Letter to Emily White

I want to call the attention of this community to a wonderful post from David Lowery (of the band Cracker) that has been getting a huge amount of attention in the last few days. It was written to a young music intern at NPR’s All Songs Considered who confessed on the air that she had onlyy purchased 15 songs out of the 11,000 in her music collection. Here is a small piece of the article, but I really hope you will read the whole post.

What the corporate backed Free Culture movement is asking us to do is analogous to changing our morality and principles to allow the equivalent of looting. Say there is a neighborhood in your local big city. Let’s call it The ‘Net. In this neighborhood there are record stores. Because of some antiquated laws, The ‘Net was never assigned a police force. So in this neighborhood people simply loot all the products from the shelves of the record store. People know it’s wrong, but they do it because they know they will rarely be punished for doing so. What the commercial Free Culture movement (see the “hybrid economy”) is saying is that instead of putting a police force in this neighborhood we should simply change our values and morality to accept this behavior. We should change our morality and ethics to accept looting because it is simply possible to get away with it.  And nothing says freedom like getting away with it, right?

But it’s worse than that. It turns out that Verizon, AT&T, Charter etc etc are charging a toll to get into this neighborhood to get the free stuff. Further, companies like Google are selling maps (search results) that tell you where the stuff is that you want to loot. Companies like Megavideo are charging for a high speed looting service (premium accounts for faster downloads). Google is also selling ads in this neighborhood and sharing the revenue with everyone except the people who make the stuff being looted. Further, in order to loot you need to have a $1,000 dollar laptop, a $500 dollar iPhone or $400 Samsumg tablet. It turns out the supposedly “free” stuff really isn’t free. In fact it’s an expensive way to get “free” music. (Like most claimed “disruptive innovations”it turns out expensive subsidies exist elsewhere.) Companies are actually making money from this looting activity. These companies only make money if you change your principles and morality! And none of that money goes to the artists!

I have been debating this issue for the past two months with young digerati like Alexis Ohanian of Reddit and Mike Masnick of Techdirt. Somehow I feel like the conversation is changing and respect for the creative artist’s rights is coming back. Let’s hope so.

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54 Responses to Letter to Emily White

  1. Bud Frawley says:

    Musicians are just another kind of freeloaders. They contribute NOTHING of any value to this country. It is all the small business owners that make this country great.

  2. Jim Mervis says:

    @Bud Frawley
    Bud,
    Yes, small business owners make the country great. And, making music is a business and most people in that business are small business owners. It doesn’t make any sense to prefer grocery store owners to farmers or newspaper owners to professional musicians. They all create employment for others and help grow the wealth of a nation. In what way do you see musicians as freeloaders?
    Jim

  3. Bud Frawley says:

    Musicians have historically traveled around the world without responsibility, living like pashas, and sleeping with other people’s wives.

  4. Fentex says:

    It turns out that Verizon, AT&T, Charter etc etc are charging a toll to get into this neighborhood to get the free stuff.

    They certainly will impose stiff tolls if Net neutrality is abandoned.

    Companies like Megavideo are charging for a high speed looting service (premium accounts for faster downloads).

    But not Media Companies, not Record Companies, not Movie Studios – they aren’t selling access, they aren’t pitching a tent and building a market. They are nominally the agents of artists empowered to secure the opportunities off the Net and they don’t.

    Megaupload is accused of raising some $400 Million of income generated substantially by unauthorised file sharing. Why wasn’t the RIAA and MPAA making that money? Why don’t they?

    The quoted article argues is that it isn’t all about free as evidenced by the expenses and premium accounts bought by people wanting quick access to media – why isn’t that being sold by the rights holders?

    The easiest and surest (confirmed by experience with services such as Spotify) way to reduce unauthorised sharing is to make it easier to buy guaranteed quality direct from the producers. Such a response would have the happy character of minimal market distortion and interference with competing providers by avoiding establishing gatekeepers and adding taxes to transactions.

  5. ct says:

    It’s true that the looter must be “armed” with laptop or tablet, Internet access, etc. But from the looter’s point of view, he or she possessed those armaments already. The looter didn’t have to acquire them to loot. The marginal cost of using those armaments is virtually zero — and that’s what looters think about, in comparison to the nonzero marginal cost of paying for what they want.

  6. len says:

    Meanwhile back at the ranch, they are trying to decide which noose they will use next.

    http://www.technologyreview.com/news/428050/admen-spot-an-enemy-w3c/

    The toothless haggle with the hard of hearing.

  7. len says:

    @Fentex

    Because:

    1. The services don’t have to pay. Who will make them if there is no market pressure to do so?

    2. Since DRM has been knocked down except in cases like Microsoft (built into the op sys), there is no protection. Do you believe people would buy iPhones if they could steal them easily and “conveniently” with little fear of prosecution?

    3. Even where monetization exists, note the number of indies (yes, indies are most of the supply of music these days) and find out what the rules/barriers are for signing up.

    a. How many such as iTunes force them through intermediary aggregators and why?

    b. Even where the barriers are easy (as in the case of YouTube), try to figure out what is and isn’t monetizable when the rule as published is one but the actual front decisions are made by algorithms that in practice are both flakey and unpredictable (as in the case of YouTube). I am approaching 50k views on my Youtube site. Monetization so far: 0. It will be interesting to see at the end of the year where that goose egg is.

    Lowery’s best comment because, Fen, I think this really goes to the heart of where you are coming from:

    Congratulations, your generation is the first generation in history to rebel by unsticking it to the man and instead sticking it to the weirdo freak musicians!

  8. Bud Frawley says:

    Music is a thing of the past.

  9. len says:

    The Censorship HTTP Code:

    http://www.tbray.org/ongoing/When/201x/2012/06/20/Latin-Scholar-451

    Read the article at the end of the link and go to the blog that inspired it. Note the attempt to frame this as a censorship code. Note the comments on Terrence’s blog to get a flavor of just how dismissive the web designers are on this topic. Lowery is right. Note the commenters in the majority are NOT sympathetic with the frame. So what Jon says about the tide of opinion turning has merit. Between the privacy initiatives (see Do Not Track) that is scaring the bejesus out of companies like Google, and the masses beginning as Lowery notes to sympathize with the artists, some very non-altruistic business models may take a kick to the head.

  10. Alex Bowles says:

    Lowery mentions that looting takes place because there are no police in this neighborhood. But he neglects to mention that “this neighborhood” includes people’s hard drives, their unfiltered internet connections, their financial and health records, their otherwise private correspondence. In other words, putting cops on this beat would lead to a panopticon style of policing so intrusive that it would make the Stasi blush. It’s a bad idea under the best of circumstances. In a political environment defined by growing resistance to entrenched corruption this level of policing seems like an utter catastrophe. To my mind, that’ s the fatal flaw in Lowery’s otherwise unimpeachable argument.

    The highlight of his position is the way it shifts the focus of the debate away from property rights and towards artists rights. That may seem like a subtle nuance, but I think it’s a critically important development. Personally, I never liked the focus on defining infringement as theft. I always thought this strategy represented an extraordinary tactical error by copyright’s defenders. Because it was so easy to reject the dubious analogies between tangible and intangible goods, it became even easier to reject the ham-fisted and conspicuously self-serving positions of the publishers who made them. This skepticism, when combined with the perception that major publishers were buying their way into Congress, meant people had no trouble developing a ferocious level of indignation about the perceived injustices of copyright. Feeling (quite accurately) that they were entirely shut out of the legislative process only amplified the growing sense of rage. As a result, genuine debate devolved into unproductive fights about semantics while diverting focus from the appallingly thuggish, incoherent, and self-serving attitudes on the part of “fans” who were busy reducing the status of artists they “loved” to that of glorified buskers.

    In sum, it was a lose-lose situation that impoverished the most vulnerable and valuable while leaving everyone else looking bad.

    Lowery seems to be getting beyond all this by saying the semantics of theft vs. infringement are secondary. What really matters is that damage that’s being done to the edifice of professional production by the prevailing attitude that treats recorded music as though it were air. The fact that enormous fortunes are being built and unfairly distributed around this “free resource” adds insult to injury. And what’s being lost in the process will not be easily recovered once everyone comes to their senses. Like a clear-cut swath of old growth redwood, regret isn’t enough to bring it back. Call it theft, call it violence, call it whatever you want. Damage is damage, and what’s gone is gone.

    The thing about artists rights – and the creative culture they both serve and protect – is that they apply in any medium, analog or digital, tangible or intangible. This makes them very different from property rights, which necessarily differ greatly between the tangible and intangible realms. Thinking about property rights as a proxy for artists rights means creating a distinction where none exists, since artists rights transcend the media they work in. More importantly, thinking about artists rights directly focuses on the inputs demanded by the best work, rather than the much narrower set of outputs, which is where most consumers “fans” and debates focus their attention today.

    The broader focus on inputs also raises the equally important questions about what artists owe to the cultural heritages they depend on (less than some “fans” think in many areas, far more than they imagine in others). Questions about art needing art resolve themselves in they way we decide to handle fair use and the public domain. When a focus on artists rights does turn to discussions about property rights, it includes questions about human vs. corporate use of media, and whether (as I believe) artists rights should be far more sweeping when it comes to restricting the conduct of incorporated entities that exist solely for profit and largely free of liability.

    Call me naive, but I think that a clear focus on artists rights can play a powerful role in resolving the much broader issue we’re having with overbearing corporate power, and the way its unchecked influence in Congress is undermining culture, democracy, health, and general well-being. Which is not to say that this larger cause should be the point of advancing artist’s rights. Rather, one of the benefits of articulating and protecting artists rights is that they help define the parameters of a much healthier culture in general, and that a healthier culture provides the context in which the widely and freely respected rights of artists become truly viable.

    The truth is that the data-centric world we’re entering is nothing like anything humans have encountered in the past, and we’re making this transition at a time when our effect on the planet is equally unprecedented. The sheer scale of the change we’re facing is inconceivable to most, and has few clear historic analogies. Rapid cultural development is vital. If ever there were a time when artists, scientists, and engineers had a truly important role to play, this is it. At the same time, they’re being badly crippled in some very consequential ways. These need fixing, urgently.

    Realizing that the old publisher-centric modes of cultural creation don’t map directly to the current landscape is an important first step in fixing this problem. The second step is recognizing that efforts force-fit rules governing tangible goods into the into the emerging situation carry tremendous dangers which must be handled carefully. Responding to the need of artists to do risky, speculative, and labor intensive work in an environment that’s free from crippling anxiety is the third step. And reflecting this combined understanding in the rights and respect they’re formally accorded is the final step.

    It’s worth remembering that what constitutes property has changed far more over the centuries than what constitutes art. The rights that pertain to one don’t mesh perfectly with the rights that pertain to the other. Debate about property, though potentially valuable in its own right, has not served artists well. We need to start focusing on the distinct rights of artists as artists. So hats off to everyone moving the conversation in this direction.

  11. Alex Bowles says:

    @Fentex when you consider the volume of material “shared” by Megaupload, and more importantly, the costs to produce it, $400 million is actually a pretty small number. Huge by individual terms, but nothing like what’s needed to keep the backers of all this work solvent and productive.

    In other words, the reason why publishers didn’t sell for these amounts is the same as your reason for refusing minimum wage.

  12. Fentex says:

    1. The services don’t have to pay. Who will make them if there is no market pressure to do so?

    This doesn’t answer the question, it’s a given the profit Pirates raise is off product they aren’t paying for. The question is why isn’t that profit being competed for by the owners of the product?

    This is not a question about anonymous peer to peer transfers.

    An answer that would address the question might be: Because the profit isn’t sufficient to motivate competition (meaning the profit that keeps a pirate happy is less than satisfactory to the producers). This might be true but I suspect it isn’t, I certainly won’t believe it’s true when media companies trumpet collosal amounts earned by Pirates.

    If they want me to believe that Pirates are destroying markets then they must not proclaim Pirates are making huge profits off their backs.

    Since DRM has been knocked down except in cases like Microsoft (built into the op sys), there is no protection. Do you believe people would buy iPhones if they could steal them easily and “conveniently” with little fear of prosecution?

    DRM is stupid, all it does is penalise good customers and force people to use unauthorised goods so as to have reliable access to valuable goods.

    And analogies with real world physical goods are generally misleading. There is no point attempting to equate theft of physical goods to easy duplication of digitised media. The acts are too different in nature for analogies to hold.

    No matter what is attempted unauthorised duplication will continue. It is a fact of nature. The question is not how to prevent it for that is folly, it is how to live with it.

    Even where monetization exists, note the number of indies…

    I didn’t understand this point, as it continues it seems to refer to direct experience with particular business models I don’t have.

    Are you saying that the Indies which have seemed more nimble and adaptive at online business are now becoming gatekeepers for the ecology they have established? If so, what has that got to do with the general problem of unauthorised duplication?

    It sounds like a problem that existed before and independent of the issue of easy duplication.

    Where I’m coming from is this;easy duplication is now a fact of nature, resenting it is an emotion that will not prevent it. Dealing with it requires decisions.

    It seems likely levy’s on ISPs along the lines of forced licensing will be experimented with among any number of efforts at regulation in the future.

    Whether that happens or not business continues right now – why aren’t authorised owners of media competing in the market? Their absence allows ecologies and habits to form that will become barriers to their future entrance.

  13. Fentex says:

    The thing about artists rights – and the creative culture they both serve and protect – is that they apply in any medium, analog or digital, tangible or intangible. This makes them very different from property rights, which necessarily differ greatly between the tangible and intangible realms.

    I have long thought legal protection of correct attribution would be an important contribution.

    Something not unlike Trademark which serves to protect consumers from fraud so would garner support rather than disdain.

    It would be a legal protection of the truth which as a concept has commercial value in any realm and would, I suspect, help support build economically sound markets for digitised media with respected legal protections.

  14. Fentex says:

    the reason why publishers didn’t sell for these amounts is the same as your reason for refusing minimum wage.

    I notice we addressed this question typing at the same.

    I have a couple of problems with the argument, the first is that I am irritated by and unsupportive of an industry that lies about this. The facts and figures thrown around by interested parties are clearly false and I am disinclined to accept arguments supported by obvious falsehoods for obvious reasons.

    If content producers representatives want me to believe that Pirates are destroying one market without building another they’d be well advised to use truthful figures at all ends and edges of the arguments.

    The second is that it doesn’t matter because it seems to me that it’s surrenduring to the innovators dilemma rather than gritting teeth and getting on with the job. The innovators dilemma is the problem that change is initially less rewarding than established operations, and therefore many will keep with the established from fear of the new and become trapped by unproductive investment when the new flowers at it’s expense.

    I can’t predict details but I’m confident that not engaging in the market is folly and I know that fear of cannibalising existing sales, initial low returns and similar issues always holds established businesses back from adopting new markets and often sees the old die in favour of the new.

    And I think existing corporations owe the effort to aging artists.

    There is a generation of people who are getting especially screwed – those invested in existing models who have passed their most productive. They lose when the old income dries up and aren’t in an active position to exploit the new.

    These are the people who would be best served by levy’s or their agents active investment in new markets.

    If their agents don’t find a way to replace their income because of sitting on the established and don’t forge something new while waiting for legal remedies to be spun by self serving politicians they will be doing those artists a disservice.

  15. Jon Taplin says:

    @Fentex RIAA is not a business. It’s a trade association. I Tunes has a very fair business model and yet it can’t compete with Mega uploads “free” model. It’s got nothing to do with business models and everything to do with greed and theft

  16. len says:

    @alex via amber:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/modeledbehavior/2012/06/20/the-dark-secret-of-meritocracy-reality-is-rigged/

    So heads on pikes anyway… which is what the author recommends in the next article.

    @Alex Bowles

  17. Fentex says:

    RIAA is not a business. It’s a trade association.

    Which is why I tried to refer to artists agents and representatives, I know it’s clumsy.

    iTunes has a very fair business model and yet it can’t compete with Mega uploads

    I have no certainty of what the results of efforts to compete with Pirates would be, but I suspect two things – the sidelining of pirates and the capturing of income upon which a more equitable future might be built.

    The way to do that, a thing that would be a direct competitor, is not iTunes. A service that is a direct competitor to Mega-upload would look a lot more like Mega-upload.

    A simple data locker that measures traffic in recognized media distributing income appropriately while using access to it’s customers to seek increased profits by attracting them to other opportunities and improved products.

    I also suspect this is a passing problem.

    With dropping costs of traffic and increasingly constant connection the attractiveness of subscription services with well refined interfaces making all of the worlds media instantly and constantly available from professionally curated repositories will be irresistible in the near future.

  18. len says:

    You need to read the articles, Fentex, from Lowery. Then ask. In fact, the indies are getting killed just as the major labels. This is explained because the Free Market has been using the excuse that major labels ripped off the artists anyway. Lowery speaks to that eloquently. All you have to do is read Tim and Terrence’s proposals for the HTTP censorship code to understand why patience with the digital mavens has run out and the tide is turning against them. Note, Tim is a friend of mine and I’ve been pretty direct with him and started doing that with others in the community a long time ago. It isn’t that we didn’t talk about these things. It is that it has taken awhile for the emerging markets to show their flaws on these topics. IOW, we tried it and it has failed.

    The problem is we have a market where the models trying to do the right thing are competing with the thieves. It is for this reason Article 18 of the US Constitution was written. And it will be enforced. The day of the MegaUploadsRUs profitability are closing by popular consent because I assure, they can be blown off the air.

    I read one statistic (can’t verify it) that the numbers of professional/commercial musicians has dropped by 25%. Seems high to me but I do know personally that most of the folks I know in the business who can get out are. The rest are stuck in low wage gigs and low rent housing or working for churches which usually requires quite a bit more training than the average pop star has… Allison Krause being a notable exception with her recent doctorate. Go AK!

    T-Bone had this right. I’d like to believe we can find ways to change this short of litigating the hell out of the Googles of the world, but it seems, given what Tim has published, that is what it will take. I fear the collateral damage will be significant.

  19. len says:

    1. Metadata standards for legally obligating agreements on the web. Fix this first. This is a very big bang across the services. It is in everyone’s interest that these be made soon, simple and ubiquitous because it predicates the service agreement bindings to legal documents. IOW, control the lawsuit space at jump and innovate opportunities with the same markup of the text. Even SharePoint knows how to nag an author for the missing fields in the columns. If you are an industry person aggregating content for publication, you want this.

    2. Make it fair. The obligating contracts are not to the algorithms that currently sort monetization. These do not work and I can prove it. The metadata is important to the fairness of the opportunity. Publish the rules for ajudication and see 3: turn ajudication into opportunity sharing. It is an opt in strategy and those are shown to be least onerous.

    3. Innovate opportunities. Today, a mashup using photos that Google provides cannot be monetized because the obligation to own all content or have all attesting documentation is onerous. Facilitate this task. Google is using the photos and video too. They are the gateway. They have the IDs if IDed properly (see 1 above). Why do they not offer the service to inform all parties of an opportunity instead of a infraction? Divide the monetization fairly and transparently.

    Big Data is here. Use it wisely and fairly. Technology can enable you to innovate opportunity but it cannot make you moral. You do that by the technology you choose to buy and use. If you wish to direct the evolution in your markets over being their prey, then the way you agree to create and foster opportunity is the ultimate tool: choice of choices.

    As to the HTTP censorship code, do you think that the right frame to discuss server blocking by legal means? I don’t. It presents the opportunities in a black and white zero sum frame and none of the advantages of having a legal means with teeth to enforce our laws. For those who say this is Big Government, I say, that’s exactly what it is and exactly why we have them. A government has the obligation to protect it’s citizens and their property in my opinion. Means may be negotiated but they are found and applied.

  20. Fentex says:

    It is for this reason Article 18 of the US Constitution was written.

    I find a 18th Ammendment (Prohibition) but no 18th Article (there seem to be only 7), was that misnumbered?

    1. Metadata standards for legally obligating agreements on the web.

    A problem with organizing such things is they do little to create markets, and as the web is not everything (not even the Net is everything) simply blocking some discoverable unauthorised sharing will not resolve the issue.

    I’m contemplating buying a Samsung Galaxy 3 phone and with it I would have Cell, WiFi, Bluetooth, Near Field Communications, Mini-SD Card and USB data transfers.

    People with these devices do not need the Web let alone the Net to share media. Not only would blocking and normalising to accepted legal practices behaviour on the Net fail to stop unauthorised sharing it will never happen anyway because obsfucated, encrypted and hidden networks would sidestep the attempt.

    And I don’t even think that’s the biggest problem artists have. I suspect that the greatest threat of digital media to individual artists is the need to compete with the world. There’s little need for a cover band when any legal service can stream the original.

    Such issues must push the bottom rung of a musicians career further out of reach.

    Even if unauthorised sharing was non-existent I suspect musicians would still find themselves forced into earning only from live performances or the good fortune of finding fame and watching the middle ground of moderate recorded sales being devastated with no need of pirates.

    If everyone gets their music from streaming (a likely future) there’s no point in ever buying music as a gift, or even if music was only an easily purchased legal good in digital form there’d still be a loss of gift sales – digital gifts aren’t satisfying presents (I think, that might just be me).

    On all my personal devices I use ad blocking software and only recently discovered what a ad saturated nightmare much of the web is, which gave me a visceral connection to the hate some must have for Google trading on what is misappropriated.

    As to the HTTP censorship code, do you think that the right frame to discuss server blocking by legal means?

    It doesn’t make any sense to me. Who’s supposed to be returning this ’400/500′ code? Surely not a site hosting unauthorised content, they wouldn’t bother. Not a search engine because anything that resolves to that code won’t be retuned in a search result.

    It can only be ISP’s that do it, returning blocked codes for sites overseas or wherever from a block list. But that code is HTTP specific, to be an effective concept censoring IPs would have to block all IP packets to prevent people just adopting a different kind of client than their web-browser. So the IP has to be blocked totally, in which case why bother creating special HTTP codes?

    And that just raises questions of who maintains, and on what basis the censored, IPs list?

    Australia tried that supposedly on the basis of blocking abusive pornography and promptly appeared to have IPs blocked for political content.

    And then there’s proxies that just skip the blocking making the whole thing moot anyway.

  21. len says:

    My bad: Article I, Section 8, Clause 8.

    To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

    The interpretation of that to cover music, film, etc. is already made.

    Fentex says: “A problem with organizing such things is they do little to create markets”

    Really? So the HTML5 standard creates no markets? Wow. News at 11. The idea is to make the legal system run more smoothly and enable market differentiation through transparency of good faith effort. We have enough experience to become proactive.

    Fentex says: “There’s little need for a cover band when any legal service can stream the original.”

    You really should get out more.

    Fentex says: “I suspect that the greatest threat of digital media to individual artists is the need to compete with the world.”

    They do that every day. The world is big enough. Trade laws exist for digital duplication already. Our diplomats duke it out with illegal duplication from foreign markets daily. Business as usual.

    Fentex asks: “And that just raises questions of who maintains, and on what basis the censored, IPs list?”

    The basis is breaking the law. Who maintains the list, how one gets on it and importantly how one gets off it are very good questions. See the US No Fly list. As to web browsers, people can pick locks with a variety of tools, so legal some not. These are problems that are worked as they come up, same as with the blocking of political material. Otherwise it’s a bit like saying the zombie apocalypse has come, it’s caused by our technologies and because of that, you can’t blow their heads off until we find a cure and if we find a cure, you definitely can’t blow their heads off. We’re sorry that so many of you are having your faces eaten off but that’s just the price of progress.

    Nope. Lock n’load. One thing we know now is that it isn’t beyond our reach to shut down server systems remotely or even centrifuges. Seems draconian but if the technologists keep telling us to accept the face eating, then draconian it is. I suspect the calmer more business focused folks at Google etc will want something less nasty. The frame matters which is why I say Tim and Terrence are doing something that will snap like a pushed tree branch back in their faces. If a technology is too uncontrollable to be regulated against harm, then it really should be shut down. Cars originally did not have headlights, windshields, seat belts or decent brakes. It didn’t take more than two generations to get all of those.

  22. Bud Frawley says:

    Non-atomic= Free

  23. len says:

    @Bud Frawley

    Great. Guys are lining up to meet your wife.

  24. Alex Bowles says:

    “There’s little need for a cover band when any legal service can stream the original.”

    You really should get out more.

    Zing. And added to the pile that includes “There’s little need for libraries when, for a fraction of the cost, we can equip everyone with iPads.”

    Meanwhile, back in cover land, there’s this. Not hooked on the song, but the technique is astonishing, which all goes to show that the original isn’t necessarily the best.

  25. len says:

    Our local superintendant just announced his intentions to get rid of all the school books and replace them with laptops for every student. Let’s see how that goes.

    As to covers, Earle Klugh was quoted as saying he liked to cover the Beatles because the songs were good and he couldn’t fail to play the guitar parts better. For some n of better, it may be so but anyone who thinks a DJ is a good replacement for a live band should go to Mall Hell where everyday a hundred DJs are playing the same songs over and over again 7 1 hundredths of a second out of sync linearly.

    A point Lowery made was also made here some threads ago. Not everyone tours or can. Some music can’t be performed without a larger band than is affordable and some is not meant to be played live at all such as studio electronica and Steely Dan. ;) And then there are the cases where the band members are too old or too dead.

    The point about it hurting the artists is salient. As said before examples of that (say Levon Helm) are useful because it will take some marketing to get some to respect the rights of the artists and from what I am reading in the comments here and yon, they will as they overcome the preconditioning that all labels are evil MFs and all musicians are stoned n’er do wells looking to have at Bud’s spouse. It’s a perception management issue. Commercials with notables giving a thumbs up to the responsible web download sites (not as ads but as genuine endorsements) might put pressure on the rest as the sales move toward the better ones. It will take a couple of rounds, but I do believe the tide will turn and then it comes down to prosecuting the offenders or putting them on the Don’t Access lists.

  26. JTMcPhee says:

    @Bud Frawley
    … Oh, you mean sort of like all those Concervative Fambly Valu Polyticians, and fat right-wing commentators/entertainers, and all those Very Reverend Fondlefu__ers from all those Small Business Tax Exempt Churches?

  27. Fentex says:

    Fentex says: “A problem with organizing such things is they do little to create markets”
    Really? So the HTML5 standard creates no markets?

    My meaning was that succeeding in blocking one thing is not building a market for another.

    If a technical solution to pirating was partially successful, the intent I presume behind this proposed addition to Http protocols, while if stopping some unauthorised dissemination of media it does little to create a market to generate income elsewhere.

    Creating the market that brings in income remains a problem.

    The logic that people once visiting these now blocked sites represented lost sales that would then flock to authorised sites is not assured. And not just because there are alternatives to people who seek free media.

    Personally I am convinced the issue is not entirely price. I think availability and autonomy are important drivers behind the amount of transfers happening.

  28. Fentex says:

    Fentex says: “I suspect that the greatest threat of digital media to individual artists is the need to compete with the world.”
    They do that every day. The world is big enough. Trade laws exist for digital duplication already. Our diplomats duke it out with illegal duplication from foreign markets daily. Business as usual.

    I think you misunderstood me.

    I meant even if all online file movement was legal and correctly compensated the fact that eveyone with online access has the same access to every artist on the planet is a big problem that would have the same end effects of a dearth of sales for most artists.

    Live performances are always going to be removed from the problem of file duplication, so any artist will have that problem.

    Everyone who finds fame will always have an opportunity to generate income no matter how much copying occurs (even if all that happened was their live performance prices would command a premium).

    The problem created by unauthorised sharing is the destruction of any middle ground created by sales of recordings where artists develop their skills and ouevre.

    I think that middle ground shrinks whether or not unauthorised copying occurs. So the problem of building markets remains.

    And by building markets I don’t just mean erecting a shop, I mean creating a place people go to, finding ways to bring in the customers, finding ways to create demand for the particular product you want to sell.

    And I think that is going to be hard enough online whether or not unauthorised copying is occurring that finding how to do it is a more pressing problem than preventing unauthorised sharing on the web.

  29. Fentex says:

    Fentex says: “There’s little need for a cover band when any legal service can stream the original.”
    You really should get out more.

    I may be atypical of the general population, I have never been (even in the years of vinyl and CDs) much of a purchaser of music nor a present audience for bands.

    But surely when you say “get out more” you must be talking about live performance which is not the problem. Live performance can’t be superceded by recorded media.

    The problem is unrenumerated sharing online.

  30. Alex Bowles says:

    Except that it isn’t really “sharing” in any sense of the word that presumes a social connection closer than “happens to be alive on the same planet at the same time.”

    It’s just completely unauthorized duplication and distribution, which gets to the very heart of copyright, and what the law exists to prevent. The fact that these violations are done entirely for profit and without revenue splits only adds insult to injury. If an artist wants to cast their own work into the wind, so be it, but for someone else to “help” them in this way (“Hey, it’s free publicity! I’m doing you a favor!) is not on.

    Of course, I recognize that it’s technically, socially, legally, and ethically impossible to prevent all unauthorized copying. But I can also see that there’s a big gap between a tolerable minimum and what’s permitted today. I mean, bandwidth, servers, electricity, and maintenance all represent hard costs. They may be fractions of what the media itself cost to produce, but they’re still real expenses, and they’re made by people who expect to recover them – and more – from advertisers. That’s a commercial operation that doesn’t need to be heavily policed to be curtailed dramatically since it’s a rare (and short-lived) advertising or media agency that will knowingly and willingly put their client’s brand on the wrong side of the law.

    The loss of this revenue would reduce operators to much shadier ways of becoming profitable – all of which involve some level of harm or compromise to their users who, almost by definition, refuse to pay directly. If advertisers leave, these neighborhoods are going to get a lot rougher and a lot more predatory in very short order. It may be hard to compete with free when free is clean and easy. But as soon as free becomes sketchy and dangerous, a lot of people will opt for the security that comes with a legitimate exchange. There are plenty of people who don’t give a fig about artists or their rights, but who can be persuaded to support them if their own self interest is aligned with the greater good.

    Not everyone will make the decent choice, to be sure, but the important thing is making sure that enough do to make that exchange a viable source of revenue instead of an idea on life support.

    Added bonus: this is an incremental step, not a sweeping change. I remain hugely suspicious of panopticon style policing. It would be an appalling tragedy if artists became the vehicle for the kind of institution that has, traditionally, been a catastrophe for artists and intellectuals whenever and wherever they’ve taken root. In the same way that I think we’re not doing nearly enough to curb piracy right now, I think that extremely intrusive policing represents policy failure of a different sort. The middle ground lies in making the channel a completely unacceptable choice for advertisers, seeing what effect that has, and proceeding (or not) from there.

  31. Bud Frawley says:

    @len

    I hope they have better luck with her than I did.

  32. Rachel says:

    So Alex Bowles has, as ever, said all I want to say. Except perhaps for the bit where I say that I’ve loved David Lowery’s music a long long time, from Camper van Beethoven to Cracker, and I think Kerosene Hat is one of my favourite CDs. But then I’m old.

    But Alex’s first statement bears repeating, because it seems like everyone ignored it and just went to their preset positions to argue after that:

    Lowery mentions that looting takes place because there are no police in this neighborhood. But he neglects to mention that “this neighborhood” includes people’s hard drives, their unfiltered internet connections, their financial and health records, their otherwise private correspondence. In other words, putting cops on this beat would lead to a panopticon style of policing so intrusive that it would make the Stasi blush. It’s a bad idea under the best of circumstances. In a political environment defined by growing resistance to entrenched corruption this level of policing seems like an utter catastrophe. To my mind, that’ s the fatal flaw in Lowery’s otherwise unimpeachable argument.

    I don’t think anyone on this blog – or Emily White – disagrees with the notion that we want to continue to hear great music, and we’re happy to pay for it. I think that was the point of Ms White’s comment. And millions of iTunes tracks attest to that. There are ways around it etc etc as Lowery points out to White, but there are millions and millions of people who love music who are happy to pay if it’s easy to get music.

    The issues is how. That issue needs serious consideration, but everyone still seems hung up on the ‘piracy is bad” argument. Sadly, the Internet moves faster than industry associations, or governments. In the time Jon has been presenting this issue on his blog, which must be at least 5 years now, the Internet has come up with variations on some of the models that have been discussed as potentially ideal. There’s this: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/24/digital-notes-pandora-revenues-grow-and-streaming-musics-global-drive/

    I don’t think Pandora is going to make it in the long term, and I don’t think Spotify is going to make a lot of musicians rich. But streaming music is a great alternative to piracy. Hell, I have an account now – if you like music, why wouldn’t you? Of course, my first account I had to get by going through a proxy and a foreign mailing address, because I live in Australia and the music industry still has this 20th century licensing model that is retarded, but like my iTunes and Amazon accounts, which are based on the false premise that I live in the USA, all software has loopholes and I’m taking advantage of those, and not to the disadvantage of the artists.

    And Fentex, there are too many constitutional problems in different countries for ISP levies to work across the board. There has to be a better way.

    Len said, in post #9: Metadata standards for legally obligating agreements on the web. I spent years, almost a decade in the 1990s/early 2000s, working on a platform for tracking rights management and entitlements (in that particular case, for eBooks, but the principles were the same). It seemed like a good idea at the time. Forget it. Nobody cares and nobody is interested in common solutions. For a start, it takes too long to get these things up – people are beavering away at alternatives while earnest geeks try to build consensus. If the history of the Intertubes over the past decade teaches us anything, it’s that you’re better off doing stuff than consulting with a thousand entities that by and large don’t like one another. Streaming media is doing whether we like it or not.

    Anyway, long story short. It’s not about the rights and wrongs – that argument is over. Even young people feel guilty. It’s about the mechanism. We need a mechanism we can all agree on. Or the Internet is going to invent it without us. As Alex said “I recognize that it’s technically, socially, legally, and ethically impossible to prevent all unauthorized copying.” Time’s a wasting. I suspect streaming media is it. So how do we get that to work best for the artists?

    The thing I feel worst about in all this is musicians, who can have their works deleted from catalogue without comeback (unlike authors), and who generally have the most to lose. That’s the number one outcome I’d like to fix in all this – fix the idiotic regime around mechanical rights for music.

    BTW, I’m pro-artist, but I’m not entirely anti-label. Mike Doughty has had a good Facebook/Twitter feed recently regarding the benefits/downsides of tour support/advances, and a good take on major labels in his recent book “The Book of Drugs”. Given his tireless efforts touring to promote his post-Soul Coughing work, he should know. Labels can be great, when they’re the right labels.

    One disagreement, which may belong in a different thread entirely – Alex said: “what constitutes property has changed far more over the centuries than what constitutes art”. While I agree with your distinction (well made) between physical and intellectual property rights, I’m going to disagree on the point of art’s constancy on two fronts: the notion of authenticity in art, which is (i) until recently (the way we construct it, at least) a western concept, not present in many other cultures, and (ii) subject to radical change at various intervals (cf Sontag, “Approaching Artaud”).

    Also, it’s worth considering that what constitutes recorded music has changed a lot since music was first being recorded – itself a relatively recent development in the evolution of Homo Sapiens.

    ps: Alex, in Post #24, you linked to something as “this” but the link doesn’t work.

  33. Rachel says:

    Also, my favourite part of the Trichordist commentary on Lowery’s post. “If you play bass we delete.”

  34. len says:

    Forget it. Nobody cares and nobody is interested in common solutions.

    As usual Rachel laments her own losing and projects that onto the world. Get over it, Rachel. All of us have had to do that at some point in our careers.

    Do you know how many projects were started and failed before we had web browsers? They weren’t being dumped into the market for free. When the Chinese do that with products, we call it unfair trade. When the spooks fund a project at a university reverse engineering those earlier projects, they call it “innovation”. The web has been a rip off from day one. Oh boo hoo.

    This situation has nothing to do with the strangely convoluted economic theories. Those who fielded the web fielded it witlessly. They didn’t care, you are right. And as long as they can convince the artists and their fans that this is inevitable, no one ever will.

    If you play bass, people start conversations during your solo. So turn it up.

  35. Rachel says:

    Hey Len, I’m not whining. I have no regrets – innovation is a process of iteration. My point is merely that your approach has been tried, and not just by me.

    But I’m a little offended by the “as usual” comment. Apologies to you if I was a little abrupt in my dismissal of your idea, but it was a long ten years and not a period I want to see anyone else waste time with.

  36. len says:

    We spent five years on IDE/AS and three on the MID. Every idea was lifted, documents and ideas were credited to the money managers. I can cite others. It’s a cruel world. As the fellow from Sematech told me, “You can spot the pioneers. Face down in the mud with arrows in their backs.”

    But the idea of metadata isn’t mine. It’s the Next Big Thing. And like many ideas, until it’s time comes (a receptive market, no technical obstacles, infrastructure in place, the Right People Get the Credit and The Money), it lays fallow. You and I were both too early. So sad but…

    So the question is what will metadata standards for copyright/patent items provide that isn’t already there? The same answers: transparency, accountability and ease of switching. While it is true that the best idea is the one you can implement today and sell tomorrow, some things have to be done to get to the next phase of the market evolution given pressures from neighboring domains.

    In this case, it won’t be the Googles that want these standards. It messes with their game. It enables easy switching. It forces them to expose the basis for monetization calls (the algorithms don’t work and I can prove it). It will happen because the content domains and public sentiment are starting to align, to overcome the technologist’s FUD, and that puts pressure on the political folks. That’s a harder hat trick than before because of Citizens United but it is still a worthy goal. So keep trying. IOW, this isn’t about innovation. It is about legal compliance with existing law.

    Two things to remember about Technology FUD:

    1. 40 miles a gallon was “impossible and nobody wants a hybrid” until the gas prices went to $4 a gallon in the US (Europeans Don’t Matter). Then they became available in less than half a decade.

    2. Agent Orange and land mines are inevitable technologies and provably work. And the markets were huge. Still are.

    Sometimes as a society we have to look back at the technologists and say, “no” but that means we have to actually care, and as you note, we often don’t. So ultimately this thread is about changing that.

    As for technologists, they have their own come uppance coming. The Microsoft Tablet exposes a market where as one fellow says, expensive software and cheap hardware won’t sustain them. Is better content a secret weapon? Possibly but only if it is bundled in the package and that’s been tried. No one seems to have the right sauce so this may be a case where it comes down to the right keiretsu. So far, Apple has the upper hand there.

  37. len says:

    Bud Frawley :@len
    I hope they have better luck with her than I did.

    To quote Burnett again, it’s about access. No money; no thrills. And if the money goes, so goes the quality. The fact that a song can be packaged as an mp3 and copied endlessly doesn’t mean it is worth copying. That is the one aspect of streaming people like: auto discovery of new bands they actually enjoy.

    But is a steaming service isn’t paying for the privilege, blow them off the air by any means necessary. Same for the upload sites.

  38. Rick Turner says:

    The quantity of available music seems to be up.

    The average quality seems to be down…

    The best music I hear is pretty under the radar…folkie stuff, various fusions of styles, indie and world music. It’s not even tracked as commercial music.

    I don’t think we’re likely to hear the likes of studio-intensive production work applied to great music for a while until the monetization thing is worked out. The Beatles could not afford to make the albums they did in the last half of their time in today’s piracy driven market. Nor Fleetwood Mac, Joni Mitchell, or any number of other bands who had multi-hundred thousand dollar budgets to make albums. That’s just gone. And Garage Band doesn’t cut it for that kind of creative stew pot.

    You can rail on and on about sticking it to the man, but the ones really getting stuck are the songwriters and artists.

    And all this bullshit about live gigging being where it’s at now comes from people who have never toured and who imagine that life on the road is one endless party. It’s not. I’ve done it under fantastic circumstances both as a player and as a tech side guy…mixing sound, moving amps, etc., and it’s an incredibly tough life, even with a decent budget. The food sucks, sleep patterns are really screwed up, the stress of trying to get from town to town on time and alive is intense, and there’s an incredible amount of boring hurry up and wait time. Family life? You don’t have one… And that’s what consumers want for their musician/artists? What a bunch of assholes the consumers have turned into…

  39. Rick Turner says:

    Also, Jon, we’ve got Frawley dropping turds in the punch bowl. Does he think he’s being provocative? I’d say obnoxious and annoyingly irrelevant. I’d vote for blocking him. Trolls need not apply…

    And I’m firmly on the side of paying for intellectual property one way or another. I do not download music I’ve not paid for. I pay Amazon for Kindle books; I buy books at book stores. I buy CD’s…and even vinyl still. And yes, I listen to radio and pay for that by listening to the ads and supporting public radio. I pay for software that I use. I don’t believe that just because something can be stolen without consequence to me as the ripper that that should make intellectual property “free”. I think that ISP’s should be paying into an ASCAP or BMI like pool of royalties for all the stuff being disseminated on the Internet, and I can’t believe that in this day and age, algorithms for reasonable distribution of royalties cannot be worked out.

  40. len says:

    @Rick Turner

    The Beatles could not afford to make the albums they did in the last half of their time in today’s piracy driven market.

    Probably fewer can, Rick. Julian Lennon is gushing about the live string sections he/producer is recording for his new album. The Burnsies are still mastering in NYC. Those weren’t z-listers on stage with the Secret Sisters concert on PBS a few weeks ago. IOW, the upper middle to middle tier is dieing. The One Percenters are still doing it. I imagine they are doing it less. In a business that has always been described as gambling, the bets are fewer, the odds are higher and the games are narrower.

    Many years ago I made a bet with the XML list members that what would happen is the old acts would be all that was left and the cost of a concert ticket would hit $200.

    I’m still not convinced the ISPs are the right bunch to squeeze or at least, the only bunch. A lot of other vendors are profiting.

  41. Rick Turner says:

    ISPs are the gate. They can charge other vendors.

    If Julian’s name were something other than Lennon, do you think he could do that? And how much $$ do you think is in his trust fund?

    I just spent an evening as a panel member at the Silicon Valley Innovation Institute June dinner. Two of the guys there had been top dogs of Apple’s music division, and one of them started it while the other had been head of the Bose pro audio department before going to Apple. The discussion was about technology and music…how they affect one another…and we could have gone on all night. One of the interesting things that came up was that, yes, you could record multi-track on inexpensive gear (like your iPad) in your bedroom, but nothing quite takes the place of a fantastic acoustic space with great mics. Uh-oh! I was with the heavy hitters, and they all agreed that the experience of playing a grand piano is nowhere matched by plunking on the best digital keyboard with the latest Bosendorfer samples.

    The state of the art of mid-fi is fantastic, but fewer people know what truly great sound is anymore. We may just be in the audio interregnum…with 24/96 becoming the new standard and 32/192 not being far away there’s a chance that true hi-fi will come back, but with MP3s and earbuds being the current standard, maybe well-recorded music is irrelevant right now.

    I listen to a system with components that were state of the art about 25 years ago…some even older, and it sounds better than 95% of what my friends listen to at home with relatively newer gear. The whole music scene has been dumbed down, and I just hope we’ve hit the lowest common denominator and that it can get better now…for consumers AND the composers and musicians.

    BTW, I was at the Strawberry Music Festival a few weeks ago, and the best act, musically and sonically…by far…was Alison Krause and Union Station. They absolutely killed it on every level. But go over to Huffington Post, and there is more bullshit noise about Katy Perry, Madonna, (or, and why the fuck…about Kim Kardashian) than about any true artist.

  42. len says:

    No doubt. Julian has talent but who doesn’t? He probably knows that. I don’t see a lot of fresh work coming from him but I don’t see a lot of fresh work these days. It took me six months on and off to score a recent choral piece using Sibelius. It will be performed maybe once. I’ll get the video, post it to Youtube and be done. What will I get? The pleasure of writing it. It’s note perfect on paper.

    nothing quite takes the place of a fantastic acoustic space with great mics.

    No d’oh. The problem is the songwriter’s demo studio became The Studio. Greater access equals lower quality until the technology comes down in cost. What T-Bone said about limiters…

    As for AK, she never quits working to get better. I think that’s all we can ask even if we are disappointed by most. The ones that don’t disappoint are the ones we love with a genuine affection. Money is owed, my friend, but love is better when it is genuine. Sorry, the inner hippie speaks. :)

  43. len says:

    From Tim Bray’s blog (freely copied and screw anyone who objects). This is the frame the technologists put around the “censorship code”. Note the Pontius Pilate effect in action that allows them to get the credit and accept none of the responsibility. THIS is what Lowery is talking about (not to put words in his mouth, but get the gist):

    From: Terence Eden (Jun 22 2012, at 08:35)

    Firstly, thanks Tim for developing this so far. I’ve been amazed at the response it has got.

    Secondly, one of the common complaints I’ve seen about this proposal is that those being censored may be compelled *not* to return this code. That’s true, of course, but in this particular case there has been a highly publicised court case and the ISPs are being quite upfront to their users about the reasons for the block. For now, I hope we can rely on such blocks being decided out in the open.

    Thirdly, I don’t think either Tim or I condone censorship – as some have suggested. Rather, I recognise that it’s an unfortunate fact of modern life. We gain nothing from pretending that it doesn’t exist, or from hiding the true cause of it.

    Many thanks for all your work on this – and to everyone who has commented around the net.

    T

  44. Fentex says:

    And Fentex, there are too many constitutional problems in different countries for ISP levies to work across the board. There has to be a better way.

    I absolutely agree, I do not support them. But I suspect they are politically possible and therefore likely.

    Although the hamfisted blunders of things like SOPA, which are less acceptable to the wider polity, only serve to set examples for how to resist such experiments.

    If I was a politician or industry rep and I thought levies might work I would stop agitating for efforts that alienate the audience I wish to exploit and begin laying the ground by making my case for levies and invite the public, who I will be trying to enlist as consumers of the result, to help design the mechanism and invest in it.

    In this post Jon talks about the public empathising with artists and hopefully beginning to form stronger opinions about seeing them compensated.

    If you want that empathy do not attack the public but seek to enlist them in forming the solution. It doesn’t matter if you’re right or wrong when you attack someone, you will in your attack create an enemy whether they were or weren’t before hand.

    ACTA and SOPA are examples of assaults on the public and when the objective is to create trade dropping bombs first isn’t welcome.

    If I believed that ISP levies were a fair (to a reasonable approximation) solution I would not fear making the case to the public and seeking feedback.

  45. Fentex says:

    ISPs are the gate. They can charge other vendors.

    Which implies the death of Net neutrality which will likely have terrible collateral damage.

    That fear alone will drive considerable resistance to the idea of levies.

  46. len says:

    If Net Neutrality dies, MegaUploadsRUs and the witlessness of the technologists who continue to conceitedly assert their right to steal for profit will have killed it.

    At some point we have to quit playing Pontius Pilate assuming we can wash our hands of this and step up to the responsibilities for fixing the problems.

    I hope the HTTP code has a positive effect because if this doesn’t work, what will follow will be quite a bit worse. Despite all the myths of the Internet being able to route around damage, it is now trivial to blow those sites off the air. It is simply a matter of the new cyberwar technologies becoming commercially available and we are likely less than two years from that becoming a fact. And when it happens, the public will cheer as the hunters become the hunted. Fear is the most manipulable of emotions.

  47. Rick Turner says:

    “Net neutrality” is a very manipulable concept that is being used to excuse bullshit piracy.

    What about “retail neutrality”…which means that anyone can enter my store regardless of race, religion, or sexual orientation…and then walk out without paying, just because they’ve got feet and the door is open.

    The very life of net neutrality has had terrible collateral damage; let’s rein it in a bit.

    The technology exists right now to “stick it to the man” in terms of bypassing the worst of the record company excesses while simultaneously giving it to the artists who create. The only reason it’s not happening yet is that the movie industry isn’t hurting hard enough yet. When they really feel the pain of PTP file sharing, you’ll see some action in Washington, and you’re not likely to like it. Better to deal with it fairly now than be stuck with draconian laws in five years…which will happen.

  48. len says:

    I think someone sticking it to the game industry may be even more motivating but yes, the movie industry may be more sensitive at this time considering that this will also put the cable business in the cross fire. I wonder what the rate of defection away from cable and to Netflix is.

  49. Rick Turner says:

    Politicians are much more likely to listen to complaints from the movie industry than from the gaming people. I’d wager that the percentage of senators and congress people who play video games is tiny…but they all watch movies. And there are no stars and celebrities to speak of in the gaming biz other than those known to hard core geeks. You don’t get a star on some boulevard for staring in a Mario Brothers game…

  50. len says:

    http://edition.cnn.com/2012/06/25/showbiz/music/record-execs-reality-tv/index.html?hpt=hp_bn8

    It appears that Reality TV is the new oasis, Rick. That Star on the sidewalk isn’t worth as much as it once was somewhat like our high school diplomas.

    Politicians listen to the money. The video gaming industry is where the software industry was in the mid 80s. They had enough money not to need DC influence. Then it all changed when there was enough money that they began to sue each other in the PatentWarz that accelerated as they went on line and had to cope with the Free Software community.

    It seems that our culture really is going to hell on all fronts.

    There is one counter piece of evidence though. I cannot count the number of times in the last six months someone started a conversation about music, the movies or life with the phrase “In Oh Brother Where Art Thou…”. It seems there is still cultural power in creating classics. It is tough to do it often but a hit is still a hit.

  51. Rick Turner says:

    Of course, the funny thing to me about the “Oh, Brother” phenomenon is that this is the music I was listening to fifty years ago…and never stopped listening to. And now it’s been discovered…

  52. len says:

    Did Jerry have an effect on you too? I have friends who wouldn’t have a clue what a banjo does without Uncle John’s Band.

    It’s the music I was raised in and tried to get away from because it was associated with the undesirable aspects of the South. So I fled to the Beatles. Context is much.

    OBWAT is not the reality of the South but it hits the highlights and we love that movie down here because it doesn’t slap us in the face and does give us something to laugh at in ourselves. T-Bone got the best performers and songs out front. Some of those songs show up in the church choir repetoire now so in one sense, he did what The Beatles did: gave the quality back to the culture that spawned it. For an LA Texan, that’s not too shabby. ;)

    Quality matters and it’s not cheap or easy.

  53. Rick Turner says:

    I did a lot of work with the Dead in the early ’70′s, and what most folks don’t quite understand is that they were just as much of a folk rock band as Led Zeppelin (yes…) or Fairport Convention. I came up contemporaneously to Jerry, so it’s not so much that he had a great musical effect on me, it’s that we came out of the same scene listening to the same music…the Harry Smith Anthology and all it’s children. We saw many of the rediscovered blues guys, we saw the greats of Bluegrass, we saw Clarence Ashley, Jean Ritchie, Son House, Hamza El Din, Muddy Waters; we got drunk with Sonnie and Brownie and smoked dope with Mississippi John Hurt. We tasted the waters of the original well…stuff you can now only get on CD or downloads or used vinyl. It’s almost the same as with my relationship with Lindsey Buckingham…who was a die-hard folkie in the beginning. And banjo? Yeah, going to see Don Stover and the Lilly Brothers at Hillbilly Heaven in Boston…”combat zone”…and waitresses who knew we were underage; and then Bill Keith joining Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys…one of our hometown boys…along with Peter Rowan (whom I helped keep out of the army…another story..) showing that the father of Bluegrass knew good musicians wherever he’d find them.

    So, the Dead? Yeah, I was a part of that whole scene, and I had a ball and did a lot of good work with them

    Oh Brother is a very sweet movie, and T-Bone did it up just right.

  54. len says:

    Finish the book, Rick. You’ve been on a ride some of us can legitimately envy. Finish the book.

    ;)

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