I’m not sure if anyone noticed or not, but there’s been a veritable shit show happening over at Digital Music News (DMN) in regards to their position on copyright. The publication wants to call this whole debacle a debate—a self-serving one perhaps. It’s also a bit of a head-scratcher, but that’s going to require a bit of explanation.
My confusion doesn’t lie with DMN staff writer Ari Herstand’s ridiculous and insulting comparison of the modern day oppressed social media infringers with our oppressed black population at the time of Jim Crow laws. That’s just ignorant and stupid.
No, what I’m having trouble deciphering is the overarching mission of Digital Music News, and you would think that would be easy to figure out since there’s really only two writers there. One of them is the founder.
Here’s what it says on the “About Us” page:
“The Digital Music News publisher and founder is Paul Resnikoff. Resnikoff along with Ari Herstand take care of most of the ink. Robert Jensen oversees backend systems and engineering initiatives, and Rochell Abonalla manages administrative aspects and advertising implementation. Noah Itman shapes partnerships with companies and also handles marketing, sales and advertising.”
Based on their own description, there are two main writers for Digital Music News—the founder Paul and his one and only staff writer Ari Herstand.
I first discovered Ari when I read his DMN article titled: Facebook Is Aggressively Ripping Down Cover Videos—an opinion piece posted October 11, for which he was widely and rightly excoriated for calling UMGs David Benjamin an idiot. All that David was doing was exercising his employers copyright in the form of DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedown notices for infringing videos on Facebook.
Ari argues that UMG is wrong to issue these takedown notices, and then proceeds to cry foul over how our poor little Yutes are having their performances of cover songs ripped down from their social media feed. He blames UMG for crushing the dreams of our future superstars. Cut me a break.
It’s Facebook that won’t agree to a blanket license. Instead, they do what Youtube used to do, which is make everyone send them DMCA takedown notices, one at a time for each discovered offense. Facebook currently has a user base over 1.65 billion.
I mean, if Facebook isn’t going to play ball with the rights holders and aggregators of music, then I say every label and every publisher should make a concerted effort to inundate them with takedown notices until it makes more sense for Facebook to agree to the blanket license. UMG is within their rights to issue takedown demands, and frankly, they should. But let’s set all of that aside for the moment.
Enter Matt Thompson, CEO of Songfreedom, who isn’t listed on Digital Music News as a writer or even a contributor, and who is credited on DMN for an article posted October 14 titled: “Stop Blaming The Victim of Facebook’s Blatant Copyright Theft.”
Matt rightly hammers Ari for his complete lack of understanding of how copyright works, why we have it, and why one corporation might want to exercise their copyright over another. I mean, on the one hand Ari argues that the labels were wrong to go after individual infringers like they did in the early aughts. On the other he doesn’t believe the label should stand up to a corporation that’s 11 times bigger than them in terms of annual revenue.
David Lowery even joined into the fracas with his response. For those unfamiliar, David is singer and songwriter for the band Cracker. He’s also the lead Plaintiff in a widely anticipated class-action copyright infringement suit against Spotify. On October 11, David published a response on the community artists rights blog called the Trichordist: “David Benjamin (UMG) Stands Up To Facebook for Songwriters, Ari Herstand? Not So Much.
Here we’ve got Ari posting to DMN as half the writing team for the rag. Matt posting to DMN as some sort of guest writer. David Lowry posting his response at the Trichordist. And here I am posting my observations here.
So where’s my confusion?
Why is Matt Thompson responding to Ari on DMN and not elsewhere like the rest of us?
Now, I understand that a publication, even a wholly digital one, might allow others to respond to an article, and that publication might even publish that response. But there IS a comments section. It just seems strange that the argument made by the one and only staff writer at DMN is being usurped by a guest poster, who isn’t mentioned anywhere on the marquee.
Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have thought much about it had Ari not responded to both Matt and David on DMN with his Oct 17 article titled Old Music Business is Yelling at New Music Business.
Ari’s response froths with anger, and he is clearly hurt in the ass over Matt Thompson’s response. It’s one thing to ignore all the mean-spirited swipes in the comments section because somehow responding “belittles you,” it’s wholly another to get called out front and center on a website in which you are touted as half the writing team. I’d be apoplectic.
Call me crazy, but I’m thinking it probably wasn’t Ari’s decision to post Matt Thompson’s piece tearing his ridiculous arguments to shreds.
Which means Digital Music News pretty much threw half it’s writing team under the bus. Which is fine by me, but it does leave me a bit confused. What exactly am I reading when I read Digital Music News?
When Ari posts an article for Digital Music News, it’s reasonable to assume he is presenting the position of the publication itself. When Digital Music News then publishes a hard-nosed rebuke by an outsider to the publication, I no longer understand what position Digital Music News is taking.
Is Digital Music News actually just an OpEd? A multi-contributor blog? So, the thoughts of Ari Herstand don’t represent Digital Music News? I mean, he writes for the rag all the time. He’s half the writing team.
If DMN is going to be a wholly OpEd publication, then first, I would suggest they take the word News out of their name, and second, start accepting articles from many different sources, and then call themselves a Forum. Because if he’s half of their writing staff, then I’m sorry, he represents the DMN position by default. And if Digital Music News is supposed to cater to labels and music industry professionals that have a history of making money making music (as their “About Us” page indicates), then I might suggest that Ari routinely spouts positions that alienate their target audience.
So, EITHER, the purpose of this digital publication is ACTUALLY to cater to Big Tech companies who, like Ari, want to eradicate copyright, and the Matt Thompson response is merely designed to drive traffic to their site.
OR, they’ve finally realized Ari Herstad is an idiot whose opinions are uninformed and wholly misguided as he defends the rights of the biggest corporations in the world to steal with impunity from Songwriters and Artists, all under the guise of protecting the oppressed back-of-the-bus masses found on social media.
Which is it?
Just so we’re clear. This ginned up debate isn’t about the poor consumer or the budding singer. Facebook users want to use great songs in their videos because they make their videos better. If it’s so damned important to Facebook that their user base is able to post videos with popular music, Facebook can fucking pay for it.
I mean, they only made 17 billion dollars last year.
Google made 75 billion. UMG made 1.5 billion.
To Digital Music News: I can guarantee that if you discovered a post carrying the full content of your articles on a Facebook users newsfeed, it would only be a matter of seconds before you would exercise your COPYRIGHT and send Facebook a DMCA takedown notice.
Don’t be fucking hypocrites!
Check out #Mixerman and the Billionheir Apparent – a satire of the Modern Music Business through the prism of US Politics & vice versa.