Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Commit the crime, do the time. Hey, that rhymes.

Most believe that the music business is about alienation.

They put themselves in that position.

It’s bad enough the RIAA is out to create criminals out of high school and college students with its downloading witch hunt.

(There has to be a Circle of Hell reserved for anyone connected with the inner workings of that organization.)

Why do newly released CD cost as much or more than most newly released DVDs?

(They wonder why record store clerks are lonelier than the Maytag repair man.)

The list goes on and on.

Then what about this other organization – the National Music Publishers Association? NMPA, for short.

Here’s what happened. I got a few e-mails on the NMPA’s threat to launch legal action on web sites that print song lyrics – as well as - get this - any search engine that links to them.

A few terrestrial and Internet radio stations I work with have links to these gray area lyric sites and wanted to know if I knew whether they’d be considered accessories to the crime.

In March, the NMPA filed suit against XM satellite radio for refusing to pay compensation for songs distributed through its digital download service.

They don't screw around.

What was the added value to Sgt. Pepper, one of the greatest albums of all time? It included the song lyrics, which made its listening experience even more memorable.

I frequent those sites to check new music lyrics – and occasionally those from an oldie or classic rock song. The video hadn’t come out yet – and I wanted to verify that Tori Amos referred to herself as a MILF on the track “Big Wheel” from her new album so I checked one of the lyric sites. She did.

How about that Bob Dylan? No other artist’s lyrics have been scrutinized more than his.

And few artists benefit from a better music publishing deal than Dylan has with SESAC.

Some years back, Bobby D. fell on hard times. He blew out his voice, recorded a few dreadful albums, and his lackluster concerts were drawing barely half a house.

Then Bob Dylan reinvented himself. He put together a new band, started writing better songs and instead of playing the irritable recluse, became affable and accessible.

First, he poked fun of himself and his career in the film, Masked and Anonymous and followed that with the Martin Scorsese biopic on PBS and DVD.

Who would've believed that Dylan would play DJ on a weekly satellite radio show? These days he’s back to playing full houses and his new albums aren’t just selling – they’re among the best of his career (even if, like Clarence “Frogman” Henry, he’s croaking the lyrics).

Part of Dylan’s reinvention was Internet driven. His handlers created a web site that, among other things, allow users to read the lyrics of every song he’s written. It also has the option to type in a lyric line to one of his songs to learn its title.

The set-up works well enough that I have to believe it moves a few Bob albums over the course of a month.

So it made little sense that the NMPA would launch an attack against sites that contribute to promoting music until you read the fine print.

Digging a bit deeper one learns that the NMPA is rolling-out what they call “official on-line lyric” sites through RealNetworks, Rhapsody, and Yahoo through deals with licensed lyric aggregators Gracenote and Lyricfind. The NMPA identified MONEY in Internet lyric sites.

Stations with links to those lyric sites? Sorry. They'll have to go.

We don’t know, yet, how well these new sites work but, all things considered, they should be an upgrade from the preponderance of lyric sites whose byproduct is a never-ending number of vexing pop-ups.

So, take note. Here’s a rare case where the music business could actually be doing its customers a favor. That is, unless oned looks up the lyrics to the Black Eyed Peas’ “My Humps.”

Just ask Alanis.


Anonymous said...

some of those lyrics sites would freeze up my computer. like you, i often check out lyric web sites to confirm what i heard. it is a good feature & at least the new lyric sites even if they are "corporate" will be user friendly.

Anonymous said...

Are you John Morgan?

Anonymous said...

"like a pigeon from hell" from the Pretender's 'Back On The Chain Gang' and "Excuse me while I kiss this guy" from Jimi Hendrix's 'Purple Haze' are two examples of lyrics I misunderstood on record.

Anonymous said...

I grew up believing that "Louie Louie" by the Kingsmen had dirty lyrics and my friends and I used to try and decipher them. Then I read the real lyrics and listened again and realized that they were just mumbling through them. I think the Kingsmen liked the song and hated the lyrics.

Johnny Morgan said...

The answer is, no, he is not John Morgan.

As I told you all over at, I'm not John Gorman, and John Gorman is not me.

Take your conspiracy theories and go elsewhere, please.

Anonymous said...

Much ado about nothing. There are times when the real lyrics actually spoil the song.

Anonymous said...

Hey Gorman....I usually like your blogs but this one blows. We want the Gorman that challenges the pretenders in the broadcast industry. It is never a slow news day in this industry so why did you write a throw away story on song lyric sites. If your clients had questions email them back. Don't mellow out on us.

Anonymous said...

I checked that site. I couldn't find anything about a John Gorman-John Morgan controversy. I must say that it is the WORST newspaper site I have ever used. How do you people in Cleveland navigate through that? Was the John Gorman-John Morgan conspiracy some local radio stunt?

Johnny Morgan said...

No, it wasn't a radio stunt. It was speculation by some ignorant people on the Listening Party forum.

To see what sort of fantasies these folks came up with, see this thread starting here:

And then this thread starting here:

Pay particular attention to posts by users "Lowry" and "moregruel," who think they know more than they actually do.

Anonymous said...

Как говорилось на Мне 33, ему 37, на работе, нравится очень, что сделать ума не приложу, т.к. никогда не сообщу ему первая...боюсь испортить неплохие отношения просто рабочие...мне может показаться на первый взгляд я ему нравлюсь, но порой бывает так, что за целый день и не придет в кабинет.....может напридумывала сама себе.....а в случае в случае если приходит и посмотрит начинаю тупить и трястись....

Anonymous said...

Я конечно, мало, что смыслю в посте, но постараюсь осилить.

Anonymous said...

Я тоже временами такое вижу, но как-то ранее не придавала этому значения.