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PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 2:08 am 
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jdmeister wrote:
Many KJs lose $1.00 on every gig, and make it up on volume..
:withstupid:


8) If you think about it many KJ's used to get 300.00 a night, then it was 200.00, then it was 150.00, now it is hard sometimes to make a 100.00, since you have so many willing to work for 75.00 or even 50.00 a night. The local Elks lodge has a hobbyist volunteer that works for tips, the lodge bought his equipment on the cheap. This volunteer has about 3,000 songs on donated discs, but he can play any disc that is brought in. Believe it or not his show is packed every Tuesday. When faced with those facts the only advantage an old established host has is all of his equipment and library is paid for, so if he can make anything it is profit. So yes given those new realities the only way a host could make more is he would have to have work more nights.

P.S. I know a host that is still in the business, he is old school disc based, no computer, has about 8,000 songs. He used to tell me that he would never do a show for 50.00. Today that same host is doing shows for 75.00 and even 50.00, what I don't understand is this guy has got money is pushing 70 and still wants to work. For that kind of money I would have hung up the speakers, go figure.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 6:06 pm 
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8) It must be stated that the above comments only reflect my observations of the local situation in my particular area. I'm sure that there are other parts of the country where there still might be high paying gigs. I just don't see that locally, then again I have been retired fully for over two years now. I would like to hear from anyone if they have a different take on what is happening in the industry.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 30, 2017 6:32 pm 
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The Lone Ranger wrote:
8) It must be stated that the above comments only reflect my observations of the local situation in my particular area. I'm sure that there are other parts of the country where there still might be high paying gigs. I just don't see that locally, then again I have been retired fully for over two years now. I would like to hear from anyone if they have a different take on what is happening in the industry.

My area, the average it $150 per show. I do not work for less than that. I used to charge $100, when I started, just to get my name out there. Now I charge a minimum of $150.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 09, 2017 7:03 pm 
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I would have settled for earning enough to maintain the equipment I have, and basic costs *gas for car, music, paper for slips, ink books etc*

Didn't work out that way.

As for 'fixing' karaoke.. too late, it's way beyond the point of repairing anything.. Why? people who own the rights got too greedy, and shut down the supply.. Well that's an over-simplification but still the main reason in my book

-James


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 09, 2017 9:54 pm 
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jclaydon wrote:
I would have settled for earning enough to maintain the equipment I have, and basic costs *gas for car, music, paper for slips, ink books etc*

Didn't work out that way.

As for 'fixing' karaoke.. too late, it's way beyond the point of repairing anything.. Why? people who own the rights got too greedy, and shut down the supply.. Well that's an over-simplification but still the main reason in my book

-James

Did you get out of it, again?

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 10, 2017 5:02 am 
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Smoothedge69 wrote:
Did you get out of it, again?



8) It's sort of like the Godfather Smooth, "They keep pulling me back in".

If you have a real love for something it is hard to give it up, even though you know down deep inside that you really have passed the point it is something you want to do everyday. The money is nice but the grind to earn it isn't worth the trouble, at least for me anymore. Still I like doing it to help a friend or good cause, that what makes it so nice now, I do it because I want to, not have to.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 12:56 pm 
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It's more like I've been looking for a steady gig for the last two years and haven't found anything yet.

My previous comments about being happy breaking even were about when I was try to host in earnest.. :)

-James


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 5:30 pm 
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I know I'm going to regret posting this reply but it's difficult to sit by and watch so much misinformation being tossed back and forth by people who couldn't possibly know the facts by sitting on the perch that they occupy. Perception is reality as they say, but in this case at least, there's a reality that stretches far beyond what's being accepted as fact. I can't speak for other companies of course but I can speak for my own company and can tell you unequivocally that subsequent to ABKCO v Stellar not a single track ever left our studios without either a "sync" license or a "sync" license approval confirmed either on a spreadsheet, email or some other form of documentation.

It is obvious to anyone who's ever been engaged in the actual licensing of musical products, just how complex and difficult of a process it is. I had a full time attorney on staff and a licensing agent who probably spent half of her week on my selections alone, engaged in licensing my products. Not to mention an entire bookshelf in my office on music licensing although you'd never know it was that complicated based on the posts that I've read in this forum.

I can't tell you how many times we were half way through a song and in some cases completely finished with a song only to have to pull that song at the last minute because it did not get approved. So you'll have to excuse my getting a bit miffed when I hear a bunch of know-nothings who have never had to deal with the stress of these issues, release 27 to 36 current songs per month, have the unmitigated gall to either directly or indirectly accuse me of producing illegal music, and then to add insult to injury, try to use that as a justification for their own damn piracy.

Evidently, these same geniuses must have thought that we totally lost our programming chops in the last couple of years because we preferred to illegally release songs that nobody ever heard of instead of illegally releasing songs that everybody wanted. Hell what businessman worth his salt wouldn't do something like that? Or maybe they think that when I sent 1080 lbs of "sync" license documents to my attorney that I just did so to lighten the load on the floors in my facility.

It seems as though some people think that publishers are just sweethearts who are only acting on behalf of their clients. I can tell you first hand that nothing could be further from the truth. For a large part they are vicious predators and copyright trolls that can generate a hell of a lot more revenue from a lawsuit than they can from a 14 cent license. When the first thing you hear from their attorney when he/she contacts you is "What is the name of your insurance company" before they even ask if you have a license, then that should be somewhat of an indicator as to what I'm talking about. However I'd be remiss if I portrayed all publishers as evil because truth be told the majority of them are very nice people promoting their clients' works. I was a member of AIMP and went to many of the meetings at the Princeton Club in NYC and met some really nice people. Unfortunately their catalogs left a lot to be desired as anyone who is familiar with our Pop Hits Monthly line can attest to in the last couple of years.

Like I said earlier, I can't speak for other companies but I do know that companies like Chartbusters, and Sound Choice for example would have nothing to gain by not licensing their products, and I also know that they did at the very least make a good effort to properly license their tracks, but knowing the complexities involved it's easy to see how that can be misinterpreted. A lot can go wrong even after the track has been licensed. There were several companies however that did not so much as even get a mechanical license, released any damn song they pleased and for some reason were never sued. Most of these companies were my direct competition and I believe most KJs knew who they were but still bought their tracks anyway. The reasoning being that if they had the tracks that people wanted to sing, if they didn't purchase them then their competition would anyway and they would eventually lose their followers to the show with the most current tunes.

Anyway, I just wanted to offer a different perspective from a producer's (sorry we're not manufacturers and quite frankly that term annoys me) point of view who did properly license all of the tracks released on its various brands. Invariably it's always these same characters who cry foul and claim that all music producers are pirates.

And BTW ... the Stellar defense in ABKCO v Stellar had nothing to do with assumed vocal tracks or whatever it was that I read. It was a bad decision by the 2nd circuit that ruled karaoke works are audio-visual works which they most definitely are not, a position that ALL KJs and karaoke enthusiasts alike should bone up on and support. It's the best way in my opinion to begin to take a bite out of all piracy. The two best ways to reverse the ABKCO v Stellar case is either by revisiting this case in another jurisdiction or through legislation. With either method a good deal of support from the karaoke community will go a long way in helping achieve a favorable outcome.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 6:28 pm 
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Bastiat wrote:
I know I'm going to regret posting this reply but it's difficult to sit by and watch so much misinformation being tossed back and forth by people who couldn't possibly know the facts by sitting on the perch that they occupy. Perception is reality as they say, but in this case at least, there's a reality that stretches far beyond what's being accepted as fact. I can't speak for other companies of course but I can speak for my own company and can tell you unequivocally that subsequent to ABKCO v Stellar not a single track ever left our studios without either a "sync" license or a "sync" license approval confirmed either on a spreadsheet, email or some other form of documentation.

It is obvious to anyone who's ever been engaged in the actual licensing of musical products, just how complex and difficult of a process it is. I had a full time attorney on staff and a licensing agent who probably spent half of her week on my selections alone, engaged in licensing my products. Not to mention an entire bookshelf in my office on music licensing although you'd never know it was that complicated based on the posts that I've read in this forum.

I can't tell you how many times we were half way through a song and in some cases completely finished with a song only to have to pull that song at the last minute because it did not get approved. So you'll have to excuse my getting a bit miffed when I hear a bunch of know-nothings who have never had to deal with the stress of these issues, release 27 to 36 current songs per month, have the unmitigated gall to either directly or indirectly accuse me of producing illegal music, and then to add insult to injury, try to use that as a justification for their own damn piracy.

Evidently, these same geniuses must have thought that we totally lost our programming chops in the last couple of years because we preferred to illegally release songs that nobody ever heard of instead of illegally releasing songs that everybody wanted. Hell what businessman worth his salt wouldn't do something like that? Or maybe they think that when I sent 1080 lbs of "sync" license documents to my attorney that I just did so to lighten the load on the floors in my facility.

It seems as though some people think that publishers are just sweethearts who are only acting on behalf of their clients. I can tell you first hand that nothing could be further from the truth. For a large part they are vicious predators and copyright trolls that can generate a hell of a lot more revenue from a lawsuit than they can from a 14 cent license. When the first thing you hear from their attorney when he/she contacts you is "What is the name of your insurance company" before they even ask if you have a license, then that should be somewhat of an indicator as to what I'm talking about. However I'd be remiss if I portrayed all publishers as evil because truth be told the majority of them are very nice people promoting their clients' works. I was a member of AIMP and went to many of the meetings at the Princeton Club in NYC and met some really nice people. Unfortunately their catalogs left a lot to be desired as anyone who is familiar with our Pop Hits Monthly line can attest to in the last couple of years.

Like I said earlier, I can't speak for other companies but I do know that companies like Chartbusters, and Sound Choice for example would have nothing to gain by not licensing their products, and I also know that they did at the very least make a good effort to properly license their tracks, but knowing the complexities involved it's easy to see how that can be misinterpreted. A lot can go wrong even after the track has been licensed. There were several companies however that did not so much as even get a mechanical license, released any damn song they pleased and for some reason were never sued. Most of these companies were my direct competition and I believe most KJs knew who they were but still bought their tracks anyway. The reasoning being that if they had the tracks that people wanted to sing, if they didn't purchase them then their competition would anyway and they would eventually lose their followers to the show with the most current tunes.

Anyway, I just wanted to offer a different perspective from a producer's (sorry we're not manufacturers and quite frankly that term annoys me) point of view who did properly license all of the tracks released on its various brands. Invariably it's always these same characters who cry foul and claim that all music producers are pirates.

And BTW ... the Stellar defense in ABKCO v Stellar had nothing to do with assumed vocal tracks or whatever it was that I read. It was a bad decision by the 2nd circuit that ruled karaoke works are audio-visual works which they most definitely are not, a position that ALL KJs and karaoke enthusiasts alike should bone up on and support. It's the best way in my opinion to begin to take a bite out of all piracy. The two best ways to reverse the ABKCO v Stellar case is either by revisiting this case in another jurisdiction or through legislation. With either method a good deal of support from the karaoke community will go a long way in helping achieve a favorable outcome.


Interesting take on the industry..
I also produced media, distributed it nationwide. As soon as my product hit the shelves, identical product arrived from China two to three weeks later.
Now you can say, "Company XYZ is perfectly legal" and be correct.
However, the exact product "May Have" been copied and shipped to UN-suspecting distributors.
Or, they (the OEM) may have pressed, and later burned, more copies than licensed.
No real way to tell, eh? I'm sure they would not confess to that..
And never forget the UK connection.. Where the Eff is James Bond when you need him..
Hey James, stop those bastards..
Oh no, I made a funny.. :mrgreen:


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 7:39 pm 
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Sometimes licensing constraints can be unreasonable and inevitably a licensee will try to find a way around it. For example, in the karaoke industry most sync licenses have a 3 year sunset clause. So let's say that your company needs to press 10,000 units to make the unit cost affordable, and paid the license fees in advance (very common in karaoke license agreements). Let's say that you are only able to sell 7,500 units in that 3 year period. What do you do with the remaining 2,500 that you didn't sell in the first three years even though you paid for the licensing? Believe it or not according to the licensing agreement, you're gonna eat that 2,500 units, and in order to resell them you have to pay for a new license for the 2,500 units that you already paid for, plus in many cases, a fixing fee.

So companies that have sunset clauses in their licensing agreements will inevitably start their own separate distribution company where it can sell the inventory. Once the inventory has been sold the license does not apply to the buying party. There are literally volumes of reference works on the topic of music licensing which is one of the reasons it makes it so complicated and not as simple as some would like to make it sound. Then again, I guess it's great to live in a black & white world.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:42 am 
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8) I don't mind living in a black in white world as long as it doesn't collide with the corporate world. When a entity such as PEP tries to make a problem for hosts, it is only natural they should resent corporate America. The average host doesn't care about the problems of manus, except when those manus try to make problems for hosts.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:27 am 
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Okay there kemosabe ... gutch ya


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:33 am 
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Bastiat wrote:
Sometimes licensing constraints can be unreasonable and inevitably a licensee will try to find a way around it. For example, in the karaoke industry most sync licenses have a 3 year sunset clause. So let's say that your company needs to press 10,000 units to make the unit cost affordable, and paid the license fees in advance (very common in karaoke license agreements). Let's say that you are only able to sell 7,500 units in that 3 year period. What do you do with the remaining 2,500 that you didn't sell in the first three years even though you paid for the licensing? Believe it or not according to the licensing agreement, you're gonna eat that 2,500 units, and in order to resell them you have to pay for a new license for the 2,500 units that you already paid for, plus in many cases, a fixing fee.

So companies that have sunset clauses in their licensing agreements will inevitably start their own separate distribution company where it can sell the inventory. Once the inventory has been sold the license does not apply to the buying party. There are literally volumes of reference works on the topic of music licensing which is one of the reasons it makes it so complicated and not as simple as some would like to make it sound. Then again, I guess it's great to live in a black & white world.


Every corporation that has competent legal advice does that.
Even our "Edison" electric utility steals money that way.
"Edison" has several "Layers" of separation due to liability.
It they were the "Mafia", it would be called "Money Laundering", or HSBC bank.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 7:24 am 
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Well that makes sense to me but I personally can't speak to what other companies in other industries do other than to say that I know that the bigger they are the more they have to spend on finding loopholes and strategies that will allow them to maintain control and maximize their profits. Quite frankly, I don't have a problem with that in theory. However, I do have a problem when they use their influence on politicians to unfairly keep other companies from competing, but that's a bit off topic of what I was referring to.

I do my best to not view these things as a moral issue, but I usually don't hesitate to defend my position when others do especially against acts of hypocrisy.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 7:38 am 
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Bastiat wrote:
Like I said earlier, I can't speak for other companies but I do know that companies like Chartbusters, and Sound Choice for example would have nothing to gain by not licensing their products, and I also know that they did at the very least make a good effort to properly license their tracks, but knowing the complexities involved it's easy to see how that can be misinterpreted.


There is far too much evidence to the contrary in the forms of sworn deposition testimony by SC's own employees and signed consent settlement agreements from Chartbusters to publishers -- over $2,000,000 worth as a matter of fact. Those are "consent" and NOT "judgements" which means they fully agreed to pay for licensing they admit they had not previously obtained in advance of distribution.

Universal yanked its entire library from Digitrax overnight because Digitrax did not ensure that the tracks it was streaming were fully licensed for karaoke before they started using them - a direct violation of the contract they (again) agreed to. Chartbuster had failed to make a single payment to Universal on their original consent agreement(s) and when Universal was about to file in court (again) for their failure to pay is when Chartbuster magically disappeared... and Digitrax appeared claiming ownership of the very (unlicensed) tracks that CB used.

The same sort of "asset switcheroo" used later by Sound Choice. And I'll maintain that when assets are shifted from the left hand to the right hand with the same cast of characters as Slep did by selling his assets... to himself, it's done primarily to skirt a liability on a technicality. I'll go so far as to make an educated guess and say that CB was avoiding Universal's inevitable hammer and that SC was also avoiding a different contractual liability, most likely with Stingray Digital.

But in the mainstream of this business, it's true that KJ's really don't care about the problems associated with "producers" when it comes to licensing and what has been characterized as the predatory nature of them. And why should we? That's not our business. Just as it is not the business of a bar to inspect and certify the hops or other ingredients used to brew the beer they sell from the "producers" of beer. And just as these same karaoke producers really don't care about the problems that KJ's have when it comes to their business(s) and again, why should they?

I noticed that years ago, "producers" banded together to form S.P.I.N. to actively go after KJ's with their "hired investigator" Joseph Senter. S.P.I.N. was funded by a number of producers, some known to license tracks and others who had licensed squat. (I noticed that you have purposely avoided naming those producers "who had not licensed anything and magically were not sued" and I don't have a clue why you would care to protect their identity even now.)

But my point was that these producers - licensed and unlicensed - banded together to go after pirates -- as long as the pirates were KJ's --- but NOT willing to "police their own flock" when it came to selling pirated material from publishers to KJ's or even to the general public through stores like WalMart, etc.

Yeah, it's a nasty double standard ain't it?

Unfortunately, producers are not victims here -- no one forced them into doing business with such unscrupulous publishers and I didn't see the ABKO suit shut down karaoke at all. Are there lots of "gray areas" here? Sure, but NONE of them were ever insurmountable.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 7:49 am 
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c. staley wrote:
Bastiat wrote:
Like I said earlier, I can't speak for other companies but I do know that companies like Chartbusters, and Sound Choice for example would have nothing to gain by not licensing their products, and I also know that they did at the very least make a good effort to properly license their tracks, but knowing the complexities involved it's easy to see how that can be misinterpreted.


There is far too much evidence to the contrary in the forms of sworn deposition testimony by SC's own employees and signed consent settlement agreements from Chartbusters to publishers -- over $2,000,000 worth as a matter of fact. Those are "consent" and NOT "judgements" which means they fully agreed to pay for licensing they admit they had not previously obtained in advance of distribution.

Universal yanked its entire library from Digitrax overnight because Digitrax did not ensure that the tracks it was streaming were fully licensed for karaoke before they started using them - a direct violation of the contract they (again) agreed to. Chartbuster had failed to make a single payment to Universal on their original consent agreement(s) and when Universal was about to file in court (again) for their failure to pay is when Chartbuster magically disappeared... and Digitrax appeared claiming ownership of the very (unlicensed) tracks that CB used.

The same sort of "asset switcheroo" used later by Sound Choice. And I'll maintain that when assets are shifted from the left hand to the right hand with the same cast of characters as Slep did by selling his assets... to himself, it's done primarily to skirt a liability on a technicality. I'll go so far as to make an educated guess and say that CB was avoiding Universal's inevitable hammer and that SC was also avoiding a different contractual liability, most likely with Stingray Digital.

But in the mainstream of this business, it's true that KJ's really don't care about the problems associated with "producers" when it comes to licensing and what has been characterized as the predatory nature of them. And why should we? That's not our business. Just as it is not the business of a bar to inspect and certify the hops or other ingredients used to brew the beer they sell from the "producers" of beer. And just as these same karaoke producers really don't care about the problems that KJ's have when it comes to their business(s) and again, why should they?

I noticed that years ago, "producers" banded together to form S.P.I.N. to actively go after KJ's with their "hired investigator" Joseph Senter. S.P.I.N. was funded by a number of producers, some known to license tracks and others who had licensed squat. (I noticed that you have purposely avoided naming those producers "who had not licensed anything and magically were not sued" and I don't have a clue why you would care to protect their identity even now.)

But my point was that these producers - licensed and unlicensed - banded together to go after pirates -- as long as the pirates were KJ's --- but NOT willing to "police their own flock" when it came to selling pirated material from publishers to KJ's or even to the general public through stores like WalMart, etc.

Yeah, it's a nasty double standard ain't it?

Unfortunately, producers are not victims here -- no one forced them into doing business with such unscrupulous publishers and I didn't see the ABKO suit shut down karaoke at all. Are there lots of "gray areas" here? Sure, but NONE of them were ever insurmountable.


What He^^ said..


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 10:35 am 
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I'm not looking to beat a dead horse here but I'll reiterate that I don't know what the day to day licensing practices were of Sound Choice or Chartbusters, and I'm not about to carry water for either of them. However one thing I am certain of is that unless you've been in the situation in which you've just been sued by a major publisher, you haven't the foggiest idea as to just how ruthless these publishers can be, nor do you have the slightest clue as to what you'd agree to in order to keep your business afloat. This isn't a moral issue with these publishers as you seem to think. It's nothing more than a business deal, and if these publishers can find a way to catch you with your pants down then your (@$%&#!) is theirs.

I saw the $2 million dollar settlement like everybody else did but it didn't mean diddly squat to me in terms of proving their guilt of infringement. Of course if you've never been there yourself then it might not raise any suspicion in your mind but instead appear to you as the smoking gun. However it should stand to reason that $2 million is not a representative amount of unpaid royalties, but something else. That in and of itself should lend itself to at least a cursory inquiry as to what's going on here. I've had to agree to similar things that weren't true, but were part of a negotiated settlement in order to stave off some of the wolves. You also have no idea as to just how damn crooked the whole judicial system is that allows them to get away with this crap.

There are two things that I do know about both Sound Choice and Chartbusters, and that is that they both had licensing departments, something you wouldn't need if you are not licensing your products or just getting mechanicals. Also I know and am good friends with the consultant that Sound Choice was using to help clean up any licenses that maybe weren't quite as clean as they should be. I can attest to his integrity and he is very well known in the music industry. There's no way in hell this man would risk his reputation in the music biz to cover for some karaoke company. Does this mean for sure that they haven't infringed? Not at all, I don't have any evidence to support that idea. If they did infringe was it willful? Here again, I have no evidence to support that idea either. Nevertheless I think it's safe to assume that they did acquire some proper licenses. Just how many only they know. As far as employee depositions, I can vaguely remember reading one or more of them but nothing brings to mind anything that would conclude me to believe SC intentionally infringed.

Also, there were several meetings, conference calls, etc. over the years between myself members of Sound Choice, Chartbusters and other producers as to licensing issues. I can tell you without a doubt that it was something constantly on the minds of producers. Equating their acts of "infringement" as being the same as the pirate who buys a hard drive with 30,000 songs for $325.00 is a bit unfair wouldn't you say?

As far as Digitrax goes, I have no inside knowledge, I only see what the rest of us see so I can't speculate one way or another as to what the actual circumstances are, but here again, knowing how these publishers operate I wouldn't put anything past them. Without knowing the actual details or hearing both sides of the story, I'll reserve judgment until such time. I will grant you this however, that I don't see how they could possibly offer 12,000 licensed tracks on a single hard drive, but then againg it wouldn't be the first time that someone knew something about licensing tracks that I didn't.

As far as what you refer to as the "asset switcheroo" ... so what? If I could have done something like that to save my company I would have done it in a heartbeat. I'm not on some sort of moral crusade. This ain't about truth, justice and the American way with these guys, it's all about the money. If you want to look at the masters of the "asset switheroo" you needn't look any further than the major publishers. So I wouldn't be so quick to judge the producers without that acknowledgement.

As far as S.P.I.N. is concerned, I was not a member of this group and in fact was probably the only outspoken producer that was opposed to S.P.I.N., and for two basic reasons. Firstly was because there were members of this group that I knew were not licensing their tracks because they were releasing tracks that definitely couldn't be licensed. The second and foremost reason was because the remedies and penalties against KJs in my view were too Draconian. I'm not saying that infringers should just get off with a slap on the wrist but by the same token, it's karaoke for god's sake, I have no interest in penalizing someone to the extent that it would ruin the rest of their life, in which suing someone for millions of dollars would do as judgments for willful infringements are not dischargeable in a bankruptcy. As far as purposely avoiding naming producers that weren't licensing their products, in the first place there were so many of them that I can't even remember the names of half of them, and secondly even if I could remember who they were I don't see the point in naming them anyway as I believe they've all gone by the wayside by now.

As far as your point about producers banding together to go after pirates, etc. ... so exactly what is your point? In the first place I never did any such thing, but here again you are attempting to turn this into a moral issue which will do nothing more than lead us down a very slippery slope. By your line of reasoning, publishers shouldn't be suing producers because the publishers themselves are constantly being sued for infringement by the artists, and so on and so forth and shoobe doobe doowah. Each of us should be held accountable for own actions and not be subjected to some sort of ad hominem form of reasoning to justify our own actions. How about we let each case stand on its own merits, and not be judged by the actions of others. If the accused feels he/she is being unjustly accused because the accuser him or herself is infringing on the property they are suing them for, then they have a remedy before the court called the doctrine of unclean hands. However that is something for the judge in each case to decide not you or me.

Speaking of slippery slopes ... using the strawman's argument that "no one forced them into doing business with such unscrupulous publishers" doesn't score you any points in your argument. In case you haven't noticed there are only 3 major publishers that have monopolized the entire publishing industry and control just about all of the music. If producers didn't do business with them such as the case with Stellar Records in it's last two or three years of existence, then no one would buy their products. You would be either producing your own tracks or singing from the public domain catalog. Good luck with that one.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 10:06 pm 
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Bastiat wrote:
.... Also, there were several meetings, conference calls, etc. over the years between myself members of Sound Choice, Chartbusters and other producers as to licensing issues. I can tell you without a doubt that it was something constantly on the minds of producers. Equating their acts of "infringement" as being the same as the pirate who buys a hard drive with 30,000 songs for $325.00 is a bit unfair wouldn't you say?

Not at all. The conversation is not about the pirate who buys a hard drive, but those that sell pirated material.
Little Johnny Pirate that buys a hard drive and competes with other KJ's for a $150/night gig is far less damaging than the pirate that sold him -- and 300 other KJ's -- a $325 drive netting a quick $97,500.00 in the process. That's also not a moral judgement, but a monetary one. It's a much larger dent in a karaoke producer's wallet.

I noticed that "Stellar Records LLC" based in Wisconsin (not Fall River, MA) has as of August this year, started suing these "pirate distributors" for copyright infringement. Whether or not this is your firm or if perhaps you've sold the name, catalog and copyrights to some other entity isn't relevant at all, but it's certainly refreshing to see that finally someone is suing the people that distribute this stuff.
Bastiat wrote:
As far as what you refer to as the "asset switcheroo" ... so what? If I could have done something like that to save my company I would have done it in a heartbeat. I'm not on some sort of moral crusade. This ain't about truth, justice and the American way with these guys, it's all about the money. If you want to look at the masters of the "asset switcheroo" you needn't look any further than the major publishers. So I wouldn't be so quick to judge the producers without that acknowledgement.

I'm sure it's a commonplace occurrence with most corporations as they become larger and larger, but that doesn't excuse them nor does it excuse smaller companies either. Your own admission above that if you "could have done something like that to save my company I would have done it in a heartbeat" is a perfect example of tossing out the moral crusade in exchange for cheating some other entity on a technicality in the hopes of keeping your business alive. And that's exactly what the "asset switcheroo" is used for: avoiding a contractual obligation with a technicality.

It's hardly a surprise that publishers -- as unscrupulous as they can be -- would become more and more difficult to work with.
Bastiat wrote:
As far as S.P.I.N. is concerned, I was not a member of this group and in fact was probably the only outspoken producer that was opposed to S.P.I.N., and for two basic reasons. Firstly was because there were members of this group that I knew were not licensing their tracks because they were releasing tracks that definitely couldn't be licensed. The second and foremost reason was because the remedies and penalties against KJs in my view were too Draconian. I'm not saying that infringers should just get off with a slap on the wrist but by the same token, it's karaoke for god's sake, I have no interest in penalizing someone to the extent that it would ruin the rest of their life, in which suing someone for millions of dollars would do as judgments for willful infringements are not dischargeable in a bankruptcy.

From your description above, it's sounding more and more like the karaoke producers had learned from the publishers about handing out punishments and there was certainly no moral crusade going on there either as the producer-pirates were happy to fund the operation to punish the KJ-pirates. Like a thief calling the cops on the mugger that just stole the bicycle he had stolen a half hour earlier..... it's unclean hands again. It's good to know you weren't part of that group.
Bastiat wrote:
As far as your point about producers banding together to go after pirates, etc. ... so exactly what is your point? In the first place I never did any such thing, but here again you are attempting to turn this into a moral issue which will do nothing more than lead us down a very slippery slope.

The point is that the "band of producers" consisted of companies that included those that were guilty of the very same piracy that they were claiming damages from. I would characterize that as more than just a wee-bit on the hypocritical side, wouldn't you? And I've never even implied that your firm was part of that group.
Bastiat wrote:
By your line of reasoning, publishers shouldn't be suing producers because the publishers themselves are constantly being sued for infringement by the artists, and so on and so forth and shoobe doobe doowah. Each of us should be held accountable for own actions and not be subjected to some sort of ad hominem form of reasoning to justify our own actions. How about we let each case stand on its own merits, and not be judged by the actions of others. If the accused feels he/she is being unjustly accused because the accuser him or herself is infringing on the property they are suing them for, then they have a remedy before the court called the doctrine of unclean hands. However that is something for the judge in each case to decide not you or me.

Unfortunately, that is not my "line of reasoning" at all but the difference here is that the S.P.I.N. group consisted of a mixture of honest and dishonest companies using each other in a business exchange of (1) funding to stop KJ pirating for the honest ones and (2) legal camouflage for those that weren't operating legally to appear as though they were. Certainly not a moral crusade by any means, it was "all about the money" and they didn't care if they destroyed anyone's life in the process -- it was just business.
Bastiat wrote:
Speaking of slippery slopes ... using the strawman's argument that "no one forced them into doing business with such unscrupulous publishers" doesn't score you any points in your argument. In case you haven't noticed there are only 3 major publishers that have monopolized the entire publishing industry and control just about all of the music. If producers didn't do business with them such as the case with Stellar Records in it's last two or three years of existence, then no one would buy their products. You would be either producing your own tracks or singing from the public domain catalog. Good luck with that one.

No strawman argument here. And, I would agree with you 100% if there was any evidence that these publishers regularly made agreements and then sued for infringement because of a technicality and not infringement. That would have put every single karaoke producer squarely in their sights whenever they wanted to shake someone down for a little extra change. But by your own admission, publishers would sue if they could "catch you with your pants down" means that the karaoke producer wouldn't be following the agreement.

The responsibility falls again back to the karaoke producer with their pants around their ankles.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 9:51 am 
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Your response, and it was a good one, is nonetheless a perfect example of what I meant by moralizing the issue is a slippery slope. You seem to make no distinction between that which is legal and what is moral. If there is a legal option for me to save my company through an "asset switcheroo" or some other legal outlet how is that "a perfect example of tossing out the moral crusade in exchange for cheating some other entity?" If you can't legislate morality (and for good reason), and if I'm within the confines of the law where is the immorality? After all morality is nothing more than a set of human constructs. However I don't want to steer this conversation into a philosophy lecture, but how do you get to decide what is moral and what isn't? There are several different views on what one would consider to be morally correct with regard to copyright. The Objectivists (i.e. Ayn Rand) believe that whomever registers the copyright first is the rightful owner, others believe whomever thinks of it first is the rightful owner, and still there are several different libertarian points of view such as that of Stephan Kinsella (a libertarian copyright/patent attorney) who makes a very good argument as to why the very idea of copyright is immoral to begin with. So if I subscribe to Kinsella's constructs, what gives you the right to impose your sense of morality on me? How do you make the leap from acting within the law to cheating someone? This is where the slippery slope comes in, and why I prefer to not turn these types of discussions into a moral crusade. What's that saying? One man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist.

If you believe that there are members of these so called "band of producers" that are "guilty" of piracy then you have every right to not support them. However unless they've been convicted in a court of law then they are merely suspects. If you feel you have legal standing to sue them, then by all means take the plunge. I happen to agree with your beliefs that there are members of that group who were guilty of selling infringing products so I chose to not collaborate with them. I wonder how many critics of these rogue members of the "band of producers" have not supported these suspects? Do you think it hypocritical to bash these producers while continuing to use their products, or is that an exception to your moral code? In other words, why don't you remove all of the tracks from your catalog by those producers that you suspect are guilty of selling pirated materials? I'll tell you why ... because if you did you probably would no longer have a show. You would quickly lose your following and your clients when they realized that they can't sing that Adele or ABBA song, or the Garth Brooks song, or Billy Joel and the list goes on an on. So unless you can honestly say that you'll remove all of that music from your library then you should probably dismount from your moral high horse.

Last but not least you claim that you would agree with me 100% if there was any evidence that these publishers ..... and then sued on a technicality. This is the strongest evidence that you do not understand how the real world works. Are you freaking kidding me? I was sued 4 damn times. The first was because I obtained a straight mechanical license (ABKCO v Stellar) and lost that case. It was on a technicality based on a misunderstanding of Section 115 of the copyright code. The second suit was again based on a technicality, and when I was awarded a change of venue from the 6th circuit to fight this in NY or LA, the publisher dropped the case. The third suit was again on a technicality. Even my lawyer commented that he believed it was a setup. The forth was again mere technicalities that wouldn't have gotten past the clerk of courts in any circuit other than the 6th. The bottom line here is that you have no idea as to what is involved in licensing a musical composition for use in karaoke. You don't understand the process because you've never lived it. As you know I only put out current hits (although in the last 2 or 3 years the use of the word "hits" would be a very loose usage of the word), and licensing these products have complexities you can't even imagine. It simply isn't black & white. You've never been in a position of having to negotiate a blanket contract and then the harrowing process of sorting that contract..Gee, I wonder what could go wrong here? I had a fulltime employee that did nothing but work on licensing along with a licensing agent that probably spent half of her days working on our products alone. You're imagining a world where producer wants to record song, producer requests license from publisher, publisher issues license or denies license. Oh if it were only that simple I wouldn't have had to pay a full time employee, plus weekly meetings with the operations manager and the chief studio engineer and pay a licensing agent on a per song basis to boot. You are very quick to judge without any knowledge as to how things actually work. You only think you know how they work and make assumptions from there.

Chip, I always considered you to be a reasonably bright guy, but intelligence without knowledge of the facts always leads to incorrect conclusions. In the words of Frederick Bastiat when speaking of "That which is seen, and that which is not seen" ... "It is an ill wind that blows nobody good. Everybody must live, and what would become of the glaziers if panes of glass were never broken?"


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 8:14 pm 
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Bastiat wrote:
Your response, and it was a good one, is nonetheless a perfect example of what I meant by moralizing the issue is a slippery slope. You seem to make no distinction between that which is legal and what is moral. If there is a legal option for me to save my company through an "asset switcheroo" or some other legal outlet how is that "a perfect example of tossing out the moral crusade in exchange for cheating some other entity?" If you can't legislate morality (and for good reason), and if I'm within the confines of the law where is the immorality? After all morality is nothing more than a set of human constructs.

The morality enters the scene when an entity -- and I'll use CB for an example only -- admits their Universal-owned karaoke songs weren't licensed and enters into a consent judgement to repay the publishers (with punitive damages) restitution to the tune of a couple million dollars. While the repayment time frame is ticking away, the parties have agreed that CB can keep selling discs as though they are all now (and have been) magically and properly licensed.

Except CB never sends in a payment.... not a one.... and keeps selling discs and even starts selling hard drives and "bushels of discs" for deep discount pricing. Obviously, this is a breach of the contractual obligations to the publisher. It's not a mistake, it's willful. A.K.A. "cheating."

When Universal winds up to go to bat to protect their interests, WHAM!... CB magically vanishes into thin air.... and when the publisher should have at the minimum, some sort of asset to garnish to satisfy at least a small portion of the debt, a "legal loophole" gets used and those assets have been claimed by..... the same people with a different name....

Legal? Sure. Moral? Nope. As you say; "If I'm within the confines of the law where is the immorality?" is nothing more than a crutch used for justification of the above breach. Remember, we're talking about an agreement that was made to compensate for stolen I.P., not a court ordered fine, sanction or anything else.

Bastiat wrote:
However I don't want to steer this conversation into a philosophy lecture, but how do you get to decide what is moral and what isn't? There are several different views on what one would consider to be morally correct with regard to copyright. The Objectivists (i.e. Ayn Rand) believe that whomever registers the copyright first is the rightful owner, others believe whomever thinks of it first is the rightful owner, and still there are several different libertarian points of view such as that of Stephan Kinsella (a libertarian copyright/patent attorney) who makes a very good argument as to why the very idea of copyright is immoral to begin with. So if I subscribe to Kinsella's constructs, what gives you the right to impose your sense of morality on me? How do you make the leap from acting within the law to cheating someone? This is where the slippery slope comes in, and why I prefer to not turn these types of discussions into a moral crusade. What's that saying? One man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist

There's really no "leap" here at all. I understand your examples in regard to who "owns" a copyright and we could go back and forth all day on that one alone. Frankly, I believe the person that can prove they thought of it would be the winner, but on a "more moral basis" there probably shouldn't be copyright at all if it benefits the general public.

The breach in the example above is not a leap to morality from legality at all. It's not a contest of "who thought of it" versus "who registered it" at all, it's a failure to conform to a previously agreed to set of limitations.... The agreement was to pay an obligation that was agreed to.... and it wasn't. Using the messed up legal system to get away without paying and keeping the property at the same time.... is where "the cheat" comes into play. It might be "legal" but it's certainly not "moral." It's not a slippery slope at all, it's common sense and nothing more.

Bastiat wrote:
If you believe that there are members of these so called "band of producers" that are "guilty" of piracy then you have every right to not support them. However unless they've been convicted in a court of law then they are merely suspects. If you feel you have legal standing to sue them, then by all means take the plunge. I happen to agree with your beliefs that there are members of that group who were guilty of selling infringing products so I chose to not collaborate with them. I wonder how many critics of these rogue members of the "band of producers" have not supported these suspects? Do you think it hypocritical to bash these producers while continuing to use their products, or is that an exception to your moral code? In other words, why don't you remove all of the tracks from your catalog by those producers that you suspect are guilty of selling pirated materials? I'll tell you why ... because if you did you probably would no longer have a show. You would quickly lose your following and your clients when they realized that they can't sing that Adele or ABBA song, or the Garth Brooks song, or Billy Joel and the list goes on an on. So unless you can honestly say that you'll remove all of that music from your library then you should probably dismount from your moral high horse.

And you missed the point by at least a nautical mile.
First of all, as a karaoke hosting company, it's not my business to police producers is it? That a different level and it's more within YOUR business as a producer to police your competitors that dilute and steal your customers... namely KJ's like me and the general public. I would have no standing to sue them and you know that.... but you would as an unfair business practice on a competitive level.

KJ's have always been reminded by producers that we're "just consumers" of the products they provide to the market and that it's "none of your business" when it comes to licensing of products from publishers. So the average KJ wouldn't know anything about the "no fly list" unless it was a producer that disseminated that information. And even if so, I have plenty of songs that were properly licensed and sold... before the artist or publisher "changed their minds" about it. The Billy Joel disc I have from DK was perfectly legal when it was produced and sold... Those songs may be on the list NOW, but not when I bought them. That horse left the barn a long time ago... along with ABBA, etc...

Are you suggesting that I should now destroy the disc on moral grounds? Ain't gonna happen. The product I purchased didn't have an expiration date or even a option for the artist or publisher to change their mind. But if you're talking about a "new producer" cranking out unlicensed and unauthorized songs on the no fly list, I'd have to ask again when does that licensing portion of the business become MY business? I don't have to support them and that's correct, but I'd also expect someone - either a publisher or competing producer to take legal steps to protect their property and/or their business and customer base.
Bastiat wrote:
Last but not least you claim that you would agree with me 100% if there was any evidence that these publishers ..... and then sued on a technicality. This is the strongest evidence that you do not understand how the real world works. Are you freaking kidding me? I was sued 4 damn times. The first was because I obtained a straight mechanical license (ABKCO v Stellar) and lost that case. It was on a technicality based on a misunderstanding of Section 115 of the copyright code. The second suit was again based on a technicality, and when I was awarded a change of venue from the 6th circuit to fight this in NY or LA, the publisher dropped the case. The third suit was again on a technicality. Even my lawyer commented that he believed it was a setup. The forth was again mere technicalities that wouldn't have gotten past the clerk of courts in any circuit other than the 6th. The bottom line here is that you have no idea as to what is involved in licensing a musical composition for use in karaoke. You don't understand the process because you've never lived it.

Well, let's see.... It sounds like you've saddled up your own moral horse here because as long as (to use your words) the publishers were "within the confines of the law, where is the immorality?" Suddenly, there is a blurry line between "legal" and "cheating." If a publisher crafts a contract that is a "set up" and then sues you for it, that (in my book) is another form of "cheating." But they'll take the point that "you should have read the fine print." As far as a misunderstanding of the copyright code is concerned, that's what the courts are supposed to do: interpret and apply the law that others are in dispute over.

And for all those that don't understand the legal system: It ain't nuthin' like television. It's not about "truth and justice, mom and apple pie" at all. It's a dog and pony show... when you don't know if you're the dog or the pony.... (Dogs eat ponies and ponies trample dogs, pick one)

Bastiat wrote:
As you know I only put out current hits (although in the last 2 or 3 years the use of the word "hits" would be a very loose usage of the word), and licensing these products have complexities you can't even imagine. It simply isn't black & white. You've never been in a position of having to negotiate a blanket contract and then the harrowing process of sorting that contract..Gee, I wonder what could go wrong here? I had a fulltime employee that did nothing but work on licensing along with a licensing agent that probably spent half of her days working on our products alone. You're imagining a world where producer wants to record song, producer requests license from publisher, publisher issues license or denies license. Oh if it were only that simple I wouldn't have had to pay a full time employee, plus weekly meetings with the operations manager and the chief studio engineer and pay a licensing agent on a per song basis to boot. You are very quick to judge without any knowledge as to how things actually work. You only think you know how they work and make assumptions from there.

Not really. I actually do understand how it works... and I can certainly stand up and applaud you for daring to be brave enough to even enter that business. I'd rather navigate a football field of bear traps, barefooted, blindfolded, backwards and at night. I believe I'd have a better chance of making it out alive. A marketplace that has dwindled down to a single active producer is evidence of how treacherous that portion of this "karaoke biz" can really be.

Bastiat wrote:
Chip, I always considered you to be a reasonably bright guy, but intelligence without knowledge of the facts always leads to incorrect conclusions. In the words of Frederick Bastiat when speaking of "That which is seen, and that which is not seen" ... "It is an ill wind that blows nobody good. Everybody must live, and what would become of the glaziers if panes of glass were never broken?"

Well, we are about the same age and I appreciate the compliment (even if it's somewhat backhanded).

“When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law.”
― Frédéric Bastiat

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