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With Katy Perry and Led Zeppelins recent judgments reversing previous rulings, musicians dont know which way to tread

Have you written a song? A song so memorable that everyone who hears it starts humming it? A song so good it feels as though it has been around forever and you simply plucked it from the ether? Then a word of advice: get an expert to listen to it. Because somewhere, someone is going to be sure your song was copied from theirs.

An old music industry adage holds that where theres a hit, theres a writ. It was true in 1963, when the Beach Boys released Surfin USA, and Chuck Berry duly noted that the song was simply his own 1958 hit Sweet Little Sixteen with new lyrics (Berrys publisher, Arc Music, was granted the publishing rights, and from 1966 Berry was listed alongside Brian Wilson as a writer of the song). And its especially true now after several recent cases.

March alone saw two important judgments about music theft in appeals courts in California. First the ninth circuit court of appeals ruled that Led Zeppelins Stairway to Heaven did not crib from Taurus by Spirit. Then a federal court overturned last years jury verdict that Katy Perrys Dark Horse had stolen from the song Joyful Noise by the Christian rapper Flame.

Katy
Katy Perry performing Dark Horse in Los Angeles in 2014. A federal court in March overturned a 2019 verdict that the song had stolen from Flames Joyful Noise. Photograph: Youtube

Whats important, though, is not whether anyone was plagiarised, but whether a copyright was infringed. Plagiarism and copyright infringement are related but they are distinctly different, says Peter Oxendale, who has been a professional forensic musicologist someone who offers expert analysis of compositions for legal purposes for more than 40 years.

Copyright, for example, does not protect ideas but rather the fixed detailed expression of those ideas. Copyright infringement is a legal matter known as a tort, he says. Plagiarism, on the other hand, is an ethical matter and occurs when someone uses the ideas or works of someone else in their own work without giving the appropriate credit to the original source. The cases that come to court are not about plagiarism; theyre about infringement of copyright.

Members
Members of Led Zeppelin pictured in 1970. A US appeals court has found the bands Stairway to Heaven did not crib from Taurus by Spirit. Photograph: AP

The Zeppelin and Perry cases have been hailed as important because they appear to offer songwriters the latitude they seemed to have been denied by a crucial earlier trial. In December 2018 the long-running and highly controversial case involving the song Blurred Lines came to a close, when Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, two of the songs writers, were ordered to pay just short of $5m to the estate of Marvin Gaye, for Blurred Lines similarity to Gayes 1977 song Got To Give It Up.

Blurred Lines certainly stirred up the music community, says Joe Bennett, a forensic musicologist based at Berklee College of Music, in Boston. The reason it had so many musicians concerned is that the two songs are demonstrably different in their melodies, lyrics, and underlying chords. It hasnt set a legal precedent exactly, because every plagiarism case is judged on its individual merits, and every comparison is different, but it certainly has shifted the culture among songwriters, and made many worried about unintentional similarity leading to unfair accusations of copyright infringement.

What the Blurred Lines case did was to allow something previously unheard of: the notion that the feel of a record could be copyrighted. Given that the musician who didnt want to replicate the feel of a beloved record, if not its chords and melody, has yet to be born, the verdict sent shudders through the industry.

Much of the feel of a song is created by instrumentation, production techniques and other elements that many people consider to not be part of the song itself, says Peter Mason, a music law expert at the solicitors Wiggin LLP. The difference is starkly demonstrated by comparing Blurred Lines to the Stairway to Heaven case, in which the jury was limited to considering only the notes of the composition, as registered at the US copyright office.

Robin
Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams performing at Miami Beach, Florida, in 2013. A court in 2018 ordered them to pay $5m to the estate of Marvin Gaye. Photograph: Startraks/Rex

Taking away the similarities in sound, feel or playing style reduced the similarity between the compositions. Importantly, much of what remained was commonplace and therefore not protected by copyright.

Nevertheless, says Oxendale, We are aware of a number of well-known clients who have been told to never cite the source of their inspiration in public or in print. This, in my view, has resulted in the stifling of creativity to the extent that inspiration is now being confused with appropriation.

Conversely, we are also seeing a growing number of instructions from clients who wish to pursue claims for infringement of copyright based on the use of nothing more than similar musical or lyrical ideas. I believe the Blurred Lines verdict has had a significant impact on the music industry as a whole and this is reflected in the number of cases coming into our office.

For all the high-profile court cases, though, many music copyright infringement claims never see the light of day. One major star who must remain nameless employed a musicologist for the specific purpose of listening to new releases in order to note any resemblance to their own works. The writer of any offending song received a polite note expressing the desire to avoid any embarrassment, and suggesting the whole matter might be resolved by a payment, without the need to shame the writer by going public or forcing a change to the songwriting credits.

Since the Blurred Lines case, notes Mason, other songwriters have pre-empted litigation by adding writers who might conceivably have had a claim to writing credits famously, Mark Ronsons worldwide hit Uptown Funk ended up with 11 writers. The average number of writers on hit songs has increased dramatically over the last five years or so, Mason says, and part of this is due to composers agreeing to add the authors of past songs that are somewhat similar.

Why, though, do all the best-known copyright infringement cases come from the worlds of pop and rock? After all, one rarely hears of classical composers fighting it out in court, or jazz players arguing furiously about whether one has ripped off the others saxophone solo.

I think there are two reasons, Bennett says. First, popular song is a constrained art form, with a palette of statistically predictable phrase lengths, song forms, scale and chord choices, lyric tropes and song durations. These norms are largely defined by market forces, through massed listener preferences over time affecting the kind of creative decisions that songwriters are likely to make.

Beyonce
Beyonc presesnting the award for record of the year, Uptown Funk, to Mark Ronson during the 2016 Grammy music awards. To avoid litigation, the song was credited with 11 writers. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty

Its a type of cultural Darwinism, in a sense, but thats not to diminish the songwriters art writing a world-class hit is incredibly difficult, and needs everyone in the artists production team to excel.

Second, pop is where the money is. A plagiarism lawsuit is a financial matter party A is pursuing party B for compensation, so theres little point in going after someone whose work has not generated significant income.

You might think, of course, that musicians and songwriters are pinching from each other all the time weve all listened to songs and been reminded of something else. There are some artists, in fact, who seem to have made careers out of sounding like someone else: neither ELO nor Oasis would deny their respective debts to the Beatles.

Sometimes, though, musicians dont even realise they are borrowing. On a recent edition of the Reply All podcast, Princes longtime recording engineer Susan Rogers remembered him sitting at the piano and picking out a melody. He liked it, he noted. But had it already been written?

Subconscious recollection is called cyrptomnesia, and it has been responsible for some notable copyright infringements: in the 1976 case where George Harrison was sued for the similarity of My Sweet Lord to the Chiffons Hes So Fine, the judge described the similarity as an example of unconscious copying. Sam Smiths Stay With Me ended up getting Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne added to its writing credits, because of its similarity to their song Wont Back Down, and Petty observed, without rancour: All my years of songwriting have shown me these things can happen. Most times you catch it before it gets out the studio door but in this case it got by.

As Bennett puts it: Most melodic similarity is coincidental, and most accusations of melodic plagiarism are unfounded. In the rare cases when the similarity is so striking that it appears to be evidence of plagiarism, then yes its usually unintentional. Songwriters have almost zero incentive to copy melodies verbatim, and enormous economic disincentives to do so.

The miracle, perhaps, is not that there are so many accusations of musical copyright infringement, but so few. Consider that thereare just 12 semitones in an octave. Or think about how many songs that derive from the blues use the 1-4-5 chord progression (Twist and Shout; Blitzkrieg Bop; Louie Louie and Wild Thing and thousands more). What makes a song special is not its chords, or its top-line melody, or its lyrics, or its feel. It is how it combines all those elements.

Listeners dont hear songs as simple linear sequences of pitches they hear everything all at once, and its that combination of elements, in a recording or at a live show, that produces the powerful emotional response that we find so intoxicating, Joe Bennett says. If the cultural value of a song subsisted only in its melody, the world wouldnt need performers, lyricists, producers, or artists.

And, as everyone sitting in their living room gazing at the empty world outside knows, the word really does need all those people, for the sake of its sanity.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/law/2020/mar/26/a-hit-a-writ-why-music-is-the-food-of-plagiarism-lawsuits

Excitement for The Europas Awards for European Tech Startups is heating up. Here is the first wave of speakers and judges — with more coming!

The Awards — which have been running for over 10 years — will be held on 25 June 2020 in London, U.K. on the front lawn of the Geffrye Museum in Hoxton, London — creating a fantastic and fun garden-party atmosphere in the heart of London’s tech startup scene.

TechCrunch is once more the exclusive media sponsor of the awards and conference, alongside The Pathfounder.

The application form to enter is here.

We’re scouting for the top late-stage seed and Series A startups in 22 categories.

You can nominate a startup, accelerator or venture investor that you think deserves to be recognized for their achievements in the last 12 months.

CLOSING DATE FOR APPLICATIONS: 25 March 2020

For the 2020 awards, we’ve overhauled the categories to a set that we believe better reflects the range of innovation, diversity and ambition we see in the European startups being built and launched today. This year we are particularly looking at startups that are able to address the SDGs/Globals Boals.

The Europas Awards
The Europas Awards results are based on voting by experts, experienced founders, hand-picked investors and the industry itself.

But the key to it is that there are no “off-limits areas” at The Europas, so attendees can mingle easily with VIPs.

Timeline of The Europas Awards deadlines:

Submissions now open!
25 March 2020 – Submissions close
14 April – Public voting begins
25 April – Public voting ends
8 June – Shortlist Announced
25 June – Awards evening, winners announced

Amazing networking

We’re also shaking up the awards dinner itself. There are more opportunities to network. Our awards ceremony this year will be in the setting of a garden/lawn party, where you’ll be able to meet and mingle more easily, with free-flowing drinks and a wide selection of street food (including vegetarian/vegan). The ceremony itself will last less than 45 minutes, with the rest of the time dedicated to networking. If you’d like to talk about sponsoring or exhibiting, please contact Claire Dobson on claire@thepathfounder.com

Instead of thousands and thousands of people, think of a great summer event with the most interesting and useful people in the industry, including key investors and leading entrepreneurs.

The Europas Awards have been going for the last 10 years, and we’re the only independent and editorially driven event to recognise the European tech startup scene. The winners have been featured in Reuters, Bloomberg, VentureBeat, Forbes, Tech.eu, The Memo, Smart Company, CNET, many others — and of course, TechCrunch.

• No secret VIP rooms, which means you get to interact with the speakers

• Key founders and investors attending

• Journalists from major tech titles, newspapers and business broadcasters

The Pathfounder Afternoon Workshops
In the afternoon prior to the awards we will be holding a special, premium content event, The Pathfounder, designed be a “fast download” into the London tech scene for European founders looking to raise money or re-locate to London. Sessions include “How to Craft Your Story”; “Term Sheets”; “Building a Shareholding Structure”; Investor Panel; Meet the Press; and a session from former Europas winners. Followed by the awards and after-party!

The Europas “Diversity Pass”
We’d like to encourage more diversity in tech! That’s why we’ve set aside a block of free tickets to ensure that pre-seed female and BAME founders are represented at The Europas. This limited tranche of free tickets ensures that we include more women and people of colour who are specifically “pre-seed” or “seed-stage” tech startup founders. If you are a women/BAME founder, apply here for a chance to be considered for one of the limited free diversity passes to the event.

Meet some of our first speakers and judges:


Anne Boden
CEO
Starling Bank
Anne Boden is founder and CEO of Starling Bank, a fast-growing U.K. digital bank targeting millions of users who live their lives on their phones. After a distinguished career in senior leadership at some of the world’s best-known financial heavyweights, she set out to build her own mobile bank from scratch in 2014. Today, Starling has opened more than one million current accounts for individuals and small businesses and raised hundreds of millions of pounds in backing. Anne was awarded an MBE for services to financial technology in 2018.


Nate Lanxon (Speaker)
Editor and Tech Correspondent
Bloomberg
Nate is an editor and tech correspondent for Bloomberg, based in London. For over a decade, he has particularly focused on the consumer technology sector, and the trends shaping the global industry. Previous to this, he was senior editor at Bloomberg Media and was head of digital editorial for Bloomberg.com in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Nate has held numerous roles across the most respected titles in tech, including stints as editor of WIRED.co.uk, editor-in-chief of Ars Technica UK and senior editor at CBS-owned CNET. Nate launched his professional career as a journalist by founding a small tech and gaming website called Tech’s Message, which is now the name of his weekly technology podcast hosted at natelanxon.com.


Tania Boler
CEO and founder
Elvie
/> Tania is an internationally recognized women’s health expert and has held leadership positions for various global NGOs and the United Nations. Passionate about challenging taboo women’s issues, Tania founded Elvie in 2013, partnering with Alexander Asseily to create a global hub of connected health and lifestyle products for women.


Kieran O’Neill
CEO and co-founder
Thread
Thread makes it easy for guys to dress well. They combine expert stylists with powerful AI to recommend the perfect clothes for each person. Thread is used by more than 1 million men in the U.K., and has raised $35 million from top investors, including Balderton Capital, the founders of DeepMind and the billionaire former owner of Warner Music. Prior to Thread, Kieran founded one of the first video sharing websites at age 15 and sold it for $1.25 million at age 19. He was then CEO and co-founder of Playfire, the largest social network for gamers, which he grew to 1.5 million customers before being acquired in 2012. He’s a member of the Forbes, Drapers and Financial Times 30 Under 30 lists.


Clare Jones
Chief Commercial Officer
what3words
Clare is the chief commercial officer of what3words; prior to this, her background was in the development and growth of social enterprises and in impact investment. Clare was featured in the 2019 Forbes 30 under 30 list for technology and is involved with London companies tackling social/environmental challenges. Clare also volunteers with the Streetlink project, doing health outreach work with vulnerable women in South London.


Luca Bocchio
Principal
Accel
Luca Bocchio joined Accel in 2018 and focuses on consumer internet, fintech and software businesses. Luca led Accel’s investment in Luko, Bryter and Brumbrum. Luca also helped lead Accel’s investment and ongoing work in Sennder. Prior to Accel, Luca was with H14, where he invested in global early and growth-stage opportunities, such as Deliveroo, GetYourGuide, Flixbus, SumUp and SecretEscapes. Luca previously advised technology, industrial and consumer companies on strategy with Bain & Co. in Europe and Asia. Luca is from Italy and graduated from LIUC University.


Bernhard Niesner
CEO and c-founder
busuu
/> Bernhard co-founded busuu in 2008 following an MBA project and has since led the company to become the world’s largest community for language learning, with more than 90 million users across the globe. Before starting busuu, Bernhard worked as a consultant at Roland Berger Strategy Consultants. He graduated summa cum laude in International Business from the Vienna University of Economics and Business and holds an MBA with honours from IE Business School. Bernhard is an active mentor and business angel in the startup community and an advisor to the Austrian Government on education affairs. Bernhard recently received the EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2018 UK Awards in the Disruptor category.


Chris Morton
CEO and founder
Lyst
Chris is the founder and CEO of Lyst, the world’s biggest fashion search platform used by 104 million shoppers each year. Including over 6 million products from brands including Burberry, Fendi, Gucci, Prada and Saint Laurent, Lyst offers shoppers convenience and unparalleled choice in one place. Launched in London in 2010, Lyst’s investors include LVMH, 14W, Balderton and Accel Partners. Prior to founding Lyst, Chris was an investor at Benchmark Capital and Balderton Capital in London, focusing on the early-stage consumer internet space. He holds an MA in physics and philosophy from Cambridge University.


Husayn Kassai
CEO and co-founder
Onfido
/> Husayn Kassai is the Onfido CEO and co-founder. Onfido helps businesses digitally onboard users by verifying any government ID and comparing it with the person’s facial biometrics. Founded in 2012, Onfido has grown to a team of 300 across SF, NYC and London; received over $100 million in funding from Salesforce, Microsoft and others; and works with over 1,500 fintech, banking and marketplace clients globally. Husayn is a WEF Tech Pioneer; a Forbes Contributor; and Forbes’ “30 Under 30”. He has a BA in economics and management from Keble College, Oxford.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2020/02/26/meet-the-first-wave-of-speakers-enter-your-startup-for-the-europas-awards-25-june/

Video apps most popular users could rake in millions by collaborating with brands

Teenagers used to aspire to become astronauts, firefighters, footballers or pop stars, but times change and so do career goals. Today, more than half of millennials and Generation Z-ers those aged 13-38 in the US aspire to become social media influencers, according to recent research.

The Chinese viral video app TikTok is the platform of choice for young people seeking to monetise their talents because it seen as rewarding anyones ability to entertain, whereas Instagram or YouTube tend to reward those who already have celebrity status.

And for a very lucky few, taking to TikTok could be a seriously lucrative career option. Marketeers reckon that the most popular TikTokers could currently charge close to $200,000 (155,000) per post if they promote and collaborate with brands. Researchers at Morning Consult, a US tech research group working on behalf of the games company Online Casino, argue that TikTok is growing so fast in popularity that some influencers might even be able to charge nearly $1m per post by next year.

Loren Gray, a 17-year-old singer from Pennsylvania, is said to be the most marketable current TikToker, with researchers estimating she could charge as much as $197,000 (152,000) per post.

Gray has more than 38 million followers on TikTok which posts videos of between 15 and 60 seconds in length making her one of the most-followed accounts. Gray has used her popularity on the app to secure record deals with Virgin Records and Capitol Records. She posts daily on the platform and her posts have received over 2bn likes.

Last year, the US fast food chain Chipotle paid Gray to participate in a guac song dance-off. The hashtag challenge an official TikTok campaign in which a creator uses a specific hashtag for a sponsored video was called #GuacDance. The campaign centred on a song about guacamole from the childrens music artist Dr Jean, and went viral.

Further down the top 20 is Jiffpom, a Los Angeles-based Pomeranian dog with 20 million followers double his Instagram following who could earn $100,000 per post, the report adds.

The report predicts that in a years time, Aashika Bhatia, a 19-year-old Indian actress, will be the most popular on the platform, with 194 million followers. She currently has 14 million and is gaining tens of thousands per day. The Bollywood actress posts TikTok classic videos of her lip-syncing and joking around. The popularity of posters like Bhatia is explained by the simplicity of the format, says the report: easy video design means short video clips can be created in minutes; music, dance and slapstick humorous clips transcend language barriers, which means they can be viewed on every continent; and the videos automatically loop to the next on the Tiktok feed, making it an easy watch.

Morning Consult estimates that popular TikTok stars could be paid up to $0.005 per follower for sponsored posts, which means a star like Bhatia could charge $973,000 per post if she reached the 194 million mark.

TikTok, which is owned by the Beijing-based tech company ByteDance, was valued at $75bn in 2018 when Japans richest man Masayoshi Son – invested in it via his SoftBank venture fund. It claims to have about 800 million active users, which would make it more popular than Twitter and Snapchat combined, but trailing Facebook.

The company has been fined $5.7m by US authorities for illegally collecting childrens data. It has also been criticised for censoring videos that might upset the Chinese government, including mentions of Tiananmen Square or Tibetan independence.

The Snapchat founder, Evan Spiegel, said this week he was a big fan of TikTok and expected TikTok to surpass Instagram, which is owned by Facebook and said in 2018 it had passed the 1 billion active user mark.

Social media in its original construct is really about status: representing who you are, showing people that youre cool, getting likes and comments, those sorts of things, Spiegel said last month. TikTok instead celebrates talent over status, he said, describing it as a platform for people to make media to entertain other people.

Paying just under $1m to a TikTok influencer for a post may sound like an unbelievable amount of money for a company to spend on marketing, but James Whatley, strategy partner at the marketing agency Digitas UK, said it showed how brands were shifting their attention and spending away from traditional media like TV and billboard advertising to partnering with authentic influencers.

Graphic

I can actually believe those numbers if you look at how much money has been thrown at Instagram, he said. [TikTok] is the hot new thing and tonnes of money is being thrown at it. The fastest way to get traction on TikTok is to get the number-one influencer to promote your stuff. Just this week TikTok and [computer game] Fortnite announced a partnership deal with a competition for a TikTok dance to be recreated on Fortnite.

Every year there is always a new platform and clients want to put 10% of their budget towards it. Last year it was Instagram stories, before that Snapchat. TikTok is the darling of 2020.

Whatley explained that influencers can spread a brand further than their already huge number of followers, which can be greater than the population of small countries. There are challenges on TikTok, for example you could pay an influencer to do a challenge but with a bottle of Diet Coke, he said. As soon as that person does it, all of their followers will see it and want to participate and recreate themselves, and then all their followers will do it also, and youve got yourself a viral sensation.

Paul Lee, the global head of technology research at consultancy firm Deloitte, said he expected only a handful of people would be able to make a lot of money out of TikTok, but he said those who did could really strike it big.

If you have 10 million followers its better than 5 million, obviously, Lee said. Its quite a benign site. Its happy, and of people doing fun videos. You go there to get uplifted, and it feels less commercial, which could actually make partnerships more valuable.

Endorsements are always valuable, but it can be shocking how one persons endorsement is worth lots more than other peoples. I dont think mine would be worth so much. To become an influencer your timing has to be right, your look has to be right and you have to be super lucky.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/feb/22/tiktok-viral-stars-could-make-up-to-1m-per-post-say-researchers

New York (CNN Business)Amazon said this holiday season was another record-setter. The overall retail sector had a big year too, signaling that the decade-long economic expansion in the United States still has some legs left in it.

People bought stuff Amazon didn’t make, too. Third-parties sold way more products on Amazon this year than they did last year. Although Amazon is notoriously and, for investors, annoyingly coy about specific sales data, the company said third-party product sales increased by a double digit percentage over last year, surpassing one billion items sold.
Among the most popular were LOL Surprise Glitter Globe Doll Winter Disco Series with Glitter Hair, iRobot’s (IRBT) Roomba 675 vacuum and, of course, the perennially popular Instant Pot Duo 80 pressure cooker. Well, those were the most popular items for humans. Dogs enjoyed SmartSticks peanut butter chews, and cats were particularly into Temptations Classic cat treats this holiday season.
    “The Guardians” by John Grisham was the most-sought-after book during the holidays. “Home Alone” was the most-searched holiday movie on Fire TV, and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” has been the most-played song on Amazon Music since Thanksgiving.
    Amazon’s stock rose about 1% Thursday.

    How everyone else fared

    People also shopped at places other than Amazon. The strong economy and shortened holiday season helped stores score big off last-minute shopping.
    MasterCard (MA) reported Thursday that American retail sales rose 3.4% between November and Christmas Eve, compared to a year ago. Online sales soared 18.8% but only 1.2% for in-store sales. Still, digital only made up less than 15% of sales, so the much-discussed brick-and-mortar retail apocalypse may have to wait.
    In its SpendingPulse report, the credit card company noted that a late Thanksgiving (compared to 2018) essentially took a week out of the holiday shopping season. To make up for that, retailers started offering holiday deals before Thanksgiving, helping boost overall sales.
    Last-minute shopping helped too. Saturday, December 21, also known as Super Saturday, was US retail’s best day ever, pulling in a record $34.4 billion, according to Customer Growth Partners, a consulting and research firm. That totaled more than four times the sales from this year’s Cyber Monday.
    Electronics and appliances won the holiday shopping season, with sales soaring 4.6% over last year (and 10.7% online), MasterCard reported. Specialty apparel was the online winner, soaring 17%. Jewelry was a big hit too. Sales grew 1.8% overall and 8.8% online.
    But department stores struggled. Sales fell 1.8% overall, even as online sales grew 6.9%. Big department stores, such as Sears, JCPenney (JCP), Kohl’s (KSS) and Macy’s (M), have lost shoppers to big-box stores, such as Walmart (WMT) and Target (TGT). Specialty stores and Amazon have also captured customers from department stores, which have been hurt particularly hard by slumping traffic at malls.
      Tiffany (TIF), which has struggled lately because of the trade war with China, said its sales were up between 1% and 3% between November 1 and December 24, compared with 2018. Overall Chinese sales improved, even though a recession in Hong Kong continued to weigh on sales. Protests in Hong Kong have weighed on that region’s economy.
      Tiffany will close its flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York in the middle of January so it can renovate the iconic store. It will temporary move around the corner. The company’s stock was unchanged Thursday.

      Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/26/business/amazon-holiday-sales/index.html

      London (CNN)When Freddie Mercury decided his band Queen would record a Christmas song, he gave Jim Lea a call.

      “I said, ‘what are you ringing me for? Go on, do it,” Lea tells CNN.
      The Queen frontman did indeed go on to record the song “Thank God It’s Christmas,” but his deference illustrates the unique lore an artist can unlock if they happen to stumble on a festive hit.
        For Lea, that happened a decade earlier, when he was in the shower.
        “The pressure was so great to come up with the next single all the time,” says Lea, describing his retreat from a tour of the United States in 1973 to rattle off melodies in a hotel bathroom.
        He had nothing — until he remembered the urges of both his manager and his mother, who had read a newspaper article about Bing Crosby, and asked why the glam rock superstars hadn’t written a Christmas song.
        Lea started mumbling the outline of a verse, then a bridge. “As I started to piece it together, it came to the chorus…” he recalls, before bellowing the next nine words that fell impulsively from his mouth: “So here it is, Merry Christmas, everybody’s having fun!”
        “I was over the moon when I thought of it,” he says. “I thought: this is great.”
        Getting the rest of the band on board was a struggle. “We ain’t doing a bloody Christmas song,” Lea recalls the band’s lead singer Noddy Holder replying when he presented the idea. “The whole thing was like Sisyphus rolling the stone up the hill,” he adds.
        But Lea’s persistence was vindicated. Nearly half a century later, the lyrics he stumbled on in the shower remain a staple of British radio airwaves, office parties and Christmas dinner soundtracks.
        “Merry Xmas Everybody,” a sardonic and brazenly British romp through the oddities of Christmas Day, regularly ranks among Brits’ favorite festive tracks. It re-emerges in the country’s charts each year, selling 1.3 million copies in its lifetime, and it’s fondly celebrated across Europe, too.
        The song also elevated Slade to a musical immortality, placing them alongside the few artists to have achieved the ubiquitous, enduring relevance that only a Christmas hit can provide. “It’ll never go away,” Lea says. “You can’t get away from the bloody thing.”
        But festive classics have a certain lore within the musical industry for another reason, too: they’re unrivaled money-makers.
        Not long after decorations are boxed up and trees are brought down each year, royalties start to roll in through artists’ and songwriters’ letterboxes. A 2016 estimate by the Economist figured that Mariah Carey’s megahit “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” which finally hit number one in the US this year, would have raked in $60 million for the artist.
        Other publications have made their own guesses, with some claiming writers would receive hundreds of thousands each winter.
        Lea disputes those eye-bulging estimates, but admits that his own seasonal hit has left him more than comfortably-off — and far outstripped any of Slade’s other chart-toppers.
        “It’s like having a pension… it’s a pension plan,” he says. “My grandkids and their kids will still be getting royalties from ‘Merry Xmas Everybody.’ It’ll never go away.”

        Many happy returns

        The esteem of creating a seasonal breakout song — and the promise of long-term earnings that comes with it — has been too strong for many artists to resist.
        That’s led to plenty of unlikely stars turning their hand to a festive effort; think David Bowie, months removed from reportedly living off a famous diet of cocaine, milk and red peppers, putting a period of avant garde experimentation on hold to record “Little Drummer Boy” with Bing Crosby.
        Like most of the Christmas classics we still hold dear, that collaboration occurred during a period in the 1970s and 1980s, when contemporary artists started to challenge older crooners like Crosby, Andy Williams and Perry Como for seasonal domination.
        “Most of the biggest Christmas songs we hear aren’t recent — a lot of them go back to that golden era,” says Tony Barton, head of writer support and relationship at PRS For Music, the company that manages royalty payments in Britain.
        “Some of our biggest-earning members have a Christmas song that really helps their earnings,” he says.
        The organization never releases figures about their members’ royalty payments. But what of the commonly held idea that Christmas hits mean songwriters and singers never have to work again? “Because of the longevity that a Christmas hit has and the fact that they get played so heavily over a long period of time, it can have that effect,” says Barton.
        That means artists dream big when they pen a festive number. “As an artist, you want to reach as many people as possible,” Wham!’s George Michael told Smash Hits in 1984. “My aim is for our Christmas single — it’s called ‘Last Christmas’ — to sell a million and a half.”
        Of his Christmas anthem “Stop the Cavalry,” British singer Jona Lewie told the BBC: “It’s played a major role in terms of looking at my whole catalogue. It’s provided about 50% of the total income stream.”
        In the UK, artists and songwriters wait until April before receiving their Christmas royalties, and the wait can be longer in other countries, says Barton.
        But that pay day is almost certain to come, he adds. “We never guarantee royalties to anybody — but if you have a current, perennial favorite at Christmas you will generally see a healthy return.”

        Landing on the naughty list

        Still, while countless artists have dipped their hands into the stocking, most have come out with a lump of coal; and for every Christmas hit, there are many more misses.
        “You can count on your fingers the artists who have broken through in the last 25 years that had a Christmas hit that is still played on the radio regularly today,” says Dan Vallie, the President of the US-based National Radio Talent System.
        “Almost every hit artist does Christmas songs,” he adds. “You can still find those songs, but most people are not listening to them.”
        “It’s one of the things you want to tick off your song-writing list, to feel that you’ve had a successful career,” adds Barton.
        So what’s the secret to striking gold, and avoiding the listening public’s naughty list? “If I knew that I wouldn’t be working — I’d be getting paid,” he jokes. “The tricky thing with Christmas songs is that the best ones sound so simple — but writing simple songs is very difficult,” he adds.
        “It has to be something you can hum and sing along to,” he goes on, suggesting that most Christmas hits fall into one of two categories: bombastic, joyful tracks with sleigh bells, children’s choirs and all the other season cliches; and those which are more heartfelt and focus on missing loved ones, like “Driving Home For Christmas” and “Last Christmas.”
        The magic ingredient, however, may just be luck. It’s a unique feature of Christmas music that, no matter how famous an artist is, it’s the tune itself that counts.
        That’s why Shakin’ Stevens, Mud and Darlene Love have succeeded where Britney Spears, Whitney Houston and Kanye West have not; all have put out Christmas songs, but only a select few are slated for airtime and royalties year after year.
        “That’s the beauty of songwriting,” says Barton. “If the nation takes your song to heart, then you will continue to earn from it.”

        ‘The appetite is growing each year’

        Christmas songs that have been welcomed by the public aren’t going anywhere, Vallie says. “Every indication is the appetite for Christmas music keeps growing every year.”
        In the 1980s, Vallie’s firm started encouraging US radio stations to switch to an all-Christmas line-up far earlier than they previously did.
        In other words, he’s the reason your ears bleed with tinsely pop each December.
        ‘We saw, as did a few others, the incredible appeal of Christmas music, and it started with us recommending stations go all-Christmas on the day after Thanksgiving,” he tells CNN.
        “That was considered risky at the time,” he adds. “Now the big discussion every year is not whether to do it or not, but when to start.”
        “I say it every year: Christmas music programming is the most successful and impactful strategy I have ever seen, or heard, on radio,” Vallie says.
        The future looks merry and bright, too: a Nielsen study in 2017 found that millennials are enjoying festive songs more than older generations.
        But don’t expect the Christmas catalog to get an overhaul any time soon. Even as streaming services allow festive songs to reach new audiences, experts say the classics will remain top of the tree.
          It won’t stop big names trying; Taylor Swift is the latest big star to put out a Christmas song. Still, a glance at most countries’ charts shows where the power lies; in the US, despite Swift’s cultural dominance, it’s Carey, Brenda Lee and Burl Ives sitting in the top 10.
          “These are the classics, and isn’t it interesting that the songs that are so loved are loved by almost every demographic?” says Vallie. “These songs are part of the celebration of Christmas itself.”

          Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/20/business/christmas-music-money-scli-intl-gbr/index.html

          (CNN)Wow, good job everyone! While in years past, the top GIFs of the year have reflected a collective energy full of uncertainty and ennui, this year’s crop, as curated by GIF master Giphy, is considerably more upbeat! We’re glad everyone finally found a therapist who gets them.

          Like all great snippets of three-second cinema, “And I Oop” rapidly became a full-fledged cultural sensation. The immortal oop-er here is drag star Jasmine Masters, and the reaction comes from her, well, accidentally sitting on her “oops.” It became a meme. It became part of the internet cool-people lexicon. Even the mere suggestion of the phrase, with its recognizable cadence and impeccable timing, perfectly summoned the feeling of being caught dead in your tracks by something surprising (or surprisingly painful, as the case may be).

          2. “Shameless glare”

            2019 was the year people finally let go of their last vestiges of politeness and wasted no time on calling other people out on their B.S. This little girl perfectly speaks to that.

            3. Nick Jonas waving

            The Jonas Brothers had a big revival this year, so here. Here’s Nick Jonas waving, surprisingly far up on this list. Even he isn’t sure how he got here.

            4. Samm Henson going “yeah”

            Again, people were feeling pretty good this year, at least, in GIF world. British singer Samm Henshaw can speak to that. Maybe this could be used in a somewhat ironic context, because your soul is dead and when you are without feeling, everthing could feel good. Yeah, yeah yeah!

            5. Carl Payne giving you a thumbs up

            Consider this the opposite of the “little girl glaring” GIF.

            6. Happy cheering bunny

            Kawaii animals and cute Facebook-esque reactions have bust through their original spheres of influence and into the mainstream. It’s pure. It’s unambiguous. It’s a happy cheering bunny.

            7. KEANU!

            Wow, what a year for Keanu Reeves. It seems everyone just decided to remember at the same time that he’s a wholesome yet lowkey strange heartthrob, like in the movie from which this GIF originates, “Always Be My Maybe.” He deserves this.

            8. Heartwarming hearts

            Irony is dead. Wholesomeness reigns. We’re all drinking eight glasses of water a day and looking after our mental health. Let love win.

            9. “No way” dude

            Remember how we said this was the year people stopped putting up with B.S.? Same energy.

              10. Khalid happy dancing

              It’s funny how the most popular GIFs of the year are also a little peek into the hottest, most interesting new music, movies and people of the year as well. Take Khalid, a young music phenom who charted several hits this year and most likely does this very same happy dance in the comfort and privacy of his own home.

              Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/17/business/most-popular-gifs-of-2019-trnd/index.html

              The singers dispute with the new owner of Big Machine Records over her first six albums challenges who owns what in the industry

              Taylor Swifts catalogue is littered with tales of the men who did her wrong. Teardrops on My Guitar, All Too Well, Dear John the 29-year-old singer is used to being let down by the patriarchy. Somehow she always manages to shake it off. This time was no different.

              On Sunday, Swift will receive the artist of the decade award at the American Music awards (AMAs) at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. For a few days it seemed like she would not be able to play her older hits, caught in a contractual dispute with her former record label.

              It was the kind of argument usually resolved behind closed doors by sober-suited lawyers boringly parsing contract and copyright law. Instead, #IStandWithTaylor became a trending topic on Twitter worldwide and Swift once again proved corporate America is no match for her talents. She may also, and not for the first time, have reshaped the music world challenging who owns what in an industry still reeling from its transition to digital.

              This is stuff that never leaks out to the public, said James Sammataro, a partner at law firm Pryor Cashman and one of the USs top music lawyers. Contentious negotiations are nothing new in the music industry, he said. But this is like negotiation in the Instagram age. Taylor is directing it. She is forcing this chess game to be played in public.

              The chess game involves control of Swifts first six albums, put out by Big Machine Records, an independent Nashville-based music company that is home to artists including Sheryl Crow, Lady Antebellum and Rascal Flatts. Big Machines founder, Scott Borchetta, signed Swift when she was just 15 after discovering her performing in a cafe and helped guide her from country newcomer to global pop phenomenon. Swift has said she thought Borchetta regarded her as the daughter he never had.

              Then, in 2019, Borchetta sold Big Machine for a reported $300m to Ithaca Holdings, a mini-conglomerate of media and tech companies owned by celebrity talent manager Scooter Braun, a man Swift considers a mortal enemy. Braun, who currently works with Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, among numerous other entertainers, previously worked with Kanye West, whose infamous hijacking of her acceptance speech at the 2009 MTV Video Music awards has led to a decade-long feud.

              Swift has accused Braun of bullying her and called the deal my worst case scenario. This is what happens when you sign a deal at fifteen to someone for whom the term loyalty is clearly just a contractual concept. And when that man says Music has value, he means its value is beholden to men who had no part in creating it, she wrote on Tumblr. Any time Scott Borchetta has heard the words Scooter Braun escape my lips, it was when I was either crying or trying not to.

              As is standard practice in the music industry Swifts masters the first recordings from which all the later copies are made stayed with Big Machine and are the main driver behind the deal. According to Variety, Swifts catalogue accounted for 80% of Big Machines revenues, although it is now believed to be closer to 50%.

              Swift controls the copyright, which should mean she is free to perform her songs as she pleases. Which brings us to the latest dilemma. Swift who is now signed to Universal Music has said she will re-record her old albums starting next year, offering fans a way to buy her music again on her terms after her deal with Big Machine expires.

              According to Swift, Borchetta and Braun had told her she could not perform the works they currently own at the AMAs unless she dropped that plan. On top of that, Swift said the pair had told her she would not be allowed to use her old work in an upcoming Netflix documentary.

              Scott Borchetta told my team that theyll allow me to use my music only if I do these things: If I agree not to re-record copycat versions of my songs next year (which is something Im legally allowed to do and looking forward to) and also told me that I need to stop talking about him and Scooter Braun, Swift wrote on social media. The message being sent to me is very clear. Basically, be a good little girl and shut up. Or youll be punished.

              Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13)

              Dont know what else to do pic.twitter.com/1uBrXwviTS

              November 14, 2019

              All this and more was shared with Swifts 85 million-plus Twitter followers and made headlines around the world. Swift even called on Carlyle Group, one the worlds biggest and most powerful private equity firms and a minority investor in Ithaca, to help her out. Not the sort of public row this highly political firm, advised by former presidents and prime ministers, is used to.

              Weighed down by the torrent of publicity and death threats, Braun and Borchetta denied gagging Swift and stated she was free to perform at the AMAs. Their initial statement, however, carefully skirted around admitting, or denying, whether they had stipulated she could not perform her old songs or mentioning the Netflix documentary. Big Machine and Ithaca did not return calls for comment.

              Bad
              Bad blood: Scooter Braun and Taylor Swift. Photograph: Getty Images

              For Sammataro, the AMA kerfuffle was a sideshow and legally Swift would have had a good case for playing her songs. The argument hides a bigger story, he said, one that may have a profound impact on artists in the years ahead. People bluster and make demands for rights that they dont always have, he said. I do think they have a very genuine concern about the re-recording of her masters.

              Historically music companies have restricted artists for a length of time typically five years from re-recording their works. It sounds sinister but its really not. Its a commonsense provision in that if I am investing money into your album, I need sufficient time to recoup my investment, said Sammataro.

              Swift is not the first to threaten to re-record her works. Prince and Def Leppard did so after arguing they were being unfairly compensated by their original labels. But it is unheard of move for an artists at her zenith. You are essentially splitting dollars, said Sammataro. You dont know how the streaming service, the radio station or even your fans are going to consume it. Will they listen to the master or the re-recorded version?

              In the past artists might not have taken this route because marketing and distributing the new versions themselves would have been prohibitively expensive. In the digital age, and with her fanbase, no such issues will hold Swift back. Re-recording a couple of hits might once have satisfied Swift but with relations so strained she may feel like dealing Big Machine a bigger blow.

              It is not the first time that Swift has taken on the industry and won. Swift was one of the last artists to sign on to streaming services because she was still selling CDs. She forced Apple to pay artists for music played during users three-month free trial period and held her album Reputation off streaming services for three weeks to maximise physical sales and downloads. The Economist wondered whether she might be pop musics Alexander the Great.

              For Swift this latest dispute is clearly an issue of principle, but it is also a play for leverage as both sides wrestle with the tectonic shifts in the music market: the shift to digital and the arrival of ever more money in the music industry from private equity investors such as Carlyle.

              Carlyle and groups like it are investing in music because they see long-term returns from owning catalogues like Swifts and more widely from our continuing love of music. TPG Capital is an investor in Spotify, Blackstone owns Sesac Holdings and the Harry Fox Agency, two groups that disburse royalties. Abu Dhabi state investor Mubadala has a stake in EMI Music. Swifts tweet specifically asked for help from The Carlyle Group, who put up money for the sale of my music to these two men. Following the message the companys Twitter account and phone lines were inundated by Swift fans pressing them to intervene.

              The shot across Carlyles bow will add pressure to negotiations if and when the two sides start discussing the Netflix deal and Swifts re-recordings. Longer-term the idea that artists like Swift will seize control of their works may rattle those investors even more. Sammataro said he expected the masters contracts of major artists once pretty boilerplate will now be much more carefully lawyered.

              Swift may have won this round but there will be more battles ahead. On Sunday she is expected to address the controversy head on. Swift is planning a fierce show of female artistic strength and empowerment, music industry sources told the New York Post.

              Her friends are all going to be pushing her message on the red carpet. Taylors going to play dirty with elegance and grace, the source said. Whatever she plays, she will be playing to win.

              Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/nov/23/taylor-swift-scooter-braun-amas-old-music-masters

              Settlement not disclosed but 2016 lawsuit claiming fraudulent accounting initially sought $125m and was increased to $400m

              Gimme Some Money – spoof rock band Spinal Tap once sang. Now after a three year battle with Universal Music the bands dreams have come true.

              Cult movie This Is Spinal Tap, a film about Englands (fictional) loudest heavy metal band was a modest success when it was released in 1984 but has grown into a cult classic.

              Directed and co-written by Rob Reiner the film satirized awful behavior in the music industry and arguably launched the mockumentary genre with its depiction of a fake tour, featuring an accidentally tiny Stonehenge stage set, songs including Big Bottom and Sex Farm, and custom-made amplifiers that have volume knobs that go up to eleven.

              Harry Shearer, who played bassist Derek Smalls in the film and later voiced characters in The Simpsons, launched the lawsuit against Universal and Studio Canal, both owned by media conglomerate Vivendi, in 2016 claiming fraudulent accounting and anti-competitive behaviour.

              He initially sought $125m in damages and claimed the group had been paid just $98 between 1989 and 2006 for royalties on soundtrack sales and $81 for merchandise between 1984 and 2006.

              The claim was increased to $400m after Shearer was joined in the suit by film-maker Christopher Guest, who played guitarist Nigel Tufnel; actor Michael McKean, who played singer David St Hubbins, and Reiner.

              The terms of the settlement were not disclosed and the suit over royalties from the film is ongoing.

              According to the settlement, Universal Music Group will continue to distribute Spinal Taps music, although eventually the rights will be given to the creators. The parties look forward to making these beloved recordings available to existing and new Spinal Tap fans for years to come.

              Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/nov/05/spinal-tap-creators-settle-lawsuit-umg-copyright-dispute

              The favorable report drove the tech giants stocks up 2.5% on Wednesday, as the company expands its focus beyond the iPhone

              Apple reported record-high quarter four earnings on Wednesday, citing strong performances in wearables and other services as the company continues to expand its focus beyond flagship products such as the iPhone.

              The company reported a revenue of $64bn, beating a $63bn estimate from analysts.

              In an earnings call, the chief executive, Tim Cook, said that new iPhone 11 models were off to a very, very good start as sales of AirPods, Apple Watches and streaming services continue to rise.

              It was an incredible quarter for wearables, Cook said. It was a very broad range of services that set new all-time records, from our payment services to the search ad business to Apple Music, Apple Care, the App Store and cloud services almost every kind of service were in.

              The favorable forecast comes as Apple said it generated $33.36bn in iPhone sales for its fourth quarter, which ended in September, compared with analyst expectations of $32.42bn.

              The companys stocks were up 2.5% on Wednesday in after-hours trading.

              Apples revenue is increasingly coming from accessories such as the Apple Watch and AirPods as well as new services such as its Apple Card credit card and a streaming television service set to begin on Friday.

              Apple is also increasingly focused on health, stressing on the call that it had collaborated with a number of health institutions to democratize medical research by providing data from the Apple Watch.

              The watch offers new health features including cycle tracking, activity trends, and electrocardiogram services, which measure heart strength.

              We are giving users the ability to document and monitor the functioning of their heart and provide critical data to their doctors, Cook said.

              The companys services segment generated $12.51bn in fourth-quarter revenue, topping analyst estimates of $12.15bn in revenue. Meanwhile, accessories generated a revenue of $6.52bn, topping analyst expectations of $6bn.

              Apple now has 450 million subscribers to its own or third-party services on its devices, and sales of wearables were up 54% versus the previous year.

              The outlook reaffirms Cooks strategy to remake a company that consistently depended on iPhone sales for well over half its revenue to one that depends on services and wearables.

              Since 2017, Cook has had to implement the strategy while also shepherding Apple through a trade dispute between two of its most important markets, the United States and China.

              Apples expansion into new areas has proven a solid revenue stream, said Wendy Johansson, of the digital consultancy Publicis Sapient.

              Breaking away from the model of Apple-owner exclusivity, Apple introduces a new revenue stream and brings their industry weight to partnerships with Amazon and Roku to reach an expansive audience with their streaming options, she said. This sets Apple up to be the Trojan horse of the streaming wars.

              Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/oct/30/apple-earnings-revenue-stocks-wearables-services

              Marc Randolph launched the streaming service that would revolutionize TV and film, upend Hollywood and draw more than 150 million subscribers

              It was a fluke that the Netflix co-founder Marc Randolph changed the history of television. It almost didnt happen.

              In 1997, the Santa Cruz businessman was spending his carpool rides to work brainstorming internet startup ideas with a colleague. They discussed personalised surfboards, customised dog food, shampoo by mail. One commute, the chat turned to videotapes.

              Randolphs three-year-old daughter had struggled to sleep the night before, leading them to watch a used copy of Aladdin. His car companion was intrigued, having recently received a $40 Blockbuster late fee for Apollo 13. Could they make it easier to rent movies?

              Randolph soon after launched Netflix, an initially unsuccessful movie-rentals-by-mail service that went on to upend Hollywood and draw more than 150 million subscribers. In his new book, That Will Never Work, the 61-year-old offers a glimpse into the tumultuous early days of Netflix, which began as an obscure Silicon Valley startup, resisted pressure to sell to its online retail competitor Amazon, defeated Blockbuster and eventually evolved into cultural force that fundamentally changed the way we consume and create media.

              Marc
              Marc B Randolph co-founded Netflix, which launched in 1998 with about 800 titles. Photograph: Dan Tuffs/The Guardian

              Seated at a noisy coffee shop in Los Angeles, Randolph says he never dreamed of disrupting the entertainment industry. He now thinks his various 1997 carpool ideas were all equally good and equally bad. At the time, Amazon was demonstrating that seemingly absurd ideas were possible: You could take a bookstore a bookstore! and make that work online.

              Randolph had been involved in software companies and developed the wealth and connections he needed to pursue new ideas. A merger led him to Reed Hastings, the entrepreneur who became his co-founder and is now Netflixs CEO.

              The two landed on movies after their carpool talks, but nearly abandoned the idea when they calculated VHS shipping costs. They soon, however, discovered DVDs, then a nascent technology. They secured investors, including $25,000 from Randolphs mother (My mom was delighted that I was finally doing a company that she actually understood), and Netflix launched in April 1998, with about 800 titles in its inventory and Randolph as CEO.

              The name Netflix, which Randolph thought was somewhat porn-y, beat E-Flix.com, CinemaCenter, NowShowing and others, which now sound like particular relics of the 90s.

              Randolph recently found notes from a speech he gave when the company started, saying, In three years, we want to be one of the top ten video chains. How lame is that? I wanted to be as big as a single Blockbuster store.

              In 1998, Jeff Bezos attempted to acquire Netflix as a way to jumpstart Amazons entry into video. Even though Netflix was making a majority of its revenue from DVD sales, not rentals, Randolph and Hastings decided not to sell to Amazon or try to compete with it, and instead focus solely on rentals. It was a strategy that paid off. Eventually.

              Netflix grew its subscriber base by offering free trials and other deals that made the convenient rental service extremely popular, but meant it was also haemorrhaging money.

              Blockbuster finally agreed to talk to Netflix, calling an unexpected meeting the morning after an alcohol-fuelled Netflix retreat. Randolph says he was wearing shorts, a tie-dyed T-shirt and flip-flops when he and his colleagues sat down with Blockbuster in Dallas and proposed the video chain accelerate its entry into DVDs, by purchasing Netflix for $50m.

              Marc
              Marc Randolph is a fan of Narcos, one of Netflixs hit series. Photograph: Juan Pablo Gutierrez/Netflix

              In one fell swoop, we might get out of this, he recalls.

              After they stated the dollar amount, Randolph noticed something strange happening with the Blockbuster CEO John Antiocos face. He was struggling not to burst into laughter.

              The meeting went further downhill from there.

              Randolph says it was one of the lowest moments for the company: You fly to Blockbuster, try and sell the business, and they laugh at you.

              The only option left was to defeat Blockbuster, and Netflix stayed afloat by doing painful layoffs, figuring out overnight delivery of DVDs, and preparing early to move into streaming.

              Hollywood executives were very, very scared of losing control of the content after the music industry had suffered at the hands of Napster, he says. You have a studio who is doing $8bn in box office. Are they going to compromise [that] for half a million dollars in potential streaming? They had this whole nice system that was working great. Why mess this up?

              He continues: Because we can.

              Randolph left Netflix in 2002, which is also where his book ends, meaning tech elites and startup workers will have more interest in reading it than Orange is the New Black fans. Randolph also lacks some self-awareness in his discussion of Netflixs early culture, fondly remembering a drunken raucous retreat, a new-employee tradition akin to hazing, and his insistence on maintaining a poster in his office that wasnt the most HR-friendly.

              Netflix
              Netflix resisted pressure to sell to its online retail competitor Amazon, and eventually defeated Blockbuster. Photograph: Geoff Moore/REX

              Asked about the lack of diversity in Silicon Valley and whether he thought Netflix in the early days did a good job, he says he takes pride in the gender, age and geographic diversity of his employees, adding, Diversity is not a skin thing, necessarily. Diversity is you have people around the table who have different backgrounds and different experiences and think differently.

              Does he think Netflix disruption will continue in other arenas? Who knows what form storytelling will take in the future? They begin doing virtual reality, holographic avatar games? Some form of new disruption is certain, he says, though emphasizes that he is only speaking as a fan of Netflix (he like Ozark and Narcos).

              Randolph argues that in the startup world, no one knows whats a good idea or a bad idea until you try it. Its a principle that is arguably relevant to Netflix today, which some critics say has a quality control problem and is creating an industry with an over-saturation of original streaming content.

              As a viewer, hes not bothered: Why would I mind that theres too much?

              And how does he reflect now on the demise of Blockbuster?

              I absolutely feel for people whose businesses have been disrupted, people who lost their jobs. That hurts.

              But, he says, Im not sure I want to preserve the old ways just for the sake of saying, I dont believe in change.

              He tries not to gloat, but adds: Blockbuster had 9,000 stores. Now there is one.

              Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2019/sep/14/netflix-marc-randolph-founder-blockbuster