[linux-audio-user] [ot] Is DJ-ing commercial use of music tracks?

Joern Nettingsmeier nettings at folkwang-hochschule.de
Mon Jan 26 03:58:43 EST 2004

[this is a rant on GEMA, the german equivalent to ASCAP in the u.s.]

Edward Barrow wrote:
> On Sat, 2004-01-24 at 15:18, Mark Constable wrote:
>>On Sat, 24 Jan 2004 11:58 pm, Frank Barknecht wrote:
>>>Well, at least in the commercial audio work, you have to pay a musican
>>>or composer for performing his/her music. I was playing dance music in
>>>a band some years ago with a dedicated commercial approach, and we had
>>>to list all music we played an evening for the GEMA and had pay for
>>>being allowed to play them.
>>Yeah but that's "old world" crud that helps keeps bookkeepers and
>>lawyers in business. Perhaps in the days of expensive paper music
>>manuscript and vinyl this auditing procedure had some vaildity but
>>these days where the penny per beat ratio is so low it's obnoxious
>>(to me) that these archaic payment restrictions still exist at all.
>>>But this music had another license, which 
>>>explicitly wasn't intended to promote "commons".
>>Exactly, and I would like to think part of the "new world" game is
>>to spread the exposure of this musical commons, not to tie it up
>>and inhibit it with an artifical non-musical bureaucracy of paper
>>work shufflers that have nothing to do with either the creation
>>or the presentation of said music.
>>These days, creating music is so ubiquitous that it's more of a
>>priviledge for the artist to get their music exposed, at all, 
>>rather than a priviledge for the listener to partake of the artists 
>>work, or at least it's becoming moreso (again, in my view).
>>I still put "commercial use of music tracks" squarely in the realm
>>of direct sales of the product itself and not the associated payment
>>for any person or service that "performs" the work. If not then this
>>conversation will drift towards alternate payment methods for music
>>in the commons and that would be just as obnoxious as the current
>>system. That "obnoxous bureaucratic system" already exists for those
>>who want direct payment for their works of art... I don't see how
>>these restrictions apply to music, or art in general, in the commons.
>>I would like to think the point of music in the commons is that
>>there are no inhibitions or restrictions to people hearing it !
> Up to a point....
> I think if you adopt these arguments, you also have to have an answer to
> the question "how will professional musicians be paid?" - or be prepared
> to make the case for a world where all musicians rely on the day job to
> pay the rent. 
> That's not to say that the old-style model can survive without
> adaptation in the new environment.
> But I for one don't have a problem with a share of the money paid by
> punters on the door of the disco going to the people who made the music,
> both the DJ and to musicians back up the "sample chain". This is what
> GEMA and other "old-world" collecting societies try to achieve, with a
> varying degree of success.  Usually the venue pays a fee to the
> collecting society, which then distributes the money amongst musicians
> according to arcane statistical formulae to which Frank's record-keeping
> exercise will have contributed. 
> How to achieve all this fairly and efficiently is a big open question. I
> don't think even GEMA would seriously claim that their methods are
> perfect. 

their methods are not only imperfect, they are horribly inadequate. not 
only that they still cling to the most stupid of categorisations, Ernste 
(serious) and Unterhaltungsmusik (entertaining music), they totally fail 
to deal with the current changes in what comprises a "work of art".

example: i play jazz gigs occasionally with a friend. of course we play 
a few standards. you want to give the audience some familiar stuff. now 
even playing two standards in an otherwise all-originals set in a 
location with 80 people and a very moderate entrance fee will cost you 
about EUR 150,- GEMA fees. and this is fscking improvised music!

now try to negotiate decent payment for yourself when the pub owner has 
to fork out almost as much to GEMA.

morale of story: ever since the GEMA has been sending people around to 
enforce fees, there have been no more garage band concerts and no gigs 
for local musicians in my home town. we work around the problem by 
simply not playing standards any more - GEMA is preventing us from 
paying musical dues to the jazz giants by collecting totally 
out-of-proportion financial ones. and these are flat rates, i.e. they 
don't reach the original artist, but are collected and then distributed 
by a very opaque scheme *after* the gema administration has fed from it.

all they succeed in is making the big guys richer, secure their jobs and 
screw over the ones that make music for the love of it.

if only "copy killed music"[1] and sent the whole bunch of bigots that 
are the music industry where they belong: in the dole queue.


[1] the name of a pathetic campaign by the german phono association that 
has so far totally failed to live up to its promises.

"I never use EQ, never, never, never. I previously used to use mic
positioning but I've even given up on that too."
	- Jezar on http://www.audiomelody.com

Jörn Nettingsmeier
Kurfürstenstr 49, 45138 Essen, Germany
http://spunk.dnsalias.org (my server)
http://www.linuxaudiodev.org (Linux Audio Developers)

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