MSCSM Blog – Legal stuff and things

First off, I am getting far too tempted to blog about anything and everything so I’ve decided that the Important blog entries from now on are going to get the MSCSM title, just to keep it straight what matters and what doesn’t. Just in case I end up writing a small novel about how great a new shade of nail varnish is.

Now to the important stuff. In class this week we had a look at Copyright laws, The Creative Commons Licence and how things like this impact on people, be they working musicians or average people on the street looking to buy music.

I’m not chatty by nature, and my dislike of heights meant that I was feeling kinda nervous in class so I didn’t just shout this out, but this is a subject that I have looked at before now. Last year I attended a lecture given by Joe Bennett from Bath Spa University on Songwriting and Copyright Laws among other things. (He also has a WordPress site, joebennett.net which is well worth checking out as it has some very interesting and insightful things for anyone who’s interested in the music industry)

This lecture discussed the importance of understanding you legal rights under Copyright laws, especially for young musicians and songwriters. Mr. Bennett strongly urged that anyone performing original music should get themselves a PRS Licence to protect their legal right to royalties and payments, as well as to join the Musician’s Union. Of course this does little when faced with illegal downloading. This was discussed in class and we had a few differing opinions on the matter. Ranging to the outright ‘It’s Theft’ from those against it, to those who argued that it was introducing them to new bands who they were then going out and buying concert tickets and merchandise from.

The thing I found interesting was the point raised that ‘People think they’re entitled to free music, yet still think that they can make a living as a musician’. I’m no saint and I’ll admit to having illegally downloaded tracks in the past through sites like Limewire. These days I purchase legally through the Apple Store because I find it convenient, I often find myself only wanting one song and it can usually be found quickly and easily with a few mouse clicks.

The Music Industry has arguably been one of the slowest industries to adapt to the new Internet age. Music Downloading just doesn’t make as much money for the companies involved as the average person assumes it does, and it has been predicted that Independent Record stores will be a thing of the past by 2015. It can be argued that Live music is the most profitable path that a musician can take. I recently saw a concert by King Creosote and The Earlies at Band on the Wall where they performed a live album that they had no intention of taking into a studio to record and they actively encouraged audience members to bring their own recording devices and make bootlegs. In a similar manner fans of Nine Inch Nails took HD cameras into one of their concerts and filmed footage that they then edited together and make available to Torrent Download. Frontman Trent Reznor was so impressed with the results that he linked the Torrent site off the official Nine Inch Nails blog site.

Quick little P.S, There was talk of Mash Ups and making videos in class. It’s going to be a little hard for me to make anything like that in the immediate future (not ruling it out entirely) but in the interest of sharing here’s some tracks I’ve put on SoundCloud of varying degrees of quality. I truly hate the vocals on one of them as they were done quickly in my old flat in Newcastle through a crappy old Behringer Ultravoice XM8500 that has seen better days, and due to the lack of soundproofing I would quite often have to get rid of whole takes as I’d recorded people having rows or the sound of next doors tv. Not the best working conditions 😦

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