In the past few days, the Music Modernization Act — which will bring sweeping changes to outdated copyright laws — has passed both the Senate and the House of Representatives unanimously, and is now set to go to President Trump’s desk for signature. In this guest post, Recording Industry Association of America president Mitch Glazier reflects on the sometimes-bumpy road the industry has traveled to get here, and what lies ahead. For the better part of my 25-year professional career, I have worked in public policy in Washington D.C. I have watched countless debates and arguments, bills enacted, alliances forged and opportunities missed.Congress has now passed the Music Modernization Act, legislation that will make a real difference for a music marketplace deserving of fair pay, enforceable rights and efficiency. The bill — and the path of its enactment — is an enlightening roadmap. It affirms that some timeless principles endure, while simultaneously revealing that the march of time and changing business models present new opportunities. The music business is not easy. It is complicated and competitive. We understand why that is the case — music matters, it spawns millions of jobs and billions of fans. Policymakers appreciate that all of us — songwriters, artists, record labels, music publishers, producers and others — play an integral role. But music creators are no longer the only advocates before Congress. Other interests vigorously make their case.Now, more than ever, policymakers seek a unified front from our community. One major reason for the advancement of the Music Modernization Act is that we all diligently worked to realize a broader good, to recognize that our power lies not within one music constituency, but is only truly impactful when we join together to speak with one voice with and for each other. Sure, we fought on the sidelines, made up, fought again, and made up again. Those skirmishes are inevitable when you are pursuing a big, consequential change in our laws. But we always tried to keep our eyes on the larger prize.We could do that, in part, because a foundation of trust was built. Every major artist organization joined with organizations representing record labels, publishers, songwriters, performing rights organizations and producers to discuss legislative language and changes. We approached senior executives at Pandora to discuss guaranteeing payment of pre-1972 recordings before any revised bill was introduced. We understood that they wanted to be supportive of the overall legislation but that the bill needed to functionally work for their business. A foundation of trust was solidified, which allowed all of us to persevere through the inevitable twist and turns of a major legislative campaign.The public policy rationale for the bill’s reforms was demonstrable. The gaps or inequities in the laws we were seeking to change were obvious, glaring and indefensible. Despite the persuasive fact pattern, we understood that we as a business needed to demonstrate that were adapting, that we were listening to our artists and fans. I’m incredibly proud that music is now a digital business, deriving 80% of our revenues from hundreds of different licensed digital music services. We far outpace any creative industry in our transformation. It was sometimes painful and never easy, but we moved forward. No doubt, that work — music shouldering its responsibility — helped persuade policymakers that we were a credible community working to serve fans in the best possible way under the current broken licensing regime. Popular on Variety The most essential pillar of a successful legislative campaign for music is an engaged artist and songwriting community. I was reminded and amazed by the singular power and credibility of artists and songwriters. When they speak, people — fans and policymakers — listen. That is in part because they are masterful storytellers, both in prose and in recording. Music captivates and enriches us in ways unlike any other creative means. When the voices behind those songs and recordings speak out, as they did here in social media posts, op-eds, ads and calls to Members of Congress, they are a powerful force for change. We saw it firsthand with the advocacy behind the Music Modernization Act. To the thousands of artists and songwriters who spent countless time advocating for change, we are deeply grateful.We also understand that no matter how credibly or passionately we make our case, nothing happens without the investment and commitment of those who actually write our laws. We all owe an enormous debt to Representatives Goodlatte, Nadler, Collins, Issa, and Jeffries, and to Senators Hatch, Alexander, Grassley, Graham, Feinstein, Coons, Kennedy and Whitehouse. They stood with us, took arrows on our behalf, and helped guide and broker necessary agreements.I walk away from this experience both humbled and inspired. Big consequential things are hard and take time. I feel privileged to help represent music in Washington. We can do great things when we respect each other and speak with one voice. And the best is yet to come. ×Actors Reveal Their Favorite Disney PrincessesSeveral actors, like Daisy Ridley, Awkwafina, Jeff Goldblum and Gina Rodriguez, reveal their favorite Disney princesses. Rapunzel, Mulan, Ariel,Tiana, Sleeping Beauty and Jasmine all got some love from the Disney stars.More VideosVolume 0%Press shift question mark to access a list of keyboard shortcutsKeyboard Shortcutsplay/pauseincrease volumedecrease volumeseek forwardsseek backwardstoggle captionstoggle fullscreenmute/unmuteseek to %SPACE↑↓→←cfm0-9Next UpJennifer Lopez Shares How She Became a Mogul04:350.5x1x1.25×1.5x2xLive00:0002:1502:15
We’ve seen tons of Kinect hacks over the last couple of months, but something tells me this is the one that millions of slavering MMORPG players were waiting for: a Kinect hack that lets you control your character in Blizzard‘s World of Warcraft using gestures alone.The hack was put together by a team at the University of South California’s Institute for Creative Technologies based upon a tool kit they created called the Flexible Action and Articulated Skeleton Toolkit, which allows them to leverage the Kinect’s motion-sensing abilities and translate it on the fly into any code they desire. The end result is a piece of software that translates the Kinect’s data into an articulated virtual skeleton, the movements of which can be mapped onto keyboard controls.Eventually, FAAST is meant to help drive rehabilitative “games” meant to restore motor function, but right now, they’re showing it off as a front-end to World of Warcraft. Experimental? For sure: as neat as this is, it doesn’t look like either an easy or particularly pleasant way to control your Alliance gnome. Imagine what World of Warcraft would be like, though, if Blizzard more deeply integrated Kinect-like technology into their MMO. We’d have working VR.Read more at Gizmodo
In his mission to make bowling video games more exciting (or, perhaps, to make intimacy less appealing), artist Hye Yeon Nam if offering the world the latest innovation in gaming peripherals–the Kiss Controller. To start playing, grab partner, and shove your tongue down their throat.Here’s the breakdown from Nam, One person has a magnet on his/her tongue and the other person wears the headset. While they kiss, the person who has the magnet on his/her tongue, controls the direction and speed of the bowling ball for 20 seconds. The goals of this game are to guide the ball so that it maintains an average position in the center of the alley and to increase the speed of the ball by moving the tongue faster while kissing I suppose that bowling made sense for the demo. The gameplay is simple and short, so you don’t have to do it for too long–can you image trying to beat Donkey Kong with the thing? You’d definitely start chaffing.
Of the big three forms of entertainment we all use, music went digital first, and now video and games are slowly making the move too. Gamers know it, game publishers know it, and retailers are beginning to realize it.GameStop has decided to react and try and secure its future in the digital space by acquiring the Impulse digital games download service from Stardock as well as streaming tech company Spawn Labs.Although it’s nowhere near as popular as Valve’s Steam service, Impulse does already hold a 10% share of the digital games market. Just as importantly for GameStop, it is already live and making money so the retailer has a platform it can build on with little development investment required.Spawn Labs offers a different view on digital games. The company’s focus is on streaming and virtualization technology. GameStop states that Spawn is working on a solution for playing games on any Internet-enabled device, suggesting OnLive may be getting a new rival in the future branded with the GameStop name.The two acquisitions combined should allow GameStop to offer games across the board through its shops, through the mail from its online store, and now via digital distribution, and eventually game streaming too.Read more at the GameStop press release, via Gamesindustry.bizMatthew’s OpinionThese are both intelligent buys for GameStop for the future. Impulse is an already established service that GameStop can throw some money at and help it grow beyond that 10% market share. It needs to be a brand as recognized as Steam if it intends to compete.As for Spawn Labs, that’s certainly a forward-looking acquisition, and one that’s probably been spurned by the good press OnLive has been getting. GameStop knows that relying on boxed-copy game sales isn’t going to bring in the same level of profits indefinitely, and whose to say future consoles will even have a disc slot in them? So creating a digital platform now makes a lot of sense.Whether both acquisitions pan out for the company depends on how GameStop handles the companies. Impulse needs a more hands-on approach and the experience GameStop brings from selling games for years. Spawn Labs looks like it should be left alone to get on with the tech for the time being.
Nintendo kicked off the E3 2012 console news with their early video stream Sunday night, and today they followed it up with a keynote that, unsurprisingly, was focused on their upcoming Wii U console. Aside from a more thorough look at the revamped controller, the company had only one hardware update to announce, but it was good news : the Wii U will support two of its screen-equipped controllers simultaneously, something that seemed unlikely when the console was unveiled last year.On the media side of things, Nintendo announced that Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, and YouTube would be partnering to provide content, but didn’t have any further details. It’s good to see that the Wii U will be keeping up with other consoles where video is concerned, and we’ll be interested to see if/how those partners make use of the touchscreen controller.Just as they did with Wii Sports, Nintendo will release a “proof of concept” Wii U title, Nintendoland, when the console launches this holiday season. As the name implies, Nintendoland is a collection of mini-games arranged around a theme park motif. Other big Wii U games announced were Pikmin 3, New Super Mario Bros. U, and Scribblenauts Unlimited (with multiplayer!) — all of which made heavy use of the console’s dual-screen setup. Last year Nintendo was already showing the Wii U controller working with the Wii Balance Board, so the announcement of Wii Fit U came as no surprise. The company showed off how the Wii U controller would fold in with the sorts of mini-games in the original Wii version, and implied that workout results could be uploaded elsewhere.Nintendo had a lot to say on their third party support, no doubt to quell fears that only first party titles would take advantage of the new controller. The company announced several well-known franchises for Wii U, such as Mass Effect 3, TEKKEN Tag Tournament 2, Trine 2: Director’s Cut, and Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge. But only with Batman Arkham City: Armored Edition did they show the touchscreen controller being employed — remote Batarang control, environment scanning, and tool selection were all handled slickly through the small screen. Ubisoft’s Zombie U looked to also be an impressive implementation of the Wii U controller, where it was put to use juggling inventory, sniping, and displaying a PIN pad on a locked door.Though Wii U was the main focus of Nintendo’s keynote, the 3DS did get some attention. Super Mario Brothers 2 was announced for an August 19 release, and it’s a completely separate title from the Wii U Mario game. Paper Mario Sticker Star and Luigi’s Mansion also looked like good uses of the handheld’s graphical hardware. Since the keynote was centered around the company’s next console, Nintendo will be doing a separate 3DS streaming event tomorrow at 6PM PST.All in all, today’s keynote was a good showing for Nintendo‘s new console. After the lackluster third party support that the Wii’s motion controls saw, we’re tempering our expectations, but there are clearly some interesting possibilities for their touchscreen.
Do you miss standing at the arcade with a pocket full of quarters hoping the kid in the Hypercolor tank top would bite it already so you could get your hands on one of the Ninja Turtles? Well, VoxMachina wants to bring that retro gaming experience back, but shrink it down a bit and put it on a flat surface in your home. They’ve developed a tabletop prototype called Star Force Pi: STORMTROOPER that comes complete with more than 10,000 games, an image-laden box, instruction book, and the kind of control configuration we all know and love.The concept is based on the pre-NES Grandstand Starforce Electric Tabletop Game System from 1984, but far better looking and with the potential to play more games than we could have ever dreamed of back then. The system includes some of the most beloved side scrolling arcade games of all time like X-Men, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and The Simpsons.According to a post on the system’s Facebook page, the device consists of “Raspberry Pi, hdhardsoft’s Arcade Kit, a rechargeable 3000mAh battery, QVGA screen, HDMI/LAN/USB extensions, speaker, 10 switches/buttons and knobs, and a full-size microswitch Arcade Joystick.” The back also features two USB inputs, HDMI output, and an Ethernet plug to actually install games onto the system. When the machine is fully charged thanks to the five volt plug, you get about five hours of continuous gameplay.Aside from a few potential copyright issues — like those game images on the box and a name and logo that might draw the attention of a Disney lawyer or three dozen — the Star Force Pi: STORMTROOPER looks ready to rock. In fact, if you’re interested in getting your hands on one, let the folks at VoxMachina know on their Facebook and YouTube pages.At this point they don’t have concrete plans on selling the system, but are looking to see if there’s enough interest out there to sell “something larger, professionally developed and crowdfunded.”