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Posts by Graham Henderson (24)

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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 www.grahamhenderson.ca.

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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 Mp3skull.com. 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, kat.ph; as well as at least a dozen sites that had already been removed as a result of DMCA complaints.

CallMeMaybeBlog1

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.

BlackandDecker

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 www.grahamhenderson.ca.

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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The Rambler by Graham Henderson: Reaction to news of Russian band Pussy Riot’s imprisonment

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.

This story is almost unbelievable, unless of course you are a student of Russian history, in which case, what has happened to these young women was entirely predictable. This is a country that has never in its entire history known anything remotely approaching democracy. The Who’s famous “meet the new boss..same as the old boss” was never so applicable. There is a wonderful story about Stalin trying to explain what his job was to his aged mother…finally in exasperation he said, “Mama, do you remember the Tsar?” She nods, he continues with a smile, “Well, I am just like him!” NO fracking kidding. And so, today, is Putin. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, one of the imprisoned women, makes this clear when she says, ““To my deepest regret, this mock trial is close to the standards of the Stalinist troikas.” Close? I would say it was no different at all. I also think the music angle is interesting. The Times points out that “But while they have become minor heroes in the entertainment world, Pussy Riot is far more political than musical: Its members have never released a song or an album, and they do not seem to have any serious aspirations to do so.” While they may not be musicians, how interesting that they chose music as their vehicle of protest. And look how it resonated. This is not without reason, for music has always been a potent vehicle for protest, and has always exercised enormous power over the human imagination. Long Live Music! Our thoughts and prayers should be with these oppressed young women, two of whom have young children.

There is another extraordinary angle to this story which is only just emerging, and that is that Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, as you can see here appears to be a permanent resident of Canada and holds an Ontario Health Card. She is in fact married to Peter Verzilov, a Russian who also holds Canadian citizenship and who was interviewed by the CBC. This raises a very real question about what Canada should do to assist Tolokonnikova.

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

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The Rambler by Graham Henderson: Mourning the passing of Brent Grulke

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 community mourns the passing of one of its best: Brent Grulke.

I was not a close friend by any means, but I certainly knew him and was profoundly aware of the pivotal role he played in developing the SXSW music festival into a premiere event on the world stage. He made a difference in the careers of hundreds of artists.

Brent was also a huge fan of my wife Margo’s music. We had a chance to have dinner two years ago at Midem. With us were dear friends Katrina and Alasdair McMullan and Susan Abramovitch. It was Brent’s 50th. And as a present to him, Katrina had promised him he would sit beside Margo and so they did.

Brent Grulke

The two of them talked their way thru dinner and late on into the evening. It was magical.

How could any of us have known that this terrible, terrible tragedy stalked Brent. Brent leaves behind his wife and a seven year old son. And the thought of that simply breaks my heart.

As the Romans would have said, Ave Atque Vale, Brent Grulke, Hail and Farewell. The world has lost something this week that it cannot easily replace.

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

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