Censored by Apple

Blogpost

July 12, 2023

Censored by Apple

We independent artists are used to being largely ignored by the various multipliers in the music business. This is then sold to us as the will of the listener. In reality, the practice of charging for streams only makes sales in the millions worthwhile for institutional market participants. However, this requires a uniforming of taste, i.e. constant manipulation on the part of the big players. Due to the profit motive, the corresponding selection can no longer be made by people because it would be far too expensive. Artificial intelligence takes over this task. Of course, despite all the artistry of the programmers, a few human dimensions are missing in the assessment of the machines. This leads to bizarre decisions in borderline cases. Unfortunately, even in these cases, human judges are still too expensive for the players. Thousands of wrong judgements are accepted as collateral damage as long as the profit is right. These are despotic structures that are accepted by a vast majority because of the supposed harmlessness of the consequences or ignorance. But this does not make the matter meaningless, because there are quite a few people who are simply deprived of rights without justification. Spotify, the top dog in the music streaming business, has been the subject of public criticism for some time now. Indeed, there are some things that are not entirely clean, but the biggest outrages have not yet been made public because mass media are very cautious about power structures and those affected often remain silent for fear of consequences regarding the distribution of their music. At some point, however, the barrel of anger overflows and then it simply has to come out.

A few days ago I released a music album called “Far Beyond Understanding”. An independent artist is doing it together with a digital music distributor. All the sound and image files are uploaded to a portal of the distributor and a lot of metadata, such as title, composer and genre, is entered by the artist. This project is then sent by the distributor to the points of sale.  It should be noted that the distributor already checks and warns about incorrect information. Some services do not accept certain genres, which is their right if they serve niche markets. The major services usually do not have such exclusions as long as no laws are flouted. I have gone through this process over a hundred times without any problems until now the music album mentioned above has been rejected by Apple. I initially thought it was an oversight and asked the distributor to resubmit it, but it was rejected again. When asked by the distributor, the album violated an Apple rule: “it is considered very generic for Apple Music, so it can have many copyright overlaps”. Since the album is an acoustic meditation and soul journey and comes under the genre “New Age”, I did some research and found dozens of albums with recordings of singing bowls. What is more generic than the recording of a sound body without additional structured content? The 13 tracks of my album are clearly highly artfully arranged and very different pieces of music. What is the problem?

Of course I am still working on finding out the real reason, but it is already clear to me that some detail has triggered a judgement that is not comprehensible and would very probably also be corrected in a dialogue from person to person. But since these enquiries and complaints reduce profit, they are forcefully pushed into the corner and left without justification. Probably no music listener is aware that the services do not pay thousands of streams to independent musicians because an artificial intelligence has detected fraudulent actions. Of course there is fraud, but to undermine the legal claims of third parties simply with an allegation because you don’t have your own business model under control is a bit strong. It’s like a flat-rate restaurant not paying its suppliers because statistically the paying guests could never have eaten that much. Those affected have no choice but to publicly denounce this abuse of power. If the opponent acts so rudely, we should also act a little more rudely than we normally would. As one shouts into the forest, so it sounds out. Hence my headline “Censored by Apple”.

The Founder

My name is Horst Grabosch and I am the mastermind of all projects presented on this website.

I was born in the largest coal mining area in Germany, known as the “Ruhrgebiet”. After school I worked as a professional musician until I was 40 years old. This time is well documented on WIKIPEDIA

After a burnout I had to give up my job, moved to the south of Germany, to the Munich region, and did an apprenticeship as an information technologist.

Another burnout forced me to rebuild my existence again, which collapsed just because of the corona crisis. In expectation of poverty at retirement age, I began to build a second career as a musician in 2019.

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