The Venus Vulture album phantomshadows, which was originally released on the Resting Bell netlabel, is available again. It can be streamed or downloaded (for free) on the Venus Vulture Bandcamp page. phantomshadows is a minimal ambient drone album of four tracks, each around 14 minutes. The release was combined with a set of images, which are available on the Flickr page.
The funny details:
The release went out of print because I, silly me, had joined APRA – the New Zealand branch of the Australian Performing Rights Association. I think they do good work, but they’re not really compatible with creative commons licences. Christian, who does an extraordinary job at Resting Bell, was faced with paying GEMA (the German equivalent of APRA) fees for releasing my music – even though it was never my intent to generate money from this release. My bad. I’m no longer a member of APRA, though GEMA’s rules are different, it appears possible that I will never be able to release music through Resting Bell or any other German netlabel.
Well, still processing this APRA business. It looks like it might be as much as $200 to opt out of my APRA membership – whew! That would make me wonder about whether to continue Venus Vulture at all – perhaps its the universe telling me to concentrate on writing …
Edit: now on 23 July – the below has become redundant in view of new information that has come to light … ah well.
Over the last couple of years I’ve released some music as digital downloads through international netlabels. The music has been covered by a Creative Commons licence – which means that I give up certain rights (ie. royalties) to make the music available. The licence is an Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0
Sounds simple, huh? I sign the licence and people can download for free, nobody pays, nobody receives payment. Except, uh-oh, I joined APRA, which protects copyright for New Zealand artists (eg. if a copyrighted track gets played on the radio, APRA ensures that any fees get to the artist). That seems like a good idea in case I release some copyrighted (as in not Creative Commons) music. Except that some of the music was released on a netlabel in a country where APRA’s equivalent asks for licence fees for members. Meaning that the label owner may have to pay them, who I presume would then pay APRA who would then pay me. Except that I’ve relinquished my rights to payment quite clearly. Apparently that doesn’t wash. The label owner can’t pay (of course not, s/he does this as a hobby, for the fun of it, not for money) so will have to take my music off the label. So here’s the craziness:
Because I belong to APRA, which protects the abuse of my music, my music is going to be unavailable.
Believe me, I think APRA do great work (which is why I joined). It’s too easy for artists’ work to be used for the benefit of others (eg. ambience in a cafe) without any reward for the artist. Many people depend on this kind of remuneration for their livelihood and APRA’s work, along with other agencies, is great in protecting that. But the irony here is that my work will become entirely unavailable because of APRA’s protection as it applies internationally.
While the netlabel scene is small time when related to the music industry as a whole, I feel sad that this little bit of New Zealand culture on the international stage is going to be hobbled by what is really a technicality.
It looks as if I will have to resign my APRA membership in order to make my music available in the future. Even then, it also seems that because of being an APRA member at the time the music was released it’s now going to be permanently unavailable through the netlabel.