Free downloading and the Creative Process: Part One
Monday, July 19, 2010 at 4:39PM
Trey Gunn in downloading

It has now been just enough time since the release of Modulator that the free downloaders have ripped their files and are making the recording available for free. There are even some sites that make my entirely personal catalog available with one click! My life's work transmitted to you for free. Yikes. How would a plumber or a car mechanic feel about that??

There are many arguments in the debate regarding the goodness/e-vile-ness of this. Some have decent point and some are just plain uninformed and stupid. One of the silliest is that artists make all their money from touring and that is just the way it works nowadays. Not true. Touring and bringing money home is still extremely difficult, making it a dubious and crap way to support one's creative activities.

But rather than go through the arguments and give my take on them, I figure it more viable to present my current strategy: an appeal. Here is the letter I am posting on sites that make my work available with no compensation for my efforts. I am not presently asking these sites to take down the files, as it may be more useful in the big picture to get people thinking more broadly about the issue and its repercussions. Feel free to pass it on and, even,  post on my(our) behalf if you come across new downloads. Though, of course, only if you are on board with it's premise.

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Thanks for your interest in my work. However, in order to continue to make new recordings I need to be able to:

1. Make a living off of my currents records

2. Be able to finance new projects

By putting up this link you are choosing to reduce the possibility of these two things happening. In a very real sense when people click this link, they are voting to send me to a day job working at Microsoft, Amazon, or Starbucks instead of putting my time, energy and money towards creating new pieces. (No offense meant to anyone here. These are great places to work and I have many friends at these companies. It’s just not my work. And, incidentally, these folks generally make double or triple of my take-home pay.)

I'd much rather you write about what you value in my work and send people to my own website to support the process of further creation.

I understand that ‘sharing’ my work is, in a way, an act of supporting it. Meaning that you are saying, “Hey, this stuff is cool. I think you should check it out.” And in a true sense you are extending its influence in the world. However you are only supporting this particular artifact of my work, while undermining the process that created the piece. For example, this recording of Modulator took over two years to make. If I can’t financially support the process, then the game is over.

I am, obviously, biased towards a culture that values the creative process. And by ‘creative process’ I don’t just mean ‘a lot of artistic noise.’ I mean a process whereby completely new and original ideas are brought into the world. For many, many reasons this process is precarious at it’s best, so why not help it along rather than undermine it?

I know that you must value these things, as well. Otherwise you would feel no reason to share the results that come from this type of work. I would just urge you to take a moment to extend your thinking into what makes beautiful, amazing, powerful pieces of music come into being in the first place. And then, maybe, ask “How can I help that to happen?”

Cheers,

Trey Gunn

 

Article originally appeared on Trey Gunn (http://www.treygunn.com/).
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