Music Industry

Anti-Scalping Legislation Introduced

New legislation was introduced to the Ontario Parliament yesterday to prohibit the use of ticket bots, software that enables the mass purchase of concert and event tickets.

Schedule 3 of Bill 166, a.k.a the Strengthening Protection for Ontario Consumers Act, will enact the Ticket Sales Act, which will replace the Ticket Speculation Act and essentially cause automated ticket purchasing software to become illegal for events in the province of Ontario.

Also included in the Ticket Sales Act are provisions capping the resale price of tickets at 50 percent above face value, regulations in regards to transparency (mandatory disclosures of the identity of the seller, number of tickets in the seller’s possession, and original ticket price) and regulations in regards to mandatory residency and/or incorporation in the province of Ontario for ticket sellers.

Click here to read the proposed legislation, in full.

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Music Biography Audiobook Recommendations

Audible is currently offering three free audiobooks to new subscribers (who are also Prime members) so I thought i’d bump a few of my favorites.

One of the first music biographies I purchased on audiobook was Ann & Nancy’s Wilson’s “Kicking and Screaming: A Story of Heart, Soul, and Rock and Roll“.

Those familiar with 70’s and 80’s rock will, of course, recognise those names as being those of the sisters that front “Heart”, a hard rock band that got first got their foot in the door here in Canada with the release of “Dog & Butterfly” on Mushroom, an independent Canadian label based on the west coast.

Narrated by the sisters themselves, this audiobook recalls their beginnings and meteoric rise through the music industry as one of the few female rock acts of the time. And having been a fan since the early 80’s, I found the book quite enjoyable and interesting – Especially when they discuss the histories behind my favorite tracks, like “Barracuda”, “Crazy On You”, “Alone” and “These Dreams”.

Another female rock autobiography I really enjoyed was Grace Slick’s “Somebody to Love?“, which I had also purchased on hardcover before downloading as an Audiobook.

Like Ann Wilson, Grace Slick is one of those memorable, powerful vocalists that one routinely hears on classic rock stations throughout the world, notably for 60’s anthems “White Rabbit” and “Somebody To Love”. And having only been alive since 1970 I was not around for Jefferson Airplane’s initial appearance on the world stage. But through Starship, I had started enjoying her talent.

Also narrated by the artist herself, this audiobook not only discusses her highly notable career in music but her activism and the consequences of conspiring to spike then President Nixon’s tea with LSD during an official White House event.

Seriously, if your interest in this audiobook isn’t peeked by my last sentence… 🙂

Speaking of drugs and rock & roll, another female autobiography I’d like to recommend is Belinda Carlisle’s “Lips Unsealed“, which is a quite candid account of this pop-rock singer’s struggles with cocaine.

In the 80’s, Belinda Carlisle had numerous hits both as the lead singer of The Go-Go’s and as a solo artist. But her addiction remained into the early 2000’s, cumulating into a binging incident in 2005.

Be assured, this audiobook isn’t dark and devoted to the grueling processes she had gone through to get clean. It is quite eclectic and interesting so I highly recommend it.

On a lighter note, I also recommend Dawn French’s “Dear Fatty” and Jennifer Saunder’s “Bonkers: My Life in Laughs“.

Yes, these aren’t music biographies but as a fan of British comedies, I had to recommend these autobiographies from the stars of French & Saunders, Ab Fab and Vicar of Dibley.

These are narrated by the comedians themselves and are hilarious, offering two different perspectives on the creation of the hit BBC television series and various other subjects. And if anyone asked me to recommend audiobooks from the genre, these two would top my list, followed by my recently acquired copy of “Classic BBC Radio Comedy: Rowan Atkinson’s The Atkinson People“.

By the way, the Audible‘s subscription fee is $14.95 per month, which kicks in 90 days after the free audiobook offer is accepted. And membership enables subscribers to obtain a 30% discount on audiobooks.

Piracy in Streaming

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry has released a report (PDF) this month and although it appears that the majority of consumers use legal streaming services to listen to music, 40% stream music from sites that are illegal.

These illegal sites, unfortunately, do not give royalties to the artists and also appear to be promoted by Google via their search engines.

This has become a concern because 85% of music consumers from the age of 13 to 15 stream music and video according to this report and the IFPI believes the issue is compounded by the popularity of music videos on Youtube, which “accounts for 46% of all time spent listening to on-demand music”; The IFPI believes upload services like Youtube “are not returning fair value to the music community”.

More people are listening to legal streaming services though, which is up from 37% last year to 45% this year. But the IFPI wants to obtain more revenue from Youtube, comparable to that of Spotify, whose royalties are estimated to be $20 per user, per year; The report claims less than a dollar in royalties are collected per user per year from Youtube.

The IFPI is also concerned about stream ripping, which involves the capturing of audio from streaming services.

This report estimates that more users are stream ripping, up from 30% last year to 35% this year. But advancements have been made to end this practice with the dismantling of YouTube-MP3.org earlier this month.

That site enabled its 60 million plus users to rip audio from Youtube videos but the Recording Industry Association of America sued and the owners of this site settled by closing it down.

RIAA had also successfully closed Sharebeast as well this month, a site that “averaged 14-16 million visits per month at its height in 2013” according to the Official RIAA press release.

Still Waiting…

I had hoped for details on any change to the intellectual property provisions of NAFTA by the first of August but it appears too early, even for speculation.

A new council had been created earlier this month and there are concerns about privacy. But nothing yet as too what else the United Stated will want changed.

Unfortunately, our government has extended our copyright term from 50 to 70 years due to the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement so now we’ve got to wait twenty more years for copyrighted works to enter the public domain, regardless of the fact that the United States has withdrawn from the agreement.

I certainly hope they will not go after our ability to make private copies of recordings for personal use or attempt to resurrect proposals to tax hard drives and flash media. But I am hoping they will negotiate higher exemptions for personal importations by mail.

As it stands most imported parcels valued under $20 are exempt from duties and taxes, as stipulated on the Canadian Border Services Agency web site. And I think this amount is way too low.

eBay had proposed a higher de minimis threshold for Canadians since July 2016 and had created an official Parlimentary petition that year and a petition for its users earlier this year.

They published a study (PDF) by the C.D Howe Institute and I’m guessing from eBay’s response to the renewed NAFTA negotiations that they will petition the government again on this issue.

According to a 2016 Nanos Research poll, 76% of Canadian respondents want a $200 exemption and over 15,000 Canadians had signed the official Parlimentary petition that year, so i’m guessing eBay will bring attention to this issue again durring the negotiations.

I will, of course, keep an eye out for new information and will update this site a.s.a.p.

Canada Day – Recommended Reading

It’s Canada’s 150th and Montreal 375th anniversary this year so I thought I’d recommend some of my favorite Canadian music history books:

– “Oh What A Feeling – The Next Generation” by Martin Melhuish

Originally released in conjunction with a four-CD compilation to commemorate the 25th anniversary of The Juno Awards, “Oh What A Feeling – A Vital History of Canadian Music” featured a year by year chronological account of Canada’s music history as well as information on the Juno Awards from 1971 to 1996.

“The Next Generation” is an updated version that was released in 2014, with additional information relating to upcomming artists, notable births and deaths, Hall Of Fame inductees and Juno Award Winners. Available from Amazon.ca / Amazon.com / Chapters-Indigo

– “Music From Far and Wide” – by multiple authors

This official Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences book was released in 2010 to celebrate the Juno Award’s 40th Aniversary and provides an in-depth history of the organisation and creation of the Juno Awards, with a list of Juno Award winners up to 2010 as well as a listing of Board of Directors from 1975 to 2010.

This book can be found at some local book stores, at Amazon.ca and Amazon.com.

– “Is This Live?” by Christopher Ward

As the Nation’s music station, Much Music had been the epicenter for music in Canada from the mid-1980’s to mid-1990’s. And this book by VJ and songwriter Christopher Ward not only discusses the history of the station but makes notes of many events that occurred at the infamous 899 Queen Street West.

This is a must for Canadian fans of 80’s music. Available from Amazon.ca / Amazon.com / Chapters-Indigo

– “Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia” by Jaimie Vernon

Originally released as the “Encyclopedia of Canadian Rock Pop & Folk Music” in 2004 by Rick Jackson, this artist by artist account of Canadian music history has now become a multiple volume compilation, the first two listing artists alphabetically from “A Thru K” and “L thru Z“, respectively, and a recent celebration of the country’s “Vinyl Years“.

Published in 2011, the first two volumes include information on specific artists (brief history and discography) up to 2010 whilst the third volume concentrates on artists whose vinyl releases were popular up to 1996. All three volumes are available from Amazon.ca and Amazon.com.

– “Top 40 Hits” / “Top Albums” by Nanda Lwin

These reference guides list the chart activity of domestic and international artists in Canada up to 1999 for singles and 2003 for albums. These are of course a must for people who are interested in Canadian music history and altough they are out of print, you can still find “Top 40 Hits” at Alibrisicon, Amazon.ca and Amazon.com. And other chart information can be obtained from the RMP database on Library and Archives Canada and from a blog simply entitled “Canadian Music Blog“, which also contains a wealth of chart information including the best selling singles and albums by year and decade.

New Law Proposed In Ontario

In case you missed it yesterday, the Government of Ontario has proposed new regulations in regards to the resale of concert and event tickets within the province.

As stipulated in an official June 26th press release, the proposed measures include:

  • Banning the use and sale of ticket-buying software – also known as ticket bots – that are used to block legitimate fans and scoop up the best seats the moment an event goes on sale
  • Forbidding the sale of tickets on the resale market that are not owned or possessed by the seller (i.e. speculative tickets)
  • Continuing to restrict the resale of tickets unless they are verified by the primary seller, or the reseller offers a money-back guarantee.

Also included in the proposed measures are new rules in regards to transparency:

  • Primary ticket sellers would be required to disclose the number of tickets that would be available through the general on-sale, as well as the capacity of the event
  • Ticket resellers and online resale platforms would be required to disclose the original face value of the ticket and precise seat location, as well as the identity of a commercial reseller
  • All ticket-selling businesses would be required to disclose the all-in price of a ticket up front, plus clearly indicate the currency.

The “Ticket Sales Act” will be introduced to the Provincial Parliament in the fall.