Is Support the Artist the Right Message?

It is common practice for those of us who discuss the rights of creative workers to talk about asking the generation of digital natives to support or respect the artists, not only by not pirating their works but even going so far as to purchase their works if they truly consider themselves fans.  But during a recent conversation that included this theme, I made an observation that ought to be obvious; and it seems to me that us GenXers might owe you millennials an apology.  Because it’s easy to say, “Please support the artists,” but while saying it, we ought to admit that we never had to think about our role as consumers in these terms.  When I’d walk into Tower Records to get a new album, I wasn’t thinking “I’m supporting the band and the songwriters.”  I just wanted the music, and buying it was the only way to get it.  Today, it’s the opposite, and not just for millennials.  The option to listen to music, even legally, without buying any songs is so obvious that almost the only reason to purchase any music, by digital download or on CD, is a conscious choice to support the artists — to pay for altruistic reasons when it isn’t technically necessary.  That is a significant shift in consumer mindset — and of course rationalizing piracy is another matter — but I do sometimes wonder if it’s true that digital natives don’t get it, at least in principle.

There’s no question that concurrent with changes in technology and experience, digital natives have grown up with the mantras of narcissism beat into their heads at very impressionable ages.  And this “give me what I want” attitude certainly applies beyond expectations of free entertainment.  For instance, I recently came across a story contrasting a negative restaurant “review” posted on Yelp and the restaurant owner’s witty response.  The complaint stemmed from the fact that the customer wanted food to go, which this particular restaurant does not offer.  Naive to how selfish she sounds, the author of the complaint felt that her and her husband’s expectations of what they wanted ought to have prevailed over whatever choice the chef/owner of the restaurant had made with regard to his business. You should read the chef’s response because it’s funny, but I draw your attention to this quote from the woman’s complaint:

“This restaurant thinks they’re too good for customers.  They will soon learn that if you ignore customers, they’re going to start ignoring you.”  

Sound familiar?  Remind anyone of the rhetoric coming from Silicon Valley interests insisting that  producers of entertainment media have to wake up and learn to deliver what consumers want the way they want it, or else…?

In fact, I think the chef and his restaurant make a pretty good, non-copyright-enterprise metaphor for the author of a creative work.  This chef has chosen the manner in which he wants to prepare and serve food and has decided that does not include an assault on his labors that occurs when a meal is placed in takeout containers and made to travel.  This isn’t just snobbery; it’s sound business if the chef is invested in cultivating a reputation for a certain quality of cooking with high-value ingredients, completed by appropriate presentation. That reputation isn’t going to be cultivated if thousands of customers in Kansas City think his food is overcooked and tastes a bit like styrofoam.  If he wishes to serve a clientele that is willing to sit down and have a meal the way it’s meant to be prepared, that’s his prerogative as a creator just as it is the market’s prerogative not to go if they don’t like what he has to offer.  But I bet he has plenty of customers.

The point is that despite numerous manifestations like this one in which blind narcissism is fueled by the apparent empowerment of social media’s soap box, I suspect that even most digital natives would side with the chef/owner in this case, perhaps not recognizing that the woman’s selfish rationale echoes the logic used to justify piracy and general access to free media.  The trick, of course, is that rationalizations carry considerable weight when they are repeated en masse after a behavior becomes normalized.  That doesn’t make the rationalization any more sound; it just makes it popular.  Nevertheless, I’m not entirely convinced that “respect” for artists is the key because I suspect the emotional relationship between consumers and creators hasn’t really changed.

Consider the songwriters, who are presently getting screwed by legal streaming services because their fees are subject to outdated statutory rates for plays on these services that are obliterating the need to buy songs or albums.  The songwriters themselves don’t hate streaming; they love Spotify in principle as much as the rest of us do.  How could you not?  But the revenue streams are shrinking, and so are the number of professional songwriters; and neither the economic nor the cultural cost implied should be ignored. Still, I suspect very little has actually changed in the hearts of millennial consumers with regard to their relationship to the songs.

I was just in Nashville, where I went with colleagues to two honky tonks.  In the first, a cover band was playing a lot of rockabilly, and there didn’t seem to be a customer in the place, most of them in their 20s who did not know the words to “Summertime Blues,” co-written by artist Eddie Cochran and Jerry Capehart.  That song is nearly 60 years old.  The second honky tonk featured what might have been the hardest-working cover band I ever saw, playing without a break for hours, rolling one song into the next in a medley drawing upon at least 40 years worth of music history.  This included Steve Miller’s co-written 1973 hit, “The Joker,” which again every millennial in the place seemed to know by heart.

I don’t think the connection between fans and songwriters is any different than it was before the digital age.  To the contrary, given all the hype about “connections” made through technology, it is remarkable to watch a roomful of complete strangers, supposedly the wired generation, all belting out a 41-year-old song together.  That may not seem extraordinary, but I can guarantee that in 1984, my contemporaries were not in clubs or bars singing “Paper Doll” or “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” both hits in 1943. Is there a link between stronger artists’ rights, industry growth, and longevity of a song in cultural consciousness?  It would be an interesting set of stats to study.

Odds are, most of the young people in those crowds don’t know who Steve Miller is or who Eddie Cochran was, but they probably don’t know who Sean Parker is either — the man who invented disrespect for music with Napster while these kids were still babies.  Of course, if that’s the rough timeline, who really gave Napster a boost, millennials or us Gen Xers?  After all, we’re the real first adopters of all this tech, so if our kids’ generation takes free stuff for granted, we have to accept some of the blame for that and perhaps stop assuming they don’t care about the artists any more or less than we ever did.

In this regard, I am glad to see the conversation shift toward one in which the extraordinary ideological and economic transformation being led by Silicon Valley billionaires extends way beyond its impact on the creative industries.  As a steady stream of editorials emerge from respected writers that accurately describe the Internet industry as oligarchical, and the digital-native generation continue to confront the reality of shrinking middle-class opportunities (in contrast to the fairy-tale promises of digital gurus), it will be interesting to see how this generation responds to the realization that they’ve been had.  It could get ugly if progressive ideology continues to stray from its historic foundation in human labor, but it doesn’t have to go that way because the alternative is basic, free-market economics.  So, rather than say to the next generation, “Buy an album or a book or a movie to support the artists,” it might make even more sense to say, “Buy these works to support yourselves.”

© 2014, David Newhoff. All rights reserved.

Follow IOM on social media:

54 comments

  • “Sound familiar? Remind anyone of the rhetoric coming from Silicon Valley interests insisting that producers of entertainment media have to wake up and learn to deliver what consumers want the way they want it, or else…?”

    “producers of entertainment media need to give the consumers have to wake up and learn to deliver what customers want the way they want it or else they are likely not going to have the volume of sales as the people who do.”

    There I fixed that for you.

    “This chef has chosen the manner in which he wants to prepare and serve food and has decided that does not include an assault on his labors that occurs when a meal is placed in takeout containers and made to travel.”

    Do you know what your problem is? What the true problem with the industry? With people like you? You always assume the creator has made something of value. That the simple act of creation deserves compensation. The irony? It has never worked like that. So for someone who seems to know a hell of a lot about the industry, you also seem to know very little about how record sales actually work, and have always worked.

    Backers always take the risk when producing a record. And more often than not, they are set up to reap the rewards. That is how the industry has always been. Artists trade exposure and promotion for profits from record sales. Do you know why they have done this? Because being famous, getting people to come out to shows, creating a brand, and exposing their music to the largest audience has ALWAYS been more important than pennies on the dollar for sales that MIGHT be made should they write a hit song.

    And do you know who complains about this arrangement after the fact? HUGE artists who no longer need the record companies for promotion or smaller artists who never quite took off and are thus not benefitting from signing their deals with the devil.

    In your analogy, the patron is JUST as entitled to an opinion on the restaraunt and the food as the chef. But as is par for the course with you and this blog, you are blaming the consumer for not seeing or agreeing with your assessment of creative works value. Not serving takeout is HIS perogative, and he will attract customers who do not care about such things IF his food is found to be appealing. Wanting convenient food from a restaraunt they are willing to try is THEIR perogative. And seeing as there are plenty more restaraunts, likely of the same or better quality available who DO have a takeout menu, they too will have their needs met.

    Neither side is necessarily “wrong”, but you cannot blame the customer for having so many options available to them. Options stem from competition, and competition quite often leads to innovation.

    “Consider the songwriters, who are presently getting screwed by legal streaming services because their fees are subject to outdated statutory rates for plays on these services that are obliterating the need to buy songs or albums.”

    Consider that most of these songwriters would never have ANY of their music heard without the advent of digital distribution. That independent artists can use these platforms to develop a fanbase BEFORE trekking accross the countryside working for gas money and beer. Consider that some bands can plan out mini tours based on interest from online services and can optimize their ability to sell merch and music to the masses.

    No, the problem is NOT piracy, it is NOT streaming. Sorry but the problem is you and your narcissistic assumptions in regards to content value. It is your belief that things have changed so much in the past 70 years when in reality not much has changed at all. Promoters paid for plays on radio, they paid to get onto shows, they created tours with groups of artists, all trying to reap some rewards from a fickle public always on the look out for something new. Artists have ALWAYS struggled to stay relevant and the ones who have endured are the truly talented people fortunate enough to gain enough commercial success to make the type of music they wanted to make, despite their corporate masters.

    “…e have to accept some of the blame for that and perhaps stop assuming they don’t care about the artists any more or less than we ever did.”

    They don’t, and they never will. People like what they like. They care about music and artists THEY feel connected to, because of what THEY get from the music, movie, etc. That connection is a two way street. And simply putting out a beautiful song does not mean it is going to click with an audience. And if it doesn’t, if no one “get’s” it. No one buys your albums or comes to your shows. Then that song, NO MATTER HOW WONDERFUL it may be to the creator is not worth a damn thing in terms of money. So a random stream is not a lost sale. A guy copying it from his buddy is not lost revenue. It is exposure. And maybe over time, that exposure will lead people to look upon the music in a different light. But until that day, it is just something, some guy made, that no one cares about…

    • You’re grumpy. Misinformed and grumpy. But thanks for reading, I guess. If you can find an instance on this blog where I’ve insisted creative works have value the moment they’re created, let me know. I’m pretty clear about the fact that the public places value by showing its desire to see, read, hear, etc. Once that desire is there, piracy very much is a problem.

    • theangryvillager is clearly ignoring the rampant piracy in the industry. It’s true, if you don’t like a chef’s policy, you don’t have to eat there. Just like you don’t have to buy an artist’s music that you don’t like. However, the “competition” in the restaurant industry may be coming from separate restaurants, whereas the “competition” in the music industry is not just traditional competition of competing goods, but rather the competition that legitimate services face from illegitimate piracy services. Clearly, consumers are consuming plenty of music. The problem is that the good itself has been completely devalued because, rather than “I don’t care for this artist enough to pay for his music so I’ll buy another artists’s music instead,” you have “I don’t care for this artist enough to pay for his music so I’ll just pirate it.”

      All the exposure that theangryvillager talks about is great, but at the end of the day, all that exposure is supposed to be for a purpose that is monetizable. Artists may generate support and get exposure through touring and through putting their music out through free platforms, but you simply can’t build a career out of your music through touring and merchandise alone. Ask any touring artist, you know how much money, time, and energy goes into touring? Musicians want to be able to build families and have homes just like everyone else, so at the end of the day, all that legwork that forces a musician to be on the road half the year to create a fanbase, rather than focusing on writing and recording music, better be for a reason. And if your “fans” like your music enough to listen to it, but not enough to see it as a marketable good with value, than what’s the point of it all?

    • Apparently the work has enough value that pirates can make ad money by pointing people to places where they can download.

      “BEFORE trekking accross the countryside working for gas money and beer. Consider that some bands can plan out mini tours based on interest from online services and can optimize their ability to sell merch and music to the masses.:”

      Ah yes, the “Iron Maiden toured the countries where they were pirated” argument. Turn out it’s bullshit:
      http://www.metalinjection.net/latest-news/turns-out-iron-maiden-never-used-piracy-data-to-plan-tours

      And if yuo actually bothered to listen to indie bands, they are at wit’s end. They are sick of constant touring, and of course constant touring is a “luxury” afforded only the young n healthy.

    • A guy copying it from his buddy is not lost revenue. It is exposure.

      People die of exposure.

      Paying for music or indeed film has become pretty much optional. The guy that gets the copy from his buddy, even if he loves the music has no incentive to buy any of it. He can hope over to the site of his choice and download the entire oeuvre in less time than it takes to read this.

      As I look about I’m seeing more and more people in the early to mid 20s turning to music from decades back. They are listening to King Crimson, Genesis,Yes, Iron Maiden, Deep Purple, CCR, Neil Young, punk rock, groups from the 80s, and for sure some modern bands. Today one of the 24 yo kids was looking to sell a spare ticket for a hard rock/heavy metal gig. the headline band I’d never heard of but apparently were big in the early 90s. I mentioned Ginger Baker in passing, there was a moments pause and then a recognition of “Oh yeah Cream” and another on starts talking about Carl Palmer and ELP.

      When youngsters are going out to see bands that had their major hits when they were still wearing diapers, and can recall which band some one was in, decades before they were born that ought to tell you that something has gone very wrong.

      • I dunno I think you may be blaming some benign artistic realities on the copyright mess. I was a teenager in the early nineties. I mostly (though not completely) listened to music from bands that had their big hits when I was in diapers or before I was born (Sabbath, Ramones, Kiss, Allman Brothers, Rush, Sex Pistols, Venom) and knew plenty about 50’s and 60’s bands. Led Zeppelin (who I never much cared for) was probably one of the biggest bands among the kids in school even though it was the height of Nirvana and Pearl Jam and Zeppelin had basically ended 10 to 15 years earlier.

        As Homer Simpson once said “Everyone knows Rock achieved perfection in 1974.” And to some extent I think this is true, insofar as styles in anything wax and wane and get played out and have golden eras. Doesn’t matter whether we’re talking music, architecture, painting, or clothing design. In short, after 65 years the sonic possibilities of rock may simply be kind of played out. (And believe me it hurts to write that!)

        Also, in a way that I think is mainly a good thing, new technology has allowed many more genre’s to find a home splintering the audience. I know very little about today’s music outside of my preferred genres but we all know about the same 25-30 bands from the 60’s and 70’s because the secondary bands died off in a way that they don’t in the digital era.

        That said I think we are completely simpatico with regards to copyright in general, this ridiculous “exposure” argument, etc.

      • This reminds me of somethingJaron Lanier said in his first book: you can pretty much tell if a song was recorded in the 50s through to the 90s, but if you don’t know the artist there is vritually no way to tell if a song was recorded in the 2000s or beyond. There has been no unique “sound” linked to the time past the 90s. (maybe dubstep, but that’s about it)

        “Exposure” is basically a Ponzi scheme, where if you can hold on long enough you might get some scraps, but it’s pretty much an impossible game unless you’re young and healthy enough to tour like a maniac. (an option that is meaningless for filmmakers, authors or songwriter). The other great “business model,” merchandise, works only if your work is marketable as a t shirt or an action figure. (and even then, knockoffs are becoming more and more prevalent thanks to etsy and other sites that turn a blind eye to infringment.)

        We need something permanent, and soon.

      • “There has been no unique “sound” linked to the time past the 90s. (maybe dubstep, but that’s about it)”

        I love me some Lanier and I remember reading this and nodding along but I’m not so sure now. I think this is really a by-product of the pro-rock chauvinism of the ones saying it.

        For one thing saying “except for dubstep” is a huge “except”. I know people that listen to dubstep/dance music/whatever it’s called pretty much exclusively. And it fills stadiums. It’s kind of like a guy in 1960 who only listens to orchestral pop saying “everything sounds the same now! Well, except for this rock stuff.” And the people who love today’s dance music aren’t looking back 40 years to Detroit house, they are very much living in the “now” of the music as the post wishes rock kids were still doing.

        Aside from dance music have you listened to mainstream country lately? It’s getting weird, my friend. I can totally tell a 2014 country song compared to a 2000 country song. Or at least i can tell an hour of 2014 country radio compared to an hour of 2000 country radio.

        Again, though, let me profess my pro-copyright maximalism. I do think the music scene would be healthier if we still had powerful copyright. I just don’t think it’s quite as much in the dumps creatively as some believe it is, because of their own biases.

      • Anonymous (im guessing by your comments you’re not our usual anonymous):
        You may be right. I guess I think of dubstep as a fad.

        But im not really a rock person (and I don’t think lanier is, either), and music does seem a little stagnant these days. The only indie music that seems unique these days is someone like St. vincent.

        Nu country does kind of seem like twangy pop to me, and even hip hop seems to have stalled in 1993.

      • Oops! The anonymous was me. I did it from a different machine I guess I wasn’t logged in.
        I completely agree hip hop has stalled as well as rock (I would count indie as rock). Weirdly country has kind of adopted rap and general urban music sounds, which is part of what I was alluding to.

  • How disheartening and annoying it must be to spend all this time writing a post and have some clueless buffoon with a name like “theangryvillager” come back at you with any angry, pointless screed. It reminds me of the indie artists who signed the petition in favor of Amazon paying book publishers and their authors less. I mean stupid is as stupid does right?

    Your commenter is referring to the hobbyist class of artists only to happy to have their work heard by someone, anyone, even if it’s their sister. They don’t care about the money, they make it elsewhere.

    Now to your post David. I’ll cut the pirate generation some slack, because after all, it is very confusing with all the legit advertising slathered on these sites and the search engine accomplices. Just “Google” ‘youtube free download software’ and voila both the software and the content on youtube, free > free > free.

    But as a parent with a thirty year old son, I do know it is possible to get these kids to understand the value of paying. I actually got into a discussion with a gentleman who claimed to be a third generation music business professional and proud of his craft. But alas his kids didn’t pay a dime for music. I wrote him, what I just shared with you. He failed, as a parent, to teach his children well.

    And in today’s world you can’t start to early to teach your kids the difference between giving and taking.

    • Thanks, Will. Of course, I am speaking very broadly about generation to generation. One-on-one conversations between parents and kids are another matter. I’m merely saying that if Napster happened in 1980, we, collectively speaking, wouldn’t have been any more altruistic about our choices. Perhaps this doesn’t matter, but perhaps it informs the conversation.

    • The hobbyist thing reminds me of a quote that Jezebel used to try to portray Chelsea Clinton as nonmaterialistic: “I was curious if I could care about [money] on some fundamental level, and I couldn’t.”

      Commenters, however, were having none of it, pointing out that Clinton doesn’t care about money because she has never had to.

  • I do have to concede that classic rock like steve miller has gotten a boost from the fact that any decent sized city has a classic rock station.
    There *was* a vogue for big band Jazz in the 70, and the survivors of that era “(Ellington, Basie) toured for years on that popularity.

  • “The problem is that the good itself has been completely devalued because, rather than “I don’t care for this artist enough to pay for his music so I’ll buy another artists’s music instead,” you have “I don’t care for this artist enough to pay for his music so I’ll just pirate it.”

    Content has not been “devalued”. Billions of dollars are being made in the entertainment industry. What has no value is the transfer medium. The reason? Anyone can do it. A CD was more valuable than a cassette right up until a person could create an exact copy of a CD for the same or less money than it cost to duplicate via tape deck. And mp3s became more valuable the moment they could be created by anyone, at any time and storage costs dropped to pennies. The content has nothing to do with that process. People don’t value digital media as much as you think they should because they realize how easy it is to distribute material this way. The ONLY way add value to the content is to limit access. Content creators, the ACTUAL creators have a multitude of ways to monetize their works, just because digital files are not the best way to do that, does not mean they are robbed of the ability to survive.

    “Musicians want to be able to build families and have homes just like everyone else, so at the end of the day, all that legwork that forces a musician to be on the road half the year to create a fanbase, rather than focusing on writing and recording music, better be for a reason.”

    Most people want to be successful and build a life doing what they love. When their industry changes the choices are the same no matter what a person has chosen to do. You adapt, or you fail.

    The focus should not be on how to get a few extra pennies from “lost” sales due to piracy. The focus should be on finding ways to make money, doing something you love, that are not dependent on how many people pay for a song that has been spread all across the internet.

    • “The focus should not be on how to get a few extra pennies from “lost” sales due to piracy. The focus should be on finding ways to make money…”

      You talk a lot about music, but this is way bigger than music. It involves everything that can be digitized.

      Slate published the below piece a few days ago about the various corporate machinations going on in the porn industry, mostly due to piracy. The article says porn production is down 75%. That seems a little high and since the industry is so opaque it’s probably hard to get solid numbers, but I think it’s certainly pointing in the correct direction.

      To compensate for the drop the performers are certainly making adjustments:
      “When [porn blogger Mike] South started in the industry, ‘I could count performers I know who did prostitution on one hand. Now I can count the performers I know who don’t do it on one hand.'”

      Play live indeed, eh? They certainly are capitalizing on their, erm, exposure. You can think whatever you want about the porn industry. Personally, I think it’s an unfortunate and kind of sad byproduct of the evolutionary relentlessness of the (male) sex drive*. Nevertheless it exists and probably always will in one form or another. And it’s always been exploitative of its performers. The digital revolution was supposed to empower them away from the sleazy producers. And for a select lucky few it probably has! If the above is true, however, it seems like the majority are even worse off than before. Despite the optimistic big talk of the tech world I suspect this same sad tale in one form or another, although usually with less salacious detail, has played out and will play out everywhere piracy touches.

      http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2014/10/mindgeek_porn_monopoly_its_dominance_is_a_cautionary_tale_for_other_industries.html

      *Although, of course, I consume it. 🙂

    • sf46,

      True. It comes down to this:

      “You wouldn’t download a car.”

      “Fuck you, I would if I could.”

    • “The ONLY way add value to the content is to limit access. Content creators, the ACTUAL creators have a multitude of ways to monetize their works, just because digital files are not the best way to do that, does not mean they are robbed of the ability to survive”
      Okay, sport. Tell us some of th e”multitude of ways.”
      My guess the list begins and ends with “touring and T shirts”

  • Will, I truly love elitists who think they have somehow achieved a level of wisdom that justifies the type of response you just posted.

    Having spent the past 15 years working in online development, I am accutely aware of how this process actually works. I am well versed in what data actually is, and how it is created, stored and transferred. Being a “hobbyist” musician, as you call it, I am also very familiar with what goes into creating content, managing time, promoting events, and just about anything else that goes along with being a content creator.

    What I am not, is arrogant enough to think my works, or the works of anyone else are more valuable than the people who are WILLING to pay for it. I am not naive enough to think that putting my works online will afford me total control over the distribution. I do not believe that spending my own money to produce albums, automatically entitles me to sales of those albums.

    Do you want control, or do you want exposure. You cannot have both. The internet was DESIGNED as a means of sharing, not yours or anyone eles’s personal storefront. THAT is the point David and the other commentors seem to be missing when having the debate about piracy. If you CHOOSE to share your works on the internet, you have no choice but to accept the possibility that it will be shared, and some people who facilitate that sharing will profit from the traffic their SERVICE sees.

    If you tightly controlled your content, and someone broke in to your house and took it without your permission, THAT would be stealing. If instead leave CD’s all over town and people take them, you can’t claim that those discs were stolen. YOU put them out there, that simply is what it is.

    You are so focused on trying to put the genie back in the bottle that you are not thinking about ways to actually make generating content profitable for all.

    Exposure is not the end all and be all, but it is a tradeoff, thinking otherwise is naive.

    • Well, that was a whole lot of buzzwords…
      ome people don’t CHOOSe to share their works online.
      Guess what? They still end up there.

  • But during a recent conversation that included this theme, I made an observation that ought to be obvious; and it seems to me that us GenXers might owe you millennials an apology. Because it’s easy to say, “Please support the artists,” but while saying it, we ought to admit that we never had to think about our role as consumers in these terms. When I’d walk into Tower Records to get a new album, I wasn’t thinking “I’m supporting the band and the songwriters.

    The fanzine kids of the DIY scenes pretty much always saw it as specifically supporting the artists. Most of us still do, although we can’t really call ourselves “kids” any more (although I’m glad to say we still get new blood). But, crucially, we always saw ourselves as part of a community, not as “consumers”.

    That’s why it’s largely those scenes where the 1000 true fans model has actually worked to an extent. Because they’re the ones that will buy special orders. (Notably, it’s also the case for bands like Marillion who are a little cottage industry all on their own)

    The problem is, of course, that we have always been the exception, not the rule. That’s why I think the 1000 true fans path has been met with such overblown hostility. It’s pretty humiliating for a musician to have to accept that, actually, they simply don’t have that many people who truly love them. The new system works better for niche musicians and genres, but the old ways were definitely better for those with mass market appeal.

    • Also, I don’t “respect” artists as a general group. I save that for nurses or firefighters.

      There’s individual artists I respect. There’s artists whose music I think is godawful, artists who I think are terrible people and artists who fall into both categories.

      Realistically though, it’s just that I’m upfront about that.

      Those who shout about respecting the artist most are almost always hypocrites.

      See how they react when an artist like Ari Herstand or Steve Albini or David Byrne disagrees with them. At least I’m honest about thinking some artists are dicks, they just lie.

      • That honesty, Sam, is the more cynical side of the point I’m making in this post. We didn’t used to buy albums or movie tickets based on these sentiments, we did it because there was no choice. And, yeah, you could hate the artist and love the work and vice versa; that’s a good thing in my opinion. It makes life interesting compared to all this namby-pamby social-media fueled bullshit where artists are supposed to “connect with fans.” Some artists have been sons of bitches, and some have been great people, and smoothing down those edges makes life a little dull and culture a little homogenous. Now that the choice to buy exists, we talk about respecting the artist, but maybe should restrict the conversation to the fact that the consequences of not paying for these things will be both culturally and economically detrimental for everyone.

  • “Connecting” with fans was always part of something artists did though. Record store signings etc.

    But yeah, it’s an issue. Generally, I’m quite happy with how things are developing, despite problems. Because for the kind of bands I like, there have always been two main issues. Visibility. And Soundcamp and (especially) Bandcamp have helped loads there. If you’re a grindcore band, the issue is less about getting your fans to get your music, it’s about getting grindcore fans outside your country and even town to know that you exist. The other issue was distribution. And I don’t think any DIY artist wants to go back to the days where the only way to sell their music was from a box of tapes in the back of your van.

    But I worry about the whole crowdfunding phenomenon. It’s certainly legitimate for those who are into it. I’m not a massive fan, but I quite like the Dresden Dolls. And for someone as outgoing as Amanda Palmer, it works great. But I don’t just want Amanda Palmers. I want painfully shy guys who stay in their bedroom and communicate solely through brilliant music. And those types simply aren’t cut out for the direct-to-fan marketing stuff.

    What I’m hoping we’ll see (and we’re starting to see this a bit) is the rise of more PR firms that specialise in representing musicians. That way, we can have artists who keep complete artistic control of their work but let someone else push it.

  • Monkey: “Okay, sport. Tell us some of th e”multitude of ways.”
    My guess the list begins and ends with “touring and T shirts”

    How does anyone make money? They provide a good or a service that people find desirable, they set a price, and the people who are willing, pay that price.

    How does anyone control theft? Very simply, by controlling distribution. In the physical world, goods are not just left lying around hoping people who take them decide to pay. So why should the digital world be any different?

    Yes merchandise and touring are a means of generating revenue. But what exactly is stopping an artist from building an audience and tightly controlling access to their works? I could set up a site, get all of my friends bands together, make our music easily accessible and produce enough content to keep eyeballs on my page. I could monetize using ads, or charge a small fee. I could offer this service to anyone and everyone.

    You don’t think that is viable? Services like youTube would beg to differ. Lots of artists use that platform for exposure as well as a means of generating revenue. Crowd funding, social media, blogging… All ways for artists to get people interested.

    Does everyone succeed? Of course not. There should be no assumption of value from an artist. If people like your work, they will buy it, if they don’t, they won’t.

    “Well, that was a whole lot of buzzwords…
    ome people don’t CHOOSe to share their works online.
    Guess what? They still end up there.”

    So what? If they aren’t in the online space, how is that relevant to the discussion? Are you suggesting people who pay to come see them might not buy a disc so that they can go home and download the works of some obscure band from a random website? While I see that as being possible, I don’t think that an artist operating as such would have an expectation of every patron being a guaranteed sale.

    The other thing to consider is the personal connection an artist has by operating on their own. THAT is what people seem willing to pay for, not a random MP3 or T-Shirt. Yes you will have that, but the bands I am most interested in are the ones who try to be intimately involved with their fanbase, and those are the ones I see having the most success.

    I find that the more active we are with information, the more involved we are with our fans, the more likely we are to have them turn up at shows, but records, tell their friends. But again, our success is as limited as our exposure. Maybe we aren’t that good. Maybe we just haven’t hit that magic number in terms of exposure. Who knows. Bottom line, none of that is the fault of the people who hear our music, be it legitimately or not.

    • That’s all very nice, but the numbers don’t add up in most cases. Even real fans don’t buy music, if they can avoid it, and they can. So, even with all the options you list, assuming they all remain viable (e.g crowd funding doesn’t disappear), you’re still talking about a market in which a multibillion-dollar industry is now a kitchen-table start-up for the rest of foreseeable time. So, after 10-20 years of making music, being your own press agent, getting merch made, and touring year-round (this is assuming you’ve done something musically that can even last a decade), it’s entirely possible that you discover the subsistence dollars available in all of the models combined just can’t keep the band going because the cost of living didn’t hold still at all. Meanwhile, the industry that might have hired you, the label that might have put you under contract and created a base from which to grow, no longer exists. I’m sorry, but these solutions are simply fantasy, not for music, but for any business anywhere. You can certainly choose to be a hobbyist who makes a bit of money on the side in addition to your regular job, and the music you make may be amazing, but that’s not an answer to what’s being lost in the big picture.

    • By “choose not to share their works online,” I meant that they don’t release it for free. Many have made it possible for people to directly buy files from them on their sites. They are saying “please, if you want our songs, download them directly from us.”
      and people still pirate them.

  • ‘Artists are this or that…’

    This isn’t informative, imo.
    This is human nature; people are kind, mean, assholes, lovely, hypocritical, wonderful, horrible, etc. this isn’t exclusive to any ‘group’.
    Hell, i’m all those things depending on which day you talk to me and what time of day it is!
    I can take out my bad day/week on people (like M, or the jackass who cut me off on the road) easier than i’d like sometimes, but hey, that’s not because i’m an artist, it’s because i’m human.

    What the internet has done (besides disintegrated any “Rights” we used to enjoy, and turned our diaries into commodities) is amplify and/or shone a light on individual’s ethics and mob/group think.

    I was always one to buy a CD of a band i liked, even if my friend burned me a copy. I liked having the artwork and lyrics and such, rather than a blank CD-R (or cough– cassette– cough) with bad handwriting written in sharpie pen. I never thought of it as ‘supporting..’ it just made me feel weird/uncomfortable having that copy. (and it wasn’t because i was particularly ‘lawful’ at that time either, i was a shit in my late-teens, early twenties) To be honest, i never thought about it until you wrote this article, Dave.

    I’m of the mind that this sort of thing will sort itself out eventually, as it was a novelty to have all that power… now the free-for-party fog is lifting, the hangover will soon hit, and reality will set in once more. If we are to be a nation or world with laws, those laws don’t disappear just because someone has a computer. It’s a matter of political will (VOTE TOMORROW!)

  • You have to be joking, right? I mean you talk a really good game, but this is seriously some kind of a joke?

    If you can’t afford to do it, then you are in the wrong business. Most people I know who make music, do it for the music first and the money second. The people I know who do it for a living, choose to do it for a living. They have no delusions that they should be able to have a home, raise children, go on vacation, etc. As a working musician.

    You are delusional.

    “Meanwhile, the industry that might have hired you, the label that might have put you under contract and created a base from which to grow, no longer exists.”

    That bullshit industry that has profited from the talents of others for far too long no longer necessary. You are nothing more than a shill for an industry who did this to themselves by caring more about the bottom line than the bass line.

    Music is art, and art was meant to be shared. It is not a product, it is not a commodity. It’s history. It’s expression. And you either choose to contribute or you don’t. If you are expecting to get paid, then you are your own problem. Trying to make a living based solely on such a subjective endeavor is just silly.

    The funny thing is that all of the things you brush off as trivial make doing so way easier than it ever has been.

    “o, after 10-20 years of making music, being your own press agent, getting merch made, and touring year-round (this is assuming you’ve done something musically that can even last a decade), it’s entirely possible that you discover the subsistence dollars available in all of the models combined just can’t keep the band going because the cost of living didn’t hold still at all. Meanwhile, the industry that might have hired you, the label that might have put you under contract and created a base from which to grow, no longer exists. ”

    Then I have some bad news for you Mr. “Professional”, you aren’t good enough to make a living making music. Sucks, but that is how it is. By your logic, a guy who spends 20 years in the minors hoping to get recognized while scraping by should blame the Majors because they have failed to recognize his talent.

    Do you not see how ridiculous your argument sounds. Honestly, am I missing something? You can not actually be suggesting that digital distribution and sharing are reasons why struggling musicians are struggling?

    I am truly sorry, I do not mean to offend, but as with anything, the wheat will be separated from the chaff. It sucks for the proverbial chaff, but such is life.

    You have to stop assuming you or anyone else is good enough. Some good artists make money. It is in fact easier now than ever for them to do so. Crappy ones, in general, don’t. But you would be surprised what people will pay for.

    No one “needs” a record company. No one “needs” a watchdog. They need exposure and most artists are willing to trade security for exposure. Welcome to the future.

  • John, it still isn’t. If an artist is struggling, no one is downloading anything they are producing “en mass” legitimately or otherwise.

    • You may have made enough money to continue as musician. When a large chunk of the money has gone out of the industry, no matter how it was divvied up, those that were just above the viability line are now below it. The consumption of the product hasn’t changed the number paying for it has reduced and the rate per paying consumption has dropped too.

      No longer a viable industry. Better to stay at home and play with your mates, then travel across to some gig where you are likely to be out of pocket at the end of the night. And that is for performers, many in the industry are not. John Perry Barlow never played with the Dead he just wrote lyrics and tripped out at Leary’s place.

  • I guess my problem with David’s general argument is the idea that there are no alternatives, or that the only real way to make a living is by relying on paid consumption.

    The landscape has changed and while there are challenges in monetization, there are also benefits with a more open ecosystem.

    What is the product? Digital files? They are far to accessible to be a viable source of income for most artists. So then, what else? It has to be a combination of things. Starting with a deeper connection to the fans, which is MUCH easier these days.

    Artists need to start taking more stock in the people who ARE willing to pay, or to contribute. Chasing down “pirates” is a losing battle and ultimately only serves to alienate artists from their true fanbase.

    • I haven’t rejected alternatives; the market has. Artist after artist, large and small, say these alternatives don’t work. Indie labels, middle class bands, songwriters keep saying both publicly and in forums I attend, “I hope this all works out, but the numbers don’t add up, and there’s no substitute for selling music.” That’s not me saying it; I’m just responding to what people in the business are saying themselves.

    • angryvillager says “___”
      a bunch of nonsense… obviously you’re not in the business…

      ” What is the product? Digital files? ”

      umm.. the product is the same as it always has been, no matter what the container whether 8-track, cassette, cd, or digital (and actually, cds are digital too).
      I think you are very confused.. remember: the product isn’t the packaging/container, it is and always has been the content.

  • Then they need more people telling them that the old ways are not viable moving forward. And one of my original points, made on one of your other posts hold true. In order to obtain profitability in this marketplace, costs must be cut to reflect the actual(not perceived) value of digital music if your goal is to turn a profit/make a living.

    Market drives price. So, as long as people are looking at the digital file as the product(as opposed to the content), that is how they will determine its value. So the ONLY way to change the perception of content and subsequently increase its value, is to separate it from the transfer medium(digital files). How is this being done? Again, the same way that file sharing sites are profiting, by monetizing clicks, downloads, etc.

    Imagine you are building cars. Your car goes forward, backwards, turns, keeps people dry. So does every other car out there. None of those things add value to the car, do they? They are simply aspects of a vehicle, that people generally accept as ubiquitous with an automobile. So why do people buy one car over another? Why do they get a new car as opposed to used? Preference? Sure to an extent, but also it is how they are engaged with the vehicle. What amenities does it have over another model/brand that causes them to choose THAT particular one.

    Digital files have attributes that are completely ubiquitous and independent of the content they contain. One MP3 is not “better” than another. They don’t perceive value in the container. Your problem however is that people have grown to accept the content and the container as the same thing, thus they do not perceive them as being separate. So in order to assign a greater value to the content, thus making it more profitable. It has to be presented in such a way as can not be simply shared/traded or “stolen” so easily.

    Hence my point in regards to not being able to have it both ways. In order to distribute media more easily, the industry allowed it to be blended with the container. It allowed the price to be set, AND most importantly it allowed media to be consumed piecemeal. By splitting up content, you have devalued the over all project even further. For some people, this is not a big deal. For others, who are not doing the type of volume necessary to make the pennies all add up, it is a big problem. But you can’t go back. Not unless you are willing to reign in your content and TIGHTLY control the PRIMARY source of dissemination. Obviously you cannot stop every instance of content division or unauthorized distribution. But you can make the INITIAL point of contact more of a package, thus increasing the overall value of the product.

    We stream all of our music via Soundcloud. Does this affect sales? Of course, but we are not doing a large enough volume for sales to matter anyway. And if we were, streaming would not be a hindrance as we would already be making money. So why stream? Why let people listen for “free”? Because exposure, TO US, is more important than paid downloads. Because we have accepted our place in the music industry as small potatoes and are willing to do this for the sake of making music as opposed to relying on making a profit. But our CHOICE is no different than anyone else. An artist could quite easily NOT distribute his/her works en mass and work diligently to make sure it was presented in ONLY the manner in which they saw fit. And the trade off for such control would in fact be less(at least initially) exposure.

    You are being told the alternatives don’t work. I contend they work just fine so long as people recognize that they are part of a NEW way of doing business and that the old way, while still viable, is not the only way, nor is it the best option for anyone trying to make a living in this business.

    • Forgive me, but you’re essentially saying that you’re comfortable not doing business but that you represent a new way of doing business. Neither I nor anyone else would deprive you of the opportunity to do whatever you want with your music, and if it serves your music production to distribute freely, so be it. But I think many of those artists who have sold at a scale where they can call their music a business will disagree with you that streaming or illegal downloads aren’t threats. I don’t mean the millionaires; I mean middle-class artists popular enough that they’re just making it by touring and taking a hit on sales, but are fully aware that they can’t tour year-round indefinitely.

    • The individual artist cannot monetize clicks.

  • AudioNomics – Stop talking about “the business” like it is some sort of rocket science. Anyone with half a brain and a basic understanding of economics can understand this issue. What you don’t seem to understand is the difference between perceived and actual value. What you THINK your content is worth is not necessarily what other people think it is worth. And one artist might be able to sell 10 songs for 10 bucks while others may be lucky to get 3.

    I have plenty of experience with data and how it is valued. Media content is not some unicorn or other mystical creature. It is a bunch of 1’s and 0’s when it comes down to digital distribution. So as long as people are linking the value of a song/movie with the container and not the experience, you are going to have an uphill battle in getting them to spend more than they THINK it is worth.

    You can watch a movie on your TV, and it might be pretty awesome. It ain’t like going to the theater for most people, and the prices of tickets versus downloads reflect as much. So while someone may pirate a movie, they know damn well they are not getting the same experience as being there. Same with music. And in both instances people will only pay for that experience when they think the content merits the investment, not just because the people who created it spend millions of dollars and believe their creative works have value.

    • “And in both instances people will only pay for that experience when they think the content merits the investment…”

      This is clearly not correct.

      If, say, I knew the owner of the local club and he let me into every show for free. I’d go for free. I, and I think most people, would never ever say, “No no I truly value the Morbid Angel live experience so I’ll pay this time.” No, I’ll take free please. If a band I like less than Morbid Angel played a club where I didn’t know the owner I would pay even though I “valued” that experience less. Because I wouldn’t get it otherwise. In the current environment live shows don’t merit money more than recordings because people “value” live shows so much more than recordings. It’s just because it’s harder to sneak through a physical back door than to click “download” while sitting in your undies in front of the computer.

      A large group (the vast majority, I think) will not pay no matter how much they “value the experience”, if they have a way of not paying. If the system lets enough of these free riders get away with it, the system crashes.

  • “But I think many of those artists who have sold at a scale where they can call their music a business will disagree with you that streaming or illegal downloads aren’t threats. I don’t mean the millionaires; I mean middle-class artists popular enough that they’re just making it by touring and taking a hit on sales, but are fully aware that they can’t tour year-round indefinitely.”

    When did I say it wasn’t a threat? What I said was that you can’t have it both ways, on several occasions, in several of your posts.

    That way of doing business in most certainly in trouble, but you can’t blame the consumer for a situation that was created and to some extent is maintained by the industry. Justin Beiber or Deertick. An MP3 is an MP3 is an MP3 to the consumer, no matter who produced it, how much it cost, or how reliant the artist is on the sale of the aforementioned MP3.

    And I feel for struggling artists, I really do, but just getting by is just getting by, regardless of sales. So if you are in a position where your music is being downloaded more than bought, I’m sorry but you need to seriously rethink your strategy moving forward. Not everyone is cut out to make a living playing music, and most people are never going to turn a profit doing so based on sales alone.

    When was that ever the case? That is the disconnect I have with your thought process. When in the last 70 years was making music and simply selling it viable as a means of making a living? When was touring, doing crappy shows, selling merch or whatever. When was that ever not part of the process. We live in an age where people CAN do that, but that is definitely not the norm.

    How are people even finding these random small time bands in the first place? I can see this argument, kind of applying to a well known band, but do you honestly think small bands are being pirated more than big ones? Or are you implying that they just feel it more, which is possible, but also not relevant.

    Of course less money is bad, but how can any artist assume every download would have been a sale if only there was no such thing as piracy. You are either selling music or you aren’t. Right?

    What level of musician are you talking about here? Small enough to be independent, but big enough to be pirated? To me those seem incongruous with “struggling” artists. So if you are big enough to be pirated, you are big enough to not need to set your music free in cyberspace, thus you are able to control your own financial destiny.

    • This conversation, I suspect, is caught up in semantics, I suspect. You’re right to ask about what size artist, for instance, but making music and selling it has certainly been a viable revenue generator for quite a number of artists, songwriters, and supporting professionals in the last 70 years. A handful have made millions, a huge river of artists always struggles and makes nothing, and in the middle have always been some great artists who, yeah, have made solid livings by selling albums, by owning rights to songs they’ve written, etc. This is part of the subject of the next post, which I’m sure you’ll balk at. I don’t dismiss your own experience or even some of the generalizations you make about artists, but I’ll stand by the general principle — see title of blog — that all this digitally enhanced expansion will lead to shrinking opportunity and potentially fewer works in the long run.

  • John: “The individual artist cannot monetize clicks.”

    Yes they can. Anyone can monetize clicks. People do it all the time. Do you need a certain amount of traffic to do so? Yes. Is there something barring people from profiting off the traffic they generate? Nope, not even a little bit. You can in fact set up your own site, put ads all over the place, tack an analytics tracker on your page and watch the fractions of pennies roll in just like anyone else. And in that instance, your content is key to your success.

  • “A large group (the vast majority, I think) will not pay no matter how much they “value the experience”, if they have a way of not paying. If the system lets enough of these free riders get away with it, the system crashes.”

    So then you give them an experience they can not get for free… People will obviously pay for something they can not get elsewhere, and not every person will go out of there way to find the free ride.

    • “So then you give them an experience they can not get for free”

      What about this one:
      First : Via a law called copyright shutdown websites that illegally appropriate my work.
      Second: Charge for my work!

    • And what if it’s something that you can’t “perform” like, say, inventory management software or an instruction manual?

  • angryvillager says ” AudioNomics – Stop talking about “the business” like it is some sort of rocket science. Anyone with half a brain and a basic understanding of economics can understand this issue. What you don’t seem to understand is the difference between perceived and actual value. ”

    sigh…
    Actually, if you understood ‘the business’ you would stop saying things like “Market drives price” and other things that just don’t apply to the music biz. See, there is this thing called ‘Congress’… they make these things called ‘laws’… and in these ‘laws’ they gave a non-elected judge in New York absolute power over songwriters to set market prices. Let me say that again, a non-elected judge sets the price (except for one small ever shrinking segment)

    The solution, as ive said over and over and over again, is legislative.

  • AudioNomics: You mean the laws designed to keep the PRO’s monopoly in check? Let’s face it, they don’t care about the little guy, they don’t care about the struggling artists. They care about their bottom line. So to your point about the market and how that doesn’t apply to the music business, you are correct, because they have continuously abused their power and control of creative works to eliminate true competition and now you people are crying because it has bitten you all in the proverbial ass.

    The industry devalued its product to push sales. They found a way to charge for a product that they only have to produce once. They have a fixed amount of cost associated with and unlimited distribution. And for the VAST majority of creative works controlled by the PRO’s, they can use copyright claims to strong arm companies into paying whatever they like for the privilege of licensing their music.

    But you are concerned with the little guy, right? The guy who is completely irrelevant to the industry, right up until his work starts turning a profit. Then they will appropriate his works as they see fit making sure they are always getting their piece of the pie.

    So would you stop sharing altogether? Because that is the only way to ensure every artist gets paid, right? So what about the artists who don’t belong to your club? The ones who do like to share? Do they get left out in the cold because you can’t make a buck off of them?

    sf46: File a claim. You want control of your music, keep track and file claims. Oh and don’t put it on the internet, because that is a guaranteed way to get your work shared.

    And you know what. Any content that you want control over requires you to give people a reason to get it from you. A copy of your software, digitally distributed might not equal a sale, but it also doesn’t cost you anything. As with media, if you find a place distributing it without permission, file a claim. Do your best to make sure you are the only place to get your stuff. But as was stated before, some people, who would not normally buy your content, people who are not equivalent to lost sales, will use it, listen, watch, whatever, if it is free. Otherwise, they will probably not even pay attention.

    A sale is when someone is willing to pay for something that is being offered. Theft is when someone takes something that is not theirs from the person owns it. When someone goes to a download site, and they grab a file that is sitting there, they are not the problem. the site is, so your recourse is to stop the site, or let it go.

    I am sure some people have downloaded my albums without me knowing or getting paid. We have many avenues for interaction, information and legitimate purchase of our stuff. The people who got it for free are not fans, they aren’t customers, they are just random users. They found something that was free, didn’t feel the need to vet it’s legitimacy and moved on. That’s it.

    I do what I can to control our music, but I don’t have the time or energy to hunt down every MP3 being traded online. They simply are not that important. I care about legit sales, period. So should you. Overstating the impact of non customer downloads is not going to make people buy more of your content. You can only ever hope to limit access, but there is no guarantee that is going to translate into more money in your pocket.

    • Dude, wtf are you even talking about? please. get.a.clue.

      No artist is obligated to join a PRO. You can spend your life chasing down payments from all the places that use your product if you wish, PROs just make life easier so you don’t have to hire a crew to do that (essentially what the non-profit PRO is) , or you can better manage your time and make more art.

      If you want to share your work, nobody and I mean NObody gives a shit (provided it was yours to share in the first place). In fact, more power to you, as copyright is about choices, and not having those choices forcibly removed.

      And who is saying chase down the people who steal? I swear to God I’m talking to the wall sometimes. Seriously, who are you arguing with? NOBODY MADE THAT ARGUMENT. Sites and site owners/operators are the key to piracy, always have been.

  • I will say one more thing as I don not want to appear as if I am just being obstinate. People who create should be compensated for their work. They should maintain as much control and authority over that work as they deem necessary. But there is always compromise. You sign a record deal, you agree to share the fruits of your labor with a record company in exchange for backing. You sign a licensing deal, you agree to let your song be used to promote a product in exchange for increased exposure and a fee.

    When you distribute your music online, your work is converted into an format that can be duplicated and INFINITE amount of times at little or no cost to you. You understand that the freedom with which your work can be shared has inherent risks associated with it, and that not every copy of your work has value. You do this for increased exposure, an ability to track legitimate sales, and a host of other things that go along with digital distribution.

    The system is not perfect, but there are pros and cons to everything. You can not truly control the internet without fundamentally changing what it was designed to do. Share. So you either work withing the system, or get out of the system. It’s that simple.

    Thank you all for your comments, even though we do not agree, I appreciate the discourse.

  • “No artist is obligated to join a PRO. You can spend your life chasing down payments from all the places that use your product if you wish, PROs just make life easier so you don’t have to hire a crew to do that (essentially what the non-profit PRO is) , or you can better manage your time and make more art.”

    The irony of that statement is truly astounding. Let me rephrase that, so that the point I have been making is easier for you to understand.

    “No artist is obligated to share their work online. You can spend your life relying on touring and selling merchandise to gain a following, converting to a digital medium just makes life easier so you don’t have to hire a crew to do that, essentially what the internet was created for, or you can accept the fact that you are giving up some control of your works, better manage your time and make more art.”

    It is a trade off in both instances. A point I made that could not be any clearer. The downside of digital media is the same as its upside, ease of access and duplication. I can’t control my reliance a PRO any more than you can control how a digital file will be bought, sold and shared.

    ” Sites and site owners/operators are the key to piracy, always have been.”

    Um, that is precisely what I said, so I am not sure where you get the idea that I was arguing about chasing down the consumer. What I did say is that someone who gets your stuff for free is not necessarily a lost sale. There aren’t only so many instances of digital files available. If 1000 people download a song for free, they did not cut the pool of available instances of that song by 1000. So the only measure of a sale that should matter is transaction that takes place when someone values your work enough to pay for it.

    And the only way to make sure you are profiting from your work is to tightly control its distribution. Will there still be “illegal” sharing. Of course. But that goes back to the pros and the cons of making your music available in the digital medium.

    As for your comment about “choosing to put your work online”. Obviously, short of a change in technology, there is no way to stop your work from ending up in a digital form. The sad part about this is that DRM could have worked had it been implemented properly. It wasn’t, it hurt the bottom line, and companies soon realized that it was more profitable to just use the standard and abandon any real idea of DRM. But that was their own fault. And you are correct, it does make it harder for the little guy. So your only real option is to adapt.

    You seem to think I want all music to be free. That no artist should hope to make money on their work. That is not the case at all. I just accept the fact that the digital medium is a part of life, one that favors convenience over control. No amount of legislation is going to change that.

  • All good points. It’s up to opinion. I don’t see how to make much off digital unless consumer respects the process of what he’s or she is hearing. Maybe artists should explain their means of producing and what it cost. I’m just guessing but recordings on a lot of this stuff didn’t cost as much so there is a lot more out there. I hear a lot of music because it’s free but I would rather have weather statistics from the Southwestern U.S. clogging up my hard drive then a lot of this laptop looping nonsense.

    I have a record on spotify. Don’t know how it got there. I never approved it. I did approve a contract with CD Baby, a digital distributer so that’s how it got lost in the shuffle. So it is up to me to read through the contracts.
    This record actually cost money to make in a studio with tape. I make a living as a musician which is a PERFORMING ART. IT REQUIRES performances to GET PAID.

    Maybe we can get off our laptops and iPads for one minute and actually create something worthwhile to get paid. A friend of mine said its about the quantity anymore to get licensing for work. That is how you EARN a living. It’s not all about me. I am in no way jealous by these Sean Parker lameasses. They are jealous of artists like you and me who don’t need them.

    Write MUSIC down on paper. Remember before kids were listening to phonographs, publishing was in the paper. Kids were made to learn music notation in school. Then you wrote it. Then you took it to the publishing house. A lot of these guys could hear the music written in his or her head and could tell if the song was going to be a hit. Then someone in your family knew how to play a piano and READ. The family would learn it and sing it. On the back was 1st page of another song. ADVERTISING by the artist or publisher to entice you to pay for next.

    Then records became the big thing. Why did CD’s cost more to the consumer when they first came out but were far cheaper to make than phonographs. Weren’t some of these companies profit margins big enough knowing that teens are going to have to buy or die not having their idols music.

    Do we really want to go back to that hysteria? Guitar players that can play a pentatonic scale over and over, fast and faster living in castles with moats? Hey at one time it was a possibility.

    I like the idea of the internet concert where people can log on, pay a little bit and see it live. Then we will know if your recording in a cubicle approach is worth it.

Join the discussion.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.