Show Notes: This is a salacious headline about Apple designed to get clicks
Before every episode of The Vergecast I sit down, read through a bunch of news, and take a bunch of notes. It's one of the most enjoyable parts of my week, and I started thinking it might be fun to do every day on the site. So, every chance I can, I'm …
Apple passingly acknowledges external GPU technology during future Mac Pro, iMac reveal
The Morning After: Wednesday, April 5th 2017
Apple Says Sorry But You'll Still Wait A Year For A New Mac Pro
The album never hit iTunes.
In celebration of the OVO Sound co-founder and ‘More Life’ producer’s recent birthday, XXL breaks down his best beats to date.
Meek is gearing us up for the next project on the horizon.
In a recent rare and purposeful show of bi-partisan support, the Fair Play Fair pay act was re-introduced, with the hopes of modernizing U.S. law as it relates to the regulations governing both digital and terrestrial radio broadcasts.
Guest post by Chris Castle of Music Technology Policy
Yesterday Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) (Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet) and Congressman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), (Chair of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology), along with Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), Judiciary Committee Member Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL), and Congressman Tom Rooney (R-FL) re-introduced the Fair Play Fair Pay Act.
This is a purposeful mix of bi-partisan support that’s so refreshing in the current climate. What brought these Members together was a desire to modernize the U.S. rules governing music licensing for both digital and terrestrial radio broadcasts. Fair Play Fair Pay brings justice to the artists and musicians whose performances are exploited every second of every day on terrestrial radio with no compensation.
Not only would FPFP disrupt the antiquated legacy rules, it would plug the unintended consequences that has spawned seemingly endless litigation and commercial disruption. The new bill would establish a performance right and royalty for broadcast radio (with suitable protection for noncommercial stations), give guidance to courts that Congress recognizes that pre-72 recordings should attract a royalty like any other recording, and protect artists and producers for their share of statutory language while making a clear statement that nothing in the bill is intended to reduce payments to songwriters.
Here is a link to the prior version of the bill from the last session of Congress (HR 1733), and here is the summary of the new bill from Congressman Nadler:
The Fair Play Fair Pay Act would:
Create a terrestrial performance right so that AM/FM radio competes on equal footing with its Internet and satellite competitors who already pay performance royalties. This would resolve the decades old struggle for performance rights and ensure that—for the first time—music creators would have the right to fair pay when their performances are broadcast on AM/FM radio.
Bring true platform parity to radio so that all forms of radio, regardless of the technology they use, pay fair market value for music performances. This levels the playing field and ends the unfair and illogical distortions caused by the different royalty standards that exist today.
Ensure terrestrial royalties are affordable capping royalties for stations with less than $1 million in annual revenue at $500 per year (and at $100 a year for non-commercial stations), while protecting religious and incidental uses of music from having to pay any royalties at all.
Make a clear statement that pre-1972 recordings have value and those who are profiting from them must pay appropriate royalties for their use, while we closely monitor the litigation developments on this issue.
Protect songwriters and publishers by clearly stating that nothing in this bill can be used to lower songwriting royalties.
Codify industry practices streamlining the allocation of royalty payments to music producers.
Ensure that artists receive their fair share from direct licensing of all performances eligible for the statutory license.
Under the terms of the new agreement, artists would be able to make their new records available exclusively on Spotify’s paid premium service for two weeks, though singles from that album would be available to all users. As part of the partnership, Spotify will also give UMG greater access to the service’s troves of data to reportedly help the label better expand and engage listeners.
“We will be working together to help break new artists and connect new and established artists with a broadening universe of fans in ways that will wow them both,” said Spotify CEO Daniel Ek. “We know that not every album by every artist should be released the same way, and we’ve worked hard with UMG to develop a new, flexible release policy.”
As The New York Times reports, the new deal with UMG will also make it easier for Spotify to finally go public. The company has been valued at more than $8 billion and boasts a user base of approximately 50 million paid subscribers and 50 million free listeners, but it has held off on going public as it has renegotiated its long-expired contracts with the three major labels, Universal, Sony and Warner. Without deals ensuring the presence of their vast catalogs, Spotify likely wouldn’t have been able to attract public investors. The agreement with UMG should help push ongoing negotiations with Sony and Warner.
UMG’s deal with Spotify also marks a major move for the label, which announced last year that it would no longer offer streaming exclusives. UMG Chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge made the decision after a wave of exclusive album releases that found artists like Rihanna, Kanye West and Drake delivering albums exclusively to Tidal or Apple Music, partly as a way to attract Spotify users, but effectively cutting out an enormous swath of listeners. For Grainge, the turning point came after Frank Ocean released his visual album, Endless, on Apple Music – fulfilling his contractual obligations to UMG and Def Jam – then releasing a full LP, Blonde, 24 hours later also on Apple Music, but under his own label Boys Don’t Cry.
While UMG will likely continue its policy prohibiting exclusives on one streaming service, the deal notably marks a major change in the way Spotify will do business. Unlike Apple Music and Tidal, Spotify has refrained from offering exclusives, but as Billboard has reported, industry executives have been pushing for some form of “windowing” that would make certain releases only available to paid subscribers. Spotify remains the only major streaming service with a free, ad-supported option, which – to the music industry’s chagrin – has regularly paid out lower royalties.
The Who, Metallica, Gorillaz, Lorde and A Tribe Called Quest top the stacked lineup for the 10th installment of Outside Lands. The festival will take place August 11th through 13th at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.
Outside Lands will also feature Queens of the Stone Age – marking their first scheduled North American show of 2017 – as well as alt-J, Fleet Foxes, Solange, Empire of the Sun, Above and Beyond, the Avett Brothers, Belle and Sebastian, Future Islands Schoolboy Q, Young the Giant, Vance Joy, Bleachers, Tove Lo, Action Bronson, Thundercat, Sleigh Bells, Hamilton Leithauser, Foxygen, How to Dress Well, Porches, Noname and Kamaiyah.
Tickets for Outside Lands go on sale April 6th at 10 a.m. PT via the festival’s website. Outside Lands announced its 2017 lineup in a vibrant clip featuring footage from past events and the peppy psych-pop track “Certainty,” from festival performers Temples.
Along with its many music offerings, Outside Lands will once again feature a comedy lineup, though performers have yet to be announced. The festival will also boast an array of food and drink options from Bay Area restaurants, wineries and breweries.
For festival headliners the Who, the Outside Lands gig will take place immediately after their scheduled Las Vegas residency, which begins July 29th and wraps August 11th. While the group is set to end their “last big tour” with several rescheduled shows in England this month, guitarist Pete Townshend suggested to Rolling Stone that they would continue to perform live, noting the excitement he felt playing to crowds comprised mostly of millennials.
Meanwhile, Metallica will play the festival at the tail end of their North American tour in support of Hardwired… to Self-Destruct, while Outside Lands marks another festival appearance for Lorde, who will release her long-awaited album, Melodrama, June 16th. Outside Lands is also currently the only North American date Gorillaz have scheduled as they prepare to release their new album, Humanz, April 28th.
In an experimental new move, Facebook is testing a new option for its users to link Groups and Pages together. Here we walk through how it works, and how you can combine your band’s Facebook Pages for a more cohesive online presentation.
So a few days ago while working on one of my clients, The Zusters, Facebook Pages I stumbled across a feature I had never seen before, I hadn’t even heard about it. Facebook Groups being connected to Facebook Pages. Matt Navarra from The Next Web and Social Media Today reported on this, Facebook Testing New Option to Allow Pages to Post in Groups, after I shared a screen capture on Mari Smith’s Facebook Page asking if anyone knew more about the feature.
It appeared as a tab in the left navigation. When clicked it says, “Facebook groups let people connect with your Page and each other. Now you can interact with people in your groups as your Page, and your Page can an admin of these groups.” It goes on to give you two options:
- Create Group
- Link Your Group
Wow! Very exciting and interesting! This feature does not seem to be rolled out widely, as a matter of fact none of the other couple dozen Pages I manage have this feature. The Page with the Groups tab is a Band/Musician Page.
This page didn’t have a Group so I went ahead and created one… gotta see what happens!
Clicking the Link Your Group brings up this screen of Groups you are a admin.
I just clicked Link Group for The Zusters Group I just created.
Now when you click the Groups tab in the Facebook Page you see this, a link to the connected Group. You still have the option to Create a Group or Link to a Group. You can link to more than one Group. The far right dropdown allows you to unlink a Group.
Once your Page is connected to the Group it is automatically made a admin in the Group.
Now when you post in the Group you have choice of posting as You or the Page.
That appears to be the extent of this feature at this time. The promise of what this feature can do is exciting! Soon you can easily tie your Facebook Page and Groups into one community.
By Mike Masnick of Techdirt
Previously unreleased documents acquired by Techdirt show, fairly conclusively, that Congress will be making a huge and dangerous mistake if it moves forward with changing how the head of the Copyright Office is appointed. And despite the fact that the RIAA & MPAA are eagerly supporting this change, the people it will hurt the most are content creators. Because the Copyright Office is basically incompetent when it comes to modernizing its technology. That’s what was found by a thorough (but not publicly released) Inspector General’s report, detailing how the Copyright Office not only threw away $11.6 million on a new computer system that it said would cost $1.1 million, but also lied to both Congress and the Library of Congress about it, pretending everything was going great.
In reality the project was a complete and utter disaster. It was put together by people who seemed to have no clue how to manage a large IT project, and there was basically zero effort to fix that along the way. After literally wasting $11.6 million on nothing, the entire project was scrapped in October of last year.
The timing here is important. October is when Carla Hayden reassigned Maria Pallante, effectively firing her. Pallante had led the Copyright Office since 2011 (soon after the big project began), so she was in charge through the vast majority of this disastrous project. While legacy copyright folks tried to spread evidence-free conspiracy theories about why Hayden fired Pallante, it seems a lot more likely that it was because Pallante had overseen a project that flat out wasted $11.6 million, and during the course of the project the Copyright Office repeatedly lied to the Library of Congress about its status.
But here’s the astounding thing. Congress is trying to reward the Copyright Office for this scandal, and give it more power and autonomy despite this absolute disaster. Perhaps because, until now, the Copyright Office has been successful in keeping this whole thing hidden.
As we’ve mentioned, Congress is effectively trying to move the Copyright Office out of the Library of Congress by having the new Register of Copyright (who heads the Office) be appointed by the President and approved by the Senate (i.e., making it a political appointee), rather than be appointed by the Librarian of Congress as has been the case since the creation of the Copyright Office. One of the key arguments in favor of this is that the Copyright Office is woefully behind on technology, and needs to be modernized. Almost exactly two years ago, a fairly scathing report from the GAO came out about the lack of leadership on IT issues from then-Librarian of Congress James Billington. Thankfully, Billington is gone and Carla Hayden is in charge now — and she actually has a history of modernizing a library. Reports from folks at the Library say that Hayden has moved quickly to establish a real modernization plan for the entire Library, including the Copyright Office, and that those efforts are already starting to move forward.
And that’s got to be better than giving the Copyright Office autonomy to modernize itself. As we’re releasing here for the very first time publicly, an Inspector’s General report looking at various IT projects related to the Library of Congress is absolutely devastating in revealing how incompetent the Copyright Office is at modernizing itself. Specifically, in 2010, the Copyright Office asked for $1.1 million it said it would need to build its Electronic Licensing System (eLi). Just about everything turned out to be a complete disaster and a waste of money. From the executive summary of the report:
[The Copyright Office] did not follow sound [Systems Development Life Cycle — SDLC] methodologies which resulted in it scrapping the eLi project development after six years and $11.6M in project expenditures. The eLi project began in 2010 with a budget approval of $1.1M, and increased to approximately $2M for full implementation in 2012. Ultimately Copyright spent over $11.6M through 2016 when it decided to terminate the contracts and abandon development activities. During that six-year period, Copyright continued to report in eLCplans (the Library’s performance management system) that eLi development was occurring near or on schedule.
Again, this is horrifying. Not only did it waste more than 5x what it had been given budget approval for, and not only did it end up with nothing to show for all this money, it also lied about how the project was going so those in the Library of Congress had no idea that the Copyright Office was basically lighting money on fire. It also appears that because of this, the Copryight Office misrepresented what was happening to Congress in its annual budget requests. From the report:
Copyright executives at that time did not disclose in the Library’s performance management system (eLCplans) and annual Congressional Budget Justifications the magnitude of issues and cost overruns related to the project. As a result, Congress and Library executives did not have adequate information to timely act on and address the issues.
Again, forget those conspiracy theories about Pallante getting fired. Lying to your bosses in your annual budget requests about the status of a massive technology project that was way behind and way over budget certainly seems like a fireable offense.
A big part of the problem? What appears to be near-total incompetence by the Copyright Office in putting together and managing the project.
The USCO project management team did not demonstrate effective, proactive project cost management practices. Over the six-year development period, USCO project management expended $11.6 million in vendor costs. The USCo project management team received specific funding for approximately $1.9 million in the first two years of the project. USCO project management did not update project budgets for the subsequent six years of development activity, nor perform an analysis of estimated cost overruns. Subsequent development funding activites ocurred, inconsistent with initial funding requests. As discussed below, the USCO had no management body to evaluate and approve additional funding requests in conjunction with experienced development delays, analyses, and recommended courses of actions. Additionally, the USCO did not have an oversight body with authority to halt project activites based on cost overruns, delviery delays, and/or lack of functionality until appropriate remediation plans or project management structure was in place.
Basically, the ship was almost entirely rudderless when Pallante was in charge. Ask for $1.9 million, spend $11.6 million — without getting a working system — and no one seemed to check on any of it.
According to the report, the most basic project management concepts were completely lacking at the Copyright Office. Pages 26 through 28 of the document embedded below should elicit gasps from anyone who’s done any kind of project management.I won’t detail all of it, but here are just a few highlights:
- No monitoring of the project schedule
- No project budget approval process at all
- No periodic reviews to see if things were on schedule and within budget
- No project management framework at all
- No comprehensive project management plan for the executiion and monitoring of the project.
- No official tracking of scope and schedule changes
- No documentation of departures from planned schedule
- No plan for what staffing was needed for the project
- No analysis of alternatives
- No system requirements baseline
- No system development plan
- No requirements for best practices, customer oversight or acceptance of the vendor
- No technical requirements to ensure user functionality given to the vendor
- No details on deliverables given to the vendor (seriously — no requirements to hand over the code or any documentation)
- No review criteria
- No defined technical framework
- No security testing
And, again, that’s just some of the problems listed in the document. There are more.
Rather than admit any of that, the Copyright Office under Pallante pretended each year that everything was moving ahead without a problem. The report includes the comments that the Copyright Office gave to the Library of Congress each year for its Congressional Budget Justification regarding the system:
If you can’t see that, basically every year all the Copyright Office said was “licensing will continue implementing and refining the reengineered processes and system” (or, in the past two years, that “licensing will continue to work toward a fully automated system for receiving and examining Statements of Account”). This despite the fact that the project was way over budget and apparently totally non-functional.
The report also includes the Copyright Office’s internal reporting to the Library, in which it needed to give a status report in one of three color codings: green if the project was on-track, amber if it was behind target but adjustments could result in accomplishing the plan on time, and red if it would not meet the annual target. Given what we know now, these should have been red every year. Instead… in 2011, 2013, and 2015 the Copyright Office reported “green.” In 2012 it reported “amber.” In 2010, 2014, and 2016 the Copyright Office didn’t even bother to report on this project status at all.
The most amazing thing here is that Pallante wasn’t fired years ago for this complete disaster of a project.
But the more important question right now is why would Congress be looking to give the Copyright Office more autonomy when it’s quite clear that the Office has absolutely no competency when it comes to modernizing its system, and there has been a six-year pattern of throwing away money without a properly managed plan and a longstanding practice of lying about it to Congress itself?
Last week, despite all of this, nearly the entire House Judiciary Committee voted to let this happen, and all I can ask is what were they thinking? Why is Congress — and Reps. Bob Goodlatte and John Conyers in particular — rewarding this behavior?
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