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The music industry business: regulations and control

The music business is largely a self-regulated industry. Everyone seems to be involved in some aspect of control: individual artists, unions, corporate giants, publishers, etc .

The music business is largely a self-regulated industry - everyone seems to be involved in some aspect of control, from individual artists to unions and corporate giants, from publishers to licensers, from collecting agencies such as ASCAP, BMI and others to copyright and trademark offices.

Firstly, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office must have an example of a band`s name and / or logo registered before any band can claim rights in that name. The Office regulates who can have what name and symbol, and under what circumstances likenesses to similar preexisting band or entertainment names might be allowed. Any group who performs, records, or sells their music for commercial gain would be wise to register their name in order to defend their rights to continue making a profit from that music.

Rarely, an individual artist will have enough power (money) or popularity to be able to make their own career and contractual decisions, usually because they own their own publishing company, merchandising, or even their own record company (i.e.: Madonna`s Maverick Records, or Nine Inch Nails` Nothing Records). However, most artists cannot afford, or do not have the contacts necessary, to run their own publishing company, and as a result about 50% of their profits are paid out for the right to publish their music. When certain publishers own the artists rights to a song, they can prevent further performances or inclusion of those songs on future albums, should the artist ever change publishing companies; or, they can prevent other bands from recording a cover of those songs, sometimes even if the original band has given their ok.

Additionally, artists who wish to gather royalties on their music broadcasts must join ASCAP, BMI, SESAC or some similar group who can obtain BDS (Broadcast Data Systems) information on how many times a song was played and award the artist accordingly. The first two are non-profit organizations: ASCAP allows a performing musician to register by paying dues, while prospective members of BMI must prove that they can become an "affiliate" (provide for their own financial needs). SESAC is a for-profit organization that doesn`t seem to have much benefit for a "new" artist, mostly because they pay out expected royalties up front; only the already big names would enjoy this system if their previous song went over very well, and the expected return on the new song is to be as high (that way, if it does not do as well commercially, the artist comes out on top with a substantial chunk of change, but their next payout will probably be low if they use SESAC again).

If a group wishes to cover a previous song for commercial gain they must secure a copyright license from the Harry Fox Agency for any or all of the following reasons:

?? "Licensing of copyrighted musical compositions for use on commercial records, tapes, CDs and computer chips to be distributed to the public for private use.

?? Worldwide licensing of copyrighted musical compositions for use in audio/visual works including motion pictures, broadcast and cable television programs, CD videos and home videograms.

?? Licensing for use in TV and radio commercial advertising.

?? Licensing of musical compositions in recordings for other than private use, such as background music, in-flight music, computer chips, syndicated radio services, MIDI, karaoke and multi-media.

?? Licensing of musical compositions in recordings made outside of the U.S. and imported into this country for sale.

?? Collection and distribution of royalties derived from the uses of copyrighted musical compositions pursuant to the licenses issued.

?? Auditing of the books and records of licensees utilizing copyrighted musical compositions pursuant to the licenses issued, as well as the identification of unlicensed product."

With the publishers holding publishing rights, ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC holding performance rights, and the HFA holding mechanical rights for reproduction and distribution, artists can be fairly sure that no one else is profiting from their work without prior clearance. Record companies, on the other hand, can join the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) in order to further protect their rights in their artists` music. The RIAA`s mission statement tells us that they "work to protect intellectual property rights worldwide and the First Amendment rights of artists; conduct consumer, industry and technical research; and monitor and review - - state and federal laws, regulations and policies." Essentially what this means is suing (or ordering other court punishments such as injunction, impounding, destruction, or damages) anyone who produces unofficial copies of music for commercial (and sometimes non-commercial - as seen in the lawsuits against napster, mp3.com, and other internet sites--) gain.

Further, anyone who wishes to play music from a jukebox in a public setting must get clearance from the AMOA (Amusement and Music Operators Association). They provide licensing to businesses using jukeboxes by having the proprietors pay dues, much like ASCAP, so that royalties will be paid to the record companies whose artists have been selected to be played.

Unions such as the AFM, AEA, and AFTRA also help to regulate the music industry by protecting musicians who perform in orchestras or theatrical venues, and also road crews of touring musicians. The provide assurances of quality pay for their work, and pay out more to persons who perform extra tasks such as carting gear, or doubling instruments.

Many music business books tell us that all musicians will find themselves in court, or in need of an attorney for some reason in the span of their musical careers so, naturally, the U.S. Judicial System has the final say in any and all regulation of the music business, from copyright infringement to trademark and ownership disputes, and the appropriate punishments to be dealt to said offenders.

All in all, even though the artist seems to be on the downside, the music business has several built in agencies to take care of both individual artists and the corporate giants who often own their works in whole or in part. However, with more and more artists choosing to take control of their careers by turning to self-publishing on the internet, one can only wonder what agencies will arise to fill the need for internet regulation. ASCAP has already taken a step in the right direction by licensing MP3s; will there be more?

Written by Sabrina Surovec -

Book Review: Raga Malhar Darshan

This article presents a review of the book RAGA MALHAR DARSHAN by Dr. Geeta Banerjee. The material for this publication evolved from her doctoral work at Allahabad University completed under the supervision of her guru Pandit Ramashreya Jha "Ramrang." Dr. Banerjee has been a longtime performing vocalist and was on the Music Department faculty at the University. After Jha-sahab's retirement she succeeded him as Head of the department there. She is now retired from active duty but still maintains a part-time appointment.

<-- Dr. Geeta Banerjee at the author's place in Goa, performing on the occasion of Ganesh Chathurthi (Sept 2000)

RAGA MALHAR DARSHAN is a thorough investigation of Raganga Malhar and its derivatives. The organization of the subject matter is chronological, and three major time periods are identified in the development of the Malhars: prAchina (before the 15th C), madhyakAlina (15th C - 18th C) and avArchina (19th C to the present). Ragas Shuddha Malhar, Megh Malhar and Gaud Malhar are part of the first period. Many of the Malhars we relish today fall to the second lot. The treatment is comprehensive and scholarly, a product of first-rate scholarship. Although the title bears the name of only one author it is clear that the shAstraic backbone and many of the insights are due in no small measure to Jha-sahab himself.

Chapter 1, titled "Raganga Raga Malhar or Raga Shuddha Malhar," cuts straight to the core. The paterfamilias, Raga Shuddha Malhar, is traced historically as it occurs in the ancient texts such as Sangeet Ratnakara, Sangeet Parijat, Raga Manjiri, Sangeeta Darpana, Raga Tarangini and a host of other treatises. The attendent views of the author-panDits are recorded and critiqued. This historical section is followed by a detailed musical analysis of the Raganga Raga Shuddha Malhar. Just what it is that constitutes the Malhar anga is fleshed out. Comparisons and differences are drawn with two other rAgas - Durga and Jaladhar Kedar - that employ the same pentatonic scale (S R M P D, where M = shuddha madhyam). Throughout the volume every theoretical discussion of a rAga culminates in a collection of notated compositions: dhrupads, kHayAls and tAranAs, old ('traditional') and 'new' (mostly Ramrang's).

Chapter 2 lays the groundwork for the time-framed Malhar prakArs of the chapters following. Chapter 3 discusses the prAchina prakArs, Chapter 4 the madhyakAlina and Chapter 5 the avArchina (see Footnote for the names of the actual rAgas covered). The major prakArs are put under the lens and analyzed; their variations are also dealt with. For instance, Gaud Malhar has a less-familiar version that uses the komal gandhAr (K.G. Ginde has a recording of this puppy), Nat Malhar comes in two flavours, one with both the gandhArs (eg. see Bhimsen Joshi's recording) and the more common one with only the shuddha gandhAr. A distinction is drawn between Megh and Megh Malhar and the variations of the latter acknowledged. The compositions are for the most part offered only in the principal versions (so determined by the author's background).

In Chapter 6 the sampoorNa jAti Malhars are assessed and compared. Chapter 7 presents a few recently-hatched (i.e. conceived by Ramrang) Malhars and their compositions. The concluding Chapter 8 contains a brief discussion on rasa and its realization in the different Malhars.

There have been other published works dedicated to the Malhars. For instance, the volume MALHAR KE PRAKAAR by Jaisukhlal Shah, which contains some useful traditional compositions but is otherwise a rather sloppy piece of work and called as such by Dr. Banerjee in her prefatory remarks. Pandit Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande has a detailed discussion on the Malhars in his magnum opus, HINDUSTANI SANGEET PADDHATI, from which Dr. Banerjee has freely drawn upon.

Pandit Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande --->

Two features of RAGA MALHAR DARSHAN make it particularly outstanding. One is the assemblage of many traditional compositions many of which are not easily accessible. Furthermore, Jha-sahab's own compositions are a testament to his creative genius and stature as one of the preeminent Hindustani vAggeyakAras of our time. Of particular profit to the serious student or performer is the method of rAga analysis that is proposed. The reader is introduced to the shAstraic language and familiarized with the kind of critical thinking necessary for an inquiry into the innards of a rAga. Jha-sahab's earlier volumes demonstrate well this approach where the rAga is taken apart swara-by-swara and then re-assembled. Although Jha-sahab's didactic virtuosity and analytical acumen are peerless and original, he credits Bhatkhande for "showing me the way." But he is no uncritical follower, no "lakeer ke faqeer". In a recorded conversation with Satyasheel Deshpande, Jha-sahab leaves no doubt of the debt owed Bhatkhande. That conversation brings to mind a moving passage that Satyasheel's father, Vamanrao, wrote decades ago concerning his first meeting with the great Chaturpandit:

" Around this time Panditji was terminally ill with cancer. Once I expressed a desire to be introduced to Panditji and Bhal with great alacrity took me to his bungalow at Walkeshwar. Panditji was lying on his back on his bed, beneath a window in the ground floor room, with both arms on his chest. Bhal introduced me saying, 'He is an Accountant - also practises music' and seated me on Panditji's bed. Panditji stroked me on my back and said, 'Educated people should take an interest in music. Continue working hard at it. You will find our Bhal very useful.' I consider the touch of his hand on my back as one of the most significant happenings of my life. I also consider that my subsequent progress in music and whatever little I wrote on the subject is a direct fruit of his blessing " (Between Two Tanpuras).

We revert to the topic at hand. A translated passage from RAGA MALHAR DARSHAN illustrates a typical analysis. Similar analyses are to be found in Jha-sahab's own volumes.

On the swara prayogas in Raga Megh Malhar:

"ShaDaj apart, the rishab occupies an important position in this rAga, both in Arohi and avarohi movements. Despite its 'deergha bahutva' role in Megh Malhar there can be no nyAsa on the rishab. That swara is almost always Andolita and looks to the madhyam for assistance. To wit, S (M)R (M)R, M R R, n' S. The rishab's position in Megh Malhar is precarious. It cannot be elongated for the Megh Malhar swaroop to come through. If rendered stable ("sthira") it runs the risk of losing itself to Sarang. And because it is kept Andolita with the assistance of the madhyam it cannot establish an identity of its own. To strengthen the veera rasa component of the rAga the rishab is also used in the 'alanghan bahutva' role. This mixed mode use is seen in the following passage:

(M)R (M)R M P (Andolita) and P M R M, (M)R (M)R S (mixed).

The rishab swara is never skipped, it is the 'mukha swara' of the rAga. In those cases where the intonation of a particular swara immediately suggests the rAga identity the said swara is known as the 'mukha swara.' The rishab of Megh Malhar and the gandhAr of Darbari are such examples "

<-- Dr. Geeta Banerjee and Pandit Ramashreya Jha "Ramrang" in Goa (Sept 2000)

The remaining swaras in Megh Malhar are similarly illuminated and the rAga is then put back together. These 'tools' of rAga analysis should be part of every serious student's armoury, for they give insight into the rAga's blueprint. At a later point in time I will post clips, time and weather permitting, of this swara-by-swara dissection demonstrated by Jha-sahab in delineating the scale-congruent Ragas Megh, Megh Malhar and Madhmadh Sarang.

Two areas for improvement suggest themselves. An index at the end of the volume would have been useful. If Jha-sahab can be pursuaded to record a CD-ROM of the outlines of all the compositions in the book, that would constitute a document of immeasurable scholarly and archival value.

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