Opinion: Flogging a “Dying Corpse”

thom-yorke-the-bends_l

Photo credit: Rob Boudon / Foter / CC BY

Thom Yorke, the lead singer of Radiohead, suggested that Spotify, the commercial music streaming service providing digital rights management-restricted content from record labels including Sony, EMI, Warner Music Group and Universal was:

the last desperate fart of a dying corpse.

But if I was the boss of a record company I’d be cautiously optimistic that online streaming could well become lucrative enough to stop the long slow decline of the industry. The speed of the growth of this type of music delivery service means that they may well be correct; such as, Spotify-like services had combined revenues of $1bn, up 50% on 2012 (and that doesn’t include online-radio services like TuneIn). Most of these these variants pay the record label a fraction a penny each time someone listens to a song which is considered to be most unfair. However, 70% of Spotify’s revenue is paid out in royalties, and the per-stream royalty rate doubled between the service’s start and mid-2012. Charles Caldas, CEO of the Merlin Network for independent artists, argues that the problem isn’t Spotify’s failure to pay out significant royalties, but that it’s paid to the record labels, who then pass too little of it on to their artists.

I would also argue that streaming is of benefit to small independent labels too:

… some of which are enjoying double the market share they had on CDs. It is also making it easier for music to travel beyond national boundaries. “We are getting revenue from markets where we never had a presence in the physical world,” such as Brazil, says Fredrik Ekander, the boss of Cosmos, a Swedish label.

I like to use Spotify’s massive the catalogue of about 20 million songs to create playlists containing my favourite tracks by genre and by year. For example here’s some of my favourite metal tracks:

With Spotify on the verge to list and shares in Pandora nearly tripling in the past year, something has clearly changed. For years music hasn’t been the most attractive place to invest money but now perhaps this is over?

What do you think? Is on-demand streaming the future, or not? Leave a comment below:

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Gay Marriage: a precious achievement of boringness

gay marriage

Photo credit: cpj79 / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

When Andrew Wale and Neil Allard (that isn’t them in the photo above) became the first same sex couple to get married in England and Wales thereby implementing The Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) ActThe Times newspaper said:

It’s a rare law that costs nothing to enact and which increases the sum of human happiness.

And I couldn’t agree more. Strictly speaking the Act does not actually extend many rights beyond the existing civil partnership legislation. However, I think the point is the symbolic commitment to more equality is now enshrined in law, although there is still some way to go. For example, if a person dies before his partner does he /she will not receive pension benefits accrued before 2005 (when civil partnerships came in). Yet this is still a moment of triumph as until recently gay relationships were either treated as though they were of a lower status or temporary. But now a man referring to his husband is an:

ordinary word for the ordinary relationship.

So now, just like everyone else if you want to get married then you can and if you don’t then you don’t have to. I think to the vast majority of people that seems reasonable and:

a precious achievement of boringness to those it directly concerns.

What do you think? Leave a comment below:

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Book Review: Created, The Destroyer

Remo
Photo credit: zigazou76 / Foter / CC BY

Created, The Destroyer (The Destroyer #1)Created, The Destroyer by Richard Ben Sapir

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

View all my reviews

This fast paced adventure takes elements of early 1970s kung-fu chop chop action movies and merges them with the bloody violence of pulp novels. This is the first novel in a very lengthy series of books (more than 150 to date) and while it doesn’t feature Remo’s Yoda-like teacher Chuin all that much as I understand it he became a more prominent character in later novels. So this book focuses on Remo almost exclusively; who is as tough as nails, but still fairly likeable bloke. However, saying this he isn’t the sharpest tool in the toolbox as while he’s been trained in ‘Sinanju’, the ‘sun source’ of all martial arts and therefore has superhuman abilities at times he acts like an overgrown child.

The trailer for the Remo movie made in the 1980s, which I enjoyed tremendously.

For me, the most interesting part of the series is Sinanju; according to Chiun, other martial arts are all diluted imitations of Sinanju. He compares the other arts to rays of sunshine with Sinanju being the sun itself. Some of the specific teachings are worth repeating:

  • Let your opponent point to you the way to overcome him.
  • The most dangerous man is he who does not appear dangerous.
  • A man who cannot apologize is no man at all.
  • Everything is a weapon in the hands of a man who knows.
  • One cannot sew a silk purse from a sow’s ear.
  • One cannot fit the ocean into a brandy snifter.
  • One cannot make a diamond out of river mud; be happy with a brick.

Overall a fun book: chewing gum for the brain.

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