Sunday, November 20, 2011

Reading about the Civil Wars

I have been reading Adam Gold’s cover story in last week’s Nashville Scene about the Civil Wars (not the Civil War, I wrote about that here: wondering how I missed all of this until recently. I have had several people tell me about this group but I never got around to listening to them. The duo made their debut at a club not two blocks away from my house and their management/record company/significant other is apparently in my building. They’ve sold 200,000 albums and 250,000 downloads. This is a phenomenal story but the real back-story is even more interesting from Christian music to a failed record deal to television commercials for hot dogs-and at the end of the day real talent which can take a band from the French Quarter CafĂ© to the Royal Albert Hall in two years. I am impressed by the genuineness of the story and can’t help thinking about the Civil Wars and their organic success as I also read about Citigroup finally unloading the once hallowed EMI Music Group. These are two very different stories of success in the music business. The band’s manager is speaking at a Nashville Bar Association CLE in a few weeks and I am looking forward to hearing him.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Copyright Office studies Remedies for Small Copyright Claims

This is interesting. The Copyright Office just announced that it is soliciting public comment through its notice of inquiry process on how copyright owners handle “small” copyright claims “and obstacles they have encountered as well as potential alternatives to the current legal system that could better accommodate such claims.”

While our Copyright Act provides significant muscle in stopping infringement, the whole process from registration (a prerequisite to filing a copyright infringement lawsuit) onwards is byzantine and for many copyright owners too expensive.

I am sure that many people will come up with suggestions and I don’t know what the Copyright Office will ultimately come up with but this seems like a golden opportunity to simplify the system and provide some clarity as to the rules. I don’t know if Congress could create something like a small claims court for small copyright claims but the concept is intriguing.

This will be a conversation worth following.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

On Splother

I had lunch yesterday with my friend Dave Durocher to learn more about his new venture, Splother. I wanted to write about Splother earlier when the Nashville Scene featured the company in its list on 10 new innovative companies in Nashville but to be honest I didn’t really understand what it was the company did. I do now.

I’ve known Dave for a long time and I have always admired him as one of the true good guys involved in music publishing. What I did not know is that he is also a computer whiz who, with some other talented people, has figured out how to streamline the music licensing process to create true one stop shopping for companies looking for independent music for film, television and other uses.

Most artists know that the traditional record deal no longer exists so the mantra has been to get your music into film and tv. However, the gatekeeper process in this world has been as complex and daunting as in the major label world. So, the brilliance of Splother is that it removes the artificial A+R bias and allows the music to compete on its own merit. One can argue (as I sometimes have) that there needs to be a filtering process but the companies and services that provide that are still alive and well. This is something for the truly independent artist.

There may be competing models out there but this site seems intuitive and smart and could become really significant as it develops. Dave’s enthusiasm for the concept is obvious and that’s a great thing to see these days. I’ve also enjoyed reading his partner Steve Toland’s blog comments on the website. This is a company worth watching carefully.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Can't Get a Job? Sue Your Law School

I am still bemused by an article I read in the Wall Street Journal; a few weeks ago which detailed two lawsuits filed by graduates of Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Michigan and New York Law School. The plaintiffs, graduates of the two schools, are suing the schools for allegedly distorting the employment records of their graduates. The suits seek tuition refunds and damages. All of this seems ironic to me. Lawyers can’t get jobs so they sue their law schools. Everybody knows that there are too many lawyers but can we really say that is the intentional fault of the law schools? I don’t remember my law school promising me anything other than to teach me “to think like a lawyer” (or was that Professor Kingsfield from The Paper Chase?) With many years of hindsight I see the benefits of a legal education and I have seen many lawyers successfully apply their training in non-legal careers. I think that it is unfortunate that so many people go to law school thinking that graduation is an automatic ticket to a great job but I don’t think that this is necessarily the fault of the institutions. It will be interesting to see how these lawsuits play out.