NETFLIX: The European version of an “American dream film”

 

 

Like in the old times when the empires were trying to expand their territories, in the world of entertainment big companies want to conquer more audiences and consumers. The changes in social behavior and technology don’t seem necessarily to lower the barriers of entry into global markets. This is the case of Netflix, which as many conquerors in the history, now is trying to expand its limits adding the European market to its scope.

 

Netflix is already operating in the UK, in some Nordic countries and in the Netherlands. The next logic move seems the launching of Netflix services into the most important markets in Eastern, Central and Southern Europe. Before that, there are many questions that should be answered:

 

  • How much money does Netflix have to invest in this quest?
  • How challenging will it be to face a region with different culture, languages, income per capita and other important factors?
  • Is all of Europe technologically ready for the introduction of Netflix?

 

Due to the fact that Netflix should make a law and rights plan in a “Territory by Territory” basis, the key question seems to be WHERE to start?

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The answer for most of the analysts is that France should be the first country to attack thanks to its film culture, its economy and its importance in Europe. In reality, the French market represents the No.1 challenge for the American company. Factors such as the high VAT rate (19.6%) for this kind of services, the high competition they have to face from companies such as Canal+’s service Canal play infinity and Wild Bunch’s Filmo TV will be a barriers into the Gaul’s market. Another important fact is that French market is from where Netflix obtains its European film content and still has a display window law that forces to delay 36 months the release of these content for SVOD services. If this were not enough, VOD companies with more than 10 million in revenues per year must reinvest the 15% in European movies and 12% for French movies.

The economic crisis and high incidence of piracy are factors that affect country markets in Eastern and Southern Europe. Internet consumers from countries like Russia and Poland in the East or Spain and Portugal in the south, have high incidence in illegal content and unauthorized sites.

Another important question is whether Europe is technologically ready for Netflix.

Believe it or not, there are countries like Italy where only 55% of the population has a good broadband service. The media in the rest of Europe is 72%. In most of the country the Internet service speed is as bad as 4 mbps while in UK it is 7-8 mbps.

 

In conclusion, although Netflix is a very strong company it seems that this is not the best time for the company’s D-day move. Especially after knowing that its economic situation is not strong enough due to the debt of $500 million it is already carrying and the $400 million they should need for investment in Europe. Let’s see in the future months what will be the end of the European version of an “American dream film”.

 

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THE RELEASE OF DISRUPCIÓN RECORDS

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After many weeks of speculation, finally the name of the record label developed by the students of the Master in Global Entertainment and Music Business of Berklee College Valencia, was revealed to all the students of the campus. The event took place at the lobby last Wednesday, March 26th.

 

By 1 pm all of the team involved with the release of the label was working to set up everything for the big moment. Alejandra and Cristina were bringing the food they could with a budget of €100. Tortilla de patata, snacks, crackers, juice and sodas were part of the food and drinks offered.

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Kareem connected all the equipment for the music. As DJ kTunes, he was in charge of playing his mixed music for the audience. Of course it wasn’t very loud because other students were in class. His music filled the environment with energy while many of the students were dancing and having a good time.

 

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Jeremy who worked on the Disrupción Brochure was ready to hand out the information about the label and its firsts projects. Other members of the team were working to put the logo on the flat screen at the lobby and so on.

Disrupcion Brochure

 

My role in the event was to set up the lights that would create the environment for the event and to bring the camera to take many pictures and video that would bring evidence of the happy moment we lived. After the event I also worked on the edition of the video and the photos.  Here is the video that can gives you a quick view of the launch.

Everybody was exited to know a little bit more about the project that the students of the record label practicum class have been cocking for the last 3 months.  At 1:30 pm Neda Shahram held the microphone and announced the official release of the record label: Disrupción Records was finally with us. At the same time on a screen appeared the logo that will identify the label.  The logo was designed by Tyler Budd inspired in the Palau de les Arts Structure, an important symbol for all of us at Berklee Valencia.

 

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The next steps are the production of the music material of the four projects that are part of this first experience of the label. This should take place during the next month. After everything get done, a big party is on the schedule were this music projects will be released to the world. Stay tuned for more to come.
 

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Is Spotify’s long tail bringing benefit for New and Indie artists?

 

Thanks to the internet, anyone can have access to a big diversity of music content at anytime, anywhere. In addition, this technological tool has changed the music industry helping to bring out new and independent projects. This recent phenomenon is thanks to the easy accessibility and cheap distribution of tons of music.

 

Back in time, as soon as a CD album decreased in popularity, it was released from the retailers giving no chance for long tail revenue. Thanks to the digital catalogues the music could still being purchased long after it was first released and its buzz decreased. Basically, the tail of distribution is the time when non-common product sales become profit due to the low cost in distribution and marketing. The long tail is when these sales are made giving us the context of how consumers interact within the digital tools.

In theory, this situation would give a chance for new music to appear in the scene making a more balanced market against the blockbusters-hits. The creation of these niches was supposed to grab new consumers that can follow a diverse content on the web. Social media, blogs, forums and platforms such as Youtube and music stream channels like Spotify seem to build a perfect environment where new projects will finally fight for some space in the market against big labels.

 

The problem is that the mainstream music is pushing down from the top instead of the bottom (new artist) pushing up and fattening the tail of the indie music. The consumption of the product on the head of the tail (commercial-mainstream music) has increased due to several reasons including:

  •       Mediocre content in the middle of the tail
  •       High level of competition within the Indie market
  •       Low barriers to enter into the Indie market
  •       People used to listening to the same music. For instance classic and commercial music.
  •       Consumers are still influenced by the trend of blockbuster-hits
  •       Water cooler effect: people adapt their tastes to fit in social groups
  •       Consumer’s “Tyranny of Choice” in which excessive choice actual hinders discovery.

Statistics show that 1% of the music projects represent 75% revenue in recorded music and 79% in the subscription revenue.  This means that in the economic sense it has become an unrewarded situation for most of the projects especially for the non-commercial ones.

In an era where digital music and streaming is increasing each year, Spotify seems to be the perfect window where new music will be exposed. Unfortunately 5% of the music streamed through this website are the most popular tracks representing 80% of the streams. One fifth of the 25 million tracks available have never been played. In addition, the revenue per streams is ridiculous. As it is shown in the following chart, a song should be streamed around 145 times in order to equal the payout from one iTunes Store song download.

 

In conclusion, although there are people that still believe that long tail is working well for music aficionados and undiscovered projects, it is a fact that it works much better for super projects backed for the big companies that can still make money for many time after the date when the music is released.

THE RECORD LABEL OF BERKLEE IN VALENCIA is becoming a reality!

 

The Record Label of Berklee College of Music Campus Valencia is finally becoming a reality. The students involved in this venture are just waiting for the approval from the Dean and the school’s Board of Directors to have the Berklee name on the label. This is, indeed, very exciting for our community.

I am grateful for the opportunity of being at Berklee while this happens. Since I arrived here I have been witness to the amazing talent of the Berklee students. After a tough pre-selection process, the final ten singers and songwriters were interviewed last Friday. It was really hard to get a favorite one and to choose the students that will record the first records for the new brand label. I cannot reveal the names of the projects yet, but I can say that they are so talented that I’m sure many people will enjoy their music in the future.

Here you can here some of the talented and great music of the Berklee Valencia students:

https://soundcloud.com/groups/music-business-practicum

 

As part of the marketing team we are truly thrilled of working in the creation of the logo and all the social media strategy. By the end of this week we are presenting the different options we chose as and ideas for the logo, colors, typography and everything related to the institutional image of our label. We also will announce that the record label is already set in the most important social networks. We are developing accounts in gmail, youtube, facebook, twitter, instagram, soundcloud among others.

 

What is next?

 

The students of the record label practicum were divided in two teams. Each team have A&R, Legal and Marketing groups that will develop the different strategies for each of the music projects. We have some proposals about how to release the music, one of which is to produce an EP for each artist and then a compilation of all of the projects.  Wouldn’t it be a cool idea to have the compilation released in vinyl?  Let´s see how things flow. What is true, is that this venture will open great opportunities both for those people doing music and for those of us learning about how to get their music out there!

 

Julien Audigier “The Wikidrummer” When drums and acoustic merge in a perfect sound

 

 

As a bass player I can say that there is no more pleasant way to play music than to create a solid rhythm base accompanied by drums. This percussion instrument has being part of the most important music sets of the main pop music genres since the birth of jazz. However, there is a myth about the limitations of percussion as an instrument because it cannot produce melodies and harmonies as others instruments such as piano or guitar. Even when there are amazing drummers in history such as John Bonham (Led Zepellin), Keith Moon (The Who), Dave Weckl (Chick Corea) among others, the stigma of drummers as a “beat keepers and timestickers” still prevails.

 

The French drummer Julien Audigier found an interesting way to bring out the drum voice by choosing locations that would emphasize their natural reverb. Without any artificial reverb added Julien plays his groove in places such as particular small room, a garage, a soccer field, in the middle of the road, on a roof, at a park, or a  factory. Julien became famous as “The Wikidrummer” thanks to a video that shows him playing in these different places underscoring the amazing sound and relevance of drums. This amazing video has become very popular in youtube with more than 1,200,000 views. The work and the edition of the video are linked with the sound of the drums bringing a new perspective and voice to the drum set.

 

I’m not sure if Julien is trying to develop this concept even more or if he is taking it as his personal project. As a professional drummer he has played for many years with artist such as Nidi O, Nina Attal and worked on the TV show Dancing with the Stars. What I think is that he should continue to share his drum based music and videos to the world. Just wearing his hat and playing a kick, hi hat and snare he would be a huge success.

 

RECORD LABEL PRACTICUM Blog 1. Midem By Chris Uribe

RECORD LABEL PRACTICUM

Blog 1. Midem

By Chris Uribe

 

Introduction

 

I arrived the first day without knowing what to expect and without a specific plan to follow. I’ve been in some music conventions before so I thought, “let’s play by ear”. By noon I had a schedule of the people I wanted to hear in the different forums, I made some appointments and I felt ready to live the experience, learn as much as possible, and start networking.

Lyor Cohen

 

There are some points I liked from this talk (besides the photos) that I want to underscore. First, he said that independent must be a business but he knows that building a business is not easy. The mission is to create a long and lasting statement beyond the music, which doesn’t lack internal and external order. In addition, as a risk taken, he stated that is hard to understand what he calls the “resistance of good”.  When something is good most of the people try to remain in this comfort zone instead of continuing to grow. For him, it’s crucial to make good great, and make great magnificent.

 

He also underlined the importance of his collaboration with MIT and Berklee as a means to understand web music related data in an efficient way which can be useful for the music industry. He pointed out the potential benefits of alliances with new tech company developers and the music industry providing the example of his collaboration with Google as an investor and twitter as an important partner in management.

 

He concluded saying that he is really open to hear and promote new artists for his new-INDEPENDENT company “300” which opened on November 2013. This company is composed of a small group of “smart and winner people” within the music industry who are leading careers of artists such as Jason Mraz.

 

Mark Taylor

 

We are in a world where anyone has a voice and wants to be heard. The main question is how we can be listened when we live immersed in the noise of tons of content, tools, apps, post, blogs, streams, etc. The point is not only to be different but also to be able to make differentiation from others. To get attention and loyalty is even harder  when the goal is to make profit in this new-era of marketing.

 

 

 

I was really surprised with this young entrepreneur, Director of the digital marketing company Venture Harbor, and consultant in more of 500 agencies digital marketing strategies. “Wow! This is what it could mean to be different,” I thought.

 

He still believes that Facebook is the most important viral social network. The difference in content is not enough to stand out in a crowd. In this ocean full of tons of information the content must be emotionally stimulating and remarkable. He used the example of Lady Gaga’s marketing plan, which is based in constantly attracting the attention and bringing new thing to audiences.

 

Conclusion

 

I was amazed to see how many independent labels, entrepreneurs, new companies, Ministries of Culture, and a wide diversity of artists get together to create networks that will build the future of the global music industry. After see the representatives of Argentina, Brazil, Chile Cuba, Spain etc., my personal questions were: Where is Mexico? Where are the musicians who complain about and against big companies because of the lack of opportunities? Where are those companies that own the local market and are supposed to be music dealers? Mexico has musicians who are capable of performing at the highest level in the world. The problem is that they have to survive within a local industry that is not interested in playing in the big leagues. I was very disappointed by the absence of my country in this conference and the consequences that this has for the music industry. My only hope is that Mexico could be part in the future of this “New music industry world” and its independent artists make their music heard beyond their local boundaries.

FANIA: The Music Revolution That Started Salsa

In 1971 a small record label from New York gathered all its music stars for one concert. The band was presented as the “Fania All Stars”. After 2 years of shows they performed in front of 45,000 fans at the Yankee stadium. After 3 years, they achieved world stardom.

In 1930, the clarinet and trumpet player Mario Bauza arrived to New York running away from racism in Cuba. He became famous for playing the melody of the swing song “Stepping”. It was the first approach of the Latin soul and the American genres. Years later, in the 50’s the “Manicero” became the first Cuban success song in the U.S. Other important names by that time were Tito Puente, Joe Bataan and Machito and his “Afro Cuban”

In the decade of the 60’s, Harlem was “the barrio” where half a million latinos (mostly Puertoricans) became an important social group in the city. They call themselves NewYoricans. Musicians such as Mongo Santamaria, Joe Cuba and Pete Rodrigues started to mix their Latin music influences with the American music like R&B, blues and Funk. The result was a genre named Bugaloo, which was pretty successful. Some of the hits of that time were “Watermelon man”, “Bang Bang” and “I like it like that”.

 

 

 

Fania records was founded in 1964 for the Dominican musician Johnny Pacheco and the Italo-American ex police officer Jerry Masucci. In 1967, a sixteen years old-trombonistfrom New York Willy Colon, was sign for Fania. There was only one condition, that Hector Lavoe who was a “Jibaro”(mountain-dwelling peasants)  from Puerto Rico, became the singer of the project.  This reunion changed the Latin music forever. Willy Colon releases his first album “El Malo” which became the first great hit for the company.

 

Their music started to change taking every time more distance from Bugaloo style. Hector Lavoe started to make some his famous “skas” improvisation at the end of the songs. Thanks to his rural origins from in Puerto Rico and his particular voice, Hector was identified as an idol for the Latin music fans. In addition, Willy traveled many times to Puerto Rico and started to mix the Jibaro feeling by using “El Cuatro”. El Cuatro is a small guitar, similar to ukulele, which is played in many countries in Latin America. The best hit of that time was “La Murga”.

 

 

In the beginning of the 70’s the success of Fania was triggered thanks to one concert made in an old ice skate space.  The most important musicians of the Latin music history was gathered to play in a big orquestra conducted by Johnny Pacheco.  Some of the big starts in that concert were Pete Rodriguez, Santos Colon, Cheo Feliciano among others. That night was called “El Nacimiento de la salsa” (The born of the Salsa).

 

The concert was a huge success not only because the music. The event was filmed and the movie was produced and shown in theatres as “La Cosa Latina”. It was considered the Woodstock of the Latin music. The movie was a phenomenon in New York and in many Latin American countries.

 

 

This economical success led Fania to absorb some small competitor labels becoming the only salsa record label in N.Y. It importance can be compared with Motown as a genre and label. The Salsa started to be the symbol that develops an identity within the Latin people.

Jerry Masucci started to make business of this boom and most of the time the contract were unfair sharing few revenues to the musicians. This businessman took advantage of his position and kept all the copyrights of the repertoire. Actually Tite Curet Alonso who was the composer of all the greatest hits of Fania had to work as a port man to survive. He died in poverty. One of his famous song is “Anacaona”.

 

 

On the other hand Masucci was a man with great business vision. He wanted to make a second film so he rented the Yankee stadium to make a huge concert. That nigh 45,000 fans enjoy the historic concert. One remarkable fact is that people started to go to the field and took the stage and the concert had to be suspended.

The film was incomplete so Masucci decided to make another historic gig. This time Fania All Stars flew to Puerto Rico. The song “Mi Gente” became the Salsa’s anthem. And it was the first time that the legend of the afro-Cuban music Celia Cruz joined the band. Her powerful rhythm and voice was the cherry on the top of Fania.

 

 

The second movie lack of commercial success. Nevertheless Fania All Stars and Celia Cruz started a world tour becoming the ambassadors of the Salsa. They made concerts in most of the counties in Latin America, Japan, U.K., Africa reaching huge success everywhere. Moreover the biggest success came when the young composer and singer from Panama Ruben Blades recorded his first album with Willy Colon. Blades brought to the Salsa style sophisticated lyrics full of social and political content. From that point the Salsa was not only to dance but to create conscience in the Latin society. By the time there was  a social and political instability in Panamá, Puerto Rico Nicaragua etc.

One of his first hits was “El Número 6”. Inspired in a New York’s subway train. It was recorded for “Bobby Rodriguez y la Compañía”.

 

Willy Colon and Ruben Blades recorded the album considered the “Sgt. Pepper” of the Salsa: “Siembra”. This album sold 500,000 only in Caracas Venezuela. The biggest hit of the album is the song “Pedro Navajas”.

 

By the end of the 70’s Fania was starting to break up. Jerry Masucci was fed up of the stress and decided to quit the company. Despite of the success the personal relation between Colon and Blades started to break down. In addition Pedro Lavoe started to have drugs and alcohol addiction problems. This song composed by Blades and sang by Lavoe became the most characteristic song for him: “El cantante”.

 

THE CITY HALL SESSIONS: Concerts Where Music Celebrates Freedom

Music is a universal language that brings together an entire social spectrum around human fairness. The City Hall Sessions is an annual musical festival that first came about to celebrate South Africa’s first post-apartheid elections in 1994. From then on, each 27th of April the City Hall Sessions take place to celebrate what today is known as Freedom Day. These concerts are definitely a taste of diversity, inclusion and freedom.

As an example of this cultural diversity, take a look at this beautiful performance of Amaryoni-Azapella. This South African-a capella band is strongly influenced by the Is’cathamiya and gospel styles becoming very popular amongst the people of townships.

 

On December 5th 2013 the Nobel Peace Prize and freedom fighter Nelson Mandela passed away. He was a man that changed the world forever achieving what no other leader could make possible in human history. In 1990 he was released from jail after spending 27 years in Robben Island. He ran for the presidential election in 1994 becoming the first black president of South Africa.

Built in 1905, the City Hall is not only the home to the Cape Philharmonic Orquestra but also the host of the music festival. This beautiful cultural space and auditorium has been seen across the world. It was the place where Nelson Mandela addressed a crowd of over 100,000 supporters from its balcony after his release from prison in 1990. I’m pretty sure that the 2014 festival will be full of thrills and many events honoring Mandela’s memory.

 

These series of concerts started in 2011 bringing to the city a unique blend of the best musicians from Africa and the rest of the world. The objective of this program is to showcase Africa’s both social and musical diversity. The City Hall Sessions are trying to establish Cape Town as a center of cultural innovation and appreciation for people in Africa.  This local festival is becoming more global every year building stronger connections between musicians, music industry and the Capetonians.

The local-Capetonian composer, pianist and extraordinary jazz musician, Paul Hammer remembered in a comment the local social environment when he was music student during apartheid days.

“I was a music student at UCT (University of Cape town) and we used to get cheaper tickets to come on a Thursday night to the Philharmonic concerts in the City Hall. But my father didn’t want me to come. He said, ‘There’s a permit for this place to be open to people of colour,’ [people of colour needed to be permitted access to public buildings during apartheid]. And I retorted, ‘There is a permit at UCT for people of colour to be there.’ And he said, ‘Well, that is for your education.’ And I said, ‘This is also for my education”.

In 2013 he played his music for the city hall sessions. Enjoy this amazing performance:

 

 

 

 

The “City Hall Session” is a project developed for Creative Cape Town, which is a Cape Town Partnership program and supported by the National Lottery Development Trust Fund. The company Making Music is in charge of the technical and organizational production of the event. The prestigious local-producer and music documentarian Steve Gordon is the head coach of the festival.

The festival has had many performances of very well-known African and world musicians  such as Ray Lema (Democratic Rep. of Congo), Didier Awadi (Senegal), Steward Sukuma (Mozambique),  Chico César (Brazil), among others.

In 2012 one of the most representatives of the Pan African musicians, Ismaël Lo from Senegal played one of his most popular songs “Dibi Dibi Rek”.  He fills the stage with his Afropop and reggae rhythms in a sold out concert. This video shows his brilliant performance with the Cape Town group “Azania Ghetto Sound” in support.

 

 

 

 

I think this kind of festival provides not only the opportunity to enjoy the musical performances of a different bunch of musicians, but it also brings important benefits for the people of Cape Town promoting social cohesion. This remarkable effort of social and spatial reconstruction after apartheid is the main objective of Cape Town partnership.

 

We’re giving musicians a much-needed platform (medium-sized performance venues in the city are few and far between), creating jobs in the industry, and using the medium of music to help create new citizen memories in a historic city space” Cape Town Partnership CEO Bulelwa Makalima-Ngewana.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Grey Album: A Precedent For This New Music Era

 

 

As the color of the Album “Gray” I can say there is not white and black opinion. It is very difficult to set a clear point of view because the historic moment and the parties involved in the case. It depends on which side of the battlefield you are.

One side is those involved in the control of the digital distribution, the owners of the most important music catalogues, and those engaged with music copyrights (record labels). On the other side, there are the new artists seeking to take advantage of new technologies and social media and use them creatively (Danger Mouse, Remix Dj’s and supporters).

 

In 2004 Danger Mouse released “The Gray Album”, a 12-song set containing mash ups of samples taken from the Beatles “White Album” and the Jay-Z’s “The Black Album”. This was the first time someone used the Beatle’s samples without legal authorization. Although Mouse is using a small part of different samples he intended to produce a sound that directly relates the original Beatle’s songs. For instance in the song “What more can I say” he uses the original recording of the song “While My Guitar Gentle weeps” as the base of the song and the original chorus.

 

 

Mouse didn’t have the right to use these samples but he was aware that he needed the permission from EMI and Capital Records to use the Beatles recordings. He knew he was infringing multi-copyright legislation. At the beginning Mouse was only sharing this material with friends and his DJ colleagues, but once this had been shared with 3,000 people the work began to be copied and followed by a bigger number of fans.  EMI tried to stop the distribution of this album asking Mouse to “cease and desist”. They asked Mouse to pull out the album from the market but it was almost impossible due to the big number of illegal downloads on Internet taking place through peer-to-peer file sharing. On top of this, the Rollin Stone Magazine and the New Yorker had profiled the album and provided it with tons of publicity that made it even more sought after. The album was so successful it won the Entertainment Weekly award as Album of the year.

 

Although I am generally in favor of sampling, it is impossible to deny that Mouse did indeed take an essential copyrighted sound for his mash ups. Here is the example of the song “99 problems” that deliberated use the drums breaks, electric guitar, background voices of “Helter Skelter”.

 

 

The supporters of the project ignored EMI’s notifications arguing the fair use of sampling and started an unprecedented cyber activism. This reaction brought global awareness of the cyber, cultural and political protest in relation to music. The activist group Downhill Battle promoted the sharing of the album. On February 24, 2004 more than a hundred web sites allowed the free but “illegal” download of the 12 tracks.  Within 24 hours more than 100,000 downloads were done which is the equivalent of one million tracks. This day was known as the “Grey Tuesday” and both downloads and the weblogs helped to spread the word and support for the Grey Album.

 

In reaction to this movement, EMI letters to the web sites in order to stop the action taking place online saying that all who participated were potentially facing the risk of being sued by EMI. Although this did not happen and there are no suits against users or websites, nowadays some of the pages expose a legend about that on their main sites.

http://criticalcodelsbu.blogspot.com.es/2010/03/re-grey-album.html

http://whatisfairuse.blogspot.com.es/2008/03/dj-danger-mouses-grey-album.html

At the end, Sony/ATV didn’t want to take Mouse to court, as this would mean a large and expensive legal battle. Firstly, they would need to analyze how much of the original tracks of Lennon-McCartney and Harrison where used in each song of the Grey Album. Secondly, if they want to sue the protestors they would need to engage in a case-by-case scenario, which would have no beginning or end given the huge amount of people that were part of this process.

 

 

 

Amazingly the ex-Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Star are not opposed or at least they didn’t react against the Gray Album. It was until 2011 when Sir Paul McCartney said that he is a supporter of sampling and Mouse creations. In the case of Jay-Z and Roc-A-Fella Records, they didn’t want to get legally involved in the case. Jay-Z, as we all know, has been using many remixes in his albums for which it would be contradictory for him to be part of this case.

Mouse didn’t ask for the right use of the samples he smashed up. Based in this situation he was committing copyright infringement no matter how many copies he wanted to release. In my point of view The Gray Album changed the music industry and the way all the digital distributors understand copyrights. It became a new way of think in creativity. As Danger Mouse said in the  “Alternative Freedom The movie” (min 1:02:20) when gives his opinion about copyrights: “ Maybe it change the people perception about how they thought about rock ‘n roll music, or The Beatles and hip hop, Jay-Z…  it is just perception.

 

PLAGIARISM AND CORRUPTION

Lawsuit against Luis Miguel, one of the most important pop singers in Latin America

Marcos Lifshitz is a Mexican songwriter who composed and copyrighted the song “Siento nuestro Aliento” in 1997. He delivered the song to Warner executives in 1999. He didn’t receive any news about the song, but by the end of that year he heard a similar song named “Amarte es un placer” released by the Mexican pop-singer Luis Miguel.

Marcos filed a civil lawsuit in Mexico for moral damage against Juan Carlos Calderon (who appears as a composer), the publisher company Pedrosillo (owned by J.C. Calderon), Luis Miguel (the producer of the album), and record companies Warner Music and WEA International.

The song “Amarte es un placer” was the fourth single of the album of the same name. It won 2 Latin Grammys in 2000 and sold over 3 million copies. The song reached number six at the Billboard Latin chart and got a nomination for Pop Song of the Year at the “Lo Nuestro” awards.

After six years of litigation, Lipshitz won the lawsuit in 2007. The judge ordered that he should receive a compensation of 40% of the total revenues of the LP from the plaintiffs. In addition, the record company had to remove the LP from stores.

The most recent news I could find was from 2012.  On November 2012 Juan Carlos Calderon passed away. Furthermore, there is an article from Univision communications where Mark Lifshitz said that the litigation continues as the lawyers of Luis Miguel got an injunction to delay the process of payment. I’m trying to reach Mark Lifshitz on Facebook to ask him for more info and the status of the lawsuit.

Another important thing is that it is not possible to find any track online of the song “Siento nuestro aliento”. Lipshitz and his attorneys stated that the song “Amarte es un placer” is an adaptation of his melody made without his authorization.

La Jornada newspaper: Luis Miguel y Juan Carlos Calderón, culpables de plagio

Univision communications article: Doce años, y pleito legal contra Luis Miguel sigue

The decision taken by the judge

The civil court ruled against Luis Miguel (as producer), Juan Carlos Calderón (as composer), and the record company Warner for plagiarism. The ruling established that they should pay the original composer 40 percent of the royalties generated by the album. The amount of such royalties was not specified but the album sold about three million copies at approximately US$ 12.3 each.

I think this was a fair decision because this solo composer fought against a big shark of the industry (Warner music), a super star (Luis Miguel) and a very well known and prestigious composer Juan Carlos Calderon.  In addition, this ruling has set an important precedent that can benefit all Mexican composers in the future.

It is sad to acknowledge that corruption in Mexico makes it very hard for common people to get justice. Although he won the case, it took six years for a judge to rule in his favor. Additionally, Luis Miguel’s lawyers got an injunction that has delayed the process of payment. Perhaps, one solution for Marcos could have been to demand a lower amount of money and push more for being recognized at least as a co-writer of the song.

Marcos expressed many times that he would like to reach an agreement with Luis Miguel in as long as he was willing to record some of his songs in his next album. It is said that he mentioned the following in this negotiation: “I have 20 songs in the drawer written a voice like yours.”

The most recent update on the case I was able to get from Marcos Lifshitz himself. To my surprise, I received a response from him through Facebook

In his message he explains that he has published a book on the case (he will send me the link to the publication!) and that the case is still open after 13 years. It is once again on the first court and as far as he knows “as things go, it could be another 13 years.”

I hope to read the book and keep in touch with Marcos as this is a paradigmatic case in understanding the complications of copyright laws from which all composers can learn a lot!