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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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Make Music Part of the Ontario Place Revitalization

On February 1, 2012, the Government of Ontario announced plans to revitalize Ontario Place to make it a ‘must visit’ destination and landmark for Ontario families and tourists from around the world. The government of Ontario is seeking public input on how to revitalize Ontario Place: Music Canada is promoting the idea of putting an outdoor green space for live music at the location.

Why?

Live Music Generates Jobs and Spending in Toronto
  • Total economic impact of sound recording industry in Canada: $455.2 million with much of that in Toronto (Economic Impact Analysis of the Sound Recording Industry in Canada, PwC)
  • 2011 TD Toronto Jazz Festival generated total economic impact of $22.7 M
    • 298 full time equivalent jobs
    • 1/3 attendees live beyond 40 km radius of city
  • 40th anniversary JUNOs in Toronto had an estimated economic impact of $14.1M
  • NxNE generates more than $47M annually in economic impact to City of Toronto
Live Music is One of Toronto’s Key Assets
  • 4th highest ratio of music establishments per 100,000 residents in North America (Martin Prosperity Insights) with incredible indoor venues of all sizes including: The Horseshoe Tavern, Phoenix, The Sound Academy, Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Massey Hall and the Air Canada Centre

However, Toronto lacks a key component: a viable downtown outdoor green space for live music.

Ontario Place can build on the success of the Amphitheatre to fill the gap.

Why Ontario Place?
  • The Amphitheatre is one of the few success stories in the park in the last decade
  • Experience shows that there is the market for a permanent outdoor venue
  • Toronto’s current assets do not have permanent facilities that include concession areas, backline, fencing and lighting
How to Help:

Add a comment on the Ontario Place Revitalization site to urge the government to develop a viable downtown outdoor green space for live music!

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Passage of Bill C-11 Vital Building Block for Music Community

Toronto, July 3, 2012: With the Royal Assent of Bill C-11, The Copyright Modernization Act, Canada joins a long list of countries that recognize the importance of protecting intellectual property in the digital environment.“We never doubted that we would see this day but it has been a long road, in particular for creators, whose livelihoods have been deeply eroded by piracy. We commend the government and Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore in particular, for their tenacity in pursuing a modern copyright framework and legislation that will enable Canada to ratify the World Intellectual Property Organization Internet Treaties,” says Graham Henderson, President of Music Canada. “Utilizing the tools provided by this legislation, in conjunction with our efforts to ensure consumers have various legal digital services to choose from in Canada, we will now turn our attention to rebuilding the marketplace for recorded music.”

An economic impact study on the recording industry in Canada, recently prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and published by Music Canada, demonstrates that while digital sales of recorded music have grown in the past five years, they have not offset the drop in total sales. Despite the contraction though, the study points out that the recording industry remains an important economic generator for Canada.

“Major and independent music companies, not to mention the broader music community, support thousands of high-paying jobs across Canada and represent one of Canada’s most successful exports, making copyright protection a good investment for Canadians,” says Henderson.

Graham Henderson testified before the Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce on June 26, 2012 regarding Bill C-11, and previously testified before the legislative committee reviewing Bill C-32 along with artists Loreena McKennitt and Maia Davies and representatives of the Canadian Independent Music Association and the Canadian Council of Music Industry Associations.

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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 music companies in Canada, namely EMI Music Canada, Sony Music Entertainment Canada, Universal Music Canada and Warner Music Canada. Music Canada also provides 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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Music Canada Statement on Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement

Toronto, April 27, 2012: Music Canada commends the Government of Canada for its continued commitment to conclude negotiations with the European Union on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) that includes provisions that put Canada on equal footing with Europe in respect to the protection of intellectual property.“A Canada-EU trade agreement that meets world standards in IP protection will create a level playing field that is absolutely crucial in today’s digital environment. CETA will help stimulate the market for creative and cultural goods and benefit the hundreds of thousands of Canadians employed in the creative economy,” says Graham Henderson, President of Music Canada.Music Canada encourages Minister Fast to conclude this bold trade agreement with the EU.

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Canadian Recording Industry an Important Wealth Generator and Employer: Report

Toronto, June 13, 2012: The Canadian Recording Industry makes a significant contribution to Canada’s economy with a vast majority of the activity taking place in Ontario, according to a new report by PwC for Music Canada.

The analysis examines the spending of major and independent music companies in Canada and estimates their impact on the GDP as $240 million in 2010 with a staggering 81% of the activity taking place in Ontario. This generates $37 million dollars in government revenues in Ontario alone.

“This is music to my ears,” said Michael Chan, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport. “Ontario is home to gifted professionals – from musicians, to producers to record labels that promote our province’s unique culture while generating highly skilled jobs that strengthen our economy. The McGuinty Government is proud to partner with our music sector, solidifying Ontario’s reputation as a competitive creative market and a national industry leader.”

Quebec is the next largest market, and with the Atlantic and Prairie regions, accounts for about 32% of the independent companies’ spending and 12% of the major companies’ spending.

Thousands of high paying jobs are supported by record companies in Canada with 3300 direct and indirect jobs across the country, and roughly 7400 more in the live performance sector.
“The recording industry in Canada is providing highly skilled, high-paying jobs today, even after a long period of contraction due to the effects of piracy,” says Graham Henderson, President of Music Canada. “In Ontario alone, our study shows that large and small recording companies have created more than 2600 jobs and this doesn’t even include the broader music sector of artists, musicians, live performance and retail for instance. At an average wage of $60,100, those working for record companies in Ontario are making well above the average wage of industries across the province.”

The report was released today at the Annual General Meeting of Music Canada, the trade association representing the major music companies in Canada. The report was prepared by PwC. An executive summary, and full report with detailed industry analysis, quantitative regional analysis and source tables is available at www.musiccanada.com/research.aspx.

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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 companies 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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Music Cluster Strategy Unveiled at NXNE by Music Canada

Toronto, June 14, 2012: Toronto is one of the greatest music cities in the world and yet it could be doing much more to maximize the economic benefits of the music cluster. That is the finding of a report commissioned by Music Canada and released today at NXNE Interactive (NXNEi).

Accelerating Toronto’s Music Industry Growth, Leveraging Best Practices from Austin, Texas was presented by Author Nikki Rowling and discussed by panelists City Councillor Josh Colle, live music venue operator and promoter Jeff Cohen, and Music Canada President Graham Henderson.

“The music cluster strategy is an important step forward to helping Toronto claim its rightful place as one of the best music cities in the world. With legendary live music venues, a vibrant recording industry, and celebrated festivals such as NXNE, Toronto’s music scene is second to none,” says City Councillor Josh Colle.

Music Canada, which represents the major multinational music companies in Canada, who employ hundreds of Torontonians in their Canadian headquarters, commissioned the study in order to identify how Toronto can compete with cities like Austin, Texas, which advertises itself as the “Live Music Capital of the World”.

“Toronto is one of the top two or three music cities in North America. The music community generates thousands of jobs and enormous economic spinoffs including tourism, and yet it is not recognized as an important commercial sector that warrants a strategy or promotion,” explains Graham Henderson. “Imagine what we could do with a plan like Austin’s, or in fact, with the type of recognition and promotion that has been extended to Toronto’s successful film and television sector.”

Accelerating Toronto’s Music Industry Growth demonstrates that in Austin, music is considered commerce, and the commercial music sector has been identified as a key component of the economy. In Toronto, according to the report, music is considered art and has been undervalued as an economic contributor. It outlines some of the challenges faced by recording studios and live music venues and advocates for a more business-friendly environment.

“Toronto has one of the highest ratios of live music venues to population in North America,” says Jeff Cohen of Collective Concerts. “This privately created asset can be leveraged in order to increase tourism and other economic spinoffs, but it first must be recognized as an important sector of the community. This should begin at City Hall with the creation of a licensing category for live music venues, rather than lumping them in with pool halls, restaurants or dance clubs, and the establishment of a single point of contact for live music similar to the Film and Television office. ”

Recommendations include:
1. Create a Music Industry Board to provide industry input through the Economic Development Committee;
2. Create a Music Industry Office to provide coordination across the various city departments that deal with issues relating to live music events and venues;
3. Create a Provincial Ontario Music Office;
4. Expand the Provincial Music Production Tax Credit to mirror the successful film and television tax credits;
5. Proactively pursue music tourism programs included a multi-day international music festival.

Toronto’s music cluster was discussed by Toronto’s Economic Development Committee on February 21, 2012 at which time Music Canada presented early findings of this study. City staff has been directed to return to the committee with a report and recommendations.

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For more information:

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

About Music Canada
Music Canada is a non-profit trade organization that represents the major record companies 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.

About NXNE

Now in its 18th year, North by Northeast Festivals and Conference (NXNE) has become the Canadian festival destination for emerging artists and major-label headliners, for music filmmakers, and for digital interactive innovators bridging the gap between technology and the arts. Seen as the most anticipated summer music event in Canada, NXNE Music, NXNE Film, and NXNE Interactive are an essential gathering for artists, industry, and fans.

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Music Canada Supports Referral of C-11 to Committee

Toronto, February 8, 2012: Music Canada is pleased to see 2nd reading on Bill C-11, The Copyright Modernization Act, drawing to a close so that the Bill can proceed to a Legislative Committee for review.

“Copyright reform has been discussed for well over a decade in Canada, with draft legislation put forward by not one, but two governments. The discussion has featured mammoth and unprecedented public consultations, town halls, round tables, submissions and testimony by hundreds of witnesses, many representing thousands of Canadians. And in this Parliamentary session we have heard from dozens of speakers. All this while jobs are lost and careers are damaged, some beyond repair. It is time to deal with this issue in committee where the important work will take place to refine the Bill in order to ensure it meets the government’s objectives of protecting creative industries, combating piracy and encouraging productivity and innovation in Canada’s vital creative sector,” says Graham Henderson, President of Music Canada. “We look forward to a post enactment world, when the creative community can focus on rebuilding the marketplace, and when it will become clear that reports of the impending death of the internet were greatly exaggerated.”

Music Canada, formerly known as the Canadian Recording Industry Association, appeared before the legislative committee reviewing Bill C-32 along with artists Loreena McKennitt and Maia Davies and representatives of the Canadian Independent Music Association and the Canadian Council of Music Industry Associations.

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