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

Daniel James daniel at mondodesigno.com
Mon Jan 26 10:08:16 EST 2004

> > Ironically, being a member of the 'royalties police', supposedly
> > defending the interests of musicians, is probably a more
> > lucrative career than actually being the average musician. I'll
> > bet it offers a regular salary, and you get to spend most of your
> > working hours in bars...
> But not, usually, when they're jumping - mostly it involves going
> round bars, shops and hairdressers and anyone else who plays music
> in public, trying to find the manager/owner, and getting them to
> sign the form and pay for a sticker in the window.

Sure - that was a joke. It's a more secure occupation than being a 
full-time musician though, isn't it?

> The collecting societies publish their operating expenses and are
> always under pressure to reduce them. But most have ratios well
> under 50%.

Just a hypothetical example - I don't have any real figures on this. 
I'd guess that it would be a significant overhead though, given that 
a hairdresser won't be paying much.

> the original
> copyright holder was the composer, and when he sold the copyright,
> the price paid by the purchaser was in expectation of future
> cash-flow.

I don't think musicians have usually focused on copyright or licensing 
issues until they realise they have been screwed. In the early days, 
it's all about getting your record out.

> And in Germany, the copyright can't be sold. 

That's good news for Germans, but I was talking about dead Americans! 
Plenty of famous UK bands from the 60's lost copyrights, including 
the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and the Kinks.

> By far the biggest influence on distributions is radio-plays,
> because the broadcasters pay by far the largest amount to the
> societies. Radio stations' restricted playlists don't help.

I'm in total agreement with you here. What I don't understand is why 
supposedly non-commercial public broadcasters like BBC Radio 1 have 
commercial playlists - my best guess is that it helps guarantee label 
co-operation when getting access to artists.

> The system is
> weighted against minority music.

Or to put it another way, against the majority of musicians...

> The societies are collectives; musicians own and control them.

Perhaps institutions eventually develop their own agenda. Maybe it's 
that the highest grossing artists have things set up the way they 
like, so why change them?

> > As far as DJ'ing goes, I think the answer will be automated
> > collection of real-time statistics.
> That's an awful lot of data matched, as you point out earlier, to
> not a lot of money. Sampling ( er.. statistical) saves the cost of
> universal data collection.

I didn't mean that every single turntable around the world would be 
collecting data. At least there would be the possibility of reducing 
overheads to near zero.

> Radio station play logging is already 
> automated - the collecting societies have been investing in the
> technology for some time now.

Sure, but in a highly regulated radio market like the UK, the number 
of DJs must exceed the number of radio stations by a large factor.

> Anything that improves the present system is good. I just think the
> better strategy is change from within rather than either tearing
> down the old or attempting to create a new Utopia isolated from the
> old.

The problem with change from within is that if organisations like MCPS 
are totally resistant to libre licensing, then it just won't happen 
there. I'm very interested in discussing the issues with MCPS but the 
reverse is not the case, judging by their responses to my emails and 
phone calls. They've also got a grip on CD pressing plants in the UK, 
who won't make a CD without an MCPS licence.  


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