Can we start building Music 3.0 now please?

If you’ve been following this blog with any regularity you’ll be aware by now that, although it started out as a platform from which to promote and publicise the musical acts recording with BlancoMusic, it has since become a place where larger discussions about the current state of the music industry take place. The last few posts I’ve written have been deliberately provocative, a little more ‘black and white’ than is necessarily wise, but they have at least generated response from the regular readers, as well as the public in general. It’s not that we’re rampantly anti-filesharing at BlancoMusic (although it’s true that we’d like see the likes of PirateBay become socially unacceptable), or that we’re being heinously affected by it. The truth is that I’ve taken a public stance against the practise because that stance reflects the opinions of every musician I’ve worked with. However no musician wants to condemn filesharing publicly, due to the outraged backlash of opinion that would ensue if they were to do so. That’s why I’m here, saying it. I have also spent some time and effort pointing out why I think the Music 2.0 business model is deeply flawed in its present form, and I’ll be doing a little more of that today, but I’m also going to do something new today – I’m going to enlist your help in designing, and hopefully building, a new music model that might actually work for the people who need it most. Those people are the musicians and the fans. Neither of whom are, as far as I’m concerned, getting a fair deal out of Music 2.0. On the contrary, the levelling of the field that Music 2.0 brought about has provided a working wage to only those acts who are willing to shout the loudest, write the most tweets, buy the most PR and spew out the biggest headline-grabbing publicity stunts. It does not matter a damn to me whether the one getting the headlines is major label (Lady GaGa, MIA) or ‘home-made’ (Amanda Palmer), the point is that the headlines are being made for reasons other than MUSIC. Unfortunately, Music 2.0 did not bring us a musical meritocracy, where the best musicians get heard and supported. Instead, partly because it is based around very low-quality listening equipment, and partly because of the vastly overpopulated display of wares that the music web has become – brand-recognition is the most diligently sought quality in any act, not its musical quality.

Make no mistake – it is crucial that a model for music be found. There is a lot of complacency in the public mind about this. ‘Music has been around for millennia, it won’t die out just because the major labels do’. ‘Sales are irrelevant – live is where the money is’. ‘Video was supposed to kill cinema, but it hasn’t, same for music’. ‘Cassettes were supposed to kill music, but they didn’t’. Well, cassettes didn’t kill music because they were swapped between peers, who met, and who knew each others’ tastes and it actually promoted the music, whereas P2P just acts as a free music shop, with no value or peer-interaction attached to the product. Video didn’t kill cinema because watching at home and going out to the cinema are vastly different experiences. However, a fileshared mp3 is identical to a bought one. Live music is lucrative only to the bands who can charge for tickets, otherwise it’s a massive expenditure. Major labels are a post in themselves, but let’s just say that they have kept a lot of people making music who would have long ago given up playing in the Music 2.0 model. Music will always exist, the issue is whether it will exist in a form where quality and diversity are nurtured. Let’s not forget that in the 1960s, average people bought books of poetry; newspapers published interchanges between poets in the same manner that Blur versus Oasis was a broadsheet topic in the 1990s. Poetry still exists, and still gets published, but it is not a cultural force in the public mind. Music could quite easily become the same. This is only a problem if you do not wish to see music become a marginalised, socially irrelevant artform; or if you are worried that the current business models for musicians tend towards a future dominated by a combination of mass-market pop and ever-contracting niche acts making a tenuous vagrant’s living from tiny amounts of very motivated fans.

So, instead of writing about how the Music 2.0 model does not work for independent acts, I’m actually going to write about who it does work for. Partly because Benji from PledgeMusic.com started a dialogue in the comments section of my last post (which I’ll refer to later, because there’s some damned interesting, and very heartening, information in there), but also partly because I need people to be informed and concerned about this stuff. It’s mostly opinion, observation and guesswork on my part, and my own bias is always going to be an issue. That said, I would like people to realise that when they read press releases or articles stating that Music 2.0 is opening up the world to new and interesting music, and that the demise of the old system is freeing up the market for independent acts, that it’s not quite as simple as ‘everybody wins in the new music model!’.

So, who really does well out of Music 2.0?

Acts which stand out
The simple cynical reaction is to scoff and say that all acts should stand out. For what though? For their music, or for their alternative use of crime scene tape in their videos? For their lyrical dexterity or for their BandCamp page? Which should be more interesting, the songs they sing or the merchandise they sell? All deliberately naive questions, but worth asking now more than ever. You know how horrible it is when someone asks you what kind of music you like, and you just don’t feel you could ever narrow it down to a one-sentence answer? The same thing happens in the online music market. Everything is there, no-one has a clue how to find what they like, or even define what they like. Recommendation services just end up coming back with MOR safe-bets, and your social web buddies are only into some of the same music as you are, so their recommendations are limited too. Eventually, we all end up listening to the acts who are most publicised. Unfortunately, that’s not a musical decision, it’s a default reaction to choice-exhaustion. In the Music 2.0 model, Nick Drake (for example) could not have made a living from his music, he just would not have been able to sustain the web’s attention, and thus would not have had an income.

FBIs
(Famous Before the Internet.) Acts with well-established fanbases, live experience, media contacts, promoter friends and their own studios have very little to gain from the old, major label advance/recoup model. Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails and Peter Gabriel fall into this category. Although they are hailed as pioneers of the Music 2.0 experience, they are not really a very useful role model to the vast majority of musicians, as the difficult and expensive part of their career was subsidised by the record labels who first invested in them. FBIs can benefit from Music 2.0’s ability to reduce costs and cut out middlemen because, although the model sells fewer units, the proportion of retail price making its way to the musician is much higher. Having had a small percentage of a larger customer base in the past, it is viable to reduce that customer base but increase the percentage taken, seeing as the residual customer base costs very little to maintain. The work is done already. Another serendipitous aspect to being an FBI in the Music 2.0 model is that PRS and licensing income from earlier works is unaffected by whether or not the act stays with a major label or goes it alone. Essentially, once the doors are open, keeping them open is a lot easier.

Dance Music
It’s a terrible label, one that could be applied to 17th century Irish jigs, as well as to beatless minimal techno soundscapes. We really need to work on nomenclature. However, the type of music that can be made quickly; which reacts to trends; made by one or two people in a bedroom studio; which sounds good on a crappy mp3 player because it has no analogue component; and can make people bounce up and down, can do pretty well. I’m not necessarily talking about anything as ambitious and well-executed as Aphex Twin or Autechre, perhaps something more on the level of Crazy Frog. Actually, we all know that there is a huge range of dance/electronic music out there, some of it very fine indeed. Having been developed alongside the technology that made it possible to record, it’s not surprising that the genre has done well in adapting to the new parameters of the market. Apart from the obvious efficiency of the genre – no need for the time-consuming business of recording live voice or drums (at least not on the material that uses samples), there is the wonderful fact that a dance record will be played out in clubs and bars. As I wrote in my last post – the effectiveness of a band’s live performances as a promotional tool is restricted by their inability to be in more than one place at any given time. A club hit will reach more ears in a single night than most bands can play to in a year.

Disposable, danceable pop and rock
As above.

Niche acts connected to a social/cultural movement
Become the soundtrack to the skimboarding scene of New Jersey or the CyberGoths of Huddersfield and your fanbase will grow with it. Flippancy aside, a social scene where physical interaction and word-of-mouth recommendation takes place is worth a million Facebook ‘likes’.

Niche acts not connected to any movement
If your music was never going to appeal to more than two or three hundred people anyway, you have a much better chance of getting it heard now than you ever did in the old music industry.

Small, ‘lightweight’ acts
If it’s just you and a trumpet, or some other small instrument that can fit into a suitcase without incurring excess baggage costs, touring like crazy is a viable option.

Major Labels
Surprised? Skeptical? Don’t be. Despite the fact that the majors are being hit hard by falling sales and piracy, they’re doing better than anyone else out there. Although they’re using a fall in income to justify a lot of cutbacks in staff, investment, artist support and non-mainstream acts, they’re actually poised to do really well out of the Music 2.0 upheaval. Remember that the real commodity now is visibility. Majors have entire buildings devoted to press-liason, advertising, radio-plugging, club-promo, PR gimmicks, etc. The most oft-proposed model for the future of music revenue is the ‘band as brand’: the idea being that the band’s actual music be seen only as a part of a larger commodity including t-shirts, box-sets, personal phonecalls, customised ukuleles etc. The major label version of this Music 2.0 credo is called the 360 deal, by which the act mortgages their ‘brand’ to the label. If t-shirts are the new rock and roll, the majors will do better out of it than anyone.

So that’s who does well out of it. It’s probably not a comprehensive list, jump in on the comments if you have anything to add. Even in itself, I don’t like to think that those are the types of musical acts that will form the mainstay of the future’s musical fodder. Where is the challenging, reclusive, engaging-yet-difficult stuff? Where is the music that is the product of virtuosos, the ones who spend more time practising their craft than they do honing their web profiles? Where’s the classical? Most classical musicians now make almost all their income from live performance. How sad that only those who have the opportunity to witness a live performance will get to hear the musician’s work.

Who does badly out of Music 2.0?

New acts
Exactly the people who were expected to be empowered by the new model are the ones who are suffering most. Major labels no longer invest in talent that doesn’t already have a following, but gathering that following in an overcrowded market takes the type of promotional expenditure that only the major labels have to throw around. Bear in mind too, that the general public is becoming very apathetic toward the very idea of new music as something valuable. Even as influential a source as Drowned in Sound complained just a month or two ago about the drudgery of having to promote new music. A twitter comment from the site’s founder asked why the mere fact that a piece of music is new was considered something of value in itself. A fair query, and if we all received as many new tracks per day as Drowned in Sound, we’d probably get pretty jaded with new music too. However, apathy is yet another wall to break down if you’re a new act.

Virtuosos
Can we take it as read that certain acts are less musically talented than others, and that virtuosity doesn’t, in itself, lead to commercial success? It’s far worse now than before for the technically brilliant musicians who don’t really see the mainstream as their market. Sheer ability to play an instrument well is no longer a means to a viable career in music. Talented musicians can make a living – there will always be enough enthusiasts to form a niche, but as far as mainstream success is concerned, the market has changed. There could be many reasons for this, amongst them: low-quality mp3s played through crappy players or computer speakers; the gradual devaluation of music as a standalone product; the inexorable rise of stage image at the expense of stagecraft; the marginalisation of listening to music as an activity in itself; the social isolation of the listening experience on ear-buds; the erosion of musical sophistication in listeners caused by the track-by-track sales model and death of the album (no obligation to buy the more challenging album tracks). At the moment, and this may change, the top forty is populated with acts which make good videos, wear interesting costumes, mirror the mood of their audience or have aspects of their production that are the flavour of the moment. All this is fine, it’s always happened, but it is more to do with marketing than musical ability.

The super high-profile dinosaur acts who stuck with the majors
With advances in the millions, based on the days when they still sold millions, the dad-rock acts are getting hammered by filesharing and piracy. When advances are made on the assumption that a band will sell 10 million albums, but the band ‘only’ sell 7 million, serious debt (and 360 deals where they sell off their intellectual property rights) ensues. Unfortunately, it’s not the big names that suffer, even though it’s mostly their music that gets ripped off PirateBay to make that drive to Ikea a little more palatable. The massive revenue from those big acts was where the majors got the cash to risk on those ‘might be huge, might flop horribly’ acts that just don’t get deals any more.

Big, ‘heavyweight’ acts
BudNubac has eleven members. Getting them to a gig, getting them fed and bedded, getting them back. You’re looking at nigh-on a grand per gig, just to break even.
Piano Segundo has one member.
Guess which one plays more gigs.

The Fans
It’s getting harder and harder to find music that you want to listen to. Sure, it’s out there, but finding it is getting to be an effort worthy of a full-time job. Sure, scrobbling is a start, online social networks help, but finding that piece of music that is so good it makes you actually feel like throwing up (or is that just me?) is incredibly difficult, despite the vastness of choice (beware the concept of ‘choice’ being pushed as an unquestioned benefit – it can paralyse as well as motivate). And then there’s the horrible exploitation of fans who are enthusiastic enough to pay Amanda Palmer $650 to sing Radiohead songs down a phoneline. That’s a sickening, revolting manipulation of the fan’s devotion – a devotion so valuable that it ought to be cherished and rewarded, not milked for ridiculous amounts of cash. Seriously, is this a better deal for music fans?

Let’s leave it there, shall we? There are plenty more things to say, but even if you don’t agree with everything above, you’ll surely agree that some of what I’ve said is plausible. Music 2.0 is broken, how badly depends on the individual’s opinion, but it’s broken nonetheless. Fixing it is going to take a lot of effort and commitment from musicians and music lovers alike, but the opportunity is available now to start doing so. It’s time for Music 3.0. I mentioned Benji from PledgeMusic earlier, and I’ll do so again now. The average pledge received at PledgeMusic is 92 dollars. That is amazing news, and surely it means that there are people out there who truly care about music, who truly want to support it, and who are willing to pay real money in return for a commitment from the musicians they support. That’s a contract of sorts, one which has to be honoured both ways. Next post, I’m going to see if I can draft some sort of template for a social contract between musicians and fans. Something we can get off our chests. Something like ‘I promise to pay for a track as long as you promise to mix and master it properly’ or ‘we promise not to pull bullshit PR stunts like ‘limited edition boxsets’ if you’ll pay us a fair price for the album’. OK, not great examples, a bit biased towards the musicians so far, but I’ll work on it.

Any chance you could help out a bit? If you are going to pay for music, what do you want from the band in return? Or, how much do you think a record should cost? Stick it in the comments and I’ll respond. Promise. How many record labels will promise that?

See you then.

Advertisements

6 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

6 responses to “Can we start building Music 3.0 now please?

  1. WarMaster

    I’ve been avidly reading your blog since your infamous ‘Prince’ article, and I’ve not had much trouble keeping my mouth shut for awhile…until this post.

    How can you even take yourself seriously? Your blog is like an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm…I writhe around in discomfort and feel embarrassed for you, just like I do as I watch Larry David say incomprehensibly humiliating things. The only difference is that Larry David is funny, and has a good point sometimes.

    I know it’s your blog and you can write it how you want…but I have to ask you to step back and read your own post, only do me a favor…every one of the 800 times you use the obnoxious term “Music 2.0”, replace it with the much more tasteful term “music”. You will realize how absurd all of your tripe really is; at least I hope you will.

    Here’s a perfect example:

    “Music is broken, how badly depends on the individual’s opinion, but it’s broken nonetheless.”

    If you happen to respond to my comment, you will probably attempt to defend yourself by saying you’re referring to the music industry, and not artists or music itself, but you DO feel that way. You have admitted it in writing, several times. What are you doing running a label if you hate music so much, anyway? Shouldn’t you believe that music is one of the most powerful forces in the universe, rather than some feeble, dying rodent that needs intensive care?

    Another quote of yours:

    ‘It’s getting harder and harder to find music that you want to listen to.’

    Speak for yourself. Does anyone really read this and take you seriously? Are you trying to get people to pity you because you like bad 70’s rock, and there are only a few fossils left that still play it? I find music so good it makes me ‘actually feel like throwing up’ every couple months, if not every few weeks. And I didn’t just go for the singles and pass on the “more challenging” tracks, because I am a 20-something who likes ALBUMS (just making sure you know we exist). I suppose I might have just bought the singles though, except I didn’t have to, because I “stole” the entire albums. Take that.

    I’m not trying to start another debate with you about why filesharing is NOT evil and is NOT stealing (I brought up many good points to you last time, and although you responded, you didn’t actually provide any counters to my argument). But you should try it. Really. No, I’m not kidding. You might feel a lot better and lose some of this anger you’re clearly hauling around with you like dead weight. You might realize that “the new music model” isn’t the devil that you’re making it out to be. And you might, in your deepest, darkest moment, admit to yourself that nothing, no filesharing site, no Lady Gaga, no evil faceless corporation, no BandCamp, NOTHING is going to ‘kill music’ or turn it into less of a ‘cultural force in the public mind’. In fact, poetry is no less powerful than it ever was, it’s just that people like you don’t have completely ass-backward preconceived notions about what poetry “should” be, like you do with music.

    Why is it that you are so convinced music is going to be raped and murdered, anyway? Who are you?? I want you to show me some statistics that prove music is dying. Better yet, show me something that is possible and measurable. Prove to me that filesharing is hurting labels. I dare you. You can’t do it.

    If I may continue to debunk every single one of your arguments, your constant griping about audio quality over the internet is tiresome. Give it a couple years and everything will stream at CD-quality. When black and white tv’s came out, nobody sat around and bitched about how it wasn’t in color. If technology is ruining your life as badly as you claim it is then sell your fucking computer and stop whining.

    Now I’m going to turn right around and agree with you. I don’t like to stream audio, especially of artists I really love, but there is a myriad of solutions. Example: today, this very day, Sufjan Stevens released a new EP (on your mortal enemy BandCamp). Within a couple hours, it showed up on my favorite torrent site. I downloaded it. Later I’m going to put it on in my car and listen to it in the best way possible: driving around in the sun with someone I love. It makes me giddy that I live in a world where I can find out an artist put out an album, get it instantly, and within minutes I have it in my pocket with every single other album in my library. Only an idiot (or a really bitter idiot) would be able to find something wrong with such a wondrous concept.

    I don’t know how much time I’m willing to spend on a debate that will fall on deaf ears…honestly I’m hoping to sway your readers, not you…and I’ll try not to touch on your most blatantly ridiculous arguments (like how 11-member bands are doomed…of course you’re going to struggle to make profit with 11 people in your band!! The workforce has been a factor forever, in every business, every walk of life, not just music. Jesus, next you’re going to blame the ‘new music model’ for your colon cancer.)

    I hate to tell you this, but you wear your bias like a bad Hawaiian shirt. Your label isn’t doing well and you want to blame someone. You don’t like the way things turned out, so you’re going to bicker and moan and draw up a social contract between musicians and fans? That’s your plan? Why don’t you take some time off, try to enjoy yourself? Browse around PirateBay. Listen to an album you love. Try various methods of stress relief. It’s going to be okay. You can get a part-time restaurant job, just like everybody else in the music industry.

    I am going to close by responding to your questions:

    1. If you are going to pay for music, what do you want from the band in return?

    I’m not going to pay for music, because those days are over, and I find it sad that music lovers all over the world are so distraught because they are pathetic and fear change. It’s like you’re choosing to starve to death at a banquet. Eat the fucking food, we have all your favorites. We aren’t doing anything wrong. The entire world is going to be sitting at our table in a couple years. Get over it.

    2. How much do you think a record should cost?

    However much the customer is willing to pay for it. Listen to it first. Does it suck? Then why the fuck would you buy it? Did it cause your heart to break with joy? Did it make you weep on your bedroom floor, because it was so indescribably beautiful, that you feel like you could curl up and live the rest of your life and die inside that one song? Let me ask you, how much do YOU think that costs? Can you really put a price on that? Did humans used to put a price on that, before capitalism jacked up our ideas of right and wrong and instilled you with some twisted sense of guilt that you feel you have to share with others?

  2. As you’re more interested in convincing my readers of your opinion than changing mine, the best thing to do at this point is open it up to them.
    Readers…who’s got the more convincing approach here, me or Warmaster? Let’s make this a little more like a forum. There’s no real point in me answering Warmaster’s comment point by point – my answers to all his questions can be found in the various posts I’ve written here.
    I do have to address one or two things though. BandCamp are not my mortal enemy – I think they offer musicians a really great service, and for 15% of revenue, they cost the same as a digital distributor, despite offering a bunch of other services too (a dedicated webpage for each act, for example). The reason we don’t use them is that we have the IT savvy to build our own webpage, and we already have a distributor.
    Anyone who follows me on Twitter, reads the pre-Prince blogposts, or actually knows me personally will laugh at the idea that I hate music. That’s insane, I love music. I hate what it’s being forced to become (a product that is secondary to a musician’s career after their merchandise).
    I like some 70s rock, some of it might be bad according to your tastes, but I like it. I also love a lot of new music – pretty much everything that comes out of Hyperdub records is excellent. That’s what I’m listening to mostly right now, but I’m happy listening to other genres too. We might have different triggers for our ‘so good it makes you want to throw up’ moments. As long as we’re still having them, that’s good.
    11-member bands and workforce issues? Assumedly you won’t mind when all the orchestras are gone.
    Stress relief? Just came back from a four-hour surf, thanks.
    Anyway, since you’re so happy with the way the music business is going, and have no feelings of guilt or remorse about your filesharing, and have all the wisdom that allows you to generously offer life-coaching tips, one more question.
    Why are YOU getting so riled by my opinion?

  3. WarMaster

    I’m not riled by your opinion so much as I am awestruck by it.

    You yourself brought up the fact that when cassettes came out, people thought the music industry was doomed.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Home_Taping_Is_Killing_Music

    Anyone in the present age, even those of us fortunate enough to experience the 80’s, knows now that was an absurd notion. Tapes revolutionized the way people experienced music. Countless songs have dug a special hole in my heart due to them being given to me on a mixtape. The only real difference I see in the modern world is that we are connected to our friends all the time now, wherever we are. It is that much more of an opportunity to discover new music.

    Furthermore, I am not riled by your opinion specifically, but the fact that there are many people that are fighting in your favor. It aggravates me when US Vice President Joe Biden compares filesharing to jewel theft. That simply is not the case. That is a stupid argument from a man who I generally respect.

    The problem is, we live in a very strange time. I believe the internet has changed and will continue to change civilization as we know it even more than the car or the steamboat. People don’t know what to do with it. The people in power are confused by all these fuzzy areas of copyright that never addressed the notion that one day, people would be able to obtain and share all sorts of mediums in an intangible format. And, of course, there are thousands of people that are upset by the change, because they’ve been doing things a certain way for a long time, and it was lucrative.

    As usual, the problem is backward-thinking. You can’t take the rules of the 20th century and apply them to this one. You can’t tell me a file is worth the same thing as one song off a CD, which if I recall, was usually not an option we were given anyway. There are no grounds for the argument, really, because it is a new idea.

    Suppose I really love a particular Mondrian painting. I can ‘google’ his name, and find every painting he’s ever done. I can save these images to my hard drive; there’s even a button implemented into my browser for doing so. I tell my friend that I love this painter and forward him the images. Is that the equivalent of going to museums and stealing Mondrian paintings? And then giving them to my friends? No. So WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THAT AND AN ALBUM???? Is it the quantity? Is it the fact that it’s not really a Mondrian painting, just a copy? That is also a subjective idea. It pleases my eyes; I am enjoying the artist’s work for free.

    You seem annoyed that you chose to spout your opinions off (suing the very medium attacking) and someone is retaliating. You claim that you already answered all my arguments in previous posts, but you haven’t. You haven’t responded to my request for some sort of documentation or statistics proving that filesharing is harming the industry. You still haven’t, in my eyes, given adequate defense regarding the zany idea that music should be free, because it is in just waves travelling through the air. Let me repeat that for emphasis: MUSIC IS A SERIES OF SOUND WAVES TRAVELLING THROUGH THE AIR. Repeat it to yourself now. This is an undeniable, undebatable fact. If you love it as much as you claim to, you would stop all this nonsense now and marvel at the wonders of technology instead of investing all this energy bitching and moaning about someone trying to steal it from you.

    • The only real difference I see in the modern world is that we are connected to our friends all the time now, wherever we are.

      Cassettes were swapped between friends. Real friends, who met each other, shared experiences, did stuff together, and whose opinions were worth something to each other. If a friend put a cassette into your hands and said ‘listen to this, it’s amazing’, the very fact that it was your friend saying it meant that you already believed it would be good. That actually had a positive PR effect for a band. It built a fanbase. However, when you downloaded Sufjan Stevens, did you even look to see who provided the files you were downloading? Was it a ‘friend’? Would that ‘friend’ lend you a tenner or babysit for you at short notice? Don’t cheapen the concept of friendship to include the sychophantic exchange of platitudes, ‘wassups’ and cybergifts that typifies an online ‘friendship’ please.

      I am not riled by your opinion specifically, but the fact that there are many people that are fighting in your favor

      Not nearly so many as there are fighting in yours. Or, let’s face it, breaking the law and using every weasely little self-serving justification for their actions, from ‘civil disobedience’ to ‘liberation of art’.

      It aggravates me when US Vice President Joe Biden compares filesharing to jewel theft

      Get used to it. It’s the responsibility of governments to uphold the law and defend the democratically-endowed rights of those they serve. FIlesharing music is illegal, it is a violation of rights. When governments start ignoring the widespread violation of the individuals rights, that’s when you should get aggravated.

      Is that the equivalent of going to museums and stealing Mondrian paintings? And then giving them to my friends?
      Using visual art as an analogue to a piece of music is as useful as comparing the copyright issues of literature to those of dance. However, I should at least try to address your comment. Let’s say the Mondrian is in a museum. Did it get there by accident? No, the museum bought the painting. Either with public taxes or with private funds. The artist was compensated for his work by the sale. The artist also usually sells the rights to reproduction of the piece. Those now belong to the museum. Museums usually sell postcards, posters and books with reproductions printed on them. Thus the museum is compensated for their investment. Sometimes publishers from outside the museum wish to use a reproduction of the image for their works. They need to pay the museum for a license to do so. Further compensation for the museum, which, if they are a good museum, they use for upkeep, buying new works, keeping the entry to the museum free. Websites, using a Mondrian image in their design are also obliged to pay a license fee, although, as you point out, the internet is a bit of a funny place and people can get away with a lot before anyone catches up with them for license fees. Googling Mondrian and downloading an image of his painting deprives Mondrian of nothing – he already sold the rights to the painting, but it does deprive the current rightsholder of their fee, and violates their right to compensation for the reproduction of the piece of art they paid to hold the rights to. What’s the difference between that and an album, you ask? Well, Mondrian got compensated for his work, who compensates the composers and performers of the album for their efforts, exactly? If SubMachena tracks start turning up all over PirateBay, there’s no point in saying ‘well, at least they got paid by the museum for the original’, because they didn’t.

      You haven’t responded to my request for some sort of documentation or statistics proving that filesharing is harming the industry.

      The only adequate way to do that is to take a record that is over twenty years old, but has been selling steadily for those two decades. You would have to plot a sales graph, point out the date where filesharing started (let’s say the launch of Napster), and see if there was a decline from that point. But it would have to be a really solidly-selling album, something like Kind of Blue, or Dark Side of the Moon. Otherwise it wouldn’t be an adequate sample. Who has access to those sorts of statistics? Not you, not me. This is not a fair argument – you use the fact that I can’t adequately prove that filesharing has hurt the music industry to prove that it hasn’t done so. I can just as easily bat that back at you and say that, as you can’t prove the contrary, it has hurt the music industry. Can’t you just trust me on this one? Really, without any need to be unfriendly about this. I don’t know any musicians who were making a living in the 80s and 90s with their music who haven’t seen a massive percentage drop in their income. Outside of the artists, the amount of sound engineers, a&r men, promotors, distributors etc who are quitting the business because of drastic revenue cuts is really significant. I’m willing to admit that there are many, many factors affecting this – global recession, the rise of the games and apps industries, just general change and upheaval that comes naturally with time. I’ll admit that, but please, come on, meet me halfway. Expecting a business to cope with the (relatively) sudden development that it’s primary product is now available for free, without anything to stop people from helping themselves, that’s got to be a factor, surely you can admit that? Would any other industry be expected to cope with that? Hell, car manufacturers get government bail-outs simply because other countries can create similar product more cheaply. Banks get public money bailouts just for being incompetent. If the music industry went to a governmet and said ‘can we get some public funds to compensate us for the loss of revenue caused by your inability to protect our rights’, it would be laughed at.

      MUSIC IS A SERIES OF SOUND WAVES TRAVELLING THROUGH THE AIR
      What in the world is this?! A thesis that something should be valueless because it can be reduced to a statement of its component parts? Please, you know better than this. Land is just a load of elements mixed up together, but it happens to be quite expensive around Times Square. Literature is just the electrical processes of a human brain translated to a static medium. Sex is just friction between sexual organs. Intellectual property is just THOUGHT. Music should be free because it’s just soundwaves? There’s no difference between the soundwaves of Beethoven and those of a crying baby then? Seriously, that argument is not only facile, self-serving, full of holes and ridiculous, it’s actually an insult to the talents of those musicians you claim so vehemently to love.
      I think music is worth something and that it should be paid for. You don’t.

  4. WarMaster

    …Lastly, the point you seem obsessed with driving home is that you hate this ‘thing’ people had to give a buzzword, decidedly ‘Music 2.0’. You claim that the way things work has to change…but when someone like Amanda Palmer tries something different, you rag on her for two blogs straight. I’ve never heard her music, so I don’t care, but maybe someone out there couldn’t think of anything they’d rather spend their money on…another example of how subjective and flimsy the thing we’re debating truly is.

  5. richard

    I can respond to warmaster very succinctly: You are an ignorant fool and a thief.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s