You know, you can read all sorts of so-called conspiracy theories and weird ideas about how secret organizations control the music business. You can read all sorts of stuff about how some pop stars winking in their video or their hand signs - or the animals in their videos - have some sort of symbolic relationship to the Illuminati or Free Masons...
There's tons of stories about how buildings that house big music business companies have architecture that all symbolizes the Illuminati and such. You know, eye-balls, triangles, upside down triangles, fire, pentagrams, etc. It's all weird stuff.
Me? I do not believe nor do I disbelieve any of this stuff. In my old age, I've become a curmudgeon and cynic. Nothing surprises me anymore.
I've skimmed over articles about how, say, at the Super Bowl, some singer used devil worship imagery... Also how this singer or that has sold their soul to the devil! (Oh, I believe that completely! Ask any artist who has signed to any major label and they'll tell you the the label are "evil" people. I've heard that many times!)
Anyway, in Japan, one of the music organizations that has a really bad reputation for being corrupt and crooked is the giant of Japan music publishing, JASRAC.
JASRAC stands for Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers. They have a really bad reputation for not paying royalties for independent artists and being a "Good Ol' Boys Club."
Recently, the mass media has been jumping on JASRAC for two particular news items. In one case, some university professor at graduation put up some lines and a few lyrics from a Bobby Dylan song on his university webpage to inspire students before graduation (I think it was "Blowin' in the Wind") and JASRAC came and shit on poor professor's head and sent him a massive billing for payment, repossessed his car and then publicly executed his entire family in front of city hall (OK... Maybe I'm exaggerating a bit about repossession and the execution part.) They then demanded the professor delete the lyrics and remove everything from the webpage.
But it gets even worse. There is a famous children's school for piano that has branches all over Japan and has taught little kids and given them the joy of music for over 50 years. Well, JASRAC has shit on that too by demanding the school stop using sheet music for popular songs.
Are you kidding me? (Well, OK... Come to think of it, maybe we should put a stop to a little boy or girl playing Billy Joel music?) But this is ridiculous, isn't it? The school tries to teach the kids and make it fun for them.... Bach and Mozart over and over might get a tad bit boring, so I understand the teachers wanting to motivate the kids.... It's not like they are going to make a ton of money with little 6-year-old junior doing "Piano Man."
Oh, and there was the time a while back when JASRAC thumped some "Hostess Bars" in Tokyo for $150,000 in fines because they had a pianist who played hit requests from drunks while cute girls put their hands on the customers laps (and their wallets).
But, hey! I guess JASRAC is just doing their job: and that is to squeeze money from people... (and then not pay the artists?)
But, you won't hear any of that absurd conspiracy theory stuff from me!
Anyhow, the other day my friend and I went down to the main JASRAC office to fill out forms for music for our movie. On the way there, my friend was telling me all about the poor reputation of JASRAC as a criminal organisation and the above anecdotal stories as well... I was laughing.
My friend was just telling me about the Illuminati and JASRAC when we turned the corner and there, right in front of me, looming in the distance was the JASRAC building.
Well, you can imagine how surprised I was when I saw the building. I'll be damned! There IS a giant pyramid on top of the building! You can't make this stuff up!
But a huge pyramid? What for?
I guess one day, when someone was planning the design of this building, they had to get the approval of whomever was paying for it, right? So, either Mr. Designer placed a pyramid on top of the building on his own volition (doubtful) or Mr. Moneybags told him to put a big assed pyramid on top of the structure.
I would have put a swimming pool and spa and had tons of bikini girls running around... But that's just me.
What is the useful purpose of that pyramid structure? Hmmm?
Just more weird shit to consider.
As for me, I believe like what Mark Twain once said: "I don't believe in ghosts but I sure am afraid of them."
NOTES: By the way, there is a good reason why Japan is now, by far, the #1 music market in the world for music sales. in Japan, artists’ CDs and movie DVDs are still bought by the public. Music sharing sites like Napster, never caught on in Japan, nor will they ever anytime soon. The Japanese music publishers association (JASRAC) does not allow ANY music on podcasts or internet radio (the costs/fines are simply outrageous). JASRAC is protecting the market. In fact, many big name Japanese artists do not allow their videos on Youtube or iTunes. These pirated copies of shows (any show) are strictly forbidden. That's why: even though my show is nationally broadcast on 1 approved Internet channel, the IP is blocked outside of Japan.
JASRAC doesn't mess around. Hence, Japan is now the #1 music market (Sales) in the world. Their is no such thing as music on podcasts from Japan. There is no worldwide internet broadcasts of radio shows from Japan either. It's not going to change anytime soon.
Internet radio stations cannot afford the costs for playing music on the radio. I have heard that JASRAC charges between $1 ~ $3 per track, per play for internet broadcasts. That is prohibitively expensive for internet radio stations as that would work out to being at least (about $240 ~ $700) dollars a day JUST for music rights. So, obviously, internet stations can't afford it. The fines would be into the tens, if not 100s of thousand dollars. Actually, Apple music, Youtube, etc. in Japan, cannot play many Japanese artists (No Sony, Universal, Warner, etc.)
NOTES 2: File sharing in Japan is notable for both its size and sophistication.The Recording Industry Association of Japan (JASRAC) claims illegal downloads outnumber legal ones 10:1. The sophistication of Japan's filesharing is due to the sophistication of Japanese anti-filesharing. Unlike most other countries, filesharing copyrighted content is not just a civil offense, but a criminal one, with penalties of up to ten years for uploading and penalties of up to two years for downloading. There is also a high level of Internet service provider cooperation. This makes for a situation where file sharing as practiced in many other countries is quite dangerous. To counter, Japanese file sharers employ anonymization networks with clients such as Perfect Dark (パーフェクトダーク) and Winny. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File_sharing_in_Japan
Notes 3: I know a company that was hit with a $140,000 fine for a song that JASRAC claimed was not cleared for rights for use in Japan. I won’t mention the company name nor the song. But LOTS of people in Japan know this very famous track.