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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 www.grahamhenderson.ca.

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New bilateral agreement between US and Canada opens the flow of royalties to Canadian labels and performers

An historic agreement has been reached between Re:Sound Music Licensing Company and SoundExchange to ensure that Canadian rights holders receive royalties from US uses of their work licensed by SoundExchange. The agreement covers all Canadian rights holders signed to AVLA, ACTRA, Artisti, MROC, and SOPROQ.
 
“This agreement unlocks new sources of revenue for AVLA members and is an important step forward in our Canada-US relationship,” says Graham Henderson, President of AVLA.  “Canadian labels and performers will now be able to collect royalties accumulated from the use of their recordings on US satellite radio stations like SIRIUS XM, internet radio stations, streaming services and cable TV music channels south of the border.  Most importantly, they don’t have to join SoundExchange in order to do this, but as a result of the bilateral agreement, can collect their earnings through the organization in Canada to which they already belong.”
 
The first distribution to rights holders will occur in 2013.
 
Bilateral agreements of this kind are an important source of future revenue.  Hopefully, this is the first of many agreements of its kind with countries around the world who are signatories of the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT).
 
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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…..in 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 www.grahamhenderson.ca.

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Music Canada Congratulates Toronto Mayor Rob Ford on Successful Chicago Delegation

TORONTO, 20 September 2012 /CNW/ – As the Team Toronto Business Mission to Chicago concluded, Music Canada praised Mayor Rob Ford for leading this important mission to help improve relations and foster opportunities between the two cities.

“Mayor Ford and his colleagues have brought together a talented and dynamic delegation of business and civic leaders who will help to foster the next generation of investments between Toronto and Chicago,” said Graham Henderson, President of Music Canada. “We are keenly aware of the unique challenges facing Toronto businesses and, on behalf of our members who employ hundreds of Torontonians, we are grateful for the opportunity to help protect jobs and foster economic growth in our city.”

Toronto is home to one of the largest and most vibrant music clusters in the world including major and independent music companies, talented artists and musicians from every genre, world-class recording studios and some of the greatest live music venues. From iconic spots like the Horseshoe Tavern to hugely successful Molson Amphitheatre, Toronto is host to live music every day of the week. And two of Toronto’s studios were listed among the top ten recording spaces in the world in 2011 by Mix Magazine. Music Canada’s Vice President Public Affairs participated in the mission.

“Now more than ever, in light of worldwide economic challenges, we need a focus on creating jobs and fostering economic development in Toronto,” said Henderson. “We are proud to have been part of the Mayor’s mission to Chicago and look forward to finding new opportunities to grow Toronto’s economy and keep our city moving in the right direction.”

Music Canada is a non-profit trade organization that represents the major music companies in Canada, namely EMI Music Canada, Sony Music Entertainment Canada, Universal Music Canada and Warner Music Canada. Its members are engaged in all aspects of the recording industry, including the manufacture, production, promotion and distribution of music.

For further information:
Amy Terrill – Vice President Public Affairs, Music Canada
aterrill@musiccanada.com 647-963-6044

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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 www.grahamhenderson.ca.

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Music Canada Proud to Support 30th Annual Canadian Country Music Association Industry Awards

Saskatoon, September 8, 2012: Music Canada is pleased to sponsor the Record Company of the Year Award at the 30th Annual Canadian Country Music Association Industry Awards.

“As Canada’s country music community comes together to celebrate exceptional artists and their industry partners, Music Canada is proud to sponsor the Record Company of the Year Award because behind every artist is a team of people who, for the love of music, work together to capture the attention of music fans around the world,” says Graham Henderson, President of Music Canada.

The Record Company of the Year Award will be presented at the CCMA’s Industry Awards gala at TCU Place in Saskatoon on Saturday, September 8th.

-30-

For more information:

Amy Terrill – Vice President Public Affairs, Music Canada
aterrill@musiccanada.com 647-963-6044

Music Canada is a non-profit trade organization that represents the major record labels in Canada, namely EMI Music Canada, Sony Music Entertainment Canada, Universal Music Canada and Warner Music Canada. Music Canada also provides certain membership benefits to some of the leading independent record labels and distributors. Its members are engaged in all aspects of the recording industry, including the manufacture, production, promotion and distribution of music.

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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″?

Callmemaybeblog3

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: 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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