Free Culture Is The Response To The Ethical Failings Of The Old Entertainment Industry

from the if-we're-going-to-talk-ethics... dept

I already posted the responses of a bunch of musicians and music industry folks to the whole David Lowery/Emily White kerfuffle, but there were two more responses that were so good and so thorough I wanted to cover them separately. The first is from Zac Shaw, a musician and indie label owner who argues that if there's any ethical argument at all, it's the one in favor of free culture.
Asking today’s music consumers to kindly start paying for recorded music again because it’s the ethical thing to do isn’t only unviable — it’s not the ethical thing to do anymore. Free Culture is an ethic, and I think I can speak for my generation when I say we believe it to be the high ground over the way the music industry used to be run.
Shaw talks about his own experiences as a musician, getting signed to a label, having a deal that was impossible to recoup, and then the realization that while they had a fanbase, it just wasn't big enough to keep the band going. Unlike Lowery, Shaw isn't upset about this. He notes that this is the reality of the market. But he looks around at what's available today and he sees all sorts of opportunity. As he notes the people who are complaining loudest all seem to be the folks who were some of the very, very, very few musicians who succeeded under the old system. They tend to ignore all those who failed, because they liked it when they had gatekeepers keeping out the competition and keeping prices artificially high. But that was all based on lies and questionable behavior by record labels to keep out most musicians:
I’m going to level with you. You and many other Free Culture detractors are people from social circles with musicians that did well in the past but whose revenue dropped dramatically along with industry profits. I think the driver behind this blithely unrealistic “let’s go back to the way things were in the 90s” movement is pretty straightforward — you tasted profits from a business model that is no longer sustainable. You want your industry back.

We don’t.

Consider for a moment how were the profits of the “old” music industry won: By subjecting listeners and musicians — and indeed, our very culture — to a laundry list of horrendous commercial exploitation. Price fixing, payola, unpaid royalties, market monopolies, ticket surcharges, obscenely exploitative record contracts, manufactured popularity, censorship, perpetual copyright and destruction of fair use and the public domain… the list goes on and on. In short, the old way of doing things sucked and we don’t care if a few of that era’s successful artists no longer get mailbox money for music they recorded decades ago. We certainly don’t care if the record industry, which enabled these injustices, dies a slow, public death.
Shaw points out that, if anything, this new generation actually has much greater respect for musicians. What they don't have time for are those labels that did all of those things to keep music away from the public and to keep musicians from getting paid in the past:
Today’s musicians are held in higher esteem by listeners than ever before, and it’s the industry that has lost their respect (and money), due to a history of unethical behavior.
And, in fact, the new tools of today are changing the balance of power, and enabling the artists who couldn't even get in the door before to now reach out directly to fans and to build support without having to hand everything over to the gatekeeper:
Free Culture opponents often suggest technology somehow caused our generation’s desire for compensating musicians to evaporate. But it was clearly the corruption and ineptitude of the industry itself that is to blame for this negative attitude toward paying for music. Digital music technology provided the opportunity musicians and listeners have been waiting decades for — to balance the industry’s unchecked power, and maybe eke out a more sustainable living in the process.

Fans formerly had no apparatus to directly compensate artists. Now that they have tools like Kickstarter and Bandcamp, we’re seeing millions of dollars pouring directly into musician’s pockets.
As Shaw points out, Lowery and his friends want the next generation to "fix" the industry -- but the only way they can think to do so is to try to go back in time and re-establish that old system. But they miss the fact that this generation is actually fixing the industry by providing the wonderful new tools and services to help musicians: helping them create, promote, distribute, connect and monetize. It's just that it's "different" than the old way:
That’s the thing about asking our generation to fix the record industry. We’re already doing it. We’re connecting artists directly to fans and bringing back patronage, a far less exploitative model that is emerging as the foundation of the new music career. We’re using crowdfunding to finance our work. We’re using digital tools to democratize distribution and licensing, with fairer publishing deals. Instead of basing our entire career on one album dropping or flopping huge, we’re ditching the LP in favor of a steady stream of singles, what fans really want. Apps are the new album. Production is going more lo-fi but is becoming more diverse and original in the process. These are the viable solutions I was talking about earlier. It’s all actually quite liberating because none of it involves being exploited by the music industry, and if it does, it’s certainly far less than in the past.

And yes, we’re selling T-shirts. I wouldn’t have to sell ‘em if I had a dollar for every time I heard, “your music is free, so what, you’re going to make a living selling T-shirts?” But the profit margin is good and they’re moving off the merch table like CDs used to. You have to realize that when the physical media that holds the music is no longer a profitable product, there are myriad replacements which tie the music to a physical product that can be profitably sold. The critical thing to realize here: the devaluation of the music recording increases the value of merch for the artist. Our fans are gonna spend $10 at our merch table anyway — should we sell them a T-shirt they will wear everywhere for a 150% markup, or should we sell them a CD they’ll burn and shelve for the statutory rate of 9.1 cents per song?
There's a lot more in Shaw's piece, and all of it is worth reading. Of all the responses to Lowery, Shaw's seems like the most comprehensive one I've seen and makes the point eloquently -- and shows how Lowery's distorted view of the world misses the bigger picture. Lowery is defending the 1%. The small group of musicians who were allowed through the gatekeeper system in the past, against what's actually best for the vast majority of musicians and fans. The new technologies and services that Lowery and his friends blame are actually enabling a great new world for all sorts of musicians who would have had no place in the world beforehand. Lowery's friends can insult those artists, and insinuate that a failure to go through the old system shows they're "untalented," but any real attempt to look around at the content being produced today would show you that's crazy. There's so much wonderful content being produced -- and much of it by artists who are embracing all of the amazing things that the internet allows.

The second post is by Dave Allen -- whom we've written about before. Allen, of course, was a member of one of the seminal post-punk bands, Gang of Four, and has been very involved in both the music and tech worlds for years. He's always fun to talk to, because he always makes me see the world differently than I did at the start of the conversation. So I knew I'd be interested in his take on the whole kerfuffle, and he does not disappoint. At all. Go read the whole thing, entitled: The Internet could care less about your mediocre band. In it, he makes a ton of good points, but it all comes back to two things: (1) the old system was horrible and corrupt and most artists never made much money at all and (2) the new system has tons and tons of opportunity, but not if you aren't very good or if you sit around complaining about people not buying music, rather than figuring out how to embrace all the amazing new opportunities. I know this post is already really long, but here are just a few snippets of Allen's writeup (though, again, read the whole damn thing):

I take issue with it in its entirety because Lowery is attempting to solve the wrong problem. He is attempting in the present to solve a problem of the past – lack of music sales; ergo, damage to musicians income levels or lack thereof since the advent of the Internet. (Oddly he doesn’t mention that the music industry is most likely the only industry to ever, ever, sue its own customers. An inconvenient truth.) He even lays out in fine detail how much Emily would owe if she’d paid for all of her music (most of which came from the labels as “promos”. Once again Lowery doesn’t mention how music writers and radio DJ’s sold those promos to record stores..just saying.) He then asks her to cough up the dough for starving musicians.

He also rather insensitively points out, while undermining his argument, that “the average income of a musician that files taxes is something like 35k a year w/o benefits.” That’s almost $10k more than the current US median wage. There are around 8 million unemployed people here in the USA, many without a place to call home, who would gladly take that income. I find him so condescending that I want to break something right now.

I also find it disgusting that Lowery conjoins the deaths by suicide of Vic Chesnutt and Mark Linkous to this topic. He knows very well that those two brave artists, much braver than he, suffered through circumstances that were extremely personal and difficult to control. Had they been musicians or not, had nothing to do with the incredibly unfortunate outcome of their lives. It only goes to show how shallow and specious his entire argument is if he has to pivot it on their deaths.

He goes on to point out the flawed premise with not just Lowery's rant, but the very basis of Lowery's blog:

In what may, or may not, have been a misstep, Lowery posted his rant to The Trichordist blog whose tag line, Artists For An Ethical Internet, says it all. In using that tag line they show in brilliant light how much they misunderstand what the Internet is. And by doing so they undermine the very validity of their presence on the Internet. They can yell at the Internet into infinity and it will never blink.

The Internet can not be ethical. Only users of the Internet can be said to be ethical, moral, or philosophical; they may be terrorists, kidnappers, racists, deviants; they could also be atheists, religious zealots or spiritualists; they might be gay, straight, bi, married, divorced; employed, destitute…the list goes on. Whoever they may be they are users. The Internet is its own thing. The Internet doesn’t give a damn about musicians or your mediocre band.

And finally there’s this – Lowery writes about “immoral and unethical business models.” And includes this – “..they are “legitimate” companies like Google.” What’s with the quotes around “legitimate” does Lowery think Google is not legitimate? No, he thinks Google is the problem (read Devil..) because Google in his mind owns the “Unethical Internet” because of its advertising prowess. And I quote – “Google is also selling ads in this neighborhood and sharing the revenue with everyone except the people who make the stuff being looted.” Looted! Unbelievable.

He then rambles on about the “cost” of free music downloading – the $1000 laptop, the costly iPhone or Tablet, as if people only use these products to download music! He also falls into the same trap that U2′s manager, the ISP bully Paul McGuinness, falls into – blame the ISP’s for allowing access to the Internet, where as we know, people only go to steal music.. McGuinness is so well informed about the Internet that in the Billboard article I linked to he talks about the Googles! And he also said this about Apple and Google – “They didn’t invent the MP3, they just made the best one.” Erm.., what?

Clearly this a fool’s errand. At least we know who the fools are. They are what the economist Paul Krugman calls “Very Serious People,” for only they know how to fix things.

While my response to Lowery's original post was that there wasn't anything new about it, since the same arguments have been debunked repeatedly in the past, the acceptance by many that Lowery actually knew what he was talking about has made it worthwhile to respond. Lowery's piece has inspired lots of interesting commentary on the difference between looking backwards and moving towards future opportunity -- and that is worth discussing. And I'm glad people like Dave Allen and Zac Shaw decided to do so.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Jun 28th, 2012 @ 10:45am

    Just to head off the AC who will undoubtedly cry "But why are you writing more articles about Lowery if there's 'nothing to write about!'

    FUCK OFF. No-one but you cares about a meaningless tweet. There is no conspiracy, no deeper meaning. Mike wrote a tweet, then later on went to write articles. Big deal.

     

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  2.  
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    RonKaminsky (profile), Jun 28th, 2012 @ 10:47am

    A response to the functional failings, rather

    It seems to me that free culture is rather a response to the disfunctional state of copyright law right now. I have the impression that many artists feel that copyright law impedes, rather than encourages, their ability to make art.

    Of course, one can strongly argue that the state of copyright law is due to the ethical failings of the old model.

     

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  3.  
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    fogbugzd (profile), Jun 28th, 2012 @ 10:50am

    Re:

    If you can't refute the message, your only option is to attack the messenger.

     

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  4.  
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    DH's Love Child (profile), Jun 28th, 2012 @ 10:52am

    Get ready for...

    The innumerable 'not much to say about it' bombs from the trichordist shill.....

     

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  5.  
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    Rob, Jun 28th, 2012 @ 10:53am

    Actually, we do care

    "We certainly donít care if the record industry, which enabled these injustices, dies a slow, public death."

    The longer it takes to die, the longer it will have chances to screw things up. The faster it dies the better.

     

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  6.  
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    Nigel (profile), Jun 28th, 2012 @ 10:53am

    Won't someone think of the childr..... I mean Brittany Spears.

    Nigel

     

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  7.  
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    Mike Martinet (profile), Jun 28th, 2012 @ 10:55am

    Whoah!

    We certainly donít care if the record industry, which enabled these injustices*, dies a slow, public death.

    I have to disagree with this.

    We do definitely care.

    We want *that recording industry to die a quick and violent public death, with as much pain as possible.

     

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  8.  
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    Mr. LemurBoy (profile), Jun 28th, 2012 @ 11:04am

    Since I have friends who are new musicians that agree wholeheartedly with Lowery, I would point out it's not just people who made money in the old system and make less now who are decrying Free Culture, but those who bought into the hype and dream of the rock star, and now see their chances to attain that lifestyle dwindling who are also striking out.

     

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    Mark Samuel Dolgoff, Jun 28th, 2012 @ 11:06am

    The "In defense of David Lowery" post from Allen...

    For a more complete perspective from Dave Allen...
    http://www.north.com/latest/in-defense-of-david-lowery/

     

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  10.  
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    S, Jun 28th, 2012 @ 11:10am

    Re:

    So, the suckers who wanted a chance to waste their lives pursuing the old-skool fame lottery are upset that society is beginning to erode the foundations of their little delusion?

    There should probably be an intervention for that sort of person; the same kind of intervention we'd hold for repeated 419 scam victims, or people who sell their house to make it big at Vegas.

     

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    Richard (profile), Jun 28th, 2012 @ 11:16am

    Re:

    hype and dream of the rock star,

    You mean ending up in rehab and dying at 27?

    I think the end of that dream is no loss.

    (and arguably, by making drugs "cool", the old music industry ruined many more lives too.)

     

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    celesto, Jun 28th, 2012 @ 11:20am

    a good read! totally d'accord with it! it's on the musician to recognize and to change the system, no on the big labels. some labels like (let me mention Nuclear Blast Records) already use the internet for their uses very good and i love buying media from them. labels like WB Records i don't like, i have to admit probably because WB is one of the big players in business and they complain A LOT about new technologies. but that's how the world works; if it is STILL profitable, don't change the system! why should you?!...well, musicians should have a strong opinion on this and indeed some of them begin to recognize it.

     

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    el_segfaulto (profile), Jun 28th, 2012 @ 11:20am

    Re: Get ready for...

    What would your father say if he heard you using languages like that?!

     

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    Mr. LemurBoy (profile), Jun 28th, 2012 @ 11:22am

    Re:

    Please note, this isn't to defend these people. Just pointing out the kind of mindset that lashes out at the way things are going.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 28th, 2012 @ 11:22am

    Re: Re:

    And call them a "freehadist" because that's somehow less offensive than calling someone a "freetard".

    Cultural terrorism isn't actually a thing, you know. But keep banging on that drum and maybe, just maybe, you'll end up with a tune.

     

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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Jun 28th, 2012 @ 11:23am

    Re:

    Since I have friends who are new musicians that agree wholeheartedly with Lowery, I would point out it's not just people who made money in the old system and make less now who are decrying Free Culture, but those who bought into the hype and dream of the rock star, and now see their chances to attain that lifestyle dwindling who are also striking out.

    It doesn't have to be as reductive as that. I have musician friends who I deeply respect who agree with some of Lowery's ethical points, but there is one key difference between them and Lowery himself. They all take the attitude that it's not really anybody's problem but theirs, and they have to figure out how to deal with it even if it means finding new ways of doing things. They may not agree with the cultural sea-change, and they certainly want to press the message that it's important to support artists, but they aren't really interested in harshly condemning an entire generation. This is the same sentiment that El-P expressed in his guest post—you can tell that he's not entirely happy with the way things have gone, but he's going to focus on finding a way to make it work, not complaining about it.

     

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  17.  
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    Lowestofthekeys (profile), Jun 28th, 2012 @ 11:25am

    Labels are awesome. They love to throw their money away on cookie cutter bands, auto-tune and redefining pop music.

    Then they expect us to do the same.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 28th, 2012 @ 11:27am

    all the responses to Lowery are very interesting as well as very valid. trouble is, no one of any clout to change things will take any notice, even if they bother to read the responses. but then, what do you expect? when people are 'encouraged' in a certain way to only read, digest and respond to particular information but ignore other information, no progress is ever made.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 28th, 2012 @ 11:28am

    Re: Re:

    What ethical points? Ones about how listening to Spotify is stealing?
    Coming from Lowery no less, someone who supports Drugs and Objectifying woman, that is hilarious.

     

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  20.  
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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Jun 28th, 2012 @ 11:38am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Well, as you know, I don't agree with them. But you're right - "ethical points" is the wrong word. They agree with the general feeling that a lot of people enjoy art too liberally without ever supporting the artist in any way. Again, there are many details of this that I disagree with, but I still understand and accept that they feel that way - even if I hope to change their minds. But in the mean time, the recognition that they don't get to be the arbiters of ethics and that there's no point in fighting/guilting their fans is commendable, in my mind, when compared to someone like Lowery.

     

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    Konstantinos (profile), Jun 28th, 2012 @ 11:49am

    On another note:

     

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    Nick Dynice (profile), Jun 28th, 2012 @ 11:54am

    Re: A response to the functional failings, rather

    That may be true, but the old model you are referring to would be pre-1709. So now that the pendulum swung too far in the other direction for 300 years we declare that it is unethical and has failed.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 28th, 2012 @ 12:10pm

    Sorry this is long and I hope the formatting turns out ok. I also suck at math so fair notice ahead of time that my calculations might not add up. Feel free to double check.

    I'd like a comparison of what numbers equals a successful band. At what salary level can we determine that a career in music is worthwhile. Then we can come up with what number of sales it would take to reach that number for a particular group at different price points. Then turn this into a formula that we can apply to either business model, existing Major Label distribution vs Digital-do-it-yourself.

    I'm not in the music or entertainment business so all of these number have been created mostly out of thin air. Please feel free to correct, modify or insert anything I have entered. Maybe if enough knowledgeable people contribute we can come up with real data to plug in and see where it takes us.

    According to Wikipedia the average US household brings in less than 50k a year. Let's start by doubling this number which puts us at the average income for a US citizen with a professional degree, 100k.

    Our particular band has 5 members, so they need to gross 500k a year after expenses to be considered successful citizens earning above the average income.

    As a wild guess, let's say there are 600K in expenses, this comes from Web hosting, Instruments, tour expenses, t-shirt materials, Studio time and CD's.

    This gives us the following 5 * 100k = 500k + 600k = 1.1m per year would need to be earned by our fictional band.

    Then if we consider the average concert ticket to be around $10, $20, or $30 we can answer the following question: How many attendees are required at each number of shows per year to cover costs and expenses?

    75 shows @ $10 = 1467 @$20 = 733 @$30 = 489
    150 shows @ $10 = 733 @$20 = 367 @$30 = 244
    225 shows @ $10 = 489 @$20 = 244 @$30 = 163

    Number of Tickets total per price point:
    $10 = 110001
    $20 = 55000
    $30 = 36667

    So a Do-It-Yourself band would need to sell between 36k and 100K tickets (or CD's or T-Shirt's) to meet an average successful salary figure.

    What is the number of CD sales that made a successful band with a major label? Or, what is the cutoff point when a label won't be interested in the band's possible success? Would a Label pick up a band with these projections? Does anybody think a salary of 100K isn't enough to work full time in a band?

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 28th, 2012 @ 12:11pm

    I like this finally someone is thinking outside the cd or dvd box so to speak.

     

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  25.  
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    Lowery's Sock Puppet, Jun 28th, 2012 @ 12:12pm

    Wow, a reasonable discussion in the comments! My boss must be sleeping off a hangover again...

     

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  26.  
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    ltlw0lf (profile), Jun 28th, 2012 @ 12:23pm

    Re: Re: Get ready for...

    What would your father say if he heard you using languages like that?!

    Something tells me it would go something like this:

    Dark Helmet: Well done, son. Well done.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 28th, 2012 @ 12:24pm

    This is America. "Free" and "culture" left a long time ago.

     

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  28.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jun 28th, 2012 @ 12:35pm

    Re:

    I'd say a 40k salary for your average group is by far enough. I also disagree with the 600k number for operational costs. Hosting is not that expensive and tour expenses can be quite modest if the band stays at cheaper places. You won't stay in a 6-star hotel if you aren't Lady Gaga. Hell, even Gaga probably doesn't stay in ultimate luxury hotels all the time.

    Also, it's not only t-shirts and shows. Kickstarter can helps with part of the costs, PayPal is there for donations, Flattr can help if they maitain a blog or something, ads in their homepage.... There's a myriad of things that can be used to monetize over your most precious asset: the fans.

    I'd say it all sums up to the effort of the band to connect with their fans and keep a healthy relation. If you get to the level of Louis CK for instance you can make a freakin decent amount of money.

    The numbers are flawed even if you are just assuming them. Maybe I'll try to come up with more reasonable (and based on real numbers over the news) but for now I gotta go.

    @Techdirt: can we have some insight over the finances (generally of course) of some nice artist such as Nina, Amanda or even Louis if you have their contacts? Even though the average artist might make less money than these guys I'm sure some dive into their financial realm would provide us with nice tools to estimate the money our average artist can earn.

     

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  29.  
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    Mason Wheeler, Jun 28th, 2012 @ 12:40pm

    Re:

    ISTM that preventing the industry from destroying another wholesome girl like Spears used to be would be more than enough reason to shut them down for good.

     

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  30.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 28th, 2012 @ 12:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Get ready for...

    Fucking right.

    Also: balls.

     

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  31.  
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    Nigel (profile), Jun 28th, 2012 @ 12:54pm

    Re: Re:

    Quit being reasonable bro, you are scaring the kids.

    N.

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 28th, 2012 @ 12:55pm

    Re: Re:

    Britney was replaced by the new wholesome american image girl Miley cyrus.lmao

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 28th, 2012 @ 12:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Get ready for...

    What kind of balls?

    Beach, foot, blue or poke?

     

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  34.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 28th, 2012 @ 1:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Get ready for...

    Volley or Base, whichever you prefer. They're both great summer companions....

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 28th, 2012 @ 1:02pm

    Who?

    Oh, and snore.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 28th, 2012 @ 1:20pm

    Re:

    Do you think if they struck out in the 90s, as just about every single person in your friends' position did in the 90s (and 80s, and 70s and so forth), they would have been less ready with some cop out excuse for why they were not superstars already?

    The fact is the lottery is still on. Do you think lady Gaga dresses odd because she cannot afford to wear what she wants? No, that's how she likes it.

    The lottery, which your friends have little control over is still running as always. So far their number has not come up. Other people are also (or only) entered in a game a bit more like poker and some are playing good hands and getting good returns, but that has nothing much to do with why lady Gaga's number has come up in that lottery while your friends' numbers have not.

     

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  37.  
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    Ophelia Millais (profile), Jun 28th, 2012 @ 1:39pm

    Re: Re:

    These musician friends of yours need to make some guest posts or something; their silence only reinforces the status quo.

     

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  38.  
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    Karl (profile), Jun 28th, 2012 @ 1:45pm

    Re:

    those who bought into the hype and dream of the rock star

    Well, there's your problem.

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 28th, 2012 @ 2:18pm

    This whole piece just sounds like sour grapes, he couldn't garner a following large enough to make money the old way so he's pissed off at the system instead of his own inability to succeed.

    I don't have ANY problem with people following whatever business model THEY choose. If they want to give their music away for free, I'm all for it. If they want to perform at free concerts and sell their music I'm for that as well.

    There doesn't need to be a single "system", there can be many people marketing their talent in many different ways. Forcing a free music system (via illegal music downloads) on an artist is WRONG. Let the artist decide how he or she will make their money, if you don't like the way they do things don't listen to their music. It's that simple.

     

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  40.  
    icon
    Leigh Beadon (profile), Jun 28th, 2012 @ 2:32pm

    Re:

    Currently, there is no effective system in place for stopping piracy. It continues, unabated, despite all legal and technological attempts to curb it. Every artist knows that if they release music and it achieves even a modicum of attention, it will be widely available for free from unauthorized sources.

    So, shouldn't the artists refrain from releasing anything? If it is so wrong, but they know it's going to happen, they should refuse to release any music until more people agree to respect their copyright. It's that simple.

     

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  41. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 28th, 2012 @ 2:34pm

    Re:

    POST #7 on David Lowery! Man... Thanks guys! As an artists I am so touch you all are spending so much time on this. It really illustrates what a big story this and how much the voice of musicians has really brought this issue back into the mainstream debate.

    I know that TechDirt is a circle jerk for the choir, but hey, no such thing as bad press... On behalf of all all artists I must say we are Truly flattered!

    Do you think there'll be a book?

    TechDirt Presents "Not Much To Say About It" How David Lowery taught us about the power of the internet and the voice of Artists Rights by Mike Masnick

    Thanks Again! What you focus on grows. Unfortunately this doesn't appear to working with Lessig's "just get over it" philosophy, so... I'll look forward to see ya again on the next Anti-Artists Anti-Lowery Screed/Rant/Diatribe by Mike...

    let's see if this post get's censored... hmmmm...

     

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  42. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 28th, 2012 @ 2:37pm

    Re: Re: A response to the functional failings, rather

    @ Rikuo "No-one but you cares about a meaningless tweet. "

    that's funny, looks like you care alot! Mike didn't care and has written SEVEN posts on Lowery! You Don't care and keep talking about. If you didn't care, why would you be spending so much energy on something that there's "not much to say about it"?

    too funny... keep trying to explain away how Lowery in one week with one post reignited the conversation in a way that no one has seen in over a decade...

    So many people riding his coattails for page views, I get it, I do... people have bills to pay. Good on ya!

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 28th, 2012 @ 2:39pm

    Re: Re:

    @ fogbugzd - "If you can't refute the message, your only option is to attack the messenger."

    this is so true!

     

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  44.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Jun 28th, 2012 @ 2:43pm

    Re:

    This whole piece just sounds like sour grapes, he couldn't garner a following large enough to make money the old way so he's pissed off at the system instead of his own inability to succeed.

    Really? Not what I got from the article. Almost the opposite really. It was a lot harder to even get a foot in the door with the old system.

    There doesn't need to be a single "system", there can be many people marketing their talent in many different ways.

    No one ever said there needs to be a single system. As a matter of fact there are tons more "systems" today than ever before.

    Forcing a free music system (via illegal music downloads) on an artist is WRONG.

    Wrong or right, it really doesn't matter. The landscape is what it is today.

    Let the artist decide how he or she will make their money, if you don't like the way they do things don't listen to their music. It's that simple.

    Fair enough. But when that artist fails because no one knows who the hell they are, don't have them come to me for any kind of bailout.

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 28th, 2012 @ 2:48pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Get ready for...

    seriously? c'mon! can you guys do anything but whine and cry like babies? Wah! Wah! Waaaaaah! Get over it already... Still talking about David Lowery? This was a 24 hour news cycle story I thought... but you guys are dragging this out over two weeks... man... Lowery must have real significance to justify this much attention! Wow... Just wow...

    All this over one stupid blog with "not much to say about it"... so much for being dismissive. This must be a much bigger story... I mean, really, really, hard to ignore... Impossible in it's magnitude...

    I'm looking forward to more baseless attempts at discrediting Lowery... low-er-y... LOW-ER-Y.... LOOOWEERRRY!

    shakes fists! LOL...

     

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  46.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 28th, 2012 @ 2:49pm

    Re: The "In defense of David Lowery" post from Allen...

    and of course the APOLOGY that followed... LOL...
    http://www.north.com/latest/an-apology-to-david-lowery/

    An apology to David Lowery
    posted by Mark Ray

    A few days ago, our digital strategist, Dave Allen, posted opinions about the role of the Internet as a catalyst for change in the turbulent music business. It was in response to a popular piece posted by David Lowery on his blog, which in turn was a response to a post by Emily White, an intern at NPR.

    We fully support Daveís positions regarding the Internet and the music business. We find no reason to fault Emily White and her generation for an inevitable business truth about the way music (and many other forms of creativity) are now enjoyed.

    Dave is passionate about the issues, as we are. As a result, his post included some personal opinions about David Lowery that were less than kind. For that, we sincerely apologize and regret the distraction.

     

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  47.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 28th, 2012 @ 2:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Get ready for...

    You are the only one here obsessed with Lowery and Copyright. Case and point, this thread had nothing to do with him or copyright, but all you do is wine and cry like a little baby. WAAAAAAA, I want attention! WHAAAAAAA!

    Get over yourself, you little brat.

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 28th, 2012 @ 2:59pm

    Re: A response to the functional failings, rather

    In Defense Of David Lowery by Dave Allen... and funny enough... seems like ALOT of people still find lowery's bands relevant... LOTSA TORRENTS!

    http://www.north.com/latest/in-defense-of-david-lowery/

     

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  49. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 28th, 2012 @ 3:00pm

    Re: Re:

    I hear that a lot from bitter cubical jockey's who can't get laid...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 28th, 2012 @ 3:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Get ready for...

    huh? c'mon... there's "not much to say about it" really... I don't know why you are so upset?

    you've seen Dave Allen's Public Apology, right? I think Allen is a class act for recognizing he let his emotions get the best of him.

    http://www.north.com/latest/in-defense-of-david-lowery/

     

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  51.  
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    Mike42 (profile), Jun 28th, 2012 @ 3:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Get ready for...

    Just keep beating that dead horse and cursing the darkness. It won't postpone the inevitable even a minute.

    First they ignore you.
    Then, they laugh at you.
    Then, they fight you.
    Then, you win.

    You are fighting now, aren't you?

     

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  52.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Jun 28th, 2012 @ 4:07pm

    Re: Re: A response to the functional failings, rather

    Mankind in one form or another has been around for about a million years, copyright has been around for about 300 years. So for about 999,699 years we created things with out copyright or patents.

     

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  53.  
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    Richard (profile), Jun 28th, 2012 @ 4:14pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    You think that who you hear an argument from affects its vaidity.

    I hear that a lot from people who never have to test their ideas against the hard reality of nature.

     

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  54.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 28th, 2012 @ 4:48pm

    Re: Re:

    You realize this post is actually about Dave Allen and Zac Shaw, not David Lowery, right?

     

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  55.  
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    Milton Freewater, Jun 28th, 2012 @ 4:53pm

    Nothing to write about and everything to write about

    "Just to head off the AC who will undoubtedly cry "But why are you writing more articles about Lowery if there's 'nothing to write about!'"

    Mike misunderstood the importance of Lowery's article. He took it as an argument, and it wasn't. it was a eulogy. When Spotify users are brazenly called "looters," the writer has abandoned the "piracy" pitch and is speaking with anger about something he knows is gone for good. Lowery does not really believe the intern Emilies of the world will start buying his CDs.

    The funeral for pay-by-the-piece opened the floodgates for so many brilliant writers to celebrate the new system.

    Personally, i think file-sharing saved popular music. I'm loving this party too. I can't stop posting about it.

     

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  56.  
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    Milton Freewater, Jun 28th, 2012 @ 5:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Get ready for...

    "you've seen Dave Allen's Public Apology, right? I think Allen is a class act for recognizing he let his emotions get the best of him."

    That's not an apology, it's a clarification ... and an odd one since Bittorrent files are irrelevant to the original two pieces.

    I love the way virtually everybody on the one side of this can't defend themselves without trying to change the subject to torrenting. It's as if they know in their hearts that torrenting - "piracy" - is the only type of music access that merits any serious ethical discussion. They reject Lowery when they do it, but Lowery be damned.

    I agree with Allen that "David Lowery has every reason to be outraged about the way he and all musicians can lose income to illegal filesharing." But that's really carefully worded. He did not say any money was lost, he did not say filesharing was wrong, and he did not say listeners who don't buy are thieves. All he said was the Lowery has a right to his feelings.

     

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  57.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Jun 28th, 2012 @ 5:10pm

    Re: Re:

    I can't see any reason to hit the Report button on this one. You almost write in complete sentences here.

    So you're an "artists", eh? Evidently you don't write prose as your spelling and grammar are atrocious so that can't be it. And in total here you have the voice of two artists in particular that Mike has written about taking diametrically opposed positions on this. So much for unanimity right off the top.

    As for the mainstream media, they jumped on in, commented on it -- a great deal of the commentary negative and critical of Lowery's position -- and have jumped off it again. Today, for example the fate of Obamacare has kinda taken over but you seem sure that the mainstream will pick it up again. Oh, and take Lowery's position.

    As for Lowery being the voice of all artists rights, it does seem, since he posted his opinion that there are artists who have the nerve to disagree with him and you.

    I will point out one thing. David Lowery wrote under his own name. I don't post as an Anonymous Coward but using a nick that a fair number of people know and can connect directly to my real name -- John Wilson, if you're interested -- while you hide behind Anonymity and make claims like being an "artists" that aren't the slightest bit verifiable.

    This time around I'd prefer you were left unreported so that we can remember that you don't make any sense. Even when posting an Ad Hom.

    And rather than answer Zac Shaw's points you ignore them. Perhaps it's because you can't.

    Have fun keeping count. And do enlighten us as to what kind of "artists" you are, if you'd be so kind.

     

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  58.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 28th, 2012 @ 5:23pm

    Re: Nothing to write about and everything to write about

    From the comments: http://www.north.com/latest/we-never-read-a-postscript-to-the-emily-white-fracas/

    Then I remembered Bergerís line in Ways of Seeing about ďfor the first time ever, images of art have become ephemeral, ubiquitous, insubstantial, available, valueless, free. They surround us in the same way as a language surrounds us.Ē And thatís a wonderfully succinct way of describing what has happened with music.

    If anyone is interested in John Berger's Ways of Seeing here's a free copy to watch, which I highly recommend: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnfB-pUm3eI

     

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  59.  
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    Milton Freewater, Jun 28th, 2012 @ 5:30pm

    Re:

    "if you don't like the way they do things don't listen to their music. It's that simple."

    That is exactly what is happening today. Napster was 12 years ago.

    Also, letting the artist decide is noble in theory, but in practice, it means government-enforced prior approval for every bit of data exchanged on the Internet. How do you know I approved this post? You don't - you assume I did because it's here. Likewise YouTube, website links, etc.

    "Forcing a free music system (via illegal music downloads) on an artist is WRONG."

    Forcing a free music system on artists was "wrong," I agree. But no person or people did the forcing. The distribution bubble popped. Is it wrong to use Orbitz instead of going to a travel agent?

    And what about the vast bulk of the free music system, which does not involve doing anything illegal? Is it all wrong or just the illegal bits?

     

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  60.  
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    athe, Jun 28th, 2012 @ 5:41pm

    Re: Re: The "In defense of David Lowery" post from Allen...

    "posted by Mark Ray"

    Think that it might in aid of smoothing over some potential frictions?

     

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  61.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Jun 28th, 2012 @ 5:57pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Miley Cyrus is making the fatal mistake of growing up too, and trying to burst out of the prison her father and Disney built around her.

     

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  62.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Jun 28th, 2012 @ 6:01pm

    Re:

    That the vast majority of those who had that dream even before Napster appeared on the scene along with high speed Internet in most homes never made it either may not have occurred to them.

    The chances of attaining that lifestyle with the labels in charge was about the same as it is now, perhaps less. They still have to work at it whether it's Free Culture in charge or the labels.

     

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  63.  
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    Lauriel (profile), Jun 28th, 2012 @ 6:03pm

    Re: Re: A response to the functional failings, rather

    That may be true, but the old model you are referring to would be pre-1709. So now that the pendulum swung too far in the other direction for 300 years we declare that it is unethical and has failed.

    It's not so much that the pendulum swung too far - it's that the grandfather clock was replaced with a digital one, and dad (the **AAs) took the pendulum out and went batshit crazy, swinging it at anyone and everything in sight.

     

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  64.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 28th, 2012 @ 6:46pm

    Re: Re:

    Don't tell me, you are the star of the reboot of "Jackass" that will open next year right?

     

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  65.  
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    AnonymouSeuss, Jun 28th, 2012 @ 7:21pm

    Apparently David Lorax thinks he speaks for the trees. "Yes, I am David Lorax who speaks for the trees, which you seem to be copying as fast as you please." Though, David Lorax doesn't speak for all trees. Only for those Truffula trees; a rare genus grown in gated communities and prized for their exploited fruits. Now these gated communities are collapsing under the wake of advancement in combination with the weight of their own hubris. Thus imperilling the Truffulas and getting Lorax all worked into a rage. Now David Lorax, while claiming the collapse destroying the Truffula ecosystem is bad for all trees, fails to see the vast woods thriving on the periphery of these gated enclaves. Or worse, some residents amongst the Truffulas claim the forrests are bad for trees for they have to struggle in the wild internets amongst each other for sunlight & nutrients. The Lorax waxes poetically about how their is plenty of sunlight & nutrients for the Truffulas in the old system because of the vast, manicured landscape with sparse amount of greenery. "I'm telling you, sir, at the top of my rant Truffula trees like their competition scant! Whether it's willows, or spruce, or oak, or pine their entitlement, they feel, has been enshrined!!" There are the false accusations that Google, and ISPs, and innovators, and kind are profiting off this enviroment, at the expense of the trees, while aiding the Barbalooters. This view is based on the false notion that these organizations control these wild woods, since other companies control the gated communities of the Truffaulas, not understanding the truth that no individual(s) controls and/or cultivates the internet. Instead they are just selling detailed maps of the territories showing where one can locate the tallest redwood trees, or rose bushes, or sunflower patches growing free in this wild, new frontier. † ††

     

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  66.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 28th, 2012 @ 8:23pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Of course they don't. That would be counter to their argument. I use the definition of 'argument' quite loosely, of course.

     

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  67.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Jun 28th, 2012 @ 9:09pm

    Re:

    +100 insightfuls and funnys

    Well done.

     

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  68.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 28th, 2012 @ 9:30pm

    So not only does hurricane head spam this site, he goes to the stories posted above and spams THEIR sites, accusing them of being unethical.

    I think there needs to be some initiative against trichordist or something. Flag it as spam, maybe.

     

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  69.  
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    Chargone (profile), Jun 28th, 2012 @ 11:59pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Get ready for...

    well, he certainly doesn't seem to be Laughing anymore.

    save, perhaps, hysterically.

    *looks waaaaaaaaaaaaaay off into the distance to see the left margin*

     

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  70.  
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    JMT (profile), Jun 29th, 2012 @ 12:20am

    Re:

    ""Let the artist decide how he or she will make their money, if you don't like the way they do things don't listen to their music. It's that simple.

    One very obvious point. If I don't listen to their music, they'll NEVER, EVER get my money.

    As has point pointed out countless times, piracy is a far better option than obscurity. Fans will financially support artists, but to earn fans you have to make people like you and your music. Telling them to not listen to your music is the stupidest thing you could do. As you said, it's that simple.

     

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  71.  
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    [citation needed or GTFO], Jun 29th, 2012 @ 12:28am

    Re: Re: The "In defense of David Lowery" post from Allen...

    Four notes:

    1. The "apology" was written BEFORE the "defense" article.

    2. The "apology" was written by Mark Ray, NOT Dave Allen.

    3. Why Allen wrote the "defense" in the first place:

    As I say in my post I am not concerned with how people get their music. The gatekeepers have to deal with that. I just wanted to share a thought about how David Lowery is correct in his stance about ďillegal everything to do with music..Ē I really donít have the energy to fight that battle and he apparently does. Some of my points in my original post did him a disservice and that was unfair of me. Thatís all.

    The point that never gets discussed that much across all of the blog posts from me and others on this particular case is Ė why are musicians not changing their business models and taking the Internetís disruption into account? They seem to be more focused on attacking the Internet rather than adapting to it. If the focus is always going to be on downloading I fear that the argument will rage for years, go dormant for a decade like a volcano, and then erupt again in the future.

    I have no idea what the answer is. What I do know is that it has been about 14 years since the advent of Napster and there are no obvious solutions in sight. I wonder what 14 year olds are up to right now?

    Clearly the old model is broken but we have yet to invent the new model.


    4. Allen clarifying his perspective:

    For the record I have never supported or condoned this activity, either in public, at conferences, in my posts here or in any of my writings. My focus has always been on how technology actually helps musicians and why I think they should embrace it and never fear it. I also focus on user behavior and user actions when people interact with websites and mobile devices. Everyone by now must have acknowledged that I am not concerned with what is happening to my own music online. Having said that, it doesnít mean that I donít care about it.

    David Lowery has every reason to be outraged about the way he and all musicians can lose income to illegal filesharing. It is his absolute right to do something about it and I support his endeavors. We may never see eye to eye on all the issues but I feel certain that one day we could have a more muted conversation about those issues. I look forward to that day.


    Allen never stated that illegal filesharing is okay. But he also never stated that he completely agreed with Lowery either. He'll admit that "Lowery [was] correct in his stance about ďillegal everything to do with music..Ē" and that he'll respect that stance but "that's all."

    ---

    Final note: Allen stated that "I really donít have the energy to fight that battle and he apparently does."

    Completely agree. Trying to talk common sense to you is like Linus trying to get along with Lucy. You'll continue to use the same speaking points over and over again without actually backing it up, resorting to ad hominems, anecdotal and logical fallacies and quite honestly, it's exhausting and not worth the effort.

    So, until we start talking about The Carreon Effect again, I'll let the rest of the Techdirt community futilely debate you in this thread.

     

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  72.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jun 29th, 2012 @ 1:37am

    Re: Re: Re: A response to the functional failings, rather

    Wow, a response so intelligent and nuanced you couldn't even write it as response to the correct comment! Amazing...

    So, do you want to address the actual content of the article and the people who work for a living who wrote the comments discussed, or is that too honest and difficult for you?

     

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  73.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jun 29th, 2012 @ 1:46am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Get ready for...

    Ah, the AC playbook is in full effect... Nothing to say about the article, so try misdirection. You can't refute anything that the artists being discussed have said, you you spam the thread with some link from someone who shares some of your own opinion, then pretend that means the opinions of others don't matter.

    Pathetic, as ever.

     

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  74.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jun 29th, 2012 @ 2:05am

    Re: Re:

    While he hasn't posted a fully detailed breakdown, Louis CK did post his rough earnings (and what he was doing with them) here: https://buy.louisck.net/news/another-statement-from-louis-c-k.

    Short version: he made over $1 million in 12 days. He paid roughly 1/4 to cover his costs, another to his staff, another to charity and kept another for himself. Note that this was only a couple of weeks after the first show went on sale, so with further sales, sales of other shows and now tour tickets, he's personally looking at a fair amount more than the $220k he mentions there.

    The ACs will whine that he could only do this because he dared to have worked in the traditional arena first, of course, but many of those sales were made to people who had never heard of him before...

     

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  75.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jun 29th, 2012 @ 2:18am

    Re:

    "I don't have ANY problem with people following whatever business model THEY choose"

    Neither do I. What I DO have a problem with is when they fail to make money because that business model is no longer viable, they refuse to change and blame everybody else for their failure.

    "There doesn't need to be a single "system""

    ...and I don't think that anyone's suggesting there should be - only the RIAA's sycophants are pretending there has to be a one size fits all approach.

    "Forcing a free music system (via illegal music downloads) on an artist is WRONG"

    So? Pirating CDs, recording music from the radio, making free mixtapes for friends, bootlegging gigs, etc. were all "wrong" by that definition. It still happened, long before the internet, and the music industry still managed to flourish. Why was that, do you think?

    "if you don't like the way they do things don't listen to their music"

    I don't, but then I still get accused of piracy and morons use that lie as an excuse to cripple or shut down services I want to use, including those that make money for independent artists.

     

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  76.  
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    The Spork (profile), Jun 29th, 2012 @ 5:32am

    Yay for INDIE!

    big pile of crap for the MAFIAA gatekeepers!

     

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  77.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 29th, 2012 @ 10:56am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Get ready for...

    You do realise you're making yourself look like a moron right? You didn't even reply to a relevant comment.

     

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  78.  
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    BeeAitch (profile), Jun 29th, 2012 @ 5:27pm

    Re: Re:

    "As an artists[sic] I am so touch[sic]..."

    We can definitely tell you're "touched"...

     

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  79.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 29th, 2012 @ 8:08pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    here we go again!

    I know that TechDirt is a circle jerk for the choir, but hey, no such thing as bad press... On behalf of all all artists I must say we are Truly flattered!

    POST #7 on David Lowery! Man... Thanks guys! As an artists I am so touch you all are spending so much time on this. It really illustrates what a big story this and how much the voice of musicians has really brought this issue back into the mainstream debate.

    Do you think there'll be a book?

    TechDirt Presents "Not Much To Say About It" How David Lowery taught us about the power of the internet and the voice of Artists Rights by Mike Masnick

    Thanks Again! What you focus on grows. Unfortunately this doesn't appear to working with Lessig's "just get over it" philosophy, so... I'll look forward to see ya again on the next Anti-Artists Anti-Lowery Screed/Rant/Diatribe by Mike...

    let's see if this post get's censored... hmmmm...

     

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

  80.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Jun 29th, 2012 @ 11:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    So, nothing again, huh?

     

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

  81.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2012 @ 5:21pm

    Re:

    "Free Culture Is The Response To The Ethical Failings Of The Old Entertainment Industry"

    uhmmmm ok... so two wrongs make a right now?

     

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


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