David Anderle RIP

September 2, 2014 1 comment

One Wednesday before Thanksgiving about 3pm I was walking across the main A&M lot toward my office in the green bungalow.  David Anderle was leaving for the weekend in his Jeep and I waived to him as was our custom.  He motioned me over to his car and rolled down the window.

“Where are you going?” he asked.

“Just a few things to clean up before I leave.”

He looked at me with that kind of David look like the kid said the wrong thing but David was too kind to say so.  He said, “You know, when they carry you out nobody is going to say, what a great guy, he worked his ass off.”

I gave him my sheepish smirk which didn’t fool him for a minute.  For further emphasis, he said, “Go home.  It’s Thanksgiving. Whatever it is can wait.”

And I still remember that conversation to this day and will remember it in the next and the next and the next after that.  Both what he said and that he was thoughtful enough to notice.

A lot will be said about David’s resume.  Let me tell you a little about the man.

David Anderle was the glue that held A&M together, particularly after the sale.  He was the institutional memory, the creative direction, the producer’s producer, the artist’s A&R man.  He was the kind of guy who could tell an artist she needed to go back in the studio and make her record–when she was delivering the record she thought she had made.  He was the kind of guy who could let one of his staff take over an important record by an artist who was on the cusp of real stardom and let him completely remix the record, turning what was essentially a tired cliche into an exciting and fantastically successful classic.

He could take an obscure background vocalist and put her out front for what turned into a classic gold single with no album, then calmly put together a team to write and produce a platinum album in record time before the single dropped from the charts.  Because he was a producer’s producer and by the way did I tell you that these records were in completely different genres.

He could sit in front of a movieola with a temperamental superstar director and explain to him why his movie was terrific but it was just too dark for a soundtrack on A&M Records, leaving the director looking forward to another opportunity to bring a soundtrack to David.  And did I tell you that he effectively invented the role of music supervisor years before?

When A&M was sold to PolyGram someone, or several someones, talked David into staying on as the head of A&R.  He didn’t need the money and he didn’t need the headaches of a job he accurately described as a cross between being an accountant and a vice principal.  He just wanted to go home and paint.  And did I tell you he was an accomplished visual artist?

But he stayed on and had another career that would have been the envy of any A&R head at any time before or since.  On the business side, I would tell you that there was every possibility after the sale that the entire label could have lost its identity and fallen apart if it were not for David Anderle.  You didn’t see this from the outside, but you did from the inside.  He had the long term relationships with all the artists, he knew what they could do and what they needed to do next.  He developed relationships with the new artists and they deeply respected him.  I have to say that it was incredible leverage in negotiations to be able to say that our head of A&R has been with the company for 25 years, you go find me any other label that can say that in the “hi and bye” world of A&R.

David was never interested in bidding wars.  He believed that there was a value to being at A&M Records that was not quantifiable in money.  In those days and in that time, he was exactly, exactly right.  All he asked was that his staff find and sign compelling artists who made good records, and maybe sometimes great records.  The sales would take care of themselves.  Once I told one of his A&R staff that it doesn’t matter if you find the band if you don’t sign the band, bringing on that tremendous David belly laugh.  

To my knowledge, David never did one P/L or sales projection on a new artist signing.  Not once.  And guess what–the sky didn’t fall.

David would ask what kind of record do we want to make, where will it be recorded and who will produce it?  Do we want Clearmountain to mix and Bob Ludwig to master?  How much does the artist need to live for 2 years or so.  Do they need new equipment so that they can sound great on their record?  When we got that total budget he decided if that number felt right.  If it did, that was our offer and we pretty much stuck to it.  All the other deal points he pretty much left to me.  And we always assumed that it would take two or three or maybe four records for an artist to find their audience.  Which meant that we had to believe that artist had that many records in them.

David tried very hard to make sure there was a consensus around the table on every signing because we had to work as a team to make these artists successful.  That was an intricate and unpredictable science.

How do you teach these things?  There’s only one way, and that is by example.  It’s a craft.

And did I tell you that after David took over, A&M Records had one of the hottest 5 year runs of any record label I can think of.  That little lot was responsible for 1/3 to 1/2 of PolyGram’s worldwide billing for much of that run.  That meant cultivating the artists like Sting, Amy Grant, Soundgarden, Extreme, Aaron Neville and even Blues Traveler who all stepped up, not to mention Gin Blossoms and Sheryl Crow, and tour de force successes by Bryan Adams and Janet Jackson.  And when we were approached by Electronic Arts to license the first use of front line artists in a video game soundtrack, David immediately got that was where our business was headed and backed me 100% on what surely appeared like a lark at the time.  And we paid through the licensing royalties to the artists on a nonrecoupment basis–a deal that put over $500,000 into the artists’ pockets jn 1994 dollars.  

When I finally left A&M to go to a major label in New York, David called me into his office.  “I guess I can’t talk you out of it?” he said.  “Just remember, you don’t know what it’s like to work at a record company.  You’ve only worked at A&M.”  I can’t explain to you exactly what he meant, but after I was gone for about a month, I knew exactly what he meant.  And he was right.

David usually brought new A&R hires down to meet me and would introduce me as a “good friend of the A&R department.”  That vote of confidence meant more to me than a knighthood.

When David finally went home to paint, he’d given us all the inspiration of a creative life well lived.  And we are all the richer for him.  I doubt we will see his kind again.

But I will be looking.

 

Send in the Clowns: Meet the Security Chief of Your Government’s Data Apps, Eran Raven, Mentalist

September 2, 2014 Leave a comment

Chris Castle:

“Google is making the details of an independent security audit and of a security compliance certificate available to the public for the first time on its Google Enterprise security site…Eran Feigenbaum, Google App’s security director, told CNET that Google isn’t worried.

“This is a big step forward in increasing our transparency,” Feigenbaum said.” And who knows more about transparency than a mentalist?

Originally posted on MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY:

Yes, that’s right.  Google’s security chief for its government products plays Russian Roulette with nail guns on national television.  And–according to his Wikipedia bio, “Raven has been linked to Heather Sweet (AKA Dita Von Teese) when they went to University High School together and Glamor Model Carmen Electra whom they met after his Nail Gun demonstration.”

I guess chicks dig the nails.

Gawker tells us:

Maybe it should come as no surprise that Google’s Director of Security is also a “mentalist” magician; few can better sell the illusion of ironclad internet security, after all, than a master of deception who fooled thousands of NBC viewers.

But Eran Feigenbaum — better known as “Eran Raven” — has turned the cheese knob up awfully high, considering his buttoned-down job as the Director of Security for the putative blue-chip operation that is Google Enterprise, which is trying to sell “cloud computing” to no…

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This is What Monopoly Looks Like When You Round Up to Zero: Google Play’s Tone Deaf Advertising Campaign “25 Million songs for the price of an album”

August 31, 2014 1 comment

Google PlayYouTube’s Director of Artist Relations Vivian Lewit appeared on a SXSW panel this year moderated by Tom Silverman.  I asked the panel a simple question from the audience as did a couple other audience members.  My question was how much per stream does your service pay to artists?  YouTube’s Ms. Lewit was the only one who dodged the question, but after a couple follow ups she confirmed it was less than a penny.  Given the NDA culture surrounding Google, I was amazed to get that much out of her in a public forum.

Now I understand why.

In case you were wondering why IMPALA filed a complaint with the European Commission on Google’s monopolist tactics in licensing the new YouTube service, the Google Play messaging says it all.  It’s a horrible deal for everyone except Google, just like YouTube.  But the real reason its not a bad deal for Google has more to do with the non display uses of the music that these artists are helping to promote–very likely without their knowledge.

Non-display uses are the ways that Google profits from services that you don’t see–data mining is the biggest example of that.  Just like Gmail allows Google to mine data from the contents of email, file attachments to the email and files stored in the same folder as the files that are attached to the message being scanned, Google Play will use music as a honey pot to draw users to the data mining machines.   

And what is really insidious about the way Google uses music for data mining is that it attracts kids.  As Money recently reported:

Google is working on versions of its services, such as YouTube and Gmail, that are specifically outfitted for children….Some privacy advocates are not particularly thrilled by the prospect of more children making Google accounts. Jeff Chester, executive director for the Center for Digital Democracy, told theJournal the new services could threaten the privacy of millions of children, and that his organization had already shared its concerns with the Federal Trade Commission.

Google Play (which is a rather whimsical brand to begin with) extends Google’s kid-targeted enterprise to hook them young on Google products–another reason to make it cheap for parents.

Of course, as we’ve shown previously, the “safety mode” on YouTube doesn’t keep out informercials for products like SeekingArrangement.com, the sugar baby/sugar daddy site implicated in the murder of a Google executive.

How much does Google Play’s slogan mean for artists?  If you assume a digital album has a $5.00 wholesale price or thereabouts, that’s $0.0000002 per track as a royalty base price (before you apply the artist’s royalty rate).  As Ms. Lewit said, that’s less than a penny.  And since most royalty systems were not built to deal with $2E-7 as an monetary input, the system will probably round up to zero.

Now do you understand the reasoning behind non recoupable payments?

Of course you have to look at Google on a systemwide basis to understand the point of this.  Google makes far more money selling advertising on pirate sites than it ever will make from Google Play.  It makes far more money from data mining that it uses on all of its advertising platforms than it ever will make from YouTube.  So this leads you to ask why do they have YouTube and Google Play?

Why did Don Corleone have the Genco Pura Olive Oil Company?

 

Blake Morgan on How Google Alerts Drive Traffic to Pirates and Hurt Indie Artists and Labels

August 28, 2014 2 comments

After our post yesterday about how Google drives traffic to pirate sites through Google Alerts (also supported by Facebook and Twitter), I got a chance to speak to Blake Morgan of ECR Music Group.  (MTP readers will remember Blake from the #IRespectMusic campaign, still going strong.)

Blake had the same experience with his label mate Janita (whom we interviewed about her experiences in Washington, DC supporting the #IRespectMusic campaign).

nadler(L-R Tommy Merrill, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Blake Morgan and Janita)

The point of this is that Google knows how many DMCA takedown notices it has received for certain sites.  Janita’s record was also pirated by myfreemp3 a site for which Google has received over 4,000,000 takedown notices just for Google search links.  How do we know this?  Google publishes the information in its “Transparency Report” (and for those who read this slide yesterday, that’s right, in one day the total number of notices Google received in 30 days increased by 141,467):

Goog Transparency

Janita’s record showed up in a Google Alert:

Janita G Alert Email

 

If you click on the link for “Janita” you are taken immediately to myfreemp3:

Janita myfreemp3 v 1

 

This pop up is still inside of the Google Alert email and has a link directly to the Janita page on the pirate site:

Janita myfreemp3 v 1

myfreemp3 even has the brass to scrape Janita’s Billboard Magazine album review:

Janita myfreemp3

There’s little doubt that myfreemp3 is a pirate site–Google alone has received over 4,000,000 DMCA notices for the site:

myfreemp3 result

Here’s the point–if Google is told 4,000,000 times that myfreemp3 is stealing, why do they promote the site in Google Alerts that are indiscriminately emailed to hundreds of millions of recipients?

Blake Morgan had this to say:

MTP:  How frequently to do you receive Google Alerts for your artists with links to pirate sites?

Blake:  Every single day. We get hundreds and hundreds per month, for all of our artists and each of our imprints.

MTP:  There’s a myfreemp3 that is in the Google Transparency Report as receiving over 4 million DMCA notices.  Is that the same one? 

Blake: Oh yeah, that’s the same one. It’s a Russian site that promotes the streaming and downloading––for free––of most, if not all, of our recordings. Our life’s work as artists is being stolen, right in front of us, and that theft is being promoted in turn, via Google alerts. 

MTP: How soon do these alerts driving traffic to illegal sites show up on new releases?
Blake:  Here’s what release-week now looks like for a new album: 1) Release album. 2) Wait 24 hours. 3) Start getting Google alerts for illegal sites where new album is being stolen.

MTP:  You often hear that there’s promotional value to these illegal sites.  What do you think of that?

Uh huh…well maybe there is for Chevrolet, who’s advertisement I see all too often on these sites, but other than that, no of course there isn’t. Stealing from artists doesn’t help artists, just like how stealing from people doesn’t help people. American radio doesn’t pay artists, but they say that’s good for us because we’re getting promoted. Illegal sites steal our music but they say it’s good for us, because we’re getting promoted. Venues often don’t pay performers but it’s good for us, because again, we’re getting promoted. So let me ask…it there’s so much promotion for artists going on here and if it’s all so good for artists, then how come artists are doing so badly? Is it some magic spell? Or herds of wild unicorns stabbing those pesky horns into music-makers’ bottom line? Hmmm. Tell you what. How about we try this instead: how about we pay artists, which is what would actually be good for us, instead of providing us with all this lovely and thoughtful “promotion” and “exposure.” Pay artists. That simple. Because as the saying goes…you can die from exposure. 
 

4 Million DMCA Notices Don’t Stop the Google Piracy Machine: How Google Drives Traffic to Pirate Sites Through Google Alerts

August 27, 2014 Leave a comment

Google news alerts are emails sent to you by Google through the data analysis of its monopoly search engine.  Yes, the all seeing Google knows a lot of stuff and they are happy to share it with you so you can share it with others.  Google will send you a link that matches your news alert and will always have social media sharing links to Google Plus, Facebook and Twitter.  (I can’t imagine Google adding the Facebook and Twitter links without some kind of compensation, probably cold hard cash.)

Here’s an example:

Google Alert OK Go

This link goes to a site called myfreemp3.cc which takes you to this page:

OK Go Lyrics Link

In case you were wondering what myfreemp3.cc was all about, how would you know if this was a pirate site?  Or more precisely, how would Google know myfreemp3.cc was a pirate site?  It just looks sketchy, right?  But we all know that we can’t just decide something “looks sketchy” because that might break the Internet.  How about some proof?  Remember Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours to expertise theory in Outliers?  (That’s the book that’s not available on Amazon.)

Let’s take a look at the handy Google Transparency Report and see what we can find out.

Google Transparency Report

First thing we notice is that Google has received over 31 million DMCA notices to disable links in the last 30 days–and this is only for search.  Not Blogger or YouTube or any other Google property.  So that’s what the statisticians call a robust sample.

What about the site myfreemp3.cc?  Fortunately the Google Transparency Report has a handy search tool.

myfreemp3

And my goodness gracious, there it is!  Although common sense might break the Internet, there’s the URL that Google sent directly to my inbox:  myfreemp3.cc and also myfreemp3.eu.  As the corner boys in the Fred Von Lohman unit at Google will no doubt tell you, there’s no proof (aside from the Internet-breaking common sense) that confirms that myfreemp3.eu and .cc are run by the same people.  Even so, Google has been told 1,161,250 times that the actual URL they sent to me does illegal stuff and Google has acknowledged that the DMCA notices it receives are 97% accurate.

myfreemp3

What do you think Malcolm Gladwell might have to say about that level of repetition?  And remember–this was simply based on a search of “OK Go lyrics”.  There’s nothing in that search term that suggests an interest in piracy.  Yet Google serves up links to a pirate site that it has been told is a pirate site over 1 million times.  And Facebook and Twitter promote this piracy through their indiscriminate links to Google Alert emails.

So let’s just say it:  Google promotes piracy through Google Alerts to its profit.

Did Mr. La Rue Miss the Elephant in the Room? A Critique of the Report of the Special Rapporteur to the U.N. Human Rights Council (Complete Post)

August 27, 2014 Leave a comment

Chris Castle:

They’re back…the UN Human Rights Council (with a membership you just can’t make up) suddenly has an interest in the rights of “intermediaries” over artists. What do intermediaries (i.e. Google) do when “intermediaries” (i.e. Google) aren’t mentioned in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or other international human rights documents? Hire the “Special Rapporteur” to create a useful paper trail. This post is about the last Special Rapporteur’s report that expressly defended Google’s business. The new Special Rapporteur (from Pakistan, that paragon of human rights) is at it again http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/CulturalRights/Pages/impactofintellectualproperty.aspx

And when I say “hire the ‘Special Rapporteur'”, I mean that literally: Frank La Rue now works for Google https://www.google.com/advisorycouncil/#bio-larue

Originally posted on MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY:

In honor of International Human Rights Day (December 10) let us revisit this post.

It is not lost on professional creators and those who care about them that an already tough business has  gotten tougher in the last decade.  These creators watched—sometimes literally—their works being parlayed into billions for everyone in the distribution chain.  Except the original creator, of course.  (Yes, billions—if recent disclosures about the size of the rogue site advertising revenues are a guide.)  Given the amount of bunk that is being spread about how prosecuting online theft violates human rights–a strange one if I’ve ever heard it–it’s important to understand whose rights are being gored here.  (To write your Member of Congress about this, try Music Rights Now.)

Now comes the Special Rapporteur for the UN Human Rights Council to deny artists their human rights while attempting to enshrine “intermediaries” who profit from the losses of…

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Meet the New Boss: Kent Walker Shows Us What Monopoly Looks Like

August 26, 2014 Leave a comment

Originally posted on MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY:

YouTube Slide 2

According to Kent Walker, he likes the trial court decision in Viacom v. YouTube, the massive copyright infringement case brought by Viacom, the Premier League and a number of other copyright owners.  Why?

[T]he court has decided that YouTube is protected by the safe harbor of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) against claims of copyright infringement. The decision follows established judicial consensus that online services like YouTube are protected when they work cooperatively with copyright holders to help them manage their rights online.

This is an important victory not just for us, but also for the billions of people around the world who use the web to communicate and share experiences with each other. We’re excited about this decision and look forward to renewing our focus on supporting the incredible variety of ideas and expression that billions of people post and watch on YouTube every day around…

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