industrial strategy. Music tourism represents an enormous opportunity to stimulate the live music sector, generating more activity, gigs and dollars, and thereby creating a healthier, more vibrant music industry for all. Our country’s musicians are under unprecedented pressure, it is increasingly difficult for them to make a living as professional musicians. One way we can help is to attract tourists to Ontario and Toronto….it could be the difference between two paying gigs and one, or one instead of none. The treasure is here. Let’s bring the world to Ontario to find it. We are home to one of the great musical wonders of the world.

Graham Henderson is the President of Music Canada. He also writes on an eclectic range of topics on his personal blog at


The Rambler by Graham Henderson: Sam Sniderman, “Et in arcadia ego”

Graham_headphones3Blog ThumbnailThe Rambler is a column by Graham Henderson, President of Music Canada. Graham writes from time to time about developments in the music industry, new trends or just about music! Let’s face it, Graham has been around for a long time and has a lot to ramble on about.

I don’t know why we find events like this shocking. We all knew Sam was very old, we all knew his health was declining, but when the news comes that an icon, someone who has inspired us our whole life, has died, it always hits us like a bolt out of the blue. The first reaction is invariably shock and disbelief which then settle into an over arching, brooding gloom that will often not lift for days. Flaubert wrote of this in Madame Bovary, saying, “Anyone’s death always releases something like an aura of stupefaction, so difficult is it to grasp the irruption of nothingness and to believe that it has actually taken place.” So it is with Sam.

Do I need to say his last name? Does anyone? If you said, “Sam is dead”, who in Toronto, who in Canada (of a certain age, at least), would not know immediately that you were referring to our Sam Sniderman, better known, perhaps, as Sam the Record Man.

Oddly, I never actually met Sam in my career as a music lawyer or industry “insider”. But I DID meet him as a fan, as a teenager in search of records, on the floor of that amazing music store – perhaps music warehouse is a more apt description. He seemed to be ubiquitous. He was unfailingly polite, and unfailingly customer-oriented and unfailingly RIGHT. He knew music inside out and could correctly answer any music question ever asked of him. And if he wasn’t there, one of his astoundingly knowledgeable employees was there to help in his place.

Anyone growing up in Toronto will have a Sam story. I grew up waaay out in the suburbs, so for me, the Sam era was ushered in with….the GO Train — in 1968 or so. The routine was simple. Up early, mom delivers a fast breakfast and you were out the door for the half hour walk to the train – in all weather. In Toronto, you disembark, grab the subway and trudge up the stairs at the Dundas station to emerge… the BIG CITY!! Wide eyed and breathless. And what did the big city, mean to, me? It meant Sam the Record Man. For hours I would coast up and down the aisles looking at album covers, asking questions, and eventually buying all too few records – restricted by a young boy’s allowance.

It was Sam who created the magic. Sam who had the vision. Sam who created a store like no others. Sam who literally defined an era. Sam, you will be mourned, and you will be missed but you will NEVER be forgotten. As the Romans would say in their spare, incisive language, “Ave atque Vale, Sam Sniderman”. Hail and Farewell. It falls now to us, those he left behind, to honour his memory with our recollections.

Graham Henderson is the President of Music Canada. He also writes on an eclectic range of topics on his personal blog at


The Rambler by Graham Henderson: “If the Facts Won’t do…”

Graham_headphones3Blog ThumbnailThe Rambler is a column by Graham Henderson, President of Music Canada. Graham writes from time to time about developments in the music industry, new trends or just about music! Let’s face it, Graham has been around for a long time and has a lot to ramble on about.

The debate about the effect of piracy on creators can become exceedingly tedious at times. A veritable cottage industry has grown up around it, enriching a few academics who made a killing producing studies that purport to show that piracy has had no adverse effect on the music industry. A good example of this took place right here in Canada.

A few years back bureaucrats in the Department of Industry took it upon themselves to pay for a study that purported to analyze the effect of theft on the market for music. Incorrectly claiming that no studies on this subject were available in Canada (in fact two had been produced), and incorrectly claiming that no suitable, unbiased Canadian researchers were available, the bureaucrats contracted with a little known Danish academic named Birgitte Andersen, who was then employed as a Reader at Birkbeck College in London, England. Why her? Well, the bureaucrats alleged that she was the only unbiased candidate they could find. However a simple Google-based literature review readily revealed a history of anti-corporate, anti-copyright rhetoric.

For example, in a 2005 article titled “The Social and Economic Effects of Copyrights in the Music Industry”, Ms. Andersen characterized copyright as a “weapon” used by “multinationals” to attack creativity:

“Critical law and economics suggest the copyright system can act as a vehicle for the crude expression of commercial power relations and, in the specific case of music, a weapon by multinationals against the creative independence of small countries and producers. (p.132)”

Sigh. Now THAT is hardly what I would call unbiased.

All of which leads me to believe that the bureaucrats at Industry had to know both with whom they were dealing and what they were buying.

In any event, she was paid $24,999 for this study. An amount which conveniently skirted Treasury Board rules requiring a public request for proposals for any contracts for services exceeding $25,. This is a rule designed to protect the Canadian taxpayers from the misuse of their hard earned tax dollars. Additional sums were apparently paid to polling firms and for subsequent analysis.

As was extensively documented by Professor George Barker, Ms. Andersen first produced a study which incredibly concluded that theft of music increased the sales of music. Then, after an avalanche of criticism here, here, and here, she back-slid and revised and rewrote her study, saying there was no effect positive or negative. (Although Industry Canada continues to this day to post the original, abandoned study.) Finally the data she used to reach these dubious and contradictory conclusions was rigorously analyzed by Professor Barker, who showed that it had been either misunderstood or misrepresented in both of the previous studies. Professor Barker found that a full analysis of all the data – including that inappropriately ignored by Andersen — clearly demonstrated that piracy hurts the sale of music.

To which I think the disinterested observer would heave a huge sigh and say…”Well, D’uh!!”

As recently as this week researchers at Carnegie Mellon University published a literature survey calling into question the dubious and counter-intuitive conclusions researched by researchers such as Andersen, writing,

“Our review finds that, when viewed as a whole, the academic literature strongly suggests that piracy harms media sales: the vast majority of academic papers — particularly those published in peer-reviewed academic journals — find evidence of harm from piracy. This conclusion is consistent with reviews of the academic literature by Stan Liebowitz in 2006 and by Felix Oberholzer-Gee and Koleman Strumpf in 2009, but includes more recent studies — and we believe these recent papers make the case of harm from piracy even stronger than what the literature suggested just a few years ago.”

However, as Barry Sookman showed, in the meantime anti-creator activists avidly utilized the study to attempt to stave off much needed copyright reform. Despite a clear statement on the Department of Industry’s website that this was NOT an Industry Canada study, professors such as Michael Geist repeatedly referred to it as an Industry Canada study – I assume to give it heft and gravitas. How disappointing.

Meanwhile, reality bites. In an interview with the BBC, Omniphone’s CEO attributed his company’s recent swing to profitability to crackdowns on piracy sites:

“Mr. Hughes told the BBC that his company had invested about $60m (£37.5m) in its platform over the past half decade to get to this point.

He added that recent high profile efforts to crack down on file-sharing sites – including internet service providers (ISPs) blocking access to The Pirate Bay, and the closure of the Demonoid BitTorrent tracker – had helped drive up earnings as users had been encouraged to opt for legal streaming alternatives.

“A corner has been turned – there is no doubt,” he said.

“I don’t think the growth that we’re seeing now, or that’s projected in the future, could happen if we didn’t turn the corner. The music industry was bought to its knees by piracy almost simply because the files were small so they were the first [type of media] to go.

“Therefore the music industry adapted first, it tried to fix itself first, and I think it has made big strides.”

In addition to the erroneous studies feeding the idea that piracy was at worst benign, the anti-creator lobby became extremely adept in crafting straw men which they deployed like a veritable legion of doom. Here is a terrific recent example: the now ubiquitous Tim Berners-Lee opining yet again on the merits of an unregulated internet:

“There’s been this assumption that the web is only there for stealing music and that the most important industry is the media industry. But I think it’s reasonable that I should pay for music.”

The reporter noted that this was said with a mocking tone. Who EVER said that the most important industry was the media industry? Who EVER said that the web was only there for stealing music? Are these rhetorical exaggerations designed to make a point? I doubt it. This is a straw man built to be conveniently dispatched with a supercilious and knowing sneer.. . At least he concedes that it is “reasonable” that he should pay for the fruit of the musician’s labour. Thanks for the magnanimity, Tim.

The creation of false information paired with argumentative techniques that would not pass muster in a high school philosophy class have been a blemish on the debate about what is right and wrong in the digital environment for years. But as Omniphone so eloquently demonstrates, while the situation remains dire, “a corner has been turned”. And it has been turned not only because brilliant and innovative new services have been introduced, but also because the market place has been afforded a degree of protection from parasites like The Pirate Bay and Demonoid and now more than ever, thanks to recent legal changes in Canada enacted by our Conservative Government, IsoHunt.

As my good friend Neil Turkewitz wrote to me the other day:

“With the expansion of services like Spotify, there has been a lot of talk about how innovative business models can make inroads into piracy. That’s a good and partially true narrative, but it overlooks that it is a two way street, and that enforcement against unauthorized services is itself a foundational component of allowing services like Spotify to take hold, and that enhancing responsibility in the internet environment is a critical factor in nourishing new services, and allowing them to gain a foothold in the marketplace. And gaining a foothold in the legitimate marketplace is only the starting point. Piracy has driven the perceived value of recorded music to zero, or near zero, and advertiser-supporter services can hardly sustain the vitality of the music community. Enhancing the transition to paid services is going to require much more success in marginalizing unauthorized services.”

And unless and until intermediaries like Google continue to do more than simply paying lip service to the problem (see, for example, the recent decision to omit The Pirate Bay from autocomplete), we will wallow in the slough of despond.

Graham Henderson is the President of Music Canada. He also writes on an eclectic range of topics on his personal blog at


The Rambler by Graham Henderson Google Watch Week 3

Graham_headphones3Blog ThumbnailThe Rambler is a column by Graham Henderson, President of Music Canada. Graham writes from time to time about developments in the music industry, new trends or just about music! Let’s face it, Graham has been around for a long time and has a lot to ramble on about.

As you know, I have been monitoring Google search results since the announcement by Google about priority ranking. Week 3 and no change in the results for “Call Me Maybe download”:  the iTunes link remains mired on page 2 behind a virtual bevy of links to illegitimate sites like beemp3, hulkshare and mp3skull.

Incidentally, the #1 song today in Canada, We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together by Taylor Swift, faces a similar fate.

Ironically, while performing this weekly experiment, I discovered that previous Google anti-piracy announcements aren’t quite living up to their billing either.

In December 2010 Google proudly announced it would combat piracy through a variety of measures including eliminating piracy-related terms from auto complete. For instance, if you type in “Call Me Maybe” it won’t fill in “torrent”. However, as you can see, two well known pirate sites, “bee” and “sharebeast”, do appear in the auto complete options.   Good intentions but batting ‘O’ for ‘2″?


Graham Henderson is the President of Music Canada. He also writes on an eclectic range of topics on his personal blog at


The Rambler by Graham Henderson: Week 2 of “Google Watch”

Graham_headphones3Blog ThumbnailThe Rambler is a column by Graham Henderson, President of Music Canada. Graham writes from time to time about developments in the music industry, new trends or just about music! Let’s face it, Graham has been around for a long time and has a lot to ramble on about.

In the light of Google’s highly controversial decision to reinstate Grooveshark in its app store for Android smartphones it is with renewed interest that I checked again this week to how Carly Rae Jepson was doing in the Google search rankings.

Well, the answer, perhaps not unsurprisingly, is: NOT SO GOOD! The highest ranked legal purchase link (iTunes) for the Carly Rae Jepsen single, ‘Call Me Maybe’, moved up in the search results but still appears behind many illegitimate links for “Call Me Maybe download”.

Last week I raised questions about what Google’s announcement regarding priority ranking really means. So far, based on our test query, it hasn’t resulted in legitimate links to music downloads being bumped up to the top of the search results. Nor has it eliminated pirate sites from the search results altogether with mp3skull, 4shared and other illegitimate links still leading results.

And now back to Grooveshark. Grooveshark has been the bane of label and artist efforts to establish a legal and legitimate marketplace for some time. It is the subject of multiple lawsuits from rights holders around the world.

Thorn in the side does not begin to describe it. In one of Google’s on again, off again ‘commitments’ to aid artists and labels in their efforts to establish legitimate markets, Google followed Apple’s example and delisted them last year.

But now, a year later, and with the aid of some truly tortured logic, Google has once again, opened access to Grooveshark. This seems to be a classic case of the left hand taking away what the right hand has given. With friends like this, who needs enemies?

Graham Henderson is the President of Music Canada. He also writes on an eclectic range of topics on his personal blog at


The Rambler by Graham Henderson: Searching for Results in Google’s Announcement

Graham_headphones3Blog ThumbnailThe Rambler is a column by Graham Henderson, President of Music Canada. Graham writes from time to time about developments in the music industry, new trends or just about music! Let’s face it, Graham has been around for a long time and has a lot to ramble on about.

The music world has been buzzing recently about the unexpected announcement from Google that in determining the priority for ranking search results, it will begin to take into account the number of valid copyright removal notices received on any given site. This means that sites that have been subject to a large number of removal notices (to Google) may appear lower in Google’s search results, with legitimate sites likely appearing higher in the results.

Music industry stakeholders have issued cautious statements praising the move. Mark Mulligan has weighed in on both the effectiveness of the move and Google’s motivation. Canadian IP Lawyer Barry Sookman has had something to say, as has Christian Castle. Castle, with his usual perspicacity and humour, has raised a doubt or two (see Mullets, Platform Shoes, Mack Daddies and Public Knowledge).

David Lowery, famed front man for Cracker and Camper van Beethoven, has also raised some interesting questions here, among other things wondering why Google doesn’t simply “delist the site completely”. He also raises the contentious issue of advertising. Pointing to a famously illegal site, he asks, “more importantly if Google knows that this site is full of infringing links why is DoubleClick (3 days later) still serving ads onto this site? Doesn’t this go against your stated advertising policies?” Finally David posed a question for Google, suggesting, “my data seems to indicate that this change took place a while ago, and you are only just now announcing it?” If this is true and the policy is already in place, it makes what I discovered in my search for Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” all the more egregious (see below).

So I guess you can put me with these folks in what I would describe as the “I will believe it when I see it” camp.

Google has been so slow to come to the table on the issue of piracy that one would be foolish not to entertain a scintilla or two of doubt about what their promises actually mean. If they actually follow through with this, it will mean that it will be much easier for music fans to find legitimate sources for music. And this is important because as the Atlantic recently pointed out, iTunes at the end of the day is how artists who are something more than hobbyists, make their money.

But it is also important to understand what this does NOT do. It does not banish the pirate sites from the search results. It merely pushes them down the rankings. So the motivated ‘freetard’ as Andrew Orlowski calls them, will be click or two away from free and illegal. Hey – The Pirate Bay says they’re not worried.  And who are we talking about here? Well, yesterday I decided to have a stroll down thievery lane. I initiated a search for Carly Rae Jepsen’s smash hit, “Call Me Maybe” with the criteria, “Call Me Maybe download”. The top hit for me, as a would-be music buyer, was I don’t think you have to be a music industry insider to know that this is not likely to be a legitimate site. From there I was prompted to visit sites such as mp3raid, Hulkshare, mp3raid, isohunt, thepiratebay, beemp3,; as well as at least a dozen sites that had already been removed as a result of DMCA complaints.


The iTunes link to her 4-song Remix album appeared on Page 2 – but this was not what I was looking for, the remix does not contain the version most of us know and which my son loves. I had to click through another five pages until I found the hit version on page SEVEN.

What other product can you think of (apart from films and games I suppose) requires you to click through 7 pages of illegal pirated sources to get to a legitimate product? Well, try it. I tried Black and Decker Toaster Ovens and the top hit was B&D’s home page and the rest of the page was filled with legitimate retail sources.


I think we all have to agree that this is utter fracking nonsense. But it was only this month that Google appears to have joined the rest of us in the realization that this is the case. So, good for them. For now I will give them credit for this ‘better late than never’ effort but I will also keep my eye on its impact.

Here’s what I will do. I am going to keep tabs on this. Each month I will select a smash hit song and look to see just how far down the rankings iTunes is. I will report on my results here in this space. Here’s hoping my skepticism is overplayed.

Graham Henderson is the President of Music Canada. He also writes on an eclectic range of topics on his personal blog at

Editor’s note: if one types in the search box only the name of the song, Call Me Maybe, it is true that one turns up a link to iTunes on the first page; therefore one’s access to legitimate sources will clearly vary from search to search.


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