No Free Lunch for Chris Anderson

Chris Anderson, the Editor of Wired Magazine, who has made a mint stating the obvious (The Long Tail), has a new book Free: The Future of a Radical Price, which will cost you $27 bucks to absorb his faux-wisdom. Fortunately, you can save yourself some money and time by reading Malcolm Gladwell’s biting review in The New Yorker.

“Free” is essentially an extended elaboration of Stewart Brand’s famous declaration that “information wants to be free.” The digital age, Anderson argues, is exerting an inexorable downward pressure on the prices of all things “made of ideas.” Anderson does not consider this a passing trend. Rather, he seems to think of it as an iron law: “In the digital realm you can try to keep Free at bay with laws and locks, but eventually the force of economic gravity will win.” To musicians who believe that their music is being pirated, Anderson is blunt. They should stop complaining, and capitalize on the added exposure that piracy provides by making money through touring, merchandise sales, and “yes, the sale of some of [their] music to people who still want CDs or prefer to buy their music online.”

As I have said before, I know a great many musicians in their 60′s and 70′s with a lifetime of recorded music that is being devalued by Anderson’s ethos and attitude. While he’s out giving $30,000 lectures on “Free” , they are facing bankruptcy because of health costs. It is little comfort that this smart-ass tells them to go out and tour. Obviously we have been trying to counter this nonsense on this blog for a while, but Gladwell has a great platform to debunk Anderson’s hypocritical claims (he sells his books and doesn’t give away Wired Magazine).

It would be nice to know, as well, just how a business goes about reorganizing itself around getting people to work for “non-monetary rewards.” Does he mean that the New York Timesshould be staffed by volunteers, like Meals on Wheels? Anderson’s reference to people who “prefer to buy their music online” carries the faint suggestion that refraining from theft should be considered a mere preference. And then there is his insistence that the relentless downward pressure on prices represents an iron law of the digital economy. Why is it a law? Free is just another price, and prices are set by individual actors, in accordance with the aggregated particulars of marketplace power. “Information wants to be free,” Anderson tells us, “in the same way that life wants to spread and water wants to run downhill.” But information can’t actually want anything, can it? Amazon wants the information in the Dallas paper to be free, because that way Amazon makes more money. Why are the self-interested motives of powerful companies being elevated to a philosophical principle?

The “Free Economy” has certainly benefited Google and a few other powerful corporations. I’d be hard put to find a single artist it has helped. Maybe Anderson should donate all his book royalties to The Blues Foundation.

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312 Responses to No Free Lunch for Chris Anderson

  1. Jonathan Peterson says:

    foo.

    There are TONS of artists who’s careers have greatly benefited from the lowered costs of entry and worldwide promotion created by the internet. If you can’t find them, you aren’t looking.

    The internet has made costs of production and distribution drastically drop. But the costs of old school music marketing have stayed high (and probably gone up with the clearchannelization of the air waves).

    The problem, ESPECIALLY with music, is that the music industry fought so long and hard to make digital media MORE restrictive than traditional media.

    The same problem is now killing blu-ray sales, but the movie industry is lucky in that DVDs are large enough that only the most dedicated individuals are willing to bittorrent content instead of purchasing a fairly priced movie and a they are likely to learn from music’s painful lessons and create a digital distribution marketplace for movies that isn’t 100% anti-customer.

  2. Apesofmath says:

    Regardless of the ethical basis of his argument, he’s correct. The business model of selling recordings of music is no longer functional, so artists need to find a new one.

    You can’t apply an economic model based in scarcity onto something that is free to replicate. This does not bode well for anyone who relies on income from IP.

    While I agree with Anderson’s premise, I’m definitely not optimistic about it.

  3. ewlparsons says:

    Futher, if you take an extend artists to include writers, you have some very good examples in the form of Cory Doctrow and Peter Watts, both of whom give their work freely away, both of whom see big sales boosts as a result. Doctrow himself has gone on record frequently stating that the pay for content publishing system is unsustainable, and he expects to be living off book tour and speaking engagements rather than royalties – and this is from a writer, hardly the more performative of arts. As he says in the introduction to last years “Little Brother” – piracy isn’t nearly as big a threat as obscurity.

    Also, while I am sympathetic to the older artists now finding their back catalogues devalued, what were they doing with the money they earned while they were younger? A working life is fifty years, give or take, and you save what you can for retirement. If I were a auto-factory worker, I’d have no expectation on continuing to reap profits from the cars I built forty years ago – why should artists be different? If their working life didn’t pay them enough to retire on, then that’s the problem there, and it’s the record bosses who we need to be taking to task.

    This is not a point in favour of theft, however. I just want to point out that there are some good arguements for artists voluntarily releasing their material for “free”.

  4. kevin says:

    Over at Daring Fireball, Chris responded to John Gruber who made the same claim that Chris was a hypocrite for selling his book:

    “I may be a blowhard, but I’m not a hypocrite. “Free” will be free. Ebooks free for first week, web book (Google Books) free for first month, abridged audiobook free to all hardcover purchasers and unabridged audiobook (the whole thing) free to everyone forever. All starting on pub date (July 9th).”

    http://daringfireball.net/linked/2009/06/29/free-free

  5. Cameron says:

    The only time I give money to an artist is if they are local or they are independent. If a big name artist was willing to sell their newest CD online and I knew the money was going to them, I would get it and pay the price.

    Now like Jon said, a lot of the artists he knows are going broke due to health care issues. If Obama can take care of that (actual honest to health care for everyone), then the artists can concentrate on a business model that uses the Net and cuts out the parasites in RIAA.

  6. Daniel in Denton says:

    For such a progressive guy, Jon, you sure like to bitch about the kids on your lawn ;-) Apesofmath is right: A recorded song has no monetary value. This reality only hurts the record companies and millionaire rock stars who depend on them, not all artists. Record companies only made money as cultural middlemen because recording and distribution were so expensive. Tech. has rendered them obsolete. Meanwhile, songs work now as advertisements for artists’ bread and butter: live shows and t-shirts. Sure, some people will pay for a CD or vinyl record but they are purists. Most people just want to have a soundtrack while they surf the net or throw a party. They aren’t going to pay for a record that’s 70% filler material.

    If you don’t believe artists can make it without their corporate overlords, you should see Denton (or Omaha or Austin) — there’s so much music here, so many bands, so many venues and it goes beyond our borders here. Slobberbone played a reunion gig and fans came from Canada, Philly and Tennessee to a little dive to see them. It’s not about the money, it’s about living for your art and making enough to keep on.

  7. kevin says:

    There is a change in how work will be monetized. I’m actually surprised at musicians are just now entering this fight — they’ve been giving their work for free to radio stations (who have not been paying royalties for playing on air) for decades. For exactly the same excuse others are using now.

    The biggest problem is that everyone, we people and corporations seem to think artists should be forking over work for mere “exposure” as if some of these artists need more exposure.

    Google tried that trick, and rightly got abused for it. Google certainly wants to suck in the free to advance their bottom line, even if the artist gets screwed. Pay the artist, give it to the public Google and you’ll reap your own benefits of exposure for both you and the artist.

    The other issue i’m seeing is everyone wants to dictate the new business model, usually in a way that favors their own interests. New systems coming into play allow for a myriad of business models, ones the artist can select to benefit their own interests instead of those of some middle-man. Let a bunch of business models flourish, stop trying to dictate them.

  8. T Bone Burnett says:

    Art is not information.

    (T-shirts are an artist’s bread and butter? For what kind of artist would that be true?)

    And you can play all the gigs you want in Austin for thirty dollars a night.

    Anybody here ever cost out a music tour?

    The angry mob is cutting its own throat.

  9. len says:

    There may be some shockwaves coming. YouTube has been a free venue but it is very possible that soon it will be pay to play. As these free distribution sites find their investors buckline (Ever cost a server system with decent performance?), the options for free distribution will begin to narrow.

    Nothing from nothing means nothing.

  10. Daniel in Denton says:

    I do wonder how “free” can be sustainable for many corps’ business models. Nonetheless, Youtube expanded upload limits this week

  11. Samuel T says:

    I’m afraid I have to agree with some of the other commenters. It’s not the view I would have expected a progressive reformer to take.

    Businesses whose core value used to be overcoming the costs of distribution need to change drastically in the face of humanity’s greatest ever distribution mechanism. Some will survive, some won’t.

    Musicians, performers and creators whose main source of income used to be derived from those businesses will inevitably need to rethink where their bread and butter will come from.

    I can’t deny the tragedy of the financial circumstances of some of our great musicians, but propping up unsustainable business models at the expense of the creative freedom of the rest of society is not the answer.

    I’ll go get off your lawn now :)

  12. Mason Dixon says:

    Kevin,
    BMI, ASCAP, SESAC, and several others will be stunned to hear that radio stations don’t pay royalties in that that is the sole function of those performance rights organizations.

    Apparently, misinformation is already free.

  13. Daniel in Denton says:

    T Bone: It’s pretty common knowledge that artists make most of their money playing live and selling merch, not from record sales.

    And in the digital age, EVERYTHING is information (okay, there might be a few exceptions, but please allow me some hyperbole to make the point). Personally, I’d rather art be information than just another commodity

    And a little treat for those who conflate the record companies’ interests with the artists’: http://blog.jamendo.com/2009/03/23/three-strikes-vs-more-strikes/

  14. Daniel in Denton says:

    Clarification: By “artists” I mean pop musicians

  15. Sam says:

    I agree with Apesofmath. I think you’re confusing two different arguments here. There’s “is the Internet forcing prices down and making more things free?” and there’s “should it be that way?”

    I understand that there are good arguments for why we should attach a price to a copy of a piece of art (even if it’s free to make the copy). But I think it might become impractical to operate that way. You can call copyright violaters whatever you like, but if you can’t make your consumers buy your stuff, that’s going to be bad for business no matter how morally outraged you are.

    I think it might make more sense to start with a blank slate and say, “Given the real world in its current state, how can an artist make money?” Getting paid for every copy of your record sounds nice, but so does a lifetime bursary from the government. If neither of those is happeneing, what are the other options? And unfortunately, I do think we need to consider that there may be no replacement for the industry as it was.

    This same confusion of “what’s happening?” and “what ought to happen?” seems to be playing out in conversations about newspapers. (See “Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable” – http://www.shirky.com/weblog/2009/03/newspapers-and-thinking-the-unthinkable/).

  16. Marc-Andre says:

    Jon,

    I very often find myself agreeing with you completely. But not this time.

    In fact, I like the parallel that’s been made with gravity. Zero price, even as a very distant option, will gradually pull everything towards its center. Unfortunately for musicians who had invested their careers in an age before this option existed, they find themselves victims of the times. Had media companies compensated them correctly, they would probably not need anything now.

    And like any force in nature, this new reality does not answer to opinions, no matter how valid they are. Anyone in the western world can download a classic rock song for free in less time than it takes to go and gather a bucket of dirt from his or her own backyard. This is not something we can rewind.

    Today it’s music but soon tv shows and movies are going to follow. It’ll take some creative destruction for a new culture to emerge. You say it yourself.

  17. T Bone Burnett says:

    And what about musicians that are not pop?

    And sorry, but in no age is everything information. That is too simple.

    To say music, for instance, is information vulgarizes music- renders it non music- renders it noise like most information.

    • Daniel in Denton says:

      Musicians that aren’t pop have hte same leveled playing field I suppose … I guess I meant “non-pop” to mean classical/orchestral music. I don’t know about them … I have little concept of how their industry works, who makes money, how they make money, or their audience. I will admit ignorance on this facet of the music industry.

      But let me refine my comment: In the digital age, everything has the potential to be information (though if we want to be literal, information is that which is processed by your brain — all sound is information when it hits your ear drum and becomes interpreted as words).

      You call information “noise” because you have a biased definition of “information” as though only that which you find useful counts. As soon as wax cylinders were developed, music became information. Indeed, all sound became information. Here’s one for ya: When the Beatles recorded an inaudible dog whistle at the end of “Sgt. Pepper’s” was it noise or art? It’s on the recording, whether or not you can hear it. It’s information, processable by dogs. Recorded music is information.

      They usually say recessions are caused by too much supply vs. too little demand. Well, there is an infinite amount of copies of “Sgt. Pepper’s” floating around out there today. Whether or not it’s valuable as art, which I think it is, it’s in such plentiful supply that you can envision the invisible hand smothering its value with a pillow. The RECORDING industry has been in a recession for 10+ years, but it hasn’t stopped musicians from making music.

      • beckylooo says:

        The semantic argument of info vs noise is getting away from the larger issue which is confronting (and hopefully solving) the problem of the broken business model in the record business (film and tv are running head long into the same buzz saw, we’re just a few years behind the curve).

        I’ve been having this conversation for so many years, I can’t believe it hasn’t been solved yet. The model as is doesn’t work, suing your customers doesn’t work, giving it away for free DOES NOT WORK. Are people really suggesting that the results of someone’s blood, sweat and soul should be given away for free ’cause we’ve technologically developed a way to steal it? That’s madness.

        And this notion is so mind bogglingly off base: “A recorded song has no monetary value. This reality only hurts the record companies and millionaire rock stars who depend on them, not all artists. ”

        A recorded song has no monetary value ONLY if you don’t give a shit how it sounds – and there are plenty of people who don’t. I hope they enjoy their latest Lady Gaga limewire download. If you want music that sounds as it was intended to by the creator, you must and should pay for it. And the idea that musicians pay their way with touring and merch is true for a super slim section of the industry so, you know, enough of that. I have plenty of friends who’ve had to harass club owners for their measly $50 at the end of the night.

        There has to be a way to monetize the work itself. There’ve been some noble efforts, some well known, some not so much – Prince, Radiohead, Jill Sobule – but nothing’s shifted the landscape. Surely with all the smart people ’round this place we can come up with more constructive thoughts on the issue than the same, tired old arguments about how one shouldn’t have to pay for music as it just goes to the greedy record company, or how “information wants to be free.” Thank you so much Malcolm Gladwell for making the point I’ve been screaming at my screen for a while now. Information doesn’t WANT anything. It just is.

        • beckylooo says:

          And just to put it out there, a musician friend of mine had an idea I’d be interested to hear others thoughts on…

          There’s a media surcharge attached to your ISP monthly bill – say $10 – which gives you access to all media, ever. The money goes in a big pot, the ISPs track downloads and pay artists accordingly. There are certainly issues with this – anyone who’s had to harass their union to harass a studio to pay you you’re f’n residuals knows what I’m talking about – but I’ve always thought it a compelling idea.

        • Daniel in Denton says:

          I obtain my music free and legally from Creative Commons licensed venues. Why should I pay my ISP a fee that goes to record companies when they have nothing to do with my online activities?

  18. woodnsoul says:

    If the creators of IP aren’t protected and compensated, and they are increasingly not, then the really good ones will simply go into another field. That leaves a good many “pseudo-creatives” and mediocore talent working for peanuts. There are notable exceptions, of course, but we are not talking about those.

    Jon is right – it is rapidly becoming a cluttered, mediocore world in many creative fields and music is no different.

  19. Fentex says:

    Nobody ever uses the complete quote…

    “On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it’s so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other.”

    When Brand said ‘free’, he meant as in ‘liberated’, not price.

    The often quoted line, when complete, was acknowledging the value of information and pressure for exploitation fo it’s value.

    I think olderm usicians are in a bit of a historic bind. When they produced their art in the past the suppossed contract (through copyright) with society was that they earned income from a temprary monopoly before their cultural contribution became absorded into the cultural body ogf society.

    But labels capture of the income from copyright stole a lot of the benefit from them. As gatekeeprs the labels decided who was going to succeed and where the benefits would acrue.

    And it wasn’t with the artists.

    In the future it is hoped the labels won’t have control, and the benefits will acrue more properly with the artists irregardless of copyright.

    But in the meantime some people caught between the old that controlled their careers, and the new, which they can’t exploit because of their situations suffer.

  20. T Bone Burnett says:

    If you want to hear the sound of information, please refer to the dial up modem.

    Information is simple minded. It cannot comprehend sound.

  21. Daniel in Denton says:

    Sorry, I’m usually a lurker and not a commenter here, but I’m really well informed and interested in this subject. Plus it angries up my blood.

    I’d like to note, somewhat parenthetically, that there are also issues with international IP (intellectual property) laws. Namely, many countries don’t recognize IP, or do so completely differently. China is a prime example. This will wreak havoc on US interests, if it isn’t already.

    The bottom line is that copyright law in this country is waaaay outta wack (life + 50 years!?). Donald Duck should be public domain already, instead he’s proprietary at age 75. If copyright didn’t so completely favor corporate interests I’d be much less of a digi-topian hardliner, but as I see it the Internet challenges the paradigm of art as a profitable commodity and turns it into something accessible to all. But regardless of my opinion, the fact is that the current environment of digital formats has created a supply that will never come close to demand. As one who appreciates the arts and actively seeks out new work, the resulting instability among those with financial interests isn’t my problem. They should be finding a way to make me see it as worthwhile to pay them. There is no right to a business model, nor to profits from that model.

    • beckylooo says:

      I seem to be unable to reply to your reply of my earlier suggestion. If you’d read closely you would have noted the money would not go to the record company, it would go directly to the artist. You also didn’t address the point I made that your idea of supply and demand being out of wack assumes no one cares about quality. A download from the internet is not the same as a CD. It’s just not.

      I don’t think you’ll find argument here (though who knows) that copyright law is wackadoo but to jump from that idea to “artist’s should give their songs away for free ’cause they’re just commercials for live shows and t-shirts anyway” is a far leap. Not only does it not make you sound well informed and it doesn’t come close to solving the problem.

      I’m all for bouncing this back and forth, hashing it out and brainstorming good solutions. Throughout my childhood, I ate and had clothes and went to a good school largely thanks to royalties earned by my musician father. I now feed myself thanks to residuals. I suspect your perspective on this would widen if it were your livelihood we were discussing. You have no more right to my work than I have to a business model. Unless, of course, you chose to pay for it.

      • beckylooo says:

        I should clarify – a free download from a bittorent or file sharing site is, quality wise, not the same as a CD or itunes-like high quality download.

        • Daniel in Denton says:

          Sorry, your ISP tax idea sounded like all the others, whereby the money goes to **AA or somesuch organization representative of the industry, rather than the artists. I overlooked the fine points. That point makes it better than I thought, though the logistics would be a pain!

          I don’t mean “copyright sucks, music should therefore be free,” I mean that the supply of recorded music so much exceeds demand (infinity can’t be matched), and the technology is so widely available, that musicians have no choice in the matter.. Their recorded music will be free whether they like it or not.

          Your father earned royalties because the record company was selling records and he had a right to a cut of the money generated from his effort. I’m not saying artists shouldn’t receive compensation. I am saying that they don’t receive enough from the labels and the new tech offers them much more control.

          A download from the Internet isn’t the same as a CD, quality-wise. MP3s are a lossy format that can’t render surround sound and all the finer points of quality audio recording. But most people aren’t that concerned with this. If they were, quadrophonic stereo would have caught on. I contend that most people just want a portable music file that they can jog with, surf the net and dance to at a house party. Audiophiles can have their vinyl, sure, but the rest of us just want to hear a song we like. There will be a small market for quality copies (I, for one, can’t help but buy certain seasons of the Simpsons) but the market at large is only partly concerned with the quality. If it really mattered, people wouldn’t shell out for bootleg DVDs where you can see a silhouette of some jerk getting up for popcorn.

          For musicians, the money is and always has been in live shows and merch. It’s why they now give away their songs on MySpace but T-Shirts run upward of $20. It’s why they sign up at Jamendo and give whole albums away free. It’s why Limp Bizkit and Neil Young sided with Napster.

          (As for growing up with food on the table from artists’ royalties: I was raised on foreign US military bases and feel they should all be closed. Just because it put food on your table doesn’t mean it should be preserved.)

      • Mark Murphy says:

        “I don’t think you’ll find argument here (though who knows) that copyright law is wackadoo but to jump from that idea to “artist’s should give their songs away for free ’cause they’re just commercials for live shows and t-shirts anyway” is a far leap.”

        No, what *is* a far leap is the notion that you should be able to earn a living off of recordings and broadcasts. I have thousands of years of human history and music on my side — you have a mere handful of decades.

        And if your counter-argument is “well, technology enabled earning a living off of recordings and broadcasts”, then what technology giveth, technology can taketh away.

        (Of course, I suspect that somebody will argue that all historical record of music prior to the invention of the phonograph are merely fossils put in place by God to test us, and that in reality music has always been recorded, or something along those lines.)

        Few people make money being a blacksmith anymore. It used to be that was a good racket — a furnace, anvil, wicked biceps, and a supply of metal, and you could earn a living. Now, few blacksmiths do. Clearly, we should all be paying residuals to descendants of blacksmiths. And smithing is as much an art as is music. Mass-produced metalworks are not nearly as artistic as their hand-wrought predecessors, but I rather doubt people will give up their cars in homage to a lost art.

        Few people make money today off the production of daguerrotypes. It used to be that was a pretty good racket — a mirror, some silver halide crystals, a steady hand, and you could earn a living. Now, few daguerrotypists do. Clearly, we should all be paying residuals to descendants of daguerrotypists. And daguerrotyping is as much an art as is music. Digital camera photos are not nearly as artistic as their silver-wrought predecessors, but I rather doubt people will give up their Flickr accounts in homage to a lost art.

        The same thing holds for coopers, Latin scribes, armorers, scrimshaw artists, and so on, replaced by Hefty bags, photocopiers, the modern military, and happier toothy whales, respectively.

        Now, explain to me why recording artists get special privileges (in terms of defying the march of time) when all these other disciplines didn’t?

        Music isn’t going anywhere. The modern recording artist is, following in the footsteps of glass harmonica and lute players.

        • Daniel in Denton says:

          “No, what *is* a far leap is the notion that you should be able to earn a living off of recordings and broadcasts. I have thousands of years of human history and music on my side — you have a mere handful of decades.”

          Thank you for providing historical context

    • Apesofmath says:

      Your solution to corporate exploitation is to exploit the artist yourself? How about a decentralized market where those who create value (artists) retain control over it? No more filler songs for CD/Vinyl Albums and $1 downloads on their networking page with a paypal link and online merch store. The technology allows us to cut out the middle man, not the source.

      - Duh Aficionado Magazine

  22. beckylooo says:

    I seem to be unable to reply to your reply of my earlier suggestion. If you’d read closely you would have noted the money would not go to the record company, it would go directly to the artist. You also didn’t address the point I made that your idea of supply and demand being out of wack assumes no one cares about quality. A download from the internet is not the same as a CD. It’s just not.

    I don’t think you’ll find argument here (though who knows) that copyright law is wackadoo but to jump from that idea to “artist’s should give their songs away for free ’cause they’re just commercials for live shows and t-shirts anyway” is a far leap. Not only does it not make you sound well informed and it doesn’t come close to solving the problem.

    I’m all for bouncing this back and forth, hashing it out and brainstorming good solutions. Throughout my childhood, I ate and had clothes and went to a good school largely thanks to royalties earned by my musician father. I now feed myself thanks to residuals. I suspect your perspective on this would widen if it were your livelihood we were discussing. You have no more right to my work than I have to a business model. Unless, of course, you chose to pay for it.

    • beckylooo says:

      I should clarify – a free download from a bittorent or file sharing site is, quality wise, not the same as a CD or itunes-like high quality download.

    • Mark Murphy says:

      “I don’t think you’ll find argument here (though who knows) that copyright law is wackadoo but to jump from that idea to “artist’s should give their songs away for free ’cause they’re just commercials for live shows and t-shirts anyway” is a far leap.”

      No, what *is* a far leap is the notion that you should be able to earn a living off of recordings and broadcasts. I have thousands of years of human history and music on my side — you have a mere handful of decades.

      And if your counter-argument is “well, technology enabled earning a living off of recordings and broadcasts”, then what technology giveth, technology can taketh away.

      (Of course, I suspect that somebody will argue that all historical record of music prior to the invention of the phonograph are merely fossils put in place by God to test us, and that in reality music has always been recorded, or something along those lines.)

      Few people make money being a blacksmith anymore. It used to be that was a good racket — a furnace, anvil, wicked biceps, and a supply of metal, and you could earn a living. Now, few blacksmiths do. Clearly, we should all be paying residuals to descendants of blacksmiths. And smithing is as much an art as is music. Mass-produced metalworks are not nearly as artistic as their hand-wrought predecessors, but I rather doubt people will give up their cars in homage to a lost art.

      Few people make money today off the production of daguerrotypes. It used to be that was a pretty good racket — a mirror, some silver halide crystals, a steady hand, and you could earn a living. Now, few daguerrotypists do. Clearly, we should all be paying residuals to descendants of daguerrotypists. And daguerrotyping is as much an art as is music. Digital camera photos are not nearly as artistic as their silver-wrought predecessors, but I rather doubt people will give up their Flickr accounts in homage to a lost art.

      The same thing holds for coopers, Latin scribes, armorers, scrimshaw artists, and so on, replaced by Hefty bags, photocopiers, the modern military, and happier toothy whales, respectively.

      Now, explain to me why recording artists get special privileges (in terms of defying the march of time) when all these other disciplines didn’t?

      Music isn’t going anywhere. The modern recording artist is, following in the footsteps of glass harmonica and lute players.

      • Daniel in Denton says:

        “No, what *is* a far leap is the notion that you should be able to earn a living off of recordings and broadcasts. I have thousands of years of human history and music on my side — you have a mere handful of decades.”

        Thank you for providing historical context

  23. beckylooo says:

    I seem to be unable to reply to your reply of my earlier suggestion. If you’d read closely you would have noted the money would not go to the record company, it would go directly to the artist. You also didn’t address the point I made that your idea of supply and demand being out of wack assumes no one cares about quality. A download from the internet is not the same as a CD. It’s just not.

    I don’t think you’ll find argument here (though who knows) that copyright law is wackadoo but to jump from that idea to “artist’s should give their songs away for free ’cause they’re just commercials for live shows and t-shirts anyway” is a far leap. Not only does it not make you sound well informed and it doesn’t come close to solving the problem.

    I’m all for bouncing this back and forth, hashing it out and brainstorming good solutions. Throughout my childhood, I ate and had clothes and went to a good school largely thanks to royalties earned by my musician father. I now feed myself thanks to residuals. I suspect your perspective on this would widen if it were your livelihood we were discussing. You have no more right to my work than I have to a business model. Unless, of course, you chose to pay for it.

    • beckylooo says:

      I should clarify – a free download from a bittorent or file sharing site is, quality wise, not the same as a CD or itunes-like high quality download.

      • Daniel in Denton says:

        Sorry, your ISP tax idea sounded like all the others, whereby the money goes to **AA or somesuch organization representative of the industry, rather than the artists. I overlooked the fine points. That point makes it better than I thought, though the logistics would be a pain!

        I don’t mean “copyright sucks, music should therefore be free,” I mean that the supply of recorded music so much exceeds demand (infinity can’t be matched), and the technology is so widely available, that musicians have no choice in the matter.. Their recorded music will be free whether they like it or not.

        Your father earned royalties because the record company was selling records and he had a right to a cut of the money generated from his effort. I’m not saying artists shouldn’t receive compensation. I am saying that they don’t receive enough from the labels and the new tech offers them much more control.

        A download from the Internet isn’t the same as a CD, quality-wise. MP3s are a lossy format that can’t render surround sound and all the finer points of quality audio recording. But most people aren’t that concerned with this. If they were, quadrophonic stereo would have caught on. I contend that most people just want a portable music file that they can jog with, surf the net and dance to at a house party. Audiophiles can have their vinyl, sure, but the rest of us just want to hear a song we like. There will be a small market for quality copies (I, for one, can’t help but buy certain seasons of the Simpsons) but the market at large is only partly concerned with the quality. If it really mattered, people wouldn’t shell out for bootleg DVDs where you can see a silhouette of some jerk getting up for popcorn.

        For musicians, the money is and always has been in live shows and merch. It’s why they now give away their songs on MySpace but T-Shirts run upward of $20. It’s why they sign up at Jamendo and give whole albums away free. It’s why Limp Bizkit and Neil Young sided with Napster.

        (As for growing up with food on the table from artists’ royalties: I was raised on foreign US military bases and feel they should all be closed. Just because it put food on your table doesn’t mean it should be preserved.)

  24. beckylooo says:

    I should clarify – a free download from a bittorent or file sharing site is, quality wise, not the same as a CD or itunes-like high quality download.

  25. Jon Taplin says:

    You guys and girls don’t really want to tell BB King that his life’s work of recordings are worthless do you? You want him to hump his 80 year old ass around the country on tour just to pay his medical bills? Give me a fuckin’ break.

    America is making a huge error building its whole economy around information at the same time it is educating the world’s citizens that information is “free” (i.e. without monetary value). That’s some kind of mutual suicide pact that I’m not interested in participating in.

    • Mark Murphy says:

      “You guys and girls don’t really want to tell BB King that his life’s work of recordings are worthless do you? You want him to hump his 80 year old ass around the country on tour just to pay his medical bills? Give me a fuckin’ break.”

      BB King, the recording artist, is a business. Businesses go belly-up all the time, for all sorts of reasons, from market changes to shoddy bookkeeping. It is undeniably tragic for those involved. I’ve had it happen twice to me. Any sort of community enterprise, from corporations to kingdoms, has the same fundamental risk. To assume that musicians are somehow immune to the way the world works — and has worked since the invention of communal action — is…curious.

      “America is making a huge error building its whole economy around information at the same time it is educating the world’s citizens that information is “free” (i.e. without monetary value).”

      Information has always been free.

      Let’s take your current profession: teaching.

      By your argument, you would make tens, maybe hundreds of times more money by not lecturing and merely playing the same recording of the same lecture in all your classes. And students who had the impropriety to actually learn and teach others what they learned from you would be thieves.

      Somehow, I rather doubt that is the case.

      The information that you teach is free. You are being paid for packaging (live delivery versus recording, changing content versus static), services (student evaluations, research), and so on. The whole principle of education is to make information free, in the hope that it can help create more information. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t, but the process as a whole has worked reasonably well since the invention of communication.

      A service economy is not selling information. It is selling packaging, services (hence, the name “service economy”), and so on, just as you do. It is rather early to tell how well a service economy will hold up — we’ll need a few more centuries to be certain.

  26. Jon Taplin says:

    You guys and girls don’t really want to tell BB King that his life’s work of recordings are worthless do you? You want him to hump his 80 year old ass around the country on tour just to pay his medical bills? Give me a fuckin’ break.

    America is making a huge error building its whole economy around information at the same time it is educating the world’s citizens that information is “free” (i.e. without monetary value). That’s some kind of mutual suicide pact that I’m not interested in participating in.

    • Mark Murphy says:

      “You guys and girls don’t really want to tell BB King that his life’s work of recordings are worthless do you? You want him to hump his 80 year old ass around the country on tour just to pay his medical bills? Give me a fuckin’ break.”

      BB King, the recording artist, is a business. Businesses go belly-up all the time, for all sorts of reasons, from market changes to shoddy bookkeeping. It is undeniably tragic for those involved. I’ve had it happen twice to me. Any sort of community enterprise, from corporations to kingdoms, has the same fundamental risk. To assume that musicians are somehow immune to the way the world works — and has worked since the invention of communal action — is…curious.

      “America is making a huge error building its whole economy around information at the same time it is educating the world’s citizens that information is “free” (i.e. without monetary value).”

      Information has always been free.

      Let’s take your current profession: teaching.

      By your argument, you would make tens, maybe hundreds of times more money by not lecturing and merely playing the same recording of the same lecture in all your classes. And students who had the impropriety to actually learn and teach others what they learned from you would be thieves.

      Somehow, I rather doubt that is the case.

      The information that you teach is free. You are being paid for packaging (live delivery versus recording, changing content versus static), services (student evaluations, research), and so on. The whole principle of education is to make information free, in the hope that it can help create more information. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t, but the process as a whole has worked reasonably well since the invention of communication.

      A service economy is not selling information. It is selling packaging, services (hence, the name “service economy”), and so on, just as you do. It is rather early to tell how well a service economy will hold up — we’ll need a few more centuries to be certain.

      • T Bone Burnett says:

        Jon

        Let’s see how you respond to that promiscuous little argument.

        Software manufacturers who distributed freeware were going broke just as fast as they could give the stuff away, ergo shareware.

        I wonder what Mark Murphy does for a living.

        • Mark Murphy says:

          “Software manufacturers who distributed freeware were going broke just as fast as they could give the stuff away, ergo shareware.”

          It would appear your computer education is about 15 years out of date. Try reading up on open source and free software sometime.

          “I wonder what Mark Murphy does for a living.”

          In part, I write. Some percentage of what I write is sold in the form of books (print and digital). Some percentage of that gets pirated, though less that I would have expected. Some people probably pay due to ethics. Some people probably pay due to simply not knowing of pirated copies. Some people pay because of added value for paying (e.g., a continuously-updated library of material). My job is to keep adding enough value to make it worthwhile for people to buy, despite free alternatives (pirated materials and other free information online). Heck, I even promise to release the for-fee materials on a free basis after a period of time or a number of sales, to help provide better balance than the present copyright laws would allow. And, I have to keep one eye out for the time when it will become utterly impractical to charge for any of it — that day may come, and I think I’m ready for it.

          In part, I teach. Students are paying for a delivery mechanism, the ability to do Q&A, for personalized guidance, and so on. They sure aren’t paying for the information, which is readily available from other sources for a whole lot less than my courses cost, often free.

          In part, I create custom materials for people. They are paying for directed work, tailored to their needs, no different than they pay a lawyer, a doctor, or an accountant, or a songwriter.

          In other words, I’m doing what you’re supposed to be doing as a 21st Century creative type. Guess what? It actually works. Rather well, in my case. Only a small portion of my income comes from sales of books.

          The fact that much of my knowledge gets published for free by intent, and some of the rest of my knowledge is available on a pirated basis, simply isn’t much of an issue. Yes, there is lost revenue potential. So? There’s lost revenue potential because I screw up a promotional campaign, or have flaws in a book, or whatever. I have much better ways of increasing my revenue than wasting precious time trying to stop piracy (whack-a-mole, anyone?). Besides, as has been often pointed out, an author’s main problem is not piracy, but obscurity.

          Now, will my particular techniques translate directly to recording artists? Probably not. It is easy to see the impending decline of the recording artist paisley-collar job; it is far more difficult for me to envision what will replace it. I can predict it will take 20-30 years to settle out, but that’s just a prediction and isn’t worth much. However, I rather doubt that music will evaporate because the recording artist job evaporates, any more than the written word evaporated with the loss of Latin scribes and the rise of the printing press.

          To use Prof. Taplin’s favorite word, an interregnum is upon the music industry, in terms of how musicians will earn a living. All Mr. Anderson, Mr. Godin, Mr. Masnick, and others are trying to do is point out “yo! interregnum here!” and offer ideas for what life will be like on the other side. You don’t have to like their advice. You don’t even have to admit there is an interregnum. I’m sure there’s some sand nearby that you can bury your head in. Meanwhile, the rest of us can worry about building new models on the carcasses of the old.

          And with that, I bid this blog adieu.

  27. Jon Taplin says:

    You guys and girls don’t really want to tell BB King that his life’s work of recordings are worthless do you? You want him to hump his 80 year old ass around the country on tour just to pay his medical bills? Give me a fuckin’ break.

    America is making a huge error building its whole economy around information at the same time it is educating the world’s citizens that information is “free” (i.e. without monetary value). That’s some kind of mutual suicide pact that I’m not interested in participating in.

    • Mark Murphy says:

      “You guys and girls don’t really want to tell BB King that his life’s work of recordings are worthless do you? You want him to hump his 80 year old ass around the country on tour just to pay his medical bills? Give me a fuckin’ break.”

      BB King, the recording artist, is a business. Businesses go belly-up all the time, for all sorts of reasons, from market changes to shoddy bookkeeping. It is undeniably tragic for those involved. I’ve had it happen twice to me. Any sort of community enterprise, from corporations to kingdoms, has the same fundamental risk. To assume that musicians are somehow immune to the way the world works — and has worked since the invention of communal action — is…curious.

      “America is making a huge error building its whole economy around information at the same time it is educating the world’s citizens that information is “free” (i.e. without monetary value).”

      Information has always been free.

      Let’s take your current profession: teaching.

      By your argument, you would make tens, maybe hundreds of times more money by not lecturing and merely playing the same recording of the same lecture in all your classes. And students who had the impropriety to actually learn and teach others what they learned from you would be thieves.

      Somehow, I rather doubt that is the case.

      The information that you teach is free. You are being paid for packaging (live delivery versus recording, changing content versus static), services (student evaluations, research), and so on. The whole principle of education is to make information free, in the hope that it can help create more information. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t, but the process as a whole has worked reasonably well since the invention of communication.

      A service economy is not selling information. It is selling packaging, services (hence, the name “service economy”), and so on, just as you do. It is rather early to tell how well a service economy will hold up — we’ll need a few more centuries to be certain.

      • T Bone Burnett says:

        Jon

        Let’s see how you respond to that promiscuous little argument.

        Software manufacturers who distributed freeware were going broke just as fast as they could give the stuff away, ergo shareware.

        I wonder what Mark Murphy does for a living.

        • Mark Murphy says:

          “Software manufacturers who distributed freeware were going broke just as fast as they could give the stuff away, ergo shareware.”

          It would appear your computer education is about 15 years out of date. Try reading up on open source and free software sometime.

          “I wonder what Mark Murphy does for a living.”

          In part, I write. Some percentage of what I write is sold in the form of books (print and digital). Some percentage of that gets pirated, though less that I would have expected. Some people probably pay due to ethics. Some people probably pay due to simply not knowing of pirated copies. Some people pay because of added value for paying (e.g., a continuously-updated library of material). My job is to keep adding enough value to make it worthwhile for people to buy, despite free alternatives (pirated materials and other free information online). Heck, I even promise to release the for-fee materials on a free basis after a period of time or a number of sales, to help provide better balance than the present copyright laws would allow. And, I have to keep one eye out for the time when it will become utterly impractical to charge for any of it — that day may come, and I think I’m ready for it.

          In part, I teach. Students are paying for a delivery mechanism, the ability to do Q&A, for personalized guidance, and so on. They sure aren’t paying for the information, which is readily available from other sources for a whole lot less than my courses cost, often free.

          In part, I create custom materials for people. They are paying for directed work, tailored to their needs, no different than they pay a lawyer, a doctor, or an accountant, or a songwriter.

          In other words, I’m doing what you’re supposed to be doing as a 21st Century creative type. Guess what? It actually works. Rather well, in my case. Only a small portion of my income comes from sales of books.

          The fact that much of my knowledge gets published for free by intent, and some of the rest of my knowledge is available on a pirated basis, simply isn’t much of an issue. Yes, there is lost revenue potential. So? There’s lost revenue potential because I screw up a promotional campaign, or have flaws in a book, or whatever. I have much better ways of increasing my revenue than wasting precious time trying to stop piracy (whack-a-mole, anyone?). Besides, as has been often pointed out, an author’s main problem is not piracy, but obscurity.

          Now, will my particular techniques translate directly to recording artists? Probably not. It is easy to see the impending decline of the recording artist paisley-collar job; it is far more difficult for me to envision what will replace it. I can predict it will take 20-30 years to settle out, but that’s just a prediction and isn’t worth much. However, I rather doubt that music will evaporate because the recording artist job evaporates, any more than the written word evaporated with the loss of Latin scribes and the rise of the printing press.

          To use Prof. Taplin’s favorite word, an interregnum is upon the music industry, in terms of how musicians will earn a living. All Mr. Anderson, Mr. Godin, Mr. Masnick, and others are trying to do is point out “yo! interregnum here!” and offer ideas for what life will be like on the other side. You don’t have to like their advice. You don’t even have to admit there is an interregnum. I’m sure there’s some sand nearby that you can bury your head in. Meanwhile, the rest of us can worry about building new models on the carcasses of the old.

          And with that, I bid this blog adieu.

      • Jon Taplin says:

        Mark-So the value of Pfizer is not in its drug patents, but in it’s ability to “package” the drugs? That’s pretty dumb and would be a huge surprise to the CEO and shareholders.

        • Morgan Warstler says:

          Jon you know the difference between patent and copyright…

        • T Bone Burnett says:

          Jon I read up on Mark Murphy. He seems like a really interesting guy. Dude has this whole android thing going. For all I know he might be an android. That would be exciting. Too bad he’s leaving. In French, no less. Mark, come back! We know the music business is all screwed up. Come back and tell us something we don’t know. There is so much of that. (And you caught me on that computer education thing, even though I was talking about more than fifteen years years ago, I know next to nothing about computers- I have monkeys who work those things for me. I love them, I just don’t know much about them. I’m a musician. There is so much to learn about music, and I feel like I’m just getting started, so I’ve let my computer education languish.)

  28. T Bone Burnett says:

    Fentex

    With great respect, I don’t think so. Brand used expensive as the opposite of free. He didn’t use imprisoned, though perhaps that’s what he meant.
    Either way, it is not visionary or advanced thought. The only person here that begins to understand the argument is Alex Bowles.

  29. T Bone Burnett says:

    Fentex

    With great respect, I don’t think so. Brand used expensive as the opposite of free. He didn’t use imprisoned, though perhaps that’s what he meant.
    Either way, it is not visionary or advanced thought. The only person here that begins to understand the argument is Alex Bowles.

  30. T Bone Burnett says:

    Fentex

    With great respect, I don’t think so. Brand used expensive as the opposite of free. He didn’t use imprisoned, though perhaps that’s what he meant.
    Either way, it is not visionary or advanced thought. The only person here that begins to understand the argument is Alex Bowles.

  31. Mark Murphy says:

    “I don’t think you’ll find argument here (though who knows) that copyright law is wackadoo but to jump from that idea to “artist’s should give their songs away for free ’cause they’re just commercials for live shows and t-shirts anyway” is a far leap.”

    No, what *is* a far leap is the notion that you should be able to earn a living off of recordings and broadcasts. I have thousands of years of human history and music on my side — you have a mere handful of decades.

    And if your counter-argument is “well, technology enabled earning a living off of recordings and broadcasts”, then what technology giveth, technology can taketh away.

    (Of course, I suspect that somebody will argue that all historical record of music prior to the invention of the phonograph are merely fossils put in place by God to test us, and that in reality music has always been recorded, or something along those lines.)

    Few people make money being a blacksmith anymore. It used to be that was a good racket — a furnace, anvil, wicked biceps, and a supply of metal, and you could earn a living. Now, few blacksmiths do. Clearly, we should all be paying residuals to descendants of blacksmiths. And smithing is as much an art as is music. Mass-produced metalworks are not nearly as artistic as their hand-wrought predecessors, but I rather doubt people will give up their cars in homage to a lost art.

    Few people make money today off the production of daguerrotypes. It used to be that was a pretty good racket — a mirror, some silver halide crystals, a steady hand, and you could earn a living. Now, few daguerrotypists do. Clearly, we should all be paying residuals to descendants of daguerrotypists. And daguerrotyping is as much an art as is music. Digital camera photos are not nearly as artistic as their silver-wrought predecessors, but I rather doubt people will give up their Flickr accounts in homage to a lost art.

    The same thing holds for coopers, Latin scribes, armorers, scrimshaw artists, and so on, replaced by Hefty bags, photocopiers, the modern military, and happier toothy whales, respectively.

    Now, explain to me why recording artists get special privileges (in terms of defying the march of time) when all these other disciplines didn’t?

    Music isn’t going anywhere. The modern recording artist is, following in the footsteps of glass harmonica and lute players.

    • Daniel in Denton says:

      “No, what *is* a far leap is the notion that you should be able to earn a living off of recordings and broadcasts. I have thousands of years of human history and music on my side — you have a mere handful of decades.”

      Thank you for providing historical context

  32. Daniel in Denton says:

    “No, what *is* a far leap is the notion that you should be able to earn a living off of recordings and broadcasts. I have thousands of years of human history and music on my side — you have a mere handful of decades.”

    Thank you for providing historical context

  33. T Bone Burnett says:

    (With a shout out to Len Bullard.)

  34. T Bone Burnett says:

    (With a shout out to Len Bullard.)

  35. T Bone Burnett says:

    (With a shout out to Len Bullard.)

  36. T Bone Burnett says:

    For thousands of years, people have made a living from recordings and broadcasts.

  37. T Bone Burnett says:

    For thousands of years, people have made a living from recordings and broadcasts.

  38. T Bone Burnett says:

    For thousands of years, people have made a living from recordings and broadcasts.

  39. Rick Turner says:

    It’s amazing to me that you “consumers” so misunderstand the reality in which musicians and other artists and writers live. You really believe that artists live on the proceeds of live gigs and merchandise. Un-fucking-believable. What are you folks smoking? And Cory Docterow? Give me a break. If he were just starting out now, he wouldn’t be able to rub two dimes together making a living from his writing. Ditto for the likes of Kevin Kelly and Stewart Brand. When all information becomes free, it will all be even more worthless than so much is today. Bring on more Britney Spears, Lindsey Lohans, and Paris Hiltons folks… I want to see some free pudenda…

  40. Rick Turner says:

    It’s amazing to me that you “consumers” so misunderstand the reality in which musicians and other artists and writers live. You really believe that artists live on the proceeds of live gigs and merchandise. Un-fucking-believable. What are you folks smoking? And Cory Docterow? Give me a break. If he were just starting out now, he wouldn’t be able to rub two dimes together making a living from his writing. Ditto for the likes of Kevin Kelly and Stewart Brand. When all information becomes free, it will all be even more worthless than so much is today. Bring on more Britney Spears, Lindsey Lohans, and Paris Hiltons folks… I want to see some free pudenda…

  41. Rick Turner says:

    It’s amazing to me that you “consumers” so misunderstand the reality in which musicians and other artists and writers live. You really believe that artists live on the proceeds of live gigs and merchandise. Un-fucking-believable. What are you folks smoking? And Cory Docterow? Give me a break. If he were just starting out now, he wouldn’t be able to rub two dimes together making a living from his writing. Ditto for the likes of Kevin Kelly and Stewart Brand. When all information becomes free, it will all be even more worthless than so much is today. Bring on more Britney Spears, Lindsey Lohans, and Paris Hiltons folks… I want to see some free pudenda…

  42. Rick Turner says:

    It’s amazing to me that you “consumers” so misunderstand the reality in which musicians and other artists and writers live. You really believe that artists live on the proceeds of live gigs and merchandise. Un-fucking-believable. What are you folks smoking? And Cory Docterow? Give me a break. If he were just starting out now, he wouldn’t be able to rub two dimes together making a living from his writing. Ditto for the likes of Kevin Kelly and Stewart Brand. When all information becomes free, it will all be even more worthless than so much is today. Bring on more Britney Spears, Lindsey Lohans, and Paris Hiltons folks… I want to see some free pudenda…

    • Morgan Warstler says:

      Rick we FINALLY agree – more free pudenda!

      Note: I once saw the Paris pudenda LIVE & FREE dancing on our table during a weird night at Guy’s.

  43. T Bone Burnett says:

    The prostitute will pay you.

  44. T Bone Burnett says:

    The prostitute will pay you.

  45. T Bone Burnett says:

    The prostitute will pay you.

  46. Mark Murphy says:

    “You guys and girls don’t really want to tell BB King that his life’s work of recordings are worthless do you? You want him to hump his 80 year old ass around the country on tour just to pay his medical bills? Give me a fuckin’ break.”

    BB King, the recording artist, is a business. Businesses go belly-up all the time, for all sorts of reasons, from market changes to shoddy bookkeeping. It is undeniably tragic for those involved. I’ve had it happen twice to me. Any sort of community enterprise, from corporations to kingdoms, has the same fundamental risk. To assume that musicians are somehow immune to the way the world works — and has worked since the invention of communal action — is…curious.

    “America is making a huge error building its whole economy around information at the same time it is educating the world’s citizens that information is “free” (i.e. without monetary value).”

    Information has always been free.

    Let’s take your current profession: teaching.

    By your argument, you would make tens, maybe hundreds of times more money by not lecturing and merely playing the same recording of the same lecture in all your classes. And students who had the impropriety to actually learn and teach others what they learned from you would be thieves.

    Somehow, I rather doubt that is the case.

    The information that you teach is free. You are being paid for packaging (live delivery versus recording, changing content versus static), services (student evaluations, research), and so on. The whole principle of education is to make information free, in the hope that it can help create more information. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t, but the process as a whole has worked reasonably well since the invention of communication.

    A service economy is not selling information. It is selling packaging, services (hence, the name “service economy”), and so on, just as you do. It is rather early to tell how well a service economy will hold up — we’ll need a few more centuries to be certain.

    • T Bone Burnett says:

      Jon

      Let’s see how you respond to that promiscuous little argument.

      Software manufacturers who distributed freeware were going broke just as fast as they could give the stuff away, ergo shareware.

      I wonder what Mark Murphy does for a living.

      • Mark Murphy says:

        “Software manufacturers who distributed freeware were going broke just as fast as they could give the stuff away, ergo shareware.”

        It would appear your computer education is about 15 years out of date. Try reading up on open source and free software sometime.

        “I wonder what Mark Murphy does for a living.”

        In part, I write. Some percentage of what I write is sold in the form of books (print and digital). Some percentage of that gets pirated, though less that I would have expected. Some people probably pay due to ethics. Some people probably pay due to simply not knowing of pirated copies. Some people pay because of added value for paying (e.g., a continuously-updated library of material). My job is to keep adding enough value to make it worthwhile for people to buy, despite free alternatives (pirated materials and other free information online). Heck, I even promise to release the for-fee materials on a free basis after a period of time or a number of sales, to help provide better balance than the present copyright laws would allow. And, I have to keep one eye out for the time when it will become utterly impractical to charge for any of it — that day may come, and I think I’m ready for it.

        In part, I teach. Students are paying for a delivery mechanism, the ability to do Q&A, for personalized guidance, and so on. They sure aren’t paying for the information, which is readily available from other sources for a whole lot less than my courses cost, often free.

        In part, I create custom materials for people. They are paying for directed work, tailored to their needs, no different than they pay a lawyer, a doctor, or an accountant, or a songwriter.

        In other words, I’m doing what you’re supposed to be doing as a 21st Century creative type. Guess what? It actually works. Rather well, in my case. Only a small portion of my income comes from sales of books.

        The fact that much of my knowledge gets published for free by intent, and some of the rest of my knowledge is available on a pirated basis, simply isn’t much of an issue. Yes, there is lost revenue potential. So? There’s lost revenue potential because I screw up a promotional campaign, or have flaws in a book, or whatever. I have much better ways of increasing my revenue than wasting precious time trying to stop piracy (whack-a-mole, anyone?). Besides, as has been often pointed out, an author’s main problem is not piracy, but obscurity.

        Now, will my particular techniques translate directly to recording artists? Probably not. It is easy to see the impending decline of the recording artist paisley-collar job; it is far more difficult for me to envision what will replace it. I can predict it will take 20-30 years to settle out, but that’s just a prediction and isn’t worth much. However, I rather doubt that music will evaporate because the recording artist job evaporates, any more than the written word evaporated with the loss of Latin scribes and the rise of the printing press.

        To use Prof. Taplin’s favorite word, an interregnum is upon the music industry, in terms of how musicians will earn a living. All Mr. Anderson, Mr. Godin, Mr. Masnick, and others are trying to do is point out “yo! interregnum here!” and offer ideas for what life will be like on the other side. You don’t have to like their advice. You don’t even have to admit there is an interregnum. I’m sure there’s some sand nearby that you can bury your head in. Meanwhile, the rest of us can worry about building new models on the carcasses of the old.

        And with that, I bid this blog adieu.

  47. Mason Dixon says:

    Are people that are talking about getting their music for free under the impression that it doesn’t cost anything to produce? A show isn’t free. A concert isn’t free. It takes long hours of work by many people to put on anything more complicated than a guy standing on a corner with a guitar and his open case. If there’s an artist whose music you love, and you decide one night to pony up the ticket price, stand in line, go see him, love him, decide to go again the next night, guess what? You’re going to have to pay again. Recorded music is saving you the trouble. The recording of music isn’t “free,” it’s expensive as hell. Should the studio owner let the musicians in for free? Should the instrument makers give them away? How about the electronic equipment that’s used to make the recordings? Pro bono?
    I don’t get this argument. I really don’t.

    Rick Turner, you are so right about the above. That living off the proceeds of live gigs and merch argument is beyond un-informed.

    Don’t get me started on the blacksmith and daguerrotypes argument. Inane.

    Whistling past the graveyard.

    In the future, music will be what you hum to yourself while you sift through all your free and worthless information.

    • Daniel in Denton says:

      Nobody ever said shows were free. As I said above, they are the bread and butter of a working musician. As they have been for millennia. Living off merch and shows isn’t un-informed. Further, my argument is based on the fact that recording and distribution is increasingly cheaper — a home studio is possible for many people. Unless the economy and society collapses, it will only continue this way. Don’t believe me? There is free, open source, pro level recording software out there: http://ardour.org/

      I don’t say it’s all great, there are flaws, like widespread mediocrity (as though we don’t already have that). It just is what it is: Recorded music is worthless because it’s infinite. Even artists recognize this. It’s only the **AAs who don’t.

      (I’ll go back to lurking now. My vacation starts tomorrow morning)

      • Jon Taplin says:

        Daniel-For someone who claims to know a lot about this subject, you don’t know jack. I worked for many of the best musicians in the late 60′s and 70′s and I assure you that even for the best live touring was NEVER the main source of their income.

  48. Wow! This IS thick, vital…directly applicable to so many facets of our lives. There is more to life than music – family comes to mind. Not mine necessarily but everything.

    – maybe some recognition of common ground will help, hope that’s not too whimpy…it’s the love of the music and the way it touches our soul, right?… That’ll never go away, right? Makes life worth living, right?

    It appears both sides are correct but the common ground will be necessary just the same…don’t wanna be pissing up stream from one another endlessly, right?

    Mom and Dad didn’t get a dime for playing all those years but they surely made positive impact in a profoundly intangible way and there ARE intangible rewards for moving an audience. Now THOSE intangibles really are keepers.

    My folks taught me to play and life taught me to put the words together. I make money playing out – LIVE(taxed), where I also sell merch(not taxed),(sometimes being small is profitable). It’s fun, it’s an honor, it’s an obligation to a gift.

    Don’t belittle me ’cause I had to take a shit gig for $35 in a well rehearsed, poignant band…or $100 for working REAL damn hard as a solo act for 6 hours with load-in, load-out. This ain’t no f’n picnic!

    If I could be bigger – i would be – but only so far. And there’s the control. BD said, “The games the same, it’s just on another level.”, and he must be right.

    Artists must ensure their own monetary health outside of their art in order to keep their art – well…art. Unless they get lucky or make friends with rich people.

    I maintain my health and my luck so I can chip away at it by landscaping, construction, food-service industry – all honest work – it don’t pay much but it sure is hard. I even went and got me a medical degree, just to prove I could – and because part-time prophet work is just soooo one-dimensional.

    Corporations

    Corporations are warfare and music is art. Art don’t always pay. The internet does in fact appear to be inexorably moving to free for all exchange, like it or not.

    We artists are at the mercy of” internet benevolence” – wow. Really – wow. Was it ever any different.

    I’m not playing chicken with the on-coming train. We need the dialog.

    Finally, “Strange, appears to me the traits I admire most in men are attendant to failure.” JS

    C’mon now – don’t ya be throwin’ no stones at me for quoting.

  49. Wow! This IS thick, vital…directly applicable to so many facets of our lives. There is more to life than music – family comes to mind. Not mine necessarily but everything.

    – maybe some recognition of common ground will help, hope that’s not too whimpy…it’s the love of the music and the way it touches our soul, right?… That’ll never go away, right? Makes life worth living, right?

    It appears both sides are correct but the common ground will be necessary just the same…don’t wanna be pissing up stream from one another endlessly, right?

    Mom and Dad didn’t get a dime for playing all those years but they surely made positive impact in a profoundly intangible way and there ARE intangible rewards for moving an audience. Now THOSE intangibles really are keepers.

    My folks taught me to play and life taught me to put the words together. I make money playing out – LIVE(taxed), where I also sell merch(not taxed),(sometimes being small is profitable). It’s fun, it’s an honor, it’s an obligation to a gift.

    Don’t belittle me ’cause I had to take a shit gig for $35 in a well rehearsed, poignant band…or $100 for working REAL damn hard as a solo act for 6 hours with load-in, load-out. This ain’t no f’n picnic!

    If I could be bigger – i would be – but only so far. And there’s the control. BD said, “The games the same, it’s just on another level.”, and he must be right.

    Artists must ensure their own monetary health outside of their art in order to keep their art – well…art. Unless they get lucky or make friends with rich people.

    I maintain my health and my luck so I can chip away at it by landscaping, construction, food-service industry – all honest work – it don’t pay much but it sure is hard. I even went and got me a medical degree, just to prove I could – and because part-time prophet work is just soooo one-dimensional.

    Corporations

    Corporations are warfare and music is art. Art don’t always pay. The internet does in fact appear to be inexorably moving to free for all exchange, like it or not.

    We artists are at the mercy of” internet benevolence” – wow. Really – wow. Was it ever any different.

    I’m not playing chicken with the on-coming train. We need the dialog.

    Finally, “Strange, appears to me the traits I admire most in men are attendant to failure.” JS

    C’mon now – don’t ya be throwin’ no stones at me for quoting.

  50. len says:

    Thanks T-B0ne.

    We’ve been through this. IMO, it is about the deals. Rather than fighting the user interface and the morality plays, repackage into forms they want to buy with new partners. TCB.

    We do need to rethink IP. We need to think of ways to sweeten the conversation with the audience. We need a richer less hyped and image managed relationship with them so they will trust us. We need to quit chasing the little old ladies with cell phones and understanding that the personal-media friendly event is our friend.

    It disturbs me just how willing the I-gen is to wave away with ease the legacy of their musical heritage. They believe too much in the digital fairy tale, and forget that water by the river though free, requires a bucket if one lives on top of the hill and a well in the desert. Neither are freely gotten.

    An ISP tax and deals with portals for initial distribution of the video/animation/music packages should help offset losses from monomedia pilferage (eg, mp3s, jpgs, etc.).

    As to the non-poetic purely evil in frikkin’ face facts: if you haven’t noticed, children, the RIAA is slowly but most effectively building a body of case law, case by case, and the precedents set are going to be quite compelling by the time this gets to the Supreme Court.

    Caveat emptor.

    The irony is they are starting to spend big bucks for virtual items in virtual worlds even as they expect music and images for free and that is a clue for innovators and artist keiretsu.

  51. Fentex says:

    The idea of an ISP tax distributed to artists bothers me – how is the money to be disbursed?

    It implies knowledge of which files are flowing where, and attempting to track that information will just butt up against increased use of cryptography to protect privacy. Even if you could see the flow of many millions of files, how do you correctly attribute them?

    If a handful of unaligned central repositories supplied high quality unencumbered media files without charge, question, favouritism or keeping records of destinations, they could become the de facto distribution channel for everyone that provides the statistics required for disbursement of a broadly applied access surcharge.

    Perhaps any licensed, appropriately regulated, company could become a registered distributor making applications for disbursement based on it’s distribution.

    But you’d still have hard to resolve issues of classification, plagirism and correct attribution.

    I’m not sure there is a practical way to solve the issues involved.

    A little over a hundred years ago it was not technically possible to impress musical performances on media and sell it for profit.

    Changes in technology may mean that it is again becoming technically impossible to profit from selling recorded music on/in any media.

    The market that existed for selling copies of recorded music may have been temporary.

    • Jon Taplin says:

      Fentex-ASCAP and BMI don’t know what ever bar or Gap store in the country are playing, but they do a decent sample and extrapolate to decide which songwriter gets which cut of the monthly pie. Its worked pretty well for 50 years or more. Besides, organizations like Big Champagne are already making very good estimates of illegal download traffic.

      • Fentex says:

        I have never thought the ASCAP model would work to resolve peoples concerns with Internet distribution because I’ve never understood how the multitudes of ephemeral and swiftly propagating files were supposed to be tracked and funds properly disbursed.

        I’ve also thought that ASCAP and similar organizations would simply exist to tax people to reward the priviledged few at the cost of funds that everyone else might have competed for.

        Recently I found this article at Techdirt that claims (with some supporting links) that ASCAP only bothers to distribute funds to the top 200 acts.

        That’s an unfair and immoral abuse right now, and would only magnify injustice if applied to funds secured as tax on all Internet activity.

        Listen to Internet streamed music from South Africa and be charged to pay for Britney Spears.

        It seems just gate keeping and rent seeking.

  52. Chris L. says:

    Jonathan Coulton quit his job as a programmer to make music, giving every song away for a year in a podcast, with options for purchases/donations alongside the free links. Now he makes a living performing as a folk singer in clubs around the country and on TV and as well as selling his music from his website and via retailers.

    Trent Reznor distributed his latest album himself under Creative Commons license with a variety of high grade digital download options ranging from free to incredibly cheap alongside high end CD and vinyl copies. He made millions.

    Amanda Palmer, “punk cabaret” singer and member of the Dresden Dolls, connects directly with her fans via Twitter and her blog, and makes what appears to be quite a comfortable living off of it.. compared to a miserable relationship with her record label.

    Those are just the bands I’m personally familiar with. I don’t doubt there are many, many more out there who have seen the realities of the digital age and ran with it. These are the musicians of the future, not the ones plying record labels for massive advances to blow on drugs and fast cars and LA mansions then retiring on the royalties.

    • T Bone Burnett says:

      That is exactly right, Chris L. The days you describe in your last paragraph have been over for some time, though to be precise, they never existed.

  53. Armand Asante says:

    I know a great many musicians in their 60’s and 70’s with a lifetime of recorded music that is being devalued by Anderson’s ethos and attitude. While he’s out giving $30,000 lectures on “Free” , they are facing bankruptcy because of health costs. It is little comfort that this smart-ass tells them to go out and tour.

    “The old is dying. The new cannot yet be born.”
    What you are decrying is the old Luddite argument in face of the oncoming Industrial Revolution.
    The Luddites’ woes were true. And tragic.
    Many hand-loomers lost their livelihood and couldn’t compete in the new emerging markets.
    It was a sad and violent revolution.
    But we ended up with affordable (not totally free – but almost free) industrial T-shirts, jeans and undergarments.

    Chris Anderson does what he preaches – he goes on tour (for $30,000 a pop). He sells his books to those who would buy them – and doesn’t bitch about those who would pirate them.
    He’s not responsible for Aretha Franklin’s financial problems.

    Trying to put a name or a face on this trend – as if Anderson’s ethos and attitude are what makes these people go bankrupt – is fallacious.
    Anderson simply has the talent for stating the obvious (as Jon has mentioned). He knows how to explain these trends and put in layman’s terms why the old models are unsustainable.

    You guys can turn Anderson into the villain all you want. He is as powerless to change the face of things to come as all of you – and all of us – are.

    The Information Revolution is upon us – and we are living through an interregnum. Bitching about it leads nowhere.

    ps. Copying is NOT theft. When you steal something there’s one less for somebody else out there. When you copy something – there’s one MORE!
    Even legally, copyright infringement is not the same as stealing.
    That equation, too, is fallacious.

  54. Michael McNutt says:

    It is sad to think about all the money that record companies, mangers and others made off artists and now they are crying foul. What goes around comes around.

  55. Michael Spencer says:

    It’s a great gig to be a musician, really. Anything you record just keeps giving. For decades.

    Compare architecture, where fees are paid to the architect once, and then the party is over.

    I just have a hard time understanding the music model, that’s all.

  56. Rick Turner says:

    Fentex, do you know what BMI and ASCAP are? You’re already paying a “tax” that is distributed to songwriters and composers. You just may not know it.

  57. T Bone Burnett says:

    How can there be a discussion when people say things like, “It’s a great gig to be a musician, really. Anything you record just keeps giving. For decades.”?

    If we want to deal in reality, do you have any idea what percentage of recordings sell even one copy?

    Let’s just make up any damn thing in order to not understand.

    Architects get millions of dollars just for putting lines on paper. String em up!

    Musicians are evil- therefore we should steal their souls.

  58. JTMcPhee says:

    Why does what’s happening in the Great Mine-able-Somehow Data Field of Information, as discussed above, remind me of what goes on in the brain during an epileptic grand mal seizure? Though there’s no guarantee that the patient will recover nominal function…

  59. T Bone Burnett says:

    JTM That sounds about right.

  60. Michael says:

    Hello Jon: Thank you for a clear and important post. Some of the comments show a disturbing lack of knowledge of exactly how the music industry has worked in the past and what may be a workable path for the future to enable musical artists to be paid for their art. I would suggest they all spend a couple of years studying the history of copyright law and performing rights organizations and why their development was important not only to artists hoping to make a living from their work, but important to the function of modern economics and contemporary world culture.

    Nothing on the internet is free, and using someone’s musical art to build your web presence or increase traffic to your blog or punch up your myspace page etc is an act of commerce. Are people really willing to believe that their “free” personal web presence comes at no cost? Are they willing to be pimps for internet based companies that entice them with “free” social networks and file sharing accounts? It’s not ok for websites and internet based companies to broker art without compensating the artist. It’s not ok to take and use an artist’s work for free without their permission. It is not ok to sell an artist’s work or make money from that work in anyway without compensating the artist. In any world old or new sharing is wonderful, stealing is criminal. What will ultimately bring restriction and taxes and fees to the internet will not be a greedy record company, but people looking to get something for nothing.

  61. Armand Asante says:

    Musicians are evil- therefore we should steal their souls.

    Isn’t that what the record labels are doing anyway?
    You know, the main beneficiaries of copyright laws…

    This discussion is NOT about the musicians.
    It’s about money.

    It’s about major industries with an unsustainable economic model.

    It’s about laws that govern a hell of a lot more than artists’ right to be paid.

    And this attempt to make it sound as if copyright laws are what puts food on an artist’s table is starting to sound downright silly.
    Especially in light of artist’s getting LESS per download on iTunes than from a record sold (despite cuts in distribution costs).

    And the flipside of this – that file-sharers stand between artists and their money – is a well-known yet widely-accepted fallacy.

    It might be time to flip the record…

  62. Rick Turner says:

    The discussion is not necessarily about musicians, but it is necessarily about composers and writers who only get paid via royalties OR work for hire. Royalties are being pirated. Who’s hiring?

  63. Rick Turner says:

    The discussion is not necessarily about musicians, but it is necessarily about composers and writers who only get paid via royalties OR work for hire. Royalties are being pirated. Who’s hiring?

  64. Rick Turner says:

    The discussion is not necessarily about musicians, but it is necessarily about composers and writers who only get paid via royalties OR work for hire. Royalties are being pirated. Who’s hiring?

  65. Rick Turner says:

    The discussion is not necessarily about musicians, but it is necessarily about composers and writers who only get paid via royalties OR work for hire. Royalties are being pirated. Who’s hiring?

  66. Peter Marx says:

    One argument around what happened has nothing to do with computers. I got to see it first-hand as a VP of Technology and CTO for Vivendi-Universal…

    The music industry went down in large part when Steve Jobs did a classic divide-and-conquer maneuver on the music industry by cutting a deal with Doug Morris for UMG’s participation on iTunes. UMG at the time represented 28% of the music industry.

    In allowing consumers to buy the individual tracks over albums they removed the “inefficiency” in the market. Put another way, the usual space in which to place bets on unknown artists, etc. was wiped out. Music sales simply stopped being the source of revenue for artists (and their marketers).

    The usual argument that piracy killed the industry is a little overblown. Consumer-to-consumer distribution of music has hurt sales and helped destroy the value of Anderson’s “long tail.”

    This said, piracy existed with computer games for 20 years before iTunes and we all know how the videogame industry has done.

    There has NEVER been a long tail with videogames. The hardware is always changing and the medium is still evolving. This hasn’t kept videogames from thriving.

    Music is inexorably having to move to performance-based revenues.

    Put another way: it is the EXPERIENCE of listening to the music which is valuable now. Watching Tom Morello’s guitar playing is an example. Going to the concert performance is where the value is.

    There is an initiative that a friend is doing to make data (information) more akin to open-source software: easy to use, free to acquire, and widely available. If he and his company are successful then we’ll see the end of telephone directories, database companies (e.g. pharmaceutical information providers), etc. I’m sure that Lessig will have a point of view on the copyright-ability of databases, but they’re next on the technology hit-list.

  67. Peter Marx says:

    One argument around what happened has nothing to do with computers. I got to see it first-hand as a VP of Technology and CTO for Vivendi-Universal…

    The music industry went down in large part when Steve Jobs did a classic divide-and-conquer maneuver on the music industry by cutting a deal with Doug Morris for UMG’s participation on iTunes. UMG at the time represented 28% of the music industry.

    In allowing consumers to buy the individual tracks over albums they removed the “inefficiency” in the market. Put another way, the usual space in which to place bets on unknown artists, etc. was wiped out. Music sales simply stopped being the source of revenue for artists (and their marketers).

    The usual argument that piracy killed the industry is a little overblown. Consumer-to-consumer distribution of music has hurt sales and helped destroy the value of Anderson’s “long tail.”

    This said, piracy existed with computer games for 20 years before iTunes and we all know how the videogame industry has done.

    There has NEVER been a long tail with videogames. The hardware is always changing and the medium is still evolving. This hasn’t kept videogames from thriving.

    Music is inexorably having to move to performance-based revenues.

    Put another way: it is the EXPERIENCE of listening to the music which is valuable now. Watching Tom Morello’s guitar playing is an example. Going to the concert performance is where the value is.

    There is an initiative that a friend is doing to make data (information) more akin to open-source software: easy to use, free to acquire, and widely available. If he and his company are successful then we’ll see the end of telephone directories, database companies (e.g. pharmaceutical information providers), etc. I’m sure that Lessig will have a point of view on the copyright-ability of databases, but they’re next on the technology hit-list.

  68. Peter Marx says:

    One argument around what happened has nothing to do with computers. I got to see it first-hand as a VP of Technology and CTO for Vivendi-Universal…

    The music industry went down in large part when Steve Jobs did a classic divide-and-conquer maneuver on the music industry by cutting a deal with Doug Morris for UMG’s participation on iTunes. UMG at the time represented 28% of the music industry.

    In allowing consumers to buy the individual tracks over albums they removed the “inefficiency” in the market. Put another way, the usual space in which to place bets on unknown artists, etc. was wiped out. Music sales simply stopped being the source of revenue for artists (and their marketers).

    The usual argument that piracy killed the industry is a little overblown. Consumer-to-consumer distribution of music has hurt sales and helped destroy the value of Anderson’s “long tail.”

    This said, piracy existed with computer games for 20 years before iTunes and we all know how the videogame industry has done.

    There has NEVER been a long tail with videogames. The hardware is always changing and the medium is still evolving. This hasn’t kept videogames from thriving.

    Music is inexorably having to move to performance-based revenues.

    Put another way: it is the EXPERIENCE of listening to the music which is valuable now. Watching Tom Morello’s guitar playing is an example. Going to the concert performance is where the value is.

    There is an initiative that a friend is doing to make data (information) more akin to open-source software: easy to use, free to acquire, and widely available. If he and his company are successful then we’ll see the end of telephone directories, database companies (e.g. pharmaceutical information providers), etc. I’m sure that Lessig will have a point of view on the copyright-ability of databases, but they’re next on the technology hit-list.

  69. Peter Marx says:

    One argument around what happened has nothing to do with computers. I got to see it first-hand as a VP of Technology and CTO for Vivendi-Universal…

    The music industry went down in large part when Steve Jobs did a classic divide-and-conquer maneuver on the music industry by cutting a deal with Doug Morris for UMG’s participation on iTunes. UMG at the time represented 28% of the music industry.

    In allowing consumers to buy the individual tracks over albums they removed the “inefficiency” in the market. Put another way, the usual space in which to place bets on unknown artists, etc. was wiped out. Music sales simply stopped being the source of revenue for artists (and their marketers).

    The usual argument that piracy killed the industry is a little overblown. Consumer-to-consumer distribution of music has hurt sales and helped destroy the value of Anderson’s “long tail.”

    This said, piracy existed with computer games for 20 years before iTunes and we all know how the videogame industry has done.

    There has NEVER been a long tail with videogames. The hardware is always changing and the medium is still evolving. This hasn’t kept videogames from thriving.

    Music is inexorably having to move to performance-based revenues.

    Put another way: it is the EXPERIENCE of listening to the music which is valuable now. Watching Tom Morello’s guitar playing is an example. Going to the concert performance is where the value is.

    There is an initiative that a friend is doing to make data (information) more akin to open-source software: easy to use, free to acquire, and widely available. If he and his company are successful then we’ll see the end of telephone directories, database companies (e.g. pharmaceutical information providers), etc. I’m sure that Lessig will have a point of view on the copyright-ability of databases, but they’re next on the technology hit-list.

  70. T Bone Burnett says:

    To All:

    First, while I have spent over forty years wrangling with the copyright holders, and know more about the injustices of that system than everybody in this thread times a hundred thousand, I have to say that the record industry, though corrupt, spent a century putting together a treasury of music unmatched in history. This is not about business models or information or any of the rest of the nonsense being bruited about for the last few years. None of that talk comes from a place of experience or knowledge. It all comes from a great remove, some remote and clinical vantage point. It is pedantic.

    (Mr. Asante, as you call yourself- I have been to your website, and you are a lower tier cartoonist at best. You are not stupid, but you do not know what you are talking about in this arena, and your contribution is destructive. You would do well to pipe the fuck down… or to buzz off. Or, you might simply become not so full of yourself and stop pontificating. Your grand statements, while made many times by others, fall with a faint thud. You do not set the parameters of this discussion.)

    Over thirty years ago, Taplin and I began dealing with the new reality that digital technology introduced into our culture as it pertained specifically to the Arts. Taplin is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a Luddite. He was one of the earliest adopters of digital technology in the Arts. Worldwide. There is an attempt to describe the current dislocation in generational terms, but that attempt leads nowhere. There was no break in the continuum. Jon and I are fighting against the poverty, economic and cultural, that we see now and in the future- not for those of us in the Arts, we have lived by our wits in every technological environment, but for the culture as a whole. (Jon- please correct me if I have misrepresented you.)

    Here is the question that we should all, in my view, consider: Is our culture better off for having a profound record of the life’s work of Louis Armstrong?

    If you can answer yes to that question, then a real conversation can begin. If you answer no, then step off.

  71. T Bone Burnett says:

    To All:

    First, while I have spent over forty years wrangling with the copyright holders, and know more about the injustices of that system than everybody in this thread times a hundred thousand, I have to say that the record industry, though corrupt, spent a century putting together a treasury of music unmatched in history. This is not about business models or information or any of the rest of the nonsense being bruited about for the last few years. None of that talk comes from a place of experience or knowledge. It all comes from a great remove, some remote and clinical vantage point. It is pedantic.

    (Mr. Asante, as you call yourself- I have been to your website, and you are a lower tier cartoonist at best. You are not stupid, but you do not know what you are talking about in this arena, and your contribution is destructive. You would do well to pipe the fuck down… or to buzz off. Or, you might simply become not so full of yourself and stop pontificating. Your grand statements, while made many times by others, fall with a faint thud. You do not set the parameters of this discussion.)

    Over thirty years ago, Taplin and I began dealing with the new reality that digital technology introduced into our culture as it pertained specifically to the Arts. Taplin is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a Luddite. He was one of the earliest adopters of digital technology in the Arts. Worldwide. There is an attempt to describe the current dislocation in generational terms, but that attempt leads nowhere. There was no break in the continuum. Jon and I are fighting against the poverty, economic and cultural, that we see now and in the future- not for those of us in the Arts, we have lived by our wits in every technological environment, but for the culture as a whole. (Jon- please correct me if I have misrepresented you.)

    Here is the question that we should all, in my view, consider: Is our culture better off for having a profound record of the life’s work of Louis Armstrong?

    If you can answer yes to that question, then a real conversation can begin. If you answer no, then step off.

  72. T Bone Burnett says:

    To All:

    First, while I have spent over forty years wrangling with the copyright holders, and know more about the injustices of that system than everybody in this thread times a hundred thousand, I have to say that the record industry, though corrupt, spent a century putting together a treasury of music unmatched in history. This is not about business models or information or any of the rest of the nonsense being bruited about for the last few years. None of that talk comes from a place of experience or knowledge. It all comes from a great remove, some remote and clinical vantage point. It is pedantic.

    (Mr. Asante, as you call yourself- I have been to your website, and you are a lower tier cartoonist at best. You are not stupid, but you do not know what you are talking about in this arena, and your contribution is destructive. You would do well to pipe the fuck down… or to buzz off. Or, you might simply become not so full of yourself and stop pontificating. Your grand statements, while made many times by others, fall with a faint thud. You do not set the parameters of this discussion.)

    Over thirty years ago, Taplin and I began dealing with the new reality that digital technology introduced into our culture as it pertained specifically to the Arts. Taplin is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a Luddite. He was one of the earliest adopters of digital technology in the Arts. Worldwide. There is an attempt to describe the current dislocation in generational terms, but that attempt leads nowhere. There was no break in the continuum. Jon and I are fighting against the poverty, economic and cultural, that we see now and in the future- not for those of us in the Arts, we have lived by our wits in every technological environment, but for the culture as a whole. (Jon- please correct me if I have misrepresented you.)

    Here is the question that we should all, in my view, consider: Is our culture better off for having a profound record of the life’s work of Louis Armstrong?

    If you can answer yes to that question, then a real conversation can begin. If you answer no, then step off.

  73. T Bone Burnett says:

    That is exactly right, Chris L. The days you describe in your last paragraph have been over for some time, though to be precise, they never existed.

  74. T Bone Burnett says:

    That is exactly right, Chris L. The days you describe in your last paragraph have been over for some time, though to be precise, they never existed.

  75. T Bone Burnett says:

    That is exactly right, Chris L. The days you describe in your last paragraph have been over for some time, though to be precise, they never existed.

  76. Seth says:

    I think a lot of the enthusiasm for “free” on this thread derives from eagerness to disintermediate the recording industry. Don’t we all have a stock of stories (tho for many of us only at third or fourth hand) about bands that either couldn’t get a contract, or did and got screwed, etc.

    Technology ought to make it easier for an artist to go “direct” to their audience, without complete loss of production values and without net loss in the monetary value of their work. Start with low price and production values, build audience and arrive at high price and production values.

    It’s the democratization we want, not the impoverishment. Surely there’s some middle ground there?

    • T Bone Burnett says:

      Seth Is that how it works in other businesses- a shoemaker manufactures cheap shoes and sells them for a low price until he has profited enough to upgrade his production, then he can start selling his shoes for a higher price? Wouldn’t his reputation be for making cheap shoes? Wouldn’t he have to build an entirely new business?

  77. Seth says:

    I think a lot of the enthusiasm for “free” on this thread derives from eagerness to disintermediate the recording industry. Don’t we all have a stock of stories (tho for many of us only at third or fourth hand) about bands that either couldn’t get a contract, or did and got screwed, etc.

    Technology ought to make it easier for an artist to go “direct” to their audience, without complete loss of production values and without net loss in the monetary value of their work. Start with low price and production values, build audience and arrive at high price and production values.

    It’s the democratization we want, not the impoverishment. Surely there’s some middle ground there?

    • T Bone Burnett says:

      Seth Is that how it works in other businesses- a shoemaker manufactures cheap shoes and sells them for a low price until he has profited enough to upgrade his production, then he can start selling his shoes for a higher price? Wouldn’t his reputation be for making cheap shoes? Wouldn’t he have to build an entirely new business?

      • Seth says:

        No it isn’t. I should have said ‘distribution’ rather than ‘production values’. Good production values aren’t so terribly out of reach. Even a Rick Turner guitar fits on an ordinary mortal’s credit card and I expect an ambitious artist with something to say could contrive to finagle some studio time for a quality demo. But big time publicity and radio airplay etc. is controlled by corporate players. There has to be a way to leverage the opportunity for more democratic access to a wide audience without erasing royalties. I think Jon has advocated an ISP-levied charge to fund royalty payments. Maybe some of the experts here should flesh out that concept?

  78. len says:

    Well-said, T.

    I’m low-tier too. My attitude is that we share what we learn and that keeps the tiers boiling and that keeps the music coming. My difference with some is that even if low-tier, I know how long it takes to do it alone. That solo artist in a hutch somewhere is a good model for a songwriter but a bad model for a good recording much less an A-lister.

    I am aware of Coulton, McDonnough and others and I salute them. I’ve been an indie for my entire time doing this and I know how hard that is too. It is still worth it. God knows, the guitar is my best and oldest friend. Even now.

    The hit making world is quite different. It is a gambler’s paradise: high dollar bets on long odds payoffs. I’m talking about the financial side, not the artists. The artist is not betting moneym. The artist is betting their life. Whatever the payoff they have in mind, they put the pig on the plate.

    The technology can’t be undone. The law will eventually come to this discussion with a definitive if compromised solution. We’ll move on. Those in the industry with the resources to defend their copyrights still will. Those with the will to assail them still will. We’ll move on.

    The answer to T-Bone’s question is indubitably yes. The question that follows is how will such art be made in the future and I don’t think I know the answer to that. I know what it takes to preserve a talent of that caliber, to ensure the works of that talent are preserved and at the highest quality possible.

    This I think is still true: it requires the elites, the A-listers, the top talent and the right production. It requires the best songwriters and the savviest publicists. It requires producers with golden ears and knowledge of music so deep that it is on a par with top engineers, architects and doctors. It requires along with that deft skill so four hours a day for years of practice.

    Technology can enable a smoother production but it does not create the content on the tracks. Human hands do that. Unless there is a high payoff for a long odds bet, they won’t do it as often or as well.

    That is why midi was finally accepted: fewer ways to shred the natch. That and brilliant talent got you Michael Jackson.

    Human hands got you Derek and the Dominoes.

  79. len says:

    Well-said, T.

    I’m low-tier too. My attitude is that we share what we learn and that keeps the tiers boiling and that keeps the music coming. My difference with some is that even if low-tier, I know how long it takes to do it alone. That solo artist in a hutch somewhere is a good model for a songwriter but a bad model for a good recording much less an A-lister.

    I am aware of Coulton, McDonnough and others and I salute them. I’ve been an indie for my entire time doing this and I know how hard that is too. It is still worth it. God knows, the guitar is my best and oldest friend. Even now.

    The hit making world is quite different. It is a gambler’s paradise: high dollar bets on long odds payoffs. I’m talking about the financial side, not the artists. The artist is not betting moneym. The artist is betting their life. Whatever the payoff they have in mind, they put the pig on the plate.

    The technology can’t be undone. The law will eventually come to this discussion with a definitive if compromised solution. We’ll move on. Those in the industry with the resources to defend their copyrights still will. Those with the will to assail them still will. We’ll move on.

    The answer to T-Bone’s question is indubitably yes. The question that follows is how will such art be made in the future and I don’t think I know the answer to that. I know what it takes to preserve a talent of that caliber, to ensure the works of that talent are preserved and at the highest quality possible.

    This I think is still true: it requires the elites, the A-listers, the top talent and the right production. It requires the best songwriters and the savviest publicists. It requires producers with golden ears and knowledge of music so deep that it is on a par with top engineers, architects and doctors. It requires along with that deft skill so four hours a day for years of practice.

    Technology can enable a smoother production but it does not create the content on the tracks. Human hands do that. Unless there is a high payoff for a long odds bet, they won’t do it as often or as well.

    That is why midi was finally accepted: fewer ways to shred the natch. That and brilliant talent got you Michael Jackson.

    Human hands got you Derek and the Dominoes.

  80. len says:

    Well-said, T.

    I’m low-tier too. My attitude is that we share what we learn and that keeps the tiers boiling and that keeps the music coming. My difference with some is that even if low-tier, I know how long it takes to do it alone. That solo artist in a hutch somewhere is a good model for a songwriter but a bad model for a good recording much less an A-lister.

    I am aware of Coulton, McDonnough and others and I salute them. I’ve been an indie for my entire time doing this and I know how hard that is too. It is still worth it. God knows, the guitar is my best and oldest friend. Even now.

    The hit making world is quite different. It is a gambler’s paradise: high dollar bets on long odds payoffs. I’m talking about the financial side, not the artists. The artist is not betting moneym. The artist is betting their life. Whatever the payoff they have in mind, they put the pig on the plate.

    The technology can’t be undone. The law will eventually come to this discussion with a definitive if compromised solution. We’ll move on. Those in the industry with the resources to defend their copyrights still will. Those with the will to assail them still will. We’ll move on.

    The answer to T-Bone’s question is indubitably yes. The question that follows is how will such art be made in the future and I don’t think I know the answer to that. I know what it takes to preserve a talent of that caliber, to ensure the works of that talent are preserved and at the highest quality possible.

    This I think is still true: it requires the elites, the A-listers, the top talent and the right production. It requires the best songwriters and the savviest publicists. It requires producers with golden ears and knowledge of music so deep that it is on a par with top engineers, architects and doctors. It requires along with that deft skill so four hours a day for years of practice.

    Technology can enable a smoother production but it does not create the content on the tracks. Human hands do that. Unless there is a high payoff for a long odds bet, they won’t do it as often or as well.

    That is why midi was finally accepted: fewer ways to shred the natch. That and brilliant talent got you Michael Jackson.

    Human hands got you Derek and the Dominoes.

  81. Michael Spencer says:

    Listen, everyone, I realize that my comment above about music being a great gig was inflammatory, and perhaps a bit of hyperbole. It’s not what I intended and it was unfair to post amongst this group of thoughtful smart people. So let’s try again?

    I wanted to discuss how the notion of royalties compares to the way that other artists are paid. It’s defiantly not true, for example, that architects get millions; like music, there are superstars for sure.

    But it IS true that an architect gets less fee than the real estate agent who sold the building. And more to the point, she gets this fee ONCE.

    I understand how the music system works. I realize that most artists don’t make it big. I know that. I just don’t see how a record made 30 years ago becomes the gift that keeps giving, other than being a beneficiary of the law.

    As long as we are talking about the ‘larger issues’, that’s just what bugs me because it conflicts with my sense of fairness. That’s all, and it’s relevant within the broader subject.

    Please don’t think that I want artists cheated. I don’t. I’m not asking for songs to be in the public domain. I just think that the system is unfair to the artists and to the listeners, that’s all.

  82. Michael Spencer says:

    Listen, everyone, I realize that my comment above about music being a great gig was inflammatory, and perhaps a bit of hyperbole. It’s not what I intended and it was unfair to post amongst this group of thoughtful smart people. So let’s try again?

    I wanted to discuss how the notion of royalties compares to the way that other artists are paid. It’s defiantly not true, for example, that architects get millions; like music, there are superstars for sure.

    But it IS true that an architect gets less fee than the real estate agent who sold the building. And more to the point, she gets this fee ONCE.

    I understand how the music system works. I realize that most artists don’t make it big. I know that. I just don’t see how a record made 30 years ago becomes the gift that keeps giving, other than being a beneficiary of the law.

    As long as we are talking about the ‘larger issues’, that’s just what bugs me because it conflicts with my sense of fairness. That’s all, and it’s relevant within the broader subject.

    Please don’t think that I want artists cheated. I don’t. I’m not asking for songs to be in the public domain. I just think that the system is unfair to the artists and to the listeners, that’s all.

  83. Michael Spencer says:

    Listen, everyone, I realize that my comment above about music being a great gig was inflammatory, and perhaps a bit of hyperbole. It’s not what I intended and it was unfair to post amongst this group of thoughtful smart people. So let’s try again?

    I wanted to discuss how the notion of royalties compares to the way that other artists are paid. It’s defiantly not true, for example, that architects get millions; like music, there are superstars for sure.

    But it IS true that an architect gets less fee than the real estate agent who sold the building. And more to the point, she gets this fee ONCE.

    I understand how the music system works. I realize that most artists don’t make it big. I know that. I just don’t see how a record made 30 years ago becomes the gift that keeps giving, other than being a beneficiary of the law.

    As long as we are talking about the ‘larger issues’, that’s just what bugs me because it conflicts with my sense of fairness. That’s all, and it’s relevant within the broader subject.

    Please don’t think that I want artists cheated. I don’t. I’m not asking for songs to be in the public domain. I just think that the system is unfair to the artists and to the listeners, that’s all.

  84. T Bone Burnett says:

    Michael There is no doubt that the record companies have alienated both the artists and the listeners.

    We have talked about this before, but a building is harder to copy than a digital file.

    In all fairness, there is no music system. I think you are referring to a social contract. At the moment, that social contract is being broken by the listeners, not the artists. The artists continue to hold up their end of the deal. As you know, saying the record companies are bad so we are going to punish the artists is mad. But that is what is happening.

    If the record deal conflicts with your sense of fairness, the sports economy must drive you completely off the charts crazy.

    For the record, I am all for a new and more ethical agreement between the artists and the listeners.

  85. T Bone Burnett says:

    Michael There is no doubt that the record companies have alienated both the artists and the listeners.

    We have talked about this before, but a building is harder to copy than a digital file.

    In all fairness, there is no music system. I think you are referring to a social contract. At the moment, that social contract is being broken by the listeners, not the artists. The artists continue to hold up their end of the deal. As you know, saying the record companies are bad so we are going to punish the artists is mad. But that is what is happening.

    If the record deal conflicts with your sense of fairness, the sports economy must drive you completely off the charts crazy.

    For the record, I am all for a new and more ethical agreement between the artists and the listeners.

  86. T Bone Burnett says:

    Michael There is no doubt that the record companies have alienated both the artists and the listeners.

    We have talked about this before, but a building is harder to copy than a digital file.

    In all fairness, there is no music system. I think you are referring to a social contract. At the moment, that social contract is being broken by the listeners, not the artists. The artists continue to hold up their end of the deal. As you know, saying the record companies are bad so we are going to punish the artists is mad. But that is what is happening.

    If the record deal conflicts with your sense of fairness, the sports economy must drive you completely off the charts crazy.

    For the record, I am all for a new and more ethical agreement between the artists and the listeners.

  87. T Bone Burnett says:

    Michael There is no doubt that the record companies have alienated both the artists and the listeners.

    We have talked about this before, but a building is harder to copy than a digital file.

    In all fairness, there is no music system. I think you are referring to a social contract. At the moment, that social contract is being broken by the listeners, not the artists. The artists continue to hold up their end of the deal. As you know, saying the record companies are bad so we are going to punish the artists is mad. But that is what is happening.

    If the record deal conflicts with your sense of fairness, the sports economy must drive you completely off the charts crazy.

    For the record, I am all for a new and more ethical agreement between the artists and the listeners.

  88. Len – i sure like the “organic” thread. I think INTEGRITY is important. Technology is a two-edged sword which is capable of undermining integrity. Live, human hands in the now – man, that can’t be beat…and the stories of the greats by those who saw it firsthand.

    Mr Burnett – Sir, what else can we do if breaking in on the cheap is the only avenue available to us?

    The doors have been shut a long time. Rippoffs everywhere you turn. I’ve had to get past the chip on my shoulder and continue to evolve.
    I thank God for guys like you and Mr Taplin, here who are kind enough to share and entrust your experience, wisdom and knowledge. Sincerely, Thank you.

    But how the hell we gonna control this thing? – it’s a kite in a hurricane. I can only play live and do the best I can – what else can I do? I can’t stop evil from being evil but I can continue to play out live. Besides, evil destroys itself and integrity is all that’s left.

    I never record anything before it’s road tested. How do you measure integrity?

  89. Len – i sure like the “organic” thread. I think INTEGRITY is important. Technology is a two-edged sword which is capable of undermining integrity. Live, human hands in the now – man, that can’t be beat…and the stories of the greats by those who saw it firsthand.

    Mr Burnett – Sir, what else can we do if breaking in on the cheap is the only avenue available to us?

    The doors have been shut a long time. Rippoffs everywhere you turn. I’ve had to get past the chip on my shoulder and continue to evolve.
    I thank God for guys like you and Mr Taplin, here who are kind enough to share and entrust your experience, wisdom and knowledge. Sincerely, Thank you.

    But how the hell we gonna control this thing? – it’s a kite in a hurricane. I can only play live and do the best I can – what else can I do? I can’t stop evil from being evil but I can continue to play out live. Besides, evil destroys itself and integrity is all that’s left.

    I never record anything before it’s road tested. How do you measure integrity?

  90. Len – i sure like the “organic” thread. I think INTEGRITY is important. Technology is a two-edged sword which is capable of undermining integrity. Live, human hands in the now – man, that can’t be beat…and the stories of the greats by those who saw it firsthand.

    Mr Burnett – Sir, what else can we do if breaking in on the cheap is the only avenue available to us?

    The doors have been shut a long time. Rippoffs everywhere you turn. I’ve had to get past the chip on my shoulder and continue to evolve.
    I thank God for guys like you and Mr Taplin, here who are kind enough to share and entrust your experience, wisdom and knowledge. Sincerely, Thank you.

    But how the hell we gonna control this thing? – it’s a kite in a hurricane. I can only play live and do the best I can – what else can I do? I can’t stop evil from being evil but I can continue to play out live. Besides, evil destroys itself and integrity is all that’s left.

    I never record anything before it’s road tested. How do you measure integrity?

  91. Len – i sure like the “organic” thread. I think INTEGRITY is important. Technology is a two-edged sword which is capable of undermining integrity. Live, human hands in the now – man, that can’t be beat…and the stories of the greats by those who saw it firsthand.

    Mr Burnett – Sir, what else can we do if breaking in on the cheap is the only avenue available to us?

    The doors have been shut a long time. Rippoffs everywhere you turn. I’ve had to get past the chip on my shoulder and continue to evolve.
    I thank God for guys like you and Mr Taplin, here who are kind enough to share and entrust your experience, wisdom and knowledge. Sincerely, Thank you.

    But how the hell we gonna control this thing? – it’s a kite in a hurricane. I can only play live and do the best I can – what else can I do? I can’t stop evil from being evil but I can continue to play out live. Besides, evil destroys itself and integrity is all that’s left.

    I never record anything before it’s road tested. How do you measure integrity?

  92. Mark Murphy says:

    “Software manufacturers who distributed freeware were going broke just as fast as they could give the stuff away, ergo shareware.”

    It would appear your computer education is about 15 years out of date. Try reading up on open source and free software sometime.

    “I wonder what Mark Murphy does for a living.”

    In part, I write. Some percentage of what I write is sold in the form of books (print and digital). Some percentage of that gets pirated, though less that I would have expected. Some people probably pay due to ethics. Some people probably pay due to simply not knowing of pirated copies. Some people pay because of added value for paying (e.g., a continuously-updated library of material). My job is to keep adding enough value to make it worthwhile for people to buy, despite free alternatives (pirated materials and other free information online). Heck, I even promise to release the for-fee materials on a free basis after a period of time or a number of sales, to help provide better balance than the present copyright laws would allow. And, I have to keep one eye out for the time when it will become utterly impractical to charge for any of it — that day may come, and I think I’m ready for it.

    In part, I teach. Students are paying for a delivery mechanism, the ability to do Q&A, for personalized guidance, and so on. They sure aren’t paying for the information, which is readily available from other sources for a whole lot less than my courses cost, often free.

    In part, I create custom materials for people. They are paying for directed work, tailored to their needs, no different than they pay a lawyer, a doctor, or an accountant, or a songwriter.

    In other words, I’m doing what you’re supposed to be doing as a 21st Century creative type. Guess what? It actually works. Rather well, in my case. Only a small portion of my income comes from sales of books.

    The fact that much of my knowledge gets published for free by intent, and some of the rest of my knowledge is available on a pirated basis, simply isn’t much of an issue. Yes, there is lost revenue potential. So? There’s lost revenue potential because I screw up a promotional campaign, or have flaws in a book, or whatever. I have much better ways of increasing my revenue than wasting precious time trying to stop piracy (whack-a-mole, anyone?). Besides, as has been often pointed out, an author’s main problem is not piracy, but obscurity.

    Now, will my particular techniques translate directly to recording artists? Probably not. It is easy to see the impending decline of the recording artist paisley-collar job; it is far more difficult for me to envision what will replace it. I can predict it will take 20-30 years to settle out, but that’s just a prediction and isn’t worth much. However, I rather doubt that music will evaporate because the recording artist job evaporates, any more than the written word evaporated with the loss of Latin scribes and the rise of the printing press.

    To use Prof. Taplin’s favorite word, an interregnum is upon the music industry, in terms of how musicians will earn a living. All Mr. Anderson, Mr. Godin, Mr. Masnick, and others are trying to do is point out “yo! interregnum here!” and offer ideas for what life will be like on the other side. You don’t have to like their advice. You don’t even have to admit there is an interregnum. I’m sure there’s some sand nearby that you can bury your head in. Meanwhile, the rest of us can worry about building new models on the carcasses of the old.

    And with that, I bid this blog adieu.

  93. Armand Asante says:

    Dear Mr. Burnett,

    I’ll begin addressing your points from the end:

    1. I fully agree that we are all better off for having a profound record of Louis Armstrong’s work.
    I’ve not questioned that – nor do my posts imply otherwise.
    Quite the contrary – the internet (and file-sharing) is a great tool for keeping that tradition going for future artists (and for more of those artists).

    2. As you keep mentioning, I AM a low-tier cartoonists. I fully admit it and have made no claim otherwise.
    Quite the opposite – I embrace my role and position on the totem pole.
    I’m also very excited about the opportunity the internet provides for such as me. Opportunities once only available to the truly great.

    For example, an animated music video that I and some colleagues of mine worked on just got recognition and won the Spike Lee award at the Babelgum Online Film Festival.

    So yeah, I may be low-tier but I am still an artist. Your system has no place for the likes of me. The internets do – for me and for all my low-tier friends and colleagues.

    I don’t think that protecting Michael Jackson’s back catalog is more important than allowing me to climb this new ladder for a few rungs.
    Or that the copyright system should be saved from destruction at the expense of destroying emerging technologies like p2p file-sharing.

    But now I have a bone to pick with you:
    You mention my low-tier position as if to imply my opinions are somehow beneath you – as my art so obviously is (I’m not being flip. I looked you up since last we spoke; and if there is a totem pole of talent you’d probably be way further up. but I digress…)

    You’ve yet to address ANY of the points I’ve made in this thread. You keep bringing up my own art as proof of something. It’s not.
    My opinions (be they right or wrong) can be addressed on their merits alone.
    You’ve yet to do that.

    You assert my opinions are destructive. I humbly submit that may well be the case (I’ve been wrong before) – yet you have not backed up your assertion with anything beyond your cultural prominence and authority.
    You’ve just said it – my contribution is destructive – as if it needs no further proof.
    So you will forgive me for remaining unconvinced – it’s just that you’ve not even attempted to convince me of my folly.
    We’re somehow supposed to take it on faith.

    So please sir, with all respect and humility, I’d love to hear why you find the questions I put forth to be destructive.
    And if they are destructive why they don’t fall under the category of creative destruction?

    You may have a better understanding of the intricacies of the convoluted copyright system – but you’ve yet to use that knowledge to show us low-tier peasants why it is a system worth saving from the onslaught of the internets.

    As you’ve said, there is a conversation to be had. I don’t think it is within my power to set its parameters, so I’ve not even attempted it.
    I’ve simply raised questions and opinions that resonate with me – and I’ve yet to receive a satisfactory answer to any of them from anyone on the other side of the aisle.

  94. Armand Asante says:

    Dear Mr. Burnett,

    I’ll begin addressing your points from the end:

    1. I fully agree that we are all better off for having a profound record of Louis Armstrong’s work.
    I’ve not questioned that – nor do my posts imply otherwise.
    Quite the contrary – the internet (and file-sharing) is a great tool for keeping that tradition going for future artists (and for more of those artists).

    2. As you keep mentioning, I AM a low-tier cartoonists. I fully admit it and have made no claim otherwise.
    Quite the opposite – I embrace my role and position on the totem pole.
    I’m also very excited about the opportunity the internet provides for such as me. Opportunities once only available to the truly great.

    For example, an animated music video that I and some colleagues of mine worked on just got recognition and won the Spike Lee award at the Babelgum Online Film Festival.

    So yeah, I may be low-tier but I am still an artist. Your system has no place for the likes of me. The internets do – for me and for all my low-tier friends and colleagues.

    I don’t think that protecting Michael Jackson’s back catalog is more important than allowing me to climb this new ladder for a few rungs.
    Or that the copyright system should be saved from destruction at the expense of destroying emerging technologies like p2p file-sharing.

    But now I have a bone to pick with you:
    You mention my low-tier position as if to imply my opinions are somehow beneath you – as my art so obviously is (I’m not being flip. I looked you up since last we spoke; and if there is a totem pole of talent you’d probably be way further up. but I digress…)

    You’ve yet to address ANY of the points I’ve made in this thread. You keep bringing up my own art as proof of something. It’s not.
    My opinions (be they right or wrong) can be addressed on their merits alone.
    You’ve yet to do that.

    You assert my opinions are destructive. I humbly submit that may well be the case (I’ve been wrong before) – yet you have not backed up your assertion with anything beyond your cultural prominence and authority.
    You’ve just said it – my contribution is destructive – as if it needs no further proof.
    So you will forgive me for remaining unconvinced – it’s just that you’ve not even attempted to convince me of my folly.
    We’re somehow supposed to take it on faith.

    So please sir, with all respect and humility, I’d love to hear why you find the questions I put forth to be destructive.
    And if they are destructive why they don’t fall under the category of creative destruction?

    You may have a better understanding of the intricacies of the convoluted copyright system – but you’ve yet to use that knowledge to show us low-tier peasants why it is a system worth saving from the onslaught of the internets.

    As you’ve said, there is a conversation to be had. I don’t think it is within my power to set its parameters, so I’ve not even attempted it.
    I’ve simply raised questions and opinions that resonate with me – and I’ve yet to receive a satisfactory answer to any of them from anyone on the other side of the aisle.

  95. Armand Asante says:

    Dear Mr. Burnett,

    I’ll begin addressing your points from the end:

    1. I fully agree that we are all better off for having a profound record of Louis Armstrong’s work.
    I’ve not questioned that – nor do my posts imply otherwise.
    Quite the contrary – the internet (and file-sharing) is a great tool for keeping that tradition going for future artists (and for more of those artists).

    2. As you keep mentioning, I AM a low-tier cartoonists. I fully admit it and have made no claim otherwise.
    Quite the opposite – I embrace my role and position on the totem pole.
    I’m also very excited about the opportunity the internet provides for such as me. Opportunities once only available to the truly great.

    For example, an animated music video that I and some colleagues of mine worked on just got recognition and won the Spike Lee award at the Babelgum Online Film Festival.

    So yeah, I may be low-tier but I am still an artist. Your system has no place for the likes of me. The internets do – for me and for all my low-tier friends and colleagues.

    I don’t think that protecting Michael Jackson’s back catalog is more important than allowing me to climb this new ladder for a few rungs.
    Or that the copyright system should be saved from destruction at the expense of destroying emerging technologies like p2p file-sharing.

    But now I have a bone to pick with you:
    You mention my low-tier position as if to imply my opinions are somehow beneath you – as my art so obviously is (I’m not being flip. I looked you up since last we spoke; and if there is a totem pole of talent you’d probably be way further up. but I digress…)

    You’ve yet to address ANY of the points I’ve made in this thread. You keep bringing up my own art as proof of something. It’s not.
    My opinions (be they right or wrong) can be addressed on their merits alone.
    You’ve yet to do that.

    You assert my opinions are destructive. I humbly submit that may well be the case (I’ve been wrong before) – yet you have not backed up your assertion with anything beyond your cultural prominence and authority.
    You’ve just said it – my contribution is destructive – as if it needs no further proof.
    So you will forgive me for remaining unconvinced – it’s just that you’ve not even attempted to convince me of my folly.
    We’re somehow supposed to take it on faith.

    So please sir, with all respect and humility, I’d love to hear why you find the questions I put forth to be destructive.
    And if they are destructive why they don’t fall under the category of creative destruction?

    You may have a better understanding of the intricacies of the convoluted copyright system – but you’ve yet to use that knowledge to show us low-tier peasants why it is a system worth saving from the onslaught of the internets.

    As you’ve said, there is a conversation to be had. I don’t think it is within my power to set its parameters, so I’ve not even attempted it.
    I’ve simply raised questions and opinions that resonate with me – and I’ve yet to receive a satisfactory answer to any of them from anyone on the other side of the aisle.

    • T Bone Burnett says:

      AA I’m going to start off giving you some advice. Your time would be much better spent getting better at what you do rather than lecturing us at length about things in which you have no experience or about which you have no knowledge. I mean this in a constructive and friendly way. You would benefit from making better art, making good art, and leaving your concerns about the distribution of that art to a time when that art deserves distribution.

      Here is the first dislocation in your point of view. You write:

      “1. I fully agree that we are all better off for having a profound record of Louis Armstrong’s work. I’ve not questioned that – nor do my posts imply otherwise.

      Quite the contrary – the internet (and file-sharing) is a great tool for keeping that tradition going for future artists (and for more of those artists).”

      You are not honest with yourself. You have to look harder. You do question that, and your posts absolutely assert otherwise. If the version of things you have presented here is followed, there will be no future recorded music. You seem to be blind to that fact.

      Recording music at the highest level or even a high level is extremely expensive. There are very few people than can afford that process, and there are no companies that will pay for that process in the formulation you have put forward. You may be blind to the fact that if the internet and file sharing are the distribution system for recorded music, we are at the end of recorded music, but that fact is indisputable. The internet, as we are seeing, is also the end of newspapers. It may also be the end of universities. Maybe that is all great. Maybe it’s not. The Twentieth Century was no day at the beach. Maybe the Twenty First Century will be better. I certainly and deeply hope so. But in the meantime, the internet is proving to be great destroyer of wealth.

      I have graphically demonstrated your error to you in the past, the reasons why your view is merely destructive, but you could not hear it. I have also said several times in these pages that we need a new, ethical agreement between the artists and the audience. We need to have a new relationship mediated.

      The internet cannot be that mediator. In my view, it cannot even be part of that mediation, but perhaps it can. I guess we’ll find out.

      If you want to have a serious conversation about this, perhaps we could do that some other time, some other place. For now, however, I will tell you, in all good will, that if it is important to you to climb a few rungs as you put it, make better art. The rest will take care of itself. No one has to lose so that you may win. Or rather, if someone has to lose so that you may win, you are in the wrong place.

      I wish you the best of luck.

  96. Sam says:

    I’m really frustrated. I’m being told that I don’t get it. But I think I do get it. I get that music is valuable. That the recording industry has generated a wealth of art for our culture (and for cultures all over the world) and supported the musical geniuses of our time. I get that selling copies of musical recordings is the cornerstone of that business. And I get that ubiquitous copyright violation hurts that business, and those artists.

    But can we talk about the problem at hand and how it can be solved? Aren’t we all smart enough to know that stomping our feet, calling people names and complaining about kids these days doesn’t really amount to problem solving? If you really care about the future of the music industry, can’t you do better than to moan and carry on?

    To those who are upset about the apparent ruin that the digital age is bringing: I want to be on your side! I want to find a way forward. I don’t want artists to starve. I pay for my music, but many people don’t, and I don’t think we can convince them here, or anywhere. What can we do?

    • T Bone Burnett says:

      Sam I have no complaints with the kids today. I have some of them and they are fantastic. The music industry as we have known it is over. The kids will figure out something great, something much better. In the meantime, all of the conditions that led to what was called the music industry have changed. The music industry has not.

      (Good blog, or whatever, by the way.)

  97. Sam says:

    I’m really frustrated. I’m being told that I don’t get it. But I think I do get it. I get that music is valuable. That the recording industry has generated a wealth of art for our culture (and for cultures all over the world) and supported the musical geniuses of our time. I get that selling copies of musical recordings is the cornerstone of that business. And I get that ubiquitous copyright violation hurts that business, and those artists.

    But can we talk about the problem at hand and how it can be solved? Aren’t we all smart enough to know that stomping our feet, calling people names and complaining about kids these days doesn’t really amount to problem solving? If you really care about the future of the music industry, can’t you do better than to moan and carry on?

    To those who are upset about the apparent ruin that the digital age is bringing: I want to be on your side! I want to find a way forward. I don’t want artists to starve. I pay for my music, but many people don’t, and I don’t think we can convince them here, or anywhere. What can we do?

  98. Sam says:

    I’m really frustrated. I’m being told that I don’t get it. But I think I do get it. I get that music is valuable. That the recording industry has generated a wealth of art for our culture (and for cultures all over the world) and supported the musical geniuses of our time. I get that selling copies of musical recordings is the cornerstone of that business. And I get that ubiquitous copyright violation hurts that business, and those artists.

    But can we talk about the problem at hand and how it can be solved? Aren’t we all smart enough to know that stomping our feet, calling people names and complaining about kids these days doesn’t really amount to problem solving? If you really care about the future of the music industry, can’t you do better than to moan and carry on?

    To those who are upset about the apparent ruin that the digital age is bringing: I want to be on your side! I want to find a way forward. I don’t want artists to starve. I pay for my music, but many people don’t, and I don’t think we can convince them here, or anywhere. What can we do?

  99. Sam says:

    I’m really frustrated. I’m being told that I don’t get it. But I think I do get it. I get that music is valuable. That the recording industry has generated a wealth of art for our culture (and for cultures all over the world) and supported the musical geniuses of our time. I get that selling copies of musical recordings is the cornerstone of that business. And I get that ubiquitous copyright violation hurts that business, and those artists.

    But can we talk about the problem at hand and how it can be solved? Aren’t we all smart enough to know that stomping our feet, calling people names and complaining about kids these days doesn’t really amount to problem solving? If you really care about the future of the music industry, can’t you do better than to moan and carry on?

    To those who are upset about the apparent ruin that the digital age is bringing: I want to be on your side! I want to find a way forward. I don’t want artists to starve. I pay for my music, but many people don’t, and I don’t think we can convince them here, or anywhere. What can we do?

  100. len says:

    Would that be HDML Mark Murphy?

    If so, please stick around. We’ve been round this argument a few times here and some fresh perspective is welcome.

  101. Morgan Warstler says:

    Gentlemen,

    The price of tickets has skyrocketed since ’98 when music started being shared, because the barrier to entry to be a “fan,” has approached zero.

    But BB King isn’t a good example Jon, and you know it. For countless SIGNED acts from the 60′s and 70′s – NO ONE would be buying their music today, and they’d be making donuts anyway.

    The point is that, modern artists need to manage fan databases much better than they do currently, because this one thing is true:

    The group of people who will pay to see an artist play live, is a subset of the group that have the artists music. So, since the music is going to be FREE, the artists NEED to KNOW how to contact all the music holders for the rest of their lives.

    That’s part of the fix.

  102. Rick Turner says:

    Let’s get over this ridiculous analogy to architecture. Architects get well paid for what they do…whether the building is a success or not. Ditto lawyers and doctors. The client goes free; the lawyer gets paid. The client goes to jail, the lawyer gets paid. The patient gets well; the doc gets paid. The patient dies; the doc gets paid.

    Writers and composers only get paid decently if their work is popular and sells well, no matter how much time they put into it. And there’s no mechanism, as there is with visual art, for raising the prices other than with live performance, and for all of you who think that’s how musicians should get paid, try touring sometime. Even for the top of the heap, it’s a hellacious way to make a living. Been there, done that; it was fine when I was in my 20s…

    ASCAP and BMI already have the mechanisms for paying composers. All that’s needed is the dreaded Internet Tax that strikes such fear into the hearts of the “Information Free” crowd.

  103. len says:

    Hey Stanley, if you’re breaking even, you’ve broken in. The rest is stuff and talent. IMHO.

    The top of the top is there and if you want that, go for it. If you don’t get it, keep in mind what a wonderful life you’ve had doing it. No one has to end up as MJ or Elvis did. The same values that keep you going when you’re poor can keep you going when you’re wealthy as long as you take care of the music. It will take care of you.

    Having a family on top of that? Very tough. Two mistresses and all that…. You’ll make compromises but pick the sweeter path for your own soul. Bhakti is sure. :-)

    The upside of the discussion: there has never been a time when access to a worldwide audience was so easy to do and in some ways, so irrelevant, but the deal is, you don’t have to reach them all. You have to reach across the world to find the ones who find you to be what they wish to become part of. If you need monster tech production for that, you need big help and it isn’t always free. If you need only your band, gear and a decent producer, that’s gettable on spec. If you need promotion, if you need a label, you need a good lawyer to represent you. When they roll for big dollars, they are risk averse but they do roll and that is why the A-listers have jobs.

    A sweeter conversation helps. This is where the media monster has turned on the royalty of our industry and craft. It portrays them as something they are not nor can be and that image machine generates the antipathy we see in these discussions in some part. If you spend some time googling Burnett, you’ll find he’s been on the right side of that battle from the beginning of his career.

  104. len says:

    “ASCAP and BMI already have the mechanisms for paying composers. All that’s needed is the dreaded Internet Tax that strikes such fear into the hearts of the “Information Free” crowd.”

    Before they get that money, they reform their accounting systems, Rick, and open them up to transparent inspection. No reform, no tax.

    I respect you but I’ve dealt with the sampling systems they use and they are anything but fair.

    In fact, as I sum up what I think are all the opinions on this topic, one consensus emerges: before the music and entertainment industry will be rewarded by an international system of taxation, deep, serious and lasting reform in the business models for assessing and distributing revenues must occur. It will help if we can think of ways that can be done.

  105. T Bone Burnett says:

    Meanwhile, Sarah Palin is resigning.

  106. T Bone Burnett says:

    People buy software to show off their hardware.

  107. T Bone Burnett says:

    If we are going to fix this, or pretend to, let’s go back to the beginning.

    In the beginning, there was hardware- the phonograph. The patent holders thought it was a dictation machine. It wasn’t selling in large numbers. They needed software. The suggestion was made that they record music to sell the hardware. Edison nixed that thinking it would cheapen the device. Eventually, almost as a last resort, they did record music and distributed it. It worked. Both the software and the hardware started selling like crazy. An industry arose to produce that software. The industry went around recording every musician they could get their hands on, but they still could not meet the demand. They developed departments to find singers who could not write, and writers who could not sing- Artist and Repertoire Departments. They had writers, producers, arrangers, and musicians on staff. They had engineers, studios, and a great deal of equipment. They had plants to manufacture the recordings. They had Legal, Art, Publicity, and Accounting Departments. The companies owned all rights to the recordings. The Artists were paid a small royalty- 1%. The company felt they did 99% of the work and took all the risk, in their understanding of risk. The artists were happy for the exposure, as it was and is called. That’s where it started.

    Now, you can put all of that, every function of a record company, in a small box.

    (I am off to Tybee Island for the fireworks and some barbeque. I hope to get back to this later and fill in the middle a little unless someone else wants to do it. Open sourcing this history.)

  108. Len – yep, bhakti… ryu, way, road of divine devotion – feels good – thanks.

    A renewed music industry model – an evolution-friendly medium. Borne of the past, embracing the future – perfectly imperfect – it can be done.

    I gotta work it from my access point but I will be true. Ain’t no other way to go.

  109. Rick Turner says:

    Throwing out the babies (composers, writers, musicians) with the dirty bathwater (the Evil Empire of Record Companies, BMI, ASCAP, etc.) is not the way to go. Now that we’ve had a hundred years of looking at the industry, can’t we come up with a new model that is fair to all? It’s not free content…

  110. len says:

    “Meanwhile, Sarah Palin is resigning.”

    Thank you, Sarah. The news cycle will turn.

    The composers/writers need a different deal than the musicians even if they are both. The role of the labels works itself out if it is more ‘support and operations’ and less ‘front office’. It seems to me ‘projects’ will be slicing up a different set of points to services and goods.

    It’s not free content at all. Tangentially, just as the Obama administration sponsors the initiative to open government data to public uses, few it seems have looked at the contracts for acquiring refreshed data from companies that sell it, eg., mapping data. Of course, refreshed information is NOT the same thing as fixed form art.

    A technology that was scarce was marketed with a resource that while not scarce in type had dimensions of style (timeliness) and talent (originality) therefore is scarce by quality or kind. The basis for access by owning a replicable copy changed with every media evolution and rehosting. Now we have an unlimited potential for copies so tracking and assessing raw copies isn’t a sound basis for assessing value. It simply won’t work.

    The question then is how to track and assess value based on the fixed form (mechanical) and otherwise, on the airplay. These we know how to do. If copies are lost, then the artists have to get a bigger piece of the royalties. The question then is who is compensated by the internet tax? The label? The artist? The producer?

  111. Tom Wilmot says:

    These conversations seem to continually revolve around musicians and the recording industry, probably because they have had the biggest hit in regard to copyright violation in the digital age – but the fact is, aside from the one-offs (an original painting e.g.) anything creative that garners it’s revenue through copies (hence the term “copyright”) is in jeopardy.

    Compensation aside, the question of quality comes into play. Newspapers bemoan the loss of readership due to the internet; but, in part, they set themselves up years ago when the quality of writing, researching and reporting began to slip. When 2 paragraph articles accompanied by polls and brightly covered graphs took precedent over depth of reporting, why WOULDN’T everyone just read blogs and wikipedia for their information pool?

    Publishing companies cry over the drop in book sales (aside from celebrity tell alls and cookbooks) but tend to overlook the drop in quality in their product. Paying $28 for some hardcover book and having to suffer through typos, mis-galleyed pages and digital typesetting that hasn’t been corrected for snakes and gutters convinces me that I’m not paying for quality here. Might as well download some PDF.

    The visual arts? Lossiness in jpeg reproductions don’t really seem to affect the quality of the source work. Ooops, pardon me – I forgot EVERYONE can be an artist nowadays and I’m being a snob for looking down on anything, no matter how trite and juvenile it may be.

    This acceptance of the mediocre, the bland, the uninspired goes a long way towards understanding why people have no issue with downloading 128kbs mpgs and being completely happy with it. It also explains a lot about the folks who are looking for the inspired, the original and the stunningly executed seem kind of cranky these days.

    Quality takes time, if nothing else. Time is not free; there is no chronology bank you can scoop extra time from. As a result, there is a choice between time spent that may allow you to earn money in order to survive or time spent that you may NOT get back. thanks to that – and the lessening guarantee that you could protect your work, not many people can afford to take the time to really polish their work and another result is that there will be generations coming along who have no idea what polished work is really like. Eventually, mediocrity will triumph.

    Musicians who care about their craft, songwriters who care about their craft, performers who care, writers who care, painters who care and sculptors who care – they tend to work on a ratio of success to failure. There’s one success for several failures and those failures gobble up time too. You don’t throw the failures out there for public consumption – or, are least, that used to be the case.

    Walter Huston had a speech in “The Treasure of Sierra Madre” that sums up the reason copyright ought to matter and why TRUE artists ought to be able to make a living off their work:

    “Gold isn’t expensive because it’s rare – there’s gold laying about all over the place. It’s expensive because it’s hard to get to. There’s one guy who found an ounce of gold for every 200 guys that have spent 14 hours a day for two months and come up with nothing. What you’re paying for when you buy gold is the 2814 hours it took to get to that one ounce of the stuff.”

    Ideas are cheap and easy. “Intellectual Property” does a disservice to the folks that POLISHED and perfected an idea. The well executed idea ought to carry a value. Just as a well executed copy of an idea ought to be worth something.

    But, hey – it’s the 21st century – ideas are all that matter. Good ones, bad ones, stupid ones, stolen ones. Why bother to polish them up? It’s not like anyone but elitist snobs care about the quality, right?

    “You get what you pay for”

  112. T Bone Burnett says:

    Tom Exactly right. Quality is the way through this dislocation.

  113. Fentex says:

    > ASCAP and BMI don’t know what ever bar or
    > do you know what BMI and ASCAP are?
    > You’re already paying a “tax” that is
    > distributed to songwriters and composers.

    I assume there’s similar organizations where I live that collect fees for radio and similar plays. That isn’t the topic – I was talking about the idea of gathering a broadly based tax from ISP’s and distributing it to artists who’s work is freely distributed online by anyone. Not artists who’s work is measureable in public performance.

    > ASCAP and BMI don’t know what ever bar or Gap store
    >in the country are playing, but they do
    > a decent sample and extrapolate to decide which
    > songwriter gets which cut of the monthly pie.
    > Its worked pretty well for 50 years or more.

    I can’t see such methods accurately sampling the use of the Internet though. Perhaps I misunderstood the objective.

    If the concern is renumeration for artists who’s work is popular and played for public consumption then the current system may suffice for measuring who to pay, however I don’t feel that justifies an imposition of taxes on all users of the Internet.

    I don’t see a justification in priviledging performers who happen to find public popularity over every other artist working to find a market online.

    To tax use of the Net would reduce consumers wealth, willingness and opportunity for rewarding artists who find markets other than popular public performance measured by collection agencies.

    Which is why I wondered if a more complete and accurate, therefore equitable, way to measure and attribute file sharing online could be found to disburse any surcharge. I wasn’t thinking of only those who public performances could be measured.

  114. Rebar says:

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned the Grateful Dead as an example of a successful touring/merchandizing business. Also, what about musicians who have “day jobs” and play because they just enjoy the music? Surely we all have examples of incredible creative artists who play with or without an audience, paying or not. And anyone who has ever played for a receptive audience knows that it is a reward in itself.

  115. T Bone Burnett says:

    Rebar Great points. The Deadheads were among the earliest adopters of the New Technology. Silicon Valley and what not. They were all over The Well in its earliest days. The Grateful Dead are the prototype for the Band to Fan reality that is without doubt a big shape in musicians’ future.

    Playing music period is a reward in itself.

  116. Rick Turner says:

    There are unique issues with the Grateful Dead…I was a part of the technical scene behind them in the early 1970s, mixed front of house on several tours, and was a co-owner of the live recording company that did Live Dead and Europe ’72, and I built instruments for them and trained more than a few other Deadhead luthiers.

    The Dead were funded by Warner Brothers on the recording side, and by Augustus Stanley Owsley on the gear side to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars between about 1968 and let’s say the mid 1970s. That enabled them to get a toe-hold in a way that just won’t be duplicated unless there’s another media company and drug millionaire in the wings waiting to pony up millions now for a creative band that sucks in the studio but delivers transcendental live shows about 25% of the time…often enough to inspire loyalty. The Dead are not a business model that will ever happen again in quite that way. They inspired a drug-fueled fanaticism that you probably won’t see repeated in your lifetime. And I’m glad I lived through it. Jerry didn’t…

  117. T Bone Burnett says:

    Rick There is reason to believe that the patron will be an important figure in the Twenty First Century record business.

    For the people who think that recorded music in the future will be free- Lewis Kornfeld, the President of Radio Shack and a very smart man used to hold up an object and say, “If it takes eleven cents to make this, you will go broke just as fast as you can sell it for a dime.”

    If recorded music in the future is free, it will be music that is recorded (and distributed) for free. Those will be recordings of extremely low quality.

    In the end, it is a quality of life issue. We have gotten to a place in which there are people who don’t mind living a low quality life as long as it is free. I suppose it may be an evolutionary step. It could be a necessary one.

    At any rate, people have been misled by the fact that there is a century of recordings that have been posted on the internet (at terrible quality) and assume that the same process will extend into the future.

    The Low Medium Idealists

  118. Wow! This is a great thread. Has anyone read Clifford Stoll’s book “Silicon Snake Oil”? I’m asking because of T-Bone’s question about Louis Armstrong’s recordings. There are hard copies of Armstrong’s recordings. If you have a phonograph, you can play the vinyl…and the vinyl, if properly cared for, will last a long, long time. Even if not properly cared for, some of the original quality may be discernable hundreds of years from for those with access to the museum piece phonograph. Same thing with paper-type documents (Dead Sea Scrolls anyone?). Stoll talks about all of the ‘information’ that has been lost because the hardware no longer exists that can access it. What happens if the plug is pulled on the digital world? (Granted this probably won’t happen, but what if?) Digital/magnetic media are just less permanent than older stuff. Please don’t call me a Luddite either, I’m not…I feel it’s necessary to acknowledge the physical limitations of digital media if we’re discussing the long-term (100+ years) future of preserving art.

    As Tom and T-Bone point out, making high-quality (high fidelity) records (recordings, print books, whatever) takes time and money. Democratizing sounds good on the surface, but I’m concerned about the tyranny of the majority that is escalating the trend toward mediocracy that so many here have mentioned.

    How do we determine quality (me channeling Robert Pirsig again)? Are we willing to pay to preserve it? How much? and who pays? Is art just art or is it a commodity? If it’s a commodity, does that mean it isn’t real art? Jon has unleashed a real Hydra (again). I hope you guys continue talking and eventually slay it.

  119. Morgan Warstler says:

    T Bone,

    Phish has followed the Dead Model, and again I’m going to say this – have you SEEN the price of concert tickets since the music became free?

    Skipped here, as noted above, free REQUIRES lifetime contact managment – the artists needs a total record of EVERY fan of the musics to support merchandising sales etc.

    Also important in FREE model is getting your stuff used in commercial settings. Apple made FEIST’s career. Smart bands at smart labels FIGHT to be used as theme music in TV shows.

    Finally quality issue T-Bone…

    Give it time. The quality of digital only improves. Sooner than later, we’ll finally get perfect reproduction. But to me and countless others, imperfect but LIVE, always trumps perfect in studio recordings.

    $30 any night in Austin, is it really that low? I thought it was a couple hundred.

  120. Hugo says:

    I agree that art is not information, and neither is information education. It’s uncivilized to steal art, just as it’s uncivilized to hoard education.

    Perhaps by improving the quality and depth of aesthetic education we could engender in youth an ethic to patronize the arts rather than to pillage them. My own generation was similarly disabused of littering–in part by the moral suasion of a tear artfully deployed on the fetching face of Iron Eyes Cody. We came to view environmental pollution, including our own, as a theft from the commons. Art certainly is not a commons, but it is a vital part of community, the more so when it is paid for. To the extent that it is freed at all, it is liberated from the artist’s imagination, and it’s the artist who should control the terms of that liberation.

    If communities decide to provide the means of a free education, that education can and probably should be built around aesthetic contemplation, not the accumulation of “information”. Education of this kind can include the education of artists and of apprentice artists. Then they, in turn, can be “free” to express whatever they wish, without color of governmental interference in content or in commerce.

    • As a middle-aged technology professional you can rest assured that I understand the frustration of having the rules of my livelihood change in midstream, but demonizing your potential audience is the path to madness. A look at the last thousand years of the music “business” should convince artists that audiences WANT to support them and that every commercial entity that has ever functioned as an intermediary between us wants to maximize profits.

      Any ISP tax model is going to favor the current recording industry/superstar model – the internet radio royalty system writ large would pretty much ensure that white guys in suits get to decide how much money Mr. King gets every month is that really what you want?

      And the gnashing of teeth over growing mediocrity is stupid. 90% of everything was ALWAYS crap, the internet just means there is more of EVERYTHING, including the crap.

  121. T Bone Burnett says:

    Amber If you lived in a purely technological world and someone handed you a book, you would think- what a tremendous advance!

    It is aesthetically beautiful, it is easy to read, it is well organized, it requires no power, it boots up instantly, you can drop it and it doesn’t break, you can random scan it, you can read it from many different angles in many different lights… you could go on for some time.

    Probably the most stable storage medium we have for music is the bakelite that they used for 78s.

    Our team now calls the Twentieth Century record business- The Library. We are in the process of future proofing The Library.

    • Yeah, well I hope you all get a big fat stimulus grant to pay for your time and effort.

    • Chris L. says:

      A bit off topic, but I couldn’t let a line like that go without comment:

      It’s made of dead trees and (if it’s really old or special) dead animals. It’s dumb matter, it weighs a ton for the tiny amount of data it stores, has a crude low-res index and glossary instead of search, no adjustable font or text size for ease of reading, no audio for the vision-impaired or for hands free enjoyment, you can’t make notes on the text without damaging it or quote it without copying word for word by hand. And worst of all, you can’t back it up! Better hope it’s still in print, or the first exposure to moisture of any kind, fire, theft or just plain improper storage will destroy it forever. Why would a child of the 22nd century find this beautiful or even useful?

      On the subject of music, bandwidth and storage space are only going to get cheaper. People are already abandoning 128kbit mpeg in favor of higher bitrates. Eventually even transferring and storing archival studio masters won’t be too onerous to manage, and at that point, the archives will last as long as the internet does. And at this point, if the internet goes away, I suspect even vinyl won’t help against whatever brought us low.

      • T Bone Burnett says:

        The transferring and storing of archival studio masters is being done now having nothing to do with the internet- the internet is irrelevant to that process. The copies do not require the internet.

        In the movie business there is a saying- everybody knows his own job… and music.

        Anything can be debunked using the method you employed above. Football is grown men kicking a ball around a field, etc.

        What do you know about the cyborgs of the MIT Media Lab?

        • Chris L. says:

          My intent wasn’t so much to debunk as to offer a more realistic viewpoint. Similar to this 13 year old reviewing a Walkman: http://bit.ly/SS1B0. Less “It’s so beautiful!” and more “You had to use that? You poor man.” We see books as wonderful things because they’re a traditional font of knowledge, wisdom and entertainment for us, though growing less with each passing generation. If you’ve grown up with Project Gutenberg and an Amazon subscription on your wearable (yes, I’m quite familiar with wearable computing and AR), the idea loses much of it’s charm.

          I’m honestly not sure now why I brought up the archival storage thing, aside from an inkling that at a certain point, with cheap enough bandwidth and storage, the internet itself becomes the archive. Suffice to say it went wide the mark and disinclined to try again.

        • T Bone Burnett says:

          Chris L The reason I asked you about the MIT Media Lab is that is where I first heard that thought about value of a book in a purely technological age- from one of the cyborgs, as they call themselves.

          I read the article you linked to- not exactly a deep look into the question. He says, “It took me three days to figure out that there was another side to the tape” and “I managed to create an impromptu shuffle feature simply by holding down ‘rewind’ and releasing it randomly.” It sounds more like something has been lost rather than gained in this new technology.

          I am forced by this technology to respond to you above your post.

        • len says:

          “the internet itself becomes the archive”

          It is an index. Works can be stored anywhere or in any form as long as the URI is used as a persistent identifier. That’s basic Web architecture.

          I bring that up because archival is a matter of storage format and encoding decoding. Any system can be on the web that uses the URL. Transmission on the other hand requires a server for that media type. The good news is that the system supports multiple media types therefore, multiple renderings. Archival and indexing in the system is automatic (for purposes of this discussion).

          Summary: web indexing is universal and internet transmission is automatic. *Copying is always local.* The notion that the web/internet is a copying machine is a stretch. It is at best a uniform way to index and transmit copies.

          The rest is local media and players and Chris is right about the weight although a book doesn’t consume energy. Comparative carbon footprints could yield interesting information.

  122. T Bone Burnett says:

    Hugo I am with you. Thank you for your smart perspective.

  123. kevin says:

    It’s important to make the distinction between art and commerce.
    Look down at your feet, the playing field has changed.
    Do you see dinosaur feet or running shoes?
    The only option is adapt or go away.
    I’m sure sheet music publishers were upset when recorded music became available to the masses.
    Giving power to the ISP’s only makes them the new record companies.
    Ridiculous.
    Artists of the 20th century should celebrate the fact that they made it before the door slammed shut.
    It’s a brave new world.
    One that does not serve the T-Bones, Beyonces, Eagles, etc. in the manner that they have become accustomed.
    But it will give young artists the ability to play in the game without being subject to the whims of record companies and their take on what the public taste should be.
    As the once unique and visionary record companies of the 50′s 60′s and 70′s became corporatized this was inevitable.

    I learned recently that at the beginning of the French revolution, the monarchy was never planned to be eliminated.
    These things just happen…

    • T Bone Burnett says:

      Kevin If you were referring to me when you wrote T-Bones above, please speak for yourself. Please don’t speak for me. This brave new world you speak of is fine with me. I will say, however, that young artists will not be able to play the game until a new game comes along. The game is over.

  124. Tom Wilmot says:

    Mr. Peterson:

    If my only access to the arts were through the internet, I wouldn’t be gnashing my teeth over mediocrity, I’d probably be accepting of it – it’s “free”, yah? Who am I to complain over the quality of shit you get for free?

    No, my references for the most part existed outside the internet, and purposefully so. The fact is, BASIC craftsmanship has been on the slide since the advent of built in obsolescence as viable market angle.

    The issue of quality and craftsmanship, NOT the inherent aesthetics of something is what I’m speaking of. The acceptance of the poorly done because it is either cheap, disposable or soon to be obsolete undermines us more subtly and completely than you might think on the surface. We build cars today that have 100,000-mile warranties on the drive train but the interior panels are put together with friggin nylon snaps. Live in a climate like I do where the UV rays are especially strong and you soon discover that while the engine may be performing nicely at the end of its’ warranty, the seals and gaskets are in constant need of replacement, the cheap-ass clearcoat on the body is peeling like a sunburn and the interior fittings all rattle like rocks in a rain barrel.

    We have operating systems released that have more bugs in them than an organic carrot, we have switching systems that are wave soldered and melt under their own heat; phones that can do most anything except keep from having their cases crack due to a lack of quality control in the casting process. This has nothing to do with the IDEA behind the product, it has to do with the lack of care and quality in the production.

    Thanks to the assumption that there is no need for anything to be built to last, our values, outlook and ethics become disposable as well. We dance around the issue of copyright violation with arguments of “economic gravity” when it really comes down to an acceptance of theft. “I’m not stealing from a person, I’m taking on a draconian faceless industry that doesn’t care about its audience.” “I’m not plagiarizing, I’m tapping into the Commons”. Mind if I call bullshit on that?

    Accepting corrosion of the social contract, allowing the social fabric to rot, its all part and parcel of the disposable mindset.

    An abhorrence of mediocrity matters. Why do you think our country is in the shape its in? We have grown to accept mediocre politicians and mediocre governments and mediocre business practices.

    Not everyone IS an artist. Everyone IS capable of being a craftsman – craft is care and understanding and being critical of one’s own efforts and having pride in the things we do. Craft is a reflection of how each of us view the idea of quality – from cleaning the kitchen to how we treat each other – pride in oneself reflected in the pride we take in the things we do. Craft in all aspects of life could make for a pretty decent world if we each to the time to express ourselves well in the work we do, the interactions we conduct and the decisions we make.

  125. len says:

    The problem of degrading storage of information media was understood by librarians and technologists long before the music industry saw it’s impending demise. All media do that. Entropy does not discriminate.

    Multiple media storage formats are the best bet for long lifecycle where the format is encoded in an open format that has the least barriers to decoding, ie, self-describing. It is not simply that one device fails to evolve. It is that the format in which the information is encoded cannot be decoded.

    Here’s the challenge: information, be it art, law, or hairy mutterings, lasts best when the technology supporting it evolves. Like the language itself, it has to endure in a new form capable of both decoding the old form and enabling adaptive response to the environment in which it is used and the user that cause the old form to become a new form.

    Information change measures the fidelity to the original required to enable a reproduction in the new media. Lossiness.

    NONE of that has anything to do with the costs of the production except to maintain sufficient capability by tools applied and knowledge and practice required to produce a statement in the language of immediate or long term appeal.

    It is the cost of quality, a quantity not measured by the tools but by the cost to maintain fidelity to the original work, aka, record of authority. The cost of art as it intersects technology is fidelity over transformations of technology and the choices made as the values of those choices increase in value over time.

    Short form: some build museums to play old records, others innovate the technology for rehosting. It is the difference in a cell phone and a vault beneath the Great Pyramid.

  126. len says:

    ““I’m not plagiarizing, I’m tapping into the Commons”. Mind if I call bullshit on that”

    Mind if I step around that and do the same?

    All great pontificating aside, the fact is copyright law is self-policed and the change in technology has made the cost of that enforcement unacceptably high for people who have been leading nice lives because of the control of that cost prior to this are being bitten.

    For the two days I’ve been on this thread, I’ve been recording the vocal tracks for a g minor mass. In the time when The Band was in the studio, that was impossible for a low-tier recording artist and the number of those was slim and none. Today, it is a home computer, Sibelius and time. Would it be better with a real choir and orchestra recorded in an industry level studio. Hell yes. It will be better when the Hazel Green Methodists sing it, but without the tools, it wouldn’t live and now it can evolve because I can render it into many forms each of which creates its own lineage.

    The same industry that snubs the low-tier once fed on them. They called it Chess Records and as Rick says, it was slavery part ii. That same industry still maintains a wall to access and now a shantytown of low tier is growing up on those walls, evolving, experimenting, writing and recording pieces that once would have required an industry budget to render.

    It isn’t the highest quality of composing, recording, performance or training that matters. What is happening in those home studios is what was happening when Louis Armstrong played the shanties, the houses and the low rooms. When the educators and Edison searched for the next music, they looked to the universities while Louis was warming up with the fly girls.

    Good luck with that quality thing. Life looks for a warm place to make love and sleep.

  127. T Bone Burnett says:

    Bob Dylan said that you’ve never heard a song until you’ve heard the person who wrote it sing it. I wonder what Bach sounded like playing the Goldberg Variations. Bedroom Bach. Good things come from all directions. (I want to say that I have no opinions about where somebody is on some imaginary ladder. The only criterion I listen to is aesthetic. But I’m just a hillbilly guitar player.)

  128. Well, there’s quality in the recording (high cost, but coming down) and ‘quality’ in the music itself…the worst Louis Armstrong is better than the best somebody else. As someone else pointed out 90% is still crap, there’s just a lot more stuff out there in general which makes it harder to find the good stuff. Next questions: Does the marketing money line up to promote the good stuff or the money makers (under whatever business model)? And do making money and making great music (or writing or whatever) have to be mutually exclusive?

  129. Something really interesting to note about this thread…how many people place much more value on the the performance (the tangible, human component) rather than the IP…even those who are arguing for free digital whatever.

  130. goddam len! – i think i’m love with you. Meet me at BB’s for a beer – we’ll vibe divine.

    I say we burn down the cotton mill and strike for more holidays so’s we can blog more, eh?

  131. Tom Wilmot says:

    [quote] …but without the tools it wouldn’t live… [/quote]

    Somehow I think Sibelius managed quite handily without ProTools. John Cage realized exactly what he had in his head with dried cactus, oil cans, pianos and reel to reel tape machines. In a more contemporary context, Beck’s done quite handily with a leaf blower.

    Tools are merely the instruments available to do the job. The job still requires human insight and imagination. Taking someone else’s work and slapping your name on it requires nothing but an easily bent or non-existent ethos.

    In my opinion, the Commons ought to be the starting fluid for the fire of inspiration. We ought to build on the past, not pirate it.

    This has nothing to do with fair/unfair or profit other than humanity profits more from innovation than it does from complete self justification of “my right to whatever I want whenever I want should not be abridged by outmoded concepts propriety”.

    And back on the note of quality – do you think anyone would ever have heard of Louis Armstrong if he just mailed it in?

    • len says:

      This is what I was composing with the Sibelius software. The only rip off is six notes from a Beethoven piano piece.

      http://home.hiwaay.net/~cbullard/mp3/DomineIesu.mp3

      The choir needed a piece for Lent next year and I don’t want to be buried to the sound of Amazing Grace. So with respect to value in the market of music or ideas, it’s worthless. For the local application, it will do. The only point is without the software, I can’t get this demoed (who can afford a string quartet, choir, timpani, pipe organ and pizzicato strings?) and without the internet, I can’t send it to the people who do want it.

      In the low tiers, it’s all good. In the top tiers, no one needs to care and won’t. So no harm, no foul. If it’s crap, it’s not going far anyway.

  132. len says:

    “I wonder what Bach sounded like playing the Goldberg Variations.”

    Meticulous. He had the third top post in the kingdom so he had access. He never had better than third top. Personality and patronage, ya know.

    “I’m just a hillbilly guitar player”
    :-) A very successful one.

  133. Hugo says:

    As this is Independence Day I reflect upon the ultimate expression of American independence, the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution itself, as we all recall, was and is preeminently concerned with governmental protection of property, as distinguished from, say, civil rights. So I wonder about the property rights of American artists.

    I recall hearing repeated testimony in D.C. and in the CA statehouse, from prominent American musical artists including Don Henley and Jackson Browne, as to the need for more vigilant protection of artists’ control over their own material. The plight of aging blues greats was brought up, just as Jon raises the matter here.

    The thing about intellectual property law is that it’s so deliberately and lucratively opaque. Also it’s like bond law or maritime law in that very few people on either side of the bar really construe it. Maybe, just maybe, what ought to happen is some sort of drive–or a one-person legal phenom such as Clarence Darrow–to shake up this body of law and give it simple breath.

    That might help artists to breathe.

  134. Hugo says:

    And T Bone,

    Your point about the book as technology is so dear to me. I was taught to construe the book arts as precisely that, a technology of the 12th Century. Things such as illumination–what we now would call illustration–and titles and subtitles, and paragraphing and chapterization, and indices of various kinds, and pagination…all the things that make up the modern book before its mass production was even possible…these, to me, and to others who taught me, constituted a complicated technos that broke out in the West rather suddenly and really rocked us back. Their origins are multiplex and multicultural, but the impact was, in combination, great and quite sudden. The technology hit hard, and took.

    You’re surely right in saying that were the book to be introduced now, 800 years later, it would hit as hard. But what about the one liberated by the freeing of an artist’s imagination, the reader or listener or viewer; is this consumer as ready to receive, to be rocked?

  135. len says:

    Sibelius 5 is scoring software with a sound library for rendering scored music as sound or as printed scores. ProTools is a recording suite.

    Sibelius is British software so perhaps ironic in this context, but if scoring a chorale for SATB, strings and organ note by note is not original, very little is. If I sampled Percy Faith, you might have a point.

    The market models may be broken once outside the recording studio, but inside despite all the conveniences of modern tech, the rules are still the same. It takes polished talent in front of microphone, it takes inspiration in front of the score if any, and it takes a lot of time and effort. Quality is still scarce there.

    After that, it still takes a promotional budget, access and a lawyer to see to it that it doesn’t get pushed aside. At every American Idol audition, a thousand or so come and go every few hours. As someone said, there is a difference between talent and a career, and these is a difference between originality and craft. Success is still a gamble on long odds for a high payoff if one is at the A-list level, and still an investment of a lifetime of work even if otherwise. Tools make it possible to go further with less personnel, but we are still talking about projects, projects need teams and all of this has a high dollar up front cost.

    None of these made Louis Armstrong what he is to music. He did that himself. But the reason there is a recording of Arlo Guthrie’s performanc with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra is not because the industry made it possible. It does its dead level best to stop that from happening.

    The reason it is not on YouTube is because the artist earned the respect of his audience. That is what this whole thread comes down to: the respect an artist is owed and the relationship by which the audience comes to know that and accords it.

    Face it, we’re all now in the hands of the listener. It is time to sweeten that conversation because the technology will continue to evolve and the system of basing royalties on physical copies is weaker because it is unenforceable. Those who can afford to try will and those who can’t will continue to record and release.

    Quality sorts itself out. It is not the basis of deciding to pirate or not to pirate. It is the basis by which others decide to share a copy. Teams that remember that will continue to create desirable works.

  136. Len – I’m with you. A kinder conversation will help. Barlow talked about this long ago and because of his integrity, his link to my favorite band, yes, and his credentials, I took it on faith.

    It appears he was and is correct.

    I choose to stay on the mic – that’s my choice. This internet thing is a wonderful tool. I hope it sticks around and remains accessible.

    Maybe some loftier souls are in access to fight the good fight and I hope they will continue. From down here though it’s belly of the beast each and everyday.

  137. T Bone Burnett says:

    Stanley The slap on the mandolin in Roll On Buddy is killer. Never heard that before.

  138. Armand Asante says:

    Dear Mr.Burnett

    First off, I take a slight offense at your having to dis my art at every turn. I’ve been self-effacing about my talents from the beginning, and only brought it up at your personal request. No need to pile up onto that.

    Even if I were an untalented hack – as you seem to relish in implying at every turn – that’s no reason to turn this discussion uncivil.
    So please, if you may, just stop it. It’s unbecoming of someone of your stature and talent.
    Also, I’ll be extremely grateful to you for this small mercy.

    Onwards,
    You claim the internet cannot be the mediator between artist and audience, when it de facto is that mediator. It is fast becoming the mediator of all aspects of our lives – for better or worse.

    You’ve also said in the past that the copyright system should and could be that just mediator.
    I’ve time and again referenced smarter people than I, who show that the copyright system is most definitely not a fair mediator.

    You may know more about the copyright legal system, but you seem to have a fundamental misunderstanding of how it applies to this new technology – the internet.

    I can help there. I have a degree in computer science and can inform you that EVERY transaction the internet does involves copying.
    Copyright law, at this moment in time, governs this great tool – the internet – and every single aspect of it.
    With a very heavy hand, I might add.

    We may need “a new, ethical agreement between the artists and the audience” as you say, and on that I wholeheartedly agree.
    But that mediator cannot and should not be the convoluted copyright system.
    This system is stifling innovation. It is only understood fully by few (such as you, apparently ) and completely opaque to the masses who now find themselves working under it through no fault of their own – even if what they do is not even remotely creative.

    And most importantly, the copyright system has been abused and mutated by moneyed interests for over a century now – so that it no longer even serves the artists it purports to defend.

    the internet is proving to be great destroyer of wealth.

    Umm….so was the mechanical loom.
    I refer you back to my Luddite analogy.

    The internet is a great equalizer – of many things:
    democracy and freedom of speech (re:Obama, Iran), creativity (animation, music and distribution) and yes – money too.

    The internet is destroying the wealth of those who’ve aggregated IP as such. That is the face of things to come. Not my doing.

    As for somebody losing so I can win, I’ll submit that the opposite is true – that’s exactly what the copyright system is doing. The internet is simply righting that built-in imbalance.

    And as for this:

    Recording music at the highest level or even a high level is extremely expensive. There are very few people than can afford that process, and there are no companies that will pay for that

    I’ll only speak from my own experience as an illustrator and animator.
    The internet has taught me my trade at the cost of a broadband connection. No universities and no apprenticeships.

    I’m able to produce film-grade animations on a $1500 computer.

    There are quite a few companies willing to pay me to ply my trade.
    I no longer have to pawn my savings and relocate half-way across the globe so I can do the art I want. I can do it at home, sitting in my underwear.

    No one has lost so that I may win.
    The same goes for music recording. The internet has made it cheaper and more accessible. And has provided better tools than what the Beatles had when they recorded Sgt. Pepper.

    The internet has created wealth whole-cloth out of air for me and millions of others. It has allowed me to be creative and distributed my work.
    No one has suffered for it.

    I’ll even go as far as to speculate the reason this economic catastrophe is not felt like the one of 80-years past, is that the internet is a great CREATOR of wealth.
    Your assertion otherwise, is just wrong.
    And all the conclusions you draw from those assertions (about me, about recorded music and about the role of the internet) are probably faulty for that reason.

    Sorry.

    • T Bone Burnett says:

      You are mighty thin skinned for someone so aggressively offensive. This state of affairs is significantly more complex than you seem to understand. Best of luck to you, man.

      • Armand Asante says:

        Offensive how?
        I’ve not said a single thing that can be construed as offensive. I take umbrage at that.
        All my statements have been clear, concise and to the point.

        You, on the other hand, have not ceased to use the phrases “troll”, “buzz off”,”pipe the fuck down”, “low-tier cartoonist” and other words that are offensive at their face value.

        I don’t have thin skin. I’ve taken your insults and yet will not stoop to the level of disrespect that you feel so comfortable in dispensing to others. I’ve been trying, unsuccessfully, to steer this discussion to the issues alone. Yet you pretend to not read that – always bringing it back to the personal level.
        Do I really scare that much?

        And still, you insist on addressing me as a lowly heckler.
        Still, you will not debate on the merits alone.

        • You tried man. Some believe that respect is sitting down and listening to your betters, others think respect is attempting a dialog to understand the other side of an argument.

          Mr. Burnett – respect, like any social contract, is a two way street.

          And there IS a middle ground between adoring fans and piracy, just as there is a middle ground between music as ultra-high end production requiring dozens of artists and craftsmen and youtube crap.

        • T Bone Burnett says:

          OK AA I will debate you, but only if you will agree to debate in a Twitter format. We can either switch over to Twitter or do it here.

          Here is my position:

          Copyright Law should be abolished. It is standing in the way of innovation and creativity.

  139. JTMcPhee says:

    Gotta ask, what kind of “wealth” does the Internet create again? Electrons as bookkeeping entries that respresent dollars that represent — what? “Taking in each others’ laundry” is not “creating wealth,” especially when somebody or some system-failure points out that Monopoly Money really has no tangible value, it’s just a marker in a game that only goes on as long as a quorum of participants believes it’s “real enough.”

    Cool — the guy on the other side of the planet can ship me “dollars” I can “deposit” in my “account,” in exchange for my artisitic output. And thankfully, there are people willing to take those “dollars,” which have value only as long as everyone continues to play the game and keep up the pretense. But where’s the economic activity that generates tangible wealth? Stuff you can eat and sit on and live in and wear, and shoot your neighbor to death with for that matter, to carry out the category?

    Why does this aging cynic see curious notions and intimations and Messianic hopes of a new divinity and faith in these paeans to the Internet? Like the New Religion of dot.com was going to somehow make us all rich beyond the dreams of Croesus, or at least the few that managed to pull off their IPOs before it became apparent that that was the endpoint of the business model?

    Isn’t a lot of this discussion more of the Bubblethink that gets us pleasure- and power-seeking humans into trouble, time and again?

    And yes, I know that a lot of people are still in the game and if I want a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk or gasoline, I have to come up with either government-printed paper or a credit or debit card with the right stuff on the magnetic strip and in that storage device way over there.

    The smart people, I think, are the ones trying to figure out communal or commensal living arrangement on a patch of ground with enough topsoil to grow a few generations of food crops.

  140. Mr Burnett,

    thanks. I sincerely hoped you might take a listen. I know you’re the real thing. Your recognition literally made my heart jump up in my throat and I got flush – wow. No shit – Dude, if that’s the worth of the net – I’m in.

    Practically, it’s been a tool in the toolbox for a while now – even when other music folks round these parts shunned it – ain’t that crazy?

    What’s your take on Barlow and Brand? What do those guys say nowadays about this business?

  141. KC says:

    The issue of copying bits has been agonized about in the software field for a long time. An example of the current thinking can be found at http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2009/07/freemium-and-freeconomics.html .

    I suspect that we’re just too early in this cycle to see all the possible revenue possibilities. Yes, musicians can tour and so can authors, but that’s hard on the mind and body. I keep wondering if there are other potential revenue streams. How about specials like: come to my hometown and sit in on a recording session? Or, suggest a phrase to use in a song, and if it passes various reviews, I’ll use it for a certain sum. Or, for authors, you can pen a line of description to be in my next novel, or have a character named after you, for a certain sum of money. Or, a limited, numbered run of books could be developed on premium paper, hand-bound, and signed by the author. So I’d say that the artists should start hiring marketing folks who understand the web and the freemium model, and drop the ones who only know to send you out on the road.

    • Daniel in Denton says:

      “touring is hard on the mind and body”

      That’s why musicians have traditionally toured for their bread and butter since time immemorial? And hey, if it’s hard on the mind and body, doesn’t that make being a musician a job?

  142. Rick Turner says:

    Forgive my jumping in on the Barlow and Brand…but there are two writers who made their money and reputations the old way…royalties and sales of copyright protected material. It’s really easy for those who have already gained wealth and/or fame…which can generate wealth…to suggest that the rest of us give our ideas away…they can afford to now.

  143. @The_No_Show says:

    Once someone figures out how to make perfect copies of t-shirts at no cost, the entertainment industry will really be screwed.

  144. Rick, thanks – that’s why i tossed it out there – i just wanna know. I’m looking for sensible solutions.

    Yeah – it is different further down this here food chain. But aren’t the mechanisms the same.

    Some of these folk will offer their hand, maybe others won’t – i dunno. The tools do seem to be accessible.

    Kinder dialog while realizing the needs of codependency. i do hope my loftier brothers and sisters keep it real.

  145. len says:

    This was the point in Gladwell’s question as Jon quoted above:

    “Why are the self-interested motives of powerful companies being elevated to a philosophical principle?”

    The point is that certain very large and some very new companies are making substantial monies off of works not theirs to profit by. If we are to tax the Internet, these companies are going to pay in to the kitty first.

    But the second point that has been asked often in these threads is how such a tax would be distributed. The answer has been “BMI, ASCAP, SESAC same as we do now”.

    The reason these threads are marathons is:

    a) Few here understand the true economics of producing A-list music.

    b) Few here understand the collection models currently in place.

    c) We are a mixed bag of top tier and low tier producers who by history and current access have very different views of the utilities available.

    d) Too many who understand the web and the internet (not the same thing) profit by the laissez-faire approach in its architecture to content ownership and security and too few actually work in both industries (entertainment and technology) so it is far too easy to sell aphorisms current in the culture which is mainly youth centric, therefore, has little experience with wealth.

    Most A-list work is project-focused. They don’t ‘sell a song’ to a publisher. They work on ‘projects’ and have contracts with their labels and publishers for how such projects will be marketed. No major labels market without awareness of the web or the Internet these days. That time is past.

    The RIAA is building a body of case law precedents, so legal actions will culminate in new laws and these in turn will affect trade negotiations for copyrights. Once this is in place, collections from large corporations that have been freely distributing content will commence.

    At the end of the day, all of these industries are still making good money. There will be renegotiated contracts for the A-listers to cover the new revenue sources. For the rest of us, we’ll still have to find a way to access the top tier and we have new income revenues available because we can sell online if we choose without the label support. Some will discover they are weakening their bargaining for projects that way, but those are individual choices.

    No, the web is not a copy machine. It is a means to distribute copies. What it does badly and this is purely an application layer problem is count those copies and register them.

    No one will stop pilferage. We never have been able to do that. That isn’t going to change.

    As for Barlow and Brand, Rick is right that they are in my sense of it, shills or judas goats. Some of those ideas looked very attractive a decade and a half ago but most of us such as Jaron Lanier have concluded they are wrong. See Gladwell’s quote. We have to make money to afford the projects or we have to accept the low-tier low dollars (comparatively) lifestyle most of us now live.

    Being poor by music standards, I can afford the web. The well-off can’t. Call that irony.

    Meanwhile, watch the carrion feeding on Michael Jackson’s corpse and understand that this what the A-list music industry can create with access and ask yourself if that is what you want for your family. On the other hand, look at the lives of stars such as Alison Krause and understand that it doesn’t have to be that way. You can choose if you have the choice to work with people who are just as A-list but a lot more focused on the music and a decent life if you choose wisely.

    If the web is providing anything, it is opening the doors a crack to these people and like any conversation, how you converse and what you talk about determines where it all goes. The web didn’t make the money vanish or seal off the business. Quite the opposite.

    The collections problem will be a problem until those cases are finally decided in court and the resulting legal remedies are passed. The best we can do is campaign for transparency in auditing and provide as much information as can be provided to the newbies in the business.

  146. T Bone Burnett says:

    What he said.

  147. Rick Turner says:

    BTW, I think that most of us who suggest that ASCAP and BMI provide a model for how creative work distributed “for free” on the Internet DO NOT see those entities as perfect, absolutely fair, and as having easy to morph models. But they do point in a direction that could be cleaned up and made applicable. Once again, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  148. len says:

    I agree, Rick. I’d like to read the rest of T-Bone’s industry history to see where perceptions match when he gets back to that.

    I had a friend many years ago, Robert Byrne, who was a successful songwriter. At the same time, my fiance was a State Legislator. One night she asked Robert (Couldn’t call him Bob by that time) why she heard so much about the Mob when the fees were collected by these performing rights organizations. He said, “Martha, just who do you think the Mob IS?”

    The perceptions that organized crime families and the collections organizations are deeply related is one that has to change.

    Another is the way sampling can be rigged at the local stations to meet perceptions.

    Another is how can that system work when access to a-list and b-list rotation is so tightly controlled with the consolidation of the media into a handful of entities just as the same has happened to the touring and booking agencies? Is it corrupt? Probably but even without that, access and therefore distribution of royalties is pretty tightly organized. Indies don’t get the airplay required and there is real collusion to ensure that.

    It was this lack of access, trust and the perception of corruption that made it possible to create the perception of ‘information wants to be free’ that made it possible to incentivize a culture of piracy both organized and unorganized. The technology is an enabler not the cause. It wasn’t that those of us who worked on early systems that became the web didn’t know. It was the fact that our own experiences caused some not to care and those that did not to be listened to.

    So when Barlow and Brand put those ideas out there, it was a perfect storm. I know some of the same things you know about The Days even from this distant vantage point and we both know it ain’t no way to live. The kids don’t know it because at their age, everyone lives like that. I spent time with my son’s band hanging out at a house and it was like being dropped back into the Day: they still do all the same things the same way. The only difference is the time they spend in front of glowing screens listening to electronica instead of picking at an axe. Where we used to talk about a new sound, they talk about new software. To their ears, game music IS pop music. Word to the wise….

    Maybe there is an opportunity, fleeting and moving fast, but nonetheless, real, to rethink what the business is or can be. My paranoia is that the same centers of money and power that make it so hard to fix the economy will make it impossible to reorganize the music industry and for the same reasons: control.

    That may be one reason the tax is a good idea: the opportunity plus the carrot, so much depends now on who the champions of that idea are, what their values are and if these values shape the new markets that will build around such revenues.

    OTW, in front of the mic and in front of the board, we’re still playing the same tunes. It’s still about your mates, who will play on your tracks and who will represent you to the majors. The kids can pretend that doesn’t matter with the technology we have, but as someone who spends all my productive time away from my day gig doing it, I know different. It will always come down to the hand on the strings and the voice at the mic for a rendering, and the eyes, ears and thoughts of a songwriter working with a producer.

    You can’t fool Mother Nature. You can tickle her belly.

  149. Hugo says:

    len,

    I’m really grateful for your posts on this string, and will keep them. They promote, at least in me, a good deal of reflection.

    Please let’s not conflate Brand and Barlow, though. Brand has wanted to be a liberator, especially a liberator of creativity, in a kind of universal human spirit, whereas Barlow has wanted to keep the pipe clean and free, in the spirit of his construal of the U.S. Constitution.

    The modes of cultural and intellectual exchange and social intercourse that Brand has defended, he’s defended quite presciently. Barlow has wanted a free and clean pipe, yet the pipe, as it turns out, is neither.

    Brand, in contradistinction to Barlow, summons pipe organs, not pipe cleaners.

    While I expect that the two gentlemen long have been simpatico, they are not in the same league and do not seek the same pennant.

  150. Rick Turner says:

    It’s really easy to tell other people how to earn a living when yours is assured…

  151. Hugo says:

    …and it’s really easy to assume that other people’s living is assured when yours is…

  152. Alex Bowles says:

    Wow, so now I know what you guys did over the long weekend. Epic thread. Sorry I’m only catching up with it now.

    @len – I see what you’re saying about different vantage points, and I suspect that’s exactly why threads like this are so long and so interesting. If everyone were on exactly the same page, all we’d have is an echo chamber.

    @ JTM – The internet, for all its scale and scope, remains a tool. And environment-shaped tool, but a tool nonetheless. In other words, it doesn’t create wealth of any kind – at least not on its own. For that you need humans. And they create wealth in the same way they always have; by aligning resources in a manner that turns their potential energy into kinetic energy, then directing that release in some productive and transformative direction.

    The problems we’ve seen in the creative trades have to do with how people conduct this two part process. But there’s nothing to suggest that the problem has changed – just the solutions.

    The guy who concerns me in all this is Daniel in Denton. This ‘art is just information’ thing doesn’t really cut any ice with me.

    I mean, if you want to be a total reductionist, fine, then it’s all ‘just’ information – and so is you bank balance.

    As we’ve all just seen, those numbers are simply a function of leverage ratios and reserve requirements, as opposed to any tangible markers of wealth, and therefore just as abstract, fungible, and inflatable as the music supply. So do we apply the (inane) pseudo-axiom that ‘all information wants to be free’, and just go help ourselves to his money?

    And then there’s his assumption that no record companies are involved with anything that distributes under Creative Commons. And, more to the point, I’m concerned that Daniel apparently sees nothing reciprocal about his downloading ‘free’ material.

    I’m not necessarily talking about paying people who are participating in a gift economy. In a few cases, that can actually be quite rude. But I am talking about the obligation that all participants have to support the core functions which keep these conventions and communities stable and vibrant.

    But that idea didn’t even seem to cross his mind.

    My concern is that guys like this are a dime a dozen, and that far from representing some unpleasant minority, they’re actually so well-embedded in the mainstream that they’ve assumed a defining role. This suggests to me that the best work needs to be cultivated in environments which offer some semblance of the respect that property, law, and language all enjoyed before the internet disrupted these things to such a degree.

    That’s not a full-throated defense of the old order, by the way. It’s simply an acknowledgment that, for all its faults any myriad injustices, the 20th century publishing establishment did provide an essential measure of stability and predictability that’s eroding rapidly today.

    And since there’s no going back, the object of the game is using the network to find and connect people who have a more civic-minded outlook than Daniel, and an attitude towards the arts that’s constructive as opposed to reductive, not to mention the willingness to support the essential structures that are instrumental to deep focus and sustained creative effort.

    Basically, an innovative producer needs a collection of patrons. Not just a small handful, like that ‘enjoyed’ by everyone from Aristotle on down. The contemporary scene calls for an exponentially bigger group, though it demands a much smaller contribution from each.

    What really matters – far more than the size of their material contributions – is the general outlook of these people, and their broader engagement with the ethos of patronage. People like that are ones with a lot of potential energy. That’s who you want in an audience – not guys like Daniel. This is especially true when a sense of Participation (on some, if not every level) is becoming so important to winning a measure people’s attention, and using it to fuel a really worthwhile endeavor.

    It’s worth noting that there’s no reason to chase guys like Daniel out of the tent. After all, he’s not a drain in any real sense when the costs of duplication are effectively zero (just like his relevance to the artist.) And if he’s in the tent, and experiences something that moves him in a way that can’t be easily reduced to ‘pure information’, well then maybe he’ll decide to joining the people whose presence is underwriting the performance. Until he starts taking up real space, and experiencing the work in real time, then he’s basically just hanging around the door.

    If the show is staged by a smart producer, that door will open to him, and it won’t be manned by any nickel and dimers, because those guys are a scourge for everybody.

    Chris Anderson may be fascinated by what happens when ‘price’ is reduced to $0.00. Personally, I’m far more interested in what makes people who can get something for free decide to redirect the flow and go the other way, because that’s the essence of meaningful participation.

    • Apesofmath says:

      Lots of great thoughts! I hope this thread isn’t dead yet.

      I couldn’t agree more about the reciprocity of “free music”. For that model to continue there needs to be inputs on both sides, otherwise you end up with a tyranny where either musicians work for nothing or listeners pay for crap. If everyone takes Daniel’s approach the whole system collapses.

      There’s one thing I would like to point out, though. In the purely corporate system where a lot of music sales currently take place, music can be reduced to information. Under the current model these entities try to turn information into a commodity, which is a troublesome arrangement, since information can’t really be forced into a scarcity economy like other real commodities such as corn or oil. Information doesn’t “want” to be free, but arbitrary pricing of information is not sustainable.

      This belies the initial problem which is how inappropriate the corporate model is for distributing something with a value that is not readily monetized. The same goes for clean air and adequate health care. I think the solution requires a fundamental rethinking of how we exchange value.

      Am I extrapolating this a bit too far?

      • T Bone Burnett says:

        Not necessarily. However, we don’t have don’t face a choice in which either musicians work for nothing or people pay for bad music. Musicians will not be able to work for nothing anymore than anyone else, and why in the wide world of sports would anyone pay for music they don’t want- bad or otherwise?

        • Apesofmath says:

          Ever heard of The Jonas Brothers? In the absence of (or lack of exposure to) music with some degree of artistry, people will consume crap. It just needs the right marketers. In my city there is little in the way of live music and few acts pass through, so a lot of people settle for matchbox 20 cover bands.

          And there are plenty of talented musicians who work for a pittance…

          so I guess you’re right. we don’t face a choice, we have them both. now.

  153. T Bone Burnett says:

    The internet might not be the primary channel for distributing recorded music in the future.

    It might be employed merely as a broadcast medium.

    • @The_No_Show says:

      Is Spotify available in the US yet? That and other similar online services (eg last.fm) fall into that broadcasting category, T Bone, and have added something interesting to the mix, although it’s essentially online radio with users acting as programming directors.

      The thing about Spotify that’s interesting is that users can either use it for “free” by listening to ads from time to time or subscribe for a monthly fee to avoid the ads.

      The makers intended it to grow through subscriptions, but as far as I know they haven’t achieved the numbers yet. Instead, they’re having to turn to advertising, which isn’t helping anyone right now.

      I just wonder how that model will play out in a “free” economy.

      • T Bone Burnett says:

        A digital copy might be viewed as a broadcast. Perhaps music will be distributed on a higher quality medium. Vocal chords, instruments, microphones, speakers, ears – all things musical- are in the same language, the language of waves. Digital technology introduces an alien, non-musical, language into the middle of the experience. Analogue technology is not going to disappear. Marshall McLuhan said that a medium surrounds another medium and turns the previous medium into an art form. Television and movies, for instance. The internet can be a boon to mankind for sharing information. It is not the best medium for distributing music. The internet, at the moment, is like a mirror to the primitives.

  154. len says:

    ” I’m far more interested in what makes people who can get something for free decide to redirect the flow and go the other way, because that’s the essence of meaningful participation.”

    They are friends with the artist and share the meanings of the artist’s work. A good beat you can dance to will produce a one hit wonder for one summer. A consistently meaningful lyricist can last a lot longer for less up front investment.

    Again, we can speculate, pontificate and theorize. If you look at the organization, goals and work of Arlo Guthrie you will see an example of a community that makes it work in several dimensions none of which can be easily construed to be forced.

    Look at the way he does it:

    1. He owns the record label. He leased back his early works and distributes those. The web is not the enemy. He mastered it early and uses it like a master. He doesn’t chase down the old ladies with cell phone cameras in the audience. He knows that most people aren’t pirates. They like his work enough to take the risks to collect the live performances. He doesn’t engage them but he doesn’t suppress them. He knows they are finding ways to support him and doesn’t bite the hand for a few shekels more.

    2. He keeps his community close to him and works with them on a regular basis. This includes not just music but the community of volunteers around the Guthrie Center. His web site is his, not Facebook. That means he keeps a light hand on the tiller and the direction it takes, he determines. He comments there and actually steps out from behind the image to engage. He refuses to use the word “fan”. He refers to his community as “friends”. He isn’t afraid to be combative but is never offensive or snarky. He answers questions about his works, explains how certain songs are played, right down to his preference for live mixing. He isn’t afraid to tutor and he refuses to let the entertainment industry turn him into a cowering nebbish hiding behind the mile high walls of the elites.

    4. He is very insistent on high quality. His own description of the challenges of producing the orchestral scores for In Times Like These illuminates his approach to hiring, firing and getting it done even when it is going to hell. He is not critical by name nor will he suffer others to do that.

    5. The values he espoused at the beginning of his career he demonstrates now even more strongly. He is not a creature of changing times or the image factory. He is consistent.

    To have meaningful participation, the artist must give their work meaning that an audience shares. It’s no good to try to appeal to everyone. It is enough to appeal to those who by their own choice decide the work is meaningful.

    We are in the hands of our listeners but we have to decide what we are in those hands and remain true to that. The artist that doesn’t respect an audience doesn’t have one for long.

    All that said, a big marketing budget is to a music career what nitrates are to your lawn. You can grow a lot bigger a lot faster with them and without one, all the water you can pour won’t be enough. If you don’t understand that early enough, you have a brown season ahead.

  155. Rick Turner says:

    Len, the problem with using the Arlo example/analogy is the same as with Barlow, Brand, the Dead, or dare I say it, with a couple of T-Bone’s major successes…”Oh, Brother” or the recent Krauss/Plant albums. These are all people who got their headstart in the old media…record companies and LPs or film. These were all well established careers when the Internet came along.

    The issue is how does an unknown get his or her work off the ground, protected, and paid for. How can they tap into the kind of budget that it takes to make a recording in a “real” studio and bring in that string section, not use some lame sampler? With all the talk about viral marketing, what does that lead to? A record deal? A budget to make a big screen film?

    One of the biggest “viral marketing ” successes was “the Blair Witch Project”, yet what has happened to the folks who made that? I don’t think it established much in the way of careers, and the irony was that while the marketing was Internet and “viral”, the distribution was old school all the way…movie theaters.

    One of the interesting recent historical issues has been how slowly big media has responded to the challenges of the Internet and computer power. The movie industry didn’t seem to give a shit about Napster and downloading when it was just music. They didn’t seem to realize that it was just a matter of time until data transfer speed spun up to accommodate movies and memory got big enough and cheap enough and the media got small to lose a full length in your pocket with your change. Now that they know all that, there’s a major freak-out.

    So how are those just starting out in music or film to gain the upper hand over piracy, and how are the really talented among them to gain access to the capital needed to apply high production values to their work? Or are the days of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on an album or tens of millions on a movie just gone?

    It is interesting to note, by the way, that there are ways to have YouTube videos taken down…

  156. len says:

    I realize that Rick as one of those who did not get access. I am just young enough to have been on the backside of the disco wash that took away the label deals for those artists. IOW, those of us who were following those sounds never got close to the powers that be and by the time that sound came round again, we were too old.

    That’s ok. Luck of the birthday. And I got an interesting ride in the other career without giving up the music.

    I really don’t know how the young will get access. Felicia Day is doing it by dint of having a loyal group of talented people willing to follow her. She has the gift so to speak. I give Arlo as an example because he did not go away quietly when the majors dismissed him and he did not change his sound to suit the current tastes. He adapted the technology to his sounds and he built a community of friends by engaging them.

    This much seems certain: the conversations for lack of a better term, are vital to sustaining the art and the career regardless of where one gets the start. Felicia got a role on Buffy. Otherwise, Hollyweird rejected her for everything but bit roles and commercials. She is successful by her own hand to borrow a line from Conan.

    Maybe the big deals are still out there. Someone on your coast would have to say. This much is also certain: anyone who wants in the business better take control as early as possible if they want to stay in it, had better get their own posse together and take care of them, and ought to examine their own values hyperwell early and commit.

    Yep, YouTube will take them down and my sense of it is, pretty soon, will be a pay to play venue. Gladwell is right about the costs everyone is blithely dismissing. Meanwhile I’m mailing DVDs to friends for free of a concert I’m not supposed to have and haven’t a moment’s guilt about doing that. Why? Blows against the empire.

    How will the industry find the new acts? The A&R people are trolling MySpace and Facebook, going to the SXSW conference. It’s never been easier to display an act; it is decidedly difficult to develop and feed one. The burn rate is increasing and the hits don’t last. I don’t think it is a quality issue as much as a shallowness. Who cares about the songs or the performers when like Nashville, each one is just another version of the last one. Is there a new Beatles coming? It doesn’t feel like it. Music feels burned out. Games have the juju for the kids. Music is disposable although they won’t go anywhere without it. Very late 50s early 60s.

    As to who will invest in what? I dunno. Concert promotion and recording acts on spec share that love of gambling and I’m not a gambling man which is one reason I am here and you are there.

    The saddest thing I heard about MJ was he was willing to risk dieing to get one night of dreamless sleep. Que lastima…

  157. Armand Asante says:

    OK AA I will debate you, but only if you will agree to debate in a Twitter format. We can either switch over to Twitter or do it here.

    Here is my position:

    Copyright Law should be abolished. It is standing in the way of innovation and creativity.

    Same here.

    A digital copy might be viewed as a broadcast. Perhaps music will be distributed on a higher quality medium. Vocal chords, instruments, microphones, speakers, ears – all things musical- are in the same language, the language of waves. Digital technology introduces an alien, non-musical, language into the middle of the experience. Analogue technology is not going to disappear. Marshall McLuhan said that a medium surrounds another medium and turns the previous medium into an art form. Television and movies, for instance. The internet can be a boon to mankind for sharing information. It is not the best medium for distributing music. The internet, at the moment, is like a mirror to the primitives.

    This would seem to suggest only music that cannot be digitized – can be monetized.
    ie. live performances (or any other experience not reducible to a digital data set).

    The difference between broadcast and distribution still eludes me.
    Digital fidelity is a technical matter (broadband, sampling and storage considerations).
    Waves can be represented mathematically and hence digitally too.

    The internet will still distribute what others have merely ‘broadcast’.

  158. Rick Turner says:

    Actually I did get access. Signed with a major label in 1965 (RCA) with my band “AutoSalvage”, recorded an album that went nowhere mainly because we were essentially a San Francisco band living in New York; did recording projects before that and after that, and then I zig-sagged over into my other love, lutherie. I worked as a sideman, producer, assistant engineer, and all that stuff on about half a dozen albums for Vanguard, RCA, and subsidiaries of Warner Bros. So I have seen that side of the fence, and I’ve benefited from it. No worries! But I’ve also got friends and clients ranging from the one-time best selling album makers of all times (Fleetwood Mac) to incredibly talented folks who put out their own albums and sell them at gigs…people like David Lindley and Muriel Anderson. And I’ve got a son who has a full blown recording studio (great mic locker, tons of classic outboard gear, ProTools or 24 track 2″ tape, good console, great room…Jesse Colin Young’s former studio); he plays drums very well, and is doing a great sounding project right now with no support. But if he didn’t already own the studio (probably cost at least $500, 000.00 to replace), he’d be up the creek.

    So I have seen and continue to see all sides of the production process of making music recordings. Sometimes it’s incredibly inexpensive…like going direct to a two track, live recording in a church in two evenings, and winning a Grammy (Ry Cooder & V.M.Bhatt, “Meeting by the River”), and sometimes it takes hundreds of hours in an expensive studio. Either way and every way between, the people who put the time in deserve to get paid if their work is good and can find an audience.

    BTW, there’s a very real ethical difference between the Internet as a new form of broadcast media (replacing radio), and uploading to downloading off of the Internet without permission of the writers/performers/composers. Pandora has to pay and does. The up and down loaders should pay and often don’t.

  159. T Bone Burnett says:

    Digital is to analogue as video is to film. Digital is pointalism. Film is continuous. Digital creates a false curve.

    Film has an infinite range of color and line. Video has red, yellow, and green and no straight lines. What is the video spectrum now? 256 or something? I’m sure I’m wrong about this, but you use your eyes. Which looks better to you?

    Do you think the originator of a work should rightly be compensated for his work to be used or copied? I am all for a gift economy. Should the giver receive anything in return even if he expects nothing?

    Do you think the internet will be governed?

  160. Morgan Warstler says:

    Let me ask you guys, is .02 cents enough to pay an artist to “own” (ie download) a song.

    Meaning if an artist made .25 cents for an album with 12-13 songs, would that be enough?

  161. I know you guys have this argument well in hand, but if you’re interested in how it affects industries other than music use your search engine on “alice starmore controversy”. Big (relatively speaking) brouhaha in the knitting world over yarns, patterns, etc…doesn’t even get to selling knitted garments made from other people’s patterns; or how much a pattern has to be modified before it is considered a whole new pattern; or whether the copyright is on the ‘idea’ or design of the garment or on the written instructions (e.g., if I take a brilliant design with crappy instructions and re-write instructions that knitters love and would rather purchase, can I sell them?)…it’s a scary, scary world out there people.

  162. T Bone Burnett says:

    Interesting that people will pay three dollars for a cup of coffee, but don’t want to pay a dollar for a song.

    • Speaking purely as a consumer, I think the buck a song thing is one of the best things ever. I have a large collection of CDs; those for which I love every song comprise only a tiny fraction of the collection. Some CDs were bought for one song only. I’m glad I have other options now. I don’t even mind those rare occasions when I end up buying an entire ‘album’ one song at a time when I could have bought the entire thing at once cheaper…I like to make sure I really want something before I buy it. Of course, I’m one of those people Alex mentions who ‘go the other way’ (on just about everything I do it would seem). I want value for my money (I am spending my discretionary income after all), but I don’t mind paying people for their work and I like it when they make their work available for a price us non-patrons can afford.

    • Oh yeah. And since the option became available, I’m buying a lot more music, a lot more often, from a much wider variety of artists.

  163. len says:

    And you’ve become legendary for the work, Rick as Dave pointed out in the last version of this thread. My guess is that and four bucks get a cup of coffee. :-)

    I’ve a friend who tells me he has no problem finding good new music other than there is now too much of it. To put scarcity back in the model, we’d have to seriously cull the herd. The fact that the rewards are even more ephemeral than in 1965 will do some of that. The web made it such that three of every four nights in the online room are amateur nights, but that’s ok. In fact, that’s good. If it weren’t for that, who would hear the professionals who devote a lifetime but never get lucky or hit the stride of a market fad:

    Some hoe to the centerline anyway because the believe in something and the music is how they get that across. American folk wouldn’t exist if these kinds of artists hadn’t decided to keep going in the face of an industry determined to take them out. Even T-Bone walked away at one point (over compression as I recall but he’d have to speak to that).

    The problem is now it takes even more money and such to be noticed. That one I can’t weep over. All I can do is keep on recording what I want to record and try to maintain the day gig to keep the covey fed. If I have problem they are fatigue and depression. I have Starbucks for the first and I need the second for inspiration, so the price is rising despite what the gear costs, but there is endless supply. ;-)

    I don’t see the *average* downloader/uploader as the problem. They’d exist even if they were just swapping cassettes. It is the businesses that are created to make that happen and profit by it. These are the entities the RIAA should target with lawsuits. It isn’t that hard for an ISP to figure out a P2P site is swapping files. This sort of thing should be like speed limits: there is a bit of slack and when the numbers exceed that, a ticket is written. It isn’t the massive damage fees the RIAA keeps trying for to discourage others and to make their members believe they are doing something. That clearly isn’t working. It should be a nuisance fee tacked on to their internet bill with enough certainty to irritate the small fry. Then if it exceeds that number, drop the hammer like Thor on Loki.

    In other words, we can sweeten the conversation with the audience, our friends, by being clear where we draw the lines as I’ve done with Morgan over the Arlo DVD and Arlo does with eloquent silence and probably will continue to as long as I keep it off YouTube, but I’m guessing there.

    Maybe there has to be a PSA produced by some name artists delineating what is or ought to be acceptable. Take it to the people just like clean air and water were once taken to the people. It didn’t fix the problem but it kept the conversation on the up and up. But as long as they believe wrong or right that they are engaged in a righteous battle with the forces of greed and calumny, there is little chance of it slowing down.

    This is not about technology; it is about respect. That is a key to turning fans into friends.

  164. len says:

    @Morgan: It isn’t that simple. For people like me, it would be plenty but I’ve yet to receive even a dime for the various sites that promised to pay me for the right to host my songs. They adopt the same tactics as the majors where ‘costs’ are paid before I am. IOW, it still takes serious numbers of downloads to justify it. To get those, viral marketing won’t do because it is a hoax. It takes budget or dumb luck and there ain’t enough of either without some real deal making.

    Songs are not just produced by artists. This is what too many outside the business don’t get. Serious A-list work is a “project” and you have to get the reasons for that distinction. While I agree CDs off the rack are overpriced, the cost of getting that CD on the rack, digital download or BestBuy are quite a bit higher than what I spend to drop it into an FTP directory or link in Facebook. Doing it solo, I probably have to put in more hours and have more skills (mediocre notwithstanding) on more instruments including scoring skills but that is my choice for producing complex and rangy. All said, the best I can achieve is what is called “the songwriter demo” so it NEVER approaches the quality of an A-list production and that is what we are really talking about.

    Is two cents enough? 2 points is what the songwriter usually gets. That doesn’t pay everyone else required and they are required. 80 cents to a dollar would and T-Bone is absolutely right: Four bucks for a cup of coffee and $1 for a song seem oddly out of whack, but it would be fairer than $.02. What anyone in the deal wants to be hyperaware of is when they get paid and what is deducted. The artists take a bath unless they are taking care of business and have a good lawyer.

    Note that having the technology enables multiple renderings (eg, people still want printed scores in some markets, higher fidelity, and the T-shirt). It is important when spec’ing the project for the artist to be aware of the other revenue streams before signing a deal where their royalties are used to pay all costs and everyone else is taking a percentage of gross.

  165. T Bone Burnett says:

    $250,000 is a low end recording budget. $700,000 is about right. And costs are not coming down. That is a myth. Marketing costs are about equal to recording costs. Initially. I would post a budget if I knew how to work this damn thing.

  166. Marketing is a problem…the internet has the potential to reach a huge audience, but there’s the whole ‘signal to noise’ issue. Anyway you slice it, it takes money to buy effective marketing (unless you are a marketing genius and a musician). As much as it pains me to say it…marketing people ought to get paid for what they do too (they may be getting paid too much and marketing more crap than treasure, but that may be a topic for another thread). Whoever figures out how to provide effective marketing for the equivalent of a buck a song (or even a few bucks a song) is going to be annointed…and maybe even get rich. It’s not just access to the high-end recording stuff. For anything (writing, knitting, whatever) where the internet is a distribution medium, access to marketing (good marketing) is separating the winners from the losers (the found from the lost).

  167. Hugo says:

    T Bone,

    Regarding your distinction of film vs. video, continuity and spectrum v. pixilation. Is this the same as the phonophile’s preference for vinyl over disc? (Mine own ear is not that discerning.) Does this account for the behavior of certan American artists who say and do striking things in defense of the old order, or who attempt even to invent new instruments in part to reassert originality?

    If we can construe our American civilization whole, as a distinct culture, then we can understand that there are parts or subcultures within this whole. When I test my country in this stilted, sort-of Martian, way, I can’t help but wonder how our arts are thriving, as they are like the carotid artery of the body politic.

    The Martian in me detects a war of blood cells within that artery, and I want to hear how you see that war playing out.

  168. T Bone Burnett says:

    First off, Hugo, you are extremely polite not to correct me on the variant spelling of pointillism. I’d like to blame this damned iPhone, but really, the devil made me do it. Seriously. Not the actual devil, but just as bad.

    Now, yes. Analogue sounds infinitely better digital. I could play you, say Sgt. Pepper’s on vinyl and on CD, and with a good amplifier and set of transducers, you could identify the vinyl a
    hundred out of a hundred times.

    Let’s talk about how the Arts are thriving later, after I get off this demonic iPhone.

    And let’s talk about Harry Partch.

  169. Rick Turner says:

    Re. vinyl…years ago I bought the Mobile Fidelity half-speed mastered Beatles boxed set, and I deliberately only played it twice until my youngest son was ten years old. I had a killer stereo system set up…custom tube mono-block preamps, Nelson Reed sand filled walled speaker cabinets driven by four modified Allen organ 75 watt tube amplifiers (McIntosh equivalent or better) with a restored vintage Thorens turntable with a Hadcock tonearm and top of the line Sure cartridge. This was true old-school audiophile stuff.

    Eli had heard all the Beatles stuff time after time on CDs, radio, TV, etc. He was very familiar with the body of work. I put on the first disc, and we sat down and from the look on his face I knew that he was experiencing the Beatles with almost the same degree of awe that I had the first time I heard each of their records. The kid was absolutely blown away and would not get up except to pee for three hours. He then asked what was wrong with all the stuff he’d heard before…

    The latest is mastering 24 bit to 88.2 KHz according to my son. Yes, there’s 96 and 192 out there, but the weirdness that happens in the dithering process to get to 44.1 which is still the standard for CDs just introduces too many errors. The math is too weird.

    With a little luck, we’ll eventually have sampling rate up to 196.4 or it will go to one bit as per some of the Sony and Korg gear. Sample it fast enough, provide a decent sized “word”, and digital will get pretty good. It’s like photography…the best cameras are now resolving finer than the grains of silver on film.

    The real back story, though, is that the reason we were stuck with the current CD standard is that the hardware companies…Sony, Panasonic, Phillips, etc… all wanted to make yet another couple of formats obsolete (cassettes, vinyl, etc.) so they could sell more hardware. Then Sony bought Columbia for the back catalog of recordings and movies to have “software” to sell for whatever new format they could shove down our throats next. And they’ve tried… Remember DAT machines? Mini-discs? And don’t forget…they make computers, too…

    One interesting thing about Sony…they always seem to have some gear that really is at the top of the heap. The reel to reel 770 was nearly as good as a Nagra (but no film sync) in the early 1970s. Then the TCD-5 portable cassette machine was far and away the best of its ilk. Currently they have the PCM-D1 as an expensive and incredibly good stereo field recorder.

    OK, enough thread hijack…

  170. len says:

    I know that is directed at T-Bone, but to inform the discussion, this might help:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analog_recording_vs._digital_recording

    Analog signals are not quantized and they vary continuously not discretely. To the golden ear, this is ‘warmth’. You can supersaturate tape. Digital sampling has a hard ceiling based on the bit rate.

    There are production advantages to digital that as you go down the cost chain are well-worth it. Digital editing is very cheap, very powerful and very easy. Digital is almost infinitely ‘copiable’ in the sense that copies don’t lose much fidelity. A lot of innovative and creative things can be done with digital that can only be done in analog with years of practice. The tape costs alone are prohibitive even in semi-pro formats. That said, I prefer the sound of any album my band recorded in analog to anything I’ve done in digital.

    Keep in mind that unless a digital source such as a synthesizer is used, all sound is analog until converted. The most important instrument after the performer is the mic which is why Rick noted his son’s mic closet. Cheap microphones are the main contributor to substandard recordings that side of bad ears on a misconfigured board. It is another expense in the budget: talented hands and ears behind the board. It is yet another reason T-Bone gets the big bucks and deserves them. He has an otherworldly skill for getting the best sound and based on his public interviews, I’d say is fanatical about it.

    All that said, I would never consider going back to analog at home, but if someone else were paying the bills, I’d drop the computers like a hot rock to retrieve that warmth gettable in a 16-track rig with two-inch wide tape, but having dubbed in that environment until the tape was see-through, only if the session follows a month of rehearsal and arranging.

    Again, quality ain’t free.

    T-Bone: If I may ask, what is the size of a project at that cost? IOW, a complete album of say 10/12 songs? Did that include packaging or just the recording budget including staff, facilities, etc. I’m surprised the marketing costs are that low.

  171. len says:

    Harry Partch?!? Now there is a name I haven’t heard since college.

  172. Morgan Warstler says:

    Guys, work with me here…

    I’ve got a couple hundred gigs of mp3s. I maybe listen to maybe a couple of albums a week…. and most these days are, “1,2 Buckle My Shoe.”

    Hear about a band? Get the discography and check them out.

    What a whole 1TB HDD went bad and wasn’t backed up? Who cares… just go get it again.

    That’s the new way music is consumed. Devoid of liner notes, and LP art, and plastic – you are fooling yourselves to think people are gonna pay $1 for a song.

    The trick is to get 33x the number of people to pay 3 cents…. though I think .2 is plenty.

    BUT, T Bone – at a couple cents a song, the mere aggregation of music (not even collecting it, just aggregating it to our HDDs) can represent real money… and more to the point – if you come away with a lifetime contact database of every fan whoever got one of your songs, there’s a world of ways to monetize that…. well into your old age.

  173. len says:

    “…you are fooling yourselves to think people are gonna pay $1 for a song”

    From iTunes:

    “Shop for music at home with the iTunes Store or on the go with the iTunes Store on iPod touch and iPhone. The music you purchase is yours to keep. All for just 69¢, 99¢, or $1.29 a song — $9.99 per album in most cases. With the Complete My Album feature, buy one or more singles from the iTunes Store and get credit for them when you buy the whole album.”

  174. T Bone Burnett says:

    Len Not only warmth, but also ambience, imaging, depth, clarity, definition, detail, spacial relationship, and a whole range of other advantages. Digital sound is not complex enough to be able to capture ambient sound. We hyper supersaturate, to use your word, when working in the digital realm. We add several layers of tone, overtones, noise, and a range of ambience to be able to get digital sound to approach the density and depth of analogue sound. Digital sound is brittle. When digital first came along, I noticed that while I was able to listen to tape for many hours at loud volumes on high end speaker systems, I was not able to make it through two songs on a CD without encountering ear fatigue. There have been studies for many years about the psychological effects of digital sound. I’ll post a study, if I may.

    Digital is pixilated. We have to reconstruct the signal in our minds. This causes stress. We all know how the image on a JPEG file comes apart when it is blown up. The same thing happens with digital sound when it is blown up on a good system. It pixilates the same way.

    The figures I gave you were only for recording an album- we usually record about fifteen songs. They did not include packaging, art, or production of physical goods. The marketing budget grows, of course, as the album sells.

    Someone here suggested that all we have to do is increase our sales by 3,300%. I think most businesses would view that as unrealistic. The odds of getting even a million views on YouTube are way longer than the odds of selling a million records in the old days of the record industry.

    From Chris Wilson in Slate:

    “On Friday, May 22, I used Web-crawling software to capture the URLs of more than 10,000 YouTube videos as soon as they were uploaded. Over the next month, I checked in regularly to see how many views each video had gotten. After 31 days, only 250 of my YouTube hatchlings had more than 1,000 views—that comes out to 3.1 percent after you exclude the videos that were taken down before the month was up. A mere 25, 0.3 percent, had more than 10,000 views. Meanwhile, 65 percent of videos failed to break 50 views; 2.8 percent had zero views. That’s the good news: Your video is slightly more likely to get more than 1,000 views than it is to get none at all.”

    http://slate.com/id/2221553/

    Our team does not view the internet as important. It is a small part of our focus. It is primitive. It is another step in the electronic media. There will be others. We do not find it difficult to adapt.

  175. T Bone Burnett says:

    Also, we find it interesting that we are not attempting to deny anyone access to the internet, yet disciples of the internet want to deny us the rights to our own creations.

  176. T Bone Burnett says:

    Many anti-copyright advocates remind me most of anti-abortion advocates in their unwillingness to see realities that do not fit their zealous, rigid view.

  177. T Bone Burnett says:

    Here is an interesting perspective from an unlikely source:

    McLuhan believed that the print revolution begun by Gutenberg was the forerunner of the industrial revolution. One unforeseen consequence of print was the fragmentation of society. McLuhan argued that readers would now read in private, and so be alienated from others. “Printing, a ditto device, confirmed and extended the new visual stress. It created the portable book, which men could read in privacy and in isolation from others” (McLuhan, 1967, p. 50). Interestingly, McLuhan saw electronic media as a return to collective ways of perceiving the world. His “global village” theory posited the ability of electronic media to unify and retribalize the human race. What McLuhan did not live to see, but perhaps foresaw, was the merging of text and electronic mass media in this new media called the Internet.

    McLuhan is also well known for his division of media into hot and cool categories. Hot media are low in audience participation due to their high resolution or definition. Cool media are high in audience participation due to their low definition (the receiver must fill in the missing information). One can make an argument that the Web results by combining two cool media into a new synthesized, multimediated experience. If print is hot and linear, and electronic broadcast media are cool and interactive, hypermedia on the Web is “freezing” and 3-D.

    McLuhan’s philosophy “was influenced by the work of the Catholic philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who believed that the use of electricity extends the central nervous system” (Gary Wolf, Wired, 1996, p. 125). According to Wolf, “McLuhan’s mysticism sometimes led him to hope, as had Teilhard, that electronic civilization would prove a spiritual leap forward and put humankind in closer contact with God” (p. 125). Wolf went on to write that McLuhan later reversed himself, calling the electronic universe, “an unholy impostor,…’a blatant manifestation of the Anti-Christ’” (p. 125).

  178. Alex Bowles says:

    What if you start by ignoring the medium altogether – its temperature and character – and focus on the experience of the audience? Not to the exclusion of all else, of course, but just as a place to start imagining the way to make it pay?

    The recognition is that the nature of their experience can fluctuate wildly. So you know that they’re in a scattered state, and that you can bring them to a point of focus and communion, before letting it disperse again, with echoes from the experience recurring days, weeks, and even years after the event.

    At this point, different media become a means to a larger end. Cool, when engagement is uncertain, and you’re still depending on people to make their own connections to establish and verify relevance.

    But as time goes by, the mix shifts to hotter forms – which diminish opportunities for unstructured or partial engagement, but offer greater capacity for transcendental awareness, along with a more powerful sense of community derived from the fact that different perspectives don’t make that much difference, allowing everyone who was there-and-then to feel confident that the experience is truly shared.

    And then the inevitable dispersal, but not of the disconnected group that walked in. Instead, it’s one of people who all chose to discard the privacy and independence of the subjective for shared recognition of the objective.

    If this particular experience is suitably valuable, it becomes a significant marker in the individual time lines we all carry around with us. As such, references to it go on mattering long after the event, and their incorporation into the run-ups for future events can influence the events that actually take place.

    Obviously, there’s a strong element of ritual in all of this. As far as patterns of engagement go, it’s the oldest – and perhaps the only one in existence. But for those of us caught up in the practical details of one medium or another, and with the culture and traditions that surround it, perhaps it makes sense to reconsider the fundamental driver before saying all is lost.

    The real question is how can producers handle the series of exchanges involved here in a new way – a timely way – that endows the oldest of social experiences with a sense of primacy and discovery that honors – above all – the here and now of the audience as their point of connection with a much grander scheme?

    The newness and timeliness matter, for the simple reason that the world is always changing. Individual starting points are always moving away from once universal references, reflecting and refracting those moments in increasingly diverse ways. It’s always a new challenge to bring people back to a state of communion that shuts out individual distinctions in favor of shared experience – if only for a short time.

    And then there’s the peculiar experience – only really felt when deeply engaged with a hot medium – of reflecting on the subjective choices that led one to that moment. At the time, they seemed incidental, but in retrospect – from this vantage point, at least, they take on the character of fate.

    Blended with our own seemingly fated actions, are details of the world – our contemporary world – all thrown into sharp relief. Once incoherent developments reveal themselves as having deeper pattern. Something in this viewpoint is essential to the way we process change, internalizing its effects, adapting to its demands, and reconnecting our experience within it to things that feel timeless.

    We need this. And with all due respect, I don’t know anyplace where it can be had for free. The places where something like it can be had for cheap tend to cheapen the experience. Flat out free can render it meaningless. Ennui sets in swiftly.

    If the internet is having the same profound effect as print once did, then the changes it precipitates are what people need to internalize. If the pattern of engagement is a product of this technological development, then the medium really is the message. And if we really are at a point of inflection, nearly 600 years after print started to atomize individual experience, then it seems like the new trajectory is one that’s going to focus – increasingly – on what individual actors can do in concert, and the transformative power they can have when freely responding to a common set of cues.

    For me, the really interesting projects are ones that engage the desire for the transcendental by organizing the pattern of engagement and release around some tangible effect that the participating group can realize. Not as the focus throughout, but as an anchor, and a terminus.

  179. JTMcPhee says:

    “the way to make it pay…”

    Let’s see, churches and synagogues and temples and meeting houses and all… transcendental experiences in places built by “volunteers” via “tithes” and “contributions”… You got a Catholic background or maybe Episcopal? So the Internet is headed toward being one big church? And how does that work out for humanity? Since we are so good at all just getting along? Tuned in to any of the more popular TV preachers, or gone to any of the “transcendental” web sites for various sects and schismatics?

    Everything is beyoo-tiful, in its own way…

    • Alex Bowles says:

      Thanks for the link TBB. The really important line seems to be this one: “Control over change would seem to consist in moving not with it but ahead of it. Anticipation gives the power to deflect and control force.”

      And JTM – I don’t see the internet as one big church. Far from it. What I was referring to is a psychological process where people subordinate an individual sense of self in order to experience participation in a collective, and paradoxically, a greater sense of self – principally with regard to the particular moment in time they occupy, and its unique, transitory, and beautiful nature.

      It’s a feature, if you will, of the human mind, and one that organized religion has taken tremendous advantage of, for good and ill alike.

      With regard to McLuhan, it seems important to note that because human nature doesn’t change all that much, significant and unsettling transformation like the kind described in TBB’s link is likley to produce development that simply makes us more like ourselves. Richer, stronger, more powerful, but still fundamentally human.

      In other words, even if humans were to entirely abandon the structures of organized religion as we’ve known it, I doubt that they could (or would ever want to) do away with the deeper patterns of thought and experience in which religion discovered such fertile ground for development.

      That’s who we are. And if the name of the game is anticipation, I suggest that the oldest patterns are simply the ones that have done the best job renewing themselves continually.

  180. len says:

    “engage the desire for the transcendental by organizing the pattern of engagement and release around some tangible effect that the participating group can realize”

    So far the content type in the medium that has the strongest values for the characteristics described in massive multiplayer online games. They tend toward shoot-em-ups and questing. The more spiritually engaging these are made, the lower the audience numbers. Caveat vendor.

    The culture is the medium and at the moment, it is quite raw and gasping. When speaking about control systems, it is a good idea to have a basic grasp of Wiener’s cybernetic orders (first, second and third order systems) and behaviorism. It saves time reinventing and rebranding the wheels.

    For the humor of how these interactive systems affect the user and the tribes formed around them, watch The Guild. She is doing a good job of presenting the situations that emerge when the separate personalities engage in the controlled and crafted environment online then spill over into their engagements in “meatspace”. It isn’t as seductively abstract as Federman but it is a good deal more immanent.

  181. Morgan Warstler says:

    T Bone, you consume 3300% as many cellular minutes as 1986, you consume 3300% as much bandwidth as 1998, and certainly you consume 3300% as much oil as 1966.

    The point is we can expect the same amount of money to trade hands for music as before – it still does (as I keep pointing out) – its just that the consumer will gets a lot more for his money. look if the artist made $100K in the old model (100k x $1) or $100K in the new model (3.3M x $.03), who cares? What matters is being able to now count as 3.3M as fans – to reach out to them and offer to play for them live.

    Crucial point: The stuff is DIGITAL, not atomic. The plastic and production in the CDs and LPs is the only thing that grants it “ownership,” in conventional property terms… you can’t “own” the digital, you can only “own” the atomic.

    We CANNOT bastardize and destroy the supreme value of the atomic – property rights, by letting freely copyable works latch on for a free ride philosophically.

    IF OIL or FOOD was infinitely copyable the whole world would DEMAND it be copied and given away freely as a basic human right.

    Strengthening copyright is the wrong way to feed yourselves. The public KNOWS INSTINCTIVELY that the digital isn’t the atomic. When you get a copy of a song, your friend doesn’t lose his. Not so with a sandwich. Own up. Admit it. Or look foolish.

    So, sell your digital product with costs so low it can be accumulated legally by the 33x masses as easily as they can download it and gather up a mailing list of all fans of your work, and manage the bejesus out of it.

  182. Rick Turner says:

    Here’s my own pet theory of one of the reasons why digital sounds cold: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Combination_tone

    With an absolute frequency cutoff of just over 20 K Hz, there is no possibility of higher frequencies combining with “audio band” frequencies to create those usually lower combination tones. In a live music situation (especially) or with really good analog, the very high harmonics coming from the instruments are free to combine in ways that add warmth to the overall sound.

  183. T Bone Burnett says:

    Rick That is definitely part of the story. We have this in common with bats- we balance by sound. We figure out where we are in a room by processing the reflected sound. If you have ever been in an anechoic chamber, which you probably have, maybe John Meyer’s, you know that you have to sit down after a few seconds or you will fall down.

    CDs cut off at 22,000 cycles. Walking around in everyday life, we are experiencing sound up to around 80,000 cycles. Sound in a rain forest goes over 100,000 cycles. Although most of us can’t hear tones above 20,000 cycles, we experience those tones and get a tremendous amount of information from them, just as we experience tones below 30 cycles which we cannot hear, but which we can most definitely feel in our bodies and which will begin to disintegrate us at high volumes. They also seriously effect all of the tones beneath 20,000 cycles.

    The people with the best ears I know of can detect slight changes in frequencies between 30k and 40k in blind tests.

    Higher definition digital- 24/96 or 24/192 for instance- has a much broader range, but it still does not stand up to analogue. Digital is a different language. It is still sampling. The listener has to fill in the blanks. Mathematicians would describe all this differently, but the human ear is, I believe, the most sophisticated instrument available for discerning shifts in sound reflection.

    I have a friend, John Sharpley, who composes in overtones and can hear, if I remember correctly, eight cycles of overtones. As you know, any note you play on a piano has every other note in the piano in it at some volume. Those complexities cannot be sampled cohesively.

    Sharpley’s work grows out of the sonic experiments of John Cage who had a revelation while in an anechoic chamber. He heard unidentifiable sounds growing louder until he realized he was hearing the blood pulsing through his veins and other sounds of his own body working.

  184. Rick Turner says:

    T-bone, I’ve not been in a good anechoic chamber, but I’ve been close, and I do know that level at which you hear more and more of the functions of your own body. I held on to really good hearing for many years; I was one of those who couldn’t stand to be in a store with an ultrasonic burglar alarm going. Wood working machinery has nicked off a half octave or so now.

    One of my sound gurus was Owsley who has been half deaf in one ear for all his adult life. From that he learned to use his stereo locators…his ears…as phase detectors supreme using timing rather than just straight SPL to properly locate sources. Of course, we all do that, we’re just not aware of how it works. He was and is. He was the first person to rant to me that “stereo” didn’t work. You can’t hear one piece of information from two sources…spread loudspeakers…and really “see” it as being one source. The phase information is all wrong. He proposed phase panning for stereo mixing. He also suggested…and finally saw and heard the GD Wall of Sound. When he recorded Old and In the Way, he did everything with pairs of mics, one of each pair going left and one going right, direct into a Nagra. The stereo effect is amazing…you really hear the choreography of the Bluegrass band.

    It was interesting being up in my son’s studio (ex-Jesse Colin Young studio) last weekend listening to some very good rough tracks…recorded on ProTools…which he’d love to re-do at some point on his MCI 24 track machine. Here he is, 41 years old…not a kid, but not an old fart either, and he knows and loves analog as a musician, producer, and engineer (who does all his own maintenance at the studio). He grew up with both, and he knows the difference.

    His current project is with a gun named Johnny Keigwin who is a trained and working classical bass player…his “day gig”…and a guitar playing singer songwriter as well. They played me some wonderful stuff…echos of Parisian Musette, Tim Buckley, and intelligent rock’n’roll. I was blown away by how good the stuff was. Can’t wait to hear the final results…even if it is digital.

    I’ll tell you, it’s really nice to be able to talk to your own kid about this stuff and find that he is, if anything, one step ahead in a field you know pretty well. That’s the idea, isn’t it?

  185. len says:

    Here is an example of class, skill and knowledge enjoined by patronage to improve the education of any one who cares to avail themselves of it.

    http://research.microsoft.com/apps/tools/tuva/index.html

    The lecture by Feynman is quite good.

  186. T Bone Burnett says:

    Len Thank you for that link. So valuable.

    • Alex Bowles says:

      Daniel -

      For the same reason that only an idiot would think that duplicating a DVD is “just like” stealing a car, only a moron would think that a remote license cancelation is “just like” a group of repo men breaking into your house and taking away physical goods in the middle of the night.

      Surely, you’re neither an idiot nor a moron, so why advance an argument like this? Is it because you think others here are too dim to see through it?

      • Daniel in Denton says:

        The point was to show why “piracy” is attractive. It’s almost always more convenient to obtain unsanctioned content through a channel like the Pirate Bay than it is to get it through legal means. Why bother paying for something when it may be forcibly removed from my device in the future? That they reimbursed purchasers softens the blow a little, but the fact remains: It was a return nobody was looking to make. So, on top of much digital content being vastly plentiful so as to drive the invisible hand near zero, content owners have yet to find a convenient means of distribution which fully respects the rights of consumers (iTunes being one exception, though they still force you into using their music-player software).

        As the poster asks, nobody can argue that I don’t own a copy of a legally purchased book and then take it away from me, even if it did turn out to be “unauthorized.” Why should Amazon be allowed to do so with a soft copy of a book?

        Finally, with regard to the argument that defenders of the digital IP status quo keep putting forward: How did this particular action protect an artist and his/her rights to earn an income?

        (Original NY Times blog story is here: http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/17/some-e-books-are-more-equal-than-others/)

        • Alex Bowles says:

          It’s almost always more convenient to obtain unsanctioned content through a channel like the Pirate Bay than it is to get it through legal means.

          Convenient for who?

          And more to the point, what is the source of the ‘right’ you claim? Is it written in law? Was it agreed to by the vendor in the terms and conditions of the offering? Has it been granted by God?

          These are all serious questions, since you’ve suggested that you’ll ‘almost always’ continue not paying until ‘all’ of your rights have been ‘fully’ respected – while neglecting to say what those rights are, where they come from, what attendant responsibilities they may carry, and what recourse your counter-parties can hope for in the event that you fail to hold up your own end of deal.

          I realize that the nature and dynamics of tangible and intangible goods are quite different. So I know that just because it’s inexcusable to shoplift on the premise that waiting in line would be ‘inconvenient’, the same does not necessarily hold true in the realm of IP. At the same time, I also know that a reason for doing or not doing something in the world of IP must – like law in the world of tangible goods – be rooted in a broader and consistent set of principles that govern conduct and exchange.

          What I’d like in your help in identifying the set of principles that excuse taking what isn’t offered for free simply because its more ‘convenient’ for you.

          Can you do this?

  187. Hugo says:

    len,

    I’m so delighted that you might refer to the late Richard Feynman, as I have kept him in mind as an example of how the aesthetic education of the young might encompass a certain understanding of the mathematics and the sciences.

    For years I heard from Caltechies and from residents of Alta Dena that he used to tool around in a vehicle he’d had festooned with his famous diagrams, which obviously he found he found quite beautiful in their own right. I fancy him ordering a custom paint job from some low-rider shop in Riverside or San Bernardino: what must the vatos have thought?

    You strike me as one who might share my ambition of one day teaching a course in, say, the History of Science for Non-Majors, in such a way as to convey the beauty that such people find in elegant formulations, equations and speculations only ostensibly limited to scientific force. To me, aesthetics commends contemplation of all fields at their highest expression.

    Besides, rumor has it that Feynman used to drive the thing to his favorite strip club, later to be closed down by the local godlies in favor of a Chinese restaurant aptly named “The Peking Inn”.

  188. len says:

    @hugo: A book I read when quite young made the point for me: Thirty Years That Shook Physics by George Gamow. To understand the beauty, I find I must understand the people who understand the beauty so that it will be human.

    Something beyond understanding otherwise is unremembered regardless of how many see it.

    The reason for the weird conspiracy theories about the Moon landing is that something so incredible is often not believed if not seen and even if reported by many people.

    Even history has its deniers. For that reason, Eisenhower walked the German villagers through the death camps, and now eighty years later, we have to listen to those who believe the work of those who led us to the moon was false though the whole world had seen it at one time.

  189. Daniel in Denton says:

    @ Alex:

    If I pay for something then don’t I have a right to use it as I see fit? (to a reasonable extent, that is) In the case of DRM on video & PC games, the “piracy” deterrent only hassles the legitimate consumer, not the “pirates,” by limiting the number of times a game can be installed. This seems antithetical to the concept of being a legitimate consumer.

    You start to make a good point about the inconvenience of waiting in the checkout line not being an excuse to shoplift, but it’s not quite apt. It’s more like leaving Walmart and having to show someone proof of purchase seconds after the transaction, or Sam’s Club where I’m not allowed to leave the store without doing so. It’s an assumption that we are all criminals, which I find upsetting as a “legitimate” consumer, having already paid them my money. If I’m going to be treated like a criminal regardless of my actions, I might as well act like one …

    Of course, nobody here has been able to tell me how “piracy” hurts artists, specifically the Kindle incident. Which artist was hurt by the “unauthorized” copies of a 50+ year old book which would have been public domain by this time 100 years ago? Which artist am I hurting when I download a single song from an otherwise forgettable album? (Looking at you, Aerosmith) Which artist am I hurting when I choose to watch TV shows online? If it hurts artists so much then why do South Park’s creators offer every episode for free on their website?

    And who’s fault is it that I resort to “piracy”? Cable co’s don’t offer a service that suits my media needs (a la carte network selection), music co’s don’t offer a wide spectrum of music to be played on my car radio. If NBC or Universal or Virgin Records can’t turn a profit because of new technology, why is it my fault and why should I suffer with their crappy attempts to give me “legitimate” programming? I don’t hear anyone denouncing automobile drivers over our callous disregard for buggy-whip manufacturers.

    • Daniel in Denton says:

      Besides, as Jon and others are keen to remind us, I already paid for the music to be played at every store I shop in, with the cost embedded in the price of whatever products I purchase. Well, I didn’t ask them to play the music and it wasn’t the music I wanted, nor was it played when I wanted it. But since I paid, why shouldn’t I have the choice of what to hear and when to hear it by “pirating” songs? The record company already got my money even though I wasn’t looking to make a purchase, so I will make good on the transaction at the time of my choosing.

  190. Alex Bowles says:

    Daniel,

    What I hoped you could provide was the justification for unauthorized duplication. Not the excuses, mind you (I’m very familiar with those), but the actual legal or moral justifications.

    I trust, of course, that you understand the difference between excusing or explaining something, and actually absolving yourself.

    For example, you can understand than an idiotic decision to shut down public transit two hours before last call may explain why there’s a spike in drunk driving without justifying any of those bad decisions, right?

    I must say, I’m not impressed with your replies. Every one of them is based on your own private sense of right and wrong, or your personal wants and needs. There’s absolutely no reference to any sort of commonly accepted norm, convention, principle, or law.

    In this regard, you seem to be totally unsocialized – going so far as to ask why you shouldn’t behave like a criminal because Walmart has a policy of double checking receipts.

    The core of this seems to be an unshakable (and totally indefensible) sense of absolute entitlement. It’s as though, by bundling ESPN with the Food Network, Comcast has violated your basic human rights. Or by streaming a Lionel Ritchie song, the Gap has somehow triggered a legal allowance that entitles you to a free Iron Maiden album just because you went in there to buy socks.

    You seem to have no moral compass whatsoever, to say nothing of a decent education.

    One more thing – as a producer, I can tell you flatly that artists are not the only ones who need to get paid to produce the stuff you appreciate. In fact, very few (if any) artists could successful connect with audiences were it not for a slew of supporters, advisers, and these days, technicians and sub-contractors. Whether the proportion of revenue going to these ancillary trades is ‘fair’ is a separate question. The real issue is that considering what you do only in terms of the name in lights is a fundamentally ignorant position to adopt, and is absolutely no justification for anything.

    So, are we done here?

  191. Alex Bowles says:

    And apologies for the excess of boldface text. That was me being sloppy about closing my html tags, not me getting shouty.

    • Daniel in Denton says:

      Why come you never actually refute any of my points, but rather just call me names and even mock my education? My arguments are rational (and sometimes even coherent), based on examples, but you gloss them over because “you’ve heard them before” and have decided I’m immoral. Easier to just call me “unsocialized,” I guess …

      It’s not entitlement, I pay for plenty of content when it’s presented in a form worth paying for. I donate to Ira Glass for my “This American Life” podcast bandwidth. And while I get much of my guitar music from OLGA and the like, I also will buy a songbook if the music I’m looking for isn’t well transcribed or lacking correct lyrics (typical of much bluegrass & celtic music I find online).

      My entire point of view is simply that the value of almost any recorded song is zero because supply far outstrips demand. You can’t refute this. So the industry has to adjust and it’s not my problem. Why should I pay for a product that fails to suit my needs? Why am I immoral for being dissatisfied with many of the “legitimate” products? Someone else has given it to me the way I want it and it happens to cost me nothing.

      Your equating “moral correctness” with “buy their products” doesn’t make sense. What you’re basically saying is that when I take a free bus to my university campus instead of buying a car or hiring a taxi, I’m putting auto employees and taxi drivers and dispatchers (and the whole “slew” of supporting staff) out of work. Like The Pirate Bay, someone else provided me with a service that better suits my needs. Therefore, I am “unsocialized” for taking the option that serves me best? So being moral means always looking out for the business interests of others and pounding sand if I don’t like it?

      What makes me “entitled” because I’m dissatisfied with available media products? Why should I pay for eight cable channels I don’t watch just so I can watch Jon Stewart for a half hour five nights a week? Why should I buy a whole album when there is only one song worth hearing? You like to talk about all the crap media products out there, but it’s these business models that prop it all up and ensure more crap continues to be made — for every Comedy Central I have to pay for Home & Garden and Spike TV? Forget it.

      Sure, it’s immoral if you equate a downloaded song with stealing but I’d beg to differ: A song is an advertisement, one that I’m happy to sing along with and tell others about. There are many songs that I wouldn’t have bought anyway. And there are many artists who I never would have bought tickets to see had I not downloaded a free copy of their songs.

      Finally, I am aware of plenty of artists who connect with fans without even being able to afford “a slew of supporters, advisers, and these days, technicians and sub-contractors.” Look up Slobberbone sometime. I support my local bands by going to shows. I may be mistaken, but you seem to think all of that industry bloat is somehow necessary and that we should all support it just because it’s there.

      (And, for the record, although I am entitled and unsocialized, I paid to see Bruno at the cinema the other night. I also buy copies of records and TV shows I really love and want to own in high quality formats — lookin’ at you, Simpsons seasons 3 through 6!)

      • Alex Bowles says:

        Daniel,

        I’m sorry about being so harsh, but honestly, this nonsense of yours is totally ridiculous.

        And I’m sorry it comes across as a personal attack. If you were simply defending conduct in the abstract then the rebuttals may not be so stinging. But since you seem to be advocating for your own code of conduct, its very likley that obvious flaws in your argument are going to map directly to more fundamental distortions in your basic sense of ethics.

        So with that out of the way, let me address your points directly.

        Moving back a post, you argue that

        I already paid for the music to be played at every store I shop in, with the cost embedded in the price of whatever products I purchase. Well, I didn’t ask them to play the music and it wasn’t the music I wanted, nor was it played when I wanted it. But since I paid, why shouldn’t I have the choice of what to hear and when to hear it by “pirating” songs? The record company already got my money even though I wasn’t looking to make a purchase, so I will make good on the transaction at the time of my choosing.

        To begin with, you didn’t pay for the music. The store owner paid for the music, and consequently, it’s the store owner who gets to define the programming mix. (Seriously – do you really need someone to explain this to you?)

        And so what if you didn’t want to hear the music? How does that give you a right to just start taking things – especially from unrelated third parties? And more important, what makes you think that you have any prerogative to start picking apart the merchant’s offer – which includes everything from the products, to the price, to the presentation, to the location of the store – then screwing his subcontractors directly based on nothing more than your personal and highly subjective assessment what you find?

        By way of analogy, consider touring the store and noting that the merchant was using 100w incandescent lights instead of 25w fluorescents. Imagine that you then said that “Personally, I don’t actually need this type of illumination in order to make a purchase decision, but since the cost of these less efficient, higher wattage bulbs has already been factored into the price I just (willingly) paid, I’m perfectly justified in stealing a few lo-watt bulbs from the manufacturer to offset my ‘enforced’ loss”.

        Absurd, I know, but it’s exactly the rational you used when you justified not paying for music from a publisher you (probably) dislike because, at some point it time, you were ‘forced’ to buy an unrelated product that included a tiny fraction of an in-store performance fee in its price. (Your exact words were “The record company already got my money even though I wasn’t looking to make a purchase, so I will make good on the transaction at the time of my choosing.”)

        Moving on to your astonishingly wrong-headed argument about convenience, and specifically, your assertion that a a pattern of conduct is acceptable simply because it is convenient for you.

        Imagine going to a music festival. You could scramble to buy tickets weeks in advance then wait in line to get into the venue. Or you could just say ‘fuck it’ and hop the fence. No doubt that would be more ‘convenient’ right? Sure it would, you jerk.

        Now you’re inside the venue and you’d like something to drink. You could wait in line for 15 minutes to get a beer and, you know, pay for your order. Or you could just sneak around the back of the tent, grab a stray six-pack and walk away. Best of all, you could get around that pesky two-drink limit, right? Hey! How convenient.

        Um, yes. Right up to the point where you’re arrested for petty theft.

        I could go on, but I think you get the point. Personal convenience is not, by itself, a justification for the way you conduct yourself. This is not to say that smart retailers don’t go out of their way to make life easier for their customers. They do, all the time. However, the costs they incur in the process have to be offset by the price you’re willing to pay. And if you’re not willing to pay much, if anything, and on terms that are entirely your own and never stated clearly or in advance, then there’s a limit to how easy other people can make your life.

        You may disagree with that, of course. You may say they owe you convenience, and that if they don’t deliver as much as you want at a price you want then you’re entitled to go ahead and just take it anyway. But that’s not a reasonable or well socialized position to take. That’s just being a douche-bag with an out of control sense of entitlement, which you expressed perfectly when you said “It’s not entitlement, I pay for plenty of content when it’s presented in a form worth paying for.”

        Again, that would be fine if that’s where it ended. But what if you don’t like the form, then what? And what happens if the form is one you like sometimes (depending what’s on it) but dislike at others?

        Do you just walk away? Or do you decide to act like the fence-hopping, beer-stealing freeloader who thinks he’s – yes – entitled to take whatever he likes from whoever he likes whenever he likes just because of some stupid pseudo-axiom like “information wants to be free” and “DRM is Evil”.

        Here, I should note that I never suggested you were ethically challenged for being, as you say “dissatisfied with many of the “legitimate” products”. The thing that qualifies your view as reprehensible is your uncritical assertion that “Someone else has given it to me the way I want it and it happens to cost me nothing.”

        Say that again – it just “happens to cost me nothing.”

        Riiiight, in the same way that a $1,500 mountain bike just ‘happens’ to cost $100 if you buy it from a crackhead. Or the way that a carton of cigarettes just ‘happens’ to be duty-free when you buy it off the back of a truck in the Bronx.

        To put it even less delicately, do you think ‘Pirate Bay’ is a Swedish word for “a place that legitimately resells wholesale goods for which it paid an honest price according to fairly negotiated terms”?

        I’m sorry – but I can’t help mocking you when you say that these guys just ‘happen’ to offer a better deal than Amazon.com or the iTunes store (especially now that DRM free tracks are the norm).

        They ‘happen’ to be a good deal only if you ‘happen’ to think you’re making a ‘deal’ at all, when in fact you’re just taking something in exchange for nothing.

        Sadly, the thinking gets worse when you note “What you’re basically saying is that when I take a free bus to my university campus instead of buying a car or hiring a taxi, I’m putting auto employees and taxi drivers and dispatchers (and the whole “slew” of supporting staff) out of work.”

        Um, no. And by the way, you’d have to be a total economic illiterate to think that a ‘free’ bus is actually free. Of course it isn’t free – it needs to be bought, maintained, licensed, insured, driven, fueled, and ultimately disposed of. If the service is run by your University, then you paid for it as a part of your tuition (and if your tuition is paid for using student loans, then chances are good that accrued interest will have you paying for that bus ride three or four times over the course of the next two decades, though it’s the bank that will be coming out ahead, not the University).

        Chances are also good that a taxi or your own car would be more convenient, but a lot harder to finance. So you do the smart thing, and choose what works for you, leaving the cab drivers and car dealers to deal with people who can afford what they have to offer on the terms they set. You have no more obligation to look our for their interests than they have to cater to your specific needs (i.e. none).

        But what you’re doing with IP is more like the person who isn’t enrolled in the University, pays nothing into the bus system, but but get a fake ID so they can hop on board anyway. Justified, no doubt, by the assertion that the guy selling fake IDs just ‘happens’ to offer something ‘more convenient’ than actually paying for transportation.

        Before I get too harsh, I should reiterate that intellectual property and tangible property are not the same. That’s why I don’t personally consider duplicating a song to be an act of theft. Theft, after all, is a criminal offense, whereas violations of IP law are non-criminal matters for civil law, like parking tickets. Or the boss who stiffs you on your paycheck (see, just lightweight minor stuff that nobody really cares about anyway, right?)

        As I think you can now see, none of this actually justifies your outlook. After all, “not actually criminal” does not equal “A-OK”. I mean, someone who casually dismisses criticism of their ethical sense by saying “Oh, I only break civil law, never criminal law” is not exactly on the side of the angels. They’re certainly not the kind of person you’d want to lend money to, employ, have as a boss, or (god forbid) as a client.

        But enough of that. Moving on to your flat assertion that “A song is an advertisement.”

        Says who? You? How about the publisher? The artist? The performers? The engineers? Are you an executive who has hired them all, paid them for what they’ve done, and are now using the song as an advertisement? If so, then hey, that’s your call.

        Oh wait, what’s that? You say you had absolutely nothing to do with anything, and yet you still feel perfectly entitled to define the basic economic function of the item in question?

        Are you totally serious?

        And how about your car? Do you simply drive what you want off any lot you choose because after all, you’re going to show up in places where that car will look good, and that’s, you know advertising? Or do you start stealing running shoes because, hey, there’s a logo on the side which you’ll be displaying, so therefore you’re not really stealing? (You’re just setting your own non-negotiated price for media placement while working as a self-appointed agent on both sides of the deal with no notification or documentation given to either side.)

        Again, your raw ignorance amazes me. Real advertising is bought and paid for by parties that negotiate the deal in advance, and exchange clearly specified services for well defined payments. It’s not some self-righteous jerk saying ‘hey, you get some vague and undefined benefit from what I’m doing, so I’ll just not pay you anything at all, okay?”

        I realize, of course, that giving away tracks can be great advertising. Smart bands do it all the time. Really smart bands manage to do it in a way that gives them a bit of useful information in return – like who’s interested, and what situations they enter in which it may be possible to recoup the costs of (plus profits from) the creation of that track. But again, how to handle this is the producer’s prerogative, not the customer’s.

        I think I’ve addressed enough of your points, right? But I’m not sure you’ve made a good case for your outlook – especially your comment that “My entire point of view is simply that the value of almost any recorded song is zero because supply far outstrips demand. You can’t refute this. So the industry has to adjust and it’s not my problem.”

        Never mind that there’s always some cost, no matter how incidental, for storage, bandwidth, display, and organization. The really interesting part is your assertion about the adjustment that needs to be made now that there are so many people like yourself in the mix, and that the ‘how’ is simply not your problem.

        Here, it’s worth pointing out that I have no idea who you really are. This anonymous persona of yours may be an alter ego with limited relation to your ‘real’ personality. And I do realize that, in a pure debate, it’s very bad form to indulge in ad hominem attacks, where you disregard the argument, and go after the person instead.

        But it’s important to remember that this isn’t a pure debate, and that your personal values are an essential part of what’s really being discussed here – specifically, the adjustment that the industry has to make – and adjustment which ‘is not (your) problem’.

        Your basic outlook defines the raw audience material that producers must take into account when trying to adjust. This isn’t easy. And as you’ve made explicitly clear, producers should expect absolutely no help from you. It’s just not your problem.

        For acts that can survive in the short shelf-life hit-or-miss world of virtual busking, people like yourself provide a suitable (if not ideal) basis on which to make a living and develop a craft. But the point that I’ve argued elsewhere on this blog is that producers with larger creative interests need to rethink their approaches dramatically. And counting on the kindness of strangers as iffy as yourself is a recipe for disaster.

        So the first thing is to recognize that your moral outlook – for all its unexamined sketchiness – is becoming the norm, and that it’s unlikely to change. The new reality is that for every 100 people who fully enjoy a product (not sample, mind you, but fully enjoy) a producer may get 1 who actually pays. The ratio may be slightly different for films, books, newspaper reports, and so on. But the bottom line is that – given a choice – some pay, most don’t, and even fewer know what it actually takes. In short, unfiltered and uninvested audiences are a tough and unsatisfying crowd.

        So knowing what’s out there, producers would be ill-advised to enter any mainstream situation that doesn’t offer a reasonable amount of leverage in setting the price. In the new order, the creative process begins by defining a channel where people must pay, then extends to generating enough demand so that they will pay. As far as the old, non-controllable channels go, well – there’s not much there there. Only begging for change, if you know what I mean.

        The second thing to realize that not everybody shares the same indifference about the state of arts and industry. They don’t all see the people who subordinate their own identities to the show as ‘bloat’. In fact, some have a keen appreciation of what goes on behind the curtain, and can properly value the experience on offer. They’re also evolved enough to understand how respect for basic economic norms and the prerogatives of management can lead to a better experience for everyone.

        In other words, you don’t have to be a access control-freak and a heavy at the door if you’re selective about the audiences you cultivate in the first place. The key, here, is to identify people like yourself (easy to do, when you express yourself as you’ve done here) and simply ignore them. If my business problems are of no concern to you, then your particular needs for culture and entertainment are of no concern to me. My interest will shift to venues where I can participate in negotiating the terms of engagement, at the same time that I build shows around the interests of audiences who don’t mind engaging on these terms, and who don’t need to have their arms twisted before they pay a fairly negotiated price.

        And by the way, I do sympathize with people who reject DRM-crippled products. I also avoid them. But I don’t go parading around saying that because the publisher is a bonehead and a jerk, I’m legally and morally entitled to do an end run around his stupid DRM. Nor do I weakly assert that I was “forced” to opt for a pirated version “because DRM sucks” while ignoring the reality that my life doesn’t not actually depend on having any given track.

        And remember, that’s what we were talking about – not the idiot civic planner who shuts down the trains two hours before last call and is subsequently shocked(!) by the spike in drunk driving accidents. No, we were talking about the real idiots who have so little natural restraint that they’d argue that the actions of a (lesser) idiot bureaucrat justified their own abandonment of common sense, community regard, and self preservation, while legitimizing their subsequent drunk driving.

        My own feeling is that the DRM fight was a dirty war – a grossly distorted sense of entitlement on the part of music publishers, along with a pattern of systematic price gouging, abusive lawsuits, and shady lobbying was met by people who simply ignored the parts of the social contract that could no longer be enforced.

        Backtracking by the industry may have been good for customers in the short run, but the victory seems Pyrrhic in that many customers developed a mindset that makes any engagement difficult. In terms of market evolution, there’s still a strong streak of “I only pay when I feel like it” floating around out there.

        In the long run, this isn’t good for anyone.

        Happily, I believe that a transition away from closed, analog platforms defined by the economics of mechanical reproduction will not only lead to more content, but better content, since it will become progressively harder for anyone to capture any attention at all. In terms of being part of that transition, I think that producers need to recognize that – in the wake of a major disruption – there are still plenty of turds in the punchbowl, and that the first order of business will be establishing new arrangements that don’t automatically include (let alone rely on) people like yourself. Instead, we start developing a respectable patron class, and give all the best seats to them.

        If you like what you hear, and you’re willing to pay, then you can come inside.

        Our job is to create something so compelling you feel like you can’t miss it, and an audience so dedicated and interconnected that they’ll smack you down themselves if you’re caught sneaking in the back to drink stolen beer on their dime.

        Think about that. And of you need a laugh, take a look at this. Just remember, sir, that we’re not the taco stand.

        • Rachel says:

          Alex, this is great.

        • Alex Bowles says:

          Thanks Rachel.

          Here’s a bit of backup from Ars Technica on the state of attitudes about IP.

          Short version – widespread confusion. The more unsettling reality is this:

          A majority of users don’t feel that musicians should profit from their music on the Internet.

          This seems to support Lessig’s idea that a protracted and ungrounded hard-line approach by major publishers would produce an equally extreme and amoral view among audiences. (His message to publishers was, in essence “Just stop this insane war, for the love of god and culture alike.”) His real fear was that if a generation grew up being viewed as criminals, then they’d actually become criminal in their attitudes towards others.

          This concern seems well placed. Just consider this gem from our friend Daniel:

          You start to make a good point about the inconvenience of waiting in the checkout line not being an excuse to shoplift, but it’s not quite apt. It’s more like leaving Walmart and having to show someone proof of purchase seconds after the transaction, or Sam’s Club where I’m not allowed to leave the store without doing so. It’s an assumption that we are all criminals, which I find upsetting as a “legitimate” consumer, having already paid them my money. If I’m going to be treated like a criminal regardless of my actions, I might as well act like one …

          As the Ars piece notes, the piracy debate has softened a bit in the last year. At the same time, the damage Lessig was worried about has clearly been done.

          The internet’s norms are now defined by guys with worldviews similar to Daniel’s. And unlike the attitudes adopted by major publishers in the early part of the decade, these views – as thoughtless, incoherent, and reactionary as they are – have become deeply embedded.

          As with the physical world, walled ‘gardens’ don’t last terribly long when they’re designed to keep people in. But if you’re like the Chinese, and in need to serious fortifications to separate your civilization from lawless, rampaging hordes, then serious walls are absolutely the way to go.

          Not that I think the Ming Empire is the best analogue for the state of the internet today. I’m wondering if we’re entering a phase where the most productive ans stable centers of commerce aren’t more like city states.

          For the same reasons that actual city-states proved transitory, I don’t expect these new centers of order to survive in the long run. But that’s the Interregnum in action, right?

        • Alex Bowles says:

          This seems to be as good a guide as any on the ethics of unauthorized downloading – with the chief value being simplicity.

  192. Hugo says:

    @len,

    Yes, that’s how I’ve thought I would do it too. So many of the greatest mathematical and scientific minds have penned autobiographies attesting to the pleasure they’ve taken in the sheer beauty, to them, of their pursuits, that it would be a pleasure to teach science to e.g. Humanities majors by drawing upon this literary wealth.

    Obviously we agree that this could be done quite readily through existing Internet formats, especially given the power of these newer media to render beauty in so many, even complex, forms that outstrip the mode of traditional monologue or interrogation from an academic lectern. The thought of it summons an image of educators as translators from past to present, from field to field, medium to medium.

    That’s exciting.

  193. Hugo says:

    Wonderful, Alex. God’s work.

  194. Morgan Warstler says:

    Alex,

    Everytime you start down the moral path, you screw it up royally. Just stick with simple stuff – artists need to make a living.

    Let me say this again. PROPERTY rights are THE fundamental construct of capitalism. If I “own” an atom, you do not own it. It is mine, and when I sell it, I know longer own it.

    Scarcity of atoms is historically the basic assumption of economics and markets. IF food or oil could be copied, after growing the first apple, pumping the first barrel, we likely wouldn’t even have economics, NO ONE would even understand the concept of ownership. We would all be fat and lazy enjoying god’s bountiful will: copying. Whole religions would exist to the great COPY GOD.

    OK, so atomic ownership that is the prime protected idea. All other other ideas draw their completeness in relation to this prime idea. You want to have some violation of property right?!? You better have a good goddamn reason. This is how American political discussion is waged, justifying theft for good cause is the entire state of government.

    So, when things go digital and every copy after the first one is free, do not ever bastardize the primacy of property rights, by pretending it is the same as atomic theft. For in your SILLY argument you weaken the presumption that the atomic is zero-sum (if I own it, you don’t).

    “Yes, we took your house, but in return we gave you a digital copy to every song ever created!” That’s what you are starting down the road to.

    No, the fact is there is much more still (read education) that can be “pirated” to good ends. To do so, does in no way equate the one “sharing” with being “criminal,” not in the harsh terms we have for those who would violate the prime, and steal the atomic.

    Murder and littering are not the same thing, and you harm the victims of murder by acting as indignant about littering.

    • Alex Bowles says:

      Oh good god Morgan, I just don’t know what to do about you.

      I think I went out of my way to say that I don’t see tangible and intangible goods as being the same at all, and that different rules apply to these very different classes of property.

      I also pointed (more than once) that I recognize – and respect – the distinction made in law about physical property (which is covered by criminal statutes) and intellectual property (which is governed by civil law.) I even made the explicit point that unauthorized file duplication is not theft, because theft is a criminal offense, which is not provided for under civil law.

      Clearly, all this effort was lost on you…

  195. Morgan Warstler says:

    No that was all GREAT. It was the moral tone in the last post I was uncomfy with.

    Kids attitudes today are pure expressions of what digital is all about… total access at very little cost and effort. In short, it isn’t a “harm” that people think things online are “free for all” – it is a noble attitude.

    The flow of the argument matters:

    thankfully, the digital is not the atomic, so have at it!
    we’ll figure out some other way to get the artists paid!
    fuck those dirty labels for insisting their music be scarce like oil & food!
    woe is to someone who steals the atomic, we’ll cut off his head!

    Starting in that box leads to the best solutions.

  196. Apologies if you’ve been down this road before. I was slow on the uptick (got this tread a month ago) and it’s reading like War & Peace.

    For me, (someone who writes checks for the office electricity, the cd manufacturing and royalties), I honestly think the problem is highly complex but relatively easily resolved. How we got here is well founded. Of course music, like perfume, is valued when discovered. It has no value like .99 cents – that’s something we assign.
    In the same way, we’ve assigned a copyright decades after the death of the creator, allowing for an entire financial infrastructure well beyond the reasonable time culture needs to recognize the value. Our forefathers originally created a 12 year copyright, to keep the creator in good stead for his/her ideas. Reality is we’ve perverted that vision shamelessly. Copyright is now real estate passed on between family members. The effect of this decision is culturally we claim ownership far too long, and the economics further feed that sense of ownership. In addition, our culture stagnates a bit – we don’t allow others to share in our creativity for decades and decades. Our intellectual property – that is the DNA that drives the creativity, is stifled by our clamped fists.

    But this is only one of a number of problems in the creation and business of music.

    Without digressing into each area (record companies, radio gatekeepers, ticket prices, etc), we can say without a doubt, the consumer doesn’t trust the business. Trusts the artist, not the business. The business shouldn’t be allowed to play loose and fast with consumers.

    The best, and only workable solution I see is a monetized all you can eat internet strategy. Consumers already pay their cable bills, (if they can!). They pay telephone. Why wouldn’t they pay music/film/tv? I believe they will. Change the copyright laws to 25 years, add $5 a month to the internet bill, create a completely transparent non profit company to filter the downloading info (internet co have that info now), treat the downloads like a stock price, ie:
    5 million in the system, 3 downloaded Frank Zappa’s Joe’s Garage = $.25 and pay everyone.

    Every solution that goes outside the internet will fail. The internet is the delivery system. Per track downloads will ultimately fail because you have to want to pay to work with them. Nonetheless, you pay your internet bill so we can end the discussion about paying vs stealing. Everyone pays, just a much smaller amount. And everyone equals a much great portion of the overall pie.

    My two cents.

  197. Craig Kirby says:

    Glad you cleared that up so I didnt have to. It’s called APRA in Australia – Aust Perf Rights Assoc.

  198. Hugo says:

    Ms. Hirschman,

    I value your “two cents’” worth. Seriously, thank you for commenting so deeply and seriously. Damn, you make me think.

    Hugo

  199. Jon,

    I wonder about this:

    “I know a great many musicians in their 60’s and 70’s with a lifetime of recorded music that is being devalued by Anderson’s ethos and attitude”

    I am a person who makes a living through creative endeavors, and I don’t have the luxury of re-selling my work over and over and over. Oh, wait. It’s not even selling. It’s licensing.

    Musicians, though, as well as many of the creatives that populate the studio world, do exactly that. But where is the fee for an architect when someone looks at his building? What about a painter’s ‘life time’ of work? Is she compensated every time someone sees her work? There are plenty of examples of creative work, some not so obvious; why is music any different? We do our work, and we move on.

    I want people to make money for creative work, and I don’t begrudge the sums involved. Something, though, is askew here.

    I’m just sayin’. Do I have a solution? If only.

    And as to Ms. Hirschman, I respectfully think her supposition– that music must be protected as special in some way– is way off the mark. The plainly unfair existing system has so worked into the collective conscious that another solution, equally obvious, is over-looked: musicians are paid when the make the music, thank you very much. Now what else can you do that I might buy?

    Oh. And look. I don’t want to start a war, and I don’t pose these questions in any sort of mean spirited way, and I am hoping someone can explain some logical basis for what we have now?

  200. len says:

    http://www.tbray.org/ongoing/When/200x/2009/08/23/On-Music

    I don’t think these are new ideas. It is interesting how many of those who helped to deflate the business believe they have a role in keeping it alive as long as it follows their vision of how things ought to be.

    Note, Tim wants to promote his favs in that piece and they have to be performing artists. Once again, it is a very naive description of the business itself that tends to ignore the actual infrastructure required.

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