Jaron Lanier Says That Musicians Using Free To Succeed Are Lying

from the wow dept

Jaron Lanier came out with his book recently, and it's still getting a bunch of publicity, despite getting some rather basic facts wrong. But, even so, I was shocked to hear that he recently stood up at a conference and claimed that musicians who say they are using "free" music to their advantage are lying:
"Every single example of these musicians who did really well by giving stuff away... they don't exist," Lanier says. "There are a lot of people who pretend ... and it is fake."
What a bizarre statement, considering just how many real life examples we see every day of musicians successfully embracing an understanding of basic economics (which Lanier apparently lacks). I was trying to better understand how Lanier could make such an easily debunked statement with a straight face, and it's not clear at all. It appears that Lanier is the one who is pretending here. The only explanation I can find for his bizarre claim is the wiggle room he leaves for himself later in his talk:
Lanier adds that artists making a career off music in the digital age are still having success thanks to the traditional models. "Anyone who is making it now is making it off the little shreds of the old system that is still working," he says.
So, basically, he will try to turn any of the many success stories we regularly talk about into a story about how they're still using "the old system." We've seen this before, and it makes no sense. It's the last gasp argument of someone who's been proven wrong. They'll argue that because someone makes any use at all of the old infrastructure or the old system, every bit of their success is due to that. It's wrong on many different levels.

Furthermore, when Lanier talks about "the little shreds of the old system that is still working," I'm wondering what he's referring to -- given that countless studies are showing that the music business has continued to grow. So, if there's anyone "pretending" here, it seems like it's Lanier.


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    Marcus Carab (profile), Mar 16th, 2010 @ 10:37am

    So I guess it's also a lie that the Romans were good at building roads -- they were only usable because they were built on the decaying shreds of roads built by other civilizations. ;)

     

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      Hephaestus (profile), Mar 16th, 2010 @ 11:04am

      Re:

      It should read ....

      So I guess it's also a lie that the Romans were good at building roads -- they were only usable because they were built on the roads built by other decaying and dead civilizations.

      To phrase it that way, makes more sense, its a more app haze of the record labels.

       

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        Marcus Carab (profile), Mar 16th, 2010 @ 11:09am

        Re: Re:

        Actually I really wanted to focus on the infrastructure. If you're building a road, and you come to a point where there's already a bit of road leftover from some bygone age, of *course* you're going to use it until it wears so thin that you can't - but it doesn't mean your new roads aren't superior, or that they would be useless without the decaying scraps.

        But this is altogether too much analysis for a historical analogy joke :)

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 1:40pm

        Re: Re:

        Shut the fuck up.

         

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    NAMELESS.ONE, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 11:06am

    BUT romans didnt exist

    i know this is a fantasy post right
    a dreamworld

    caus ei know 4 artists doing a lot better thn they used to by doing what she said isnt happening and as they EXIST
    i say
    she doesn't exist and is a figment of a nightmare someone had while taking a big shit

     

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    Jack Donaghy, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 11:09am

    @1 Marcus Carab

    The problem with Jason Lanier is that he hasn't got inline with other artists. And you know, I can fake enthusiasm when I need to.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 1:43pm

      Re: @1 Marcus Carab

      Actually, the problem with Jason Lanier is that he's a huge dump from the ass of a homeless drunk who ate week-old refried beans and chile sauce from a dumpster...

       

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    Ima Fish (profile), Mar 16th, 2010 @ 11:12am

    Heck, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who and countless others all made huge money by giving away their music for free on radio.

     

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    LumpyDog (profile), Mar 16th, 2010 @ 11:24am

    I find it revealing that every time we hear of someone making a speech like this it always ends with, "and here's what the government can do to solve the problem."

     

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    Hephaestus (profile), Mar 16th, 2010 @ 11:32am

    "Lanier has also had a second career as a musician, having worked with the likes of Phillip Glass and Yoko Ono."

    Damn, no wonder he didnt make any money off free he worked with Yoko Ono. You cant give her stuff away ...

     

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    FatGiant (profile), Mar 16th, 2010 @ 11:34am

    Oh! Where would we be without a government taking care of the sick and dying!!!

    Oh wait...

    This isn't health care, or, is it?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 11:41am

    I suppose at times, you get an industry or group of people unwilling to take the challenges the market is asking them to take, and unable to make a decision, and their only answer is to consult Government on the way to run their business.

    Think of it like making Jewy pizza...

    Is it tasty? Probably not. Will people buy it? Only if it's highly recommended by Jewy people.

    Sometimes people have to change the recipe, and these days, those who say they profess the Jewish fath make up only 4% of Americans, but 36% of corporate CEO, Forbes billionaires, Hollywood moguls, professors, accountants, lawyers, MDs, senators, congressman, etc.

    Why are they so silent to our needs and desires?

     

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      Dark Helmet (profile), Mar 16th, 2010 @ 12:01pm

      Re:

      "those who say they profess the Jewish fath make up only 4% of Americans, but 36% of corporate CEO, Forbes billionaires, Hollywood moguls, professors, accountants, lawyers, MDs, senators, congressman, etc."

      A. Where are you getting those numbers from?

      B. When you are dealing with statistics, throwing the word "etc." in there probably ain't the best plan....

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 12:06pm

        Re: Re:

        I have the stats somewhere. PDF form. Do you want me to find them?

        Let me make myself clear. I don't dislike Jews. I think they are a nobel and amazing group of people, but when they are in control of the world and don't take into consideration that of the people they ultimately serve, there's a problem.

         

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          Bob Bunderfeld (profile), Mar 16th, 2010 @ 12:22pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Isn't that true with any "Group" of people watching over others? Hell, without having to dig thru historical documents we can toss our Nazi's, American Colonist, French Royalty, English Royalty, and the list goes on and on and on.

          Exactly what was your point again?

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 12:59pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Let me make myself clear. I don't dislike Caucasians. I think they are a nobel and amazing group of people, but when they are in control of the world and don't take into consideration that of the people they ultimately serve, there's a problem."

          There, fixed that for you.

           

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          Marcus Carab (profile), Mar 16th, 2010 @ 5:08pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          You've got serious old-school brand crazy, huh?

          Listen bub, the Jews are a front -- for the lizard people. You know those hasidic hats? They cover up the distinctive scaly head-crest of the Elder Lizards, which engorges during mating season. Pope's hat is the same deal (Catholicism, Lincoln's Republicans, the Queen's Guard -- all fronts for lizard people).

          The thing is... the lizard-people are actually Masons! Or something. Watch Charlie Chaplin's City Lights while listening to a Morissey album and it will all become clear.

           

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          Trails (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 7:47am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Agreed, all those Jewish MDs, selfishly saving lives.

           

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      chris (profile), Mar 16th, 2010 @ 12:31pm

      Re:

      wat?

       

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      kyle clements (profile), Mar 16th, 2010 @ 2:31pm

      Re:

      "...those who say they profess the Jewish fath make up only 4% of Americans, but 36% of corporate CEO, Forbes billionaires, Hollywood moguls, professors, accountants, lawyers, MDs, senators, congressman, etc.

      Why are they so silent to our needs and desires?"

      Malcolm Gladwell writes about a possible reason for this in Outliers.
      In short, a person's cultural heritage plays a big roll in how they succeed in the world; possibly a bigger roll than determination or talent.

       

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        PaulT (profile), Mar 17th, 2010 @ 1:50am

        Re: Re:

        Pretty much, although I roll my eyes at the half-assed anti-Semitism in the original post. AC, nobody owes you anything. if you have needs and desires, go out and satisfy them instead of waiting for somebody else to do it for you.

        I don't have much experience of American Jews, but from those I have met, I can tell the following: Jewish people tend to value education, have strong community values and have encourage a good grasp on fiscal matters.

        Well-educated people able to manage their own finances, but have few qualms about giving or receiving help within their own community when truly required? Yeah, those people are probably going to be more successful than shiftless racists who blame Jews when their decisions sabotage their own lives...

         

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    GhostHost, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 11:44am

    Musicians and Money

    If my teenage son is any guide musicians don't make music for money. They are sustained solely by the adoration of throngs of the opposite sex.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 11:45am

    I am tired of the way the world should taste according to them.

    I hope you will join me.

     

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    Nastybutler77 (profile), Mar 16th, 2010 @ 11:58am

    Hey Lanier! Denial ain't just a river in Egypt, as the saying goes.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 12:14pm

    To add, a friend of mine (I'd like to call him a friend) had a Son that came down with Leukemia. He had a rare blood type and having a rare blood type myself, and I wanted to see his legacy succeed. I found a job and moved 1,200 miles to be a bone marrow donor to help.

    All I've had in my life was trouble from that one action to help a Jew.

    Understand my pain.

     

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      Bob Bunderfeld, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 12:23pm

      Re:

       

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      Bob Bunderfeld, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 12:26pm

      Re:

      I understand the Pain, probably more then most, but let's look at the really BIG Picture here.

      You made a choice to help someone in need, it was your choice, and you made it. I'm certain the Doctor's and Administrator's at the Hospital explained everything that would/could occur because of your choice; yet you still made the choice.

      Instead of being upset by your Choice, realize that you did something for someone else without asking for anything in return.

      I wish I could say I was that good of a person.

       

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      vivaelamor (profile), Mar 16th, 2010 @ 3:43pm

      Re:

      "All I've had in my life was trouble from that one action to help a Jew." Go troll on the Encyclopaedia Dramatica article. At least then your dribble might have some tenuous foothold.

       

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    Adina Levin, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 12:57pm

    Can TechDirt please moderate comments

    The topic of music business models is interesting. The comments discussion would be a lot more interesting if it wasn't interspersed with random commentary about ethnic stereotypes.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 1:57pm

    Basically I see this as an admission by the record labels that they want to turn the Internet into what they have turned everything outside the Internet. They are not interested in stopping piracy, they are interesting in stopping competition, they don't want people to be allowed to create and give away free music because it competes with their broken business model. It is not and was never about piracy, it's always been about stopping competition and the evidence is that this is exactly what they have accomplished outside the Internet.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 2:05pm

      Re:

      Which is why the public domain, you know, free culture, has to stagnate because of the obvious competitive angle to the legacy industries.

       

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    mike42 (profile), Mar 16th, 2010 @ 2:04pm

    Well...

    Let's all just be sure and get his book FROM THE LIBRARY. We don't want to encourage stupidity with greenbacks.

     

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    harbingerofdoom (profile), Mar 16th, 2010 @ 3:45pm

    the direction this discussion has taken saddens me to no end.

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 16th, 2010 @ 4:08pm

    Please ignore the troll

    Troll. Stop feeding.

     

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    RadialSkid, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 4:19pm

    Denial...it's so cute.

     

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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 4:33pm

    I Love The Smell Of Facepalm In The Morning

    Just wanted to say that.

     

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    herodotus (profile), Mar 16th, 2010 @ 7:19pm

    "The thing is... the lizard-people are actually Masons! Or something. Watch Charlie Chaplin's City Lights while listening to a Morissey album and it will all become clear."

    No, no, no..... not Morissey, Morrison.

    I mean, he is the lizard king, after all.

     

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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 10:49pm

    Copyright Flat-Earther

    Only way to describe people like this. Or even “Copyright Creationist”.

     

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    isabel (profile), Mar 16th, 2010 @ 11:39pm

    Defenders of the old system

    Do you think that defenders of the old system are just too lazy (or crap) to do things differently?

     

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    Chris Ruen, Mar 17th, 2010 @ 8:22am

    Points

    It's funny that an overwhelmingly negative techdirt post on Lanier inspires a comments section filled with the sort of confused, childish inanity he specifically underlines as an example of Web 2.0's failings.

    This whole thing is pretty simple, guys. Any artist can choose to give up their music for free. Ask yourself, how many "successful" or zeitgeist-y emerging artists (not the NINs and Radioheads of the world who owe their fame to the "old model") are actually doing such a thing?

    More commonly, artists sign up for a label partnership and license/sell their recordings with label support, in which case Freeloading their tracks without compensation is simple stealing.

    http://www.tinymixtapes.com/features/2009-fuck-love-let8217s-make-dystopia

     

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      vivaelamor (profile), Mar 17th, 2010 @ 12:06pm

      Re: Points

      "It's funny that an overwhelmingly negative techdirt post on Lanier inspires a comments section filled with the sort of confused, childish inanity he specifically underlines as an example of Web 2.0's failings. "

      Don't be quite so harsh as to lump yourself in with the Jew hater.

      "This whole thing is pretty simple, guys. Any artist can choose to give up their music for free. Ask yourself, how many "successful" or zeitgeist-y emerging artists (not the NINs and Radioheads of the world who owe their fame to the "old model") are actually doing such a thing? "

      Oh, it's that simple. In order to avoid progress, you just have to define success as whatever happened before. Yeah, that'd be pretty damn simple.

      "More commonly, artists sign up for a label partnership and license/sell their recordings with label support, in which case Freeloading their tracks without compensation is simple stealing."

      I guess we need a new definition for thief then. I submit: smart enough not to confuse economics with politics.

       

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 17th, 2010 @ 12:26pm

      Re: Points

      It's funny that an overwhelmingly negative techdirt post on Lanier inspires a comments section filled with the sort of confused, childish inanity he specifically underlines as an example of Web 2.0's failings.

      Say what now? Because one troll derails a conversation you take that as proof? There are plenty of trolls online, but that's got nothing at all to do with Lanier's thesis.

      This whole thing is pretty simple, guys. Any artist can choose to give up their music for free. Ask yourself, how many "successful" or zeitgeist-y emerging artists (not the NINs and Radioheads of the world who owe their fame to the "old model") are actually doing such a thing?

      Tons. We write about them all the time. http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20091119/1634117011.shtml

      More commonly, artists sign up for a label partnership and license/sell their recordings with label support, in which case Freeloading their tracks without compensation is simple stealing.

      Sure, lots of artists still sign bad deals with labels. I'm not sure how that proves any point other than that lots of artists are still confused by all of this.

      But you are flat out (laughably, I'm afraid) wrong to claim that "freeloading" in such cases is "stealing." It is neither freeloading, nor is it stealing. At best it may be copyright infringement -- but even that may be questionable. If you choose a bad business model that's YOUR FAULT -- not the fault of the people who want to listen to and share your music.

       

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        Chris Ruen, Mar 17th, 2010 @ 1:55pm

        More Points

        Hi Mike.

        "Say what now? Because one troll derails a conversation you take that as proof? There are plenty of trolls online, but that's got nothing at all to do with Lanier's thesis."

        It's not "proof" (didn't say it was) but it does support his thesis. Have you read his book? He writes quite a bit about the scattered, nasty, adolescent nature of most comment and message board threads/discourse.

        "Tons. We write about them all the time. http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20091119/1634117011.shtml"

        Don't find this terribly convincing, sorry.

        "Sure, lots of artists still sign bad deals with labels. I'm not sure how that proves any point other than that lots of artists are still confused by all of this."

        So you think every artist is just "confused" or too stupid to see the world as it truly is? Great explanation. It's nice that these confused artists have you around (being sarcastic here) to someday enlighten them as to their true self-interest.

        They are acting on their own informed (if imperfect) self-interest, and I venture to guess they have more information on that topic than you. If these new models you're so sure of had such a track record of success, don't you think more bands would choose to pursue them? Labels aren't perfect, but perhaps they offer more support and advantages to artists than you're willing to give them credit for. Also, I hope you can see that you're setting up Freeloaders as entirely outside the realm of responsibility on this issue, ie that only artists and labels are the "confused" ones.

        "But you are flat out (laughably, I'm afraid) wrong to claim that "freeloading" in such cases is "stealing." It is neither freeloading, nor is it stealing. At best it may be copyright infringement -- but even that may be questionable. If you choose a bad business model that's YOUR FAULT -- not the fault of the people who want to listen to and share your music."

        Laughably, you say!? Oh my.

        Mike, you create some "thing" of high quality that you put a significant investment in and decide you're going to attempt to sell that thing, whatever it is. I, Chris, understand that you're selling it, so it's implicit by basic social contract that I'm not supposed to just take this item for free. But I take it anyway because I sort of want it and, importantly, find a very easy way to do so. Did I just "share" your product? No, I stole it, but I'm sure I could come up with any number of rationalizations to mask that elemental fact. I call the online practice Freeloading, but others wrongly call it piracy or file-sharing.

        Again, you're trying to make this issue everyone else's fault but those who are primarily driving the crisis, Freeloaders such as yourself. I have no love for the RIAA, but that's no excuse for pretending that all music is suddenly free. That's YOUR decision, the consumer, not one made by the internet, technology, progress, anyone or anything else. You're countering the RIAA's ridiculous extremism (lawsuits) with even more ridiculous extremism (Freeloading). You can at least take responsibility for your own actions in this matter. But that's your choice.

         

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          Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 17th, 2010 @ 6:38pm

          Re: More Points

          Hi Chris,

          It's not "proof" (didn't say it was) but it does support his thesis. Have you read his book? He writes quite a bit about the scattered, nasty, adolescent nature of most comment and message board threads/discourse.

          Yeah, I've read the book, and it's terrible. Terribly written, terribly argued and wholly unpersuasive. A waste of my time and money.

          The fact that there are idiots in this world is not new and is not a condemnation of the web. If anything it's a condemnation of bad filtering tools. Build better tools with better incentives and weed out the idiots.

          Don't find this terribly convincing, sorry.


          Uh, wow. I present evidence that proves you wrong, and you don't have a single response other than that you don't find it convincing? Really?

          So you think every artist is just "confused" or too stupid to see the world as it truly is?

          No, I think a lot of artists are getting this. But I think that those who don't understand the economics at play are reasonably confused. The world worked one way for many years, but technology has shifted how the world works. I find it completely understandable that folks would be confused. It's got nothing to do with intelligence.

          It's nice that these confused artists have you around (being sarcastic here) to someday enlighten them as to their true self-interest.

          When you have to say you're being sarcastic, you've already failed.

          But, okay, you're really complaining that there are people out there demonstrating what works? Really?

          They are acting on their own informed (if imperfect) self-interest, and I venture to guess they have more information on that topic than you. If these new models you're so sure of had such a track record of success, don't you think more bands would choose to pursue them?

          More and more are doing so every day. We get emails of examples *every* day. And this all just really started in the last year or two. Frankly, I'm amazed at how many have figured it out this quickly. The world doesn't change overnight, but a growing segment of content creators are getting this.

          Don't get left behind.

          Labels aren't perfect, but perhaps they offer more support and advantages to artists than you're willing to give them credit for.

          As I've made clear, repeatedly, I'm absolutely in favor of labels who can help artists to embrace these kinds of things and to enable them. I have nothing against labels. I do have something against labels that actively try to hold back technology, innovation and culture through laws.

          Also, I hope you can see that you're setting up Freeloaders as entirely outside the realm of responsibility on this issue, ie that only artists and labels are the "confused" ones.

          Sure. But as I've said, repeatedly again (perhaps you're new here), as a business, you should NEVER blame others for your market changing. It is entirely up to you to deal with a changing market, and I apply that same logic to my own business as well: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100306/1649198451.shtml

          Blaming others is a recipe for failure.

          Mike, you create some "thing" of high quality that you put a significant investment in and decide you're going to attempt to sell that thing, whatever it is. I, Chris, understand that you're selling it, so it's implicit by basic social contract that I'm not supposed to just take this item for free. But I take it anyway because I sort of want it and, importantly, find a very easy way to do so

          First, you are not "taking" anything. You still have the original. What you are doing is making a copy, and expanding the overall market. Historically, this has always been perfectly justified under any sort of social mores. The problem that you are having is that you are automatically trying to force an infinite good into a scarce good mentality -- making a copy of something and pretending that it's "taking" the original. It's a fundamental misunderstanding of basic economics.

          Did I just "share" your product? No, I stole it, but I'm sure I could come up with any number of rationalizations to mask that elemental fact. I call the online practice Freeloading, but others wrongly call it piracy or file-sharing.

          It's not stealing if nothing is missing. It's not free loading. It's making a copy which the technology allows.

          Again, you're trying to make this issue everyone else's fault but those who are primarily driving the crisis, Freeloaders such as yourself.

          Whoa. Don't make idiot assumptions. I do not download. I do not infringe on copyrights. I buy my music/movies/books. I don't use any file sharing programs at all.

          I'm not justifying or rationalizing any more my actions, and it says something about you and the way you think that you would automatically assume so.

          I am explaining basic economics of markets, and how technology has changed those markets *and* how to capitalize on them.

          As far as I can tell, your response is "gee, I wish things were different."

          Good luck with that. In the meantime, I'm going to go back to helping more artists make more money while you cry in the corner.

          I have no love for the RIAA, but that's no excuse for pretending that all music is suddenly free

          I never said all music was free.

          You seem, in your rush to judge and condemn me without actually bothering to take the time to understand the basics of the argument, to be confusing two things, and it shows how little time you've actually spent THINKING about this issue, rather than responding emotionally, like Jaron.

          The fact that the price of music is being driven to $0 is an economic condition. It's basic supply and demand economics. Supply increases because the content has a marginal cost of zero -- meaning that it can be copied infinitely. It's supply and demand.

          File sharing has nothing to do with that, other than making it clear and pushing this along.

          My argument has always been from the side of the producer of the content, explaining to them why they should get ahead of this curve rather than getting buried by the avalanche, which appears to be your preferred suggestion.

          You're countering the RIAA's ridiculous extremism (lawsuits) with even more ridiculous extremism (Freeloading). You can at least take responsibility for your own actions in this matter. But that's your choice

          Again, with the ridiculous assumptions.

          Try thinking about this and learning a little basic common sense before making such ridiculous assumptions. I don't file share. I don't encourage others to file share. But I do think that it's where the market is heading no matter what and that's a GOOD THING for EVERYONE in the market, because it opens up MORE opportunities to make MORE money, and we're seeing it every day, even if you appear to have blinders on.

          Good luck, man, 'cause you're going to need it.

           

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

          •  
            identicon
            Chris Ruen, Mar 18th, 2010 @ 5:41am

            Re: Re: More Points

            Mike, I'm going to reply to this later today or tomorrow when I have some time. Want to continue the discussion.

             

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

          •  
            identicon
            Chris Ruen, Mar 19th, 2010 @ 11:21am

            Re: Re: More Points

            Mike, First off, I see no rules being broken by blaming others who are in real terms responsible for harm and destruction. There's a difference between asking others to be accountable for their actions and suing fans, which obviously backfired for the RIAA. The fact that there are idiots in this world is not new and is not a condemnation of the web. If anything it's a condemnation of bad filtering tools. Build better tools with better incentives and weed out the idiots. It's an observation of the anonymity encouraged by the web, and the subsequent irresponsibility/disconnection/futility which it inspires in discourse. Our lowest human desires are attracted to conflict, which is what we often see online. Many of the most popular websites owe their success to nasty commenters and unhelpful conflict - so they have no interest in improving their filtering tools. Understanding and consideration just don't sell and they often are not encouraged by the nature of this medium. You believe I suffer from a misunderstanding of basic economic conditions. I believe you suffer from a misunderstanding of basic human relations and choices (which in many ways, is economics). Also I think you give technology more credit than it deserves. I appreciate that you purchase your media when you don't necessarily "have" to, and that you see yourself as helping artists to succeed. From your tone, I think I can be forgiven for making the apparently faulty assumption that you Freeload. But your altruism is tragically misdirected. You have a gigantic blind spot for the basic issue of permission, and you've attempted to mask this in an unwarranted faith in technology. Your assertion that it isn't stealing because a "copy" is being made is a high-minded form of playing dumb on the matter. It demonstrates a striking level of disrespect for the choices of the artist. Putting it more generally but more to the point, it demonstrates a striking level of disrespect for the choices of other people/members of society/citizens. And in the process, while you may not Freeload yourself, you espouse and promote the ideology of the Freeloader. You are an apologist for the practice. While I think giving away free samples to stimulate payment for goods is a well-proven strategy, it doesn't work if a critical mass of consumers have been made comfortable in an ideology that says all content is free. We both know this is happening, and it is the primary contagion which needs to be marginalized if the "internet" is going to deliver anything other than desperation and mediocrity. If you want to help artists, you might start by encouraging others to respect their work and their choices, rather than cherry picking examples and rationalizations for why the immense majority of artists are wrong/confused. Also, I think you're a bit confused on your own opinion of the matter, judging by the following... I never said all music was free. The fact that the price of music is being driven to $0 is an economic condition You have clearly accepted the "reality" of free, and you are operating on those terms. Here's where I differ. The price of music being driven to zero is not a result of copying, it's the result of consumers having an easy, unsanctioned way to opt out of our commodity system. The individual consumer decides how much music is worth to them. Don't blame it all on technology. It isn't being driven by technology, it's being driven by how people use the technology. And while artists are becoming more and more desperate due to the sacred trust having been broken between artist and fan, people such as yourself ignore the plainly evident reality of this theft and instead double-down on your faith that focusing on technology and it's own imagined desires is the only solution and will lead to a better world for both consumer and the artist. But what if it doesn't? Look around you. The infrastructure for music is gradually collapsing, as much as you apparently see this situation through rose-colored glasses. It's not a collapse to you, it's a leveling of the playing field. I guess that's one of our main differences. The big issue here is that the commodity system, albeit an intellectualized form of it in the digital age, is the most efficient, convenient and appropriate means of compensating artists for their work. It's also a statement of value for music, art and expression rather than a statement of value for empty wine bottles, per your Amanda Palmer example. So while we search and search for new models that have relatively few examples of success, models that in large part haven't worked, the commodity system sits there waiting to be rediscovered. I cast my lot in with trying to make that system work BETTER for artists and fans with an increase in record deal transparency (so fans have some understanding of how much money is going to the artist) and reduced cost for digital albums. Ideally, distribution costs could be trimmed as well. That, to me, delivers on the promise of the internet as a tool to democratize and expand creative culture rather than devolve it back to some warped version of the early 20th century. Uh, wow. I present evidence that proves you wrong, and you don't have a single response other than that you don't find it convincing? Really? You have a fantasy for "proving" things. Providing a few examples may support your theory of where music is headed/should head. But that's not proof of anything, it's support, tenuous at best. I'll respond more specifically here but generally I think you're the victim of hopelessly delusional, wishful thinking. I venture to bet you'd say the same for me. (imagine winking smily face here. can't bring myself to do it) Reznor - As you note, the success of his Ghosts experiment is due in large part to the following he enjoys as a result of the huge promotional and supportive advantages of a major label. The idea that emerging artists who are building their fan base alone can duplicate this success I find disingenuous or willfully ignorant on your part. Do you think Reznor set all of that up himself, or do you think he paid someone else do do it while he focused on making music? The Freese example - You know Mike, we may be coming from opposite ends of the argument here, but this sounds to me like an expression of desperation, born of the fact that fans can no longer be trusted to compensate artists for the music they love. What’s next, will artists begin offering blowjobs in exchange for a $10 album "pledge?" This may have “worked” for Josh, but I think that’s highly questionable. Musicians, if they resonate with fans, ought to be compensated for their MUSIC, not for giving Disneyland tours. Jesus. Follow this to its logical conclusion and the musician is suddenly doing everything BUT actually making music. The record label/commodity model earns its efficiency from the fact that the ART is being supported by the fan, thus encouraging more ART to be made in the future. The record label, at least a good one, supports this goal and aids in the necessary marketing and promotion work that Josh obviously wants no real part in. From a blog post of his... “Things started to get extra hectic with the unfolding of all my wacky responsibilities I had with making good on the stuff I'd sold on my web-site. You know all those nutty "packages" that tied into my record SINCE 1972? Yeah...all that stuff. I was having lunches, floating in sensory deprivation tanks, giving drum lessons, giving tours of Disneyland, writing songs/making videos about people, letting strangers take clothes out of my closet, giving haircuts, etc... “It really consumed me for a long time and got to be a bit much but just when I started to think "this is getting out of hand and why the hell am I doing this" I'd quickly remind myself that it was ME that got ME into this damn mess and that it's actually a pretty cool job and worth all the hype and free publicity that I got while releasing my record (which was the whole point of it!)” I wish Josh the very best, but I ask you to question these examples, how many of these have been “successful” due to novelty and how many appear to actually be sustainable. Sobule - I find this very, very disheartening. You think she wanted some wealthy stranger singing on her album? Really? Out of respect for art, do you think that inclusion further manifested Sobule’s vision or dilluted it? Again, follow this to it’s logical conclusion and it ain’t pretty. By the way, I’m waiting for the monumentally successful album that’s funded on this sort of subscription model. Maybe there's one I'm unaware of? Corey Smith - That’s awesome. Good for him. You do have to admit, this sounds like a local phenomenon, though - not exactly fulfilling the global promise of the internet, but immensely successful. This example, unfortunately, is very isolated. Amanda Palmer - Some of your examples are inspiring and show how determined, plucky artists can find their way and I think that's fantastic. But I'm looking at the big picture. Palmer’s example has always smacked of desperation to me. On your note about royalties, she hasn’t earned royalties because she hasn’t earned back her advance. And perhaps if her fans were making the point to compensate her for the recordings Warner invested in rather than empty wine bottles, she’d not only have royalties to speak of, but a sign that Warner’s investment in her was well-founded, which I imagine would translate to a future deal with better terms. Also, it’s HIGHLY unlikely that the Twitter experiment would have been at all successful if not for the promotion she earned from said record deal. That's something you ought to acknowledge. So, this was fun. You should read my most recent essay on this whole mess if you haven't. http://www.tinymixtapes.com/features/2009-fuck-love-let8217s-make-dystopia And I'm curious to hear what you think. You can email me at chrisruen@gmail.com or trash me in public on your website. (please insert another winking smileyface here) Take care Mike and congrats on the site, Chris

             

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

            •  
              identicon
              Chris Ruen, Mar 19th, 2010 @ 12:45pm

              okay...

              **crap. let's try this again... Mike feel free to erase that italicized mess up there if you want/can.**

              Mike,

              First off, I see no rules being broken by blaming others who are in real terms responsible for harm and destruction. There's a difference between asking others to be accountable for their actions and suing fans, which obviously backfired for the RIAA.

              You say, "The fact that there are idiots in this world is not new and is not a condemnation of the web. If anything it's a condemnation of bad filtering tools. Build better tools with better incentives and weed out the idiots."

              It's an observation of the anonymity encouraged by the web, and the subsequent irresponsibility/disconnection/futility which it inspires in discourse. Our lowest human desires are attracted to conflict, which is what we often see online. Many of the most popular websites owe their success to nasty commenters and unhelpful conflict - so they have no interest in improving their filtering tools. Understanding and consideration just don't sell and they often are not encouraged by the nature of this medium.

              You believe I suffer from a misunderstanding of basic economic conditions. I believe you suffer from a misunderstanding of basic human relations and choices (which in many ways, is economics). Also I think you give technology more credit than it deserves.

              I appreciate that you purchase your media when you don't necessarily "have" to, and that you see yourself as helping artists to succeed. From your tone, I think I can be forgiven for making the apparently faulty assumption that you Freeload. But your altruism is tragically misdirected.

              You have a gigantic blind spot for the basic issue of permission, and you've attempted to mask this in an unwarranted faith in technology. Your assertion that it isn't stealing because a "copy" is being made is a high-minded form of playing dumb on the matter. It demonstrates a striking level of disrespect for the choices of the artist. Putting it more generally but more to the point, it demonstrates a striking level of disrespect for the choices of other people/members of society/citizens. And in the process, while you may not Freeload yourself, you espouse and promote the ideology of the Freeloader. You are an apologist for the practice.

              While I think giving away free samples to stimulate payment for goods is a well-proven strategy, it doesn't work if a critical mass of consumers have been made comfortable in an ideology that says all content is free. We both know this is happening, and it is the primary contagion which needs to be marginalized if the "internet" is going to deliver anything other than desperation and mediocrity.

              If you really want to help artists, you might start by encouraging others to respect their work and their choices, rather than cherry picking examples and rationalizations for why the immense majority of artists are wrong/confused. Also, I think you're a bit confused on your own opinion of the matter, judging by the following...

              "I never said all music was free."
              "The fact that the price of music is being driven to $0 is an economic condition"

              You have clearly accepted the "reality" of free, and you are operating on its terms. Here's where I differ. The price of music being driven to zero is not a result of copying, it's the result of consumers having an easy, unsanctioned way to opt out of our commodity system. The individual consumer decides how much music is worth to them. Don't blame it all on technology. It isn't being driven by technology, it's being driven by how people use the technology. And while artists are becoming more and more desperate due to the sacred trust having been broken between artist and fan, people such as yourself ignore the plainly evident reality of this theft and instead double-down on your faith that focusing on technology and its own imagined desires is the only solution and will lead to a better world for both consumer and the artist.

              But what if it doesn't? Look around you. The infrastructure for music is gradually collapsing, as much as you apparently see this situation through rose-colored glasses. It's not a collapse to you, it's a leveling of the playing field. I guess that's one of our main differences.

              The big issue here is that the commodity system, albeit an intellectualized form of it in the digital age, is the most efficient, convenient and appropriate means of compensating artists for their work. It's also a statement of value for music, art and expression rather than a statement of value for empty wine bottles, per your Amanda Palmer example. So while we search and search for new models that have relatively few examples of success, models that in large part haven't worked, the commodity system sits there waiting to be rediscovered.

              I cast my lot in with trying to make that system work BETTER for artists and fans with an increase in record deal transparency (so fans have some understanding of how much money is going to the artist) and reduced cost for digital albums. Ideally, distribution costs could be trimmed as well. That, to me, delivers on the promise of the internet as a tool to democratize and expand creative culture rather than devolve it back to some warped version of the early 20th century.

              You say, "Uh, wow. I present evidence that proves you wrong, and you don't have a single response other than that you don't find it convincing? Really?"

              You have a fantasy for "proving" things. Providing a few examples may support your theory of where music is headed/should head. But that's not proof of anything, it's support, tenuous at best. I'll respond more specifically here but generally I think you're the victim of hopelessly delusional, wishful thinking. I venture to bet you'd say the same for me. (imagine winking smily face here. can't bring myself to do it)

              Reznor - As you note, the success of his Ghosts experiment is due in large part to the following he enjoys as a result of the huge promotional and supportive advantages of a major label. The idea that emerging artists who are building their fan base alone can duplicate this success I find disingenuous or willfully ignorant on your part. Do you think Reznor set all of that up himself, or do you think he paid someone else do do it while he focused on making music?

              The Freese example - You know Mike, we may be coming from opposite ends of the argument here, but this sounds to me like an expression of desperation, born of the fact that fans can no longer be trusted to compensate artists for the music they love. What's next, will artists begin offering blowjobs in exchange for a $10 album "pledge?" This may have "worked" for Josh, but I think that's highly questionable. Musicians, if they resonate with fans, ought to be compensated for their MUSIC, not for giving Disneyland tours. Jesus. Follow this to its logical conclusion and the musician is suddenly doing everything BUT actually making music. The record label/commodity model earns its efficiency from the fact that the ART is being supported by the fan, thus encouraging more ART to be made in the future. The record label, at least a good one, supports this goal and aids in the necessary marketing and promotion work that Josh obviously wants no real part in. From a blog post of his...

              "Things started to get extra hectic with the unfolding of all my wacky responsibilities I had with making good on the stuff I'd sold on my web-site. You know all those nutty "packages" that tied into my record SINCE 1972? Yeah...all that stuff. I was having lunches, floating in sensory deprivation tanks, giving drum lessons, giving tours of Disneyland, writing songs/making videos about people, letting strangers take clothes out of my closet, giving haircuts, etc...

              "It really consumed me for a long time and got to be a bit much but just when I started to think "this is getting out of hand and why the hell am I doing this" I'd quickly remind myself that it was ME that got ME into this damn mess and that it's actually a pretty cool job and worth all the hype and free publicity that I got while releasing my record (which was the whole point of it!)"

              I wish Josh the very best, but I ask you to question these examples, how many of these have been "successful" due to novelty and how many appear to actually be sustainable.

              Sobule - I find this very, very disheartening. You think she wanted some wealthy stranger singing on her album? Really? Out of respect for art, do you think that inclusion further manifested Sobule's vision or dilluted it? Again, follow this to it's logical conclusion and it ain't pretty. By the way, I'm waiting for the monumentally successful album that's funded on this sort of subscription model. Maybe there's one I'm unaware of?

              Corey Smith - That's awesome. Good for him. You do have to admit, this sounds like a local phenomenon, though - not exactly fulfilling the global promise of the internet, but immensely successful. This example, unfortunately, is very isolated.

              Amanda Palmer - Some of your examples are inspiring and show how determined, plucky artists can find their way and I think that's fantastic. But I'm looking at the big picture. Palmer's example has always smacked of desperation to me. On your note about royalties, she hasn't earned royalties because she hasn't earned back her advance. And perhaps if her fans were making the point to compensate her for the recordings Warner invested in rather than empty wine bottles, she'd not only have royalties to speak of, but a sign that Warner's investment in her was well-founded, which I imagine would translate to a future deal with better terms. Also, it's HIGHLY unlikely that the Twitter experiment would have been at all successful if not for the promotion she earned from said record deal. That's something you ought to acknowledge.

              So, this was fun. You should read my most recent essay on this whole mess if you haven't. http://www.tinymixtapes.com/features/2009-fuck-love-let8217s-make-dystopia And I'm curious to hear what you think. You can email me at chrisruen@gmail.com or trash me in public on your website. (please insert another winking smileyface here)

              Take care Mike and congrats on the site's success,
              Chris

               

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

  •  
    identicon
    MT, Mar 17th, 2010 @ 10:07am

    JL Says

    Hey world, let's agree not respond to anything else JL says. He is and has always been a shallow self-promoter, looking for attention. C'mon! His offical bio says he "... popularized the term 'Virtual Reality'". The rest is stage presence. Let it go, old fart.

     

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

  •  
    icon
    Zac Morris (profile), Mar 25th, 2010 @ 3:08pm

    Jaron has lost his mind, or been replaced by a V! ;-)

    The stuff he's been spouting during the last year is just comically antiquated.

    If I hear one more person say what a visionary he is, I think I'm going to puke.

    -Zac Morris

     

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

  •  
    icon
    NTANNER (profile), Apr 17th, 2010 @ 2:54pm

    Lanier is brilliant

    Guess what: HE IS VISIONARY. AND A BRILLIANT MUSCIAN, talent with great compassion. Re-read his book and you'll understand.

     

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


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