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Wednesday
Jul282010

The Whinging Musician and Downloading: Part Two

Note: this post follows on from this earlier post. Go there first if you are just coming to this discussion.

Wow! So many great responses from everyone. I am super enlivened and encouraged, not just by the level of the dialogue in general, but in the depth to which everyone is willing to engage with these questions. My responses so far:

    ONE: Stop It or I will Make You

For those who think I am not aware of the cease and desist strategy of getting these sites to take down my files, I am. I have used it several times in the past, and my understanding is that it is an ongoing strategy with DGM (the main structure setup for King Crimson recordings.) The problem, for me, with this strategy is that you have to either hire someone to do this for you – constantly searching the web for illegal downloads and filing the forms to get them to stop – or you have to do it yourself.

Even aside from my twitch about allocating funds for outsourcing this function, I don’t like this strategy. I will resort to it again if I have to. Meaning, I will take it on if it clearly brings me more money and adds to our culture. (For those who think I might fall into the class of GRS – Greedy Rock Stars – notice the ‘and’ in that sentence.) However taking on this strategy puts me into a permanent mode of trying to run a police state. I would need to keep part of myself constantly on guard to look for infringement against my work, not unlike overseeing the frisking of a live concert audience. This is not a place I want to live my life from. Call me naïve, but I’d rather engage an audience with open arms than a place of distrust.

So, I am trying this other strategy: an appeal. It's just an idea I thought I would try, like a new chord sequence. We can try it on and see what happens.

Interestingly enough, three of the sites I posted this letter on took down the link immediately. They even left the page up with my letter on it and one of the guys said that he hadn't thought of it like this and was saddened that it might damage my continued output.

 - - -

    TWO: Don’t Be A Lazy Bugger

I am not advocating any general kind of policy towards downloading. It is a complicated issue with many angles: legal, moral and psychological. I’ll give my take on some of this throughout this post.

I am just pointing out that if you get any value from my work, and you would like to see it continue to develop, then downloading my files without paying is a vote to have me stop. It’s no different than how one may choose to boycott a company that abuses its workers. Once you have that information then you can choose to support them or not. That's all. I'm not making any huge claims for anyone else. I am just stating my affairs. The financing of all of this is dubious even if everyone does pay for everything at current market rates. Then when you add in that anyone can just take for free everything I have worked so hard to make, it is like having the wind sucked out of your sails.

One poster wrote, “while i sympathize, you don't need to be paid in order to keep creating... plenty of poorer musicians than you make new recordings every day. Not trying to be rude here, just saying.”

This is true. In a way, facing this stuff is purifying and distilling of my aims. Why am I driven to engage the creative process anyway? It certainly isn’t the money. Most of the projects I take on have a piss poor chance of being highly successful. But I do try to take my workmanship up to as high a level I can, partly because this is the most satisfying for me, but also because it gives my work better odds for competing in the market. I mean let’s be frank: we live in a culture of capitalism. This means value is recognized by the exchange of money. As “un-commercial” as some of my recordings can be, you probably won’t be surprised to hear me say that it gives me great joy and satisfaction to receive a check in the mail for my work: “Look, my culture is clearly saying to me that I am valued.” Call that crass, short-sided, greedy, opportunistic, low or whatever. But it is real. If these were the only exchanges I received from my work, I would starve to death on the inside. But take it away, and I would need to be organizing my life in a very different way.

The poster above is correct that I should be able to take the “money equation” out of the creative process and still continue. Yet, this sounds like the voice of inexperience speaking, as the “money equation” doesn’t enter into the creative process at all for me. And by that, I mean when I am working on composing, or producing, or preparing a performance, the space that I enter isn’t touched by the flow of dollars. However when I step back out of that space, I see that there is no way to work at the level and rate that I strive for without putting money back into the equation. Everything costs money. If I want to play a show in Poland I need cash in order to fly there. If I want to make a record, then I need to have a studio to record in. And if I want to spend time developing my craft on my instrument then I need funds in order to cover my expenses while I do so.

I am not saying that I think I am entitled to anything. If the world shouts out a big NO to my work, then it is true I won't stop doing it. But I will have to move at a much, much slower rate and not get as far as I would like before I leave this planet.

 - - -

    THREE:  Mickey Is My Master

Just because it is illegal doesn’t make it wrong.

It’s all fine and well to say, “Downloading files for free is illegal and you just shouldn’t do it. Copyright law says it is illegal. End of argument.” But we all know the connection between the legal system and the business world is completely dodgy. The only reason any law is in place, regarding how business gets done, is because someone with a lot of money hustled someone in government to enact a law to his or her own benefit.

Two examples:

The reason why I don’t collect back-end royalties (royalties when the shows are broadcast or re-broadcast) for scoring work I have done for ESPN is that Disney owns ESPN. When Disney went to congress to ‘re-negotiate’ the length of years of the copyright law, because the time limit was coming up for the trademark on Mickey Mouse, they also set up the processes for exemptions of back back-end royalties. I have only limited info about this, and someone can probably correct me with more details, but basically Disney is so powerful that they were able to set new terms for how royalties were paid. Or not paid, in this case.

Secondly, some things about copyright law are completely messed up. That it is largely illegal for artists to work with existing copyrighted material in order to make derivative works, I think, is damaging to our culture. We should give our artists free reign to copy, change, mess with, abuse, mock, and torment the works of every other artist and all icons (commercial, political and cultural) created by our societies. For one it is great way for people to find their own voices. But it also makes our world much more interesting and exciting when people are playing with it. Thankfully, it goes on anyway but technically much of it is illegal. Though, in my mind, not wrong.

 - - -

    FOUR:  The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

When I go out on the web looking for free downloads of music that I made and own, I find four kinds of sites:

    1. The fans sites. Basically these are music blogs that don’t just review the recordings they like, they post links to download for free. These folks seem to genuinely want to support the artist’s process but are clueless to the full repercussions of their actions. Yes, they do turn on new people to the music. But they also say “Hey, just take it for free. It doesn’t matter. These musicians are either too rich or poor to care.”

    2. The semi-fans sites that run goggle ads alongside of their “reviews”. These are the same as above, except they are scumming the bottom by generating money for themselves by means of other’s good works.

    3. The pay networks. These guys pump up their links so they appear near the top of a google search for an artist. They generally offer torrent links, but you can’t get the links without paying them a yearly fee. Once the fee is paid you gain access to their network and an enormous amount of links. They use nearly artist’s name in existence in order to generate traffic to their site.

    4. The pay sites. If you can believe this, there are sites that offer my files for a fee!!!! One in Russia sells my mp3s for around $0.09 a track. Pure scam. No money comes back to any artist, though they have the nerve to present the site as if this is the case.

 

Most of the sites fall into category number 3. No matter how your parse the arguments (file sharing is good promo for artists, most people who download for free eventually purchase, and so forth), there is no justification that this contributes, in any way, to our culture. These sites don’t care about the material they are sharing, they are simply using people’s artistic output to make money for themselves.

Since the web is universally linked to itself you only need one free site to “share” files to everyone. You don’t need hundreds of torrent sites to do this. This means that these folks (category 3) are in competition with each other. And since they make up the bulk of the download sites, they may be responsible for the meme that states that downloading for free is OK. This means the people arguing for free downloads could well be passing on a meme that was started by this segment of the industry in the first place. Even if they didn’t start it, they certainly have an interest in keeping it going and growing. I call double bullshit on that one. Legal action is probably the only way to stop it. Or a vacuum of consumers.

The category four pay sites I have nothing to say about. Category two is probably partly reachable via an appeal, but I suspect not. Category one is definitely reachable and I have had three sites pull down the files already. At the end of the day, this is like fighting the war on drugs – essentially un-fightable as long as there are consumers who participate. I don’t feel like joining in a ‘war on drugs’ style battle, and it isn’t necessary anyway. The only thing that is necessary is that I generate enough cash to keep my own creative process going. So fighting downloaders isn’t great solution. Finding folks who support my work and who would help encourage others ‘lovers’ to become real supporters sounds to be a far more promising path.

 - - -

    FIVE:  The Linda Blair’s of Downloading

There are many psychological aspects of downloading that play into all of this. The main one, in my experience, is there is a kind of ‘possession of the media’ that has virtually nothing to do with engaging it. What I mean is that there seems to be a kind of mindset that goes with pulling stuff down from the web into your computer that has more to with feeling like you are out of the loop rather than in it.

There is all this data and information ‘out there.’ If I pull it down onto my own laptop then I have it ‘in here.’ Music, images, film, text, ideas. All these cool things that I see out there would be way cooler to have them in me. Or at least on my own laptop, then it feels like I ‘own’ them.

I have a suspicion that a lot of the free downloading of music we see may fall into this category. That many music downloaders never listen to this stuff anyway. Or if they do, then they don’t spend a whole lot of time with it. How could they? If you are an avid downloader then much of your time is spent downloading and searching for things to download rather than going deep with the media. If I am correct about this then we are talking about an act of accumulation rather than an actual experience with the music.

If this makes up the bulk of downloaders, then there isn’t much real threat. However, nobody has the real numbers on this. And, if these folks aren’t really engaging the material anyway, then they don’t really need it in the first place.

When you have to pay for something -- turning hours of your own work over for something that you value – a different kind of connection happens. There is a higher value in the relationship. You come to it with something more, you ask for something more and you are open to something more.

 - - -

    SIX:  Lust for Life

In addition to being an aspiring artist, I have also been a patron, myself. I do support artists that I think deserve support. Funnily, in the late 1980’s and 1990’s I used to buy every Iggy Pop record that came out, even though I didn’t like some of them. I felt like I owed Iggy something for making things that not only moved me, but also stretched into areas where no one else would go. I made a decision to support him even after these two things weren’t, personally, the case for me anymore. That decision alone and the act of buying his stuff gave me the feeling that I was participating in his work. Which, I was.

This is an example of the relationship an artist would love to have with their audience – that we are co-chaperoning a vision together. And to do that people need to be present to the work and really engage it. Meaning their ears have to be open to the music and they need to be willing go deep into it and spend time with it. But, they also need to help finance it. Otherwise it will go away. Or at least that particular vision of it may go away. We all know other visions will continue to come and go.

I am NOT saying don’t download my files for free. That is kind of a dumb thing to say, as many have pointed out for many varied reasons. I’m saying think about how music comes into our culture in the first place and find a way to support it. One great way of supporting it is paying for it. Keeping in mind that this only covers part of the nut. We all have day jobs anyway. Nearly all of my solo recordings were only financed because I had made some money through King Crimson. I think Bill Bruford might say the same about Earthworks and Yes. I also, run a small record label and I am building a music coaching practice. If I thought of a way to make a side living doing something else that doesn’t disperse me too much, believe me, I would jump on it. In truth, being a pro these days means making about half a living.

 - - -

    SEVEN: Accept or Perish

From another poster:

“I don't want to dismiss Trey's more than good intentions, but fighting illegal downloads is like facing windmills, and it takes a lot of energy that would be better suited for the creative process, music and business wise. It is frustrating, it is cold, but unfortunately this is how it is.”

As I said above I am not interested in ‘fighting’ illegal downloads. I am interested in having a good strong base of people who support what I do, in order that I can keep on doing it. Some of these people aren’t aware that downloading my files is a vote to have me stop doing that. Make them aware and maybe, just maybe, something could change.

And just because there is a consensus in our culture doesn’t mean we have to accept that consensus. I think an evolving human being is one who is becoming more and more in contact with the repercussions of their actions, extending out further and further into the future. So my small little part in this dialogue is throwing in some information that some people might not be aware of. Then they can decide, based on many other variables as well, whether their actions align with their values. If you’re basing your decisions on bad or limited information then you aren’t armed well.

Regarding the question of whether digital downloading is killing the industry or not, I can’t definitively say. What I can say is that my sales and the sales of many of the musicians I know have dropped upwards of 90% over the last two years. Could it be that interest in our work has just waned? Could it be that our newer material just isn’t as good as it used to be? Or could it be that it is all available for free online? (Earlier this week I found a link for the entire King Crimson catalog, including 20 or 30 collector club discs. The whole catalog!!!) There is no definitive answer, but….come on.

And regarding whether music and the music business has completely gone to the dogs, the brilliant Danny Barnes says No. Danny has the most positive take on the current state of music and the music industry of anyone I have ever come across. Please go read this article by him and be refreshed and inspired about the great things that have, and do, come from all of this technology and global coalescing. And then read this article by him about how to make a living as a musician.

 

 - - -

    EIGHT: Joe The Plumber

From another poster:

“The last line in your first paragraph sums up the issue nicely:

     ‘How would a plumber or a car mechanic feel about that??’

A plumber or car mechanic does not earn money for work performed ten years ago. They must work every day of their life to earn their keep. They cannot expect royalties from a drain they repaired in 1993, or an engine rebuilt in 2002. They must consistently offer new services to expect an income.

Now artists must also earn their keep like honest men. The bourgeois notion of the "rock star" who becomes rich from a couple months of work performed a decade prior has now ended. Welcome to the twenty-first century, Mr. Gunn.”

Silly man, you can’t make one copy of a record and sell it. Then make a whole new one the next day. You’d still be only making $10 a day. Plus it takes years and years to develop into the musician you go into the studio with. I guess I could charge $20,000 for a ‘special edition of one’ for each disc. That sounds strange but fun. Then the owner who had financed it could give it away for free. I could go for that. But the current way to finance a record is to go into debt making it, then hope to break even some day. This usually takes two to five years. Then, and only then, can you begin to make any money from sales. A Plumber gets paid by the hour; I’ve never been paid by the hour. This analogy doesn’t fit.

And regarding RSWBRFACOMWPADP’s (rock stars who becomes rich from a couple months of work performed a decade prior)…. Oh how I wish I were one of them. I’m afraid that applies mostly to the generation behind Pat Mastelotto and me. Pat busts his ass out on the road, touring like a fiend, and recording whenever possible in order to enter the special club of RSWBRFACOMWPADP’s. You really never know when one of your projects might blow up. Personally, I’ve given up. I’m trying to trim my expenses as much as possible and just figure a way to keep on doing what I do, as cheap as I can.

It might be valuable, at this junction, to break the off-held taboo of divulging the numbers of what we are talking about here. Keep in mind that I present this not as a sympathy play – I have largely moved on from this way of life as my main source of income (for obvious reasons!) – and I am happy enough with my own state of affairs. But, I think it may be wise to have something concrete to look at.

So here are some royalty numbers for my share of the King Crimson records that I have played on. These include from THRAK & VROOOM up through The Power to Believe. These numbers also include all DGM releases with KC that I participated in since 1994, including the DVDs and all of the Collector’s Club discs.

Jan 1 – June 30 2007: $3,650.50
July 1 – Dec 31, 2007: $3,147.50
Jan 1 – Jun 30, 2008: $4,604.00
July 1 – Dec 31, 2008: $3,604.62

There is also publishing money that comes in for these recordings, being that I was a writer for most all of the material. It is too complicated to pull the exact, specific data out of my publishing statements, but the general numbers for same recordings above are always under $1000 a year.

I don’t have very good ways to go through the various statements and present what the numbers were eight and ten years ago. But I can say that these numbers were higher by double, triple, quintuple and even at one point ten times higher than now. Any connection to free downloads? I open to opinions. But I have mine.

 - - -

    NINE: I’m So Special

It seems to me the root of this discussion centers around the issue of specialists. We are, inside all of this, asking ourselves whether it is important to have pro’s or not. Perhaps our culture will vote that amateur and semi-pro’s fill the musical, literary and photography fields (all forms that are easily transferred digitally without compensation.)

Amateurs, in my mind, are those who work purely from enjoyment and engage with their mediums only when they feel moved to. Pro’s have dedicated the sum of their lives to a craft and put their, and their families, survival online with their work. Semi-pro’s tread magically between the two in some ratio, or they have regular jobs that support a professional level of dedication squeezed in between the cracks of their busy lives.

None of these categories seems necessarily better suited to producing masters then any other, which I’ll confess is a virtue I hold for a strong and vibrant culture. We tend to think of professional musicians as being the highest version of musician. I think this is because they have, supposedly, spent the most time doing it. Also, being capitalists we think because you can make a living doing something you are better at it. Though we all know incredible musicians who are not pros. And I know many non-pros who have imaginations far exceeding many damn, good pros.

I guess the question I am raising here is: Do we really want pros or not? It is certainly true that the culture we had (now gone) where musicians could make A LOT of money didn’t necessarily serve us well. The bloated egotism of artists lost in fame, drugs, sex and their own personalities doesn’t seem like a fertile soil for growing real masters.

However, I would also add that neither the Discipline era King Crimson nor The Power to Believe era King Crimson could have come into being if we were functioning as semi-pros. I don’t believe it is possible to build up those kinds of new vocabularies and that kind of facility on the instruments while pushing oneself musically that far, with out space to do so. This doesn’t mean that devoting a whole lot of time to being a musician is going to guarantee those levels of music – clearly something else was going on in those examples. But without the space to explore, it is definitely harder to leave the ground for thinner air.

Obviously I am biased on the topic, because I have made my living as a musician and I think it really was THE way to fully devote myself to the form. However, even now as I move to the side a bit branching out in other professional directions, I still think it is vital for our culture to have professional specialists. They are the ones who can show us things that are possible that we can’t quite imagine ourselves.

What is interesting is that these are decisions our culture, mostly, gets to make for us. Though I still think we can influence the big picture if we see something going off in a direction we disagree with. If we want pros then we need to decide to not take their work without compensation. If we don’t want pros, and believe the semi-pro or amateur roles fill our culture adequately, then it doesn’t matter whether music is free.

Which finally brings me to:

    TEN: Freedom is for the Free

Interestingly, no one has presented this argument: Music should be free.

------------------------

Terve! And thanks to you all. I must get back to work, now.

Cheers,

Trey

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Reader Comments (64)

The Music Business, as it was once know, is no longer. Gone are the days of the "RSWBRFACOMWPADP" (rock stars who becomes rich from a couple months of work performed a decade prior), but those days were fleeting at best, and merely a byproduct of an unsustainable and bloated corporate culture of excess and exploitation that was, for a time, The Music Business. 100 years ago, if you wanted to hear music, you had to play an instrument yourself, or know someone who did. Now the world is changing in ways we may not yet even imagine. The internet has given us the ability to instantly share and experience virtually unlimited ideas, information and media, and this is just the early stages, the infancy of the internet age.

Meanwhile, The Music Business has been forcing mediocre crap down the public's throat for so long now that it's actually what they want and expect. By and large the public doesn't want to really HEAR  music, they just want to have it. We're a culture of consumers. Add to that the fact that digital information can be duplicated so easily, and the tragic result is that there is no longer any inherent or intrinsic value to recorded works. That piece of plastic with data on it is, sadly, only that to most people. We don't even need the plastic any more, we can just download the data. To most people listening to music has become no longer about quality, it's about quantity ("My iPod holds more than your iPod!"). Regardless of your real virtuosity, in a world of ProTools and Autotune, it's easy enough to fake it and most people can't tell the difference. Live performance is a different story. You gotta have chops, but you also gotta have show. The role of the professional musician has evolved into something else, something more akin to the Court Jester. Video killed the radio star, and the rock star has been replaced by Lady Gaga.

We all have to adapt to our changing environment, and I have certainly had to. I was once a professional recording engineer and producer with major label credits and international releases. My livelihood became threatened by the rapid changes in technology long before file sharing. With the advent of affordable digital recorders my ability to earn a living in the recording studio became increasingly difficult, and ultimately impossible. I embraced the digital age and grew with it for a while, but in the end I was forced to change my career. Now I sell the very equipment that put me out of business, and for extra income I tutor my customers on the use if it. I'm not happy about giving up my career, I enjoyed working with musicians in the studio, a lot. But I also enjoy eating, and having a roof over my head. I had to swallow my pride, and roll with the punches. Now I record jazz musicians for free as a hobby, because jazz musicians have even less money than rock musicians, and I've grown to appreciate jazz as I've gotten too old to rock n' roll.

There was a time when you had to actually be able to play to make a good record, but with the technology of today any hack player (even me, I'm an engineer, not a musician) can make a good record. There's beat detective to fix my bad rhythm, there's auto-tune to fix my bad pitch, and there's a vast world of virtual instruments that can be sequenced, quantized and manipulated in endless, and sometimes even interesting ways. So in a sense, the "ART" of making records has been in a real way compromised.

I know a great band of young rock musicians who tour 40 or more weeks out of the year, and they barely make ends meet, but they're doing what they love and they do it well to a pack house wherever they go. They recorded their own record, started their own label and book their own gigs. Are they making a living? Barely. Are they making good art? Definitely! Do they deserve more than they're getting paid, certainly, but that ain't stoppin' them from doing it.

As a professional you have to go where the money is. As an artist you have to follow your muse. It is a fine line, and a difficult balance to achieve.

People are going to take what they can get, and file sharing is not going to stop. In the larger view of cultural development the ability to share data instantly is unprecedented in human history, and it's apparently here to stay, for better or worse. We don't know where this will ultimately take us, but it's clear we are on our way.

Musicians need to continue to explore other venues for keeping their art commercially viable, be that through live performance, film, television, video games, internet content, or other media. You may be one of the leading pioneers in redefining the role of a professional musician in this brave new world.

July 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKol Marshall

Ironically, another blog post on this site has several YouTube clips of David Lynch and his work—one of which has been removed by YouTube for a "terms of use violation" (i.e., copyright infringement). Shouldn't these clips be taken down as well?

July 30, 2010 | Unregistered Commentercurmudgeon-in-training

From Trey –

A provocateur, eh?

Hey Zer. Nice to have your perspective in here.

Mind if I rip you a new asshole?

Just kidding.

No really, can you bend over just a little bit so I can see where my machete should makes its first cut.

No, I’m just joking.

But, really…. Turn around and look over their for a second, I think I see a….

- - -

OK. So Zer, you are presenting a classic scenario of a non-consensual relationship and the muddled thinking that supports it.

You have lumped three very different kinds of relationships into one big category and then treat them all the same. In addition, it seems, you have chosen to operate without consent from all the parties involved.

Regarding the three relationships. It seems to you divide downloads into three:

1. Recordings which are no longer available
2. Recordings by bands/labels that, you think, want to give away their for promotional purposes
3. Recordings by bands/labels that don’t want their stuff given away

Your relationship to each of these three is different and can’t be treated equally. Except in one manner. Which is to make the relationships consensual and explicit. How to do that? Contact the parties involved and get their consent to participate in the relationship with you.

Since you don’t present this as your argument (“I have permission from all these bands to put their files up for free”), one can only assume that you are operating under their radars. This is a classical abusive situation, where you hold all the power of the relationship and use that power against the other parties. It is very, very easy to contact any of these bands to ask if they want to participate in your site. Most all of them would probably agree. It’s even possible, that I might agree. I certainly would consider it, by the fact of being asked. (I have one slightly Norse track called “Rune Song”, but I think it is far too ‘flouncy’ for your fan base.)

- - -

I give you credit for putting forward the point that, perhaps, taking all monetary value out of making recordings might separate the good shit from the bad shit, as only the passionate will bother anymore. I take some hope in that, myself. If, at the end of the day, no one can make a living playing music anymore, then we aren’t going to have any commercialized music. It is already happening, really, and is wonderfully refreshing. Though I think we would all lose something, as well.

- - -

You say your aim is to “kill the music industry”. There really isn’t as much industry to kill as you think. But it is true there is still some left. However I think your strategy isn’t a terribly effective one. Taking on small bands and giving their stuff away for free doesn’t do much at all.

Wouldn’t it be far more daring, imaginative, and ultimately more effective to find a way to tackle the big artists/labels that you appear to despise? Posting Lady Gaga’s files for free isn’t going to do much, I concede. But maybe you could go for something more radical like the way Banksy repackaged a Paris Hilton recording with a total ludicrous CD cover and put it in stores all over London?
See the story HERE
See photos of the CD packaging HERE

July 30, 2010 | Registered CommenterTrey Gunn

I find this conversation very interesting. This is my contribution.

Does music have value in one’s life?

If the answer is no, then the idea of compensating a person, or a business, probably doesn’t make any sense.

If the answer is yes, then one must ask how much it is personally worth.

If it is a trivial part of one’s life, which is used for example to mask a droning refrigerator or cover up an irritating silence, then again there’s not much reason in purchasing it.

The previous categories (no value and minimal value) do not factor much in this conversation; except as being individuals that are owed the same rights as everyone else. This is Group A.

If it is simply entertaining or provides some sort of a social function (e.g. amateur dancing, fitting in, etc.), then it does have a somewhat stronger value than the Group A. This group is not just made up of the adolescent. It is a very large group spanning all ages, economic class, religion, and ethnicity. The value these people place on music creates a much stronger need to choose. Musical choices and methods for obtaining music made within this group are driven by the choices and methods of their peers. The actual monetary value placed on music here tends to be as minimal as necessary. If one has to buy what they need, it is alright, as long it is not prohibitively expensive or available by some other method. When a person can acquire something for free and not feel like a criminal (because everyone else is doing it) then they do. Trading music has always been popular within this group; however, technology now provides an amplified opportunity. Accepting a cassette tape copy of a song from friend is morally the same, although of different scale, as downloading a bands complete musical catalog from an internet location. The trading within this group is probably not going to stop. This is Group B.

If one derives great pleasure or other strong emotion from listening intently to music then the actual value is increased. If one’s value is not increased at this point, one should probably re-examine whether they place value on anything (If one does not place value on anything then this discussion is not worth having). While most people in this group also participate occasionally in Group B, they do so consciously. They also consciously decide what music is worth paying for and what is not. Minimal trading within this group is not going to stop; however, it tends to be the type that evolves into an actual purchase. This is Group C.

It is assumed people within all three groups above have the right to determine what they value and it is not up to one person to decide what another person finds valuable. It is also assumed that one does not have the right to force another into placing value on something. If the assumptions within this paragraph are not valid then, again, this discussion is not worth having.

While this is not always the case, what people place value on they are usually willing to pay for. For sake of this discussion, payment will be viewed as money.

Because Group C places a high value on music, they want everyone to contribute monetarily so they don’t have to pay for it all. This is not to say they want to force others to pay but would find it nice if everyone found as much value in music as they do. This is not the case. Music is simply not very important to a lot of people.

There is significantly more money available from Group B; however, this money moves within popular culture. This popular culture may be the music industry or it may be something else. Right now it is not music; especially in the sense that Group C views music. In a different sense there may be a point that the social acceptance of taking someone else’s intellectual property is looked at as unfavorably. If this happens, then a larger portion of Group B’s money will once again find its way back to the music industry.

Until this time and perhaps following this time Group C is probably interested in the creation of new music of a more sophisticated variety (I say probably, because one might make a case that there enough good music available already). I use the description ‘sophisticated’ not necessarily as complexity but as something that creates different emotional responses in often subtle ways. If this is the case, one would probably agree that there is a need for highly skilled musicians to be able to create this subtleness.

If Mary and Sue have equal potential musically and the same life responsibilities except Mary has to design electrical components 55 hours a week and Sue uses that 55 hours to practice, perform, and create then one can easily see that Sue will quickly outpace Mary in musical ability. This in turn will allow Sue to create better music more consistently. I say ‘more consistently’ because Musician’s that fall within the life style of Mary may sometimes produce something better that someone such as Sue. In general this will not be the case. If one argues differently they are saying great music is usually created accidently.

In order for Sue to have this extra 55 hours then Sue needs a way to pay for at a minimum: food and shelter. Obviously she may want and sometimes need much more, but that is a minimum.

Therefore, because there is value in the production of the best music possible there is a need for professional musicians. This is not to say we must have professional musicians, just that a need exists. Also, it is not saying anyone can be a professional musician or that there are a lot of ‘professional musician’ slots open.

In order for a professional musician to exist they need to be paid. The amount of money they are paid is a result of how much value they have. The more value they have the more they can make.

With that said, a musician can look to increase their value within Group C and have the ability to take a larger portion of the Group C money. Perhaps a musician can create enough value in their music that people are willing to pay a higher rate for their works. There is no rule that says one can’t charge $100 for an album. It may sometimes be easier to find 500 people willing to pay $100 each than 5000 to pay $10 each. This is not saying 1 person would pay that much but is an idea. (It has always seemed like such an odd idea that for the most part all music albums cost the same; however, most other products have varying prices based on a perceived quality)

Because Group C is a rather limited resource of money based on their group size, it is probably a better strategy to somehow get money from the Group B pool or somehow increase the size of Group C.

Perhaps the simple appeal to people that their actions affect negatively upon others will be enough to turn the social acceptance of non-compensated downloads. Who knows, but it would be great if this happens.

Perhaps people from Group B may be compelled into becoming more interested in music through some sort of education program created and executed by interested parties.

Perhaps artists of different disciplines may be able to merge and create exciting collaborations that bring in large quantities of people that would normally stay away from such highbrow performances.

Perhaps other ideas floating around that could shift the current state of things musical. If these ideas were shared they may spark the creation of something truly special.

Perhaps the future will be good.

July 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Stewart

Hey Zer,

I found that post (while a little abrasive) well thought out. I only have one real problem with it. It strikes me that you may be too much of an optimist. Your argument that these things will not harm good music relies on either the willingness of the average person to pay for their art if it's good enough or the emergence of a somewhat different arrangement through which art can be sustained. I hope you're right, but I'm naturally kind of pessimistic. Maybe I've missed a part of your argument. Maybe when you speak of a new business model you're including there some implicit other way to make the actual album sales more tempting. This is a good idea, of course. If only I knew what would do it, I would be happy with the argument.

One other minor point. I don't understand the argument about your low quality audio making people more likely to buy the real thing. Again, I see us dealing in broad generalities here, and the average person can't tell the difference. Sure, you still don't get the booklet, but the most important part of the booklet to most people I know is the cover, and certainly you might just choose to download that from somewhere.

July 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChris

Ok, I thought I was done, but it occurs to me that I wasn't as clear as I wanted to be in my support of part of Zer's argument. What I mean is that I agree completely that the current business model associated with music is inadequate and just plain wrong for the world as it stands. I just don't agree that ignoring the problem and doing whatever we want instead will get us anywhere good.

Chris

July 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChris

I started writing a long response when Trey first posted, but lost it in a glitch. I’ve been coming back periodically to re-write, but the real world has its demands and many folks, especially John Stewart, have said much of what I was thinking. In any case, here is my .02, and probably worth every penny.

First off, the "music should be free" argument stumbles (not that anyone has made it) because music costs: It costs something to make and, for that mater, it costs something to play and even to be listened to. There is an expense of time in writing, performing, and producing the music. There is a cost to the body of the musician when performing the music. The machines that play recorded music cost money to build and to buy. Listeners of music also pay a cost in terms of time and attention, which might be spent elsewhere. Music represents investment, even if it doesn't sell.

So as far as the downloading goes, I'll reiterate my previous position: Nobody is obligated to buy an artist's music, but neither should anyone steal it. An artist has the right to make his or her own business decisions, and their business model shouldn't be violated by others just because it is easy to violate. While I agree with others here that going after individual downloaders or downloading sites is fighting a losing battle, I suspect that working with affiliate and ad programs (such as Adsense), and web/blog hosts to stop piracy might be an effective strategy.

But beyond that, we still have the niggling issue of “Where do we go from here?”. As most everyone has noted, the music industry has changed, and a new model, or perhaps several new models, of doing business will emerge. The trick is figuring out how to create a model that encourages the production of quality music by all talented musicians (whether pro, semi-pro, or amateur) and the development of an ethical distribution system that makes good art accessible to its appreciators while respecting the investment made by its creators.

Using Trey’s analogy of non-consensual/abusive relationships, I believe that the most vulnerable party in the musical transaction is the artist him/herself. The artist makes the initial and most significant investment in a piece, which puts her at significant risk of loss if it is unsuccessful (financially or otherwise) or stolen. For this reason, I consider it unacceptable for those other than the artist to tell the artist how she is to run or manage her business. Telling someone that you know what is best for them (i.e. distributing their music for free), offering some sort of token comfort (i.e. distributing tracks of inferior sound quality), and then doing what you want anyway is abusive and exploitative. Artists need to set the terms for the distribution of their own work.

But there will still need to be external support for the artist’s ability to get their work distributed. Making music is one thing, getting it distributed, even in accordance with an artist’s wishes, is another. Someone has to do the non-musical work, and for semi-pros, I imagine that doing one’s own bookkeeping, customer service, scheduling, booking, etc is difficult (to say the least). Now I suspect there will always be commercially successful artists that will do just fine under record label management. I also suspect that there will always be those musicians who are either independently wealthy (and can hire someone to do this work) or who are married/partnered to someone who is ok with performing this role. But for other musicians, I see a need for a business model that also takes into consideration the need for logistical support.

It may be that independent musicians with a fan base can rally the troops to get support for an album and assistance with distribution and business needs. A more effective approach might be a music cooperative in which musicians take turns supporting each other during writing/recording/production and work together on distribution. Supportive fans could also participate in these cooperatives by exchanging labor for access to music.

In any case, it is way past my bedtime. Thanks to Trey and everyone here for the wonderful discussion.

Lainie

August 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLainie Petersen

As a low-wattage Crafty, we've struggled with some of these questions for some time but at the bottom of the food chain. For instance, members of the team were very reluctant to 'pay to play', with good reason - but were also faced with the reality that we were unlikely to generate enough revenue from ticket sales to break even, let alone make twopenneth of profit. Hoping to play music that's in any way outside the 'easily consumed' is going to cost, and the performer is probably going to shoulder that cost, in time, money or both (and more besides).

Worth another, separate discussion is the observation about a lot of audience/recording buyer's actions being 'acts of accumulation' rather than any real involvement. This is something that's been manifesting for a little while now, as downloading put mad record collections within the reach of the average consumer - whereas before it was only people like John Peel who reinforced the floor of their home to take the weight of the records, nowadays most children have a collection well on the way on their iWhatevers. Music seems - in the UK, at present - not to be the event it used to be. Teenagers don't go round eachother's houses to listen to the latest release from Sam Therapy or King Dice. It's not acting as a cultural hinge-point in the way it did. Because of this, I suspect that the way it functions in commercial society - the way it gets bought and sold - will be very different, and that we will have to change with that.

I could, of course, be completely wrong.

August 1, 2010 | Unregistered Commenter48 Crash

One of the best threads on this subject I’ve seen so far. Thanks Trey.

Lets face it - file sharing / downloading music is there to stay. There is no going back. Trying will only create something similar to the war on drugs. And we all know how successful that’s been so far.

We just have to find new ways that suits this new situation.

Since this problem deals with the deepest core of our culture – ART - I think it should have been dealt with by our politicians a long time ago. But they don’t seem to bother.

Two examples of a new model for paying musicians:

1. The Swedish 70,s proggers Ragnarok were a few years ago approached by a Swiss, rather wealthy, businessman. He was a huge fan of the band, he loved their albums from the 70,ties and told them that he was willing to pay for studio time and distribution if the group would make a new album. They accepted the offer and 2008 they released Path.

2. Radioheads “In Rainbows pay what you want” was a success. From NME October 15, 2008: According to reports most fans chose to pay nothing to download the album. However, it still generated more money before it was physically released than the total money generated by sales of the band's previous album, Hail To The Thief'. /// The download facility was taken down after three months, and the album went to Number One in the UK and USA after being physically released.

Out of these examples and from my own experience I draw the conclusion that there are enough people out there who are willing to pay for the music they appreciate - if they get a chance. Sometimes even a lot more than a simple cd would cost them.

I would like to suggest that every artist on their homepage or myspace put a pay-pal donate-button. Accompanied by a message like “…if you illegally downloaded my music and liked it – or if you just want to support my work - please leave a contribution” .

Then the audience will be able to support the artists they like. In a similar way as Trey supported Iggy Pop.

Maybe musicians would consider this as charity, but as long as we do not have any better system. I think it’s worth a try.

Another thing – moving away from plastic cd,s and vinyl is good for the environment.

August 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPatrik S

Chris,
I just don't agree that ignoring the problem and doing whatever we want instead will get us anywhere good.
The thing is to wonder if this is a problem at all. To the question "Do we need pros", my answer is no. Check out new or old bands like Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Victims Family, 2Bad, Fleurety, Atrox, Stolen Babies, Vektor, Freaky Fukin Weirdoz, Popular Easy Listening Music Ensemble, Atheist and countless others, all of them match the best pros out there regarding originality, personality, versatility, technicality etc. If the pros go extinct, I can guarantee we won't be stuck with lazy 3-chords-Ramones or flacid-Metallica sleeping pills.
And I have nothing against pros. But if their time is up, too bad. They still can teach music, play in stupid tv shows or make sounds for video games, and work in music stores, like many of my pro friends. I myself have to work in the banking software industry, who is going to help me sell my music instead and make me happy ? Who actually cares ?

Now what could be done sell more records ? There are plenty of ways: make exceptional records, not just 10 songs that include 7 fillers. Package them with class, use digipaks instead of jewel cases, do like Tool and their excellent binocular and booklet with 3D images. Include a live dvd and/or a book and/or a shirt. Release color vinyls. Include 3 g of pot. Make holographic artwork. Make your cd smell like apples when played. Make smaller pressing, 500 at a time instead of 3000. Give away (or reduced prices for) show tickets in cds. Be creative or hire hitmen to kill the competition that you can't surpass.
Just make your album so attractive people want to buy it... Why is it that many recent albums still sell out and I can't find a single copy for sale even at page 130 in Google ? Why is it that books still sell in a hostile world full of Xerox and internets ?

Your argument that these things will not harm good music relies on either the willingness of the average person to pay for their art if it's good enough or the emergence of a somewhat different arrangement through which art can be sustained.
True, I believe that because I live it everyday. I'm a record collector, I buy hundreds of albums every year (over 400 in 2010 so far). And I am not alone, otherwise record conventions would not exist, ebay would not have CDs/records sections and I wouldn't have to shell out $150 for a CD by an obscure Japanese metal band. Record labels like High Vaultage, Earmark/Sanctuary or Metal Mind would not re-releases hundreds of old albums.
People do buy music. The music biz should just wake up to the fact that there is so much more competition now than 30 years ago, all of it being much more easily accessed. Today if I bought 400 albums in 6 months, there are still 50000 albums I didn't buy (while in 1980 it might just have been only 2000 of them that I was missing - I have no idea of the real figures here). Also thanks to MySpace or file sharing, I can now be very selective before I buy anything, whereas 25 years ago I was getting a lot of shitty records because I had no way to hear them beforehand. That's not good business for average albums that I will avoid, and I still don't care! I'm not here to fund the record industry but to have fun with records I like.

Trey,
Your categories 2 and 3 are based on rights (2. Recordings by bands/labels that, you think, want to give away their for promotional purposes 3. Recordings by bands/labels that don’t want their stuff given away). But the world thrives on power, not rights. It's not because I can that I should, fine, but that's a bit thin regarding the harmlessness of the topic. We're only dealing with music here, not water or heroin.
Also, technically it's not given away. It's not the CD itself, it's not even true WAV rips. The equation "you wouldn't steal a car, so don't download" is a very very bad analogy, yawn yawn yawn. True, I wouldn't steal a car, but I would take a picture of the Joconde.

"Killing the music industry" was a piece of IRONY, I was referring to the stupid mantra "Home taping is killing music" that was seen on many records and publications in the 80s.

Bending me over with a machete is nice and sweet, please also answer to the studio engineer above who reported on how his business had to radically change because of the evolution of technology. Or to the people who worked the street lights in the 1800's. Electricity killed their business too.

That said, I never downloaded any King Crimson because I had already bought 25 of the CDs before I had my first internet connection (in 92, when the Joconde was the only visible thing on the internet, outside science). Happy ?

August 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterZer Still

First off, the "music should be free" argument stumbles (not that anyone has made it) because music costs: It costs something to make
Like snowboarding and stamp-collecting.
Nobody is forced to make any music.

August 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterZer Still

Bending me over with a machete is nice and sweet, please also answer to the studio engineer above who reported on how his business had to radically change because of the evolution of technology. Or to the people who worked the street lights in the 1800's. Electricity killed their business too.

Because technology made their work no longer necessary. Technology has not made the work of a musician no longer necessary.


Like snowboarding and stamp-collecting.
Nobody is forced to make any music.

And nobody is forced to listen to it, so why steal?

August 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLainie Petersen

Just as a general observation, it seems to me that using a flawed analogy after having just identified a flaw in someone else's is an ineffective approach at getting your point across.

On a more specific matter: I believe it is true that a more non-discerning mass-consumption drove profits in the music industry in the past, and that, indeed, the same industry failed to capitalize on the changing medium (this time round, at least). However, for this very reason, the difference between the mp3 and previous formats on a whole is negligible.

It might be true that the most discerning listener would rather have the higher quality format even after having acquired a compromised version of music, but this number - as all the evidence has made clear - is marginal at best. In other words, you're damn right that I would rather have a wav file than an mp3 of any quality, but am I willing to pay for it? Talk is cheap.

To conclude:
Tape sharing and bootlegging has always been an issue on some level, but when the sharers in effect mass produce and distribute another artist's music, they are being no more fair to the artist than the BIGS who'd been screwing them before, i.e. both make noise about "exposure" and wax eloquent about their "love for the music" right up until the point when they might have to fork over a little dough.

If you want to stick it to the man, steal the friggin' cds from the shelves and encourage all of your friends to do the same. The problem with our society is there isn't anyone willing to take that extra step. In my opinion, non-consensual file-sharing is the cowards way out.

August 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterdavidly

How do we reconcile this
Just as a general observation, it seems to me that using a flawed analogy after having just identified a flaw in someone else's is an ineffective approach at getting your point across.
and this
If you want to stick it to the man, steal the friggin' cds from the shelves and encourage all of your friends to do the same.
The recurrent and bad theft analogy... does downloading dissolve the CDs from the shelves ? On the other hand when anyone buys a used record, it is a definitely lost sale for the artist/label, why not address this issue too ?

In my opinion, non-consensual file-sharing is the cowards way out.
Out of what ? Despite the tone of my posts (a counter measure to the musician whining!), there is no will to stick it to anyone. People buy records after hearing them (from my blog for example) if they like them enough. It just does not matter from the listener's perspective if the artist is a pro or not.
It's all supply and demand. The supply is so large that nobody cares if some pros must become plumbers.

August 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDIldozer

Gosh, it almost seems like some kind of war here. Like people are just downloading stuff and using the internet as an excuse to "stick it to the man" or the "big companies", when really all it does it promote the idea that you can support the bands you like (great) and screw the ones you don't by stealing their work. (shitty) Since a lot of this mind set comes from the majority of DJs feeling incredibly arrogant about their successes, but incredibly ashamed about their lack of real musical skills, I am going to lay a lot of this at their doorstep. These assholes are SOOOOO "moved" by other's hard work that they constantly try to use it in their own. The complete and utter street ignorance of the reason originality is a virtue is a damned tragedy, but it's the market forces that rear their ugly stupid heads and scream out in impotent rage "we are better than art and screw the artists" and so now you have a whole generation of iPod asswipes who wouldn't know a decent piece of music was if it reached out and bit them on the nose. There is a reason art and business make uncomfortable bedmates you ass clowns, and while I will not say that ne'er the twain shall they meet, I will say that IF YOU TAKE EACH AT IT'S DEFINITION and push that to an extreme, then they are completely at odds with each oher. But then, once again - this is a stupid mindset that isn't true that people will use as their excuse. Art and Business should be reverent of of each other because each is doing it's thing honorably. Instead, today's youth are brought up thinking that business is a dog-eat-dog survival of the fittest and the best thing to do is to get rich quick at any cost. The appreciation of subtlety and artistic endeavour is alien to this mindset, especially when crappy dance music can be mass manufactured so easily with software. So it's not having a collection of music which moves you (and I mean that figuratively, not literally shaking your asses dummies) it's the "prestige" of having tons and tons of music - most of which will never be listened to and appreciated, or if some interesting stuff gets in there it will be deleted off the playlists as "not danceable enough", "not Mastodon enough", "makes me feel weird", or "too alien". What we're left with is a bunch of people who think they're at the cutting edge of things (after all, they have little boxes of mp3s and laptops - they're no apes!) when really they've entered into the land of the bland and deluded. When you make a copy of something and bring it next door - that's a gift. Not a danger to music careers. When you post it online so that a thousand people can have it - that's broadcasting, and should fall under FCC rules.

Do I think calling people assholes will change anything? No. Except that they ARE assholes. I had a friend once who wanted to kill himself because he made a living bootlegging other people's music. He even had a band - that covered other people's music. He realised the importance of originality and leaving his mark. While I didn't want him to kill himself, I could also understand his feelings. What will YOU like to be remembered for? I am sure not everyone is so sensitive. Many see some instances of celebrity overindulgence and use that as an excuse to justify their actions. (Such and such is rich and I am jealous of their lifestyle blah blah blah) Do I think filesharing will end? No. But I do think that measures are on the way to screw a lot of you who think you are entitled to steal.

August 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKris Nelson

Of analogies and suchlike:

A CD (or cassette tape, or vinyl record, etc) is the medium selected and used by artists and their authorized representatives (i.e. labels) for the distribution of their music. The costs of making the music, the recording of the music, and the various costs in distribution of the music are included in the price of the medium. When it is sold, the buyer has rights over the medium, but not over the songs: The buyer can resell the medium (which she owns), but cannot sell the songs. The CD was produced (again, with the permission of the artist and the artist's representatives) in a medium that can be owned by one person at a time.

Does selling the used CD result in loss of sales for the artist & representatives? Yes, but the loss is controlled: The artist & co get compensated for the CD when it is sold in the medium they have authorized. If the medium is resold, the new buyer purchases a used medium with what is likely a finite shelf life, and the original buyer loses access to the music. One buyer at a time owns the CD, until it wears out. Realistically, how many owners will a CD have while it is still functioning? How many sales will a resold (not copied) CD cost an artist?

Now compare that to the losses caused by the unauthorized distribution of bootlegged or pirated music. Not only is the potential and (in many cases) real loss to the artist considerably greater than in the case of a resold CD, but the music is now distributed in a medium unauthorized by the artist. The artist loses money, and the artist loses all control over her music. Who benefits from this, other than those who demand free music?

And why would anyone ever want to treat another person this way?

I also don't buy the notion that the "free downloads" are inferior copies of music or the comparison between a downloaded song and a picture of vehicle. The function of a vehicle is in its ability to move someone or something about. A photo can't do that, so neither the actual vehicle, nor its functionality are stolen when an image is made. A song is something experienced via our capacity to listen: An inferior copy of a song can still be listened to, and enjoyed in the same way as an original recording can be so enjoyed. In fact, as others here have noted, many people can't really tell the difference between bad and good recordings and may not particularly care about sound quality. Regardless of the state it is in, the "downloaded song" is functional in a way that a photograph of a vehicle, no matter how good, can never be.

And besides, the artist never authorized the inferior copy anyway. Why would anyone expect an artist to be grateful for such "promotion"?

The music biz is changing, no doubt about it. This is also true of many other industries. What I think is wonderful is that independent artists, writers on niche subjects, new fashion designers, and talented craftspeople now have access to production and distribution methods that they never had before.While they may not be able to go fully "pro" they may be able to make enough money to enhance their lives and to justify continuing their work. Instead of using new technology to take advantage of these artists, shouldn't an appreciative community work with them to make the most of this opportunity?

Lainie

August 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLainie Petersen

Two points.

Zer doesn't seem to be wanting to respond to the non-consensual aspects of his relationships with the bands, so that part of the discussion is dead in the water.

Secondly, I sell high quality mp3 (256k) and FLAC files on my website. The quality is damn good, and I don't consider the plastic CDs to be the product. I consider the audio, itself, to be the product.

- - -

It seems that this conversation is winding its way down. Thanks to everyone for your thoughtful contributions.

cheers,

Trey

August 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTrey Gunn

Zer doesn't seem to be wanting to respond to the non-consensual aspects of his relationships with the bands, so that part of the discussion is dead in the water.
The thing is I have nothing intelligent to say, it's mostly my religious opinion.
You may break that point in 2 subsections:

1 Legal
Legally, download is illegal/wrong in most parts of the world. What can I add ? That download is as wrong as jaywalking ? But that's already my own perception...

2 "Philosophical"
- You can't know in advance if an artist is willing or not to have his album shared on the net. I am against a law (moral or legal) that would entirely forbid downloading, just to "protect" a few (I'm assuming it's only a few... but even if it was a majority, why should my will to distribute my own music for free be blocked because of others). All musicians I personally know are in favor of file sharing (even pros). And I am willing to remove anything from my blog if the band asks. It happened once in 2 years (which may explain why the non-consensual relation seems so non-problematic to me). No, I don't ask in advance if it's ok for me to upload an album, because I am lazy and I have a job and a family... and 3 bands.
- Do unto others... Yes, I also upload all my music for free on the net, no I don't ask it to be removed when I find it on a blog or torrent. I'm actually flattered.
- The discussion is completely irrelevant when we address out of print records.
- And anyway, as I said, a good album sells regardless of downloads, so what would the artist complain about, consensual or not ? I can list a ton of recent albums (less than 10 years old) that I am unable to find, even for $200 on ebay. I also need to know why there are so many reissues of old records if download is supposed to cripple sales. By definition an old record has been floating around for years, yet
- Hearing an album before buying is good ! But MySpace and other streaming sites provide a horrible sound quality.

It is also argued in libertarian circles (the most liberal of the ultra liberals & free market apostles) that the notion of copyright should just disappear (it is a distortion in the market, which will correct itself anyway if you remove copyrights). That's not my point, I don't support this, but you can find intellectual constructions in economics that lead to that. I don't have links.

Yes the analogy of the bike/photo of the bike. vs CD/mp3 is bad, but only as bad as the download = theft or 1 download = 1 lost sale equations. There are studies that argue that downloads increase CD sales. Cf http://www.zeropaid.com/news/9086/canadian_govt_study_p2p_increases_cd_sales/

Thanks for the discussion, it's the first of the sort that was interesting.

August 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMoisturizer

"Wrapping Up"

Sorry for my more trollish than usual postings - more emotional venting than calm analysis - but this whole issue just makes me so mad...

August 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKris Nelson

Music ought to be free? Sure: intellectual property is a joke. But making music ought to be 'paid for' (i.e. musicians ought to live as well as the rest of us). Isn't that the problem?

Till we have a new business model which works, I'll keep on buying CDs & concert tickets. That's not to say that the LP-era business model ever produced justice for musicians, listeners, or anybody else. IMO, people of good will don't pay for recordings because musicians have a right to be paid per unit shifted (and--gasp!--musicians don't always get royalties from legit sales, anyway), nor because copyright is ruthlessly and efficiently policed (I think that in the end all attempts will fail, and that fighting to preserve the old order won't make for a pretty or kindly society), but because in this imperfect world it seems the best we can do to keep creators fed and art in production.

Here's to the future, though I, for one, don't know what it'll look like.

August 5, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermatthew brandi

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