The Cure's Robert Smith Continues To Claim Free Doesn't Work

from the um.-but-it-does? dept

We recently pointed out the statements made by The Cure's Robert Smith, insisting that business models involving giving away music for free, such as the one used by Radiohead, couldn't work. This seemed rather odd, given that not only did it work fantastically well for Radiohead, we've been seeing it work for a lot of different bands for many years. So, to claim that it simply can't work was blatantly false and easily proven as wrong. Given that... you might think Robert Smith would recognize the fallacy of his logic, admit he was wrong and maybe learn a little. Or not...

An anonymous reader points us to Smith's blog post in response to the criticism of his statements where he digs in to repeat the original, easily proven as false, claim and calls those who disagree with him "cretins." Or, rather, "CRETINS" since he uses the CAPS LOCK button to full effect (though, appears to have a faulty space bar at times). Oddly, to get around the fact that the model did, in fact, work for Radiohead, he pretends he didn't say that it couldn't work for Radiohead (though, that's exactly what he did say), but claims he actually meant that it couldn't work for everyone else. Then he brushes off Radiohead's success by noting:
ANY FAMOUS ARTIST WITH A HUGE AND DEVOTED FAN BASE(OFTEN ARRIVED AT WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM A WEALTHY AND POWERFUL 'PATRON' ORTWO?) CAN AFFORD TO DO WHAT HE, SHE OR IT WANTS... INCLUDING GIVING THEIR ART AWAY AS SOME KIND OF 'LOSSLEADER' TO HELP 'BUILD THE BRAND'
Masnick's law, anyone? Even that statement is somewhat self-contradictory. If the band is "famous" with a "huge and devoted fan base" then... um... why do they need to "build the brand"?

And, then, of course, he falls into that old fallacy that we see way too often:
IF THIS 'ART FOR FREE' IDEA BECOMES THE CULTURAL NORM THEN HOW DO ARTISTS EARN THEIR LIVING?
It really does amaze me how people's brains seem to stop as soon as "free" enters the picture. But, once again, for you first timers, just because you give one thing away for free, it does not mean you give everything away for free, and thus you earn your living selling those other things. But, of course, apparently anyone who uses logic and understands actual business models doesn't count:
AND QUITE HONESTLY

AS ANYONE THAT DISAGREES WITH THIS POINT

IS UNLIKELY TO BE AN ARTIST

I DONT REALLY CARE TOO MUCH WHAT THEY THINK... !!!
Fair enough. But when plenty of actual artists are understanding this and making plenty of money in doing so, it seems rather silly to ignore the points they're making, doesn't it. Or... wait, is Radiohead not an artist? And, then, there's the final sign off:
I WONDER HOW MANY OF THE PROFESSIONAL APOLOGISTS OUTTHERE WRITE THEIR SHIT FOR FREE?
Well, I don't get paid anything specifically to write this blog. But I do get paid, in part thanks to giving away all this content for free. Just as Smith could get paid by embracing a business model where he gives his music away for free...


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    TPBer, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 10:41am

    $0.00

    Their music is not worth free.

     

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    some old guy, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 10:55am

    considering who he's insulting...

    Considering its his fan base he's insulting here, he will learn quickly that its best to keep your mouth shut when you don't understand what you are talking about than to risk pissing off your customers by calling them names.

    Wait, nevermind. He's an "artist". He's turned off his logical thinking process in favor of the creative side.

    He may never understand why he's in the wrong.

     

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    lars ultrarich, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 11:00am

    Who voted that Robert Smith is an "Artist"? Idiot, maybe, artist, sorry. Shame, because he really should be giving his music away, nobody seems to want to buy it.

     

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    Harknell, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 11:05am

    The point I think he wants to make...

    Is that he thinks that without a promotional machine behind you (i.e. record company selling your music) that most bands won't get known enough to be able to make money off the other elements other than music. I would think he's trying to say that the anecdotal evidence is fine, but that for hundreds and thousands of bands to make money this same way may not be viable.

    Now, I'm not saying any of this. I believe that it can work, but with a totally different way of how people approach music, which is occurring. But I can see his fear that "chaos" would ensue....and it will, but that's a good thing. But many people don't want to change, so that's why they resist things as much as possible.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 11:07am

    So when was the last time The Cure had a hit?

     

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    Shawn, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 11:09am

    "But many people don't want to change, so that's why they resist things as much as possible."

    especially when the current sytem has worked pretty well for them.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 11:16am

    "IF THIS 'ART FOR FREE' IDEA BECOMES THE CULTURAL NORM THEN HOW DO ARTISTS EARN THEIR LIVING? "

    That's not my problem, it's yours. If you manage to find a satisfactory answer to it, great for you. If not, too bad. Society does not owe you to make a living off your music.

     

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    Anonymous Poster, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 11:22am

    Re: The point I think he wants to make...

    And nobody here is saying that the same business model that worked for, say, Nine Inch Nails or Radiohead is going to work for every band out there.

    But aspects of those successful business models -- including giving music away for free -- should at least be considered and debated by an artist before being considered too damaging to their own personal model.

     

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    mobiGeek, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 11:36am

    Re: The point I think he wants to make...

    Thing is, people are approaching music differently. The question is whether the artists (and/or labels) are going to adjust to that new approach. The current strategy of suing customers and wasting resources on fighting the natural progression of economics hasn't been overly effective...

     

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  10.  
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    mobiGeek, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 11:38am

    Re:

    This point is completely irrelevant to the discussion at hand. Making inflammatory and irrelevant comments only continues the spate of non-communication going on.

     

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  11.  
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    Medbob, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 11:48am

    Perhaps another way to look at it

    The word "Free" is a very imprecise term here. In English, it conveys a number of ideas that don't necessarily follow.
    The open source folks seem to understand, by using the phrases "free as in beer" or "free as in speech". These convey a more specific definition of "free" or sometimes of "freedom". I think that there are many in our culture that confuse "price" with "value". These terms are NEVER interchangable. You can get manure for a certain price, and that price is a function of the value of the manure, the demand for this particular manure, economic conditions, and the parties that are exchanging the manure. Joe gives me some manure for my garden for "free". That means that I don't need to exchange small shiny rocks for this manure! That does not mean that the manure has no value! I get pretty roses, and my neighbor gets my undying devotion and first dibs on the dowry being accumulated for my two year old (many years hence). Let's take this manure to the radio. (Durn! That idea's already taken...) Radio provides a band exposure to a receptive (pre-selected) audience. It provides a community of fans, and buzz about new releases. All valuable commodities. It's not a "Loss Leader", it's an exchange of value. The only difference is that the currency does not resemble small shiny rocks. The currency is mind-share, attention (increasingly valuable today!), and devotion. Question: How much has Metallica's stupidity cost them? They could probably try to quantify it in numbers of shiny rocks.
    These facts are all dropped into a cultural bag and shaken handily. In day of old, when knights were bold.... Artists would give away their "ART FOR FREE" (geez..is it that hard to find the CAPS LOCK?) and derived the value of living in a warm castle. Three hots and a cot so to speak. Does that have no value? The problem, all told, are small-minded folks who arn't able to estimate the REAL value of freedom. That's OK I guess. TRex and Flock of Seagulls have outlived their usefulness as well.

     

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  12.  
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    Brian, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 11:57am

    Be careful Mike

    Mike, be careful getting Robert Smith angry... Remember what he did to Barbara Streisand on South Park.

     

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    Anonymous Poster, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 12:10pm

    Re: Re: The point I think he wants to make...

    I don't think it's been effective at all, myself.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 12:11pm

    "IF THIS 'ART FOR FREE' IDEA BECOMES THE CULTURAL NORM THEN HOW DO ARTISTS EARN THEIR LIVING?"

    Where does this idea that someone is entitled to make a living doing whatever they want come from? It's as if these 'artists' honestly believe that if all music were distributed freely, there would be no new music.

    "AN ARTIST HAS TO VALUE THE ART THEY CREATE OTHERWISE I DONT BELIEVE THEY CAN BELIEVE IT TO BE ART"

    Hmm...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selling_out

     

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    Tom Black, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 12:14pm

    The story isn't about...

    whether you like The Cure or not. It's about change. A rich old guy, be he Robert Smith or George W., isn't going to want to change. That's human nature. He's happy with how he gets paid and how much he gets paid. There's no incentive for him to put in the effort that change requires...at least not yet. Why Mr. Smith's opinion carries so much weight in this debate is beyond me.

     

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  16.  
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    E, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 12:20pm

    In defense of Robert Smith...

    He turned on cruise control for cool.

     

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  17.  
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    interval, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 12:50pm

    Re:

    Hear hear. Well said.

     

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  18.  
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    DS, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 12:53pm

    Re: The story isn't about...

    Wow, a George W. Bush comment. How utterly pointless of your. As (i'm assuming, as you specify rich old guys) a young poor woman, you seem like you can't make a point without bringing up your favorite strawman.

     

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  19.  
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    interval, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 12:54pm

    Re:

    Indeed. To add fuel, if Smith doesn't value his "art" becuase he's not getting those sweet checks from Warner Music Group (or whomever) anymore, he can just take his guitar and go home. Its pretty arrogant to dictate what's art and what isn't.

     

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  20.  
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    Michael Wells, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 12:56pm

    No free ride

    I love the communist open source folks, who are all about freedom and choice; except the freedom and choice of the artist to choose which business model he wants. The other thing I notice in comments from open source folks is their general disdain for what they call the "rich"; I choose to call them the "productive". If an artist wants to give away their music and publishing; then that is their right. However if an artist chooses the opposite model; that too is not only his right, but none of anyone else's business.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 1:07pm

    We can say whatever we want, Micheal Wells. Cry elsewhere.

     

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  22.  
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    some old guy, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 1:13pm

    Re: No free ride

    See, the thing of it is.. When customers say "I'm not paying that cause its not worth it to me" the "productive artist" cries. He claims it's the customers fault for no longer putting the same value in his content that they used to.

    Meanwhile, the world moves on, and that artist has a choice. Adapt or die. That's the only choice being given.

     

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  23.  
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    Michael Wells, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 1:22pm

    What???

    We can say whatever we want, Micheal Wells. Cry elsewhere.

    That is your response? Accusing me of crying? Could you maybe address some of the points that were made? I never said you could not say what you want; this is a free country. What I said was it is not your business how someone else decides to live their life and make their living. Grow up folks; turn off the Michael Moore/Loose Change DVDs, put away your Rage Against the Machine MP3s, you are late for your 9-11 Truth meeting comrade.

     

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  24.  
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    Toecutter, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 1:22pm

    Behold that Which is English

    It is a little strong to say that Robert Smith's music is not worth free. Robert Smith wants to get paid for his creation and came through a time in music where he got a little taste of everything sold. It is not surprising an Englishman would be afraid of change to this business model.

     

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  25.  
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    Michael Wells, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 1:29pm

    Re: No free ride by some old guy - Mar 9th, 2009 @ 1:13p

    I think we are in agreement. That is my only point. If an artist wants to sell his music that is his "right"; just as it is his right to give it away. Myself I do not mind paying for music or any other thing that I consider of worth. Of course that is "my" opinion and does not meant that I am entitled to music or something else for free. Nor does it give me the right to tell someone else how to conduct their livelihood.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 1:47pm

    Re: Re:

    I don't think that it's irrelevant to the discussion. The fact that "Teh Cure" have been around for ages and their record sales suck shows how out of touch he is with the current market and fans. Not to mention the fact that the original point is not only true, but funny. A nice combo.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 1:53pm

    Ok...it sounds like we all agree (well, maybe not 8-) ), and everyone does and is entitled to have their opinion, but we're not talking about opinions. We're talking about business models. Robert Smith can do what he wants, but if he decides to hitch his horse to an outdated business model, he's less likely to make money and certainly less likely to make as much money as he has made in the past. It has little, if anything, to do with the value of his music.

    Ranting and raving (what it appears Smith is doing) is not a likely means to make money and, as was said above, potentially alienating to those who might have been interested in trading money for his art, its derivatives, or associated products and services.

     

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  28.  
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    Overcast, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 2:00pm

    That's right - people listening to the radio for "free" never influenced any music sales.

     

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  29.  
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    Overcast, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 2:01pm

    Of course... to add.. some artists should PAY fans to listen.

     

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  30.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Mar 9th, 2009 @ 2:06pm

    The Most Useless Argument

    Even considering the failed logic of Smith, the dumbest point that one can make in this discussion, one that has been made in the comments repeatedly, and the most irrelevant to the argument at hand, is the:

    "Cure music sux anyway"
    "Is he even good enough to be called an 'artist'"
    "When was their latest hit"
    "Their music isn't worth anything anyway"

    ...branch of witticisms. If that's the best repartee you can muster, keep it to yourself and keep trying. Music is, as always, a matter of taste. If you make music, some will like it, some will hate it, and most will be indifferent.

    Arguing whether an artist's music is "good" or not is futile on a board with *that* as the discussion's purpose. On a board where the purpose is to discuss business models, your opinions of the quality of the music are entirely irrelevant, and to air them as if it matters makes one appear petty or stupid.

     

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  31.  
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    Comrade Cool, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 2:17pm

    Re: Re: No free ride by some old guy - Mar 9th, 2009 @ 1:13p

    Yes, we all have rights, and yes it is possible for two intelligent people to differ greatly on a particular issue (like Democrats and Republicans, for instance). How does that have any bearing on this particular issue. This discussion seems to be headed in the direction of the viability of the music industry and how they decided to attempt to make money, either by complaining about advents in technology, or adapting and thriving.

    It seems to me that the artists and execs have a simple choice.

    1. Point at the iceberg in front of them, scream "That iceberg isn't fair", and then sink to the botom of the ocean, or
    2. Throw a lasso around the iceberg, haul it back to the nation of Musicland, and claim the land as their own, thereby making money off of it.

    I don't know enough about the industry to detail how they can/should accomplish this, nor should I have to. These people are atop their industry ostensibly because they have a modicum of intelligence. If they focused on innovating and lassoing the iceberg, they would.

     

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  32.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), Mar 9th, 2009 @ 2:19pm

    Re: No free ride

    but none of anyone else's business

    And in the case of Robert Smith, this can be taken quite literally.

     

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  33.  
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    Mike (profile), Mar 9th, 2009 @ 2:23pm

    Re: No free ride

    I love the communist open source folks,

    First of all, not a communist. I'm curious how is it "communist" to suggest that the free market should decide the business model, not a gov't backed monopoly system?

    except the freedom and choice of the artist to choose which business model he wants.

    Everyone has the freedom to choose their business model, but they don't get to choose which business model works. The market does that. We've never said otherwise, so I'm not sure why you suggest we have. All we're saying is that Smith is wrong. First he's wrong about free not working -- it does, clearly. Second, he's wrong about insisting that people always will pay for his music.

    The other thing I notice in comments from open source folks is their general disdain for what they call the "rich";

    I have no such disdain. But I think what you're referring to are perhaps comments from others who have disdain not for the rich -- but for the rich who whine about how the market no longer supports the old business model they used to use.

    However if an artist chooses the opposite model; that too is not only his right, but none of anyone else's business.

    Actually, it is very much the market's business. And we are quite free to tell him that he's making a mistake.

    Or did we do away with free speech in your fantasy world as well?

     

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  34.  
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    RJF, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 2:28pm

    Really?

    I am also a musician (not famous), and I have struggled to make that dollar in "the biz". The free-music model is an outstanding tool. I have had major successes in giving away my original works, and I have not ever lost so much that I would spout forth such a tirade. Oh, sorry, ... SPOUT FORTH SUCH A TIRADE.

     

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  35.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Mar 9th, 2009 @ 3:22pm

    Re: No free ride

    RE #20,

    Michael,

    You seem unsatisfied with the responses to your comment thus far, in that they didn't argue your points. So here goes:

    Sure, Smith is free to choose the business model he wants, but here are three reasons Techdirt derides him:

    1) His machinations seem out of touch, alienate his fans, and his potential market. That's not good for business. Techdirt has referred repeatedly to bands that lost market value lost in 'good will' with such rants, like Metallica.

    2) No matter what the freedom-wielding artist chooses as his business model, if that choice is wrong, or against economic principles, he will probably fail. Sure, he is free to choose to charge, and ignore "free", but if he were better at math, he would see that free is just a number. If he were better at econ, he would see that free IS the marginal cost of production and thus the price in a competitive market. If he were better at business, he would see that there are plentiful, profitable models that can earn him a living off his old, prior work...if he is just willing to adapt now, and do a little "creative" thinking. Is he an "artist" but not creative enough to adapt? BTW, Techdirt is as much advising him on his best strategy as we are chiding him on his silly remarks. He has the right to fail to adapt, but we're telling him what the best move is for him. We're not a bunch of kids who want free music here, we're business experts offering insightful advice on running a business in the current century.

    3) Free as he is to choose his business model, if he chooses one which locks down his music with DRM, and charges a high rate for his songs, he will largely fail. He will fail, because of the unstoppable reality that the music WILL be unlocked, it WILL be copied, and it WILL be available to anyone at the price of free. The question is: does Smith want to be the one to offer that valuable music at the market rate ($0), or does he want to let someone else do it? If he offers it, he can tie it into some scarce goods for which he can charge through promotions, placement, and buzz. If he doesn't offer it, he is out of the loop. And BTW, the limewire kids and pirates will happily take advantage of the economic fact that I stressed above, MC=0. By recognizing that fact, they can out "compete" any model Smith proposes that doesn't also recognize it.

    Smith CAN compete with free. He can even do it using 80's music. But he can't do it by using 1980s thinking.

    Mr. Wells, you also cite "general disdain for the rich", whom you call "productive" in the comments. That's hardly a debate I want to get into here, and probably one in which we agree more than not. However, the comments I read on that issue seem more to suggest, "In times when change is needed, if you have an older, very successful man at the latter stages of his productive career, who has made his wealth within a certain system -- just what incentive does that man have to change the system?" I don't see the un-warranted disdain. Just the recognition that these wealthy gents should not be expected to be the engines of change, but rather the barriers to it. And that stands whether the proposed change is for the net social better, or not. Jeez. Go to any contest and ask the winners if they think the rules should be changed.

     

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  36.  
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    Michael Wells, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 3:46pm

    Lonely man on the side of copyright

    I will not be arrogant enough to think that I know exactly what is pissing off Robert Smith. My guess is he is much like Lars Ulrich was who shut down Napster; he got tired of his music being STOLEN. Yes Metallica took a hit; yet Death Magnetic is platinum and they will still sell out arenas. I am not here to argue which business model is best. Although I do not see where a band could get the money to even start a tour without records sales or record company support. Sure it can be done, I get it. Music is not different than any other product or commodity, people that are producers are not going to produce for very long if people are taking advantage of the system. I agree the market is changing, I personally think the labels should sell their music via downloads. But the key is to SELL their music. Robert Smith does not have to work a day in his life if he does not want to; so to insinuate that he is mad because the Cure are not doing well is nonsense. The Cure is doing about as well as most musical acts that are not hip-hop. They still release albums that sell several hundred thousand copies and still tour well. The Cure was never a huge commercial band to begin with; they were one of the first "alternative" bands from the 80s. As far as wealthy musicians being the barrier to change; it is their music and their right. They are not a barrier to Radiohead doing whatever they want to. They are a barrier to getting their own music stolen.

     

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  37.  
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    Grae, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 3:53pm

    Re: Re: The story isn't about...

    Wow, an obtuse person who can't read between the lines.

    Using the term "rich old guy" or naming the last U.S. Pres probably wasn't the best idea to get his point across, but that doesn't mean you're awarded a "get out of using my reading comprehension skills free" card.

    But just in case you're still a little fuzzy on it I'll spell it out for you: the many (but not all) established players in the industry don't want the rules of the game to change because it will mean they'll actually have to put an effort into making a living again. This is why Rob Smith is so up in arms about the idea of using music as a free promotional product for other business models, because it means that he'll actually have to WORK again.

     

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  38.  
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    Col, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 4:37pm

    Free is only a threat to the establishment

    I know, I know, you know that already. But consider a case in point: there is a band, of whom you have never heard. I first heard of them through a podcast showcasing local unsigned bands, and I was impressed. I enjoyed what I heard so much I went looking, and found that the track featured was, as yet, unreleased. What was available, however, was the result of the band's early studio sessions (the studio use for which, they had either paid for themselves or had had donated by friends and admirers, I forget which). So, at a cost of ~£10 for two sessions worth of music - which was studio standard, but which the band were not ready to release commercially - I bought what they had released. And I was even more impressed. So then I looked for their live gigs and attended a few (which, admittedly, is far easier here in the UK than in somewhere as expansive as the States, because we're really quite small), and I was further impressed. I found that they had a presence on MySpace (I don't, but that's beside the point) where they would give away their most recent recordings of tracks which had not been heard before. This also impressed me.

    The upshot of all of this is that in the 2 years between me listening to a podcast featuring a band of whom I had never heard and this band releasing their first studio album I spent approx £100, which is a pittance. But on the otherhand I am now very likely to be a fan for life, on the elitist grounds that "I saw them play in a pub, before they were famous." And I'm not alone - in the card inset of the album, there is a list of several hundred people who donated - not bought, donated - to the production of the album. That kind of grassroots involvement is inspirational.

    My point, finally(!), is that giving away what you produce for nothing is only acceptable to those who won't lose by it. For people like Mr the Cure - who have become so dependent on being paid simply for being who and what they are - free is of course a threat, as implies that those giving away their product have nothing to lose thereby because their business model allows for a product with no direct revenue, and is therefor better situated to take advantages of the space around the incumbent's business. Which in the climate the recording industry would try to convince us is "natural" is the space into which the current crop of artists must expand.

    This has turned into a rant. I'll close with an advert (not paid for, but if you want to know the band I'm talking about (the podcast, sadly, ended)): it was Amplifico - "The Comedy Stops Here" was the genesis of this post.

     

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    Easily Amused, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 4:47pm

    I think he just ran out of things to be emo about, and decided to launch a plainly illogical attack on the world, so he could enjoy getting beaten up and called names on the internet. He will then use the resulting depression to fuel his creative process for the next album.

     

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  40.  
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    Kurt Zschietzschmann, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 8:06pm

    Full o' Beans!

    This guy by all appearances is full of beans. Radiohead from what I can tell never offered their music for free. They made it available for a price that the user is at liberty to determine. There’s a difference. Also he never mentions that Radiohead only offered that for a limited time, which implies that they did it at least in part for novelty, publicity, and/or experimentation. If it’s true that it greatly diminishes the relevancy of using them as an example of how the business model would work on a broad scale.

    Also, he’s stuck on himself…”Masnick’s Law”—seriously, dude, you’re a blogger. Get over yourself.

    Shit he doesn’t even apply his own law correctly! Masnick defines Masnick’s Law as someone who asserts that success of a band on a small scale could not work on a large scale and at the same time asserts that success on a large scale couldn’t work on a small scale. The point in the blog he’s trying to apply to it is in reference to a big band that can afford to take some expensive promotional liberties because they’re well-funded. That’s something different entirely.

    The notion that bands and production companies could profit as much or more than in the traditional business model of selling the right to own a copy of music is at best hopeful. What else would they make their money on? If you’d own a copy of a track, it’s not like they’ll make any ad revenue. The only thing left in which to make up the difference is t-shirts, concert sales and other band paraphernalia. Personally, I don’t see myself buying a new shirt or some other band-related good that produces as much profit for the artist & management company for every album I “adopt”.

    This would be nice, but I don’t think it would work.

     

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  41.  
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    mobiGeek, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 8:31pm

    Re: Lonely man on the side of copyright

    First, it is copyright infringement and not theft. Theft involves denying the owner of the stolen item, and with digital copies this is not the case AT ALL.

    Second, no artist ever starts off doing tours because of record sales. They start off as with most professions: start small and work their way up. Typically musicians start off touring, doing small live gigs. When they have enough experience and exposure, they create a demo tape and dog-n-pony it around.

    To think that recorded music sales is the end-all and be-all of musicians is to COMPLETELY misunderstand what the majority of the music industry is about. The overwhelming majority of musicians make very little from what deals they have with recording labels. They make their money from live gigs and other revenue streams that are increased specifically because of the promotion done by the record labels.

    If that promotion was instead done by the internet and the FREE distribution of their recorded music (instead of the pittance the labels provide them), that would be an investment well spent, would you not agree?

     

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  42.  
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    Nick (profile), Mar 9th, 2009 @ 10:59pm

    I am a huge fan of NIN and Radiohead, AND their new business models/Techdirt philosophy, AND The Cure. So, sorry Robert, I need to disagree with you.

    I think some artists are too close to their art to properly value it. This is why they have business managers. Taking a chance and being innovative is rare, so we really should not be surprise that most artists who made their name in the music business in the last 50 years are not going readily accept the changes necessary to survive.

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2009 @ 12:33am

    ADDED CURE TO MY LONG LIST OF ASSHOLE MUSICIANS THAT DONT UNDERSTAND THEIR OWN CUSTOMERS, OR IN THIS CASE, PAST CUSTOMER.

    DUMB ASS! Nice going

    Not 1 cent!

     

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  44.  
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    Azrael, Mar 10th, 2009 @ 1:15am

    Re: $0.00

    Actually i think he doesn't enough money to pay me to listen to their crap.

     

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  45.  
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    Azrael, Mar 10th, 2009 @ 1:18am

    Re: Far better

    Who the fuck is The Cure ?

     

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  46.  
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    Azrael, Mar 10th, 2009 @ 1:28am

    Re: What???

    Yet strangely the stock market goes the other way.

     

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  47.  
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    Azrael, Mar 10th, 2009 @ 1:33am

    Re: The Most Useless Argument

    "your opinions of the quality of the music are entirely irrelevant, and to air them as if it matters makes one appear petty or stupid"

    No, simply because usually the opinion about someones music is a reflection of our opinion about him as a person.

     

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  48.  
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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Mar 10th, 2009 @ 2:02am

    Re: Who the fuck is The Cure ?

     

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  49.  
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    How Does It Feel, Mar 10th, 2009 @ 6:00am

    Re: Re: No free ride

    Mike, by bringing up your compensation model for the blog, you have opened the door to how you get compensated for this blog and YOUR livelihood. So tell us, how do you make a living? What do you get paid for exactly? It is time we get to see if your business model makes sense. And yes, you are a public figure now, so you should reveal your model. OK, you don't have to reveal exact numbers. But the model Mike. Let's have it. Or are you afraid someone might be able to figure out a way to use it for free?

     

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  50.  
    identicon
    DanC, Mar 10th, 2009 @ 8:01am

    Re: Re: Re: No free ride

    It is time we get to see if your business model makes sense. And yes, you are a public figure now, so you should reveal your model. OK, you don't have to reveal exact numbers. But the model Mike. Let's have it. Or are you afraid someone might be able to figure out a way to use it for free?

    Um...the "big secret Techdirt business model" is advertised right on the site, and at the Insight Community page. Maybe try researching a little before posting ignorant comments.

     

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  51.  
    identicon
    CastorTroy-Libertarian, Mar 10th, 2009 @ 10:07am

    Re: Perhaps another way to look at it

    Best comment in a long time, well done sir!

     

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  52.  
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    Philip, Mar 10th, 2009 @ 1:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: The story isn't about...

    This is why Rob Smith is so up in arms about the idea of using music as a free promotional product for other business models, because it means that he'll actually have to WORK again.

    We're talking about the same Robert Smith that plays four hour long sets, with half hour long encores, right? He does it continuously while touring. The man has been touring non-stop since the band was born.

    I don't mind that people can disagree with his stance. I think he's a bit off, too, since he basically forced iTunes to give some songs away for free over a mix-up a while back. But to say they haven't had any hits lately, or never been good, or even that he doesn't "WORK" is a bit off the deep end. They have been releasing new albums like clockwork, and are STILL breaking the top 10 charts both here in the USA and in Europe. His talents can stand on his own, even if his ideas over other things may be suspect.

     

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  53.  
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    roymond, Mar 10th, 2009 @ 7:28pm

    Re: Re: Lonely man on the side of copyright

    Theft means taking something from someone without their permission. It does not imply denying the owner of the stolen item. A basic understanding of copyright law makes it clear that copying music is theft. You don't have to agree with those laws but it doesn't change them.

    Your favorite artists have made a decision about how you should get their music. If they decide to distribute it via a label, as a CD, etc. then as a fan you owe it to them to respect that. If you can't, then there are thousands of hungry artists out there that will appreciate a PayPal donation for their art, and thousands of others who are happy to give theirs to you for free.

     

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  54.  
    identicon
    Jason, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 8:04am

    I see where he's coming from...

    I see where the guy's coming from. A lot of musicians take their art seriously and want to keep their "merchandising" to a minimum. More music, less commerce. Some of these Music 2.0 solutions, like the tiered buying options, are really just crass commercialism. Getting paid for a show or a recording is one thing, but getting paid for t-shirts, stickers, posters, $300 box sets, subscription fan clubs, koozies, and underwear, and you start to feel like you're just Wal-Mart. A lot of musicians would like to keep their integrity while trying to make a living. It's obviously a tough line to walk, and even more tough these days. Seems like a lot of these business and tech sites that discuss music miss this point. It would be great to see some focus on this, and more advice that's not just "how to sell more goofy products while giving your music away for free."

     

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  55.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Mar 16th, 2009 @ 8:29am

    Re: Re: Re: No free ride

    Mike, by bringing up your compensation model for the blog, you have opened the door to how you get compensated for this blog and YOUR livelihood. So tell us, how do you make a living?

    As Dan pointed out, our model is quite clear. You can read about it at http://www.floor64.com or http://www.insightcommunity.com. There's no secret. We've revealed it! Hell, I wish we could reveal it MORE because sometimes I feel too many people have no clue how to give us money. :)

     

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  56.  
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    Mike (profile), Mar 16th, 2009 @ 8:33am

    Re: I see where he's coming from...

    I see where the guy's coming from. A lot of musicians take their art seriously and want to keep their "merchandising" to a minimum.

    Now that is a novel argument. The guy is complaining about music being free and wanting to charge... and HE'S the one not wanting to be crassly commercial?

    I don't buy it.

    Some of these Music 2.0 solutions, like the tiered buying options, are really just crass commercialism.

    Really? Look at how fans have reacted to those offerings from other artists. It's the opposite of crass commercialism. It makes fans feels much closer to the band in a way that makes everyone comfortable.

    Crass commercialism is putting a huge tollbooth between you and the music.

     

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  57.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2009 @ 7:02pm

    *facepalm*
    Gosh, where was his producer when he wrote that crap?

     

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  58.  
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    Jim Bailey, May 13th, 2009 @ 9:09am

    Re: The story isn't about...

    Of course Robert Smith doesn't want the model to change. He (and he alone) slogged it out for 10 years before achieving major success in the largest record-selling market in the world (Unites States). The Cure sells very respectable numbers of records worldwide, and I am sure that Mr. Smith would like this trend to continue.

    Once a recording artist has royalty streams stabilized (The Cure has long sold enough records to receive regular royalties from their record companies), that recording artist of course wants that stream to stay flowing. Can you honestly blame him?

    As a royalty-receiving recording artist, I have to say I agree with Mr. Smith to a point. I enjoy getting my BMI checks quarterly and my (minimal) royalty accounting on sales every six months. Art is great for the sake of it, but commerce is important as well.

    After all, don't you enjoy being paid for your work?

     

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  59.  
    identicon
    Bill Bird, Jul 20th, 2009 @ 3:50am

    Please people, ask yourselves:
    Who should I trust here? Robert Smith with his EXPERIENCE and personal knowledge of the music industry...or would you prefer to trust Mr.Masnick? The spectator, the blogger, the guy who sits safely on the sidelines and speculates about what artists should do. PLEASE, do not read into this shit. It's sickening that people are actually reading this stuff and accepting it as some kind of 'authority'.

    Speculation and guess work. That's all folks.

     

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  60.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2010 @ 11:03pm

    Music does have value and should be paid for. Yes it is true that Radiohead made money on an album that they gave away for a short period of time. What's sort of interesting and apparently missed by everyone on this website is that Radiohead was initially considered to be a "one hit wonder." They didn't really become a more established rock act until later. A lot of this was due to initial monetary and artistic investment in the Radiohead from their record label. In the 80s for instance many bands where given time to develop into becoming successful artists.

    We are social beings and are influenced by what is played on the radio. Unfortunately most radio is controlled by a company called Radio One. In the past their where many more owners of radio stations all over the country. This created a lot more opportunity for independent play of music that might otherwise never had been played on the airwaves. As a result of many of these various factors their was a lot more creative music put out during this time.

    This is the dark ages of music in a lot of ways. Most of the artists now quite honestly aren't very good and are producing cookie cutter crap that won't be listened to in a years time much less decades from now. If you listen to a good album from The Cure, (I agree that their latest work isn't very good) you'll be amazed at how well written and well recorded they are. Check out, Starring at the Sea (Singles collection) and my personal favorite album, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me.

    I'll stop typing for now. There's more I could say on the subject but don't feel like typing anymore!

    bcgood

     

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  61.  
    identicon
    Dane, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 6:43am

    Uh, why are people saying the model has worked for Radiohead and NIN, when those bands were already huge? That's a fucking given.


    How the hell does that mean a free system works?

    Can you flat out say, a new upstart musician, can give away his music for free, and still have the money required to hire equipment and studio time and play and record music? You obviously aren't familiar with the way it works. People don't want free music, because then they think of it, as free music. They'd much rather steal it so they think they have something of value.

    The fuck is wrong with you. Trent Reznor and Thom Yorke are fine to give away shit for free. They get enough money from apple marketing and global warming alarmist bullshit. Oh and they're pumped out music.

    Robert merely stated, that a free music model, won't work, for anyone who hasn't got the money to do so already. It's as plain and simple as that. All this politically correct bullshit about the words he didn't mention. Please, he was talking about Radiohead, they're a big band. It has nothing to do with Roberts personal music or business models.

    I think you'll find that Mr Smith himself is quite opposed to the tyrannical system of governing powers we have in place. He's not some corporate machine thing.


    Also, the idiot comments like "how can he expect to be paid for making music what a douche"

    Honestly, you go paint a picture, spend time on it, pour energy into it. Then let some guy steal it. I'm sure you'd be fine with it, wouldn't you.

     

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  62.  
    identicon
    austin whiteside, Mar 21st, 2010 @ 9:31am

    robert smith free music

    I think the man has a fair point, it dosnt matter wether u sell an actual physical product, u have to make money off your art to contiue making, to give your music away for free dosnt make you any better than selling it because it will be whored out one way or another to make cash for you (or someone else) I think what mr smith disagrees with is the future expectation that all music will be free (but not free from big business)
    Its all about the choice but the market trend is set by the leeders.

     

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  63.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2012 @ 11:13am

    the cure are the fucking best!!!

    who ever insults Robert Smith are clearly dumb fucks who dont have a clue on what they are talking about! How many artists do hear being called "A god-like genius"? fucking NONE!!!

     

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  64.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2012 @ 11:16am

    Re:

    sorry, but do you know of any artists that have been called a "God-like genius" like Robert Smith? fucking dont think so!!!

     

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  65.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2012 @ 11:19am

    Re:

    a long time ago, but at least they had about, let me think...hundreds!!!

     

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  66.  
    identicon
    Smiths Unicorn Love, Jul 1st, 2012 @ 10:41pm

    Free goose choops

    Touch my goose chops please good sir

     

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  67.  
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    kane, Sep 1st, 2012 @ 8:39am

    wrong

    This is easily the most ridiculous peice of writing i have ever seen, it does not work for a everyday artist trying to make a living to give music away, its abit different when a band like radiohead do it. I cant even be bothered to explain to you why, as you clearly are a mong to even write this, plave dont ever write anything ever again thank you

     

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