I am beyond confused at the moment… I could have sworn that releasing a mixtape for people to stream for free was legal and that once you started charging money for it then it became illegal. Isn’t that the law that was put into effect in order to protect artists’ revenues? Actually… the labels’ revenues!
I was browsing Kickstarter and came across a really cool idea called Mixcard that these two guys are trying to fund. Chris who is in the promotional video for the project even goes as far as to tell you that he makes sure to pay each artist for the artwork they create for the postcard. Mixcard is a pretty cool concept but not fully thought out. This is how Mixcard basically works.
1. You pay $5 to these two guys, Chris and Alfred, to have them send a postcard with unique artwork on it.
2. You go to their website and you make a playlist on their website with songs from some very popular artists.
3. Then Chris and Alfred send a postcard to a person of your choice that you provide an address for. The postcard has really cool artwork on it that you choose from a list of choices to choose from.
4. The postcard has a personal message from you and a QR code and a website link. The person who gets the postcard can visit the link or use the QR code to pull up the playlist you created for them.
Here is where things get iffy and tricky! Chris and Alfred are charging people which means they are profiting off of music that is being streamed off their website. Maybe they pay fees to SoundExchange I don’t know… For those who don’t know what SoundExchange is, SoundExchange is a non-profit performance rights organization that collects statutory royalties from satellite radio (such as SIRIUS XM), Internet radio (like Pandora), cable TV music channels and similar platforms for streaming sound recordings. The Copyright Royalty Board, which is appointed by The U.S. Library of Congress, has entrusted SoundExchange as the sole entity in the United States to collect and distribute these digital performance royalties on behalf of featured and non-featured recording artists, master rights owners (usually record labels), and independent artists who record and own their masters.
Kickstarter perhaps let this slide because they also assumed that Chris and Alfred might be paying some type of fee for streaming the music just like Pandora and other internet stations do. Here is my question… why would Kickstarter over look the fact that one of the things offered from Chris and Alfred is that for a $125 pledge, “Chris will make you a real live cassette mixtape complete with cover art and setlist. He will sing one song of your choosing from the tape.”
There are two laws being broken here that I can personally see. One is Chris is selling a cover song with out paying for the cover song. Two, Chris is selling a tape of other artists’ recordings. How is this allowed? I’m also very curious who should be held responsible for “stealing and profiting off of someone else’s work?” Should Chris and Alfred be held responsible for selling and profiting illegally off of other people’s work and products or should Kickstarter be held responsible for allowing it to happen?