Popular Band Claims Music Is Better Because Of Piracy

from the helping-to-define-a-sound dept

We just wrote about the Harvard economists who noted that, despite claims that file sharing would decrease the incentive to create content, more music than ever before is being made, and the trends keep going up. That report did note that it couldn't necessarily judge quality, but was simply focused on quantity. However, according to at least one well known band, unauthorized file sharing is absolutely improving the quality of music -- especially the band's own music. This is according to the lead singer of the Fleet Foxes, Robin Pecknold. He points out that his own musical tastes were heavily influenced by what he could download online, and that wide variety of influences has made him a much better musician:
"As much music as musicians can hear, that will only make music richer as an artform.... I think we're seeing that now with tons of new bands that are amazing, and are doing way better music now than was being made pre-Napster."
Now, obviously, this is anecdotal and a single data point -- but the critics (and fans) sure do seem to like the Fleet Foxes' music. Its debut album was named "Best of 2008" by Billboard, The Times, Mojo, Pitchfork and Uncut and hit number 3 on the UK charts (not sure about the US). And, of course, not surprisingly, Pecknold is fine if you want to download his album:
"I've downloaded hundreds and hundreds of records - why would I care if somebody downloads ours? That's such a petty thing to care about."


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    hegemon13, Jun 18th, 2009 @ 11:01am

    Awesome

    This is such great news. Fleet Foxes is, hands down, my favorite new band of the last ten years. I have listened to the CD time after time. I'll sometimes play it in a loop in my car for several days before I finally decide to switch discs. It's good to know that such great musicians have such a great attitude.

    And here's an interesting story about how that can be rewarding. I first heard Fleet Foxes when they performed on David Letterman. I said to myself, "I MUST hear more of this band." So I went downstairs and downloaded the album from a torrent. After listening to the CD for several weeks, I bought the album. Then, for my dad's birthday, I bought him a copy, and he loves it, too.

    So, because the torrent was available, I was able to download the album immediately. Had I not done so, I likely would have forgotten all about the Letterman episode. Because I downloaded the album, I have now purchased TWO copies of it, introduced the music to a new fan, and have become an avid fan myself. Keep it coming Mr. Pecknold. You guys are phenomenal.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2009 @ 11:35am

    "I've downloaded hundreds and hundreds of records - why would I care if somebody downloads ours? That's such a petty thing to care about."

    I'm stealing your music, so steal mine.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2009 @ 11:45am

    I just wish that
    "I've downloaded hundreds and hundreds of records - why would I care if somebody downloads ours? That's such a petty thing to care about."

    read
    "I've downloaded hundreds and hundreds of records - I would care if somebody downloads didn't ours? That's something to care about."

     

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  4.  
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    Eponymous Coward, AKA Doug (profile), Jun 18th, 2009 @ 11:54am

    Re:

    Yeah, because your version is so easy to understand...

    I can't even decode it well enough to know if I agree with you or not. Bettter luck next time.

     

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  5.  
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    barren waste, Jun 18th, 2009 @ 12:00pm

    First of all, maybe it's just me, but #3 made no sense.

    Second, # 2, with all the idiosyncracies of piracy laws, there is no doubt that 99 percent of the world is now guilty in some way. The gray area is so huge here that entire solar systems have been known to vanish into it. Howcome it's ok to make copies of music I hear on the radio, but not ok for music on the internet? Howcome I can't give away my old cds? I'm a Pirate, so are you. I bet you speed and jaywalk as well. Maybe you should refrain from pretentious posts and morall anecdotes untill you have gone a year without breaking any laws.

     

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  6.  
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    Steve, Jun 18th, 2009 @ 12:05pm

    Re:

    Or.. it wasn't stealing when I downloaded hundreds of records so why would I consider it stealing if someone downloads mine.

     

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  7.  
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    chris (profile), Jun 18th, 2009 @ 12:14pm

    Re:

    I'm stealing your music, so steal mine.

    hell yeah. that's how the post intellectual property world works: it's ok if your stuff gets stolen, because you can just steal it back, along with everything else that belongs to your competitors.

    your book gets made into a movie? fine, make your own movie from someone else's book. or write a new book that is a sequel to the movie. your song get sampled/remixed? make a hundred covers of other people's songs.

    you can save a ton on research and development and legal protectionism, by just making marginal improvements on what's already out there. you can take small risks (selling marginally improved goods) and get small rewards, or you can take a big risk (invest in the development of something completely new) and get a big reward by having a jump on your competition. that advantage won't last though, cuz someone's gonna steal your idea.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2009 @ 12:20pm

    I have never heard of these guys, but I'm intrigued now. What kind of music are they? Similar to any other bands that I might know?

     

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  9.  
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    stat_insig (profile), Jun 18th, 2009 @ 12:32pm

    You forgot the second part of the statement!

    "I mean, how much money does one person need? I think it's disgusting when people complain about that, personally."

    Bunch of hippies if you ask me ;)

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2009 @ 12:34pm

    Re:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrQRS40OKNE

    you decide! cross between iron&wine, animal collective and vampire weekend i'd say

     

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  11.  
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    stinson (profile), Jun 18th, 2009 @ 12:36pm

    fantastic story

    regardless of the fact that this is a personal anecdote, it represents a significant group of fans/music makers/indie organizations who prefer this new way of organically sharing and discovering music. it may not be based in any kind of hard data, but it pays tribute the the first person account for how people feel when they interact around music in this way, and completely validates the legitimacy of this organic approach.

    hegemon13, thanks for your personal anecdote, as well. it's important to understand how the market of music fans has become more intricate in the multitude of ways that we prefer to obtain music. there are a lot more choices available, and to simply diminish it down to the status quo of what it's been in decades past, would keep us from working to understand more about ourselves as music enthusiasts sharing ideas in a changed establishment.

    genuine inspiration with this story.

     

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  12.  
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    chris (profile), Jun 18th, 2009 @ 12:46pm

    Re:

    based on two youtube videos i watched, they sound like stuff my parents listened to in the 70's, or the music from that really old hobbit cartoon.

     

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  13.  
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    Fsm, Jun 18th, 2009 @ 12:53pm

    Folk

    I don't think ANYONE cares if you download folk music like this. At least it sounds like folk music...

    Damn hippies.

     

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  14.  
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    Ray, Jun 18th, 2009 @ 1:42pm

    Potential new band for me

    Good work!

    I'm on my way to listen to some Fleet Foxes music on my premium Napster account. If I like what I hear, then I will purchase a few songs.

     

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  15.  
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    BobinBaltimore (profile), Jun 18th, 2009 @ 3:00pm

    Scale and Sustainability

    As Mike wrote: "anecdotal and a single data point." I agree that it's great that Hegemon13 and probably some others pay after the fact. But will this be a sustainable model for even just this one band over some longer term (1 year, 5 years)? And will it scale to an entire global industry? There are plenty of one-off examples of the success of this or similar approach. And that are as many or more examples of failure, especially when looked at over time, beyond just the single newsworthy event. But what never gets answered is how this will scale and how this will create a self-sustaining economy that provides not only subsistence to members of that economy, but true economic success and independence. The whole notion that in the new paradigm "a lot of people make *some* money" doesn't really sound like a thriving economic vehicle.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2009 @ 3:17pm

    That's such a petty thing to care about."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    barrenwaste (profile), Jun 18th, 2009 @ 3:33pm

    Re: Scale and Sustainability

    A lot of people making *some* money is vastly preferable to a few people making most of the money. In fact, the only situation I can see where it wouldn't be preferable is if the other option is a lot of people making a lot of money. Of course that option is not going to happen, so I'll go with the a lot of people making some option.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2009 @ 4:19pm

    I hope all the people complaining about stealing mp3s spend a lot of money on music, because a lot of the people I know who download mp3s ALSO spend a large portion of their disposable income on music.

    A lot of music enthusiasts like supporting artists. And they like listening to a lot of new music. Often they purchase music that they first downloaded illegally. And often, they would not have spent money on the album, if they didn't know it was worth the money.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2009 @ 4:36pm

    Re:

    "I hope all the people complaining about stealing mp3s spend a lot of money on music, because a lot of the people I know who download mp3s ALSO spend a large portion of their disposable income on music."

    Not supported by facts (including the Canadian study that Mike likes to point to).

    Recent downloaders were no more and no less likely to buy then the average net user, and considering they are music collectors and often the most rabid of fans, this is a clear indication that they are spending well below what a "fan" might normally spend.

    There is no study showing MP3 downloaders as more frequent buyers, that is a mis-interpretation of data that Mike loves to work with.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2009 @ 4:39pm

    One other thing I notice - the vast majority of the music I see actively given away for free truly sucks. Fleet Foxes appears to be mostly whiny depressing 70s folk music, truly horrible stuff that mostly wouldn't make it out of a garage normally.

    What's the deal?

     

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  21.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jun 18th, 2009 @ 4:44pm

    For frak's sake

    Yes, of course. Because that's how it works! That's how it worked BEFORE copyright, and that's how it works now DESPITE copyright. What part of that equation does anyone not understand?

     

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  22.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 18th, 2009 @ 6:29pm

    Re: Scale and Sustainability

    But will this be a sustainable model for even just this one band over some longer term (1 year, 5 years)?

    Wait... you're confusing two separate things. This band didn't set up a specific business model. So there's no question of scale. They're just talking about how they've benefited from file sharing and how it's improved their quality.

    That scales easily.

    But if we're discussing business models, that's a different question... but one that also scales tremendously well. You should take a look at some of the economic research on this stuff, and it's hard to see how this doesn't scale well. It scales fantastically well because you're increasing efficiency in the marketplace?

    Why wouldn't that scale?

    ut what never gets answered is how this will scale and how this will create a self-sustaining economy that provides not only subsistence to members of that economy, but true economic success and independence.

    What do you mean that never gets answered?!? Honestly. More people are MAKING MORE MONEY from music than EVER BEFORE in history. How is that not scaling?

    It's scaling because EVERYTHING IS CHEAPER. Distribution, promotion, sales. How can you claim that wouldn't scale?

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2009 @ 7:18pm

    "He points out that his own musical tastes were heavily influenced by what he could download online, and that wide variety of influences has made him a much better musician"

    He's admitted to copyright infringement of the tunes and melodies of other artists. I vote that we boycott this artist and demand the music labels and RIAA sue him for infringement.

    Yes, that was sarcasm. But the Metal Gear Solid theme song controversy springs to mind.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
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    BobinBaltimore (profile), Jun 19th, 2009 @ 6:26am

    Re: Re: Scale and Sustainability

    Mike, the question isn't "why WOULDN'T that scale" it's "why HASN'T it scaled?" You regularly make comments intimating that this stuff is so damn obvious...yet it is not obvious enough to actually have been successful on any scale over any length of time. I contend that many aspects of your various business models (really statements about pieces and fractions of what might be one day woven into an actual holistic business models) go against demonstrated human nature...pride in what one creates, a desire to use one's works to get ahead financially, etc. The number of counter-intuitive assumptions that play in here is head-spinning.

    The major piece that is regularly ignored is that COMPENSATION and RECOGNITION are primary motivators for creation. If content in the global economy were ever to reach the "infinite goods" state that TechDirt followers talk about, and if everyone were actually to be able to claim any work as their own simply because it has entered their mind and been somehow transformed, therefore, into their own individualized product as many of the philospher-kings have argued on these very boards, then not only do content creators cease to make any kind of reliable income from their works, but it becomes more and more difficult to actually figure out who created what in the first instance, thus eliminating both MAJOR motivators for content creation: compensation and recognition.

    Some will argue that "real artist" will always keep on creating for the love of it, maaaaaaaaaaan. And that's true. They do today, as well, so it is a completely superfluous point that holds constant regardless of model.

    The bottom line question is the right for a creator (artists, engineers, programmers, etc) to OWN what they create. TechDirt increasingly seems to be saying "no," much of the rest of the world says, "YES!"

    And finally, your comment "More people are MAKING MORE MONEY from music than EVER BEFORE in history. How is that not scaling?" This is a very interesting statement to make. Firstly, I would correct that to a more accurate "possibly a few more people are making SOME money from music than ever before." I assume you're talking about artists only, since there are surely a whole lotta people involved in production, distribution and bricks-and-mortar sales of music who are starting to see their numbers and income dwindle lately. Any fair view of this MUST include the whole industry, not just the artists. Secondly, this very statement contradicts your breathless claims day after day that every little and big legal content rights protection is hampering or stifling content production and creativity. I AGREE with you, Mike, that over the last 100 years - with ever increasing copyright and IP protections - there has been an EXPLOSION in human creativity, content and idea creation and distribution. Totally agree. So tell us again what all the badness and stifling is that you're seeing?

    To reiterate my stance for anyone about to flame, I do think copyright and IP needs to be reforms, nipped and tucked, re-balanced. But not because of all this infinite goods, collectivist ownership of not only ideas but actual unique content, and blathering of fractional economic and business thoughts while constantly insisting that the are "models." Reform is needed in order to clarify and make more reasonable for the consumer what they can and cannot do, incorporate new and different means of distribution, and rethink the length of protections, adopting something more akin to a patent length than multiple lifetimes. That said, Mike, I agree with you: creativity and distribution of content is exploding and it's great. More artists than ever have the opportunity to use the rights to works that they have created to become successful and independent, taking care of their families and communities with time and fiscal resources. Copyright helps protect their blood, sweat and tears toward those extremely noble and positive ends. Or, they can blow their cash on drugs and hookers, dying in a pool of their own vomit. They're choice.

     

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  25.  
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    BobinBaltimore (profile), Jun 19th, 2009 @ 6:46am

    Re: Re: Scale and Sustainability

    Sorry, I don't see this as a zero sum game. I can see your point if you believe that this is really a wealth redistribution effort and every artist deserves to get a piece.

    I'm getting increasingly confused/concerned that all the blathering about a new "business model" actually isn't about business at all, but about income re-engineering. Is the point of all this really to get some money into as many hands as possible? That isn't about business, that's about a politico-economic worldview. Is this about the content creator and the creator's relationship with consumers, or is this about a societal remake?

    There is a big difference between saying that a content creator has some (reasonable) rights and ownership of their creation which they can assert if they choose to, and saying that no one can have any rights to what they produce. Yes, it's an example using the polar extremes, but I *think* that today any artist has the choice NOT to assert their rights, though it takes some wrangling to do so. A few choose not to, most choose to assert them because there are demonstrable financial and ethical (control) benefits to the artist in doing so.

    So, if the (pieces of thoughts that are at TechDirt called a) model is so beneficial to the CONTENT PRODUCER, we should see hoards of them choosing not to assert their rights and calling off the lawyers. But we haven't. And we likely won't. Because the long-term benefit to the individual content producer and across all content producers is theoretical and unprotected at best, demonstrably not there over time and at scale, at worst. We also have to consider that the needs (fiscal, marketing, distribution, advertising, etc) of the new or emerging content producer are likely and often different than the established one. Does one "model" fit all...perhaps not.

     

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  26.  
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    the voice of reason, Jun 19th, 2009 @ 7:49am

    Re:

    Do you know what else also happens alot? MOST of the people who download their music illegally dont spend ANY MONEY on music - they just stole it for free after all.

     

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  27.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 19th, 2009 @ 12:31pm

    Re: Re: Re: Scale and Sustainability

    More slippery Mike speak. When called out on anything, you immeidately go into the "I didn't exactly say that" mode.

    Again, I suggest that you're not paying attention. It is scaling. Rapidly. It took time for more artists to understand it, but more and more are, and we're seeing the impact already.

    Automobiles didn't erase the need for horse carriages overnight.

    I contend that many aspects of your various business models (really statements about pieces and fractions of what might be one day woven into an actual holistic business models) go against demonstrated human nature...pride in what one creates, a desire to use one's works to get ahead financially, etc.

    Huh? Actually the very point is that they LINE UP with human nature. Going against human nature is what the labels are doing. That should be obvious from the number of people who go against it.

    And NOTHING we've said goes against pride in what's created or the need to get ahead financially. In fact, we assume both are a HUGE part of the business models that will be used.

    I'm honestly confused that you would think otherwise.

    The major piece that is regularly ignored is that COMPENSATION and RECOGNITION are primary motivators for creation.

    Exactly. We agree. That's why the economics and business models we discuss are based on both of those factors. I'm not sure why you're implying otherwise, but I would suggest you go back and reread what we have written, because compensation and recognition are absolute keys.

    not only do content creators cease to make any kind of reliable income from their works, but it becomes more and more difficult to actually figure out who created what in the first instance, thus eliminating both MAJOR motivators for content creation: compensation and recognition.

    Bob, at this point I can only suggest you're confusing us with another site. The models we've discussed have been shown, repeatedly, to (A) get the artist MORE ATTENTION and (b) get the artists MORE COMPENSATION.

    I'm honestly confused what you're arguing against.


    The bottom line question is the right for a creator (artists, engineers, programmers, etc) to OWN what they create. TechDirt increasingly seems to be saying "no," much of the rest of the world says, "YES!"


    You own what you create until you sell it. Then you no longer own it. That's human nature -- and that's what the industry is fighting against. And if it were true that the rest of the world said "YES" then there wouldn't be a problem, would there?

    And finally, your comment "More people are MAKING MORE MONEY from music than EVER BEFORE in history. How is that not scaling?" This is a very interesting statement to make. Firstly, I would correct that to a more accurate "possibly a few more people are making SOME money from music than ever before." I assume you're talking about artists only, since there are surely a whole lotta people involved in production, distribution and bricks-and-mortar sales of music who are starting to see their numbers and income dwindle lately.

    No, I'm saying A LOT more people are making A LOT MORE MONEY than ever before. And because a few people stuck in the buggy whip making business are making less, it doesn't mean more people aren't making a lot more money in the auto industry. Learn to define a market properly.

    Any fair view of this MUST include the whole industry, not just the artists.

    Right, it does. I'm arguing that the ENTIRE industry impacted by music is making a LOT MORE MONEY. That's exactly what that study showed the other day. You're the one defining the market too narrowly.

     

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  28.  
    icon
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  29.  
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    BobinBaltimore (profile), Jun 20th, 2009 @ 8:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Scale and Sustainability

    Mike, in good faith, I WILL go back and re-read some of your archives. I think sometimes your contentions are so nuanced, fractional and so circumstantial that they are difficult to make consistent overtime without being truly immersed in your world. Also, keep in mind that TechDirt includes not only your postings, but the often supportive comments of your readers and minions. So even if you have, in fact, been consistent, the overall corpus of TechDirt may not be so. In my reading of TechDirt over the last few months, I have yet to see an actual business model described in full, in detail. Admittedly, I can't read everything, so I suppose I could have missed it. Full definition of market, target segments, production and distribution lines, expected outcomes (backed by market research), assessment of sustainability, impacts of competition and alternates, globalization and legal issues, etc, etc. All of that needs to be addressed or it boils down - once again - to just point-in-time neat-o ideas that might work under a specific circumstance for a limited time. What is most often provided are examples of gimmicks (like this) or point-in-time snapshots, with rearely any follow-up over time. I think you'd do a lot better to flesh these things out...my mind is absolutely open as I think you have a lot of good points, just not well founded and often counter to tons and tons of history (what I'd call reality, but that's not fair).

    But just in the above, there are several potential inconsistencies. You write "I'm saying A LOT more people are making A LOT MORE MONEY than before." So more people are making livings than under the old model, or just making some money? Then you say "the ENTIRE industry impacted by music is making a LOT MORE MONEY." So is the compensation metric based on the individuals in the industry or the entire industry? This goes back to the collectivist theme that has crept up bigtime over the last few days in commentary surrounding some of these posts. This collectivism seems to intimate that if more people make some money, then some kind of societal good is achieved and all is well. Are you a zero summer that believes that making more people make some money is inherently better than allowing some people to make some money and some people to make a lot? I don't think you are, but some of your verbiage can definitely swing the interpretation that way. Just curious.

    And as I recall the study you referenced the other day had several framing problems that were debated. Hope I'm thinking of the same one. It's only definitive and clear if one accepts your a priories.

    All that said, I do sincerely appreciate the forum, Mike.

     

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