Billy Bragg's Backwards Approach To Helping Artists

from the blame-others dept

While I may be a fan of Billy Bragg's music, I have a lot of trouble getting behind his take on the music industry. Last year, we had a bit of a back-and-forth with Bragg when he suddenly wanted to demand a cut of Bebo's sale price to AOL, claiming that it was unfair since he had put his music on the site for free. When asked whether or not Bebo would have the right to demand some of Bragg's money if the company had flopped, Bragg didn't seem to have any answer at all.

That episode is a precursor to what appears to be Bragg's current position on the industry, which has a mix of good and bad. As with Bebo, he supports using new online services, and not being anti-consumers (good!). But, as with Bebo, he seems to want to demand entitlement to any revenue that anyone makes (bad!). It's entitlement society again. Rather than recognizing that the responsibility is on him -- and on other artists -- to come up with business models that work, he demands that others (and the gov't) create those business models and just hand him a check. It puts the responsibility off of him and onto everyone else, as if they owe him a business model.

On the one hand, he talks up how useful new technologies are for distribution and promotion, but then he immediately talks about "the damaging aspects of illegal downloading on the livelihoods of the creative community." It's only damaging for those who don't put in place a smart business model. As we've seen time and time and time again, put in place a smart business model that embraces file sharing, combined with good music and a strong connection with fans, and piracy isn't a problem. It's free marketing and distribution.

Bragg talks up the need to compete with sites like The Pirate Bay, but why isn't he looking at actually using The Pirate Bay to his advantage? Plenty of others are. Why does Bragg need to demand help from legislators?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Oct 1st, 2009 @ 11:15am

    Re:

    Good news?

     

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  2.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 1st, 2009 @ 11:21am

    Re: Re:

    It was a spam comment... now deleted.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    LoL, Oct 1st, 2009 @ 11:23am

    Streamy Awards????

    If it is that bad why the industry is giving awards for people who do webseries?


    ps: happy now LoL

     

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  4.  
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    pookie, Oct 1st, 2009 @ 11:38am

    Billy Bragg

    Mike you *may* like Billy's music, but most don't. Bragg is a blowhard who never *really* moved much past the station of busker.

    His music is staid, repetitive, quaint and cliche at this point in history. Why anyone really cares what this has-been (or almost-was...shit, even "almost-was" is an undeserved compliment) thinks is beyond me.

    Why do we spend so much time talking about the opinions of out-of-touch wasteoids from music's past?

    Billy Bragg? Bargain Bin.

     

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  5.  
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    ruin20, Oct 1st, 2009 @ 11:40am

    This is coming from...

    ...years of getting a cut of little plastic disc sales because they had his songs on it. Musicians were never told that they were selling little plastic disks, they were told that they are selling their music. And that's the problem. They have never sold their music, it's always been plastic disks, magnetic tape, or cut vinyl. So now when the medium disappears, but the music is still moving from person to person, they fail to understand the problem because they were told all this time that they were selling music (impossible) and not goods.

     

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  6.  
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    pookie, Oct 1st, 2009 @ 11:45am

    Re: This is coming from...

    "they fail to understand the problem because they were told all this time that they were selling music (impossible) and not goods."


    Or in Billy's case, "bads"

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 1st, 2009 @ 12:10pm

    "Bragg when he suddenly wanted to demand a cut of ...".

    He did no such thing actually, perhaps a little more focus on comprehending what your reading is in order.

    The rest of your article is hopelessly twisted - clearly you are intent on trying to put yourself in public conflict with people much more prominent in the industry than your self.
    A lot of people try to become famous that way but even if it works your fame won't last long.

     

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  8.  
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    The Miataman, Oct 1st, 2009 @ 12:30pm

    Billy's a commie

    I have a couple of Billy Bragg's older CDs and I liked his music, although I haven't listened to them in a long time. If you listen to his lyrics, it's clear that he's either a socialist or a communist (as I said, I haven't listened in a long time so I don't remember which.) I'm neither a socialist or a communist, so I can't take his opinions on the music business seriously.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 1st, 2009 @ 12:30pm

    Re:

    So who do you work for and why do they care about what Mike says about Bragg?

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 1st, 2009 @ 12:48pm

    Re: This is coming from...

    Actually they are selling the music; they spend endless time developing the music and the performance skills that your average blogger can't get near - this is their expertise.

    If it's not possible to sell the expertise - e.g. if they all need to sell t-shirts instead - they won't be able to afford the time to become expert (they will have to concentrate on t-shirt sales) then you won't have any new music.

    But with all the time you wouldn't spend listening to music you could start a blog - perhaps you could blog better than Masnick, but if not just copy his content - he won't mind !.

     

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  11.  
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    Old Labour and proud of it, Oct 1st, 2009 @ 2:02pm

    Re: Billy's a commie

    He is not a commie, but he is a socialist.

    There is a difference.

    Which side are you on, boys?

     

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  12.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 1st, 2009 @ 2:06pm

    Re:

    He did no such thing actually, perhaps a little more focus on comprehending what your reading is in order.

    Actually, he did exactly what I said. He pouted about how unfair it was that he didn't get a cut.

    The rest of your article is hopelessly twisted

    Ah, the last trick of someone with no point. Claim that the argument is twisted... fail to give a single example. Yay.

    clearly you are intent on trying to put yourself in public conflict with people much more prominent in the industry than your self.

    WHAT?!? Um... I don't know what you're smoking, but why would I want to do that?

    Since I've started this blog I talk about what different content creators say and do, smart or dumb, and I give my opinion on it. I've been doing it for years. It's got nothing to do with "public conflicts." I mean, honestly, what good would come of public conflicts with people?

     

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  13.  
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    Liam, Oct 1st, 2009 @ 2:13pm

    "Why does Bragg need to demand help from legislators?"

    He's an avowed socialist. Legislation and the resort to government are what they do. Simple. Think China's attitude to Twitter (but without the free trade) and that's where Billy and his ilk come from (actually he lives in a rather quaint middle class enclave in Dorset).

     

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  14.  
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    Sexy Matilda, Oct 1st, 2009 @ 2:19pm

    Mike is my HERO! /eye-flutter :)

     

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  15.  
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    peter, Oct 1st, 2009 @ 2:21pm

    Eh?

    When asked whether or not Bebo would have the right to demand some of Bragg's money if the company had flopped"

    Sorry but having read your article several times i still cannot understand your logic. The only thing I understood was that there was no response from Bragg 'cos that would have been mine too.

    Your logic seems to be, if i give someone something for free and they make money on it, I cannot then ask for a cut because I did not also offer to bail them out with my own money if they did not make money on my free offering. Is that right? If so I still cannot understand the logic.

    Please explain further

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 1st, 2009 @ 2:38pm

    Re: Re:

    "...Actually, he did exactly what I said. ..."
    No he didn't and I notice you can't give an example.

    "He pouted about how unfair.."
    I don't know how you would pout online, but pouting is not the same as demanding it's an emotional thing. Unlike you Billy never let his emotions rule but he also doesn't deny them.

    Your articles these days are focussed on generating some kind of bogus controversy, often with prominent people. It's a shame because years ago you weren't just a publicity hound or even a single subject maniac.

     

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  17.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 1st, 2009 @ 3:18pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    No he didn't and I notice you can't give an example.

    Heh. Amusing that you would say that after I challenged you to point out why my post was "twisted" and you totally ignored it.

    *sigh* As for Bragg... here's what he said:

    "The musicians who posted their work on Bebo.com are no different from investors in a start-up enterprise. Their investment is the content provided for free while the site has no liquid assets. Now that the business has reaped huge benefits, surely they deserve a dividend."

    "They deserve a dividend." He was asking for a cut.

    Please apologize now.

    Thanks.

    Your articles these days are focussed on generating some kind of bogus controversy, often with prominent people. It's a shame because years ago you weren't just a publicity hound or even a single subject maniac.

    Heh. Ok. So now you can read my mind? Ok... I've run this site for over a decade. I've never gone out of my way to attract more attention, because what good would that do? If I wanted attention I'd be doing a blog like Perez Hilton. I write about *intellectual property*. You really think that's a topic designed to generate attention?!?

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 1st, 2009 @ 4:22pm

    Re: Re: This is coming from...

    "If it's not possible to sell the expertise - e.g. if they all need to sell t-shirts instead - they won't be able to afford the time to become expert (they will have to concentrate on t-shirt sales) then you won't have any new music."

    Making things up is fun. I suppose your field of expertise lies in something that doesn't require comprehension.

     

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  19.  
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    Dark Hamlet, Oct 1st, 2009 @ 5:50pm

    Re: Billy's a commie

    Only old men who can't get it up anymore drive Miatas

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2009 @ 12:46am

    "If it's not possible to sell the expertise - e.g. if they all need to sell t-shirts instead - they won't be able to afford the time to become expert (they will have to concentrate on t-shirt sales) then you won't have any new music"


    Horseshit. Punk was exemplified by zero expertise in fact it was a backlash against the expertise of Prog Rock. And anyway I can play guitar better than Bragg ever could but am I creating new music? No.

    So it's not about expertise it's about performance and getting your heard, The interwebs is just about the best thing to have happened to musicians but most of them just don't seem to get it.

    Musicians don't seem to get that the reduced barriers, reduced production costs and the ability to be your own label offer true artistic freedom. The trade off is that musical success will not automatically equal huge wealth and fame. But success may mean that a musician can earn a nice living.

    I can go watch Steve Vai free on YouTube in HD. That does not make me want to pirate his stuff but buy it. Funny that.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2009 @ 2:22am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I can oberve that Masnick tells lies and delberately misrepresents what other people say and that he deserves to be kicked off the internet - do you think that is a demand ?.

    Hint - "...he deserves to be kicked off the internet"

    "...I've never gone out of my way to attract more attention, because what good would that do?"

    So despite your claimed expertise on ecconomics and business models (among other things) you don't understand tha value of attention ?!!!!!

     

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  22.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 2nd, 2009 @ 4:51am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Heh. So, no apology?

    I can oberve that Masnick tells lies and delberately misrepresents what other people say and that he deserves to be kicked off the internet - do you think that is a demand ?.

    Heh. You really should try harder. Billy Bragg was talking about *himself* (inclusive with others) in announcing publicly in an op-ed directed at AOL that he deserved money.

    So, yes, that's demanding.

    So despite your claimed expertise on ecconomics and business models (among other things) you don't understand tha value of attention ?!!!!!

    I understand the value of attention quite a bit. Which is why I know (as you yourself pointed out earlier in this thread... or did you forget?) that the value of attention of that nature (the kind that is brought on by purposely picking fights) is not particularly valuable attention.

    I recognize that you come here every day to slam me. I don't quite understand what you have against me, but that's fine. If you want to live your life being a hateful person, that's really not my problem. But, if you must attack me every day, at least have your arguments make sense.

    And... when you're caught being flat out wrong, have the decency to apologize. But... of course, the anonymous guy who just wants to slam a blogger he doesn't like (for whatever reason) isn't big on accountability, is he?

     

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  23.  
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    ren, Oct 5th, 2009 @ 1:22pm

    bragg

    interesting conversation with Billy and Jon from P2Pnet.net

     

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  24.  
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    Henry Emrich, Oct 13th, 2009 @ 1:57pm

    nteresting conversation with Billy and Jon from P2Pnet.net

    I agree:

    It's really "interesting" to watch Bragg tell all of us that the FAC vote supporting 3-strikes and throttling was a "stand against the labels". Giving the other side *exactly* what they wanted isn't any kind of "stand".

    As to the other poster talking about how Bragg's supposedly a "socialist" -- would a "socialist" be bleating like a scalded calf when he doesn't get paid?

    Bragg is a lap-dog for the multi-national corporate oligarchy masquerading as a "music industry", who just *happens* to use Communist/socialist inspired imagery as a marketing ploy.
    And if you don't think capitalism involves government intervention, I have two words for you: "corporate personhood".

     

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


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