The CD, "Rare Antiquity: Digging Down To The Past" was pressed in December of 2003. The 8 original songs are complex melodically, harmonically and rhythmically. The 11 cover songs are up close and personal. The songs try to touch your emotions and they make you feel good. The songs are by a singer who creates stories, inhabits characters, uses imagery in his lyrics and touches your heart with musical arrangements and artistic words. He writes about people, about politics, about love, about imagination, about superstition or a magical perspective of being human, about living life as a human experience in this world. His original paintings included in the CD offer images of the world and the people in it. They complement the music. A geologist studies rock in all its forms and it is clear that this is just the beginning.
Geologist had intended to place the CD in major record store chains; however, they wanted him to distribute it via a middle company and for middle company fees that large labels do not pay. That meant in order to place an Edmonton, Alberta, Canada made CD in an Edmonton store, it would have to be sent to Toronto, Ontario, Canada first - to the other side of the continent - and then sent back to Edmonton, or anywhere else for that matter. Geologist wanted to send the CDs directly to wherever they would go by doing away with the middle company and without the middle company fee. When the test shipment of CDs to the middle company was bogged down in Toronto, an impasse was reached and with the exception of the odd independent store, few CDs made it into a record store.
Similarly, Geologist tried to place the CD, "Rare Antiquity: Digging Down To The Past" onto iTunes initially; however, iTunes wanted them uploaded via a middle company for a middle company annual fee. Geologist had the ability to upload the CD to iTunes in any format iTunes required. The original middle company list provided by iTunes contains one company that is now a flower shop and others that are no longer in the online music business. Some of the middle companies were obviously unstable, unreliable, non-transparent and unaccountable. Nevertheless, after almost six years of arguing, Geologist either had to give in and try a middle company or never place any songs online. He chose one middle company that many other artists were using. The MP3s will be available July 1, 2009 on iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, eMusic and Napster. Then came the list of preferred middle companies from iTunes, with CD Baby on the list.
Geologist released two earlier all original limited edition physical CDs with a total run of 500 copies each for particular causes. Each CD contained 11 original songs; however, those two limited edition CDs are being released digitally with a total of 17 bonus songs added to new mixes, alternate recordings and amplified tracks. They are titled, "For Desiree....Wherever You Are Limited Edition - with 10 bonus songs" - for a total of 21 songs and, "Children Have No Rights Limited Edition - with 7 bonus songs - for a total of 18 songs.
This CD, "Rare Antiquity: Digging Down To The Past" had 500 copies pressed initially and possibly another 500 to be pressed after that. It contains original paintings/drawings by Geologist and lyrics for the 8 original songs. The Cover, Back Cover, the Inside Covers and the CD Booklet Insert Covers all contain original artwork by Geologist. The MP3 online version has its cover as, "Jazz Dancer on the Piano", which is the cover for the Booklet Insert Cover of the Physical CD. The Cover of the Physical CD, "Hawaiian Ocean Deja Vu" is an original painting different from the cover of the online MP3 CD. The cover on the physical disk and the back cover of the Physical CD is the original oil painting, “Auroras Borealis Australialis”. The Back Cover of the Booklet Insert is the original oil painting, “Pirates In The Jungle”.
The Back Inside Cover under the tray that holds the physical CD contains the original oil painting and drawing, “Naked Freedom, Digging Down To The Past”. It is a statement about women’s rights in Afghanistan, an issue publicized because of the war there, post 9/11. Canada’s soldiers have fought there in a most dangerous area of Afghanistan since the beginning of the campaign, where they remain, forcing the Taliban back to their hideouts in Pakistan, where the “students” were originally trained by Pakistan to take power in Afghanistan. The word, “Taliban” means “students”. Their initial teachers were in Pakistan, who wanted a friendly government in power next door. It did not work out exactly the way the Pakistan teachers intended. Pakistan’s Swat Valley civilians are suffering the consequences of internal displacement now in 2009. They are refugees within their own country and women’s rights continue to be a casualty of the conflict. Freedom of mobility, independence, education, action and speech are exercised at great individual peril there.
The CD was mixed by Barry Allen at Homestead Recorders, Edmonton, Canada, September 18 & October 20, 2003. It was Mastered by Aron Gillman. It was produced by Randy Williams. Cover, paintings, drawings were by Randy Williams. Graphics by Terry Smith.
Geologist did not press more copies because of the distribution difficulties caused by the insertion of the middle companies and their excessive fees both with major record store chains and online. From an artistic perspective, Geologist is also planning to re-record the original songs with a bigger budget by adding Electric Guitars - 12 string - Lead - Rhythm, Keyboards/Piano, and Vocal Harmonies that were not included with the acoustic guitar - bass - drum - vocal versions on this CD, which is in the format of "Unplugged" CDs. As a result, this physical CD may be limited to 500/1000 copies. The physical CD, "Rare Antiquity: Digging Down To The Past" is thus being released in 2009, to be available here at CD Baby, six years after it was pressed.
Songwriters can forget about artists performing their songs to sell as physical CDs, permanent digital downloads and streams in the United States or from web sites under the jurisdiction of U.S. laws. The Harry Fox Agency that handles mechanical rights in the U.S. purports that 2009's Digital Millennium Copyright Act initiated changes that do far more than implement two 1996 World Intellectual Property Organization treaties.
If you are a Canadian, you will have paid the mechanical royalties for cover songs when you pressed your CD on a pay-as-you-press basis. If you then want to sell your CD in the United States, you may be required to pay again for the same mechanical royalties you've already paid in Canada. Paying that same mechanical royalty may be imposed when you pay your import license to sell your CD in the United States. So unless you want to pay double the mechanical royalty rate, don't record cover songs for physical distribution in the United States. Stick with physical distribution of only original songs when releasing sound recordings in the United States.
For physical CDs, the U.S. now may request that artists pay the mechanical royalties a second time along with the import license. That doubles the per song royalty rate for cover songs. You ought to know that Canada has a pay as you press policy and Canadian artists will already have paid the mechanical royalties prior to exporting CDs to the U.S. Paying them again when we import a CD to the U.S. for distribution means paying that mechanical royalty twice.
As a result, none of the cover songs from my albums “Archaeology” or “Rare Antiquity: Digging Down To The Past” will be available on any physical CD I may distribute in the United States. Furthermore, none of the cover songs from my albums “Archaeology” or “Rare Antiquity: Digging Down To The Past” will be available as permanent digital downloads or streams in the United States either.
Here’s why: if you are Canadian and you sell digital downloads via an online music distributor, the CMRRA (Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency) administers Canadian laws that require online music distributors to pay mechanical royalties for cover songs downloaded by Canadian buyers. In the United States, digital downloads are called permanent digital downloads or PDDs and now it is the artist, not the online music distributor who must pay the mechanical royalties for any site located in the United States and subject to laws under U.S. jurisdiction. While the mechanical royalty rate for the average song is now $0.091 cents per download, it is the $15 per song processing fee that accompanies every license from 25 downloads to 5000 downloads that means the end of making PDDs of cover songs available in the U.S. Furthermore, each license has a duration of one year, then artists must guess how many PDDs they will sell in the next year (paying unnecessary mechanical rights for over-estimating) and another annual processing fee.
For instance, the (mechanical royalty rate of $0.091) x (a license for 25 downloads) = $2.28 (mechanical royalty cost) + $15.00 (processing fee) = $17.28. There is a $0.30 cost per download that is paid to an online music distributor for online distribution. Take the remaining $0.70 (per PDD) - $0.091 (mechanical royalty paid per download) = $0.609 (profit per PDD) x 25 (PDDs) = $15.23 (profit). The deficit is $2.05 for the average artist.
For Permanent Digital Downloads, the Harry Fox Agency, Limelight and others can charge a per song license processing fee of $15 per cover song, adding that to the $0.091 mechanical royalty rate per download. Artists must guess how many downloads they will sell per year. If they guess too high, they pay mechanical royalties they do not sell. If they guess too low, they pay another processing fee for an additional license and they will surely have left over paid mechanical royalties they do not sell within a year. Furthermore, they must renew their licenses annually, paying another processing fee per song, per renewal indefinitely. Don’t forget that on top of the processing fees and the mechanical royalties, the artist must pay an online distributor $0.30 per PDD. In Canada, the online music store or the digital distributor must pay mechanical royalties on digital downloads to Canadian buyers but in the United States, U.S laws make the artist pay for PDDs from any website under U.S. jurisdiction. It does not take a rocket scientist to realize that distributing PDDs of cover songs in the U.S are a money pit.
In addition, a U.S. license to stream a cover song costs $0.01 per stream but web sites pay from $0.0005 to $0.0009 per stream. If an artist pays a $1.00 fee for 100 streams, that artist then earns from $0.05 cents to $0.09 cents. The deficit is $0.91 cents per 100 streams. Because the license for streams of a cover song is set at $0.01 per stream but the web sites pay only from $0.0005 to $0.0009 per stream, it becomes a simplistic matter of mathematics.
Streams ought to be administered by Performing Rights Organizations since they are considered to be a public performance, whether on radio or web radio. In the U.S., Harry Fox Agency Online collects part or all of that money as a mechanical rights royalty that delays or obfuscates what artists receive from streams as a performing right royalty. As a result, there is confusion whether streams ought to be paid as a mechanical rights royalty or as a performing rights royalty.
That confusion has carried over to Canada, where the Canada Council has ruled that artists who apply for grants cannot include streams as evidence of a history of performing. As a result, such artist applications have been deemed ineligible for Canada Council grants.
It is odd that the Harry Fox Agency Online is selling mechanical licenses and using a formula to collect for streams that ought to be collected by performing rights societies. That ties up or delays payments for streams from U.S. web sites.
In the United States, it is not financially feasible to sell (1) physical CDs, (2) PDDs or (3) streams that contain cover songs. Artists can earn profits only if they do not sell physical CDs contain cover songs, PDDs of cover songs or streams of cover songs in the United States. Artists must only sell originals in the U.S. if they want to earn profits.
Any artist who complies with such impractical U.S. laws needs to take a course in mathematics. Since no artist wants to fight a case of infringement, the only means of protest is not to enter the U.S. market place with cover tunes. Such impractical laws will force artists not to place cover songs in the U.S. market place at all. U.S. songwriters ought to expect a drop in their income. U.S. laws make selling cover songs unprofitable in the United States.
In most countries, it is against the law to advise artists to break a U.S. law in this area in order to protest its financial impracticality. Canadian artists' and all artists’ best course of action is not to sell physical or digital cover songs in the United States. Don't record songs written by U.S. songwriters. Because it will be impossible to afford the financial losses of selling cover songs in the United States, artists will have to request that Americans go to web sites located outside of American jurisdiction to buy cover songs. Artists will be able to afford to sell only original songs as CDs, PDDs and streams in the United States.
Mechanical rights obligations are different in every country in the world and the music industry is expecting independent artists to learn the laws of every country in which they sell music. It is a daunting task and one that ought to be done by a collective society funded by government. The Canadian and other governments appear to be oblivious to the problem. The U.S. government does not appear to want artists to distribute cover songs within the U.S. or from a web site under U.S. jurisdiction because changes to laws have now made selling cover songs within the United States financially impractical for the first time in history (that I am aware).
Artists are more than happy to comply with mechanical royalty rights for cover songs but (1) when those mechanical royalty rates are unjustly doubled during the administration of the import license for physical CDs, (2) when those royalty rates for PDDs of cover songs carry hidden processing fees that are 7 times the mechanical royalty rates and require artists to guess how many PDDs they will sell during a particular year, paying too much for royalties if they over-estimate or paying additional excessive licensing fees for more PDDs if they under-estimate, then repeating the entire process indefinitely on an annual basis, (3) when license fees for streams of cover songs cost artists more than 10 times the profit they earn from streams, artists have no financial choice but not to sell CDs containing cover songs, not to sell PDDs containing cover songs, and not to sell streams containing covers songs in the United States and web sites under U.S. jurisdiction.
I apologize that I cannot afford to distribute my cover songs in the United States at a financial loss. They will be available in Canada and in countries in the world that have just laws that do not force me to sell my performances at a huge financial loss. Until U.S. laws change, I can only afford to sell my original songs in the United States and from any site under the jurisdiction of United States laws, which I intend to comply with fully and to the best of my ability. I will keep an eye on future changes to U.S. laws and when they allow me to sell cover songs at a profit rather than at a huge financial deficit, then I will make my cover songs available once again in the United States and web sites under the jurisdiction of U.S. laws. Until that time, my only feasible course of action is not to sell cover songs in the United States or any web site under the jurisdiction of the United States. At this time, I can only afford to sell my original songs in the U.S. marketplace.
In the United States, the Harry Fox Agency initially indicated they could process a license for a cover song in 24 hours. As I read more, I discovered that they have a per song digital processing fee of $15.00 that is 164.835165 times more than the mechanical royalty rate of $0.091. The processing fee would have to be paid every 25 downloads. The processing fee is annual and annual renewal would continue indefinitely. Any unused paid mechanical royalties within the year would be lost upon renewal.