Numero Group: By The Numbers


Opting Out
June 7, 2011, 3:12 pm
Filed under: Methodology | Tags:

We’ll keep our comments short because these are likely questions that will soon be duked out in courts and all the blogosphere handwringing in the world is not going to have any effect on the results. After all, it’s only been one day since the announcement of Apple’s new product, iCloud, and it’s hard to speculate exactly what it will mean for record label like ours. However, we feel that a great risk is being taken by Apple and the major labels that have accepted the terms of this new product wholesale with not a thought beyond the 150M * those so-called “big four” will probably divide and pay to their top executives. By that, we mean that laws that protect compositions and copyrights for songs are, more or less, being trampled under these agreements.

In the coming weeks, many customers and friends will ask us this question: why am I not able to automatically access Numero in my iCloud? The simple reason is that Apple and their major label “partners” have created a reward system that is both incomprehensible in scope and totally out of sync with iCloud’s streaming peers’ (Rdio, Spotify, et al) financial mechanics. As we have been entrusted with an incredible wealth of creative assets, and our primary responsibility is to our partners; the artists, producers, and songwriters that make up the Numero catalog, we feel that Apple’s pittance is an insult not only to them, but every other musician, living or dead, and, if the latter is the case, their heirs.

With that in mind, we have declined Apple’s invitation to iCloud.

* Robert Kondrk from iTunes was kind enough to point out that, although reported heavily in many publications, Apple paid $0 to the big four.


43 Comments so far
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Hey I don’t understand how the iCloud will work but fully support your decision…
Thanks for everything you guys do you are awesome.

Comment by Craig Reid

Yes! Thank you being the “voice of reason” in a sea of antipathy towards treating artists fairly and actually caring about the quality and presentation of creative art.

Comment by DJ M

Could I really be enamored with and by Numero more? Very nice. Solid stance!

Comment by Otis

bravo!

Comment by boffo

Thanks folks. There is something very special going on here at Numero. So glad to be along for the ride. Well done.

Comment by barrett

[...] Group Declines Agreement With Apple’s iCloud Acclaimed (by Jim James of My Morning Jacket, among others) reissue label [...]

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[...] Group Declines Agreement With Apple’s iCloud Acclaimed (by Jim James of My Morning Jacket, among others) reissue label [...]

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[...] Group Declines Agreement With Apple’s iCloud Acclaimed (by Jim James of My Morning Jacket, among others) reissue label [...]

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[...] thanks to Apple’s terms. At least one such label, the tiny, Chicago-based Numero Group, has publicly stated it has decided to “opt out” of iTunes Match.“We feel that a great risk is being [...]

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[...] has strong feelings against the iCloud, and they’re not afraid to share them via the company blog. They feel that the agreements being put in place ignore everyone besides the “big [...]

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You’ll be left out in the cold and I won’t be listening to any of your artists anymore. Get off your high horse.

This might be the only opportunity you have to monetize all the tracks that have been downloaded illegally for the past couple of years. Regardless, if this is the stance you will take, I will no longer be listening to any albums sold or distributed through your label.

Comment by Steve

Steve-

It’s been nice having you along for part of the journey. Wishing you safe passage from atop our high horse.

Comment by numerogroup

Wow Steve, you sound like a cool dude who really loves music.

Comment by Budd

[...] made it known they don’t like Apple’s new iTunes Match feature, choosing to opt out of the service. “We feel that a great risk is being taken by Apple and the major labels [...]

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Steve: fuck off.

Comment by wfl

[...] that it believes iTunes Match actually “legitimizes piracy,” and as a result, this week announced it has pulled out from taking part in the service. “We feel that a great risk is being taken [...]

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[...] thanks to Apple’s terms. At least one such label, the tiny, Chicago-based Numero Group, has publicly stated it has decided to “opt out” of iTunes [...]

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[...] thanks to Apple’s terms. At least one such label, the tiny, Chicago-based Numero Group, has publicly stated it has decided to “opt out” of iTunes [...]

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[...] made it known they don’t like Apple’s new iTunes Match feature, choosing to opt out of the service. [...]

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[...] label Numero Group, which deals exclusively with reissues, posted a short but succinct note on its blog stating that it would not join Apple’s newest service [...]

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Short sided thought. Cant even count how many cds/LPs I have bought and ripped to mp3 so I could play electronically. I will never understand why people automatically think digital music not purchased electronically means that they are pirated.

Im not a pirate I am a customer.

But guess what, I can still upload my tracks that don’t match because of your choice. It may cost extra to me but this is the last time I buy music from you and will shift the cost from your pocket to storage.

Comment by rich

Rich-

If you are in the miniscule minority of people that are still purchasing music, we applaud you. If you don’t feel that spending the time to rip a Numero disc onto each device you want to play it on is worth it, that’s your prerogative. But let’s not pretend that what is best for the consumer is what’s going to be best for the artist or label. Sometimes both sides win at the same time, when a fan actually buys a record and loves it. Over the last decade however, the fans have gotten the better side of the equation, and we’ve been fine with it to a point. This is that point. You’re thinking about what’s most convenient for you, Numero is thinking about how we’re going to be able to survive long enough to make more records. If you feel that we need to be punished, don’t buy the albums. If you don’t think the albums are worth an extra 3 minutes to rip, this label probably wasn’t for you in the first place.

Comment by numerogroup

Hey Numero, I have purchased many of your LP’s. Literally hundreds of dollars worth. At $20+/per you don’t provide MP3s, which is really frustrating for me since I spent 50+ hours a week at work and have no more than 10 hours a week to spin records at home. That’s frustrating. I also buy a lot of music in MP3 format because I don’t care for the CD medium, and know lots of people that spend cash on digital music.

Your “miniscule minority” of people argument and the rationale that you’ve given me via email for not including downloads with vinyl purchases are both absurd strawman arguments. Indies can make this work, take a look at Thrilljockey for an example of how a small label can treat the customers who buy the vinyl well and in the process foster a lot of good will on the part of the purcahser.

As far as iCloud goes, you’re getting a lot of pub for this and I guess that’s what you wanted. I think that ultimately you’d be better off doing right by your fans and staying part of the dialogue rather than throwing the toys out of the crib.

Comment by Bob in Chicago

Thanks for your support all these years. We most certainly were not looking for publicity, we presumed we’d be a smaller voice in a much larger outcry. It didn’t happen that way, obviously. As to your point about digital downloads: it’s something we’re working on for selected releases. It’s not something that’s ever going to be available for all or even most releases. It’s literally not possible. Whether or not a label like Thrill Jockey can do it has everything to do with their ability to secure permission from all necessary parties. A contemporary label is dealing with people who assume this will be part of the deal. Not so, people from the old world of the music business. Straw man or not, that’s the way it is. If it was just a matter of printing up a bunch free download cards and throwing ‘em in the record, it might be a different story, but its much more complicated.

Comment by numerogroup

A label no one’s ever heard of with artists you’ll never listen decides to do something bad for customers and potential customers…and does so with a high and mighty tone.

You’re no better than the big four. You’re not really interested in getting music to an audience on the terms the audience wants. Only on the terms you want.

But entertainment isn’t about you (especially as a label), it’s about the audience.

Comment by Dan

[...] users redownload any songs they have in their iTunes library to any device they own. In a short blog posting, Numero Group said that "we feel that a great risk is being taken by Apple and the major labels [...]

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Who cares? Digital sucks anyway.

Comment by Leann

I too have legally ripped music and don’t like the decision of this label. However I am not sure I 100% like this new system of apples which by first impressions allows a pirate music owner upgrading their pirate music library to legitimate for the price of one album a year. I have spent thousands of dollars on music and have been given the same status as a pirate. This not even mentioning the artists getting portions of a cent for their work.

Their needs to be a more mechanical approach to this verification approach where the CDs are traded/marked for digital status. Cost will be a lot higher but at least it would be fairer on artists and legitimate customers.

Comment by Stewart

[...] th&#1072t specializes &#1110n ancient Soul music — thinks iTunes Match &#1110&#1109 a raw deal. In a chat w&#1110th Ars Technica’s Chris Foresman, Sevier &#1089l&#1072r&#1110f&#1110&#1077d [...]

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First off, I’m not a lawyer, but am rather a student of logic and justice. Therefore, my statements should be regarded simply as a personal take on how things SHOULD be, not necessarily how they ARE.

That said, I don’t agree with All Thing D’s assessment when they said “Apple will take the songs you’ve stolen, and turn them into legit files, with big music’s blessing.” Please allow me to elaborate:

From an ownership perspective, iTunes Match is NOT giving you a LEGAL copy of a file, but rather, is merely giving you a copy of the music you already own, or not. It is no different than you buying a CD, ripping it as a FLAC file, convert it to a 256-bit AAC, and then putting it on a server to be synced with all your devices, which may convert it again to a 128-bit MP3. The licence to the music was acquired through the purchase of the CD; All those conversions and transfers are merely guaranteed rights under the Fair Use clauses of copyright law. If the original file is stolen, all other copies and conversions are also not legal, no matter the method used to “Launder” them.

Therefore, I might argue that purchasing a cheap MP3 from iTunes or Amazon gives me a license to a song, and from there I can freely download a higher quality version of the file (CD quality in the FLAC format, as an example) from RapidShare, or the like, and the licence carries over… The file I downloaded, in itself, has no licence and is thus illegal; But partnered with the licence I bought from Amazon/iTunes, it is just as legal as having bought the CD. I’m not sure I would be willing to try that in court, and I would never suggest anyone else try it either, but it sounds like a logical conclusion to me…

By extension, and maybe as a sign of proof, iTunes Match is not granting you a licence to your music, but merely giving you access to the music you already licence in another format, and from another source. If you had no licence in the first place, iTunes Match’s copy is still just as unlicensed.

All of that said, an interpretation of a law is only as powerful as the endorsement from a judge, and one should always follow the law as they feel they can best prove it in court. Therefore, I fully support the Numero Group in their decision to not use iTunes Match, and agree that the fine details will be hashed out in court. I look forward to the battles.

Comment by Tyrell Berry

I’d just like to point something out.

What you’re opting out of is iCloud Music Match, not iCloud itself.

What this means: if you have an MP3 of Numero recordings, you can still upload them to iCloud, and still listen to them on all your devices.

What you will NOT be able to do is to automatically scan your collection for a Numero music match (you have to upload the song yourself); and you will not automatically be “upgraded” to 256Kb iTunes Plus format.

In other words, the only thing Numero is doing is a) making it less convenient, but not impossible, to listen to Numero music on iCloud; and b) losing out on any opportunity to make money from the service.

Bad business move, IMHO.

Comment by Karl

We do realize what we’re opting out of. The money potentially made is actually miniscule, there’s not much to miss out on. It might be slightly less convenience, it’s true… but it’s not unreasonably inconvenient.

Comment by numerogroup

[...] thanks to Apple’s terms. At least one such label, the tiny, Chicago-based Numero Group, has publicly stated it has decided to “opt out” of iTunes [...]

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[...] — a tiny record label that specializes in old Soul music — thinks iTunes Match is a raw deal. In a chat with Ars Technica’s Chris Foresman, Sevier explained the effect of piracy on a [...]

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[...] Hypebot, we learn of an indie label called Numero that apparently has decided that it wants no part of Apple’s iCloud Music Match offering: In the coming weeks, many customers and friends will ask us this question: why am I not [...]

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I applaud your move. Apple’s got everyone drinking their kool-aid. It’s refreshing to hear Numero’s take on the matter, and see that the only thing being offered here is more money for Apple and less money for artists. As for the people complaining……
WOW……they’re only thinking about themselves and not the big picture…..which is: you’re life is being digitized…into a cloud…..which will just give big brother (Apple) a solid foundation by which to mine all of your data and sell that information to marketers. Your life will be backed up yes, but your soul will be gone. But, alas, your music will be at your finger tips…….but wait, don’t I have an iPod for that?
Apple wants it all. And when you finally figure that out, you’ll see the big picture. Everyone “roll over.” Good doggies…

Comment by Brian

To their heirs? Why should we care what an artist’s heirs get paid? Why do they deserve anything? Fair enough the artist does but not their heirs

Comment by Michael Wright

Michael-

Please call us when your parents die so we can loot their house while you’re dealing with probate, cool?

Sincerely,
—The Management

Comment by numerogroup

Lets assume I have pirated one of numerogroups CDs. Ok? (I don’t listen to that kind of music, but let us assume)

Will I ever buy the CD?
NO, and most pirates never will.

So, I go and do iTunes match, iTunes matches my CD. What will happen?

Worst case: iTunes will replace my bad 128kbps with a better file, but only if the pirate MAKEs iTunes do that, the pirate was lucky.

Best case: My pirate copy is in good quality already, nothing will happen at all.

Will this all hurt numerogroup? NO, because the case was lost long ago when I downloaded the CD illegally.

Does this legitimize piracy? Of course NOT. its a great service, that, unfortunately has a loop hole to correct the quality of pirated music IF the user knows how.

What you numeroguys should see is:

1: NOT ALL OF US ARE PIRATES. YOU ARE PUNISHING MORE GOOD PEOPLE THEN HURTING BAD ONES.

2: YOU shut yourselves out and say “better nothing then little” which is downright arrogant.

Comment by raphael

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The figures are in and itunes is paying roughly $1.25 per 1,000 streams. Speaking from an artist/label’s perspective, losing out on that kind of money seems like a pretty small price to pay to opt out of a system that provides the non-paying downloaders of the world a way to upgrade and more fully enjoy music they didn’t pay for.

For people who do pay for the music in the form of downloads, CDs (or LP rips for that matter), the service is still very convenient, and the label / artist get paid. Same as it used to be, but with the added convenience of the cloud.

For the folks who think paying for the things they enjoy is pasee because it’s a new world man, they still have their downloads and can still can enjoy them with the added convenience of the cloud — they just don’t receive the additional bonus of apple formatting their tracks, fixing track titles, upgrading the audio, adding artwork etc.

The real winner here, of course, is apple, who’s collecting $25 a year from each person using this service.

Comment by .

[…] soul label Numero Group has announced it will opt out of the service. Label co-owner Ken Shipley blogged about feeling insulted by Apple. Contacted by Ars Technica, co-owner Rob Sevier said iTunes Match […]

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