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I Have A Credit Problem
Tape Log Entry #191
Over the last few years we've seen an explosion of online music services. Pandora, iTunes, Spotify, Rhapsody, Soundcloud and dozens of other platforms are touted as groundbreaking ways to deliver music to listeners. But this success is on the backs of the people who actually create the music; the performers, producers and engineers. These services are nothing without content generated by music creators and, at the very least, they need to finally give all these people credit on screen. Not only would it would enrich the user experience, it would also improve these music services by turning people on to new music. I've joined a crew of dedicated folks at NARAS (the Grammy people) that are tackling this issue, but we need your help to show there is a real demand. There are many obvious reasons why credit must be given to music creators, but here are a few important ones that I haven't heard discussed enough:
1) Providing credits (beyond simply "artist" and "title") makes for a far better user experience and would improve all music services. It's a win-win situation, and in most cases it costs nothing. It's one of the most obvious ways to turn people on to new music and it has thus far been a completely missed opportunity. For example: if a listener enjoys Radiohead or The Roots, wouldn't they want to know who performed on the recordings, who produced the albums and what other records these people might have worked on? Chances are the consumer might like their other work - and they might buy more music and explore back catalogs. Now that we have amazing products, like Apple's iPad, to experience music with, we should be demanding a much richer experience than what is currently offered; something deserving of the amazing new screens these music services are displayed on. We should have an improved and deeper experience than we used to have while perusing a CD booklet or a cassette insert - not a far worse experience. We need to be able to see who is performing on each song as it plays - but also everyone who produced, engineered and mastered it - all within the main screen and without having to ever leave the main page. This should go beyond merely displaying a data field with a name. We should be able to see what other work these music creators have been involved with, "like" them via Facebook, see what the producers and artists are currently working on, and be able to bookmark these albums to check out later. Of course we should also be able to link directly to their websites and Facebook pages by clicking on these names. But, for now, we'd settle on just having the credits we deserve in a simple data field with our names.
Let's also look at this from the perspective of another similar, slightly less damaged, industry so we can see how this issue should be handled. How long do you think Netflix or movie theaters would last (before being sued or shut down) if they stopped rolling the end credits of movies? The Screen Actors Guild, Directors Guild and Writers Guild would never stand for it. If the credits were not there, the studios would sue. There would be so much bad press, and likely outcry from the general public. But this is the music business, and for some reason these music services think they don't need to bother crediting us. We've all seen iTunes and noticed their failure to credit music creators on screen. But go to the iTunes store and look up any movie. You'll see a list of actors, screenwriters, directors and producers right at the top of the screen, next to the movie poster. We must demand the same for the music industry. People outside of our field may assume this issue of not crediting music creators is a minor formality that merely irritates us, but this is not about stroking our egos. People need to understand that producers, engineers and musicians need these credits in order to survive in this business. We get our work by word of mouth. Without credits no one knows the work we've done, we don't get new work and pretty soon we don't have a career. Companies like Pandora or Spotify get a lot of credit for their achievements. It's time for them to give credit to the people who made their services even possible.
So far the issue of credits has been relegated to relatively closed discussions within the industry. This issue is far more straightforward than that. It's not a complicated tech issue for nerdy engineers and it's not something that should take more than a few minutes to resolve for all future music releases. Adding a data field on a site like iTunes or Pandora only takes a few seconds. All we need is for Internet distributors to simply require the following info for all releases: a list of all performers, producers, engineers, mixers and mastering engineers for each song - and to provide their preferred web link. No future releases should be accepted by distributors without this data. But even more importantly, distributors must demand that all music services display these credits! They are legally obligated (at least according to my contracts). And we should make sure this language is in all of our contracts.
If you think performers, producers and engineers should be credited on interactive music services like iTunes, Pandora and Spotify, please visit Facebook to "like" our campaign so we can show there is a real demand to change this: http://on.fb.me/yFaypf
Help us help you. Thanks!