Interview With Nina Paley: The More You Share, The More Valuable Your Works Become

from the economics-of-abundance dept

Regular Techdirt contributor Nina Paley has a fascinating interview (pdf) in the latest edition of Radical History Review. The issue is all about "new approaches to enclosures," so a discussion on enclosures around content and ideas seems absolutely appropriate. The actual interview took place a while ago, so it's a bit out of date, but is still a worthwhile read. It has a nice summary of the process she had to go through to clear the music for her film Sita Sings the Blues, which debunks the commonly cited fallacy that her position on copyright is because she failed to clear the music for her film. This is entirely false. In fact, she reached out to the copyright holders first, and even admits they might never have even realized that her film existed (or that they held the copyrights on the compositions of these ancient songs) if she hadn't told them.
People advise me, "Why don't you just ask the companies for permission?" But the cost of asking for permission is extremely high. All of the artists are dead, so I can't ask their permission. And all of the works belong to these corporations, and the corporations won't talk to normal people. If they don't know who you are, they don't return your calls or they just give you the runaround. They will only talk to lawyers and music supervisors, people who are paid intermediaries.

We tried for months to contact the copyright holders directly, and they wouldn't give us any information or respond to us, so I had to hire a lawyer to talk to them. Before I even got an estimate of what it would cost to license this music, I had to pay $15,000 to an intermediary. When I specified that the entire budget for the film was less than $200,000, they came back with the bargain-basement amount of $220,000 to use Hanshaw's music in my film. And before they would even talk to me about anything, I had to pay them $500 per song and sign a piece of paper promising not to make any money from it at film festivals, and that after one year, I wouldn't even be able to show it anymore.
Paley does a nice job explaining why the idea of the "tragedy of the commons" really doesn't apply to ideas and content, even if it's one of the regular justifications for copyright, and how the more her work gets shared, the more valuable it becomes:
Calling both a grassy field and ideas a "commons" is interesting, because one of them, the grassy field, is tangible and scarce, whereas the other one is not actually limited. A lot of the conversation that happens around imaginary property is that people think that itís real. The "enclosure of the commons" metaphor definitely works for both, but a grassy field is very different from culture in that there's only so much grassy field. A grassy field is actually real; if, for example, you take a bulldozer to your grassy field, then the grassy field is ruined. But if you take your bulldozer to a copy of your work, then there are all these other copies. It doesn't affect the idea. It only affects one copy. So the concept of the "tragedy of the commons" doesn't really apply to intellectual/cultural works at all.

Real things are limited. If you don't take care of the field, or if you overgraze it, then there's not enough grass for the other sheep. With cultural works, it's the exact opposite. The more they're shared, the more valuable they become. People apply these ideas about scarcity to culture, and culture is not scarce. People are thinking of the "problem of abundance": the idea that people don't know what to do with abundance. But there is no tragedy of the cultural commons. I've read justifications of copyright where people say that if culture is shared too much the value of the work is diluted. Who came up with that idea? The opposite is true: works do not become less valuable the more they're shared; they become more valuable the more they're shared. What on earth are they talking about when they say that sharing dilutes the value of the work?
Another key point made in the article is debunking the whole "but, but plagiarism!" response to copyright discussions, whereby people confuse copyright and plagiarism. She first covers how the two are different, and then notes that someone copying her work without crediting her isn't as big a problem as many people think it is, because (1) it doesn't actually harm her actual work and (2) the more widely her work is actually shared, the more people will realize that the plagiarist plagiarized:
I do want my work to be credited to me, but I don't think it's important or necessary to have that legal component of it, because I really believe that a community enforces that much better than the law does. No one would be sued for plagiarizing Shakespeare. If I publish "Hamlet by Nina Paley," no one is going to sue me. The freer my work is, the less plagiarized it will be, because the more people know what it is. I think what's really cool about free culture is that it actually protects work much better from plagiarism.
Anyway, those are just a few snippets. The full interview covers a lot more ground and is well worth reading for those interested in these topics.


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    average_joe (profile), Jan 14th, 2011 @ 6:52pm

    It actually hurts my head to read Nina's words.

     

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      The Infamous Joe (profile), Jan 14th, 2011 @ 6:59pm

      Re:

      Seriously, if you don't have anything to say, just don't say anything. If you actually have a point, then by all means make it.

      I assume this means you're done calling people out for ad hominem copmments, right?

       

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      Marcus Carab (profile), Jan 14th, 2011 @ 7:12pm

      Re:

      so that's what denial feels like

       

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Jan 14th, 2011 @ 9:27pm

      Re:

      It actually hurts my head to read Nina's words.


      Yes, we know the truth hurts to those who deny it.

      :)

       

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        average_joe (profile), Jan 15th, 2011 @ 7:03am

        Re: Re:

        Yes, we know the truth hurts to those who deny it.

        :)


        LOL! I don't think that's it. I'm waiting for a good story to debate you on, but this one isn't it. I don't have enough Ibuprofen in the house. :)

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2011 @ 7:44am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Art will always be more important than the law surrounding it.

           

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          Marcus Carab (profile), Jan 15th, 2011 @ 8:38am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I'm waiting for a good story to debate you on

          Thank you for confirming that you make your mind up in advance and are only here looking for a fight

           

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            average_joe (profile), Jan 15th, 2011 @ 9:01am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Thank you for confirming that you make your mind up in advance and are only here looking for a fight

            You don't enjoy a good debate on the merits?

             

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              Marcus Carab (profile), Jan 15th, 2011 @ 9:39am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I enjoy learning something, considering it, deciding what i think about it then responding to what others think about it. Not waiting around for a fight.

               

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                average_joe (profile), Jan 15th, 2011 @ 9:47am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                To me, it sounds like you're trying to start a fight right now.

                 

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                  Marcus Carab (profile), Jan 15th, 2011 @ 11:18am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  I didn't say I don't enjoy a good fight, or I'm not guilty of ever starting them. But they aren't my endgame - my favourite comment threads are the ones where people actually shed new light on the topic, explore its factual intricacies or explain new ideas that it inspired in them. They are much more productive and enjoyable than the ones that reduce everything back to the same old debate stemming from a fundamental difference in philosophy.

                   

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      RD, Jan 14th, 2011 @ 9:43pm

      Re:

      "It actually hurts my head to read Nina's words."

      And we dont give Shit One what you feel. Say something with SOME meaning to it, or dont bother to open your yap.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2011 @ 1:06am

      Re:

      I'm sorry your mental capacity is so limited. Maybe nina should use smaller words so you can grasp things better.

       

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      btrussell (profile), Jan 15th, 2011 @ 6:30am

      Re:

      It hurts my brain to read yours. My head is fine.

       

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      vivaelamor (profile), Jan 15th, 2011 @ 12:45pm

      Re:

      "It actually hurts my head to read Nina's words."

      I'm genuinely interested in why you might have a problem with the writing in that interview. It's worth noting that Nina appears not to have actually written the answers, but had spoken for the interview. Personally I'm far more comfortable writing than speaking and would imagine a spoken interview with me would look even worse transcribed. Having said that, I don't note anything wrong with the interview myself and wouldn't even be able to guess as to whether it had been written or spoken; to my mind it was either well spoken or well edited.

       

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      abc gum, Jan 15th, 2011 @ 12:57pm

      Re:

      Fear of that which we do not understand has been known to produce such symptoms.

       

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      techflaws.org (profile), Jan 16th, 2011 @ 3:27am

      Re:

      Guess how we feel every time you post your pointless drivel?

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2011 @ 6:55pm

    I'm afraid about the uncertainty of your doubtful conclusion. But what do I know, being an old fuddy-duddy?

     

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    The Infamous Joe (profile), Jan 14th, 2011 @ 7:06pm

    Goals.

    The opposite is true: works do not become less valuable the more they're shared; they become more valuable the more they're shared. What on earth are they talking about when they say that sharing dilutes the value of the work?

    I think the reason you don't understand them, and they you, is because you are talking about two different things entirely.

    You see a commons and think "If this field were infinitely large, then everyone in the world could fit on it and there'd be room to spare!"

    They see a commons and think "If I put a wall around it, it will be way easier to make people pay to get on it."

    People concerned with dilution aren't worried about the value of a work, but of the ability to squeeze every bit of money out of it.

     

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      Marcus Carab (profile), Jan 14th, 2011 @ 7:18pm

      Re: Goals.

      And yet there is a certain inherent lunacy in what they say. Even from their moneymaking perspective.

      Does Dan Brown have a lower value because his work is shared too much? Yes, hordes of people buy his books - and that hordes of people lend his books to a friend too. Meanwhile libraries stock them by the dozen. Is all this decreasing his value?

      When a Lady Gaga video on YouTube gets millions of views, does that decrease her value? Does each tweet with a link knock a penny off her net worth?

      Do TV networks renew the shows with the lowest Neilsen ratings?

      In all of these cases, sharing is increasing the value. It is at the same time acting as an indicator of value since there is clearly a strong correlation that operates in both directions. The statement that sharing a cultural work dilutes its value is ludicrous.

       

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        The Infamous Joe (profile), Jan 14th, 2011 @ 7:32pm

        Re: Re: Goals.

        Does Dan Brown have a lower value because his work is shared too much? Yes, hordes of people buy his books - and that hordes of people lend his books to at friend too. Meanwhile libraries stock them by the dozen. Is all this decreasing his value?

        No, of course not. But from a middleman perspective, you aren't concerned with Dan Brown's value, you're concerned with his book's price. Without a middleman making decisions, it all becomes sane again.

        Do TV networks renew the shows with the lowest Neilsen ratings?

        No, but TV is on a totally different system than music and books. TV still banks on a captive audience. This will eventually lead to their downfall, but that's a different discussion for a different day.

        Sharing only increases the value of the creator of the content-- not the distributer. (Obviously) To use the field analogy again, they to put up a wall and they don't care if the wall blocks sunlight and causes the commons to wither-- as long as they can still control who sees it. (Better still if they can get the money upfront before the bastard sees he's paid to walk in a withered field!) Further, they'd cream their collective pants if they could scorch the rest of the earth so the only (withered) grass left was theirs. They don't care about the value of the creator or their effect on society at large-- only the bottom line.

         

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          Marcus Carab (profile), Jan 14th, 2011 @ 8:07pm

          Re: Re: Re: Goals.

          But from a middleman perspective, you aren't concerned with Dan Brown's value, you're concerned with his book's price.

          Really that's what it all comes down to - people saying value instead of price yet again.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2011 @ 10:04pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Goals.

            I think any writer who yearns for their works to be highly priced rather than possessed of lasting value should go ahead and build fences around their work, then. I somehow doubt they'll be much missed.

             

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              vivaelamor (profile), Jan 15th, 2011 @ 1:02pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Goals.

              "I think any writer who yearns for their works to be highly priced rather than possessed of lasting value should go ahead and build fences around their work, then. I somehow doubt they'll be much missed."

              Even if that were true, it leaves out the middleman. For example, I am a big fan of quite a few musicians who are on big labels and wouldn't presume them to be making a conscious choice to screw their fans. Some have even spoke out in favour of fans over protection (such as Norah Jones).

               

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2011 @ 7:49pm

        Re: Re: Goals.

        When you say, "Dan Brown's work," do you mean Focault's Pendulum for Dummies or The Case of Brain Damaged Sherlock in Rome?

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2011 @ 7:21pm

    I know TD loves Nine, heck, they hired her to write for the site. I totally disagree with her opinions, and more importantly, I think she doesn't realize the implications of her actions and ideas. I sort of picture her the same way I picture a squeegee punk kid on the street, thinking they are somehow doing good by smudging your windows and squatting in abandoned buildings, wondering why everyone else doesn't live that way.

    Amusing, but honestly, not my way of life.

     

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      Prashanth (profile), Jan 14th, 2011 @ 8:09pm

      Re:

      David, I know you love trolling me, but I didn't realize you'd take it to this level on TechDirt.
      (I know someone named David who loves trolling people.)

       

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      teka (profile), Jan 14th, 2011 @ 8:24pm

      Re:

      I know TD loves Nine, heck, they hired her to write for the site. I totally disagree with her opinions, and more importantly, I think she doesn't realize the implications of her actions and ideas. I sort of picture her the same way I picture a squeegee punk kid on the street, thinking they are somehow doing good by smudging your windows and squatting in abandoned buildings, wondering why everyone else doesn't live that way.


      Haha, anyone who i disagree with or can't understand is a vagrant child! I can belittle their every action and opinion by calling them a punk who is too dumb to understand why I am so right!

      Thanks anon.
      You managed to be insulting and dismissive without ever making a swing at, oh, i dunno, expressing why you think Nina (not Nine) is wrong. Or why you obviously think Techdirt is wrong.

      Why not try something like.. "I think Nina is wrong about A. I think A is X instead because of Y and Z"

      not "I think Nine is wrong and dumb and a stinkyhead"

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2011 @ 9:46pm

        Re: Re:

        not "I think Nine is wrong and dumb and a stinkyhead"

        I didn't say that in the least. How can I make it more clear? Nina starts with a basically flawed premise, and takes it to the Nth degree. She is exactly the same, in my view, as a squeege kid, or perhaps those people who lead anarchist movements. They start from an erroneous premise, and then get truly upset when the rest of the world doesn't agree with them.

        I don't comment on her particular works, rather on the place she has arrived at. She aspired to be a hippie by her own admission, and honestly, her current copyright politics are just a modern version of the "Turn on, tune in, drop out" mentality of the 60s, turned into 21st century commune living.

        I don't agree with her, I don't think she is "cynical" as she claims, rather someone who can't understand why their views aren't mainstream.

        So now, it's not "she's a stinkyhead", just that she is someone that I don't agree with on any level, in any manner.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2011 @ 9:50pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          How convincing.

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2011 @ 10:00pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Can't help but notice you still haven't actually made a single coherent argument.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2011 @ 10:21pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            What do I have to do? I don't agree with her at all. Not just in this post, but in general. What more can I add?

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2011 @ 10:30pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Maybe what about her argument you don't agree with and why you don't agree with it? The reasons you feel she's wrong? Saying "you're wrong!" doesn't actually constitute an argument all by itself. You need to add stuff: "you're wrong BECAUSE x."

              But I see someone else has already said this above, so I suspect you're now resorting to disingenuity, which is...still not making your point.

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2011 @ 10:45am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                You need to add stuff: "you're wrong BECAUSE x."

                Okay, well, you're wrong because you are being a baiting troll. You aren't adding anything to the discussion,you are just trying to get a rise out of me.

                But since you ask so nicely:

                "Nina Paley is wrong for a simple reason: sharing only adds value to something that had little or no value to start with".

                Read it slowly, because I know you will jump to a conclusion. Pay attention. If you are an unknown, unsigned, marginal or unimportant artist (say a cartoonist) who really can barely get arrested, let alone collect a wide audience for your work, your work is only of value to yourself. You are unknown. Obviously, sharing that work and hoping to find an audience may create some value.

                The inverse isn't true. Something of high existing value (say like a blockbuster movie or a great music recording) don't benefit from unlimited distribution, they are hurt by it. Adding low end value to it doesn't help the cause, and may make other people reconsider how much they would value having access to it.

                So I disagree with Nina because her point of view is only functional from where she is standing. Attempting to apply that standard to everyone else, dragging them down to her level, isn't helping them. It isn't about a commons, it is about a level playing field. She just wants the level brought down to where she plays.

                It would be like making all the players in the Premiere League wear knee braces, so the 10 year old kids could play evenly with them. It is perhaps of great value to the 10 year olds, but of little value to the rest of us.

                So there you go. One example of why I think she is wrong.

                 

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                  Marcus Carab (profile), Jan 15th, 2011 @ 11:30am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  This completely ignores the fact that many forms of sharing, including unauthorized sharing, are contributing to and sustaining the popularity of the those big-ticket creators too.

                  I think maybe you are only focusing on unauthorized sharing, when the real point here is that fundamentally speaking, sharing always increases the value of a creative work. Sharing is analogous with popularity and popularity is society's number one measuring stick for the "success" of a creator. Forget piracy for a second - what about everyone who, quite legally, plays their favourite songs for their friends when they come over? That is free sharing, and that act is vital to the establishment of a popular musician. Just like free play on the radio.

                  Consider any new piece of art in any medium that any of us is exposed to. How do we decide if it's "good"? I can't speak for everyone, but I know that for me the number one indicator is that I immediately want to share it with others.

                  Widespread unauthorized sharing may reduce the commercial value of an artist in the eyes of those seeking to profit by forcing scarcity on their work, but you can't argue that the basic concept of sharing is opposed to the basic concept of value in art when the opposite is so obviously true.

                   

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                  Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2011 @ 11:43am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Setting aside the fact that you called me a name, and name-calling is also one of those tactics that tends to derail considered discussion and is therefore more about bullying than making an actual point, okay, thank you for providing an argument to back up your previous statements that Paley is wrong.

                  For the record, I think the difficulty you're having with Paley's argument is that you're using a monetary scale to measure value, and she isn't. Because our culture exists in a capitalist milieu, we tend to conflate price with value. The terms actually aren't interchangeable, though. Movies, art, music, books -- all of those things can have inherent worth without having earned their creators any money. Paley's arguing that sharing these works widely doesn't diminish that inherent worth at all, and in fact ADDS to it by making it possible for the works to infiltrate our shared consciousness more widely than they would have on their own, gaining their creators more acclaim from a broader audience and opening the discussion around the works to more voices. Discussion, commentary, criticism -- all of these things serve to strengthen an artist's future endeavours. Wider recognition can also open doors to recording contracts, grants, album purchases, an increase in concert and movie tickets, etc, all of which means more cash in the pockets of those artists whose work resonates with the public. So this process can really only be seen to be beneficial in that sense.

                  What you're discussing is whether or not the large corporations who have developed our existing media distribution infrastructure will continue to get richer if arguments like Paley's gain legal traction. I think you're right -- they won't. It might be catastrophic for that industry. It might mean that the hype machines behind Justin Beiber and Transformers 2 will crumble, leaving us with a media distribution system more like the one Paley envisions, where the works people like or resonate with the most will succeed. Personally, I'd be cool with that outcome. But each to their own, I guess.

                   

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                    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2011 @ 1:30pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    I don't use a monetary scale to assign value. Value is much of the time our ability to pay attention, what we as individuals decide to watch, listen to, read, whatever. We value our time, and how we "spend" our time does in various ways impart value on things.

                    The problem is when you have too many things competing for your time and your attention, nothing is really of true value. In the 2000 channel TV universe, we no longer value network TV as we once did. We have so many choices that even if we like what is on network (and most people do), we cannot value it as highly because we have too many other things shouting at us.

                    So what happens in the end, there isn't suddenly more value created out of thin air, just the existing value gets diluted down to the point where nothing is really valuable.

                    So what ends up happening? We look for aggregators to tell us what is good and bad, so we don't spend all out time searching, and instead spending out time enjoying. We might call them other things in the future. Today we call them magazines, guides, review sites, networks, radio stations, record labels, and TV networks. It is the reason why even specialty cable channels work so hard to establish their identities, because they are trying to become a trusted source.

                    What Nina suggests is a wide open, flat egalitarian commons with everyone on it doing everything all the time. The reality is that humans don't work like that. We learn to trust other people to help us find what it is we enjoy. The commons is mythical, not supportable.

                    It is almost impossible to get enough resonance in the public without some sorts of filters. You call them hype machines, most people call them "a great source of entertainment". Nobody can afford to make a billion different things looking for resonance, they have to select, filter, and focus. Hype is just the end result of that focus.

                    Nina proposes an unnatural state of things, one that cannot happen for very long. It would create a vacuum to powerful to exist for long.

                     

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                      Richard (profile), Jan 15th, 2011 @ 1:40pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      We learn to trust other people to help us find what it is we enjoy. The commons is mythical, not supportable.

                      The real solution is in your hands - but you don't realise it!

                      When the content is free then people will pay for the ability to find what they want.

                       

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                      Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2011 @ 2:42pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      But the commons is already thriving! It always has been. People have always made art out of love, because they had a thing they wanted to say, a peculiar vision all their own they felt they needed to share with the rest of us. The best and most resonant of these have always managed to find an audience through independent means. Pre-internet, I heard about new bands through word of mouth and touring, college radio and photocopied zine reviews; I'd send a $5 bill to some indie label and get a vinyl sampler in return. Before that, people relied on live performances of new music, on dissemination through repetition by other artists. Each repetition added something to the original work, making it take on new dimensions, making it accessible to even broader audiences further away from the original artist's home. Filtration occurs naturally in these kinds of systems -- people are more likely to click on the youtube video that shows up first in the search results, and the search results display the videos with lots of hits first. If I listen to a song and don't dig it, I click away and find something else. If I LIKE it, though, I email it to people I know or post it on my blog or whatever, and then the people I've linked it to do the same. It was much the same before the internet. Nobody'd try to listen to ALL the bands there were, and there wasn't a reason to -- just like there were people making music because they wanted to, there were people WRITING about music because they wanted to, and people hosting radio shows because they wanted to, and people making indie labels because they wanted to. Art is self-perpetuating. It doesn't need monetary encouragement, or filtration via corporate means. In fact, some of us would probably agree that corporate filtration has only been detrimental to art, especially in the areas of music and film. I'm not saying there have never been worthy products of the corporate music or film industries, but those that have appeared did so DESPITE corporate influence, not because of it.

                       

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                      Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2011 @ 3:04pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      That is exactly why "sharing" is important people go to sources they trust and who they trust most is their friends.

                      Sharing is part of how society functions, it is not something trivial that can be ignored, it is part of what we are in a fundamental level, criminalizing that behavior won't make it go away.

                      Everybody here is a pirate. Who never recorded a TV show? Who never lended a CD, DVD or book?

                      Every single painter that I know of started by copying somebody else work, every musician started copying somebody else music, that sharing is not going to stop and to try to stop that is to try and stop people from learning and experiencing the world it is not going to happen, people will revolt if others try that(see Tunisia for a example), business should be focused not on trying to control absolutely everything but just enough to make a profit, people are fine with that, but not with the current system, that system is going down and will crash and burn.

                       

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                      Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2011 @ 3:35pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      What Nina suggests is a wide open, flat egalitarian commons with everyone on it doing everything all the time. The reality is that humans don't work like that. We learn to trust other people to help us find what it is we enjoy. The commons is mythical, not supportable.


                      Did you just try to dismiss the entire human history as not supportable?

                      The commons is what made humanity possible, it is why we outgrew other species, because we build a collective, we worked in groups. Without that we wouldn't be able to flourish, for that reason I find your statement a tad mysterious, it is ignorance or it is something else?

                       

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                  Richard (profile), Jan 15th, 2011 @ 1:24pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  "Nina Paley is wrong for a simple reason: sharing only adds value to something that had little or no value to start with".

                  This is still just an unsubstantiated assertion.

                  btw everything in culture starts at zero value.

                   

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                    JEDIDIAH, Jan 15th, 2011 @ 1:53pm

                    Obscurity vs. Piracy

                    Any form of publishing is ultimately promotional.

                    The more your work is out there, the more people know about it and the more potential customers you have. No one is going to pay anything for your work if they don't know anything about you.

                    That is why there is radio and MTV.

                     

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                      Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2011 @ 3:30pm

                      Re: Obscurity vs. Piracy

                      Yup, but radio, MTV, and all those other things are "controlled" media. You don't give the full product away. You give it in a controlled way. You are still promoting the product, not something else.

                      Music is the product. Everything comes from the music. It isn't just a sideline. the "commons" idea makes music a sideline, not something that anyone can do as as their living, as their life.

                       

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                        Richard (profile), Jan 15th, 2011 @ 4:47pm

                        Re: Re: Obscurity vs. Piracy

                        Music is the product.
                        Wrong now - and always wrong. Music has always cost zero to reproduce it cannot ever be a product.

                        In the past sheet music and recorded music have been products - each had a significant marginal cost of reproduction. It was convenient to tax this marginal cost by a few percent to pay for upfront costs. Now that the marginal cost is zero you cannot tax it anymore.

                        Music is a service. It is a service when you perform live. It is a service when you compose music to a commission. These payment mechanisms allow musicians to be professionals now - just as they did in the days of Mozart and Beethoven.

                        Look around and you will see that the world is switching from manufacturing to service industries. Why do you think that music can be exempt from this change that is affecting everything else?

                         

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                          Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2011 @ 4:54pm

                          Re: Re: Re: Obscurity vs. Piracy

                          You missed it. It isn't "music is a product", it is "music is THE product".

                          See, without the music, the rest of it is nothing. It is the product. It is what the people really want. It is what the people enjoy every day. It is what they turn on in the morning and don't turn off until night time. It is THE product.

                          It is the one thing that people truly value, and the one thing, under normal circumstances, that they will actually pay for. It's only piracy that creates the artificial situation were are in now.

                          Until you understand what people really want, you cannot understand the rest of the reasons why Nina has it so wrong.

                           

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                            Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2011 @ 5:02pm

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Obscurity vs. Piracy

                            People really want to share culture.

                             

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                            Richard (profile), Jan 15th, 2011 @ 5:06pm

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Obscurity vs. Piracy

                            If it isn't even A product how can it ever be THE product.

                            It has always been free. If I hear a tune I can sing it myself. If I play the piano I can play it myself. I can play or sing it to a friend and that way it can spread around the world - this is not illegal, and never has been. What you call piracy is simply the mechanisation of this process with technology.

                            If I value a piece of music a lot then I will play/sing it a lot - that doesn't make it a product.

                            I'm sorry my friend it is you who totally misunderstands the situation.

                            Until you understand what people really want, you cannot understand the rest of the reasons why Nina has you have it so wrong.

                             

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                            The Infamous Joe (profile), Jan 15th, 2011 @ 5:18pm

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Obscurity vs. Piracy

                            See, without the music, the rest of it is nothing. It is the product.

                            Hahahaha, talk about missing the forest for the trees. You are at the same time completely correct and horribly wrong. It's actually quite impressive.

                            Don't worry, baby bird, I'll feed you. :)

                            You are correct that it is the music that is valuable. You are also correct that music is the product. You are horribly, tragically wrong in the fact that you think music and a recording of that music is the same thing. Do you know what musicians create? Yup, music. Do you know what the recording industry creates? Recordings of music. Musicians have never been in the recording business, they make music. They outsource the creation and distribution of recordings to a third party: The record labels. We, the fans, bought these recordings because it was the easiest way to hear our favorite musicians' music. We paid because we knew it costs money to press thousands of CDs and to ship them all over the country.

                            Now we have the internet, we have digital music. Musicians still make music, but they no longer need to outsource the creation and distribution of recordings. It is so low cost to create a copy of the recording and distribute that recording that people are being *sued* to make them stop doing it for free. Read that again. Why would any sane musician sign over the rights to their creative works to a middleman when there are *strangers* willing to do it for *free*? .

                            Until you understand what people really want, you cannot understand the rest of the reasons why Nina has it so wrong.

                            You can't be serious. It's obvious what people want. It's not hypothetical, it's reality. The only people who are blind to it are people like you.

                             

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                              Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2011 @ 6:16am

                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Obscurity vs. Piracy

                              But in the end, it all comes to the same thing. What you are talking about it raising the noise floor, the level of stuff that most people will ignore. Don't think like yourself, you are a smart person who can easily think for yourself. Think about the general public. They are different animals.

                              The noise floor would overwhelm them, knock them out. They want to be like their friends, they want to be in the cool kids crowd, and they want to listen to the "right" music. They don't want to be weird.

                              Smart musicians realize that with a high noise floor, it is unlikely any of them will be known worldwide. instead, all music becomes more regional, more local, and less friendly to outsiders. World tours? Are you kidding? Under your system, most bands wouldn't be known outside of their circle of friends.

                              The wide open commons is the recipe for millions of unknown artists to remain unknown, part of the noise. They may have 2 fans in cincinnati, three in new york, and a couple in bangladesh, but certainly not enough to tour to any of those places.

                              Radio? Without a wide distribution release system, local radio will each choose their own local playlists, re-enforcing the local nature of the music. You are unlikely to have artists with wide radio play, because they will be unknown outside of their local area. Clubs will also pay less for acts to perform, because almost everyone will be at the level of "talented amateur". With no touring acts, it is very likely that the larger soft seaters fold entirely, for lack of large acts to fill them.

                              Stadium tours? The dinosaurs of the record label era will continue to roam the earth, possibly the only acts to be able to actually fill something over 1000 seats. As they fade, so too will the large concert era, lost because nobody is really big enough to pull it off.

                              Basically, you can use a large open field in two ways: You can surround it by seats and play an NFL game on it, have a concert, or some other big event to the pleasure of the 100,000 fans in attendance, or everyone can throw frisbees and play hackysack and have a nice day. You get to choose which way the world goes, but remember, sooner or later, you will be bored with the hackysack.

                               

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                                Richard (profile), Jan 16th, 2011 @ 7:35am

                                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Obscurity vs. Piracy

                                But in the end, it all comes to the same thing. What you are talking about it raising the noise floor, the level of stuff that most people will ignore. Don't think like yourself, you are a smart person who can easily think for yourself. Think about the general public. They are different animals.

                                Patronising much...

                                The noise floor would overwhelm them, knock them out. They want to be like their friends, they want to be in the cool kids crowd, and they want to listen to the "right" music. They don't want to be weird.


                                Patronising - even more....
                                Don't expect the people you talk about to like you.

                                Smart musicians realize that with a high noise floor, it is unlikely any of them will be known worldwide. instead, all music becomes more regional, more local, and less friendly to outsiders. World tours? Are you kidding? Under your system, most bands wouldn't be known outside of their circle of friends.


                                Smart musician realise that in this situation they have to work to enlarge their circle of friends - its called CwF on this blog.

                                Much of the music we now love from the past was originally "local" this way. Don't you realise that making the whole world listen to the same stuff is not a good thing. When I go on holiday I don't eat at McDonalds (actually I don't eat at McDonald's anyway). I don't want to walk out of my hotel in Greece or Italy or Russia or Japan and find that the only restaurants are KFC, McDonalds and Burger King. Music is the same.

                                The wide open commons is the recipe for millions of unknown artists to remain unknown, part of the noise. They may have 2 fans in cincinnati, three in new york, and a couple in bangladesh, but certainly not enough to tour to any of those places.
                                That is an opportunity to add value by finding stuff for people. Of course if you business model was based on having a distribution monopoly and telling them what they should like then it may look like a threat. The result is that those who see the opportunity will win. For those who don't - too bad.

                                Radio? Without a wide distribution release system, local radio will each choose their own local playlists, re-enforcing the local nature of the music. You are unlikely to have artists with wide radio play, because they will be unknown outside of their local area.
                                I don't believe that you are right - however - even if you are I struggle to see why this is so terrible.

                                Clubs will also pay less for acts to perform,
                                Clubs pay according to the number of people they can attract and what they can afford to charge them in the local area at present. So no change.

                                because almost everyone will be at the level of "talented amateur".

                                This is blatantly false. I think the logic behind it is that

                                a) Only "full time" musicians with income from recordings can be good enough.

                                b) There will be no full time musicians.

                                Both of these statements are demonstrably false. (a) fails because every "breakthrough act" achieves initial success off the back of what they did as amateurs - and for many acts that is their best work anyway.

                                (b) fails because there were professional musicians before there was recording or even printing. (Most of my favourite music dates from that time...). Also there are ways to be a professional musician not based on recording or publishing. Gustav Holst was a music teacher in a school. His Planets suite will be played long after Lady Gaga is forgotten...

                                With no touring acts, it is very likely that the larger soft seaters fold entirely, for lack of large acts to fill them.

                                You seem to believe that the internet is incapable of creating worldwide mass popularity without the assistance of the marketing machine of the major entertainment companies. However if you look around YouTube you will see many videos self published by independent artists which have huge viewcounts. The fact is that "the commons" will not remain a huge uniform sea as you seem to think. In science there is a thing called "emergent phenomena" by which such systems can spontaneously generate things that are not obviously in the base system. If you look at Youtube you will see many examples of it. The point is that all it takes is for the average viewer of a video to recommend it to (on average) 1.0001 other people to create a global hit without any marketing input at all.

                                 

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                                Karl (profile), Jan 16th, 2011 @ 7:11pm

                                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Obscurity vs. Piracy

                                They want to be like their friends, they want to be in the cool kids crowd, and they want to listen to the "right" music. They don't want to be weird.

                                And how do they communicate what is the "right" music?

                                You got it - by sharing it with each other.

                                Radio? Without a wide distribution release system, local radio will each choose their own local playlists, re-enforcing the local nature of the music.

                                Fortunately, we have just such a wide distribution release system. It's called the internet.

                                Incidentally, radio is proof that you're completely wrong. If you were right, sharing music through radio play would always make music less valuable. The opposite is true.

                                And if I could hear local music on the radio, I'd start listening to it again.

                                Stadium tours? The dinosaurs of the record label era will continue to roam the earth, possibly the only acts to be able to actually fill something over 1000 seats. As they fade, so too will the large concert era, lost because nobody is really big enough to pull it off.

                                This would be bad, if stadium tours were the only tours, or even if they were the only tours where musicians made money. Neither is remotely true.

                                In fact, all of your arguments are based on one viewpoint: "If everyone does it, it's bad." You are, quite simply, an elitist.

                                And that's fine. I certainly don't believe people are equal. Unfortunately, you're basing your elitism purely on income. It's certainly not based on talent or ability - since neither is diluted when people are exposed to it.

                                Too bad for you that in the artistic industries, income is based on popularity. Your elitism, paradoxically enough, is fundamentally dependent upon the hoi polloi that you rail against. You won't let them into your walled-off commons to "throw frisbees and play hackysack" - or make their own music. But man oh man, you sure do love the color of their money.

                                 

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                            btrussell (profile), Jan 15th, 2011 @ 6:46pm

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Obscurity vs. Piracy

                            "It is what the people enjoy every day. It is what they turn on in the morning and don't turn off until night time."

                            B.S.

                            So is what is on the radio. I haven't turned one on in years.
                            I very, very rarely play my purchased music anymore either.

                            I'm not the only one.

                             

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                              Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2011 @ 9:13pm

                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Obscurity vs. Piracy

                              Do you listen to music? Do you listen often during the day? The point isn't how you go it, but that it is what you enjoy during the day. Music is something people want, desire, and are generally willing to pay for.

                              Otherwise, are you saying you don't listen to music?

                               

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                                btrussell (profile), Jan 16th, 2011 @ 4:29am

                                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Obscurity vs. Piracy

                                "Otherwise, are you saying you don't listen to music?"
                                That is what I am saying. I very, very rarely listen to any music. I have become so accustomed to tuning it out, I don't even hear music at malls and stores anymore.

                                 

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                            btrussell (profile), Jan 15th, 2011 @ 6:46pm

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Obscurity vs. Piracy

                            "It is what the people enjoy every day. It is what they turn on in the morning and don't turn off until night time."

                            B.S.

                            So is what is on the radio. I haven't turned one on in years.
                            I very, very rarely play my purchased music anymore either.

                            I'm not the only one.

                             

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                  Karl (profile), Jan 16th, 2011 @ 6:12pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Something of high existing value (say like a blockbuster movie or a great music recording) don't benefit from unlimited distribution, they are hurt by it.

                  This is absolutely false. In fact, most blockbuster movies and Top 40 albums do not have "high existing value." They have "greater existing distribution." That is why they are valuable.

                  Getting the works to the public - getting them more widely shared - is the entire point of a publisher, music label, or film distributor.

                  So, the very examples you cite prove you are wrong.

                   

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2011 @ 10:15pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          If her views wasn't mainstream we wouldn't be having this discussion now would we?

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2011 @ 10:17pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          People like you are the ones that call all his neighbors to help him build his barn and bailout when it is his turn to do the same for others.

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2011 @ 10:33pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Here is another hippie that just announced he will be making a feature film.

          http://www.blendernation.com/2011/01/10/project-gooseberry-announced/

          I dare you go there and trash talk him on that community, try to do it and see what happens.

           

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2011 @ 8:03pm

    Ask George Lucas what sharing has done to Star Wars, all those people copying Star Wars special effect(i.e. Light Saber Tutorials and movies everywhere), Stormtroopers in weddings, video, music, on the streets crap he must be poor by now right?

    Nope, the more people shared the richer George got, he now can produce his own films and it is all thanks for people sharing and engraving those images so deep into the psychic of the public that he is able to make so much money.

    Another guy who understand the culture of sharing is none other then Mr. Woz who recently acknowledge very public why trying to charge for every penny is a bad idea in his response about why Net Neutrality is important.

    What if we paid for our roads per mile that we drove? It would be fair and understandable to charge more for someone who drives more. But one of the most wonderful things in our current life is getting in the car and driving anywhere we feel like at this moment, and with no accounting for cost. You just get in your car and go. This is one of the most popular themes of our life and even our popular music. It's a type of freedom from some concerns that makes us happy and not complain. The roads are already paid for.


    One of the founders of the EFF and that single handled produced the "personal computer" the way we know it, which was friend with a hippie dude called "Steve Jobs" (which is now known as the dark master of the cyberverse)

     

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    kyle clements (profile), Jan 14th, 2011 @ 8:03pm

    mona lisa

    "works do not become less valuable the more they're shared; they become more valuable the more they're shared. What on earth are they talking about when they say that sharing dilutes the value of the work?"

    The Mona Lisa is perhaps the most recognized painting in the world. It is also one of the most reproduced.

    When I said 'Mona Lisa" how many people were able to picture that painting in their heads?
    I would bet just about everyone.

    But how many of you have actually seen it in person?
    I would guess only a small fraction of people.

    Its valuable because it is so well known.
    It's well known because it's reproduced and shared so often.

    Ideas that spread win.

     

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    AR (profile), Jan 14th, 2011 @ 8:38pm

    Marketing?

    Kind reminds me of how the labels used radio for marketing. The more a song was heard the more value it had. Which in turn would increase demand for concert tickets, t-shirts, merchandise, apperances, and more music. Heck, they even paid stations to play the music at one time.

    Hmm... could someone use say... bitTorrent in a similar way?
    NO, never mind. BitTorrent and its statistic trackers are just evil and need to be shut down.

    I guess obscurity is the best way to get recognized and the only way to make money.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2011 @ 10:32pm

      Re: Marketing?

      A lack of understand is your only enemy on this one.

      Radio is marketing, that is true. But it is also controlled market, and one that promotes first and foremost the direct sale of the musical product itself. If you like the song enough to want to hear it at your leisure, please buy a copy at the store (old version) or get a copy at itunes (new version).

      Bands can only play a certain number of shows a year, and can only make so many appearances in a year. A band that "tours it's ass off" might make 250 shows a year. They might make it to your town once every 4 or 5 years. So obviously, radio cannot be only promoting live shows, as they are incredibly rare.

      More importantly, we are naturally consumers of music on a day to day basis. We all have massive Mp3 / pod devices with storage for thousands of songs, and we listen constantly. There is a huge demand not just for concerts, but for the music itself.

      When you understand what the public really wants, you can understand why piracy is both so popular and so destructive. It removes the way that a band / artist / act can turn their work into money on a regular basis. They may only come to your town once every 4 years, but they can sell you a recording any time, any day. For those people who live in places where a concert might never happen (say Wasilla, Alaska), it may be the only way for a band to turn fans into income sources. That income in part pays for the next record.

      Piracy guts the music business, and in the end, removes the economic support to create new music. Remember, the top touring acts (AC/DC, Bon Jovi) are riding on music that is decades old. They don't have to go make new music anymore to sell tickets. But new acts do, and if they don't have the time or the money to do it, the concert you are attending is going to be an awful lot of cover tunes.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2011 @ 11:05pm

        Re: Re: Marketing?

        Your chicken little dance in the face of all evidence is quite hilarious.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2011 @ 2:39am

        Re: Re: Marketing?

        Really?

        REALLY?!

        Explain Pandora, LastFM and other free legal alternatives then? How are they different from "piracy"(a.k.a. sharing)?

        So bands can only sell CD for a living is that right?

        There is no endorsements, there is no other merchs(i.e. apparel, mugs, t-shirts, books, videos, DVD's, Blu-ray, original CD's), live gigs, that is all gone they don't make money from that right?

        C'mon dude, you can do better than that can't you?

         

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        btrussell (profile), Jan 15th, 2011 @ 6:37am

        Re: Re: Marketing?

        "Remember, the top touring acts (AC/DC, Bon Jovi) are riding on music that is decades old."
        Is that the purpose of copyright?

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2011 @ 7:49am

          Re: Re: Re: Marketing?

          No, all I am implying is that the top touring acts are there because they no longer have the need to make new music to stay there. Most acts end up taking a year or more off to write and record new albums, these guys don't have to do it because they aren't writing and recording a ton of new stuff.

          In order to be a top touring act, you have to tour. Touring pretty much kills the abilty to make the next album / cd / collection. Yes, there are exceptions, but for the most part the old sophomore jynx in music is because the second album was recorded in a hurry while the band was trying to tour hard as well. End results are usually fairly lame.

          The music is the key in the music business. When that is forgotten, when that is no longer rewarded, making music beecomes secondary, not primary. Then we might as well all go and enjoy classic rock concerts,because at least the music will be enjoyable.

           

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            Marcus Carab (profile), Jan 15th, 2011 @ 8:45am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Marketing?

            I think you are failing to consider the other side of the equation, where recording has become WAY easier and cheaper at the same time that recorded music has become free.

            I also think you are taking a very narrow view by only considering touring and recording, not the many other things that new artists are doing.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2011 @ 8:53am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Marketing?

              The recording has become easier, and the arrival of things like autotune have made it possible for people with little or no actual talent to make "music".

              The problem is more basic: If you bang it out in an hour, it probably isn't very good. It might be transient amusing, but for the most part, it just isn't going to be all that good.

              You are making the mistake of looking only at the technical, and failing to understand that there is an underlying artistic issue. The time it really takes to create, develop, nurture, and finally record great music isn't something that happens in just a few minutes.

              I also think you are taking a very narrow view by only considering touring and recording, not the many other things that new artists are doing.

              Would that be "selling t-shirts, playing miniputt, and having dinner with people they hate for cash"?

               

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                The Infamous Joe (profile), Jan 15th, 2011 @ 10:35am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Marketing?

                Would that be "selling t-shirts, playing miniputt, and having dinner with people they hate for cash"?

                If you hate your fans, you shouldn't complain when they decide to pirate your stuff instead of supporting you.

                 

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                  Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2011 @ 10:47am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Marketing?

                  Strawman. It isn't a question of hate. it isn't "love your fans and spend time with them, or don't and hate them". That isn't the point.

                  You can still love your fans and spend your time wisely to satisfy the most of them, or you could be forced to whore your time out to richer individual fans to try to make a living. Only one of those options shows love for all your fans, rather than just for the rich ones.

                  Great artists love their fans by writing, playing, and producing the very best original music they can.

                  So no, your strawman argument doesn't work.

                   

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                    The Infamous Joe (profile), Jan 15th, 2011 @ 11:24am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Marketing?

                    I didn't intend for my comment to be a strawman. In fact, you are the one who mentioned hating the people who would want to pay to have dinner with you.

                    You can still love your fans and spend your time wisely to satisfy the most of them, or you could be forced to whore your time out to richer individual fans to try to make a living.

                    ... Wait, are you being serious? You are saying that an artist would have to go out of their way to eat dinner? I was under the impression that people ate meals on a daily basis. If I offered to pay you $500 to eat at the same table as you, you would turn it down? Did you fall an hit your head recently? Further, if you're so concerned with leveling the financial playing ground for your fans, why do you want to charge for your art? Do you not love the fans without disposable income?

                    Great artists love their fans by writing, playing, and producing the very best original music they can.

                    I actually agree with you here. So, um, where does suing them for spreading your art come in?

                     

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                      Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2011 @ 7:20am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Marketing?

                      where does suing them for spreading your art come in?

                      When they spread your art to the point where you can no longer afford the time to make art, it is a negative. When as a song writer and musician you are forced to take other work to make a living rather than doing what you do best, that is where it crosses the line.

                      There is a lack of respect by the "fans" who insist that they have some ownership of the music, some right to decide for the artist how it will be distributed. They don't realize that at a point, it costs them future great music, because the musician doesn't have the money to afford the time to do it all again.


                      I didn't intend for my comment to be a strawman. In fact, you are the one who mentioned hating the people who would want to pay to have dinner with you.

                      No, they can still love their fans without having to spend their time with them on an individual basis. I didn't suggest that they should hate their fans, which is why your comment is a straw man: "You don't want to eat dinner with them, you hate them". There is plenty of love in there without having to lose you life as a dinner date. Turning down the money isn't the issue, it's the time, the effort, the planning. The artist was going to work on new songs, but instead, he has to fly in a plane to Waco Texas to have dinner with his fan. By the time he flies back home, he is no longer interested in writing a new song. So he puts it off until tomorrow, but tomorrow he has miniputt games and in the evening he is running an online yard sale to get rid of stuff from his last tour. So maybe the music part will happen next week. See where that goes?

                      Certainly it is easier for some people. If all my "original music" was taking someone else's tune and playing it on a ukulele, I could probably bang out an album in a few evenings of spare time. I would have plenty of time for dinner dates, online scrap sales, and the like. My music wouldn't be very original, but I would have plenty of spare time.

                      it's all in priotities: Do you want great new music, or do you want a dinner date?

                       

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                        Richard (profile), Jan 16th, 2011 @ 8:25am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Marketing?

                        it's the time, the effort, the planning. The artist was going to work on new songs, but instead, he has to fly in a plane to Waco Texas to have dinner with his fan. By the time he flies back home, he is no longer interested in writing a new song. So he puts it off until tomorrow, but tomorrow he has miniputt games and in the evening he is running an online yard sale to get rid of stuff from his last tour. So maybe the music part will happen next week. See where that goes?

                        As a University lecturer who has to spend a certain amount of time teaching in order to fund the original research that I really want to do I can certainly understand where you are coming from here. There have been many times when I have felt "I really want to try out this research idea but now I have to go and give a lecture" and after the lecture I'm too tired to do the research. Also I often feel that I would have got further research wise if so much of my time had not been spent on teaching, marking, admin etc. However I feel that, on balance I am wrong to think this way - what I am really doing is making excuses for myself. You see if you are really talented you will use these activities as an inspiration. Without them you may well stagnate. Listen to Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman on this subject:


                        I don't believe I can really do without teaching. The reason is, I have to have something so that when I don't have any ideas and I'm not getting anywhere I can say to myself, "At least I'm living; at least I'm doing something; I am making some contribution" -- it's just psychological.

                        When I was at Princeton in the 1940s I could see what happened to those great minds at the Institute for Advanced Study, who had been specially selected for their tremendous brains and were now given this opportunity to sit in this lovely house by the woods there, with no classes to teach, with no obligations whatsoever. These poor bastards could now sit and think clearly all by themselves, OK? So they don't get any ideas for a while: They have every opportunity to do something, and they are not getting any ideas. I believe that in a situation like this a kind of guilt or depression worms inside of you, and you begin to worry about not getting any ideas. And nothing happens. Still no ideas come.


                        You see Einstein (one of the great minds mentioned above) did all his best work when he was still working full time at the patent office. When he was given the freedom to just sit and think he did nothing as good.

                        Maybe it is that fan in Waco Texas who will inspire the next great song....

                         

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                        Kaden (profile), Jan 16th, 2011 @ 9:04am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Marketing?

                        You're obviously not a musician, nor do you have even the vaguest understanding of their objectives, motivations or intents.

                        You might be better off pontificating about subjects you actually know about.

                         

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                          Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2011 @ 5:16pm

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Marketing?

                          Nice non-answer. "you don't know nothing" isn't really a great comeback.

                           

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                            Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2011 @ 7:41pm

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Marketing?

                            Although short that message expresses exactly what you know and that is nothing, that may be why you are hurting and see this whole thing as bad. You don't understand how things work now and don't know where to go, you are lost in the middle of the forest and will starve.

                             

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                            Kaden (profile), Jan 16th, 2011 @ 8:41pm

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Marketing?

                            Nor is a grammatically incorrect paraphrase. A more effective rejoinder would have been to cite your years of hands-on experience as a musician striving to perfect your craft.

                             

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                              Any Mouse (profile), Jan 18th, 2011 @ 2:23am

                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Marketing?

                              This sort of argument (you aren't in the industry, so you don't understand!) isn't valid, no matter how many times it is repeated.

                               

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                    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2011 @ 11:46am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Marketing?

                    Great artists love their fans by writing, playing, and producing the very best original music they can.

                    And great fans love their artists by, oh, wait, you don't like that part of the equation.

                     

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                herodotus (profile), Jan 15th, 2011 @ 11:05am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Marketing?

                "The recording has become easier, and the arrival of things like autotune have made it possible for people with little or no actual talent to make "music"."

                Cheap audio technology has also made it easier for artists who are legitimately talented in the traditional sense to make recordings at their leisure, and to their own specifications. This was quite simply impossible in the days before cheap audio technology and the internet. Or at least, it was impossible to all but a handful of trust fund kids and gear sluts.

                One thing that naysayers like you seem to miss rather consistently is that the music industry has never really been interested in great art or even good art. What they are and always have been interested in is salable art. The idea that art has to be of lasting value to sell is quite obviously false. If it isn't obvious to you, I would be happy to assemble a list of execrable songs that have sold quite well.

                Now I myself don't blame the recording industry for wanting to make a buck. What I can't stand, though, is the idea that they cared at all about making art of lasting value, which you imply when you write:

                "The problem is more basic: If you bang it out in an hour, it probably isn't very good. It might be transient amusing, but for the most part, it just isn't going to be all that good.

                You are making the mistake of looking only at the technical, and failing to understand that there is an underlying artistic issue. The time it really takes to create, develop, nurture, and finally record great music isn't something that happens in just a few minutes."


                You really think that the industry has ever cared if something was 'banged out in an hour' if it sells? Given that something banged out in an hour costs very little to create, wouldn't that make it more cost effective? Why would the industry mind?

                In fact, isn't that precisely why the air waves are filled with songs like 'My Humps' and 'Milkshake' and 'We R Who We R' and '6 Foot 7 Foot'? Isn't this because these are all examples of simple and completely artificial music that can be created by trained engineers with trendy software tools using marginally talented celebrities in short order?

                Now for a contrast, listen to this song, made not in an hour, but over a period of weeks, in fact months, in a low budget DIY basement studio:

                The Ranger Tower.

                This recording, which has no trendy audio processing tricks at all, would never have existed without cheap audio technology. And without the net, and the cheap promotional possibilities it represents, this song would not only not have made any money, it would have been heard by only a handful of people.

                And this isn't a unique thing. I have heard all kinds of interesting and compelling music on the internet, much of it made by professional musicians (like myself) who want to make art with integrity, without worrying about whether or not it will help someone meet their bottom line. Sometimes it might sell, sometimes it might not. But the point is that people who create art of lasting value don't care about sales when they are creating. This mindset is anathema to the industry, and pretending otherwise is bullshit of the highest (or lowest) order.

                 

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                  Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2011 @ 5:38pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Marketing?

                  You end up with the same problem all the time. There will be exceptional cases of actual good music made by talented people, but it gets lost in the crud, in the noise, in the endless see of junk.

                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meckzfv5D2E

                  That right there is one of the future music stars of the new era. Amazing, isn't it?

                  Just remember the basic facts: A low percentage of people are actually musically talented, and an even lower number actually has the skill and the talent to write new music. The high percentages are people will less musical talent, and who have little skill to write songs but will do it anyway. Those are the people who dominate an egalitarian commons.

                  Your real problem in the end is that you will take the time to make what you consider great music, and it will only be heard by a handful of people because there is just so much junk out there, that they have stopped looking for it. It isn't the great stuff rising to the top, it's the sewage rising to cover everything.

                   

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                    The Infamous Joe (profile), Jan 16th, 2011 @ 5:57pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Marketing?

                    Your real problem in the end is that you will take the time to make what you consider great music, and it will only be heard by a handful of people because there is just so much junk out there, that they have stopped looking for it.

                    I got an idea! Why don't we just make a tag on youtube and call it "good music"? What's that? Good music is completely subjective? Oh, that's right.

                    So, what we need, really, are a way to determine popular music and a way to recommend music to a user based on their unique tastes. Well, torrents have already taken care of the first need. It's easy to see the most popular music by seeing what is being seeded the most. (because people won't share things they don't like) As for the second need: There are a handful of music suggestion services already.

                    So, looks like the internet has got this covered already.

                    I, personally, don't torrent my music, instead I use a all-you-can-stream service (currently Rdio) which handles both quite impressively. I am not willing to pay for digital music, but I *am* willing to pay someone for the service of helping me sort through the different types of music out there to find new music I will like.

                    It isn't the great stuff rising to the top, it's the sewage rising to cover everything.

                    As opposed to now, when the major labels just market the hell out of the sewage to drown out the talented musicians?

                     

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                    Kaden (profile), Jan 16th, 2011 @ 6:03pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Marketing?

                    "There will be exceptional cases of actual good music made by talented people, but it gets lost in the crud, in the noise, in the endless see of junk"

                    How is this in any way different from the past and/or present?

                    ...and you spelled 'sea' wrong.

                    "That right there is one of the future music stars of the new era. Amazing, isn't it?"

                    No, that's an unskilled high school band. There's never been a lack of them, and every big name, famous, RIAA approved musician you can think of played in one exactly like it when they were in high school.

                    "A low percentage of people are actually musically talented, and an even lower number actually has the skill and the talent to write new music. The high percentages are people will less musical talent, and who have little skill to write songs but will do it anyway. Those are the people who dominate an egalitarian commons. "

                    Again, how is this in any way different from past/present, other than the fact that Big Music won't be operating the middleman tollbooth?

                     

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                      Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2011 @ 5:04am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Marketing?

                      The biggest difference in the past is the "unskilled high school band" didn't get the same standing and the same distribution as the "cream". I didn't have to manually filter out the crap myself to try to find something good. While I might not have agreed with all of the bands / artists who ended up on the radio, the vast majority of them are at least passingly aware of the basics of music.

                      On Nina's mythical commons, the "unskilled high school band" gets exactly the same grass as everyone else. Everyone is the same. It's just a rising tide of junk, really, but hey, they are all equal.

                       

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                        Kaden (profile), Jan 17th, 2011 @ 5:26am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Marketing?

                        You honestly believe that the commons requires the wise and benevolent shepherding of Big Music to guide us towards quality music and protect us from the unapproved and tonally challenged?

                        Damned commie.

                         

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                    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2011 @ 7:39pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Marketing?

                    The real problem is your understanding of the world.

                    Crud, sewage?

                    It is how it works today, big labels don't produce talent they discover it in the middle of that sewage you talked about, the problem is, nobody need them to discover things for them anymore, they can do it on their own.

                    People have known for centuries now that you got a lot of failures in every endeavor one takes that is what you call it crud, but that is necessary that crud is what fertilizes the medium, is from that crud that things come out to shine.

                    People became famous in spite of all the noise, the one thing that is happening is that people are not paying attention to the big labels anymore they are not the center of the universe and there is a void to be filled, the next MTV to show up and cater for masses that will unite everybody in one place.

                     

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                    btrussell (profile), Jan 17th, 2011 @ 2:25am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Marketing?

                    The cream will always rise to the top.

                     

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        Vincent Clement, Jan 15th, 2011 @ 8:37am

        Re: Re: Marketing?

        Exactly what are you saying? You are all over the place.

         

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        AR (profile), Jan 15th, 2011 @ 9:51am

        Re: Re: Marketing?

        I do understand what the public wants, because i am part of that public (actually so are you). "Piracy" is so popular because it actually has more value to the public and gives more value to the music (which is not just the digital representation) than does the music business. If it didnt than those numbers ("pirates") wouldnt be growing, and by your own account, the music industry wouldnt be being gutted and destroyed. Which, really only the sale of disks, "stamping", and distribution are being effected and the artist gets very little of that anyways. The only value that really matters is that to the public. Without that, nothing would sell.

        As for control, the public wants to control what it consumes and how. Are mp3 players growing more popular than radios?. Also, thats why the backlash over drm. The more you try to control, the more "pirates" you create. If "piracy" is growing, then thats what the public is wanting. Fighting what the public wants, is like bitting off the hand that feeds you.

         

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          AR (profile), Jan 15th, 2011 @ 10:24am

          Re: Re: Re: Marketing?

          Another point to be aware of. If the current business practices continue and "piracy" (or number of "criminals") keeps growing, when those numbers hit 51% thats enough to change the laws and make "piracy" legal and those business practices criminal. Just saying.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2011 @ 5:06am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Marketing?

            Actually, no. It isn't like we can all pull out of guns,and provided 51% of us are involved in murders or armed robberies that we can suddenly make those laws disappear.

            Sometimes laws exist not because the majority follow them, but rather because they are good for a just and ordered society.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2011 @ 9:39am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Marketing?

              Copyright infringement and armed robbery. They're just the same thing.

               

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              Karl (profile), Jan 17th, 2011 @ 12:02pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Marketing?

              It isn't like we can all pull out of guns,and provided 51% of us are involved in murders or armed robberies that we can suddenly make those laws disappear.

              Remember, copyright law exists primarily to benefit the public - not artists. If the public chooses to abolish copyright (or limit it in whatever manner it chooses), then artists have no right to complain.

               

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              AR (profile), Jan 17th, 2011 @ 12:35pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Marketing?

              have you ever heard of a voting majority. all the 51% would have to do is elect like minded politicians (or voter initiatives) that will do what the public wants (I know contrary to the way it works now). These laws were put in place the same way. They have not always been there. Copyright is not an inalienable right and is certainly not (criminal) robbery (ask the Supreme Court). The rest of what you describe can best be defined as civil war (or revolution, as defined by who wins) and it wouldnt be the first time that happened. Im not advocating that, Im just saying to be careful where the arrogance can lead you.

               

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        Richard (profile), Jan 15th, 2011 @ 1:35pm

        Re: Re: Marketing?

        For those people who live in places where a concert might never happen (say Wasilla, Alaska), it may be the only way for a band to turn fans into income sources.

        You are so negative - this is almost a kind of inverted jealousy. You really want to make sure that everybody pays. Why bother?

        If someone gets a freebie but enough money comes in what is that to you?

        There aren't very many people in those out of the way places so it is just noise in the accounts.

         

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        JEDIDIAH, Jan 15th, 2011 @ 1:57pm

        The "new" is really quite old actually.

        > Radio is marketing, that is true. But it is also
        > controlled market, and one that promotes first
        > and foremost the direct sale of the musical
        > product itself

        ...unless you just record stuff off of radio and never buy anything in Buzzards Nest. Back in the day, radio stations used to even broadcast entire albums. You could snarf the whole thing for free off the ether by just hitting "record" on your tape deck at the beginning of the show.

         

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        Karl (profile), Jan 16th, 2011 @ 8:37pm

        Re: Re: Marketing?

        Radio is marketing, that is true. But it is also controlled market, and one that promotes first and foremost the direct sale of the musical product itself.

        Here, I think, is the root of your problem. You are equating "value" with "price."

        I'll put it in economic terms. Value is not price. Value is demand. Sharing the work itself increases the value of the work, thus increasing demand.

        But price is not set by demand. Price is set by the intersection of supply and demand. The same sharing that makes your work more valuable, also increases the supply, dropping the price. Your work will be more valuable but less costly.

        That is only a problem if your primary source of income is from the sale of recorded copies. And FYI, almost no musicians make most of their income from record sales. Not even the Top 40 musicians. They've always made most of their money from touring and selling merch, with the occasional promotional deal thrown in.

        In any case, your whole discussion assumes that the way we value culture is by putting a price tag on it. That's not the way culture works.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2011 @ 11:00am

          Re: Re: Re: Marketing?

          That is only a problem if your primary source of income is from the sale of recorded copies. And FYI, almost no musicians make most of their income from record sales. Not even the Top 40 musicians. They've always made most of their money from touring and selling merch, with the occasional promotional deal thrown in.

          Not entirely true. In fact, far from the truth. Many with label deals don't make money, simply because they don't sell enough product. However, plenty of artist make a very good living off of their recordings, both from a sales standpoint and a radio play standpoint.

          At the time of his death recently, Gerry Rafferty was still earning about $140,000 US a year on royalties, usage rights, sales, and other uses related to his song Baker Street. He wrote a great song, one that captures a generation, was used in movies, TV, and all sorts of other places, and remains part of almost any classic rock station playlist.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkS169P_Eeo

          Heck, almost 2 million youtube views for a song that is older than most posters on techdirt. Amazing.

          So, no, some artists do very well on studio only music.

           

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            The Infamous Joe (profile), Jan 17th, 2011 @ 11:22am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Marketing?

            So, no, some artists do very well on studio only music.

            No, some people used to do very well on studio only music. Similarly, some people used to do very well delivering ice to people's homes. Then some asshole invented a way for people to make ice at home. If those ice guys were smart, they would have lobbied hard and made it illegal to make ice at home. Right?

             

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            Richard (profile), Jan 17th, 2011 @ 11:29am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Marketing?

            At the time of his death recently, Gerry Rafferty was still earning about $140,000 US a year on royalties, usage rights, sales,

            One anecdotal case is statistically "almost none".

            The recording industry operates a Ponzi scheme - and every Ponzi scheme needs a few winners to bring people in.


            It also means he could be paid for years for doing nothing new. That isn't a positive in my book.

             

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            Karl (profile), Jan 17th, 2011 @ 11:38am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Marketing?

            Not entirely true. In fact, far from the truth. Many with label deals don't make money, simply because they don't sell enough product. However, plenty of artist make a very good living off of their recordings, both from a sales standpoint and a radio play standpoint.

            You misunderstand me. Most artists (not "many" - the figure is around 90%) who are on a major label do not make any artists' royalties whatsoever. They make a bit from songwriters' royalties (mostly from mechanical royalties, plus a pittance from radio royalties).

            But even those artists in the top 10% do not make the majority of their income from album sales. They make far more of their money from touring, merch, endorsements, "synch" royalties, etc.

            At the time of his death recently, Gerry Rafferty was still earning about $140,000 US a year on royalties, usage rights, sales, and other uses related to his song Baker Street. He wrote a great song, one that captures a generation, was used in movies, TV, and all sorts of other places, and remains part of almost any classic rock station playlist.

            Except maybe for "sales," not one of these things is negatively effected by people sharing his music. If anything, it would make his music more likely to be used in "movies, TV, and all sorts of other places." Sharing helped him make money.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkS169P_Eeo

            Do you not find it a little ironic that you just shared this link with me? One that, from the looks of it, is most likely infringing?

            By your own argument, you're helping to devalue his music.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2011 @ 1:10pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Marketing?

              BUT COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT!!!

               

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              Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2011 @ 3:16pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Marketing?

              But even those artists in the top 10% do not make the majority of their income from album sales. They make far more of their money from touring, merch, endorsements, "synch" royalties, etc.

              It comes back to the same problem. You take that money is "not related to their recordings", but it is entirely dependent on their recordings. Without product, they would be nothing.

              Your logic on the likelihood of it being used in movies sort of fails, as it was the other way around. The use of the music (specifically the song Stuck In The Middle With You in Reservoir Dogs sort of happened about a decade before youtube was even an idea. History is a wonderful thing.

              Do you not find it a little ironic that you just shared this link with me? One that, from the looks of it, is most likely infringing?

              Not in the slightest. I did what Yahoo and others have done. If it was pirated or up without permission, I am sure that YouTube's strong filtering would have removed it a long time ago. After all, we all agree that YouTube is not trying to profit from piracy, right?

               

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                Karl (profile), Jan 17th, 2011 @ 4:36pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Marketing?

                It comes back to the same problem. You take that money is "not related to their recordings", but it is entirely dependent on their recordings. Without product, they would be nothing.

                We were discussing this in the context of how musicians make their money. If you want to turn it into a debate about what makes the music itself valuable, I'm game.

                Because you are still wrong. Putting music onto a plastic disc (or magnetic tape or vinyl) does not suddenly make it more valuable. It's the other way around. Without the music being shared by the culture at large, the "product" would be nothing. It would be just another lump of plastic sitting on a shelf somewhere.

                And that's the point. Labels don't make music valuable; artists don't make music valuable. The public does. Its value is entirely dependent upon the amount people listen to it, share it, and make it a part of their daily culture. The more it is "owned" by the public, the more valuable it becomes.

                If it was pirated or up without permission, I am sure that YouTube's strong filtering would have removed it a long time ago.

                I somehow doubt that "retromarciassassina" works for MTV. So whether it's authorized depends on whether the copyright holders actually use YouTube's ID service. But they very well might, so who knows.

                In any case, whether it is infringing or not is actually beside the point. (I only pointed it out since you seem to be so obsessed with piracy.) The fact is, you are sharing the song. According to you, sharing the song (whether infringing or not) reduces its value. By your own argument, you are making the song less valuable.

                Do you feel you owe Gerry Rafferty's family an apology for devaluing his music? Do you feel that the very act of posting that link made his music "lost in the crud, in the noise, in the endless see of junk?"

                If you believe the answer is "no," you might finally begin to understand what Nina is talking about.

                 

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2011 @ 2:50am

    If you're giving away your content then stop calling it content and call it what it is: a commercial.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    TN, Jan 15th, 2011 @ 6:57am

    A few days ago, Sita Sings the Blues was on World Movies (Channel 430) on Foxtel, in Australia.

     

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

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    identicon
    r4lt, Jan 16th, 2011 @ 7:07pm

    Reontextualized Content Promotion problem [SOLVED]

    this issue isn't worth talking about anymore, the only solution is to solve it once and for all, i will do that, it will be like the stock market, the dormant will have no ownership until revenue is generated from it, at that point a logical distribution will occur, copyright owner gets first cut, then recontextualizer et al divide rest, cuts are indicative based level of dormancy of content used. popular content can only be used in extremely small amounts, simply because they have formal financial promotion behind them.

    the rest i will solve for all of you who still think this issue means anything of value to anyone.

    content id and the itunes links are the only evolution to copyright material to happen on the internet AT ALL! and they are a kindergarten level

     

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

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    identicon
    iveseenitall, Jan 20th, 2011 @ 3:24pm

    Look.. we can opinion this topic into absurdity or acknowledge some facts as true.
    The overwhelming majority of people are not pirates and don't, in any demonstrable way, support those who are.
    Most aspiring artists would like to be seen, heard and shared in as many places and by as many people as possible. And who can blame them.
    Many people who are professional musicians and/or music professionals are working stiffs trying to make a decent living. Same as the rest of us.
    Like many of you I suspect that any lasting solutions will be driven by the typical end user rather than the atypical extremists.

     

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


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