Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) is not real “Rock Star” but he is becoming one to the freedom loving folks of the world! Senator Lee is proving he is a champion of free markets and technology as he has taken notice of the latest effort by the record industry to squash one of the coolest new technologies – streaming music.
My teenage son loves it. And thanks to Guardians of the Galaxy old time rock-n-roll has become cool again. It’s not uncommon for him to stroll up to me with some Eagles or Bob Seger or the Rolling Stones streaming from his electronic device. Music from my generation is bridging the gap to his and it’s all streaming from some wonderful cloud somewhere. I’m sure Al Gore invented it, but even so, it rocks!
Get ready to be stunned. New technology is awesome, people love it. Government and powers that be hate it because it’s messing up their money machine. Streaming is changing the way we get our music and cutting deeply into massive bottom lines at companies like Sony. Cronyism is alive and well, and it doesn’t take a genius to see the writing on the wall. All this streaming has to stop. It’s almost funny that the most creative industries seem to love to kill freedom of expression faster than you can say Wall Street billionaire.
The average millennial today embraces technology. They were born with smart phones in their hands! Most all of us love it too, and we always have. Technological advances like the light bulb, typewriter, computer and cell phone have raised the quality of life for all people. Remember how fun it was to walk down the street with a giant “boom box” on your shoulder sporting a sweet mullet? I do. Well, those “boom boxes” were a little heavy and the mullet, well, some things should fade away. Now we can take thousands of songs with us anywhere and streaming is making it happen.
The recording industry should be thrilled, right? No, not so much. Throughout time they’ve repeatedly sought to use their political connections and power to crush new technologies. For example, record and movie industry executives tried to have Congress outlaw the piano player at the turn of the century, the gramophone in the early 1920’s, the VCR in the early 1980s, and MP3 players in the 1990s. Their sites are now set on a new target — Internet streaming music.
Streaming must be crushed and the record industry executives have begun a political campaign to ensure that happens. One big problem…you can’t put technology back in the bottle.
The only thing that has kept music publishers from controlling absolutely every facet of the music industry are some agreements known as a consent decrees. The DOJ designed these in the 40’s to protect radio stations from outrageous royalty fees. The DOJ and the recording industry agreed upon consent decrees to establish a mechanism for fairness under the anti-trust laws. These decrees have been the foundation that the new music-streaming companies have relied upon to develop this new technology in the hope of a future profit.
“Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie” has moved from Cassette, to CD, to MP3, and now to streaming. The recording industry has set out to bankrupt the streaming music business because they can’t control it.
Sony Music, which in 2013 controlled 40% of all songs, pulled licenses for certain songs and refused to tell Pandora what songs they could legally play and what songs they could not. If Pandora accidentally played a Sony song without a license the fine would be $150,000 per song. Essentially, forcing Pandora out of business or into court. In court, it was discovered that Sony was working with the music publishers, the American Society of Composers and Publishers (ASCAP), to the drive up the royalty rate — they same tactic they employed in 1940.
Doing what any good crony would do, the recording industry turned on their lobbyists and began demanding the government change the rules. They are pushing for the consent decree to be vacated by the government. That’s why the Lee hearings are so important. If the Department of Justice decides to tear up the consent decree, the industry will jack up rates until the streaming industry is destroyed.
Senator Lee has called for a critical hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Antitrust to review just what is going down in music-town. Lee may become a “Juke Box Hero” if he can save the streaming industry, allowing millions of music loving people to continue to get their groove on via computer, phone or electronic device.
They say music soothes the savage beast, but it apparently can’t stop a corrupt relationship between the Obama Administration’s DOJ and the music industry from trying to destroy some of the coolest new technology of our time.