Ligabue, one of the contributing artists, live in Berlin. Photo (CC) Matthias Muehlbradt.

Sure, many issues around intellectual property are gray. But contributor Jo Ardalan has a disturbing story: what happens when a fundraising album gets pirated? Did illegal file sharing users know what they were doing — is there a need for a donation mechanism for these services — or is it really this bad? Apologies if this is old news – catching up during travel – but a question well worth considering. -Ed.

We all know piracy forces labels, artists and developers to incur a huge cost. Recently, however, illegal file-sharing cost a bundle for the fundraising efforts aimed to raise money for reconstructing parts of Italy after a recent and devastating April quake. Universal Music and Italian pop artists collaborated on a track entitled “Domani 21/4/09″ that sells digitally for 2 Euros and will later be sold in stores for 5 Euros. According to Variety, the track has been downloaded illegally 2 million times.

Caterina Caselli, who produced the track for free says that this project is (translated from Italian) “sort of ‘mission impossible’: in one project between eighty artists and musicians doing almost everything in one day. All have dealt with air travel at their own expense, technicians and porters have worked for free, as do the catering…Universal does not gain anything.”

Artists inovled are Jovanotti, Ligabue, Zucchero and Elisa and many others.

http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118003748.html?categoryid=19&cs=1
http://discomania2.myblog.it/archive/2009/05/09/domani-21-4-09-con-jovanotti-e-altri-60-artisti-serve-a-racc.html [Italian]

  • rjk

    "We all know piracy forces labels, artists and developers to incur a huge cost." (emphasis added)

    Please don't presume to speak for me.

  • Adrian Anders

    Sure its in poor taste, just like downloading anything "illegally"… I'm just of the mindset that there's little that can really be done to stop piracy… and the technological measures that could be done to slow it down would be worse for the economy/society/internet than the act of piracy itself.

    So my advice would be for the artists and Universal to seed the torrent/rapidshares themselves, including with the track documentation on where downloaders who wish to directly donate to the cause can go.

  • TJ Usiyan

    Yes, Yes it really is this bad.

  • Mike

    The thing is, it's impossible to know how much illegal downloading actually costs anyone. You can easily say "piracy forces lables, artists and developers to incur a huge cost", but you can't prove it. It seems more likely that the people who download music without paying for it wouldn't have paid for it in the first place. If that's the case, no one loses anything.

    This particular example makes illegal downloading seem particularly wrong, but I think it goes further to prove my point. If someone is the type to steal a benefit song, are they the type who would have paid for it in the first place? More money would have been raised if they had all paid, but you can't really look at it as money lost.

  • Adrian Anders

    @ Mike

    Masnick? is that you?

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Actually, I think it *is* safe to say piracy incurs cost. That's why I didn't edit out Jo's line. Likewise, I think it's safe to say so-called piracy can benefit artists — plenty of artists have said as much. The question is what the balance of each may be, what the actual realities are going out there (any ideological take or personal desires we might have). I'd rather have this conversation uncensored. So let's have it out – let's debate it – seriously.

  • salamanderanagram

    as a musician, i can only pray that i will someday be popular enough for people to be pirating my music. seriously.

  • Adrian Anders

    +1 Peter

    Actually, I think it’s rather naïve to say that piracy costs artists NOTHING. However, my argument is that the cost to society from piracy is less than the benefit that is generated from an unfettered internet. So while it would be in (some) artists and (some) business's interests to create restrictions in communications technology it is not in the benefit of society as a whole to do so.

  • gp

    Haven't heard of the artists. Haven't heard of the quake. Haven't heard of the fund raiser.

    Until now.

    So now I'm mildly interested in hearing the track. And mildly interested in donating.

    But I'm also probably too lazy to bother with either without more information.

    They need some new PR people, but talking about it in this context is at least a decent modern-day step towards getting a whole lot more exposure.

    Where can I read more about the quake instead of the piracy?

  • http://x2i.info E.X.P

    @salamanderanagram maybe your music isn't even worth pirating

    jerks…

  • salamanderanagram

    @e.x.p. – got some tunes i could listen to?

  • Adrian Anders

    @e.x.p.

    http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/appeal-t

    The quality of salamanderanagram music has nothing to do with the validity of what he says.

    You won't win anyone over with fallacious arguments.

  • http://www.combatdave.com combatdave

    I totally agree with what salamanderanagram said – it would make my day to see an album of mine being shared on the pirate bay/etc! After the whole "music industry sues TPB" thing, I promised myself I would never buy anything from them* again. That's not to say that I pirate it instead, just for every band signed to EMI or whatever, there are 10 other bands out there doing exactly the same thing with free downloads.

    So, yeah. If it wasn't for the cause, and I wanted a song from the album, I would pirate it. Because of the cause, I might pay to download it – but only if I really wanted the entire album and the pay/download procedure was as easy as possible (no, I don't want to register. Let me use paypal). But, then again, I would still be tempted just to steal it. Do they* really need their egos boosting any more?

    I'm sure I can't be the only one who feels like this over the whole TPB lawsuit thing. I know it's kind of pedantic, but theres no way that I am ever going to support their* lawyers ridiculous adventures chasing ridiculously outdated business methods.

    *by "them", I of course mean all the big evil record labels.

  • http://apeskinny.com spinner

    I used to do a bit of private music tech teaching and most home studios I walked into had tons of cracked software. Most of the times the guys had just downloaded it because it was there for the taking, they didn't know how to use it or indeed have any use for it.

    Guessing it might be the same case here, the track is on a torrent with no info of the original cause and people just click on the download link.

    I'm not defending it at all and the original uploader is a fucking sad twat.

    It might be said that that the cost of pirating can be hard to actually calculate but this mindless "want" resulting in people downloading all and everything regardless if they like it or not is absolutely devaluing and hurting music creation.

  • DooKoo

    I'm curious, can a musician make enough money playing live and selling T-shirts, while giving away their recordings on the Internet for free? Are any of you making a living solely from your live gigs? (This is posed as a serious question from someone who is interested in trying to make a living as a professional musician).

    (btw, to me, the ethical question of downloading is the same, whether the beneficiary is a charity or a hard-working musician trying to put food on the table.)

    dK

  • gzap

    I am a working musician. Been so for two decades and make my living entirely from music, and largely from art music, not pop. Piracy has changed the industry. Gone are almost all the brick and mortar cd stores (now selling dvd's while they can). Gone are most of the big recording studios (victim to laptop recording studios as much as piracy). Gone are a good chunk of the big labels. But also, gone is the expectation that you can make a living off of music with the upcoming generation. I'm not talking good living, no pension, no house, no security. I'm talking day jobs for most new musicians.

    So here's what I say. Go to a club, concert hall, street corner and pay to see some live music. Have a drink, talk to the artists, hear some new sounds and help support the few remaining trying to make a living off of music before all you're left with are amateurs (not that I'm against amateurs, its just that its hard to reach the same skill levels without full time dedication).

  • rjk

    But also, gone is the expectation that you can make a living off of music with the upcoming generation. (emphasis added)

    Please don’t presume to speak for me.

  • jeffbbz

    while I don't think it doesn't have consequences, I'm somewhat with mike here. It's a pretty big jump to say that because someone has downloaded something that they have constituted a lost sale. Because downloading is so easy and has no direct costs, The majority of the things people download they were not planning on buying in the first place. In fact, unless they are very, very rich, and spend most of their money on media purchases (another widespread but also ethically debatable action), it is impossible for the modern person to even begin to experience the vastness of today's arts.

    @anders "the cost to society from piracy is less than the benefit that is generated from an unfettered internet" AMEN!

    @spinner "people downloading all and everything regardless if they like it or not is absolutely devaluing and hurting music creation." How is this true? If anything it encourages people to fill their lives more with art and music than less. And filling your life with creation generally encourages you to create, I would think. Why would it "hurt music creation?" What is the reason that a person makes art? Because they know someone will buy it? Creation is dead without money?

    I wonder how long we will have to endure the idea that money is a signifier of importance, success or dedication. The hilarious lines drawn between amateur and professional have gotten so tired. (and from what I can gather the main difference is that professionals are more crabby and blow more money on unnecessary gear)

    Lastly, I understand mourning the passing of eras, and the confusion that sets in when those used to doing something a certain way, struggle to do so. But let's be honest with ourselves. The much mourned models are only a few decades old! It's not like this how its been since time began, the trusted and pure way of doing things, and then BAM, the mp3! File sharing! and down went the whole world in flames. Music is over forever.

  • gwenhwyfaer

    I don't know. Is it worse that a track intended to raise money for some charity gets ripped off, or that the only way to get people to give anything to a worthy cause in the first place is to sell them something…?

  • poopoo

    Why did they think selling a record was a good way to raise money in the first place? I thought that selling records is a money loosing business these days because of piracy.

  • bliss

    Maybe the uploader of Domani 24/04/09 wanted to raise awareness to the cause? That's at least plausible.

    Anyway, I have identified at least eight types of people who download music from P2P:

    1. Those who like listening to recordings in entirety before buying. (One used to be able to do this in brick and mortar record stores.)

    2. Those whose budgets doesn't allow for music purchases.

    3. Those who buy music sometimes and download via P2P other times depending on availability, budget, mood, whatever.

    4. Those who do so for philosophical reasons. For example, they think that music should be free.

    5. Those who do so for political reasons. For example, they want the RIAA and associated corporate acts to go the way of the dodo.

    6. Collectors. Those who attempt to download every track and album available on P2P.

    7. Those who do so for altruistic reasons. They download the music of obscure artists for the purpose of increasing the visibility and popularity of those artists.

    8. Those who download music not for any particular reason other than the fact that the music they like is available on P2P to be downloaded. The kind of people who say, "I download music because it's there, and because I can." (You've heard it before, "Why do men climb mountains?")

    It's a complicated picture. And uploaders (those who actually share) do so for at least the same reasons.

  • http://abrightfearlesssunrise.blogspot.com/ Birds Use Stars

    well they probably thought that people might buy a $3 album because it was for a good cause, not because they are under the delusion that normal people still buy records.

    There is cause for concern that smaller musicians or "amateurs" will be unable to make a living making music, not because people are doing it for the wrong reasons, but because it's much more difficult to make music when you can't afford to eat. People who really would have to dedicate some serious time to perfect their project or their skills could no longer have that luxury, not to mention that they would lose access to the tools they need to do so. Think of it as a poverty gap, the tiny upper percentage of lottery winners with hit songs, versus the massive body of starving artists. It's that way as it is, and no one wants to see it get worse. A good band is easy to kill, and the more debt they acquire the shorter the lifespan. I have no doubt in my mind that there have been many promising talents that should have been able to stay, have had to give up on music, or relegated it to a hobby so they could get real jobs. Think Marty Macfly in his "bad" future, wearing a suit and listlessly twiddling on a guitar in his armchair.

    On the bright side, change is just as often good. For the music industry it has been a long time coming. @DooKoo, I don't have a ton of examples, but I know that the "business model" (apologies but there for a lack of a better term) that you are talking about does indeed exist in some capacity. Hugh Cornwell (formerly of the stranglers) is giving his most recent album away for free, with the option to buy a version that includes a DVD making of documentery. He says in Performing Musician magazine that he makes basically his entire living on live performance and would go broke if he was relying on album sales. I know that Luke Vibert makes a similar claim with regard to his DJ performances.

    Finally with regard to making an income on record sales, I like to look to the Stardock philosophy. They released the game Sins of a Solar Empire with no more copy protection than a simple CD key. Such limited protection is practically a license to pirate it in the games world. Despite this fact, SoaSE was the best selling game of 2008. The reason being that they cater to the kinds of people that actually will buy games, rather than the type to pirate. In this case, sophisticated, intelligent gamers who want a game to dive serious time into, rather than the latest 6 hour long shooter with cutting edge graphics. I am starting to see examples of this philosophy in records, the most recent being DJ Dangermouse. His latest album is packaged with extra material and artwork that a serious music fan would appreciate and a casual mp3 "getter" probably wouldn't. Related to this is the increase in vinyl releases, better for reasons I'm sure many of you will understand.

  • http://x2i.info E.X.P

    @salamanderanagram

    of course , go buy it , why do you even ask? ah yes , for you music is free…

  • mockasins

    "intellectual property"? What ever happened to 'you can imprison my body but my mind is always free, the one thing you can't take'? What ever happen to real musical creators who sing of freedom as their muse?

    Is it even possible for someone to have an original thought, as these are all just different combinations of finite possibilities within the language?

    When will humans realise that the accomplishments we pursue are gifts to the evolution of the species, rather than a commodity or weapon.

    Creation itself is a force that uses the adaptation of external forces to build and improve the system which it is a piece of.

  • mockasins

    "All have dealt with air travel at their own expense, technicians and porters have worked for free, as do the catering…Universal does not gain anything.”"

    So, to say "see, were not doing it just for the money". Well then get on with it and stop bragging. No one is forcing you to make music, if you like to and are good enough at it to have people want to support you then you won't have to beg.

  • anonymous

    You can listen to songs on the radio for free, even record them and listen over and over. The digital information of a song is useless to me to own, it is only the fleeting moment of experience that is worth something.

    I listened to too many downloaded songs I didn't pay for. Now I am required by law to wear earplugs.

  • Andre

    @jeffbbz

    I don't want to take on a holier-than-thou-attitude, especially considering I've downloaded some music from the Internet as well – and also considering i recognize the effect piracy always has in "spreading the word". But here's something interesting:

    "What is the reason that a person makes art? Because they know someone will buy it? Creation is dead without money?"

    Hum, yes. Creation is dead without money. Unless you are somehow super-human and able to write an entire album while homeless and living on nothing but oxygen for a whole year.

    Making music is not about getting rich, but you shouldn't have to spend your entire career worrying whether you'll be able to pay your rent and electricity next week, or whether your you'll be late for work at McDonald's the day after you've had a late night rehearsal. It's hard to hone your skills over the years and write a masterpiece in that situation.

    And yes, I think the RIAA are morons for prosecuting 12 year olds sharing low quality Rihanna mp3's, but piracy, for all its perceived benefits in "spreading the word", has definitely devalued recorded music in the minds of everyone that's out there downloading (this CDM article is proof of that).

    Which is fine – musician's main revenue is playing live shows and that's what they should mostly do anyway.

    But don't you think that there is also a danger that live music might become devalued as well? (not a rhetorical question, I'm actually wondering whether people still have the same respect for live music).

  • http://antisound.net stk

    You can easily say “piracy forces lables, artists and developers to incur a huge cost”, but you can’t prove it.

    That's just the bullshit relativism of a) people who don't want to think about it, or b) people who don't know better.

    I personally know two indie label owners for whom piracy is costing a crapload of money.

    I'm not talking about speculative losses here, I'm talking about mucho $ spent on promo discs (yes, they still send those out cos primadonna reviewers insist on them) that end up on [insert filesharing avenue of choice] before the album is released.

  • http://antisound.net stk

    (cont.. ) which of course doesn't necessarily constitute a lost sale, but [i]does[/i] demonstrate an immense lack of respect on the reviewer's behalf.

    Yeah, yeah, said shared file may well increase awareness of the artist/label/music, but the point here is [i]it was shared without permission[/i]. In my eyes, it's not about money, it's about basic freaking respect for the wishes of the originator (artist, label, whatever) of the music.

  • http://circuitreerecords.com pg13

    I think i have a story that sums this whole thing up.

    A friend of mine released his first solo album at age 20, 7 years ago, on Planet Mu. He sold 1000 albums, and recieved an advance that was pretty decent. That was 2002.

    His next album was release in 2008…and only 200 copies (cds) were even manufactured.

    So in five years, when his fan base should have grown and his record sales been as good or better, he probably sold 10 per cent as much as the first album.

    All my buddies who were making a living off of electronic music pre 2002, are working day jobs. Schematic, a highly successful record label here hasnt released anything in two years or more. And to think they put out the fist Prefuse (Delarosa Asora) and Richard Devine albums.

    Things done changed. And yes, it is affecting an entire community of artists here.

  • http://circuitreerecords.com pg13

    excuse the typoes please.

  • salamanderanagram

    "@salamanderanagram

    of course , go buy it , why do you even ask? ah yes , for you music is free…"

    what makes you think i go out of my way to pay money to people who act like jackasses for music i've never even heard of?

  • Jimmymac

    I like what jeffbbz has to say re: the passing of an era.

    Personally, I think it's silly to argue the ethics of filesharing without accepting the reality. It's like teen pregnancy; we probably all wish teens weren't getting preg and catching stds, but abstinence-only eductation doesn't work and teen will have sex. Likewise, we probably all agree it would be best if people paid for music, supported artists and stores, but filesharing exists and it is not going away.

    Ultimately, even if we could tell if filesharing really costs the industry, that's irrelevant. It also doesn't really matter if artists used to make money on album sales and now they can't. The reality is that filesharing is here to stay, and finding a way to make money off of music will require accepting that.

  • Tilden Thorne

    If you build it… They will come (the pirates)…. I feel little remorse about this. Though I have never heard of the album, product theivery is simply a fact of life. It may be the only job older then prostitution. Quite frankly I am tired of all the crying about this topic. If you do not wish something to be stolen, do not release it… It is as simple as that and just as unavoidable. Go talk to any shop owner selling anything anywhere… Find something else to put your energy into then attempting to cry humans into doing the right thing. Human beings will ALWAYS sink to the lowest possible dinominator, that is just simple logical fact.

  • http://www.mental-mastering.com Mythmonkey

    I know some big label signed artists that encourage their fans to pirate their music.

  • http://www.mauxuam.net mauxuam

    +1 @ Mike

    that is not charity !

    it is only another smart move to become more popular at the expenses of the of the real ppl.

    If Caterina Caselli, Ligabue, Zucchero and Jovanotti want to really help the could just donate a small percentage of their already huge incomes…instead of doing such a useless promotional thing…I mean useless for the ppl who actually need help…instead very useful to them (those big artists) to increase their popularity…and now they winging….ah….

    there is not such a problem like piracy…infact piracy doesn't exist…copying and sharing are fundamental human rights and the copyright is a bullshit religion created by the recording industry that killed live music to start with…so now maybe piracy will hopefully kill the recording industry and give life back to live (and free) music…

  • http://x2i.info E.X.P

    "there is not such a problem like piracy…"

    @mauxuam

    that is the stupidest thing i ever heard in my short life…

    nothing is free is in this world , or give me all your money right now since you don't need it.

    When you're downloading illegaly something , someone is paying for you, advertisers !

    Broadband that you use is not free. You pay a provider to be able to have internet.

    The site that host illegal content pays hosting service , and earn money via advertisment.

    Rapidupload sites are businesses , they are not CC non profit organisations , they earn loads of money from piracy and your humanist sharing bullsh*t.

    bittorrent is a company and they make money from their protocol. Google make money from audio blogs etc…

    In fact a lot of people make money from piracy , but artists does not receive a dime !

    So please stop saying that piracy is not a problem , there is companies that profits from artists and from you too , but you're too dumb to be aware of it.

    Of course , some artists are rich , but so is your bank , your phone company , your boss if you have a job , etc…

    do you go rob them? do you work for free? do you refuse to pay your bank charges because banks are rich? are artists being bailed out with your money like banks are? you should be yelling at your banks , not artists.

    Art is work , creation is work. it is not because you can pirate Logic and make a tune within 30 minutes that art has no value.

    If you think music is too expensive, stop buying it.

    now it is easy to copy music, so you do it , that why you do it. because it is easy.period

    if you could go to a store , take a good ,and walk out without paying it, you would do it cause it is easy , but stop searching excuses about downloading illegaly , it is robbery and you know it , you just do it because it is unlikely you'll get caught , period.

  • http://x2i.info E.X.P

    i don't juge anybody when they say they pirate content. i just want them to acknoledge the fact that they do it, not because sharing is a universal thing that transends capitalism bla bla bla, but because they are hidden behind there computer and nobody can stop them and there is little risk.

    Look at the Italian or the spanish music market now, it is like the one in Nigeria , it has been completely broken by piracy , there is no more serious music market in those countries.

    that music that we are talking about , is not about buying because it is a good or a bad track , it is about mobilizing people for a cause , i'm sure great italian artists already gave some of there money to charity , along with making this track for free.

    now they know that , even for a charity , for a great cause, people are selfish and can't control their nasty habits. that is what is really sad about this story , people don't give a damn nor a dime.

  • Mitchell Kehoe

    For the love of god.

    An artist has rights over how THEIR art is distributed. If you're against paying for music, listen to artists that don't charge for it. Whether or not charging money for music is right or wrong in your personal opinion, its up to the ARTIST to decide how he wants to sell (or not) HIS/HER album.

    All of the arguments I've heard in favor of piracy could only justify NOT BUYING MUSIC, but not STEALING it.

  • http://www.isle-of-avalon.co.uk gwenhwyfaer

    "An artist has rights over how THEIR art is distributed."

    Not naturally. An artist is granted a temporary monopoly on the distribution of their creations by the state; that's copyright. They may surrender that monopoly altogether or to a third party (they may even be contractually obliged to do so) and the law won't interfere with that.

    The state also recognises a moral right to be identified as an author of a work, a right which isn't transferable, but also doesn't come with anything else attached – it's just the right to have it known that "I made this".

    Whether copyright would be recognised in common law without statutory intervention is an interesting question; however, Britain has a very long-established tradition of common law, and as far as I know copyright has always been statutory. That strongly suggests that it wouldn't – that not only is it not a natural "right", as such, but that it isn't even something that could be codified within contract or tort, as recognised by the courts. So anyone claiming that copyright is somehow an inalienable moral right is onto a losing proposition from the off.

    Traditionally the morality of art has only been that under no circumstances do you claim someone else's work as your own. The idea that as an artist, you get to retain indefinite control over any reproduction whatsoever of your work is a very recent, and frankly a relatively fragile, concept – one that only came to exist because technology made it possible, and will naturally die out now that technology has made it trivial. Jumping up and down and insisting that you have RIGHTS dammit! has historically not been terribly successful in the long-term impedance of social evolution; it won't be this time either.

    I don't personally violate copyright; but I won't defend copyright either, any more than I could defend contemporary banking practices – or anything else that creates mirages by decree and then claims that they are more real than the physical world.

  • http://nwrecords.com gbsr

    some week or so ago i found this really great artist. i wanted to buy an album with him. i couldnt, because hes nowhere to be found here in sweden. i could probably import it from somewhere and pay the import fee and all that, but that doesnt help the artist whatsoever, nor can i afford it anyways. so i downloaded the album off the net and play it for everyone i meet instead. when/if he plays somewhere close i am going there, pay for the concert, buy the tshirts and buy the albums and tell him that hes awesome. so will all my friends, because they also have downloaded his album. we all agree that if it was available here, we would buy it without hesitation. infact, if it wasnt for the internet and this horrid horrid piracy, i wouldnt have heard him in the first place at all. go figure.

  • http://thomaspetercarter.tumblr.com/ Tom Carter

    OK – i am musician and i sell records. Here it is, you parasites –

    Music costs money to make. Unless the artist offers it for free download, if you want it, you should pay for it – especially for a charity song. Do these people have no sense of morality or fairness?

    ***

    Just because the internet allows you to rob people of their earnings it doesn't mean you SHOULD.

    ***

    Respect the artist and the artform and pay the price that is asked – or go without and make your own music instead. If you say you can't afford it, think how the artist must feel having lost income that was rightfully theirs.

    ***

    Copyright is an essential law that (tries to) protect artists and their work from an increasingly large number of people who clearly want to treat them like an open cash register in a bank raid. We are not your slaves, so stop ripping us off and either contribute to our work by buying music or stop listening to it.

    T

  • http://www.martin-brinkmann.de martin brinkmann

    i dont think calling people 'parasites' is very helpfull

    when you want to sell them records, and demand their

    respect.

    i dont have any respect at all for people who threaten civil rights like freedom of speech, privacy and

    separation of powers. (like the media companys do)

    these rights are far more valuable than music.

    i agree that you should not down/upload,advertize, or

    listen

  • http://www.martin-brinkmann.de martin brinkmann

    to tehir muzak. not even talk about it.

    make your own music instead!

    (sorry for accidentally hitting the submit-button too early)

  • http://thomaspetercarter.tumblr.com/ Tom Carter

    Martin Brinkmann – what has your 'freedom of speech, privacy and separation of powers' (whatever that is) got to do with artists who want to make a living from their art and actually earn what they are due from the sales of their music? Every illegal download is a chip off their income – which they deserve, whether they are rich and established or not – and they need that income to make the next album.

    What media companies are threatening these rights you list anyway?

    I wouldn't get to worked up about semantics, but If you don't like the word 'parasite', try 'criminal' instead. Do you walk into HMV, pick out what CDs you like, and then walk out without paying? Why is the theft of digital music any different? Bottom line is, people who are downloading illegally are hurting the artist most, and that is a real shame.

  • bah

    Yeah, Variety is a well established source for song piracy figures (that's sarcasm folks). Another trumped up story by the record labels to try and plead their case of being antiquated and useless. The writer of this articles presumes too much. 2 million downloads for a charity song? My ass. Has the writer even heard the song? Probably not, shows how much true research or fact goes into such quibbles.

  • http://www.martin-brinkmann.de martin brinkmann

    i knew my dictionary sucks…

    'seperation of powers' in german 'gewaltenteilung', is, amongst

    other things like free and secret votes the basis of democracy.

    maybe someone can give me a hint how its called in english?

    it is what 'judge dredd' is not.

    you might have noticed, that there are attempts to give some

    'judge dredd'-like powers to media companies. they want to

    investigate, judge, and punish the "media-pirates" themselves

    and bypass the courts. you might have heard of the

    "three strikes law" in france, which is only one example.

    (the french presidents wive is/was a pop-star, thus the law)

    concerning free speech: you are for example not allowed to talk

    about how to bypass 'copy-protection', a silly example is the

    "decss-song". everyone (me too) expected that the dmca would be

    scrapped soon, since 'free speech' is considered even more

    important on the left side of the atlantic ocean. it did not

    happen. (and of course we have our own dmcas here)

    its a bit scary how much power an economically relatively

    unimportant industry seems to have.

    i think artists supporting all this have a lot to with it.

    >Why is the theft of digital music any different?

    because it is not theft. it is illegal, but why theft? why not

    murder? duplicating something is not the same as taking

    something away. i dont think it is possible to argue

    with someone who does not agree to this.

    it is only a theory that the decay of the music-biz is caused

    by filesharing. i have not seen any convincing study which

    supports this theory. there are some, who say the opposite:

    more filesharing corresponds to more sales. but in any case

    that is hard to proove, since you never know what the people

    would have done if they had/had not downloaded the music.

  • http://thomaspetercarter.tumblr.com/ Tom Carter

    Martin Brinkmann -It is theft because you have stolen something that is otherwise only legally offered for sale – a CD by itself is only a piece of plastic. When you buy an audio CD by a band, you are buying the MUSIC – not just the materials.

    If I steal your money, your bank details or your identity online, do you think that is just a case of 'duplicating' something? If someone burgled your house or stole your wallet on the street, I hardly think you would stand there talking about 'rights' and 'freedom of speech' for the criminal – you would want your property back, and for the thief to be brought to justice. I have yet to be convinced why cyber-theft is any different, or why the issue of illegal downloading is an issue of freedom of speech in your eyes.

    I do not think that it is at all coherent to argue that there is a similarity between theft, illegal downloading and murder – are you for real?!

    Lastly, Judge Dredd is a fictional character and an irrelevant, somewhat hysterical diversion from the topic. I asked if you could site any ACTUAL examples where a media company was compromising the basic freedoms of an individual. The French '3 strikes' law is extremely sensible legislation that will help ALL musicians and music companies, not just Carla Bruni.

    Again, if you do not want to pay the fee an artist asks for their work, no one is forcing you to. If you can afford a computer, an internet connection etc, i think you can afford to buy music online.

    Good luck with you life!

  • salamanderanagram

    stealing implies taking something away from someone else. if you steal my wallet on the street, then i don't have my wallet anymore. if you download my music, i still have my music.

    if you download a copy of a piece of music, it is not stealing anymore than using a blank tape to copy a CD is stealing.

    if i've never heard an album before, i'm pretty unlikely to pay $20 (which takes me 3 hours of working a shitty job to make) to buy it. instead i usually download a shitton of music, delete most of it and buy copies of the stuff i want to keep.

    if you think that makes me a thief, i think you are an idiot.

  • http://www.martin-brinkmann.de martin brinkmann

    sorry, you do not understand anything, and i wont argue with someone who insists that 2+2=5.

    but i could email you a jpg of my 100 EUR note if

    you like.

    > The French ‘3 strikes’ law is extremely sensible

    > legislation

    no, its not.

    >i think you can afford to buy music online.

    of course i can, but i dont want to. (and of course

    i do not listen to, or illegally distribute it)

    i hate musicians who support sarkozy and the like.

    i feel guilty everytime i see my huge cd/record

    collection on the shelf. i helped to fund these fascists. i should sell all the crap…

  • http://www.mauxuam.net mauxuam

    I used to live with music…

    I don't anymore…and I don't complain…

    copying music that you would not buy is not stealing

    the italian music market is a the lowest point ever…sure…and they deserve it…years of shit pop music produced with huge budgets…low level of production and creativity….millions of horrible cds sold too expensive…incredibly stupid label managers…..this is what destroyed italian music (and not just the italian)…not piracy.

    volare…oh ooohh…

  • http://www.mauxuam.net mauxuam

    berlusconi…the prime minister of italy, one of the richest and more powerful man in the country…who also owns 3 major televisions channels and few radio networks…used to never pay to SIAE the copyright for the music he broadcast from his antennas…and reached a debt of 50 milion euro…off couse before he become prime minister…

    who are the pirates ?

  • salamanderanagram

    while pirating a charity song is clearly kinda selfish and strange, i also find it strange that this song costs $2.70 for an online copy and 5 euros for a physical copy. for one song? honestly that might be cutting into their sales as much as anything.

  • salamanderanagram

    also, "2 million downloads" is a weird thing to claim. unless there are some figures somewhere to back that up, which seems unlikely at the very least, i shall have to consider that to be a wildly inaccurate estimate more than anything.

  • http://www.isle-of-avalon.co.uk gwenhwyfaer

    Tom Carter asserts that musicians "are not [our] slaves". Quite right. Nobody is forcing any musician to sell their art. However, we are not their slaves either; nobody is owed a living, or has the right to demand that their business model be successful. The factors that made the model of selling copies of a musical performance a viable business model have been exposed as temporary – transient, even – and fragile. Industries have disappeared over lesser provocation. That the music distribution industry managed to become so wealthy in its brief existence is all the demonstration required of how much artists have been valued by society; but the demand from Mr Carter, and frankly all too many people like him, that we should continue to deliver him the lifestyle to which he has become accustomed – or rather, I suspect, we should continue to promise him the lifestyle to which the people whose success he envies have become accustomed – demonstrates a disturbing sense of entitlement that belies the reality of what artists actually do in furtherance of their art. Whilst this has been debated, I've actually heard people lamenting the injustice of having to work day jobs in order to produce music… a situation which surely only deserves the Babbage riposte.

    Sorry, Tom, but if you're relying on royalties to feed you, and those royalties are seriously jeopardised by the rise of the internet – then you're just not good enough. I'll happily respect your right to sit in a corner and whine that I'm not buying you your lunch. I'll happily take you at your word that I should therefore avoid your music. I'll do my best. I don't have any of your stuff anyway, but I promise that in the unlikely event that I hear one of your songs on the radio, I'll turn it off straightaway. Surely you can't complain about that, can you?

    …of course you will, and that suggests that you do actually want to hold the rest of society in perpetual servitude to your delusions of talent.

  • http://douban.com/artist/JOMO LH

    I'm also a working musician, and I'm sad to see musicians and recording artists forever on the losing side of this debate.

    If you want to see where piracy is leading the music business, you might consider China, where piracy is practiced openly, even by the Chinese equivalents of Google and Yahoo. Ten years ago or so, China had the beginnings of a thriving popular music industry. Artists like Teresa Teng and Faye Wong made good recordings that were recognized around the world. Today the music business is in shambles. Even artists who have built an enormous fan base find it difficult to break even.

    My musical partner and I recently released an album in China. We had more than 1/2 million song downloads from one of the big music portals here, and our CD is available on 100s of web sites in China. We have had two singles bouncing around the top of several online billboard-ish charts.

    We expect to make nothing whatsoever from the CD, which cost us (personally) about $50,000 (USD) to make.

    We will of course try to make up for some of the loss with live shows. But it is important to realize that as the recording business collapses, all of the pressure shifts to live music, and the marketplace is soon saturated. The result is that venues charge more for the use of their performance spaces, and expected ticket revenues fall since the number of people going to live music has not changed much while the number of live shows has shot up.

    We love music, so we will try to press on in spite of our financial losses. We spend much more time thinking about money than about music, and that is true for all the professional musicians and producers we know. It is a very difficult career path, to say the least.

    It's hard for me to understand all the animosity that seems to be directed toward musicians who ask for money for their recordings. When I read things like this:

    "that suggests that you do actually want to hold the rest of society in perpetual servitude to your delusions of talent."

    it takes my breath away. How on earth can a musician hold anyone else in perpetual servitude? What on earth are you talking about? Where does all this strange anger come from? *sigh*

    -LH

  • salamanderanagram

    @LH – i think even studio backed musicians make most of their money from touring, not album sales, but i could be wrong. courtney love wrote an interesting article in salon about it.

    but if you really sold that many albums or songs or whatever you could probably make as much (or more, probably) playing a single set as i do working for a full week.

    i sympathize, but i think the old business model is dead and is going to stay that way, for better or worse, and musicians will have to adapt. concerts and t-shirts are things that can't be downloaded.

  • http://douban.com/artist/JOMO LH

    <blockquote cite="salamanderanagram">

    but if you really sold that many albums or songs or whatever you could probably make as much (or more, probably) playing a single set as i do working for a full week.

    You mean "shared" and not "sold", haha. In any event, what you say is not at all true. The economics of live shows are not at all what you seem to think they are. IMO, you are ignoring both the costs and the risks of putting on shows. They are expensive to produce, expensive to move around, and risky because you must often put out cash (for venue, promotion, etc.) before you know how well tickets will sell. There is very stiff competition for people's leisure time; you are competing not only with other musicians, but with movies and video games and dance clubs and what-not.

    I could tell you stories all day long about successful recording artists who have lost enormous sums of money on live shows that turned out to be losing propositions for one reason or another. If you think that live music is a slam dunk get-rich-quick scheme, it most probably means that you don't have much first-hand experience with it.

    -LH

  • http://thomaspetercarter.tumblr.com/ Tom Carter

    My conclusion from reading over this discussion is that there needs to exist some kind of ‘Fair Trade’ system for musicians – not between artists and record companies, but between artists and audiences, for that is where the trust has been broken.

    Contrary to opinion, record companies are not the enemies of artists – in fact, they exist in almost all cases I know of for mutual betterment. Instead, it is the greed and selfishness of illegal file-sharing that is stifling the ability of artists and businesses to grow.

    To read comments such as – “stealing implies taking something away from someone else. if you steal my wallet on the street, then i don’t have my wallet anymore. if you download my music, i still have my music”.

    And

    “>i think you can afford to buy music online.

    of course i can, but i dont want to.”

    - is highly disturbing, and displays a sort of callous double standard towards the art you consume and the artist who made it that borders on cruelty. I am yet to understand why some people on this forum do not accept that every download they don’t buy but take for free illegally is not only disrespectful to the artist, but an act of theft that deprives the artist who created the work of a potential income. How can you possibly listen to and enjoy the work of an artist who you are so casually ripping off, especially if they are only a small artist?

    If I may answer the personal message directed to me –

    “the demand from Mr Carter, and frankly all too many people like him, that we should continue to deliver him the lifestyle to which he has become accustomed – or rather, I suspect, we should continue to promise him the lifestyle to which the people whose success he envies have become accustomed – demonstrates a disturbing sense of entitlement that belies the reality of what artists actually do in furtherance of their art”.

    I would like to say that I am not accustomed to a ‘lifestyle’, nor do I seek such a thing from my work. I am a musician and have made every sacrifice possible in my life to fund my work. I have no taste for waste or excess, and the money that I have made from sales of my music has been spent on buying myself the time and equipment I require to make more music.

    LH wonders , as do I, ‘Where does all this strange anger come from?’. I would suggest that jealousy, envy, and, perhaps most obviously from glancing at the various homepages of my critics, personal and artistic failure, are the cause. Perhaps if those who support illegal file-sharing were to gain some real-world experience of both music and business, and see how damaging music piracy is to the artists they listen to, they would develop a deeper level of conciseness and respect for the way they interact with the world. Assuming they won’t, I look forward to the 3 strikes rule being enforced in all the countries that adopt it.

  • salamanderanagram

    "If you think that live music is a slam dunk get-rich-quick scheme, it most probably means that you don’t have much first-hand experience with it."

    look man, i work a shitty job for $300 a week (when i can find work at all). i have friends who are DJs who make almost that much for one show. i'm not saying you'd be rich, i'm saying you'd make a better living than i do, doing somehthing you (hopefully) love. maybe i don't know anything about it, but if you can get 500,000 people to download your music, you should be able to get them to come out to some shows.

  • salamanderanagram

    "I am yet to understand why some people on this forum do not accept that every download they don’t buy but take for free illegally"

    you're making the assumption that because i download, i don't buy. if you had read my post you would know that not to be the case. in fact it's exactly the opposite – if i didn't have a chance to listen to music for free than i would NEVER EVER throw down $20 in the hopes that somebody i've never heard of makes music i like. not a chance. would you buy a painting without seeing what it looks like?

    but. give me the option to fully listen to something and then decide whether or not to buy it and it's completely different. if i like what i hear i will buy it, and attend your concerts when you come to town, and relentlessly hype your music to my friends.

    i haven't bought a new album without downloading it first since early 2000.

    "is not only disrespectful to the artist, but an act of theft"

    i call bull. repeating yourself is pointless, but… if i steal from you, i take away from you something that you have. by downloading your music i am doing no such thing.

    "that deprives the artist who created the work of a potential income."

    not any income you were going to get from me before i downloaded your song, so, not in my case, no.

  • http://www.isle-of-avalon.co.uk/ gwenhwyfaer

    LH: I'm not generally angry at musicians, even those who would like to find ways to monetise their artforms. However, I am prone to losing my temper with idiots who expect the rest of society to remain ossified so that they don't have to reconsider an ill-chosen form of revenue generation… and to be honest, anyone who's entered the music business this century can hardly have missed the writing on the wall. I especially find myself incensed with anyone who presumes to place a toll-gate on the communications I might have with my friends: "Hey, you're singingplaying my song down the phone! That's $250, please, for lost revenue; and in future, I expect you to refer your friend to my website, where I will sell him the right to listen three times for $5.99." Er… no.

    Likewise, I appreciate that live music is hardly the answer to disappearing revenue from album sales – suggesting that's rather like telling a blacksmith "Don't worry; think of all the glue and sausage skins you'll be able to sell!" – but then, maybe the question isn't "Now that this revenue stream is drying up, how do we share out the remaining puddles?" but instead, "Now that this seam of coal has been mined and exhausted, what's the next one?" And if it turns out that there aren't any more seams, that recording distribution was just an incredibly lucrative flash in the pan…

    As I say, industries do disappear. It's just that historically, they haven't tended to make as much money in as short a time as the recording industry did… I'm sure I'm missing hundreds of examples, but the one I know I'm not missing is the typewriter industry. How the world would have laughed had Olivetti and Imperial tried to legislate their way out of collapse the way Universal and Time-Warner are! – but they didn't. They either went bust, or diversified before it was too late. So must artists, if they believe they can find a way to commercialise their art – but there is nothing about being an artist that entitles you to do that, as your neighbourhood sculptor or portrait painter will surely tell you. Generally, art isn't a business you go into to make money; art's something you do because trying to not do it is as impossible as trying to not breathe. Indeed, it's arguable that "popular" musicians are about to find out just how difficult the rest of the artistic community (including the majority of other musicians! ask your neighbourhood orchestra, too – those people have bona fide musical talent and years of high-level training, yet generally end up making rather less than an office temp) have had it, compared with them – and if that frightens any musician who's had a hell of a time up until now and is hoping for that recording contract to one day make all their efforts worthwhile… coffee's up, hon – you're back on the same tiny, crowded raft as the rest of the art world.

  • http://douban.com/artist/JOMO LH

    "i’m not saying you’d be rich, i’m saying you’d make a better living than i do, doing somehthing you (hopefully) love."

    Fair enough. We're certainly going to try!

    Live music has the potential to pay much better than an ordinary wage-paying job, but it also has the potential for very great financial loss, which is something that an ordinary job usually doesn't have. In other words, you ordinarily don't need to bet big sums of money on a wage-paying job; if you show up then you will make whatever wage you've agreed to, by and large.

    I've known a half-dozen people, in my immediate circle of friends and colleagues, who have lost enormous sums — on the order of millions of RMB — on live shows that they were involved with in one capacity or another. In all cases, the artist(s) doing the performing had sold many recordings — had hit records on the radio. It's very risky stuff.

    You're right that DJs are doing well these days. It's kind of ironic; they often make much more than the artists who made the original recordings that they remix. They have tapped into what a lot of people want from live music these days, which is a good time and good beats, but not necessarily to sit passively and watch an artist or band perform.

    DJs have very low costs: they need relatively little equipment and have low production costs compared to conventional recording artists doing original music from scratch. Neither do they need to rent their performance venues: the clubs that DJs play in are making money by admissions and drinks, i.e., in the way that dance clubs and bars usually make money. So they (DJs) have a couple of big advantages today, and it is translating into good money for them.

    Good luck finding better work, your situation sounds rough …

    -LH

  • http://www.mauxuam.net mauxuam

    +1 to gwenhwyfaer

    Tom Carter…I think you might need to seel your Jaguar…or a couple of those Manley tube pre amps….the model you relay on to become rich is DEAD…after the discovery of the car…horses went out of biz….

  • http://douban.com/artist/JOMO LH

    <blockquote cite="gwenhwyfaer">Indeed, it’s arguable that “popular” musicians are about to find out just how difficult the rest of the artistic community (including the majority of other musicians! ask your neighbourhood orchestra, too – those people have bona fide musical talent and years of high-level training, yet generally end up making rather less than an office temp) have had it, compared with them – and if that frightens any musician who’s had a hell of a time up until now and is hoping for that recording contract to one day make all their efforts worthwhile… coffee’s up, hon – you’re back on the same tiny, crowded raft as the rest of the art world.

    Actually, it might surprise you to learn how many people in the "popular" music business are classical musicians by training. Many of them still work in classical music, others play jazz. It is not the case that everyone working in popular music is a no-talent dunderhead.

    I've come to the conclusion — and I think this thread reinforces my impression — that popular music has a miserable public image and is suffering enormously because of it. And perhaps that's deserved, I don't know.

    But what I want to say is this: it's not a matter of learning a bitter lesson, or being brough back down to earth, or returning to the same cold reality that other artists live in. The center of what concerns me is that it is not physically possible to make certain kinds of recordings without at least some money to pay for the making of them. In other words, what concerns me is that a form of art is likely to disappear. If it is indeed the world's verdict that recorded music has no value as art, then this doesn't matter: in that case it's good riddance. But if this is happening simply because, well, the internet happened and we all jumped up to defend of all its unanticipated side-effects in the name of progress, then it's a different matter, and it seems to me that we should stop and think about what we are doing.

    Orchestras, for all that one might say about the musicians in them and how much they earn (I've had lots and lots of friends who played in orchestras), are not in much danger of disappearing. They have settled into an economic model that it more or less stable and that keeps them going. (and going. and going. haha. can't get enough of the nutcracker and the 1812 overture haha.)

    painters are still able to sell canvases and sculptures. God help them if the day comes when someone invents a gizmo that can make a perfect physical replica of an object of art from (say) some kind of image of the original. Following the example of the internet, everyone will help themselves to the copies and leave the artist with the original and nothing to eat, haha.

    -LH

  • salamanderanagram

    mauxuam – been rocking out to yr music for the last year! great stuff… ever coming to the states?

  • http://www.isle-of-avalon.co.uk/ gwenhwyfaer

    WP:WEASEL, Mr Carter.

  • endekks

    I think the real points are:

    1) Maybe people like the music but don't like Italy?

    2) We need to find a way to download t-shirts.

  • http://www.isle-of-avalon.co.uk gwenhwyfaer

    LH:

    <blockquote cite="LH">Actually, it might surprise you to learn how many people in the “popular” music business are classical musicians by training. Many of them still work in classical music, others play jazz. It is not the case that everyone working in popular music is a no-talent dunderhead.

    I know it isn't. Forgive me; I can be notoriously bad at putting my perspective across in a way in which it can be understood. Most of the music I listen to – by miles – is popular music, specifically electronic music (which is probably obvious, given where we are). Quite a lot of that is made by classically trained musicians. I am not a failed musician, personally; I've never entertained even the childhood dream of a career in the music industry, simply because I've always known, and been comfortable with the fact, that my talents lie elsewhere. I'm quite happy to let the real musicians make music, and to buy CDs of it when I can afford it (I like physical media) and go without (except for internet radio) when I can't. This is why I get quite so annoyed with those who insist that anyone pointing out that the whole music industry was only a temporary aberration, existing in the brief and transient gap between the inventions of the gramophone (which made the high quality capture and reproduction of a musical performance possible) and the hi-fi ADC and the wide area network (which combined to make it trivial) must basically exist by downloading everything they can see, just because they can. Because I bloody well do not! – frankly, musicians should really be considering people like me the sober mates who are telling them they've had one too many and hailing them a cab, rather than screaming that we've slipped them a roofie and are trying to molest them!

    Maybe I should start using the nick "cassandra" instead…

    <blockquote cite="LH">I’ve come to the conclusion — and I think this thread reinforces my impression — that popular music has a miserable public image and is suffering enormously because of it.

    Not popular music per se, but the popular music business, certainly. I think the perception that it's been more business than anything else has become ingrained – now that there's a DIY alternative, people are all over it. Unfortunately, indiscriminately. And what should have been a revolutionary new way to make revolutionary new art is now painted exclusively as a handy way to "rip people off".

    Maybe one day, when the dust has settled and the dinosaurs have left the field, the fieldmice can begin to thrive and evolve. I'm increasingly tending towards the idea that we won't see what a sustainable popular music business looks like until the current actors have been forced off the stage; but in about a hundred years, when a few generations have grown up taking unlimited bandwidth everywhere for granted and knowing that you just can't charge for a copy of a recording (or, you know, a non-physical copy of anything), there will be a thriving music scene the likes of which we can't even begin to imagine today. It might not involve much money, but by then that might not actually matter.

    <blockquote cite="LH">The center of what concerns me is that it is not physically possible to make certain kinds of recordings without at least some money to pay for the making of them. In other words, what concerns me is that a form of art is likely to disappear.

    I think you need to be a bit more specific here. After all, few things have plummeted so far, in the last 20 years, as the cost of entry to music making… sure, you can spend silly amounts of money on it, but it's also possible to get results better than the state of the art a couple of decades ago with hardware you can scrounge off Freecycle and software you can download perfectly legally for free. Aural creativity has never had a lower entry price, and it's never been easier to get your music out into the world; increasing numbers, not only of established artists but of new entrants too, are eschewing record labels and just sticking their music online – and a fair few other actors are rethinking the concept of "record label" too. You fear for a form of art that might disappear (and anyway, don't you mean "disappear out of the reach of those without money"?) but perhaps you aren't properly accounting for the wonder of those artforms that have appeared, and will appear, in direct consequence of this new communications infrastructure before us?

    <blockquote cite="LH">Orchestras, for all that one might say about the musicians in them and how much they earn (I’ve had lots and lots of friends who played in orchestras), are not in much danger of disappearing. They have settled into an economic model that it more or less stable and that keeps them going.

    Again, I have to say, I'm not much good at expressing myself; you're kind of making my point for me. The economic model is stable, but more importantly it's tolerable for the people involved in it. If I weren't so agoraphobic (and consequently broke – difficult to earn money when you can't bear to be around people), I'd be seeking out classical recitals wherever I could. It directly contrasts with the economic model of selling copies of performances, which has been shown to be fundamentally unstable, as much so as the technology which underpinned it.

    <blockquote cite="LH">painters are still able to sell canvases and sculptures. God help them if the day comes when someone invents a gizmo that can make a perfect physical replica of an object of art from (say) some kind of image of the original. Following the example of the internet, everyone will help themselves to the copies and leave the artist with the original and nothing to eat, haha.

    And following the example of the music industry, if someone were to invent a replicator, they'd use it on bread first, try to solve the problem of how to feed everyone for nothing, and be legislated out of existence by a highly-financed lobby group led by Sainsbury, Tesco and Wal-Mart, long before it ever got used on art… Still, there are 3d "printers" in existence today, which at least start along the road to the scenario you describe. And then sculptors, too, will be in the same boat – except that they will have eagerly embraced the shiny new toys, just as musicians did.

    And anyway, as you say, painters can sell canvases, sculptors can sell sculptures, and hey, musicians can sell scores too – but what exactly can interpretive dancers sell? I can't see that the world will ever be easy for people whose art is transient and performance-based by nature. That hasn't seemed to stop them throughout history. As I said earlier, my own personal perspective is that any society which supports its poor through welfare should probably support its artists (and, indeed, anyone who wishes to be self-employed) the same way, on the grounds that a rich artistic life is as much a fundamental and necessary part of a civilised society as is the principle that we look after those who can't look after themselves.

    Mind, I've argued before that the arrival of ubiquitous, high bandwidth communications channels with a minimal entry cost is likely to be far more disruptive to the basic underpinnings of society and governance than simply to the music industry. The recording industry was an extremely sensitive canary; perhaps we should all take note, and clear out of any mineshaft which assumes that one can place limits upon the availability of information. (Arguably the House of Commons expenses office has just demonstrated itself another, slightly hardier canary; but the birds are frantically singing, and they don't look at all well.)

  • http://douban.com/artist/JOMO LH

    @gwenhwyfaer:

    Well, nothing much to say I guess. I'll go back to making recordings as best I can on whatever money I can scrape up, since I still feel passionately about it as an art form. Thanks for pointing out how cheap it has become, haha.

    I guess a mineshaft is a pretty good metaphor for the music business these days …

    -LH

  • Mitchell Kehoe

    More accurate than "stealing" is "counterfeiting" since you're illegally copying something.

    Still illegal.

  • http://www.martin-brinkmann.de martin brinkmann

    @tom carter

    >>“>i think you can afford to buy music online.

    >>of course i can, but i dont want to.”

    >- is highly disturbing, and displays a sort of callous

    > double standard towards the art you consume

    > How can you possibly listen to and enjoy the work

    > of an artist who you are so casually ripping off,

    > especially if they are only a small artist?

    the answer is very simple, and i will repeat it until

    you have understood it (or i am sick of it):

    i do not.

    i neither listen to it, nor do i ripp anything off.

    I IGNORE ALL COMMERCIAL MUSIC. (as good as i can…)

    the music i listen to is (almost entirely, i have mentioned

    my record collection which still exists) free music made

    by other 'amateurs' and classical music.

  • http://www.isle-of-avalon.co.uk gwenhwyfaer

    Martin, the one thing I've noticed in all of these debates, wherever I go, is that when you actually take up an artist on the "don't listen to it" option, in their eyes you instantly become worse than the very people against whom they are railing. At least a copyright violator is giving the copyright holder some attention; you and I are taking away not just their income, but their raison d'etre itself – we are rejecting their claim to have so unignorable a talent that society not only owes them a living, but also owes them the right to pretend they earned it by the sweat of their brow (rather than by the raft of ever more draconian laws that are brought into existence to attempt to shore up the dissolving copyright racket).

    I've never yet had an artist say to me "Oh, that's OK then, I believe you and I won't trouble you further" when I've told them I don't violate copyright myself, or that I'll be ignoring their work altogether in future, even if I could access it legally, as per their request. I think it's a safe prediction that I never will.

  • bliss

    Frankly, once people bought into the idea that the earth beneath their feet could be owned, discussions like this one became inevitable and predictable. Misery is the end result of pieces of paper bearing language that grants ownership of other living things, dead things, and even things that have never lived. Misery that has been legislated by and in favor of those whose business it is to profit from misery. There is no doubt that our legislators are miserable people who profit from the lucrative business of human misery.

    Any observant musician recognizes that music is something that cannot be owned — even those who would agree that the music they create is proprietary. At the end of a performance, a musician knows that the music performed is then collectively owned by those who happened to listen to the performance. The audience takes the music home in their minds. Some of them will say they carry it in their hearts. Some of them will hum and whistle the most memorable parts days, weeks, and even years later.

    The recorded music phenomenon took advantage of the consumer's desire for convenience. It was convenient for artists to record a single or an album and have listeners buy it in order to listen to the music anywhere, anytime. Because of that, an artist's audience grew without the artist being physically present — and a multi-billion dollar industry sprung up to exploit that convenience. Music labels, radio, TV, film, the advertising industry, the automobile industry, shopping malls, bars, and dentist offices all exploited and profited from music's ubiquitousness. And legislation followed that enabled music industry captains to profit from and own the biggest, most important slice of the pie — the music itself. The reality is that if one wants financial compensation for one's musical works, one must court misery. And whenever financing is built into the transaction — think, recording contracts — misery is also built into the transaction.

    To measure the impact of file sharing on musicians solely in financial terms is to miss the most important part of the picture. The total cost has to take into account our current state of misery. Are we as miserable as we've ever been? Are we less miserable today than we have been in the past? Does our misery to happiness ratio resemble Wall Street's current debt to equity ratio? These are important questions to ask. However, the underlying question is, do you love to make music? Because if you do, then the cost to benefit ratio of making music should be in your favor.

  • http://www.isle-of-avalon.co.uk/ gwenhwyfaer

    bliss, you have it exactly!

  • bliss

    There is one correction I'd like to make. "There is no doubt that our legislators are miserable people who profit from the lucrative business of human misery" should read, "There is no doubt that many of our legislators are miserable people who profit from the lucrative business of human misery." There are some who work towards our best interests.

  • http://www.myspace.com/elephantfactory oletorjus

    I mean, I don`t see how anyone could not feel like shit when telling people that work their asses of at work doing things they dont really enjoy at all that they are damned that they dont spend all their money on buying their records so that they can live a sweet life doing just what they want to do and love the most? And calling them paracites just because they love what you do? Lets get some perspective here..

  • http://douban.com/artist/JOMO LH

    <blockquote cite="bliss">Frankly, once people bought into the idea that the earth beneath their feet could be owned, discussions like this one became inevitable and predictable.

    I can certainly understand why someone would be opposed to all notions of property. I'm currently living in China, and no one can own land in China — the government owns all of it, and it granst leases for doing things like putting apartment buildings up, etc.

    Perhaps you favor such a property system (or should I say, non-property system) worldwide.

    It seems a little bit unreasonable to me, though, to start with musicians, haha. I mean, why not begin with Microsoft and Intel and Apple. Strip them of their patents and trade secrets and copyrights first. Let all that intellectual property be distributed to the masses. Then maybe next (haha) the film industry. Both of those industries make far (FAR) more money from intellectual property than the poor music business, which is at this point hardly a business at all.

    Many of you folks seem very mean-spirited to me, I must say. You speak about musicians as though they are thieves and robber barons. Virtually all of the musicians I know struggle to pay their rent and to buy basic necessities. I have a dear friend who has worked in the recording business in Shanghai for years. He lives in an unspeakable apartment, about 10ft square, and is forever having health problems (which he can ill-afford). As I read the posts here, I feel that many of you have no heart concerning such people. You speak of them as though they are wealthy millionaires lying around on the beach. How can you be so far out of touch with reality? Do you really believe, in the big picture of things, that musicians are big earners and rich people?

    -LH

  • http://douban.com/artist/JOMO LH

    oops, quoted myself along with bliss; sorry 'bout that.

  • salamanderanagram

    "Many of you folks seem very mean-spirited to me, I must say. You speak about musicians as though they are thieves and robber barons."

    i think it's more that musicians who actually get paid to do what they love are extremely lucky!

    for those working hard to make ends meet and making music for free or for fun, it seems like getting any compensation at all is a great deal.

    of course, those making music for free/fun are usually not spending $50,000 to make an album, or getting 500,000 downloads!

    the bottom line, really, is that relying solely on album sales is not now a reliable source of income for musicians. i think big studio bands have always toured to make money as most album sales go to paying back the studio for making and releasing the album, but i may be wrong about that. while this sucks, yelling at (non)consumers about it helps nothing, as good as it may feel.

  • http://douban.com/artist/JOMO LH

    <blockquote cite="salamanderanagram">i think it’s more that musicians who actually get paid to do what they love are extremely lucky!

    for those working hard to make ends meet and making music for free or for fun, it seems like getting any compensation at all is a great deal.

    how is this any different from professional versus amateur in any other domain? I play basketball in the evening for fun. Does that mean I should be bitter towards NBA players? Or that I should make the leap that because some NBA players are very wealthy, that everyone connected to professional sports is a multimillionaire? We should strip the ball boy of his pay because he is lucky just to be able to rub elbows with NBA stars?

    <blockquote cite="salamanderanagram">of course, those making music for free/fun are usually not spending $50,000 to make an album, or getting 500,000 downloads!

    I'm obviously not doing it only for free or fun; I have a recording contract. But again, I wonder how many of the participants in this thread understand the economic realities of recording contracts these days. Recording budgets are nothing like they were a decade or so ago. Beyond what a label puts into a recording, the artist must do for him/herself. Very few of the recording artists I know can depend entirely upon their label's budget to finance the production of a CD. The "Manley Tube preamp" that mauxuam smirked at in his post above is a piece of recording equipment, for crying out loud. It has to be supplied either by the record label or by the artist or someone. I mean, unless mauxuam knows something the rest of us don't about getting microphone-level signals into a DAW without amplifying them. Sheesh.

    It's a lot easier to deride and knock down and belittle than it is to make good music and get it released in the current environment.

    -LH

  • http://douban.com/artist/JOMO LH

    <blockquote cite="salamanderanagram">i think big studio bands have always toured to make money as most album sales go to paying back the studio for making and releasing the album, but i may be wrong about that. while this sucks, yelling at (non)consumers about it helps nothing, as good as it may feel.

    it's such a popular myth that it is now taken as fact and used to explain why it should not matter to artists if all the money that was previously made from selling recordings suddenly disappears. the argument goes like this: since artists had to pay back all the production costs to the label anyway, then it should not matter to artists if this money disappears; because then there is simply nothing to pay back. they can keep their performance revenue. so they'll actually come out ahead!

    What's missing is the actual recording, haha. This equation does not explain how new recordings of high quality will be produced. How do you produce something that costs money to produce, recordings that go beyond what can be done using only a computer and one's own individual musical efforts?

    Someone has to pay for the making of good recordings. It does not matter much (to me anyway) who it is, so long as it gets done somehow. A band with no recording or only a low-quality recording is free to tour and keep its revenue, that's true, but it is much less likely to succeed than a band with well-produced recordings.

    That's not to even mention promotion of the recordings, which is another big can of worms, haha.

    Another thing (haha): I have not, as far as I know, yelled at anybody about anything. I have certainly never yelled at a consumer or nonconsumer, fan or critic. I know perfectly well that most people who hear our recordings listen to illegally downloaded copies, and I have never once chided or scolded anyone about that, nor even mentioned it in fact. I am much less of a scold and a moralist than the very vocal anti-copyright types who frequent this forum, haha. My partner and I (and our producer) are concerned about only a very few things: how do we make the next recording? How can we make it better than the last recording? And how do we make ends meet until then?

    -LH

  • http://douban.com/artist/JOMO LH

    dammit, I'm really not good at the quoting thing. sorry. :-P

  • salamanderanagram

    i can only say it so many times – sorry that it hasn't worked out for you but the business model is changing and you will have to change with it.

    "The “Manley Tube preamp” that mauxuam smirked at in his post above is a piece of recording equipment, for crying out loud"

    the thing costs more than my entire studio, and the more expensive ones are more than i make in a year. music gear that expensive i think is dying out. some of the best producers in the game right now just use a daw and some plugins and some simple equipment. $10,000 amps are unnecessary. sorry.

  • bliss

    LH, it's not so much being opposed to notions of property, as it is taking a close look at what belief in property ownership does to people. Personally, I think that it's much healthier to have the attitude that things which are considered property be thought of as being designated for one's use for a limited period of time. We would be much less miserable if we had the sense that natural and artificial things are not at our disposal, but rather are available for us to use in limited ways for limited periods of time. If we thought this way and it formed the core of our societal belief systems, methods of preservation, sustainability, and renewability would be naturally built into the system. But our system is based on development, consumption, and disposability. Because of this, it's not a small wonder that artists such as your friend and my friends suffer.

    We being musicians is a rather insignificant point, really. The fact that humans collectively and individually impact the total value of all available human resources relative to the global economic system is far more significant. It is not a small wonder that said economic system determines that some nations are without value, and thus can be entirely dismissed.

    Again, focusing solely on the financial aspect while ignoring the human aspect is what put us in this mess in the first place. That we ignored the environmental aspect is at least equally important.

    Our trials as musicians are but a symptom of a larger malaise. Our system, i.e., our traditional ways of doing business is coming to a close — but we're not exactly sure what the root cause is. We believe it to be many things; corruption at all levels of the system is one of them, a lethargic public is another, short-sightedness is another. Read the business section of any online news source to get a sense of the panic corporations, large and small, are feeling. Many are hemorrhaging, many are near collapse. As far as music is concerned, the fact is that most music production is financed to some extent, and so losing financing means musicians will suffer. Musicians are suffering because fewer acts are being signed to record labels. Loss of royalties due to poor CD sales, for whatever reason, means musicians suffer. If you have too many live acts playing locally on any given night of the week, musicians will suffer. Fewer tourists at resorts, musicians suffer. However, the obvious point here is that musicians are not the only people suffering.

    Today recorded music is abundant to an unlimited extent, and that means it's not worth as much as it used to be. That's a fact we have to get over. If you have to work a day job, work a day job. No one is guaranteed a living from creating art. But — suffer for your art if you have to. At least your pain and joy of the process are yours alone.

  • bliss

    ^^^(Pardon the grammatical errors. I copy and pasted the wrong and not fully edited version. But it's pretty much what I wanted to say.)^^^

  • aaron

    haha.. some moron named Tom tried to school Martin Brinkmann.. that is something I find very hilarious.

  • http://douban.com/artist/JOMO LH

    <blockquote cite="salamanderanagram">$10,000 amps are unnecessary. sorry.

    no apology necessary! I guess it follows that things like grand pianos and exotic instruments and expensive microphones and all those other remnants of the gilded age of capitalist excess in music (haha) are now things of the past.

    The Brave New World is a more difficult place to make a good vocal recording than the Old World, I think it has to be said. :-)

    -LH

  • http://www.isle-of-avalon.co.uk gwenhwyfaer

    LH:

    <blockquote cite="LH">no apology necessary! I guess it follows that things like grand pianos and exotic instruments and expensive microphones and all those other remnants of the gilded age of capitalist excess in music (haha) are now things of the past.

    Grand pianos are lovely for performance, and of course, they do cost rather a lot of money. But how many concert pianists gig with their own grand piano? In reality, and by necessity, the costs of a concert-ready grand piano will be borne by the venue. Or by the recording studio, of course – and recording studios are not noted for receiving royalties.

    (But grand pianos are probably not the best examples available, now that Pianoteq can provide anyone with a very easily recorded, beautifully modelled grand piano for a couple of hundred bucks.)

    Now granted, it is possible to gig a Stradivarius. But would any violinist worth their salt ever dare? Maybe once or twice a year, for very special occasions; even if they were more foolhardy, their insurance company would probably have some stern words on the matter. More exotic instruments? Well, oddly enough, the rarity of an instrument doesn't necessarily correspond to monetary value; indeed, some obscure instruments are actually relatively cheap.

    Expensive microphones…? Again, that's a cost that one would generally expect the studio to meet; any studio worth its salt ought to have a range of mics on tap, the selection of which should have been guided by quality and variety rather than price. In any case, they're a one-off investment, to be repaid over time. That even applies to the Manley tube pre-amp.

    And you know, there's a reason the high end gear is unfeasibly expensive – it's precisely because it's expected that studios (concert halls, etc) will buy it, than individual musicians. And once upon a time, you had to book studio time to make a decent recording. That all changed a decade or so ago, of course, with consequent, disastrous effects on the studio business (although venues, of course, continue to do OK… at least until some ideologue decides to ban smoking).

    And, yes, if you're talking about simply making a competent recording of a musical performance, $10k preamps are unnecessary. They'll come into their own in the hands of a pro who knows exactly when they will make the difference between excellent and breathtaking, but they aren't fairy dust to sprinkle on mediocre; frankly, high end gear is wasted on someone who can't make a compelling recording with a portastudio and an SM57.

    <blockquote cite="LH">I have a dear friend who has worked in the recording business in Shanghai for years. He lives in an unspeakable apartment, about 10ft square, and is forever having health problems (which he can ill-afford). As I read the posts here, I feel that many of you have no heart concerning such people. You speak of them as though they are wealthy millionaires lying around on the beach. How can you be so far out of touch with reality?

    I'm sorry to hear about your friend's situation. I hope something happens to change it. But you have to understand, the amount musicians earn from copyright is of no bearing to the morality of it whatsoever. I fully understand that most musicians will never earn a living from their royalties – but the fact that they and their chosen representatives have campaigned for a series of ever-stricter laws to ensure that they are awarded more of those royalties, for longer, and have the power to throw people in prison and bankrupt them for doing perfectly natural everyday things if they don't get those royalties…? That is immoral and foul, and I cannot support it. (In particular I am disgusted beyond measure that what should be a matter of civil law between private parties is now routinely pursued through the criminal courts; I cannot adequately express how morally abhorrent I find that situation.)

    As I say, I'm sorry for your friend, and I hope he finds a way out of his misery (if, indeed, he is miserable) – but holding society at large to ransom cannot and should not be that way out. If artists truly believe themselves to need financial support over and above what they can attract fairly in a free marketplace, then they should campaign for artists' welfare. But copyright has always had to be supported by statute, and has therefore never been part of a free market – and that's even less true today.

  • http://www.isle-of-avalon.co.uk gwenhwyfaer

    An aside: Rereading Tom Carter's contributions earlier, I was amused to read the phrase "the greed and selfishness of illegal file-sharing". Yes, those greedy selfish people, sharing their stuff with anyone who asks and expecting nothing in return. How dare they!

    I'm sure such things were also said of the Diggers.

  • http://www.plastikjoy.com Fannar

    @martin brinkmann "i feel guilty everytime i see my huge cd/record

    collection on the shelf. i helped to fund these fascists. i should sell all the crap…"

    LOL it's funny to see you talk about how music should be free and by buying CD's you helped fund "these fascisct" but you still talk about SELLING your CD's !! If music is free why don't you just put those CD's out on the street… Oh wait … you paid for it, therefore you don't want to loose money.. The artist doesn't want to loose money for his hard work either !

  • http://www.martin-brinkmann.de martin brinkmann

    @fannar

    i don not talk about "how music should be free".

    of course you are right concerning 'selling my records'.

    i have not thought good enough about it, and

    'sell that crap' was just the 2nd best i came across after

    i found out that 'burn that crap' would not be ideal.

    of course i should give away my collection for free, though

    putting it on the street is not what i want. (i want to give

    my records only to people who otherwise would have bought it)

    any suggestions?

    i think when i reached the point that i cant even listen to

    monolake(*) anymore without having to think of teenagers sued for

    ridiculous high amounts, eavesdropping internet communication,

    corrupt politicians making anti-democratic laws, drm and all this,

    i will do exactly that: give away my records.

    (*) of course monolake is not (that ;) ) evil. my monolake cds

    will be among the last ones i give away.

  • http://www.martin-brinkmann.de martin brinkmann

    sorry, grammar error. luckiely i am still able to enjoy listening to monolake.

  • Andre

    @bliss

    I appreciate your effort to try to bring a "bigger picture" view on the subject, but we should probably focus a little bit:

    1 – it is getting harder and harder for musicians (especially independent ones) to make a living out of music (particularly in the current economic climate, capitalism's meltdown, etc)

    2 – musicians should not rely solely on record sales – however that doesn't mean that shouldn't be compensated for their hard work somehow; the problem is that no one has been able to completely figure out an ideal model where a fair price is paid and where we don't have a recording industry chasing down kids who download tracks; maybe introduce an "internet tax for content" as some suggested in the past? that would probably also be tricky; i honestly don't know)

    3 – as I said in my previous post, even though some sort of model should be found for paying for recorded music, musicians should distribute some of their music free – it helps capture new audiences

    4 – all that considered, a musician's main revenue should be performing live; that is what music is manly about anyway.

    My fear is that the current climate will end up devaluing live music as well

    Finally, to quote what you said:

    "Today recorded music is abundant to an unlimited extent, and that means it’s not worth as much as it used to be. That’s a fact we have to get over. If you have to work a day job, work a day job."

    I respectfully (and totally) disagree. We shouldn't just accept involution, we should be lookking for a new model. You may not mind returning to a sort of dark age where music is a luxury for rich people while most people barely have the time to practice their instrument (analogue or electronic) and barely have money to afford buying the tools they need – but personally, I have a problem with that situation.

    Stockhausen, Miles Davis, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, NIN, Arcade Fire, etc. All musicians I consider brilliant (that's only my opinion, of course) – and regardless of the times they lived in or in which business model they operated – they all managed somewhow to become full-time musicians – one of the main reasons they eneded up writing brilliant stuff and performing amazingly.

    What you're proposing is that we simply accept a vicious circle of continuous devaluation of music and lowering of artistic standards.

    Just because copying music isn't exactly like stealing (although it IS a little bit like stealing, one might argue) it doesn't mean musicians shouldn't be entitled to make a living out of their art, especially when they manage to find an audience.

  • Andre

    PS – sorry for the typos

  • http://douban.com/artist/JOMO LH

    <blockquote cite="gwenhwyfaer">Expensive microphones…? Again, that’s a cost that one would generally expect the studio to meet; any studio worth its salt ought to have a range of mics on tap, the selection of which should have been guided by quality and variety rather than price.

    My head is spinning. I thought that studios were part and parcel of the "dinosaur" whose extinction we are witnessing and sometimes applauding and perhaps even encouraging, to make way for the fieldmice of the future. While they are not noted for receiving royalties, as you say, studios are noted for needing to pay for their equipment and electricity and rent. They certainly can't go on tour, haha, although I'm sure that before it's all over, someone will chide them for not going on tour.

    Anyway: studios are going the way of the dodo. So our expensive microphone needs a new home. Mauxuam thinks it's ridiculous for an artist to own it. God knows we wouldn't want it to fall into the hands of someone who could, you know, use it. So who is going to pay for and own the wonderful microphone?

    The answer is: some doctor or lawyer who likes to play rock star in his spare time at home. He will buy the microphone in a fire sale and use it to record his own bad singing on weekends, haha. Cue the field mice.

    It probably sounds like I'm being snarky, but I think the scenario I've written down is realistic and is actually what is happening, by and large.

    <blockquote cite="martin brinkmann">i cant even listen to

    monolake(*) anymore without having to think of teenagers sued for

    ridiculous high amounts, eavesdropping internet communication,

    corrupt politicians making anti-democratic laws, drm and all this,

    I sure am glad I read your post! Up until I read it, I thought record labels were failing right and left, going bankrupt willy-nilly and dropping like flies. I myself was signed to a record label that went bankrupt less than a year after I signed with them. Everything I read, and every first-hand contact I have with record labels indicated to me that they are finished: headed for the dustbin with virtually no hope of being saved.

    But it turns out, as I learn from what you've written, that record labels have actually prevailed over the internet! They have had their way, legislatively. Far from being victims of piracy, they have imposed their will on the public, and indeed they have gone even farther than that, and have granted themselves extra advantages, the way that the most powerful monopolies always do: with impunity. All the artists whining about the loss of copyright revenue is silly and nonsensical: in fact the copyright laws are being enforced and indeed over-enforced!

    The music business is in fat city.

    I have to reconsider all my experience in the music business after reading this!

    -LH

  • http://www.isle-of-avalon.co.uk/ gwenhwyfaer

    <blockquote cite="LH">I thought that studios were part and parcel of the "dinosaur" whose extinction we are witnessing

    Sorry that my use of metaphor confuses you.

    <blockquote cite="LH">studios are noted for needing to pay for their equipment and electricity and rent.

    And for charging hourly and daily rates to cover those expenses, and make some profit on the side.

    But more generally, you seem to be suggesting that the fate of studios can be traced directly to the undermining of recording copyright. Um – I think you'll find that difficult to prove; I certainly don't accept it as a given. I think the two declines have related causes; but aside from anything else, I strongly suspect that the demise of the studio predates the rise of P2P – simply because computers became powerful enough to replace outboard gear a little while before the communications infrastructure underpinning the Internet became fast enough to allow for the fast transfer of large-ish files. Not very long, but enough to dispose of any possibility of causality.

    Anyway, your own view of the fate of vintage gear seems unnecessarily elitist. What's wrong with a doctor hoovering up a premium mic through which to scratch out a shaky Love Me Tender after a stressful day, er, saving people's lives and livelihoods? Am I wrong to be sensing that you believe music far too important for just anyone to play with…?

  • http://www.isle-of-avalon.co.uk/ gwenhwyfaer

    Ah. My turn to screw up the quoting, it seems.

  • bliss

    @ Andre

    I made two basic points about value. The first referred to financial value. Do you see people willing to pay for music at the same prices they paid nine years ago? I used to make my living buying and selling music for a national record retailer. $15.99 – $19.99 was the average price range for CDs regardless of whether they were new releases, recent releases, or catalog. And even then, back in 2001, folks complained about Sony/Columbia, Prestige, and Verve catalog prices that were in the $7.99 – $9.99 range. The were basically three price range tiers for CDs: $15.99 – $19.99, $11.99 – $14.99, $7.99 – $9.99 and all distributors, majors and independents, adhered to that structure. Imports commanded prices from $19.99 – $32.99.

    Customers routinely complained of new release CDs priced on sale at $8.99 or $9.99, CDs that were regularly priced from $15.99 & $19.99, but they still bought them. And they mainly bought them because anywhere one shopped, the pricing structure was the same — especially for Top 10 – 100 titles. There might have been a little variability for some hot titles, but why travel 20 – 30 minutes just to save 79¢ – 99¢? The cost in time and transportation would defeat the savings.

    Consumers determine the value of goods and services — not the providers of goods and services. In other words, prices are determined on what the market will bear. So you can go on an on about the "dark ages", which was not the point I made, but the truth is that file sharing has impacted what people are willing to pay for music. In the marketplace, music is not worth what it used to be.

    Pre-recorded music is now used as loss-leaders for big box retail chains like Wal-Mart and Target. Whereas a brick & mortar store used to be able to operate profitably from music sales alone, the sale of CDs at steep discounts is now used to bait customers into stores with the hopes of also selling them plasma TVs and surround sound audio systems. Music is not worth what it used to be.

    The fact that any music title can be digitally copied an infinite amount of times at no cost to file sharers, uploaders and downloaders, means that the music being shared has no financial value –think, zero value — between those who are sharing the music. All of the distribution systems used are available to any person on the globe with an Internet connection.

    A side note: The file sharing boom really exploded with Napster. The main offenders were mostly people who could afford to buy music. Wealthy and middle class college students (people who used to spend a high percentage of their disposable income on music), and tech industry professionals (mostly Web development types). Those were the people who had easy access to broadband connections on college campuses and in tech industry workplaces. Compared to today, very few homes had broadband connections at that time. Earthlink dial-up was still the most popular way to connect to the Internet.

    The other point about value that I made referred specifically to musicians. If a musician loves to make music, then the intrinsic value of that should be greater than what they expect to earn from their music being commodified. Likewise, listeners who love music don't stop at price points in order to support artists. They not only buy music, but they also attend concerts, music festivals, and some buy memorabilia.

    One of the main ways music lovers have supported their favorite music artists has been by giving away copies of recordings to their friends. That is a time-tested truth that has been around since the widespread availability of audio recording devices. By giving away copies of music, music lovers helped to increase an artist's audience. Indeed many artists became musicians because a relative or friend gave them a copy of an album that he or she loved. So the value of sharing music cannot be easily dismissed.

    There have been many valid points raised in this discussion, but the picture is complex and many things should be considered. We can sit and complain in our little corner all we want, but until the picture improves for most people, regardless of whether they are musicians or not, it is not likely that the picture for musicians will improve to any significant measure, financially speaking. But the intrinsic value of music can only endure within those who love music.

  • bliss

    @ Andre

    Even when new and successful business models are created that work for the sale of music, you can bet that those models will not be used exclusively for the sale of music. Art, entertainment, and media are no longer mutually exclusive of one another. Though, if you're talking Pablo Picasso, that could be argued as an exception. But if you're talking Andy Warhol or Takashi Murakami, then you get my point.

  • http://douban.com/artist/JOMO LH

    Anyway, your own view of the fate of vintage gear seems unnecessarily elitist. What’s wrong with a doctor hoovering up a premium mic through which to scratch out a shaky Love Me Tender after a stressful day, er, saving people’s lives and livelihoods? Am I wrong to be sensing that you believe music far too important for just anyone to play with…?

    I'm sad because many good musicians that I know will no longer have access to good recording equipment, while wealthy people with no hint of musical talent will. Is that elitism, haha? I think it's the very opposite of elitism. Elitism is seeing it as perfectly appropriate that only the rich and well-heeled have access to music-making equipment, while those with talent have to do without.

    -LH

  • http://douban.com/artist/JOMO LH

    <blockquote cite="bliss">If a musician loves to make music, then the intrinsic value of that should be greater than what they expect to earn from their music being commodified.

    What a lot of abstract nonsense! You should get out and meet some real musicians.

    If someone can't afford to make music, because they are buried under an impossible burden of earning money from activities unrelated to music-making, then there is no music to be commoditized. There simply is no music in the world from them. There is a flipped hamburger or a poured espresso or a washed car or whatever from their hands, but no music. Because they don't have time, and even if they did have time, they are not the lucky doctor or lawyer who can buy whatever computers and other recording equipment they need to make good recordings. But the most important thing is time. What being a professional musician buys you is the time to spend getting better at music and making better music.

    You speak as though the whole problem were some abstract tradeoff between spiritual value and material value. The problem is infinitely more concrete and material than that: how do you find the time and the equipment to make good recordings in a world where good recordings are worth $0? The best answer to this is: you get an unrelated job that pays you lots of money and you solve the problem using that money. This is an answer that works for a doctor but not for someone whose only skill in life is making music!

    -LH

  • DooKoo

    Prior to some time around the mid 1800s, musicians were supported by patrons: royalty, wealthy merchants, the Church, etc. who showed off their musicians' skill as a sign of their own power. Perhaps we will return to this system; for example, a large corporation, wealthy family, or local municipality might keep a musician on retainer to work exclusively for them, creating special music for their landmark announcements and social events. In the 21st century, the university functions as a patron for some musicians, keeping them to teach students and compose/perform new music. I even know a couple of people who serve in the military by playing in the Marine band and a couple of organist/composers who have full-time gigs performing and composing for large religious institutions. Maybe the era of the individualistic/independent artist is coming to a close, and we will return to the prior tradition of "functional" music, written in support of religion, the government, and the wealthy.

  • http://douban.com/artist/JOMO LH

    @DooKoo: +!

    You don't have to wait and wonder: what you describe is happening now.

    It is what has happened in China, where intellectual property is considered toilet paper and piracy is practiced openly by major companies. The government has become the most important "artistic" (cough) force in the country, and musicians scramble around looking for opportunities to get government grants of various kinds for making music. The Olympics (which was government-organized over here) was perhaps the most significant musical event of the last decade from the point of view of arrangers, composers, etc. Of course, the government has an agenda, and when a composer plays this game, something of the independence and freedom of expression of the individual artist is lost.

    It is also what is happening when artists sign commercial endorsement deals with big corporations. They agree to push the point of view of their corporate sponsor in exchange for money. You won't find a music who is sponsored by Microsoft taking a public position against Microsoft's monopolistic activities, for example.

    In the U.S., lots of contemporary musicians scramble for the tiny budget doled out by the NEA and other such government agencies. But of course during the Bush administration this came with a host of political and even religious strings attached. It is a system that is easily abused and manipulated by those who control the purse.

    It's an irony, to say the least, and it's more than a little bit ridiculous that it's being egged on (not to say, implemented and carried out) by a bunch of folks who think they are tearing down the institutions of power, democratizing music, etc. Nothing could be farther from the truth. But it seems inevitable at this point that we will drive headlong into the new reality before looking it squarely in the face to see whether that's really where we want to go.

    -LH

  • JN

    I'm pretty late to this discussion, but I wanted to give Tom Carter the good news: nobody is downloading your stuff!

    Also, why is nobody challenging the assumption that the capitalist model is the best one for musical and artistic production, or for other forms of production?

  • http://douban.com/artist/JOMO LH

    <blockquote cite="JN">Also, why is nobody challenging the assumption that the capitalist model is the best one for musical and artistic production, or for other forms of production?

    I think several of the contributors to this thread have questioned that assumption. I for one agree that the discussion should place this question front and center. I think that this, and the closely related question of whether copyright and other forms of intellectual property have a place in the modern world, are the very heart of this issue.

  • bliss

    @ LH

    I'm sorry that you are not as resourceful as ALL the musicians I know. The musicians I know make music regardless of whether they make money or not. They teach music, they're in cover bands, they compose in their free time, they give music lessons outside of a formal environment, AND they get together with friends to make music just for the fun and love of it.

    The writer of this blog, Peter Kirn, does so many music related things it's near impossible for me to keep track of what he does. He does SO MANY things that it is clear to all who follow his blog closely that he would be making music if it never earned him a dime. And he's not unique, there are many, many musicians who are as passionate as he is. Some of them are software engineers, doctors, lawyers, school teachers, plumbers, mail carriers, record store clerks, fast food clerks, janitors — unemployed living at home with the parents for awhile types, which means they're damn near homeless but make music anyway — and I met one guy who started his own pest control company after he got screwed over by a major label back in the 90s. He actually goes out into the field and exterminates whatever pest has invaded a customer's home that needs exterminating, and in the evening after work he – makes – music. He told me that he loves music so much that he crawls underneath homes for a living so that he doesn't have to give up music. That's passion! Period.

    If you want to be a commercial musician first, despite having any love for what you do, then you can do that. In fact, many people do because they can. Because they have musical skills that translates into earning power. These people could be doctors or lawyers or politicians, but that doesn't mean that they are passionate about helping people. They are only passionate about acquiring wealth. And if you are that kind of musician, then you have plenty of company. But the clue that you don't seem to have that those kinds of musicians typically have, is that they don't sit around waiting for CD royalty checks — they are first and foremost hustlers, and so they always have something going on on the side that's going to keep their bills paid, and being a musician is just one of those things that makes them money. If making music stopped earning them money, then they would no longer make music — it would be replaced by something else that would earn money. Something else that fits their cost to benefit ratio much better.

    But those who love music make it because the benefit of making it outweighs the cost. And these are the people who are responsible for inspiring others to make music. Their passion for music readily apparent. If you are this kind of musician, great. If not, then you're wasting your time here because you could be getting your hustle on elsewhere that would do much more for your bank account and time spent than arguing on a blog about something that couldn't care two cents about would do for either of those things.

  • bliss

    @ LH

    But those who love music make it because the benefit of making it outweighs the cost. And these are the people who are responsible for inspiring others to make music. Their passion for music is readily apparent. If you are this kind of musician, great. If not, then you're wasting your time here because you could be getting your hustle on elsewhere that would do much more for your bank account and time spent than arguing on a blog about something that you couldn't care two cents about would do for either of those things.

  • Andre

    @bliss & @LH

    " bliss – If a musician loves to make music, then the intrinsic value of that should be greater than what they expect to earn from their music being commodified.

    What a lot of abstract nonsense! You should get out and meet some real musicians.

    If someone can’t afford to make music, because they are buried under an impossible burden of earning money from activities unrelated to music-making, then there is no music to be commoditized. There simply is no music in the world from them. There is a flipped hamburger or a poured espresso or a washed car or whatever from their hands, but no music. "

    part of the point I was trying to make was very well put by LH. Bliss, I respect your opinion, and I can see you have thought about the subject deeply. I also make music and I completely understand that it is valuable by itself. It's as important for me as breathing, as I'm sure you can understand. But, as LH, says, I think you should get out more.

    you say:

    "The other point about value that I made referred specifically to musicians. If a musician loves to make music, then the intrinsic value of that should be greater than what they expect to earn from their music being commodified."

    fine. That is completely true.

    But how can they become skilled and truly write memorable music if most of their day is spent flipping burgers, or telemarkweting or worrying whether they'll have a roof on their heads the following month? My main question/doubt is: are we actaully managing to create a new model which supports musicians financially in the near future?

    "If you are this kind of musician, great. If not, then you’re wasting your time here because you could be getting your hustle on elsewhere that would do much more for your bank account and time spent than arguing on a blog about something that you couldn’t care two cents about would do for either of those things."

    I'm sorry, but that can be understood as an insult to a lot of people reading this forum – who passionately love and make music and need to take on jobs to support their basic needs – because even when they have an audience, the present system probably won't allow them to make a living out of their art.

    I'm a part-time musician myself – and I also have a full-time job to support my needs (bills, a couple of meals everyday, a house, THOSE things). So I completely understand what a lot of these people (most musicians I know) are going through. The despair of having to waste 8, 9, 10 hours of your day in something completely unrelated to music, and realising your work could probably be a lot better if you had the hours to put in.

    Is my work good enough that it deserves a wider audience in the future? That's not for me to judge, but others.

    However I take issue when people suggest I don't love music and I'm only in it for the money.

    To clarify once more: no, pre-recorded should NOT be the musician's main revenue source (and in this we agree); i DO NOT believe musicians should "sit around waiting for CD royalty checks" as you so well put it. They should practice, play gigs, get involved in related activities, whatever. I just think that if a musician finds an audience that likes his/her work, and if that audience is fairly big, the artist should be able to make a living out of it somewhow, in order for him/her to have space and time to improve further.

    A quick mention to your post about CD pricing – you're right about pre-recorded music being overpriced. And, in a market system it's true that consumers have a say on what an item is worth – if they were being ripped off for some many years, a reaction was bound to happen when new and free distribution channels became available. Obviously there's no turning back, and we shouldn't long for the past in that matter.

    The metaphor I used about the dark ages: I know that's not what you meant in your original post – let me clarify, I mentioned the "dark ages" (sic) because that's my personal and rather gloomy prediction of what the current state of affairs might bring about. First, we have and economic crisis, and secondly, "zero value" for pre-recorded music could also lead to a devaluing of live music ("why should I pay so much money for this concert?"). Again, this is just my view, but I sincerely hope I'm wrong on this one.

  • bliss

    @ Andre

    Part of the problem, I think, is that some or many musicians have romantic delusions about what it means to be a musician. If you cannot write a piece of music or a song that is memorable to yourself, then you have more work to do. If your audience doesn't pay you for the privilege of listening to your music, then you have more work to do. You have to examine your practices on either account; what you practice, and your business practices.

    And I really think it would help to read a biography or two of well known artists. It should be an eye-opener. Very few have lived from beginning to end with ideal circumstances in which to make art or music. Very few made much of a living at all. When they were not working to feed themselves, and in many cases their families, they worked at their craft. If one works a 9 to 5, then one has 7 hours left in the day to devote to their chosen art form. And it could be more than that depending on one's need for sleep. One can spend 30 minutes, an hour or two hours of art time before the workday begins, if one chooses. An artist can sketch on a lunch break; a writer can write on a lunch break; a musician can practice on a lunch break; a photographer can take pictures on a lunch break. The time is there, one just has to figure out how best to spend it. And if one's passion is strong enough, finding time to do what needs to be done is what one does.

    At one point in time, John Coltrane danced on bar countertops and clucked like a chicken in order to help make ends meet — and late at night he practiced saxophone silently in his bed while his wife slept next to him. His focus and work ethic are legendary. Quincy Jones was so poor his grandmother used to set traps in the field to catch rats, so that she could fry them up and serve them as dinner to Quincy and his brother. Years later, whenever Quincy was not hustling to feed his brother and himself, he worked on music. He worked on arrangements every free second that he had, and he let musicians — musicians that could make a difference — know about it.

    I'm not concerned about people being offended. The matter is that either you're into your art because you love it, because of money, or for both reasons. Do you really expect someone like myself who has been a musician for 25 years to commiserate on some romantic bullshit about what it means to be an artist in this world, or a capitalist society? Please. One of my best friends is a painter and sculptor, and all he did was his art when not earning enough bread just to keep his studio. He did this for nearly 20 years, and sold few pieces. Well, he lost his studio a couple of weeks ago. He knew the right people, socialized in the right circles, worked at honing his abilities nearly all the time, was a fearless self-promoter, and he barely made a dime for all of his efforts. And get this, he's relieved! He's relieved that the burden of maintaining his work space for his art is off of his back. All of his art and most of his materials are now in public storage, and he's relieved! He's now working on small scale works with the enthusiasm of a much younger artist. So If I'm going to commiserate with someone, it's going to be someone like my friend. Someone who despite having lost a vital 20 year investment, is still making art because it is what he loves to do, and must do despite the obvious costs.

    I have spoken in general terms, and so if you are offended then you need to examine possible reasons why. One thing is for sure, I don't have anything to do with your success or failure or misery as a musician in the marketplace. Being frank about some of the possible realities that a musician might face is not anything that should be taken as an insult. Getting out there, means getting out there and making what you deem fitting to happen in your life happen. But if you're basing your life on what you think others should be doing for you — with no financial and political clout to back it up — then you are both delusional and foolish. That's the reality. You are not guaranteed anything. You would do better to take care of yourself first, then your art — and also divorce yourself from the idea that you should be able to make a living as an artist. Because it is detrimental to think that you are entitled to the life of an artist who subsists from the gains of his or her artistic genius.

  • bliss

    Whoops!!! Sorry about those links! They are from another discussion that I am having about the difference between erotic cinema & porn. Yes, they're being used as sources for the discussion. But I would avoid them, if you're squeamish, and morally against such things. Feel free to remove them, PK!

  • Kleptomaniac

    I've been caught stealing;

    once when I was 5…

    I enjoy stealing.

    It's just as simple as that.

    Well, it's just a simple fact.

    When I want something,

    I don't want to pay for it.

    I walk right through the door.

    Walk right through the door.

    Hey all right! If I get by, it's mine.

    Mine all mine!

  • http://douban.com/artist/JOMO LH

    @bliss,

    You know, it's really tiresome to get a lecture about how to live and make music every time the subject of copyright comes up.

    Let me tell you about my musical partner, a Chinese female singer. When she was not yet 20, her parents sold her as a mail-order bride to an overseas businessman. She broke out of the arrangement and set off to become a singer, with no money, no nothing. She says she couldn't sing one octave when she started, and got fired from job after job. 10 years later she had a gold record in Malaysia, had recorded film scores, commercials on TV and radio, all kinds of stuff, and she held down good singing gives nearly every night.

    What do you have to teach her? Write something down here and I'll pass it on to her. Give her some of your sage counsel. Teach her something about the sacrifices that are necessary to be a real artist.

    -LH

  • Andre

    @bliss

    I thought I had made myself quite clear…

    i said,

    "Is my work good enough that it deserves a wider audience in the future? That’s not for me to judge, but others.

    However I take issue when people suggest I don’t love music and I’m only in it for the money."

    If my music is not good enough (and like I said, that is for listeners to judge), then I should not expect to make a living out of it.

    I briefly mentioned my own situation to better illustrate what I was trying to say (namely, how working full time can potentially harm your efforts). Whether I'll be sucessful in the future or not, is beside the point.

    your quote:

    "I have spoken in general terms, and so if you are offended then you need to examine possible reasons why."

    I took issue with what you said previously – even though it was a general remark – because everyday I get people telling me musicians shouldn't expect to get paid one way or the other. So I let it fly off. Point taken.

    your quote:

    "Do you really expect someone like myself who has been a musician for 25 years to commiserate on some romantic bullshit about what it means to be an artist in this world, or a capitalist society? Please."

    No I don't. I'm trying to reflect on the subject and watching this forum to see what answers can people come up with. Trying to figure out and trying to have a debate on how can a musician make living out of music once he has found an audience is not "romantic bullshit".

    As for your painter friend – i think it's great if he's carrying on with his art whatsoever. your quote: "Someone who despite having lost a vital 20 year investment, is still making art because it is what he loves to do, and must do despite the obvious costs."

    Nothing I said in my post strikes out at his example, or Quincy Jones' example, I think. Part of this discussion is about how to create a system avoid these situations when the artist has merit – like you said, there are no guarantees.

    "But if you’re basing your life on what you think others should be doing for you — with no financial and political clout to back it up — then you are both delusional and foolish."

    You're wrong, I'm not. I don't sit around waiting for somebody to support me for nothing, and I don't think musicians should rely on government handouts and whatnot, nor have I said anything that suggests that.

    All the time I've been writing and reading other people's comments, I was reflecting on how it's being really hard to come up with a new system for compensating artists for their work, when there's an audience for their work. And my concern is that even concerts might not be enough in the future for independent artists.

    I don't think it's wrong to wonder if we could come up with a system that supports artists that have found an audience for their work – whether it would be by encouraging direct dealings between artists and venues, without third parties involved, selling music through subscription services, coming up with social protection rules for people with infrequent work, etc. Any of these suggestions can potentially fail in their purpose. Even if they don't fail, it still doesn't mean the artist makes it, because obviously it ultimately depends on their work.

  • http://douban.com/artist/JOMO LH

    @bliss

    Another thing: what on earth would lead you to the conclusion from what I've written that I'm/we're not resourceful? Do you think we came up with a bunch of money to put into a recording, a record contract, etc., without being at least a little resourceful?

    I mentioned, and will continue to mention publicly, the economics of our experience releasing a CD, to shed light on the music business, the fallout from piracy, the implications for recording, etc. I am not asking for anyone to pity me, and I'm certainly not asking for advice about how to pay my rent or whatever. It would be lovely to have a discussion with fellow musicians about this subject without being subjected to a tirade of ad hominem attacks, moralizing, etc.

    Just to be clear once more: neither I nor anyone associated with me is soliciting advice about how to make ends meet. We have enough life experience to make decisions for ourselves about that. Neither am I writing anything in this forum as a way of crying about my financial situation, which anyway I haven't described except to say that I paid out such-and-such to make a CD and expect to earn nothing back from it, at least not directly.

    As I wrote earlier: what concerns me is that it is becoming more and more difficult to make good recordings in a world where recordings have been assigned a value of $0. It is this problem, and not something about my personal finances, that I hoped to discuss here.

    The Italian earthquake recording example that is not being discussed at all, since we seem not to get past beating each other up about personal finances and life choices, is a good example of the problem, actually. It has a moral dimension because of the charity aspect. But it also illustrates that even when a lot of people pitch in their time and equipment and talents for free, the whole thing amounts to a financial loss.

    Is that something that interests you? Or do you write the whole thing off as a romantic delusion by the people involved, and tell them to get a job and get real?

    -LH

  • bliss

    @ LH

    I don't have anything to tell to your friend, she didn't ask me for my advice. And besides, she followed her passion regardless of her circumstances and, as you tell it, things eventually worked out in her favor. Sounds like she could teach you something, why don't you speak to her rather than trade barbs with me?

    The other thing is that if you are not soliciting advice or opinion, why do you take issue with my comments and the comments of others? Remember, I didn't oppose anything that you said to begin with. On the other hand, you took issue with commentary that I made to no one in particular, and from that point I addressed your issues from my standpoint. If you have conflicts with my position that's fine, but it's obvious that I don't share your outlook. So we can leave it at that — because it's boring having to suss and elucidate your insecurities from post to post, only to have deal with your snide responses. If you're an adult, you shouldn't be requesting the care of kid gloves.

    And for the record, I never applied any particular surmise to your situation. I presented choices — and then you reacted and responded as you did, choosing whichever that lent you the most frustration. So if you feel lectured and personally attacked, that's yours to figure out why. Don't accuse of trying to portray you in a certain way, when in fact you're the one who specifically sought my attention. Our exchange could have been over 24 – 36 hours ago if you had simply decided that what I said did not apply to you — a choice that I did offer on several occasions. Or you could have ignored what I said, which would have been fine.

    (My thoughts on the Italian earthquake recording were made in my first post.)

    @ Andre

    My approach is not to give any thought as to whether my music is "deserving of a wider audience". To me that's a waste of time because it involves variables that ultimately I have no control over. First and foremost, I have to like what I do. That's more than enough pressure. Everything else outside of that I provide a succinct, "I don't know." I don't know if my music is deserving of a wider audience, does anyone? What's a wider audience beyond the most important person? Five people, fifty people, five hundred, five million? That's just not important to me. Sure – why not make the attempt to get your music heard by as many people as possible. I don't see a problem with that, but even those who are superstars, can they really answer as to whether their music is deserving of a wider audience? Maybe. It would be easy for them to note that they do reach millions of people, but deserving of that ability? Pick any artist whose music you do not like that has mass appeal, and ask yourself if that person's music is deserving of a wider audience. What if your opinion differs from the artist's?

    Trying to figure out how to make a living out of anything is not romantic bullshit, true! But having the disposition that you are entitled to a certain life and lifestyle in a capitalist society is bullshit, it's also narcissistic and if you're not careful, delusional. Not saying that you are, just saying.

    But as I said to LH — IF, IF , IF… I didn't say that you were one thing or the other. If you feel the need to explain to me why you are one thing and not the other, fine — I'll listen, but that's your choice to say anything at all.

  • http://douban.com/artist/JOMO LH

    And for the record, I never applied any particular surmise to your situation

    eh? earlier you wrote

    @ LH

    … If you are this kind of musician, great. If not, then you’re wasting your time here because you could be getting your hustle on elsewhere that would do much more for your bank account and time spent than arguing on a blog about something that you couldn’t care two cents about would do for either of those things.

    and

    @ LH

    I’m sorry that you are not as resourceful as ALL the musicians I know. The musicians I know make music regardless of whether they make money or not.

    Anyway, I agree with you that I'm wasting my time. See ya!

    -LH

  • Andre

    @bliss

    "What’s a wider audience beyond the most important person? Five people, fifty people, five hundred, five million?"

    it is, of course, very difficult to define what a "wider audience" means. For now I'll try this one: when you find yourself playing every week for dozens or hundreds of people each time, some of those times outside of your area of residence, then maybe that could be considered a wider audience. Obviously this is a completely personal/subjective take on the matter. You might have a different view (or decide it is not important to think on terms of "wider audience", period).

    "Pick any artist whose music you do not like that has mass appeal, and ask yourself if that person’s music is deserving of a wider audience.

    What if your opinion differs from the artist’s?"

    Whether one thinks the artist deserves it, or if his work is good, is even more subjective than the "wider audience" issue.

    My take on the discussion is how will the "system" work when an artist has found appeal for a certain number of people.

    About this particular point, Peter Kirn posted a very interesting article over a year ago:

    http://createdigitalmusic.com/2008/03/06/how-much

    where "1000 true, regular fans" is discussed as possible number of paying fans to support yourself in the long run.

  • bliss

    @ LH

    Like I said, "If…" and "If…". And as for the second comment of mine you quoted, what meaning am I supposed to get from this question of yours, "How do you find the time and the equipment to make good recordings in a world where good recordings are worth $0?" To ask that question, LH, means that you don't know the answer, and since you don't know the answer — that means that you're not resourceful. On the other hand, your musical partner does know the answer. I suggest you pose the question to her and take notes. Have a nice life.

  • bliss

    @ Andre

    The desire for predictability in the marketplace is strong. The problem with that, I think, is systems that exhibit an acceptable amount of predictability tend to be subjugated to the interests of those few with financial and political power. Any new system that becomes standardized stands a good chance of exhibiting some of the more loathsome aspects of the current dying one. I'm optimistic, but perhaps we should be careful what we wish for.

    But as PK says in his article: Product, self-promotion, and public image are everything. Those who put in the work building their fan base stand a chance of making a living at what they do. And what also is clear from that piece is making a living as an artist is not just about making the art, it's also about selling it and selling yourself. There are many hats that an artist has to wear: The artist hat, the marketing hat, the accounting hat, and the public relations hat. Many duties to fulfill but it's empowering, and if your business grows and your accounting is sound, you'll know when to hire assistance or not, when hiring or not hiring assistance means financial gains or losses.

    But just about the only thing predictable thing these days is music will be downloaded for free — and currently the powers that be are having a hard time wresting control of file sharer's means to do so. I think that's worth thinking about. Currently, mighty financial and political forces are trying to gain control of global digital distribution networks that facilitate sharing of music and other digital media. Typically and predictably they are trying to subjugate standardized systems that exhibit an acceptable amount of predictability. If those powers prevail, what then will independent artists do to reach global and local audiences who are not distracted by the corporatized chosen few? It's not a question that I like thinking about, because I don't know the answer. Though, I do wonder.

  • http://x2i.info E.X.P

    to much intellectual bullcrap…

    people do pirate cause it is easy and they love to steal when they can that is all… it has nothing to do with rights or anything else…

    One day there will be a digital cop behind every computer because of those abuses , because people can restrain themself …

    that is why there are laws , because you can't trust people to be fair and honest , they love to think they are smarter than the system…

  • bah

    bliss: here's a tip; stfu.

  • http://thomaspetercarter.tumblr.com/ Tom Carter

    hello!

  • http://thomaspetercarter.tumblr.com/ Tom Carter

    I am appearing as an interviewee on the Open Thread Radio series ‘New Possibilities for Music Production and Distribution’,Episode 1, ‘The Economics of Digital Media’ alongside Dagmar Heijmans (founder of Sellaband) and songwriter Tommy Ludgate to talk about the future of the music industry.

    You can listen to the whole show, presented by Kemal Rijken, if you go to my homepage! I cant seem to post the http link here…

    enjoy!

  • http://thomaspetercarter.tumblr.com/ Tom Carter

    oh – and im on aboput 21 mins in, and that is my orignal music playing as the soundbed track!

    get dancing, good people of CDM!

  • http://douban.com/artist/JOMO LH

    <blockquote cite="bliss">To ask that question, LH, means that you don’t know the answer, and since you don’t know the answer — that means that you’re not resourceful. On the other hand, your musical partner does know the answer.

    My partner and I live and work together 24/7, and have for years. There isn't a hair's breadth of distance between the way we see the economics of the music business: we are in it together. How unbelievably presumptuous of you to suppose that you have more in common on this point with my own life and work partner than I have!

    The mistake you keep making, Mr. Bliss, is to personalize this disucssion. Instead of thinking about the big picture of the music business, recording as art, the nature of copyright, etc., you make a personal attack on me (or whoever), as though the problem were no bigger than how will LH pay for dinner tonight, haha. From there you stoop even lower, to the assumption that my musical partner somehow has more in common with you than with the person who has lived and worked by her side for years on end. One ridiculous out-of-touch statement after the other comes out of your mouth.

    The pity of it is that CDM really ought to be a place where matters of copyright, DRM, piracy, file sharing, net neutrality, technology, etc., can be discussed by everyone interested, including working musicians if they want to participate (why not?)

    When the discussion spirals downward into personal attacks, it cuts the discussion off. But most importantly, it creates the impression that musicians aren't welcome at CDM somehow. Every time I stop by this forum, I'm left with the impression that anyone who actually earns a living from music is branded a dinosaur or a robber baron or whatever and is treated as persona non grata on the forums. It's really too bad.

    -LH

  • bliss

    @ LH

    Look, I get it — you want to be right. Guess what, you are! You are right in your own right — just not mine. You want to convince me of your point of view, but I don't share it. And I've said that I don't share your outlook several times. Yet instead of listening to that, you are still driven to convince me. It's like you're a Calvinist on a mission to reform and convert. Even when I suggest that you talk things over with your musical partner you take offense. At this point, as far as this conversation between you and I are concerned, the only thing I'm convinced of is that you want to convince me of how much you are offended by my comments.

    As for taking things personally, your entire rant is about how miserable you are. If I suggest that you speak to your music partner, how exactly do I presume to have more in common with you? That doesn't make a bit of sense, and no sense at all. It's all about you. You are about you — your issues are about you — your music partner is about you — general commentary is about you — even CDM is about you because it's red and black, and you're black and blue.

    As for personal attacks how's this: "Every time I stop by this forum, I’m left with the impression that anyone who actually earns a living from music is branded a dinosaur or a robber baron or whatever and is treated as persona non grata on the forums." You attack everybody because you feel like an outsider. You do this even though this blog's publisher specifically invited anyone — anyone at all — to participate and to be frank in this discussion.

    At the most and the least I offered either/or propositions, and you were not forced you to choose anything. You can either work for what you want or not. That's what I basically said. But you seem to want musicians to be relieved from the burdens of working jobs unrelated to making music. You also demand that you get paid for your work as a musician. I say that both are possible if one work's for it, and you take offense. You don't agree with file sharing — I get that. But you also are out of ideas of how to get people to pay you for your art — I get that too. Two sure things I know are that people have to work for what they want in life — and sometimes some people get lucky. So what I've also said is that if you work through your hardships to get what you want, then you also stand a chance of getting what you want. But you took offense at that too. Never mind the fact that you asked a question that can only be answered by a musician's passion and resourcefulness.

    For the record, the first personal attack between us was launched by you: "What a lot of abstract nonsense! You should get out and meet some real musicians." Never mind the fact that your riposte was in response to a comment not addressed to you.

    Whatever. Create your answers if you don't like what anybody else has to say.

    I still say that if an artist loves his or her work and never makes a dime from it, then the artist still has love for what they do and works that they love. Which is a whole lot better than nothing. But you hate that idea — I get that too.

  • bliss

    bah: here's a tip: blow me.

  • http://douban.com/artist/JOMO LH

    your entire rant is about how miserable you are.

    no, it isn't. you seem to want to force the idea down my throat that I'm miserable and have come to you for advice, but I'm not and I haven't.

    My 'rant', as you so graciously put it, is (for the third time) about how difficult it has become to make high-quality recordings (i.e., recordings that cost money to produce), in a world where recordings have no monetary value. As I wrote above, I'm worried that a form of art that I love is in danger of disappearing, or at least in danger of being in a much diminished state.

    As for me, I'm not at all miserable and have nothing to complain about. As it turns out, I've been rather fortunate from a financial point of view, and for that I'm grateful.

    How you can take away from what I've written that I'm ranting about my own misery is beyond me. Whatever. I hope you find someone who's genuinely in need of your counseling services.

    -LH

  • bliss

    @ LH

    Another reminder: You solicited my opinion.

    Anybody who reads your latest will observe its contradictory nature. Contrariness that spells misery.

  • http://www.mauxuam.net mauxuam

    ah…sorry…I missed this last bit since I was away (playing live)…shame that this wonderful conversation is now dead…

    @ martin brinkmann: your music is amazing..I am really glad that I discovered you here :)

    @ salamanderanagram: tnx for the kind words…I might come to play at Symbiosis in SF.

    @ bliss : tnx for your clear vision

    @ LH : I got pretty amazing results with using cheap shit mics and ridicolous pre amps….a manley and a neumann (and autotune)are great tools to make a shit vocal (talking shit) sound amazing…but a great vocal doesn't necessary need those tools…especially if the lyrics are good.

    pro kills music