The New Elitism: File Sharing 'Created' Pop Music And Removing Gatekeepers Is 'Killing Culture'

from the revisionist-history-and-revisionist-futurism dept

Helene Lindvall is back, bringing with her one of the worst anti-piracy arguments ever crafted. You might remember her from such Techdirt posts as “You Can’t Trust Anyone Who Gives Stuff Away But Still Makes Money” and “Not Wanting To Spend All Your Time Playing Pirate Whack-A-Mole Is Defeatist.” She’s topped herself this time, though, making the claim that piracy has started a “self-perpetuating conveyer belt of cookie-cutter pop stars.”

Her post at the Guardian carries this provoking title: “Why piracy is perpetuating plastic pop,” and it theorizes that piracy’s ravaging of the music industry has resulted in a non-stop stream of ready-made pop stars, the likes of which has never been seen, except for pretty much the last 50 years of the recording industry. In her hurry to blame piracy for American Idol, Miley Cyrus and other artists who carry a hint of “assembly line” about their person, Lindvall blows right past the obvious fact that pre-made pop far precedes file sharing, and arrives at this bizarre conclusion:

Could it be that instead of creating a more level playing field and opportunities for, say, a new Nirvana or Smashing Pumpkins to break through, piracy and the unwillingness to pay for music is creating a self-perpetuating conveyer belt of cookie-cutter pop stars?

Could it be? Could piracy have gutted the market so much that labels are forced to play it safe and only invest in pop stars? Really? Is it only NOW that the recording industry is shifting its gears towards “safer” music and “plastic pop” and that it has spent the last half-century-plus cultivating only the finest, deepest talent and rewarding listeners with act after virtuoso act?

Never mind the fact that pop music has existed (to some extent) since the 1940’s (60 years BN). Never mind the fact that Top 40 radio has been around since the early 1950s, a format based on teenage girls’ interaction with jukeboxes (play the same handful of songs, over and over). Never mind the fact that bubblegum pop and the rise of pre-fab bands began in the mid-1960s. All of this predates the repeated killing of music by anything stronger than a cassette tape. Never mind the fact that one of the most hated of all pop entities, the Eurovision Song Contest, has been tormenting the ears of listeners since 1952.

Before Napster.

Never mind the fact that for every Nevermind, there are a million other weightless albums released into the Top 40 ether by major labels. Never mind the fact that Nirvana’s success swept in a long string of much less talented grunge purveyors. Why? Because Nirvana sold albums. The Smashing Pumpkins were also beneficiaries of Nirvana’s financial success. The major labels pick up acts if they think they’ll sell, not because they have a burning desire to only offer the best music to the world. Hell, even Bob Dylan got dropped from his original label for failing to push enough vinyl, and people consider him to be one of the finest songwriters of all time.

Basically, her whole argument boils down to good, old-fashioned elitism. Lindvall automatically assumes pop is a universally “bad” thing, presumably because it’s popular, and points the finger at piracy. It’s only slightly less insulting than saying that if the barriers to entry are removed then everything will suck. Instead, it lays the blame on the broad shoulders of John Q. Pirate, whose illegal efforts have “cheapened” quality, non-pop music .

Compare Lindvall’s theory to Gavin Castleton, whose post for The Trichordist gets expounded on by David Newhoff. Here’s Newhoff’s opening line:

Imagine your diet will henceforth be determined by the tastes of a majority of American ten-year-olds.

Sounds like “plastic pop,” doesn’t it? Newhoff’s post deals mainly with the film industry, but he first takes a moment to bash all these new artists operating outside the established systems:

One assumption behind DIY culture seems to be that the best work is being systematically squashed by big media conglomerates, and that the level playing field of the Web will allow great art to emerge through the ultimate, democratic means – popularity supported by algorithms. This theory has proven generally untrue for journalism, music, and publishing; and we’re now on the leading edge of its proving untrue for filmed entertainment.

Newhoff off-handedly insults DIYers here, tying them in with spam bots and other SEO gamers, while simultaneously making the implication that the industries value art over commerce. He quotes Castleton, who goes even further, hilariously suggesting that the labels and studios are actually well-designed filters, rather than commercial ventures:

“When you release the valve without well-tuned filters in place, you get what we have now: muddy waters (not the artist, the metaphor). You have tracks from seasoned artists like Radiohead distributed side by side with garbage (not the band, the metaphor), and you have transferred the burden and blessing of filtering from more official gatekeepers to the consumer…”

God forbid the consumer (you know, the one expected to reward every artist monetarily) have any control over the incoming stream of content. We simply can’t have people deciding who or what they want to throw money at. After all, they’re only the public, an unwashed group of freeloaders who don’t know what they want or how to show their appreciation when a label or studio hands it to them. Over in Lindvall’s post, Noel Gallagher (the slightly less loutish half of Oasis) spells out exactly how the public should be treated by artists and their preferred gatekeepers:

[A]s I understand it the consumer didn’t want Jimi Hendrix, but they got him – and it changed the world … Fuck the customer. He doesn’t know what he wants. You fucking give it to him and he likes it.

The consumer [says] ‘Where’s my free music on the internet? Is this a free download?’ Fuck off! It cost me a quarter of a million pounds to make it, you’re not getting it for nothing. I want my quarter of a million back, thank you very much. That’s why we’re rock stars.

Quarter of a million pounds to make a record. $250 million to make a movie. You’d think at some point someone would start dialing back the costs if they thought they had a very slim chance of recouping. But, no. These dollar figures are tossed around as some sort of anecdotal evidence that everything must return to the heyday of previous formats (CDs, DVDs, etc.). Here’s the story, morning glory: Mr./Mrs. Consumer give not one single fook how much you sunk into your last album or how long you had to tour to pay it off.

Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins) also weighs in on Lindvall’s post, decrying the fact that, as a musician, he’s required to earn and cultivate his own audience:

“People like me used to be auteurs, saying ‘I’m going to do whatever the fuck I want to do, you like it or you don’t like it’ and if you’re really good they’ll come,” said Corgan. “Now I’m supposed to beg for attention. It’s completely counterintuitive to why I became a musician in the first place and the personality of someone like me.

“I’m supposed to have enough of an ego to make my own world, my own music, my own artwork – everything – but then say, ‘Please, please will you just fork out that $10, I know that’s a really big decision’. What? When did that become such a big decision? Even if we could find the right price point the general person doesn’t believe in making that purchase.”

Billy, I hate to point this out, but musicians have always had to ask customers to fork out money for their albums. The aspect you don’t seem to like is the fact that there’s not a gatekeeper between you and the audience, doing the dirty work like asking for money or shoving your CD into the New Releases rack. You had to beg for attention when you first started. Now, you’re stuck with everyone else, Connecting With Fans. Attention is scarce. More scarce than money these days.

The processes have been democratized and that does nothing but ire those who used be safe inside the clubhouse, occasionally flinging art in the direction of the general public with one hand out and the other flipping them the bird. Now that anyone can get in the game and make their own fortune without yoking themselves to gatekeepers, the club members have begun resorting to insulting everyone without a membership card. Back on Newhoff’s blog:

No one can argue that the consumer isn’t “getting what he wants, and for free,” but the democratization of journalism has broadened the concept to include literally anyone with a computer. As with Caselton’s Radiohead example, the best journalists in the world now swim in murky waters amid every crackpot, amateur netizen who considers himself a reporter.

That’s the internet for you. Freeloaders. Crackpots. And saddest of all, the Club Members are now forced to share space with the General Population.

The digital-age conceit (because the Web is an egomaniac’s paradise) is that the consumer always knows best; but this apparently fair and reasonable-sounding attitude may well be a greater culture killer than all the suits in Hollywood have ever been. Why? Because, just like solid news reporting, great art is not created by popular consent; to the contrary, it is often created in spite of it. When we shift the “burden and blessing” of gatekeeping from a finite number of professionals involved in the process to an infinite number of amateurs detached from the process, we are simultaneously creating work by committee in real-time while undermining the principle of investment in that work in the first place.

Between Newhoff and Lindvall (and Castleton), the general public is nothing more than a freeloading collective hellbent on destroying culture and rebuilding it via pre-fab pop stars and personal blogs. They decry the level playing field as harmful to the efforts of truly creative and talented artists, the likes of which will be buried by either (Lindvall) “assembly line artists” or (Newhoff) “crackpot bloggers.”

All this faux concern for the outer limits of artistic expression completely ignores the fact that the fringe artists, the avant garde, the groundbreakers have as little use for these very same gatekeepers (that Lindvall and Newhoff hold in such high regard) as these gatekeepers had for them. It’s been the independent artists, like Amanda Palmer and Ok Go that have ditched the label system and struck out on their own, and with great success. Many, many artists over the years have divorced themselves from major labels and studios simply because of the limitations. Others have been cast off by these same labels and studios for a lack of commercial success.

Artists like Amanda Palmer and Ok Go aren’t held back by the public, they’re enabled by the public. Lindvall and Newhoff act as if these artists have to only produce content that will appeal to the widest possible audience — those ugly “masses.” But what the successful artists have shown is exactly the opposite. Under the old system they were expected to do what Lindvall and Newhoff decry about the new system: dumb stuff down and produce something with a broad appeal. But under the new system, these artists have been able to find their niche and create the art they want to create. It’s an upside-down world from the one that Lindvall and Newhoff see.

Yet somehow, Lindvall and Newhoff believe that scaling back the role of gatekeepers will somehow prevent artists like Billy Corgan or Noel Gallagher from ever succeeding again. And rather than distance themselves from the so-called “pop manufacturers,” they attack the public, their own potential fanbase. There’s always been a market for lowest-common-denominator pop culture, but lowered entry barriers are making it easier for even the most niche of artists to find an audience. This should be celebrated rather than mourned, but Lindvall and Newhoff seem to feel anything produced outside the “old” system is nothing but mediocrity.

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Comments on “The New Elitism: File Sharing 'Created' Pop Music And Removing Gatekeepers Is 'Killing Culture'”

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180 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

you guys are having a bad run… first oatmeal v funnyjunk, than lowery’s response to NPR and now this… OMG it’s almost like creators are standing up for themselves!

Like Helene, Lowery put light on this, and alot of artists are responding as the message resonates not from his words but from the truth of their own experience in their own pocketbooks. If there were in fact a new middle class of professional musicians, and your half-baked nonsensical ideas actually had any merit than musicians would respect you.

http://thetrichordist.wordpress.com/2012/05/22/why-arent-more-musicians-working-professionally/

But, after a decade of half-baked ideas, poorly thought out business plans, and outright lies artists no know that you are only working to line the pockets of those who exploit like your kind have done repeatedly in the past at record labels, publishing companies, etc. You Leigh are the new RIAA, you are the MAN sticking it to artists and promoting their exploitation so that companies like the pirate bay and others can profit illegally off the work of artists.

You and others here can skoff at this post. You can name call and drag out your usual strawmen, but the response to Lowery’s post was a Phenom this week, and Oatmeal was a Phenom last week… It might be time for you guys to take a long hard look in the mirror and realize that you are worse than the MAFIAA that you claim to despise.

I would expect nothing less than the usual responses from this post, but all I can say is… the tide is starting to turn and as we’ve seen in the last two week a little bit of light goes a long way in the darkness… get hip.

http://thetrichordist.wordpress.com/2012/06/05/artists-know-thy-enemy/

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Tim Schafer is an artist. His studio raised $3.3 million via Kickstarter: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/66710809/double-fine-adventure

His game Pyschonauts was included in the Humble Indie Bundle, which raised over $5 million: http://www.humblebundle.com/

The tide turned a while ago. Nice to see you “paying” attention though.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: talk to Ted...

Unfortunately the democratization of music has failed, but don’t take my word for it, argue with Ted Cohen from TAG Strategic, is he an idiot troll too?

http://blog.midem.com/2009/12/breaking-through-the-noise/

?The Internet was supposed to be the ultimate leveler, great music would be able to find its audience, the ?big label? gatekeepers would no longer control access to the masses.

It hasn?t exactly played out that way. According to my friend, Tommy Silverman/Tommy Boy Records and the co-founder of the New Music Seminar recently told me that he did the math and only 228 artists broke 10,000 units for the first time last year out of 105,000 albums.

That?s 2.17% but only 15 of those did it without the help of a real label.

That?s not very encouraging to the other ninety-eight percent. While tens of thousand of artists are self-releasing their music, their ability to get noticed in a meaningful way is stifled by the sheer volume of music that is arriving daily at iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, MySpace Music, Yahoo, Rhapsody, Pandora, iHeart and others. Ten years ago, there were roughly twenty-five thousand album releases a year.

Eponymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 talk to Ted...

Define “great music”…

We can talk about “great music” in the collective sense that we all agree it’s great, or we can talk about “great music” in the subjective sense that I think this song is great, though nobody else does. To me great music is finding its audience, but it is the highly subjective variant for audiences today are quite niche (some may argue self-serving). You may (or may not) pine for those days when monoculture was the norm, but I’m glad they are long behind us. Personally I don’t care if my peers don’t agree with my assessment of what’s great music because it makes me happy none the less. Though I understand if you, and/or others, care about the shared social experience of music, and you can still have that if you want just not in the abundance it once was. In the end the idea that everyone must love your work for you to be considered a success is played out. If you do what you love and can find others that live what you do then that is a success in my book, fuck selling 10,000 units.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: TIME Magazine...

keep saying to yourself… “there are no monsters here… there are no monsters here…”

I suppose Time Magazine are out of touch trolls too?

http://entertainment.time.com/2012/06/20/digital-freeloaders-paying-for-the-pipes-but-not-the-piper/

Ya know… it’s funny how David’s little bit of light goes such a looooong way in exposing the darkness…

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Since you copied half this comment from your previous comment, I’ll copy my response:

Oh please. Do you really think that Lowery gets anything right? If so, you have been thoroughly brainwashed.

Here’s a direct quote from Lowery’s extensive “old boss new boss” ramblings (emphasis mine):

This is what people do not understand. When they look at the royalties that the record labels paid artists it doesn?t seem like a lot. It seems unfair. Until you consider the guaranteed advances. Let?s say the artist was to be paid a lowly 12% royalty by contract. That compares unfavorably to the 61% of revenue that the independent artist gets from iTunes. But the artist is always given an advance and usually the advance assumes moderate success. But 9 of those 10 bands did not achieve great success even moderate success. It was never expected that all 10 would be successful. So the result was that the record label artist actually received a lot more than that contractual 12%. The unsuccessful artist may have received an advance that was equal to 90% of the gross revenue generated by that recording. And most artists were unsuccessful. So your average record label artist was actually receiving way more than 12%. The artist royalty rate is actually the floor. It?s the minimum share of revenue the artist will receive.

(I know this is probably really confusing to you civilians. Am I really saying it?s better to be un-recouped as an artist? Yes it is. Quantitative finance geeks will see this as selling a series of juicy ?covered calls?. Being un-recouped means you took in more money than you were due by contract. You took in more money than your sales warranted. And there was a sweet spot, being un-recouped but not too un-recouped. For instance I estimate that over my 15 year career at Virgin/EMi we took in advances and royalties equivalent to about 40% of our gross sales. In other words we had an effective royalty rate of 40%, despite the fact that by contract our rate was much lower).

Yes. He just explicitly argued that it’s better to be a crappy, unpopular band that sells no albums because apparently all he cares about is scamming the system for the maximum possible percentage of sales. Indeed, by his logic, if you got a $1 advance and sold zero albums, you’d be doing great: after all, you just got an infinity per cent portion of sales!

This is the guy you are looking to for insight into the industry? The guy who thinks that bands shouldn’t care about having fans – they should just care about getting a good advance then not even worry if anyone likes their album? That they should declare victory if they only sell a handful of copies, just because they got some cash upfront? Those are not the motivations of any musician I know, even the ones who very much want to make money with their music. Those are not the motivations of any musician I care to listen to, either.

No wonder Lowery can’t understand or compete in the new landscape – he doesn’t even think bands should have to be good, or that anyone should want to listen to them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Tell me Leigh, what bands are “good” to you? And how much do you think they’re making?

You are aware that Lowery’s has a Platinum album (he’s modest), and he was nominated for Grammy the same year as Nirvana was for Nevermind.

So I’m not sure what standards and metrics you are using, but your argument is pretty much flawed. Lowery is arguing on behalf of artists to get PAID. Labels pay, Pirates Don’t. It’s that simple.

Not sure you’ve seen this…

http://ethicalfan.com/2012/04/wall-of-shame-april-2012/

Don’t you think artists should be compensated in that value chain?

Also – I think more artists are likely to side with Lowery than you… How’s your music career going? How are these principles working out for you? I’d think with all of your expertise you’d do better than 97 views on youtube… LOL…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9lO46H5RjQ

at least you’ve doubled those numbers on Soundcloud…

http://soundcloud.com/marcus-carab

So this is the value of free? Tell me how that’s working out for you… probably OK as a tech blogger, but not so much as a musician. Good luck with that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Really? The point was completely addressed. Labels pay Artists, Pirates don’t, what part of that are you missing?

How much of this ad revenue is being shared with the artists responsible for creating the traffic to sell the advertising?

http://ethicalfan.com/2012/04/wall-of-shame-april-2012/

Of course, I wouldn’t expect that Leigh (a guy who can’t get signed and has no professional music experience) would understand the dynamics of a record deal. Record companies pay artists, even if the label looses money. Pirates don’t pay artists even when the pirate sites make money.

https://thetrichordist.wordpress.com/2012/06/07/artist-exploitation-calculator-internet-edition/

Thank God for David Lowery for shining a light and bringing this issue to the mainstream so that more artists can understand who is ripping them off and how. If you want to help artists, stop ripping them, and stop supporting the sites that are…

http://thetrichordist.wordpress.com/2012/06/05/artists-know-thy-enemy/

I hope that clears things up. Thanks.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

“Labels pay Artists, Pirates don’t, what part of that are you missing? “

The blinkers that you wear that turn complex real life issues into a pathetic black-and-white, us vs them team game? The extra dose of stupidity that makes you think that attacking someone’s taste in music has anything to do with a business discussion? Your single-minded obsession with defending a broken corporate system at every turn, no matter how many times you have to lie? Your inability to face peoples’ real opinions, so that you have to attack them for positions they don’t hold and opinions they’ve never stated?

Tim Griffiths (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

“Labels pay Artists, Pirates don’t”

Except for a few things. Labels don’t “pay” artists, they give them an advance. An advance they have to pay back sometimes even if they fail. Artists are meant to be grateful for a lone that comes at the cost of the rights to their work and any kind of real return from it.

Advances given to bands have to cover EVERYTHING about the production of the album including the pressing and shipping. Through out productions the label will pretty much recoup that advance from the band through inflated prices and costs as the label actually handles the production for the band. This is why labels will often keep on pushing up and advance because while they give on the one hand they’ll take back on the other and while still leaving the band in huge debt to the label.

So when the album comes out the label has often not lost all of the advance they paid out and yet until the band pays back the full balance of the advance they where given labels will often take all the royalties from any music sales.

This puts us in a place where if you go see a band and buy a CD from their merch stand they will see more money from being the store holder than the content creator.

The artists then make their living through over means, mainly touring and merch. Which means that both some one who pirates a CD they would never have brought and likes the band enough to go see a show and buy some merch is by far more valuable to the band than some one who just buys a CD.

What’s even worse about all this is that labels have realised this and have started trying to move to so called 360 deals where they take a cut of ANYTHING the artists makes by being an artist until the advance is paid back.

Very few labels pay artists. They give artists a loan to produce an album but after that loan is paid back will still own the rights to the album and only be giving the band who made it a small cut of the sales.

If a pirate goes to a live show they DO pay the artist.

Funny that.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Um yeah, I don’t have a music “career”, I have a music hobby. It’s fun (that’s why some people make music).

You have expertly dodged the point, though. Lowery’s position, stated quite clearly and explicitly, is that it’s better for a band to sell few albums and go un-recouped. I take it you agree?

Sounds ridiculous to me, and a lot of other people.

JMT says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

I love the elitist snobbery here. You literally laugh at someone who enjoys making music only as a hobby and has no intention of having a music career. It’s no wonder you stay anonymous; you know you’d turn off a lot of fans and potential fans with your arrogant attitude. Ask yourself how many people would actually want to give you money after talking to them the way you do.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

JMT:
I love the elitist snobbery here. You literally laugh at someone who enjoys making music only as a hobby and has no intention of having a music career.

AC:
Not at all I just want to see all the TD wisdom for musicans put to work by the very person who is talking the talk but can’t walk the walk… that’s just a fail. Again, no one has said anything about the quality of Leigh’s musical ability, but only his inability to create an audience given all the expertise to do so working at TechDirt – I just find that hollow and ironic. Sorry.

So someone who’s never worked as a professional musician, has no desire (he says) to be a professional musician, has never had a professional career in the record industry and does not want to have a professional career in the record industry is supposed to be the voice of experience to musicians? Really? Seriously? Do you also let the grocer fix your car? That’s interesting logic.

RadialSkid (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

Do you also let the grocer fix your car?

If he can, why not? I’m a TV Master Control operator, and I can fix any car you put in front of me.

“Professional” doesn’t mean “talented.” “Amateur” doesn’t mean “novice.” And I’d rather listen to an honest amateur like Leigh than an arrogant boor like Lowery any day of the week.

RadialSkid (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

Thanks! Pretty much all of the music I’ve listened to since 2008 was been from either Jamendo or Magnatune. I’ve had great luck so far…half of the tracks are worth hearing, as opposed to so-called “professional” content, where it’s rare gems in huge piles of dung.

The opposite of what your crowd says, amusingly enough.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

you seem to think you have a lot of omniscient knowledge there… too funny… what else you got in that crystal ball?

I don’t think any one has made any bones that cutting off advertising from illegally operating sites would be a good start, and then cutting off payment processing, and of course… there will be another round of legislation at some point, you know it, we know it, everyone knows it.

AticusWelles says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

I don’t pirate music, but I can honestly say I will never pay for it ever again either.

I love Pandora and see no need for anything else.

I don’t pirate movies either, and will never pay another cent for those as well. But that’s because the movie format sucks when TV is capable of creating visual literature like The Wire and Game of Thrones. Movies aren’t worth my time. Especially when it takes years to put a 2 hour story up on the screen, when HBO can put 10 hours on screen in less than a year. But I’m sure Hollywood can’t wrap it’s collective mind around the thought that anyone could not like the movie format (according to them EVERYONE loves movies, and if you aren’t paying for them, you are pirating them).

I don’t mind paying for content I appreciate. I just have no appreciation for movies or owning music these days, and I don’t waste my time on stuff I don’t like.

Audio Books, Cable TV, internet access to social media and Pandora, and occasional video games are all the entertainment I need nowadays.

Owning music and watching movies are so 20th century…

AticusWelles says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

But according to Lowery, since I don’t pay for Pandora One, I am.

According to him, since I don’t pay for the music I listen to, I’m morally bankrupt. (roll_eyes).

“Same with Pandora premium, MOG and a host of other legitimate services. I can?t imagine that any other legal music service that is gonna be simpler than these to use. Isn?t convenience already here!

Ultimately there are three ?inconvenient? things that MUST happen for any legal service:

1.create an account and provide a payment method (once)

2.enter your password.

3. Pay for music.

So what you are really saying is that you won?t do these three things. This is too inconvenient. And I would guess that the most inconvenient part is?.step 3.

That?s fine. But then you must live with the moral and ethical choice that you are making to not pay artists. And artists won?t be paid. And it won?t be the fault of some far away evil corporation. You ?and your peers? ultimately bear this responsibility.”

http://thetrichordist.wordpress.com/2012/06/18/letter-to-emily-white-at-npr-all-songs-considered/

Enough already says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Another round of legislation? Yes and this is why we the non-pirating public are beginning to hate the mega-media industry.

Leave our rights alone. Leave our internet alone. Stop this crap while you still have any paying customers. We’re sick of your crap. Our tax payer funded authorities are not your private enforcement force. Our freedoms are non-negotiable. Our internet is for downgrading and snoop-riddling.

I don’t pirate your stuff so stop stealing my rights.

Anonymous Coward With A Unique Writing Style says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

How many times does it need to be explained to you that Leigh/Brandon DOES NOT consider himself to be a musician. He’s said that he just messes around more as a hobby (and barely even that). He has an actual career and it isn’t music related in any way.

I mean seriously, that’s all you seem to fall back on. “Your music sucks, cause I say so. You dork!” I doubt that even phases him. It’s probably more annoying than anything, have to explain for the upteenth time to a troll like you how he has never claimed to be a musician.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Thanks πŸ™‚ Though, I’m curious who “Brandon” is…

The attacks on my music are especially amusing because the highlight the big divide here: people like Lowery and his supporters come from a world where there is only one “story” for a musician. The romantic one, with dreams of being a rock star. They see no other reason why someone might make music – and they assume that, if you are making music, you are chasing that kind of success.

Meanwhile, what we’re always talking about here at techdirt is the fact that being a successful career musician takes a tonne of work beyond just making music. Even if I thought I was talented enough to be a huge success (I don’t really) I still wouldn’t expect that successs, because I don’t work on it. I don’t go out there striving to connect with fans every day and promote my work and perfect everything I release and give people a reason to buy and so on and so forth. Why would I expect any significant return on that, beyond the personal fun of watching my SoundCloud play count tick past 1,000 or having the occasional really great reaction from a crowd at a bar? That’s the outdated mentality: “I’m a musician, a special person, and because I’m special I should be rewarded for doing my special thing and nothing else”

I suspect there will always be a few musicians who are so insanely talented that such a thing works out for them anyway – that always happens to some degree. But the rest of us don’t expect anything if we don’t plan to put in the work. For Lowery and his ilk to project that expectation on us is very telling — for one thing, it reveals how they have lost sight of the simple joys of music.

Anonymous Coward With A Unique Writing Style says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

I totally just realized I said Brandon, my bad. I’m at work and was talking on the phone to a vendor, the guy I was speaking to was named Brandon and I guess it just slipped into what I was writing. I meant Marcus. Lol. My bad.

And before the troll above says that I’m stealing from my employer for reading Techdirt while on the clock… I was on the phone with a vendor, while running scans on the server class desktop right next to me. If I’m doing something like that I’m allowed a little freedom to surf the web. If I’m on technology related sites (which I usually am) even better. The more info I have on what’s coming out soon or what’s going on in the tech world the more informed I am and the better I can advise my bosses regarding potential trends and upcoming technology we may need.

I’d also like to say great comment. I personally work in IT and Home Health. That’s right, some of us Average Joe’s work two jobs. My greatest love though is writing. Am I a professional writer? Hardly. But I do write occasional poetry, short stories, commercial ideas (not for national viewing but just amongst my friends for fun), and so on. I do all of this for fun and because I enjoy it. No profit motive whatsoever. Have I made a few bucks with my writing? Sure. People who know me know I have quite the imagination and can write 15 pages in 2 hours on almost any subject and it will be a great read. So they’ll say hey write my niece/nephew a short story and I’ll give you a few bucks. I usually decline unless I’m strapped for gas money (which happens on occasion). I write because I want to, not because I want to make money doing so. In addition, much like you I occasionally play music. Again, purely for fun. I’ll record videos of myself singing (original songs and some covers naturally) and playing my guitar. But it’s a hobby. Not something I plan to do for a living.

But you hit the nail right on the head I think. Lowery is one of those types who seems to think if you’re making music you should be a rock star. And if you’re making music and not making a fortune, you’re being screwed by the public and all the thieving pirates that make up the public (which in his opinion is everyone).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

LEIGH:
The attacks on my music are especially amusing because the highlight the big divide here: people like Lowery and his supporters come from a world where there is only one “story” for a musician.

AC:
Actually no Leigh. I want to believe that you actually know what you are talking about, that your mad skills of understanding how musicians should be making money would be illustrated by you? But no, instead you make excuses for a video with 93 views on youtube and 250 plays on soundcloud. What a lame cop out. Sorry.

If there was any validity in your half baked reasoning you should be able to illustrate how your principles work with your own band and music. But it you can’t actually make it work, not even for yourself.

Sour Grapes make for bitter wine as they say, and if your not creative and innovative to develop an audience with your superior skills and innovative models that you promote on TechDirt I think it’s pretty obvious the flaws in your logic speak for themselves given the size of YOUR audience.

This is why you guys need to exploit others is because your not creative enough to create music that anyone would want anyway. Meanwhile, Lowery has a Grammy nomination and a Platinum album and you’ve got crickets on youtube and soundcloud.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Anonymous Coward With A Unique Writing Style:
Lowery is one of those types who seems to think if you’re making music you should be a rock star.

AC:
No, Lowery is arguing that the creator should have agency over their work and should not be exploited illegally for profit by companies and corporations making money and not sharing any with the artists/creators. Lowery is arguing for more creators to have the opportunity to be properly paid for their work, so that more creators, LIKE YOU, don’t have to work two jobs. You’re playing for the wrong team…

However if you like other people profiting from your work, than I suppose TD is a great place to find like minded people who don’t respect artists and creators, LIKE YOU.

Anonymous Coward With A Unique Writing Style says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

I’m not a creator. I’m a hobbyist. My day jobs, both of them, are things I do because I also enjoy doing them and because they pay the bills. See, some of us don’t have dreams of becoming famous millionaires. Some of us live simpler lives and are happier because of it.

I’m not playing for any team. I’m team ME. As in I’m happy working a real job and writing in my spare time for the fun of it. I don’t want or expect a paycheck because I write. Nor do I blame my lack of exposure or fortune on pirates. I’m not ranting and raving or foaming at the mouth as you very much appear to be. I’m a realist. Piracy is going to happen regardless, no attempts to beat it (beyond offering more legitimate methods for people to purchase and experience content) will ever work. And the world doesn’t just want free stuff. Contrary to what you and that misinformed teacher Lowery believe. They just want stuff when they want it with no restrictions (DRM or windowed releases) on it and at reasonable prices. (If you don’t think that’ll work check out Valve’s success with Steam in Russia. You know, that country that is completely overlooked/ignored because it’s a piracy haven. And how did Valve accomplish that? By offering their service there and one upping the pirates, and they’re raking in the dough for it and more power to them.)

Sorry to say, but Lowery is very much pissing and moaning because at the end of the day he’s just another musician in a world full of them. There are way better artists than Lowery out there, most of them who have no problem whatsoever over the fact that they aren’t making millions. Most are just happy to make something at all. Which is very much something Lowery has a problem with. That more people get a cut of what should be his, and his alone, pie. That much is easy to infer from what he writes.

I do like how you’re not trying to appeal to me personally and make it seem like I’m being exploited. I can assure you, Techdirt and the people on here (from Mike and Leigh to PaulT and Karl and all the rest, minus the people like you) are NOT exploiting me and as a matter of fact I respect each and every one of them. If for nothing more than they can have a discussion with others without resorting to ad homs or emotional appeals.

Also, I did not say Leigh’s music sucks. I was paraphrasing. Who was I paraphrasing? ACs who sound just like you. Or did you suffer amnesia in the past few hours and forget all your shots at him and his “career”?

Let’s not keep this going. You’re pretty much dimmer than a light bulb about to go out. And you can’t actually have a reasonable discussion without resorting to ad homs against at least one person in your comments. Kind of sad. Expected, but sad nonetheless.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

Okay, enough is enough. Get down off your high horse and look at the world, today. A LOT of people work multiple jobs just to get by, and you think some /musician/ should get a free pass to do what they love and make a solid living from it? Grow up. VERY FEW people can make a solid living doing what they love. It’s just a fact of life. Get over it, and get a real job.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

AC1:
VERY FEW people can make a solid living doing what they love.

AC:
That’s too bad. I do. But than again maybe it’s karma. I don’t take what is not given and then try to rationalize my way out of it.

AC1:
you think some /musician/ should get a free pass to do what they love and make a solid living from it?

AC:
wow, angry much? No. No one is entitled to anything but to be compensated for their labor. If you consumer music pay for it. You have no right to steal and no business should be above the law, not record labels, and not scamming internet companies. Why you would suppose that people making an honest living is some how entitlement is beyond me. Apples to Airplanes sir… learn the difference please.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

No one is entitled to anything but to be compensated for their labor.

Wait. Where is that written?

If I spend 10,000 man hours creating a wiget that no one wants to buy, how am I entitled to anything?

All business endeavors contain risks. It’s a pure fact. The business of selling music is no different. I’m not sure why you think it should be.

Tim Griffiths (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

I play in a band, I love it, for 2 and half years I’ve gone to practice ever week and tried to play at lest 1 or 2 shows a month often going out of my way to do so. I’ve lost huge amounts of time and money and I’ve done it all with no expectation of making it back. I do it because I love doing it.

At the same time I know currently 2 bands that I think are utterly fantastic at what they do and they work their ass off at it. They gig once or twice a week, sort out tours and put huge endless effort in to doing what they are doing and they are still having a very hard time making it “what they do”. The UK market for their music is just too small to support them unless they have a break out successes. They’ll keep chancing that as hard as they can but, and here’s the important part, they will keep on making and playing music what ever happens.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Anonymous Coward With A Unique Writing Style:
How many times does it need to be explained to you that Leigh/Brandon DOES NOT consider himself to be a musician. He’s said that he just messes around more as a hobby (and barely even that). He has an actual career and it isn’t music related in any way.

AC:
I would say that too if I worked at TechDirt and couldn’t build an audience using all the tools, methods and “innovation” principals that get floated around here… LOL…

Anonymous Coward With A Unique Writing Style:
I mean seriously, that’s all you seem to fall back on. “Your music sucks, cause I say so. You dork!”

AC:
I don’t think anyone has said his music sucks, except you! The only thing that’s been pointed out is his lack of ability to build an audience despite his advice to other artists about how “effective” the TD methods are… it seems to be very evident that is completely false.

Eponymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I’m reminded of the Tyler Durden rant about how “we’ve” been told “we” were going to be rock-gods and movie stars, but “we” are not and “we” are very pissed off by it. I put we in quotes for I never believed such bullshit like I’m going to be rich & famous, a meme which does propogates through many deluded minds of my peers. To me though you, and your ilk, do/did believe such fairytales and are angry to see them now revealed to be out of reach. Wake up, the dream of becoming a rock-god is over and so be it. Even the dream of being a professional musician may be over for most, and so be that too. Nothing wrong with being an amateur doing what you love on the side. Oh, you thought music would allow you to escape the daily grind? Again wake up, those days are long gone. Cheers to the new tomorrow!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Eponymous Coward:
To me though you, and your ilk, do/did believe such fairytales and are angry to see them now revealed to be out of reach.

AC:
I’d ask Leigh, he seems to be the one who is angry about not getting signed or being able to attract an audience. Lowery has already done it. He has a platinum album, a grammy nomination and is teaching at university. not much to prove there…

I’d say the anger is with the neverwas Marcus Carab/Leigh who resorts to wanting to take those opportunities away from new artists if he can’t be a “rock star” himself… what is that saying, everyone is equal when everyone is equally broke… If you can’t rise up, I guess the next best thing is to try and drag other people down to where you are…

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Wow dude, you gotta take a break or something.

Anyway yeah, I’m totally pissed that I haven’t scored a record deal by occasionally spending a few hours making music every few weeks. Where’s my paycheque?

You’re hilarious – and your little ten-comment-in-a-row tirades just highlight your desperation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

LEIGH:
I’m totally pissed that I haven’t scored a record deal

AC:
No kidding, I’m just saying it shows. But maybe if you worked harder using the tools you’ve learned from Tech Dirt you can show others how they too can get 90 views on YouTube and 200 plays on Soundcloud… That’s some great, groundbreaking innovative tools there… LOL… No Really… I’m sure you know what you’re talking about.

Anonymous Coward With A Unique Writing Style says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

I don’t think he realizes he lives in a padded cell. Just look at what Leigh wrote, then look at the ACs response to it. You can tell Leigh’s sarcasm literally flew over the ACs head and that he completely believes Leigh resents not having made it big (despite not having the intention to do so at all… I’d point out Leigh’s music is purely for his own entertainment purposes, I won’t even call it a hobby, but the AC still DOES NOT realize/understand that point despite having it repeated to him several times now).

Anonymous Coward With A Unique Writing Style says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

Always a silver lining. Hey, a bit off topic, but did you hear that noise right now? That was the sound of half a dozen trolls heads exploding at having just read that they’re ad homs are adding followers to your SoundCloud and basically giving your free publicity.

But you’re right, there couldn’t possibly be better endorsement. In fact, I sort of heard about you the same way when I first visited this site over a year or so ago. I was like “Who is this Marcus person all these dorks seem to be hating on? And why are they hating on him? Hmm. I’ll have to check this out, if these guys are spending so much time insulting him he must be good or at least entertaining in a good way.” Sure enough. Oh, there went another head exploding. πŸ™‚

Milton Freewater says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“Tell me Leigh, what bands are “good” to you? And how much do you think they’re making?

You are aware that Lowery’s has a Platinum album (he’s modest), and he was nominated for Grammy the same year as Nirvana was for Nevermind.

So I’m not sure what standards and metrics you are using, but your argument is pretty much flawed. Lowery is arguing on behalf of artists to get PAID. Labels pay, Pirates Don’t. It’s that simple.”

Lowery isn’t talking about pirates. He moved the bar. You can’t pretend this discussion is about illegal pirate behavior anymore. You’re saying musicians can’t make money. OK, but that’s not a piracy issue.

Lowery’s point, and why his essay struck a nerve, is that he’s saying the days of “I’m not doing anything illegal so artists are OK with me” are gone.

He’s saying that any distribution system other than the label system is unfair to artists. He then attempts a big leap to saying it’s unethical to listen to anything other than CDs or full-length MP3 “albums” you purchased yourself. It’s a hell of a thing to watch, I have to admit.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Milton Freewater:
Lowery isn’t talking about pirates. He moved the bar. You can’t pretend this discussion is about illegal pirate behavior anymore. You’re saying musicians can’t make money. OK, but that’s not a piracy issue.

AC:
Sorry Milton, but you are the one with the reading comprehension problem. Artists can’t make money BECAUSE of piracy, that is Lowery’s point. You can imagine it’s something different, but that doesn’t make it true.

Read this so you can learn:
http://thetrichordist.wordpress.com/2012/06/05/artists-know-thy-enemy/

Thanks to Lowery thousands and thousands of artists have been given back their voice in just two short days… what will tomorrow bring? Maybe ask Oatmeal…

Milton Feewater says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Milton Freewater:
Lowery isn’t talking about pirates. He moved the bar. You can’t pretend this discussion is about illegal pirate behavior anymore. You’re saying musicians can’t make money. OK, but that’s not a piracy issue.

AC:
Sorry Milton, but you are the one with the reading comprehension problem. Artists can’t make money BECAUSE of piracy, that is Lowery’s point. You can imagine it’s something different, but that doesn’t make it true.

This is fun. YOU’RE the one with the reading comprehension problem. Lowery in his most recent post is talking about Spotify. He’s responding to a post from an NPR intern who never pirated (except a few times on Kazaa, she says) and still amassed a large collection of mp3s, mostly in ways that ere probably legal.

He’s saying EMILY is the problem. He is not talking about piracy. He singles out in particular her statement that she won’t pay for albums but she will pay for convenience. He’s arguing against what she wants to pay for and how much, not whether she should copy off the Internet without paying.

I realize you’re shilling for that other link, but we’re discussing Lowery’s current essay, not some other essay. There have been essays written about piracy before. Lowery’s Phenom is not one of those essays, which is why it’s taken off. It’s a fresh take on the subject. It says unethical behavior in his opinion is not just pirate behavior. THAT’S what’s giving people hope – they’ve wanted to say this for years.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

You know, I had to look him up to find out who he even is. Never heard of him or the bands he’s been in, and don’t listen to his genre of music, so he has no points at all with me. Keep citing that Grammy nom, though. Because we all fawn over the Grammies every year, right? I mean, it isn’t like we can argue with the industry. They should just tell us what we like and who is hot! (Yes, that last bit is sarcasm. Fuck the Grammies.)

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Not being American, I give less of a shit about Grammys than Americans do, especially as my understanding of them is that they tend to be both behind the times and tend to reward financial success rather than actual artistic quality. (For the record, I also don’t give a crap about the UK equivalent Brit awards for the same reasons).

I vaguely remember one single by one of the bands he was associated with, but couldn’t tell you anything about any other song although I do recall the bands by name. I don’t care enough to listen and refresh my knowledge of the bands, especially as he also rails against the legal methods I have to do so. My money simply goes to other artists, while his music gets lost in history.

Perhaps if he wasn’t such an obnoxious liar I might wish to revisit those bands and even buy a record if I like them. For now, my money goes elsewhere. He’s lost nothing to piracy from me, but everything for being an asshole.

Who/ says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I’ve no idea who Lowery is but he sounds like a total louse. I doubt he’ll ever get any of my money. And I doubt Corgan or Gallagher will ever produce anything worth paying for again either.

And that’s really their issue isn’t it? They are has-beens. Nirvanna? They’ve done nothing since their lead singer fried his own beans. That was years ago. So whoever this Lowery is, he’s another has-been.

Why do I get the distinct impression that these moaners are a bunch of immature and whiners who are casting about looking to blame someone, anyone else but themselves, for their faded and dated talents, because their egos just cannot cope with their has-beenedness?

Unfair? says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

What?
Artists do not have a right to earn money. They have a right to attempt to earn money.

If people woke up tomorrow suddenly immune to receiving any pleasure from music, and just stopped buying, listening and engaging, that would not be unfair. It would be unlucky for musicians, but not unfair.

Life does not owe these people a living from their music, just as life does not owe the stage coach drivers of old a living. That’s not unfair, however unfortunate it might be to those who would like to earn a living driving stage coaches.

This self entitled hubris you are spouting does you no favours. Technology changed things so that artists could make significantly more money for a period of time. Nothing suggests that period of time is “forever now”. Technology has changed again (as is its tendency) and who knows what impact this will ultimately have the economics of entertainment. But none of it is anymore unfair than the fact that stage coach drivers are highly unlikely to earn fame and fortune or even scrape a living in this day and age.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The Trichordist is a one-sided piece of drivel that doesn’t allow opposing viewpoints to even be voiced. Why would I even bother wasting processing and bandwidth clicking anything leading to them, and give them views and legitimacy? You do nothing at all to debunk the points raised in this article, and even drag out the usual ad homs and strawmen. Are you even trying, anymore?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I doubt much of anyone is interested in the embittered ramblings of has-beens like Gallagher and Corgan. Has-beens are often bitter, particularly if they immaturely egotistical. I would not pay for anything either of these people has made anytime this century, nor would I want to listen for free.

kenichi tanaka says:

Techdirt should be ASHAMED of itself for posting the crap in this article.

Why?

Because this article gives Helene Lindvall even more publicity for her arguments. Why not just leave her in her own little corner because she is such a small person who doesn’t deserve ANY coverage on any website, any blog or any message forum.

While it’s nice to see someone slamming Helene Lindvall, I think by highlighting her arguments, you just give her more vultures to support her cause. Granted that she’s a lunatic and she’s not exactly sporting a “friendly” attitude toward those who actually buy music but it gives her more publicity, free publicity …. and that is a very bad thing.

JEDIDIAH says:

Re: Screwing up basic facts.

I dunno. That bit about Hendrix seems to be rather illuminating.

Didn’t he have to “flee” to London because record labels in the US didn’t know what to do with him. They shunned him and he went to London instead where he found a more receptive audience.

If anything, Hendrix seems likes a great example of an act that manages to succeed and get heard DESPITE of the old school gatekeepers rather than because of them.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Screwing up basic facts.

That bit about Hendrix seems to be rather illuminating.

There’s another bit about Hendrix that is illuminating, but illustrates the opposite point: Hendrix’ musical style was not his preferred one. His father didn’t like it either, and questioned him about why he played “that shit” instead of good music.

Hendrix answer was: because it’s what sells.

If Hendrix had actual, free artistic reign somehow disconnected from popular taste, he would have produced something very different.

Meh says:

Re: Re:

She has as much right to spout her nonsense as anyone has to spout good sense. The competition of ideas has some draw backs (mostly centred around issues with human cognition and the advantage that can be taken, particulary by those with money to burn) but it’s the best system I know for getting to the truth and reasoned conclusions, particularly when compared to censorship or just shutting up and not communicating at all.

If people cannot argue the so called points raised then that in itself ought to raise some questions. I think that countering these purile arguments of self entitled hubris ought to be easy enough if people bother to try, so no harm, no foul.

Applesauce says:

Culture death as harmful???

OK, let’s assume for the sake of argument that this ongoing democratization of art (music, movies, books, etc…) REALLY IS destroying our EXISTING culture.

Where is the evidence of harm? Maybe, the destruction of the CURRENT culture is a good thing. Maybe it is even a praiseworthy goal.

el_segfaulto (profile) says:

Re: Culture death as harmful???

Culture is an inevitable byproduct of being human. We could have nothing but fire and pointy sticks and we will still be making culture. The rise of the pre-fab pop star is more due to the current love affair with reality TV than anything else. The bands I really enjoy certainly don’t fall into the category. Fleet Foxes, Trampled by Turtles, etc.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Culture death as harmful???

Prefab music stars have existed since the appearance of Top 40 AM radio, perhaps all the way back to the late 20s and 1930s. The Dirty 30s for sure as people were seeking out distractions from their daily lives. In the Great Depression it was movies that fabricated the stars rather than radio which still, largely, featured live music either on networks or local bands on local stations. This is where the people of those days got their superstars like Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. Incredibly talented to be sure but they were both pop stars not avant guarde or anything close to it.

Hendrix fell into a period of time where the blues and blues derivatives were popular and highly influential on the future of rock and, to a lesser degree, country. Still, the first single I heard from the Jimi Hendrix Experience was “The Wind Cries Mary” which I thought then and still think sucks. Then came “All Along The Watchtower” and that’s when the WOW hit.

The point being that it doesn’t really matter who the “gatekeeper” is it’s record sales and connecting with fans that counts. Hendrix could certainly do the latter live better than most which is probably why the live version I heard of “The Wind Cries Mary” to my ears was/is light years better than the studio version.

Like it or not, the great unwashed and uncultured DO set the cultural norms for any 20th and 21st century time period you cane to mention.

As for Corgan having to “beg” for attention that’s what he had/had an agent for. And that’s what record companies are allegedly there for except that till now they’ve decided to largely opt out of the Internet. And if Corgan feels that Smashing Pumpkins fans are a bother and that he wants to be an auteur by all means be one. There’s nothing stopping him unless it means work which it seems he’s allergic to.

Culture is always being born, changing and dying. A culture trapped in amber is a dead culture, as dead as the insect trapped in it. Yet that is what Lindvall and Corgan seem to want.

Zakida Paul says:

How about this?

http://www.classicrockmagazine.com/news/def-lep-to-re-record-their-hits-for-business-reasons/

Def Leppard have to re-record their music in order to distribute them digitally because the record label refuse to come to a fair agreement over digital rights.

Do the copyright apologists still think the record labels/BPI/RIAA have their clients’ interests in mind?

RD says:

Re: How about this?

“Def Leppard have to re-record their music in order to distribute them digitally because the record label refuse to come to a fair agreement over digital rights.”

Such BS that this sort of thing exists. Gonna suck too, because there is no way Joe can hit those notes now at 50+ like he could when he was in his early 20s. The songs will not sound right, and people won’t be as interested in getting these versions as the originals. Oh and by the way, the originals have been shared for over 30 years now, so going through all this to be able to “sell” them according to some outdated bullshit licensing scheme is a colossal waste of time and money. Piracy already filled the market need, and DECADES ago, so you have already missed the boat.

LazDude2012 says:

Re: Re: Trolls: what is it with you?

What is it with you trolls and the Google hate? Personally, I couldn’t imagine my life without Google. Gmail, google search, Google Image search, YouTube, all these things are amazing. Android is amazing too! Google Chrome: a great open-source web browser. Do you guys just hate Google because it doesn’t ever charge people for anything, yet manages to churn out record profits? Is it because they’ve embraced open source, which goes against everything you trolls seem to fight for with your dying breaths? I just don’t get it. Google is a good company, giving people what they want. Great products.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Trolls: what is it with you?

“What is it with you trolls and the Google hate?”

They need a boogeyman to fight against. Somewhere in their tiny brains, they’re starting to realise that the “evil pirates” and “paying consumers” are actually overlapping groups of people and that’s why their attacks on them haven’t translated into increased sales.

By painting Google as a bad guy, they can pretend that because people can find pirated material through Google then
there’s actually a grand tech industry conspiracy with Google at the centre. They can then paint it as their preferred simplistic fantasy of a “good vs evil” fight with them on the side of the righteous.

It’s a pathetic fantasy that’s doomed to fail, of course, but it enables those profiting from the unworkable legacy models to make as much as possible before it finally collapses. The fact that Google have been so successful in so many areas by actually competing is a lesson they fail to learn, which is a pity as this is exactly what people here have been telling them for a decade now.

BS Detector says:

I stopped wasting my time reading the so-called "article" as soon as I read this:

[name of muso nobody gives a damn about] told the BBC how frightening it was to see the total amount of downloads on unlicensed sites. “This is how I make my living. It can be 25,000 [per site]. Multiply that by all the [unlicensed] sites in the world and that can be my whole profit gone. What does that actually mean for the future. It will cheapen music eventually. And it forces the business to take more drastic action, and I think that compromises the bands and the listeners out there.”

The so-called “article” slyly presents this totally false premise (that downloads equate to lost sales – this non-thinkers’ “idea” has been debunked here and elsewhere hundreds of times) up front. That was enough to stop wasting my time reading it.

Is the quoted dumb-ass really that bloody stupid or just playing the lying game?

Contrary to the so-called article’s headline, piracy is not perpetuating plastic pop.

Bad taste is perpetuating bad music (including plastic pop), just as it has for hundreds of years.

Next article, please. This time, please give us something with at least minimal credibility, not this kind of bad propoganda.

Anonymous Coward says:

The Gatekeepers are still here

These guys seem to think that the internet is just some giant cesspool where you have to randomly sample a bunch of shit before finding that one rare gem. And some people do this. They scour the dark recesses of the internet to find music, movies, books, and all sorts of content to find what is good. Here’s the thing, they don’t keep it to themselves. They write about it. They get involved in communities to discuss it. They run websites and blogs that talk about it. They are the new gatekeepers. And for the most part, they do a better job at finding what’s good than someone who’s motivation is simply money. And if you don’t like what’s coming out of their gate, there’s hundreds more to choose from.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The Gatekeepers are still here

I think calling them curators would be far more accurate than “new gatekeepers”. They are all about organizing and shepherding content and helping introduce it to new people than holding anything back. They work as enablers to help people find content they will like because very few people have the time to digest the massive amount of new stuff that comes out even for smaller niches.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: The Gatekeepers are still here

Yup. It’s also worth pointing out that these curators/distributors do their job far more efficiently than the old gatekeepers.

Look at the movie industry….by their own reported statistics, they spend hundreds of millions of dollars and employ hundreds of thousands of people, just to get movies in front of audiences. Conversely, a movie release team could consist of maybe five people, who are working for free, who distribute the movies to a wider audience for free. And the sad part is, the release team does a better job of distributing and promoting that content than the hundreds of thousands of gatekeeper employees.

Yes, the movie industry still needs to make money somehow. But when a massive part of your business can be replaced by five high school or college kids who are doing their work for fun, you’ve got a big problem. When the replacement is not only cheaper and easier, but also more efficient than your business….you’ve got a huge problem.

Anonymous Coward says:

If this is the new buzzphrase spreading amongst IP maximist advocates, it’s useless. Pop music of today has made labels filthy rich, just like the player piano, the jukebox, the radio, the casette, the CD and the MP3 player.

They’re making money through their nose, and STILL they’re complaining. Why they have any shred of credibility at this point is beyond me.

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s completely counterintuitive to why I became a musician in the first place and the personality of someone like me.

Have I said lately how much I love the part of the interview where the person is self-righteously hissy, but not situationally aware enough to lie intelligently about it? Ever since the first time I saw that moment in Tom & Jerry where Tom is about to turn the corner where Jerry is waiting for him with a grin and an enormous frying pan.

Aaron deOliveira (profile) says:

radio

Helene Lindvall’s article seems to have the subtext of “on the radio” baked into every paragraph.

These days the only place I listen to radio is occasionally in my car. And because of that my musical tastes have broadened and niched. I’ve found so many artists that I’ve never heard on the radio.

I support them far more than whatever percentage they get from a CD purchase through a label.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: radio

I haven’t listened to the radio for years. Where I once listened to the most available and most bearable station on my commute to work, I now listen to a combination of podcasts and previously bought music on my iPhone, combined with Spotify.

That’s really the problem here. These people are not only unaware of how musical listening habits have changed, they also despite the lack of control they used to have. 10 years ago, I blindly listened along to BBC Radio 1 while stuck in traffic, including a partially pre-approved playlist from those labels. Now, I don’t have to listen to a thing they produce unless I choose to.

The whining about piracy is as much about lost control as it is potential lost sales. That’s why they also seem to be attacking successful independent musicians and legal services like Spotify – they can’t control them…

Anonymous Coward says:

I hate 90% of pop music, hey they have some real catchy beats from time to time.

The Beatles, Rolling Stones and other similar music is what I listen to on a day to day basis.

Tomorrow I’m excited to go to the symphony and listen to Dvorak Symphony No. 9 (“From the New World”)
.
.
.

The idea that one would put down another person’s choice of music based on their own taste? Appalling. Culture evolves and it grows. I am grateful that I have enough self awareness, despite being an aging dinosaur, to know that life on a whole is getting better and richer.

To bear witness to such an explosion of free expression is amazing!

To those that say it’s mostly crap… well of course it’s mostly crap! Not everyone is a freaking Mozart. You think the stories, pictures or songs you wrote in your notebook as a kid were so awesome but as time went on you realized they were crap?

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The idea that one would put down another person’s choice of music based on their own taste? Appalling. Culture evolves and it grows. I am grateful that I have enough self awareness, despite being an aging dinosaur, to know that life on a whole is getting better and richer.

To bear witness to such an explosion of free expression is amazing!

This. A million times this. Very well said, sir.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Tomorrow I’m excited to go to the symphony and listen to Dvorak Symphony No. 9 (“From the New World”)

Speaking of classical music, there’s one thing I’d like to point out. You know all of those “timeless” classical pieces, like Mozart and Liszt? They were the “pop music” of their day. Franz Liszt was even called “the first rock star.”

And, of course, the only reason “classic rock” is considered classic is because it was the Top 40 music of the boomer generation. I mean, does anyone really believe Journey’s “Escape” or Phil Collins’ “No Jacket Required” are really any better than Beyonce?

Lowestofthekeys (profile) says:

I find it funny she took quotes from two musicians who are known as gigantic egotistical assholes. They don’t understand the development of a rapport between the band and consumer, and feel entitled to receive money for the same-sounding music.

http://www.cracked.com/article_19426_5-things-you-do-every-day-that-are-actually-addictions.html

I think Helene needs to read the first page of that link. Labels will use the research to pour every penny into a popular sound so they can make money, which means an over-saturation of cookie cutter bands.

Josef Anvil (profile) says:

Piracy is...

Just fill in the blank and ignore the reality. Or just read the last one.

Piracy is …
Piracy is killing culture
Piracy is perpetuating plastic pop
Piracy is destroying music
Piracy is destroying film
Piracy is destroying journalism
Piracy is destroying books
Piracy is killing people
Piracy is eliminating jobs
Piracy is evil
Piracy is why we need a better navy
Piracy is the reason Google exists
Piracy is a great word to use when you need votes

Piracy is spreading culture around the planet at a rate that no one in history ever dreamed possible.

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

Rock is dead! Long live rock and roll

Rock music is over 60 years old. Anyone longing for the rock star of yesteryear is not thinking about the future of music. They’re thinking about the past.

It’s high time this notion of “rock star” died so musicians can just be musicians. The rock star’s importance, wealth, and relevance was overblown by mass media to begin with, because it was profitable for mass media. Since The Beatles turned rock and roll into art, nothing has really changed.

What we’re looking at is the end of rock and roll. The romantic period of music only lasted about 100 years after Beethoven died. It was replaced by jazz, which didn’t last as long – maybe 60 years. In the next decade or two we’ll see rock music die and be replaced by something amazing and new. If a musician wants to be relevant, that’s what they should be looking for. Hint: It’s not going to come from some record label, the concept of which will probably die along with rock and roll.

Also, Smashing Pumpkins weren’t all that hot, and Radiohead, wisely or not, deliberately decided to not be rock stars.

Lord Binky says:

Trust Companies, not the Internet...

The internet is sooooo accepting of cookie cutter copies of anything it is obviously the root cause. Every viral video out there was based off just a handful of original ones, while the rest of the unique videos created were buried away because no one saw how they related to what was previously popular…. Which is not at all how the music labels work, judging each artist by independently without trying to make connections to previous artists to judge their ability to generate sales… Where does the internet get the money to create these generic personas to advertise to the world through television and radio that this interchangeable person playing a persona is better than their last interchangeable person playing a persona. I know I wouldn’t trust the internet when it sits there judging crowds of people on who gets to make an appearance on some prime time television show…

Rich Fiscus (profile) says:

Radio was built by cookie cutter pop stars

Cookie cutter pop stars certainly go back much further than the 1960s. Benny Goodman’s big band, perhaps the first pop stars produced by radio (in the mid-1930s), became national stars playing arrangements copied from Fletcher Henderson’s band. Not to disparage Goodman for things which certainly weren’t his fault, but it’s hard to imagine anything could have made NBC Radio any happier than a cookie cutter copy of Henderson’s sound.

It would be insulting to compare Goodman’s band with what record labels learned to manufacture for themselves later, and his use of another bandleader’s arrangements was purely a practical decision. Lacking arrangements of his own to immediately begin filling a 3 hour radio show, Goodman’s career likely wouldn’t have lasted beyond his first show if not for his decision to pay Henderson for his arrangements. Certainly it’s hard to imagine Goodman or any of his sidemen being the least bit offended if someone mistook their early performances for those of first, and some would say greatest, big band ever.

Eponymous Coward says:

Clueless critic is clueless. . .

Apparently the rallying cry in the digital era for the old gaurde is “you amateurs get off my lawn!”

I think the point, which they miss, to this emerging democracy of content is that the outdated broadcasts are being replaced by narrowcasting. This means then that by nature the waters will be muddied for individual content will appeal to only narrow sets of the consuming whole. Therefore what makes it better is that the homoginized culture of old is shattered and each fracture has its own platform. Said another way, what I find fucking hilarious in a Youtube video (or indie movie, or rap song, or cartoon, or any other media) doesn’t have to appeal to my friends, let alone a million other strangers. I’m perfectly content in my own niche when it comes to certain media, that and there is now such a diverse assortment of choices that my friends and I, and a million other strangers, can come together over more populist options like the Avengers. So in fact I feel that these muddied waters we find ourselves in should definitely be celebrated, not derided! To hell with vanilla, mundane, homoginized culture. If that means less blockbuster projects get produced for there’s less certainty they can recoup their cost plus profit so be it. I feel it a fair trade off for not only more choice and divergent markets, but the fact that this technology now enables me to also be an amateur producing media and further mudding these waters we float along on!

Also, I say good riddance to these self-proclaimed “rock-stars” that think they were the big dicks on the scene. I’m glad they got doused with cold water and are now watching in horror their dicks shrivel up to their real, puny size they are.

TimothyAWiseman (profile) says:

Assume She's right

I fail to see Helene Lindvall’s point. Let us assume she is completely right and that file sharing is encouraging the creation of and attention to “plastic pop”.

Personally, I do not like Pop at all. But if that is what the public wants, what is wrong with giving it to them? If people are willing to support it, why not create it for those people?

Also, the existence of Pop, even in large quantities, does not in the slightest detract from my ability to find high quality Symphonic Metal like Nightwish, Within Temptation, and TSO. File sharing is obviously not stopping the creation of excellent musicians like these (Nightwish released their latest album earlier this year and TSO has announced a new project in the works).

So, even if she is completely right, what is the problem?

Krish (profile) says:

‎”People like me used to be auteurs… Now I’m supposed to beg for attention. It’s completely counterintuitive to why I became a musician in the first place and the personality of someone like me.”

I’m sorry Billy Corgan, I totally didn’t hear you there. I was too busy watching stuff on Hulu, listening to music at Spotify, planning my next gathering at MeetUp, reading interesting articles on PLoS, posting on Facebook, and learning things at the Khan Academy. Please whine at me more about having to beg for attention, these headphone are just so I can hear you better.

Mike says:

My rambling two cents - I think this is a bit more nuanced

I actually do think there is a whole lot of truth in the notion that because big record labels are not as profitable as they once were, they are less likely to take risks on boom-or-bust, non-cookie cutter musicians and are much more likely to stick to an established formula. The New Yorker’s article on Stargate and Ester Dean is pretty illuminating on this front: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/03/26/120326fa_fact_seabrook. Of course there’s always been cookie-cutter pop, but I definitely think it’s reaching a new level in part due to the fact that record labels now value perceived “safe” profits more than ever. I don’t know how I’d quantify this, but I have the feeling that there are fewer weird one-hit wonders than there were in the past (and when I say one-hit wonders, I don’t mean by radio/Billboard standards, I mean by general popularity however that is measured at a particular point in time, which today would of course also include YouTube hits, social media mentions, blog links to songs/videos, etc.) (Although, footnote, Gotye becoming popular surprised me!)

However, a totally valid response to this could be: WHO CARES? If you have the whole Internet open to you, why would you care whether record labels are conservative with what they put out there if what record labels put out is now such a small part of the musical universe accessible to everyone with broadband? The rebuttal might be that a vast majority of people are actually not comfortable with the democratization of content – they want gatekeepers, they want to talk about the same pop stars and movies and go to the same news websites, etc. because information overload is uncomfortable to many. The most-viewed videos on YouTube are still Justin Bieber, Rihanna, etc. The distribution has changed, but perhaps the desire for some type of mass culture with artificially limited options survives to an extent. I’m not saying this is good, I’m saying this exists. People still care about the mainstream; Justin Bieber is trending nearly every day on Twitter.

Again, one might say that we shouldn’t care that mainstream media companies put out really safe, cookie-cutter pop, and if the majority of people just want to listen and talk about that, they can do so. The rest of us will be fine finding our niches in the corners of the Internet because we can.

That’s valid to an extent, but I’m still also concerned that mass culture, should we continue to have one, should not be NOT UTTER SHIT. Believe me, I am not arguing for the continued business models and distribution systems of record labels, film studios, etc. Good riddance to them. And I love love love how much art I am exposed to due to the Internet.

But I do really think that people still want a “mainstream” of some sort, regardless of the distribution system or business model that gets it to them. On that front, perhaps simplistic techno-utopianism is not enough either. I just don’t believe that the happy-go-lucky “everyone finds their niche on the Internet!” view is the end of the story. If we assume that (a) the Internet has altered the way mainstream media shapes its content(b) nonetheless, people still want to talk about and share some kind of mainstream culture, and (c) people are still gravitating towards the Justin Biebers and Black-Eyed Peas of the world, shouldn’t we try to find a way to make whatever this mainstream is less dumbed down? I just think that the “everyone finds their niche” view can be very solipsistic and does not engage with these problems. I want niches, I want the spread of culture, but I don’t think enough techno-utopians realize that people might also want some kind of mainstream. And to the extent this covers a lot of people, we shouldn’t want that mainstream to be dumber than ever.

I have no answer here, but I feel that the views on this site can be a bit homogeneous so I’ll put this out there.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: My rambling two cents - I think this is a bit more nuanced

We all enact culture every moment of the day. Culture is not just the arts. The arts are just a tiny fragment of culture.

Very significantly, the arts as a tiny fragment of the whole are much more influenced by and expressive of the whole than they are influencing of the whole. Indeed, the extent to which the arts are influencial on other cultural elements is itself dictated by wider cultural elements.

Anonymous Coward says:

And not surprisingly the thread is already filled with hurricane head/Phil/googlypants spamming it with some bizarre theory about how this is linked to Inman getting sued by Funnyjunk, accompanied with a side of “lol u must be rippin it off”. It’s useless trying to tell them that not everyone has the same, popular taste in music. They’ll all keep spamming and claiming you’re lying.

Dealing with such individuals isn’t talking to a brick wall; it’s having the same brick wall fall on you repeatedly.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

the idiot lawyer trying to rip him off

Except the “idiot lawyer” wasn’t trying to “rip him off.”

Nor was Funnyjunk, really.

I personally don’t have any problem with Funnyjunk’s business model. I do have a problem with lying, and saying “Inman’s going to sue!” when he specifically said he wasn’t. (And don’t even start about their HTML “skills.”)

The straw that broke the camel’s back was the “idiot lawyer” demanding $20,000 for non-existent defamation, then suing non-profits.

This is far, far beyond anything any “pirate site” has ever done to artists.

If you can’t tell the difference, then you need to ask your second-grade teacher to explain it to you. Of course, I’m sure you do, and are just an obnoxious troll.

Here is no why says:

Ah come on Billy!

I’m a big Smashing Pumpkins fan so Billy’s quote was disappointing. Helene seems pissed off because independent musicians no longer have to beg the major studios to sign them to contracts that will only make the major studios money.

These artists are now more savvy and better informed AND to top it all off, they have more options and ways to succeed. This is horrible for people who want to preserve the status quo of middle men and executives feasting and living off the creative work of musicians. These untalented hacks might soon have to find another way to make a living, or at least have to sell two or three of their sports cars in order to make ends meet.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Ah come on Billy!

Don’t forget the fatcat “artists” who want to reside in their little bubbles as Auteurs force feeding the public their garbage (because John/Jane Q Public aren’t smart enough to know what he/she likes) while the overpaid middlemen do all the work marketing said garbage to their fans.

It’s not just the middlemen that are the problem, it’s also the top 1% of the “artists” who want to enable them.

I’m reluctant to call them artists because of a saying that rings true to my ears “Creation done for one self is art, creation done for money is entertainment.”

They aren’t artists, they are entertainers.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Wouldn’t surprise me one bit.

Thanks for letting me know what his Band’s name was though, never heard of them, and now I know why. He was barely culturally relevant nearly 30 years ago. Now? Not so much. He’s just another Joe Schmoe like the rest of us with an over blown ego and a sense of entitlement that rivals the worst of the pirate community.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

lowery sucks a platinum album and a grammy nomination… leigh on the other hand is so successful at using the methods of tech dirt to build an audience for his band that he’s gotten 90 views on youtube and 200 plays on soundcloud, wow, you guys really know how to market music effectively… lol…

but you know, experience it for yourself – I’m sure the army of tech dirt loyalist should be able to get these numbers up no problem…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9lO46H5RjQ

at least you’ve doubled those numbers on Soundcloud…

http://soundcloud.com/marcus-carab

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Why are you so obsessed with Leigh? eLVIS didn’t mention him, and the commercial success of a hobbyist doesn’t undermine the fact that a major label act sucked. I can list many artists who I think are atrocious yet have received nominations for various awards – does the fact that I’m a paying customer rather than a musician make this somehow untrue?

Gavin Castleton (profile) says:

Unscrupulous

Mr. Cushing:
I don’t appreciate you calling me an elitest.
I don’t appreciate you associating my name with Mrs. Lindvall.
I don’t appreciate the way you abbreviated Newhoff’s quote from my piece to make me sound like I was “hilariously suggesting that the labels and studios are actually well-designed filters, rather than commercial ventures.”

Here is the full text from whence it came:

“When you release the valve without well-tuned filters in place, you get what we have now: muddy waters (not the artist, the metaphor). You have tracks from seasoned artists like Radiohead distributed side by side with garbage (not the band, the metaphor), and you have transferred the burden and blessing of filtering from more official gatekeepers to the consumer. As an artist who has never been favored by the official gatekeepers, I can easily embrace the benefits of that. As a music lover who is interested in progressive works that don?t always have mass appeal, I can also appreciate it. But as a consumer, what at first felt like freedom is beginning to feel arduous and daunting. This is the well documented paradox of choice. Naturally, new aggregators (bloggers, online review sites, app builders, etc.) are rushing in to filter the stream, but now there are so many aggregators, we need aggregators to aggregate the aggregators. I?m not saying I prefer the old top-down filter model (though when almost all new aggregators are adopting the algorithm that sorts results by Most Popular, you tend to end up with the same results), I?m simply pointing out that proponents of the Music Like Water concept have put far more thought into making everything free to the consumer than they have into making sure people can find what they want, and in order for artists and consumers to have a better experience with music, distribution and filtering have to be lockstep.”

Here is where it was originally published: http://thetrichordist.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/the-music-like-water-fallacy-guest-post/

Newhoff linked it in his article.

Ironically, It is precisely your brand of shoddy journalism that Newhoff was lamenting. Try to do some research before you damage the reputation of a small independent artist whose sole source of income is the internet.

Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile) says:

Re: Unscrupulous

Gavin –

I appreciate you coming in to set the record straight, but if you’ve got a beef with how your post was presented, you should probably take this up with Newhoff, who truncated your quote to fit his point and from whose post I drew on to write this piece. Newhoff certainly seems to feel you’re backing him up on the “elitism” issue and if he’s going to spend time decrying shoddy journalism, maybe he should do a bit of cleaning in his own backyard before casting aspersion like so many stones in a glass house.

Emil says:

I can't believe you guys

This article, including some of the comments, is one of the worst things I’ve seen in a while. Utter ignorance at it’s worst.

If you guys had any self respect you would listen to the people who know anything about the real musicbusiness like Lindwall. Not to this Tim, who apparently don’t have a clue.

Lindwall is absolutely right in her article. If you prefer to put your faith in Tim over someone who has hands on experience with these issues, you’re all just plain stupid.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: I can't believe you guys

Well, thanks for pointing out where he was wrong. I’m sure she must be right, even though she’s claiming things that are instantly demonstrable as untrue.

Why are idiots here always commenting with ridiculous bare assertions and arguments to imagined authority? Do facts actually scare you that much?

I don’t put my faith in Tim, or any other writer here. I put my faith in my own experience and verifiable evidence – both of which are sorely lacking on one side of this so-called debate.

Tim Griffiths (profile) says:

One simple question..

I think Lindvall needs to ask her self one very simple question. If we snapped our fingers and overnight no one could make money from making music how many of the cookie cutter bubble gum pop stars she hates and how many of the artists she loves would keep creating it?

I think we all know the answer. People have been making music since before their was an industry for it, people have been making music before their was money to pay for it and no matter what happens people will keep making music.

Gavin Castleton (profile) says:

Unscrupulous

Tim Cushing:
Whether or not it is in fact my responsibility to police every last blogger who decides to quote something I wrote is besides the point. You shortened his already abbreviated quote, removing this sentence:
“[but] when almost all new aggregators are adopting the algorithm that sorts results by Most Popular, you tend to end up with the same results.?

Doing so makes it appear as if the “well-tuned filters” I was referring to were major labels instead of improved search algorithms.

Newhoff’s quote is fine, it maintains context. Further more I think he made some interesting points. Your version of the quote is manipulative and misleading. Your piece has gone out of its way to align my views with people I disagree with, it would behoove you to be aware of my views first.

It is your responsibility, as a “journalist” or “op-ed writer” or “tech blogger” (or whatever this is) to get your facts straight.
An actual accountable journalist would’ve issued a retraction and an apology by now, or at least fixed the quote. You’ve merely attempted to shift the blame with your response.
That doesn’t reflect well on your or Techdirt, Tim Cushing.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Unscrupulous

Doing so makes it appear as if the “well-tuned filters” I was referring to were major labels instead of improved search algorithms.

With or without that line, the very nature of your quote implies that you think record labels were doing a good job as filters, but algorithms currently aren’t. What else does “transferred the burden and blessing of filtering from more official gatekeepers” mean, if not an endorsement of the record labels?

This is exactly why Tim said your quote “suggests” that record labels are good filters – because it absolutely does. If you didn’t mean to suggest that, it’s up to you to clarify.

Karl (profile) says:

Unscrupulous

Try to do some research

You know, I just read that article in the Trichordist. Here are some quotes:

[I]sn?t it possible that those sales [from e.g. Pandora or Spotify] are primarily attributed to older users who grew up paying for music? Do we really expect those sales to continue once the market is comprised entirely of kids raised in the age of free streaming? Remember how our parents paid for long distance calling? […]

Let?s think about it from the perspective of the average citizen: does this ?on-demand? mentality foster repeatable fulfilling experiences, or will it only destroy virtues like attentiveness, contemplativeness, and patience? Entitlement is a symptom of immaturity, and we as a society have a lot of growing up to do. […]

The reason access to water can be ubiquitous is because of regulation through organizations like the EPA. Without regulation, our irrigation and distribution systems would be nothing more than conduits for disease. In terms of music, what would be the comparable regulating entity? Well, up until a decade ago, the filtering of music was mainly handled by a formal music industry ? promoters, labels, distributors, radio, MTV. Now, obviously, the internet has changed that.

When you release the valve without well-tuned filters in place, you get what we have now: muddy waters (not the artist, the metaphor). […etc, goes into the quote you posted above]

Tim’s assesment seems reasonably accurate to me. You’re not as bad as Newhoff and Lindvall, of course.

And if you don’t want to be associated with anti-technology, pro-traditional-industry elitists, then don’t write for the Trichordist.

Gavin Castleton (profile) says:

Unscrupulous

Leigh,
Please read the full quote I posted in my comment. Feel free to read the whole article. Here is the link again:
http://thetrichordist.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/the-music-like-water-fallacy-guest-post/

That line that Tim Cushing omitted,

“[but] when almost all new aggregators are adopting the algorithm that sorts results by Most Popular, you tend to end up with the same results,?

suggests that if the algorithms aren’t “intelligent” enough (I mean that in a coding logic sense), then music discovery in the digital age is not much improved from the age of major label gatekeeping in that the listener still has a hard time finding good new music (“good” being subjective, of course).

I disagree with you: it is not up to me to run around fixing misquotes (although for some reason I find myself trying), it’s up to the journalist themselves to have some work ethic and integrity when borrowing someone else’s words.

Again, the fact that Newhoff’s piece was an effort to apply some of my thinking to the film and journalism industries makes this thread rife with irony.

Gavin Castleton (profile) says:

Unscrupulous

Would you mind giving a brief synopsis of how each of those paragraph quotes support Tim’s assesment [sic]? I know it’s a lot to ask in a comment thread, but I would like to be sure I understand your perspective on what I wrote.

As for the Trichordist, they asked me if they could republish the piece, and since I appreciate Lowery’s writing (who writes for the Trichordist), I said yes.
It was first published here: http://gavincastleton.tumblr.com/post/18377455560/the-music-like-water-fallacy
then here: http://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2012/02/the-music-like-water-fallacy.html?cid=6a00d83451b36c69e20167651d903c970b
then Musictechpolicy.com

I’m not anti-tech. I’m not pro-traditional industry (but I’m not willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater), and I’m not an elitist. If any of those sites were traditional journalism publications with well-guarded reputations and consistent leanings and p.o.v. that contradicted mine, I would agree with your point about associating myself with them. Given that those sites (and apparently Techdirt) are merely content aggregators with very little editorial input and, oftentimes contradicting points of view, I’m not concerned about having my piece posted on them.

Anonymous Coward says:

talk to Ted...

Assuming you actually are a musician or working in the industry (which of course, you’ll never tell us because that would probably expose what a shill you are)—

How does it feel to be the livery stable owner decrying the automobile?

How does it feel to realize that without your gatekeepers and self-appointed arbiters of taste, hardly anyone actually thinks you’re special?

You fear your loss of control. You fear that without the cronies and the rules and the labyrinthine system you’ll have to get a real job like the rest of us – and worst of all, no one will even notice.

I’ve never pirated music. I’ve never spent more on music in my life than I did in the last 2 years. I spent it on new artists. I spent it on old artists. I spent it on artists that 10 years ago, I’d have been extremely hard-pressed to ever even hear of. I previewed music on YouTube or GrooveShark, I asked total strangers for suggestions and I went out and bought it.

Who cares that new artists’ “albums” (outdated model) sold by “labels” (outdated model) didn’t break 10k copies? Why would I want to pay for a bunch of filler crap when there’s only one good song on the album? People like you need to stop telling the rest of us what we ought to enjoy.

Technology has shattered the barriers to quality production. It’s shattered the barriers to distribution. It’s shattered the barriers to promotion, and it’s shattered the barriers to criticism (of the reviewing type).

The new paradigm is sending your old model to its well-deserved grave.

Karl (profile) says:

Unscrupulous

Would you mind giving a brief synopsis of how each of those paragraph quotes support Tim’s assesment [sic]?

You certainly seemed to imply (if not outright state) that the traditional music industry was a well-designed filter. You compared the traditional music industry, whose goal is to be as monopolistic as possible to maximize profits, with the EPA, whose goal is to protect the public. The implication was that the music labels’ near-monopoly was for the public (or consumer) benefit, which is completely absurd.

In fact, there are such “filters” in place. They are the multitudes of music sharing blogs, who now fulfill the same role Rolling Stone (or Kerrang! or Maximum R&R) did in its heyday. Of course, the music industry tries to shut them down… but you can’t blame the tech people for that.

The other things I quoted sure sound like you’re saying “the general public is nothing more than a freeloading collective.” For example, nowhere in your article do you explain why, or even acknowledge that, pirates buy many times more music than non-pirates.

And if you’re a fan of Lowery’s writing, you need to step back from it. He is not being accurate, and often lies. Read this article here on Techdirt, and pay attention to when Lowery posts there being an asshole:
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120220/00310917802/if-youre-going-to-compare-old-music-biz-model-with-new-music-biz-model-least-make-some-sense.shtml

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:

Oh, for the good old days

Back then, artists made money (Bing Crosby was asked, during world war twice, how it felt to have his highest income taxed at 70%, and said, “I still have two race horse stables, several mansions, and , why should I care?”
However, THEN work, good politics, clean environment, those were important – music, movies were just spare time entertainment.
Today, music (often really bad music) is important, and SHOULD BE PAID FOR, and all that other stuff; who cares?
I respectfully disagree (or disrespectfully, your choice).

hobo says:

Re:

“So someone who’s never worked as a professional musician, has no desire (he says) to be a professional musician, has never had a professional career in the record industry and does not want to have a professional career in the record industry is supposed to be the voice of experience to musicians? Really? Seriously? Do you also let the grocer fix your car? That’s interesting logic.”

The idea that only someone who has done x is qualified to speak about x is absurd. (Note that the AC is stating further one must have had a professional career as x.) So we should discuss drug problems with drug dealers and drug companies, not doctors.

A system where only those individuals actively involved in production have any insight or say into how the monopoly/oligopoly runs and how the laws and regulations surrounding that sector are made is called the guild system.

Smart people exist outside the music “realm.” Some companies even hire from the outside, go figure. Shutting your eyes and plugging your ears to ideas that happen to come from an outsider is a quick way to lose money. Enjoy that.

Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile) says:

Unscrupulous

Newhoff’s quote is fine, it maintains context. Further more I think he made some interesting points. Your version of the quote is manipulative and misleading. Your piece has gone out of its way to align my views with people I disagree with, it would behoove you to be aware of my views first.

Does it? Does Newhoff’s quote “maintain context?” The version you gave me in your original comment contains several more sentences that he didn’t include in his post. In fact, you seem to feel that I should issue a retraction of some sort because I truncated one line (which, as Karl and Leigh point out doesn’t seem to alter the context) but Newhoff’s removal of several sentences that DO, in fact, alter the context somehow isn’t a problem.

As for my post “going out of its way” to align you with people you don’t agree with? I’m not sure what you mean by “out of its way” when all I’ve done is quote your words which were being used by Newhoff to push his narrative. I went after Newhoff’s piece and your quotes were being used to prop up his opinion. I can understand not wanting to be lumped in with Lindvall. I imagine Newhoff wouldn’t mind at all. But his use of your words continues uncontested and he has lumped you in with a group of people who feel elitism is justified because the internet runs without a top-down filter.

Whether or not it is in fact my responsibility to police every last blogger who decides to quote something I wrote is besides the point.

Except you’re policing this one while still trying to distance yourself from people you disagree with. I’m having trouble seeing why you need this change made here, but appearing on Newhoff’s blog under the title “In Defense of a Little Elitism” is perfectly OK. THAT’S what I’m having trouble understanding. My post deals with elitism. So does Newhoff’s. But his gets a pass and my post is all effed-up.

It is your responsibility, as a “journalist” or “op-ed writer” or “tech blogger” (or whatever this is) to get your facts straight.
An actual accountable journalist would’ve issued a retraction and an apology by now, or at least fixed the quote. You’ve merely attempted to shift the blame with your response.
That doesn’t reflect well on your or Techdirt, Tim Cushing.

Occasional unpaid contributor to an opinion blog. Sure, an accountable journalist would have made a retraction and apology by now, IF JUSTIFIED, and I’m still not convinced that it is.

An actual normal human being might have paid attention to the responses to his tweet and noticed that I said I wouldn’t be available for the next 9 hours because I would be at work, thus making it impossible for me issue a retraction or apology. Now I can go in and add that last line that seems to be causing such a problem, but I don’t think anything here warrants a retraction.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Ah come on Billy!

If you are creating and performing music one way or another you’re also an entertainer. If Billy doesn’t like that too too bad.

I don’t know many people that would deny that Glen Gould was an artist. Before going further I have to admit that I’m one of them. He was also a top flight entertainer. A bit rare in the Classical field though not non-exsistant. It is possible to be both though not at the same time as loudly proclaiming that you got into music to ba an auteur in a way that indicates that the word means sitting on one’s fat rear end.

If that’s what is going to kill mass culture in North America then I have to admit I’m all for it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Unscrupulous

“[but] when almost all new aggregators are adopting the algorithm that sorts results by Most Popular, you tend to end up with the same results,?

suggests that if the algorithms aren’t “intelligent” enough (I mean that in a coding logic sense), then music discovery in the digital age is not much improved from the age of major label gatekeeping in that the listener still has a hard time finding good new music (“good” being subjective, of course).

Keep in mind that the digital age is just starting out. Things may not be perfect, but that doesn’t mean the Web has failed as a way of discovering new music; we’re at the start of a whole process of change, and even if the new system isn’t a completely viable alternative to the old one at the moment, that doesn’t mean it never will be. We’re bound to come up with new, better ideas as time goes by.

Gavin Castleton (profile) says:

Unscrupulous

Hey Karl –

I’m sorry if I somehow gave you the impression that I wasn’t aware that there are filters in place. I was trying to express my feeling that the filters in place are not good enough yet to accomodate the huge influx of additional music making its way into our field of vision. Despite the plethora of new bands emerging every day, I, as a consumer, am having a hard time finding music I really like. And I am a far cry from a lazy consumer. I, as a musician, am having a hard time finding listeners who will like what I do, and I am a far cry from a lazy musician. Maybe I just suck though – that’s very plausible.

I agree with you that the EPA and Major Labels aren’t a perfect fit; I think in reading the piece you could understand that it was an attempt to see the “Music Like Water” metaphor through. Despite different business objectives, they both concern themselves with their own brand of quality control. And, as I’m sure you’re aware, both entities have their fair share of detractors who don’t like their prospective brands of quality control (like you and I).

The first paragraph you quoted has little to do with elitism or “freeloading” and everything to do with the very basic economic concept of value.

The second paragraph is about entitlement — not a hyperbolic reduction of a very complex society into a base-level “freeloading collective” — just the well documented theme of entitlement in young americans whose parents were reacting to their own parents, trying to provide their kids with everything they didn’t have in the 70’s and 80’s. It’s a pretty hot topic right now, what with all the 99% activity, housing crash, credit debt, etc. If you think raising the question of whether or not entitlement is healthy for our society in the long-term is elitist, then you are absolutely right: that paragraph is rife with snobbery.

Thank you for that link to the Lowery/Mike showdown. It was both a relief and a disappointment to find that this troll-riden debate is par for the course at techdirt. It bums me out to witness how easy it is for us to lose sight of the actual problems we’re supposed to be solving when people’s credentials and livelihoods are thrown in the mix. And I realize now that I contributed to that hostile environment with my presence; there is nothing productive to be gained from interacting without an honest intent to understand one another. I apologize for anyone’s feeling’s that I’ve hurt. I’m going to go read a book forever now.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Unscrupulous

Hey Karl

Hey again, Gavin.

I’m sorry if I somehow gave you the impression that I wasn’t aware that there are filters in place. I was trying to express my feeling that the filters in place are not good enough yet to accomodate the huge influx of additional music making its way into our field of vision.

This actually is a good point. However, in the context of your article, it certainly does not invalidate the “music like water” argument. It only says that the water needs better filters.

But, here’s the thing about those filters. Just as distribution cannot be held by one group, the filtering mechanisms cannot be held by one group. The common refrain is that “the Internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.” That applies if the “censorship” is a filtering mechanism, as well.

Any sort of musical filtering has to originate with users, not gatekeepers or “tastemakers.” It would have to be some sort of “recommendation system,” because there’s literally no other way to do it. And nearly all content sites have some sort of system that does exactly that.

Is it perfect? No, of course not. But it wasn’t perfect before, either. I remember ordering vinyl records in the 80’s and 90’s, and they always shipped with some sort of label/distributor catalog. Usually a one-sheet that showed what else was available, with descriptions, short reviews, etc. I used to get those things, and the choice was overwhelming at the time. Here were hundreds of new bands, that were possibly good, but I didn’t have enough to spend money on all of them, so I didn’t even bother with any of them.

There were also music magazines, but I realized pretty quickly that the ones that were national (Spin, Rolling Stone) were simply promotional vehicles for major labels. There were other ‘zines, but they were limited to single genres (e.g. Maximum Rock & Roll). The underground ‘zine explosion in the 90’s was pretty much exactly like the music blog explosion in the mid-2000’s (except there are even more music blogs).

So, you know how I discovered music? I saw live shows, and taped my friends’ records. The same things Lowery is saying rips off musicians.

Now, of course, all you need is a URL, and that whole one-sheet is completely superfluous. You can even listen to the music, and see if the reviewers were bullshitting you. While this results in even more choices, it’s still a big step up from Rolling Stone or Spin.

I agree with you that the EPA and Major Labels aren’t a perfect fit; I think in reading the piece you could understand that it was an attempt to see the “Music Like Water” metaphor through.

This is a fair point. However, there are still one crucial difference. I can’t easily separate the “mud” from the “water” when I drink it. I can easily choose which music to consume. Your metaphor would only work if there were thousands of different pipes in your house.

It also could have been made clearer that “a formal music industry” doesn’t result in anything better than unfiltered water, if that is indeed what you meant. If it’s not, then I completely disagree. The “formal music industry” didn’t result in clearer water, it only added approved mud.

The first paragraph you quoted has little to do with elitism or “freeloading” and everything to do with the very basic economic concept of value.

You probably mean “pricing,” but that’s fine. But, again, you need to look at the evidence. People who download aren’t paying less for music. They’re paying more. And these are not “older users,” either (unless you count 16-25 as an “old” demographic).

Now, it’s possible (in fact, likely) that things will change so much, that the thought of “buying” music will be entirely anachronistic. If so, there is nothing anyone can do to stop it. So, it’s better if musicians worked to put something in place that can generate income in this reality. In terms of your article: water is free, but people still buy Poland Spring.

The second paragraph is about entitlement — not a hyperbolic reduction of a very complex society into a base-level “freeloading collective” — just the well documented theme of entitlement in young americans whose parents were reacting to their own parents, trying to provide their kids with everything they didn’t have in the 70’s and 80’s. It’s a pretty hot topic right now, what with all the 99% activity, housing crash, credit debt, etc. If you think raising the question of whether or not entitlement is healthy for our society in the long-term is elitist, then you are absolutely right: that paragraph is rife with snobbery.

If you are connecting the Occupy movement with “entitlement,” and saying that being concerned with the housing crash and credit card debt “is a symptom of immaturity,” then yes, you are a snob. To put it mildly.

The “kids today” are do not have any more of a sense of entitlement than Generation X, and certainly a lot less than the Baby Boomers. And, for what it’s worth, the internet generally isn’t replacing “repeatable fulfilling experiences,” it’s replacing television. Do you honestly think that’s worse?

Thank you for that link to the Lowery/Mike showdown. It was both a relief and a disappointment to find that this troll-riden debate is par for the course at techdirt.

You know, it didn’t get this bad until relatively recently. And, as it turns out, at least some of these Anonymous Cowards work for Washington D.C. lobbying firms. There is a huge impetus to silence critics by poisoning the debate – and I’ll admit, at times I’ve taken the bait myself.

And I realize now that I contributed to that hostile environment with my presence; there is nothing productive to be gained from interacting without an honest intent to understand one another. I apologize for anyone’s feeling’s that I’ve hurt. I’m going to go read a book forever now.

You, unlike the trolls, seem to be genuinely interested in debate. In my opinion, you’re one of the people who should be here more often.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Unscrupulous

“You, unlike the trolls, seem to be genuinely interested in debate. In my opinion, you’re one of the people who should be here more often.”

Well said. The problem with the AC trolls is that they come in here with arguments from authority, distorted truth and personal attacks based on fantasies. While ridiculous and childish, these cannot be let to just sit here unchallenged since new readers unfamiliar with their bullshit schtick might actually believe them.

I always welcome honest debate, and I don’t care if it comes from Lowery himself if he were interested in honest debate himself (and he’s not, by a long shot).

Gavin, I disagree with most of your points and consider the Trichordist to be the worst of insulated propaganda sites. That doesn’t mean that I won’t debate the points raised there, it just means that if you see me attack one of these idiot trolls, I’m tired of the constant stream of lies emanating from there. People like yourself who seem interested in honest debate are certainly welcome to do so, but I’d get my information from somewhere more reputable before trying it here. The lies emanating from that blog have been debunked here for years before that fool even registered the site.

Joe says:

But the internet does not eliminate the middlemen, it is the new middleman! Vast sums of money are exploited from music, art, photos videos etc by these new middlemen webmasters who get rich off of advertising. With little of it is going to the creators. Kim Dotcom skimmed $175 million.

As Stephen Colbert observed “?so the internet economy is where everybody else does the work and Flickr makes all the money?”

A solution is that the technology that websites like Google and Facebook use to sell your personal information to advertisers could be used to figure out a payment to artists whose content generates internet traffic and so advertising revenue. Not sure the tech companies want you to know this.

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