Friday, August 15, 2008

New book, "Indie Band Survival Guide", tells musicians how to survive without record labels

Just learned of a new book that's just come out, called "Indie Band Survival Guide", which gives musicians ideas on how they can survive without record labels.

Can't wait to read it.

Keywords: digital copyright law online internet law legal download upload peer to peer p2p file sharing filesharing music movies indie independent label freeculture creative commons pop/rock artists riaa independent mp3 cd favorite songs intellectual property portable music player


Unknown said...

Written by a long time GrokLaw participant!! Synergy is good...

Kathleen Williamson said...

One of my best friends wrote the first version of this book back in 1980 when the technology was very very very different. The book was titled "How to Make and Sell Your Own Record" by Diane Rappaport of Jerome Headlands Press. Diane has recently declined to write a new edition (11th) because she has moved on to other genres and, I suspect, the entire industry has been revolutionized several times since the first edition. Now the velocity of change can only be tracked by the most devoted music techies. To compare these two books is yet another example of how every morning we each wake up feeling like Rip Van Winkle. The velocity and dynamics of tech/culture change is dizzying. It’s very exciting and I welcome well written and up-to-date insightful books for all levels of aspiring and pro musicians. I am an attorney, anthropologist, and songwriter and, thus, have many angles from which I read something like this. When Diane first wrote "How to Make and Sell" it was pretty much the first book on the block. Also, there was only vinyl, commercial radio, and physical distribution. Now the How-To- Music book industry is as full of products and mashups as the music industry itself. An enormously profitable secondary market has developed that sells goods and services to would-be musicians and songwriters (including my entlaw services!). I just did a quick Amazon search of this book to see if it addresses an emerging tech/copyright interconnected question that has been bugging me and which I've only had glimpses of time to dig into.

The indie music that is being downloaded (as well as the major stuff) doesn't have notices/labels attached prominently to the digital files, thereby, creating a world of arguably innocent infringers. This is a flaw in the RIAA prosecutions against little people who get duped into thinking they aren't committing copyright infringements when they buy services from sites like (a very sleazy and deceptive site which would be confusing to anyone but a good copyright lawyer and about which the RIAA chooses to look the other way and, instead, trawl for infringers to sue). The RIAA lawsuit complaints claim that the "infringers" have been put on notice of the copyright ownership because all of the CDs and albums that they have been produced have the notices on the labels and covers. However, the digital files do not. I have often received unsolicited email attachments with a cute song attached which has no identification of composer or performer. Sometimes I write back to the friend who sent the cute tune and enquire about the artists. It’s not unusual to get a response that the sender doesn't know, got it from another friend, will write and ask the other friend if they know, and then the conversation dies there. So, in sum: the RIAA has some problems if really put to the test re: innocent infringement.
Secondly, as a songwriter, especially as an independent who doesn't have MediaSentry in my pocket, I suspect my cute songs have been downloaded from the various cdbaby licenses that have been showered to every mp3 start up since Itunes and quite possibly have been emailed around as novelties or interesting songs without any identification. When I wrote to CDbaby about it, I received a series of answers about DRM but I was not asking about DRM; I was suggesting that they put labels and copyright notices into the actual digital files which are immediately obvious to any user. The only response I got to that was a question about whether I wanted to unravel my entire agreement with CDbaby, which would have entailed all the sublicenses to everything from itunes to payplay. (Aside: Payplay actually took the time to not only distribute my digital music without copyright notices but also made a copy of my album cover AND REMOVED all of the copyright notices I meticulously wrote in. Their only solution to the problem was to treat me like a 16 year old child, ignore all the free copyright advice I was giving them, and offer to take my recordings off of their service).
Being too busy to start that all over, the question and concern has been in abeyance (while I was busy doing things such as pro bono battling in the RIAA v Weed matter, ironically). Upon taking a quick search in Amazon of this new book, I see lots of redundancies though helpful info for musicians, old or new in the changing tech and distribution world. However, I don't see any info about how to ensure that the downloads that are spawned by the digital distribution spray are clearly marked, identified, copyright noticed. If anyone reads this book and finds info therein about this, please post it here. I think it’s a very important matter for composers/musician/ independents. Any attorneys reading this post, I appreciate your thoughts and insights. It may be that in all my uber-busy-ness I am overlooking some fab technology that is helpful to solve this problem. If there is, other musicians should know about it so that their work will be protected as it flies across the cyber-universe. Only the independent musician him or herself will really care about this and they should not expect their online digital impersonal distributors to give a hoot.
Kathleen Williamson, Esq.
Obviously not proofread to save time.