Some Facts & Insights Into The Whole Discussion Of 'Ethics' And Music Business Models

from the well-needed dept

I know we’ve written a few times now about David Lowery’s now infamous shaming of an intern because she apparently doesn’t give him enough of her money, but that story keeps getting attention. Thankfully, a lot of that attention comes in the form of people from all over the music business popping up to explain (1) how Lowery’s factual claims are false , (2) his ethical claims are silly and (3) it’s time to get with the future, rather than pine for a mythical past that never existed. Here’s a collection of some of the more interesting such posts.

First up, we have Jeff Price from Tunecore — the company that helps thousands of artists release and sell music. Jeff has more data on how artists make money than probably anyone else alive. And he says that nearly all of Lowery’s factual claims are wrong, or at best, misleading. Here’s a snippet, but the whole thing is worth reading:

Well here’s some truth about the old industry that David somehow misses.

Previously, artists were not rolling in money. Most were not allowed into the system by the gatekeepers. Of those that were allowed on the major labels, over 98% of them failed. Yes, 98%

Of the 2% that succeeded, less than a half percent of those ever got paid a band royalty from the sale of recorded music.

How in the world is an artist making at least something, no matter how small, worse than 99% of the world’s unsigned artists making nothing and of the 1% signed, less than a half a percent of them ever making a single band royalty ever?

Finally, as much as I hate to say it, being an artist does not entitle the artist to get money. They have to earn it. And not everyone can.

This is a point that Lowery and his friends always ignore: because they don’t count all the bands that failed under the old system. Those artists don’t matter to them. The fact that those guys can make some money today where they made $0 before means nothing to them. The only artists who count are the artists who used to make lots of money, but don’t make much money any more. Another example of Lowery being wrong that Price responds to is the claim that recorded music revenue to artists has been going down. Price has data:

This is empirically false. Revenue to labels has collapsed. Revenue to artists has gone up with more artists making more money now than at any time in history, off of the sale of pre-recorded music.

Taken a step further, a $17.98 list price CD earned a band $1.40 as a band royalty that they only got if they were recouped (over 99% of bands never recouped).

If an artist sells just two songs for $0.99 on iTunes via TuneCore, they gross $1.40.

If they sell an album for $9.99 on iTunes via TuneCore, they gross $7.00.

This is an INCREASE of over 700% in revenue to artists for recorded music sales.

Yeah, but you have to actually work at it now. Go read Jeff’s entire writeup. It’s pretty damning for Lowery.

Next up, we’ve got famed musician/producer Steve Albini’s response, in which he notes that Lowery’s facts are wrong and he’s pining for a past that doesn’t exist and ignoring all sorts of new opportunities:

In addition to vastly overstating the generosity of record labels toward artists in the old paradigm, Lowery openly sneers at the booming avenues for income that define the new music industry, merchandising and live performance.

As is true every time an industry changes, the people who used to have it easy claim the new way is not just hard for them but fundamentally wrong. The reluctance to adapt is a kind of embarrassing nostalgia that glosses over the many sins of the old ways, and it argues for a kind of pity fuck from the market.

It’s doomed thinking. When it became obvious that the studio recording industry was not going to remain an analog domain, we built Electrical Audio to be as self-sufficient as possible so we could continue to use those methods we thought had important advantages despite changes in the greater industry. We didn’t whine at the moon and expect the rest of the industry to indulge us. We also bought a Pro Tools rig to accommodate the sessions that weren’t going to be done in the analog domain regardless.

Adapt to conditions or quit. Bitching is for bitches.

Next up, we’ve got successful “internet-era” musician Jonathan Coulton, who Lowery and his friends are claiming wrote a post supporting them. But that’s only if you read the beginning, where Coulton claims that he agrees with Lowery. If you actually read the whole thing, Coulton’s point is much more clear. He agrees that artists should get compensated, but scolding your customers is no way to do it. In fact, he talks about how exciting the future is going to be where more and more stuff is available for download for free, and how that will shake up lots of industries, beyond just music — and just how exciting that is:

This is my bias: the decline of scarcity seems inevitable to me. I have no doubt that this fight over mp3s is just the first of many fights we’re going to have about this stuff. Our laws and ethics already fail to match up with our behaviors, and for my money, those are the things we should be trying to fix. The change is already happening to us, and it’s a change that WE ARE CHOOSING. It’s too late to stop it, because we actually kind of like a lot of the things that we’re getting out of it.

My one quibble with Coulton is that he seems to accept it as fact that artists make less money these days. His own experience and number from folks like Jeff Price above show that’s simply not true. It may be true that the small circle of folks, like Lowery, who had some success in the past under the old system, and who then fail to adapt, may make less money, but that’s the nature of a competitive marketplace.

Former record label guy Ethan Kaplan, whose insights we’ve discussed before, also weighed in with a more philosophical take, which is worth reading too. He makes two key points. As a guy who ran technology for Warner Music, he certainly has first hand knowledge about the role of innovation in the music business, and according to him, innovation was seen as a problem, because it broke the gatekeeper basis on which the old labels were built:

Innovation was antithetical to value for content, as it diminished the use of accessibility to increase relative worth.

Get that? He’s pointing out that the labels’ entire model was built on them being the gatekeeper — limiting accessibility, in order to artificially suppress supply to keep prices high. The problem with innovation is that it inevitably moves towards greater efficiency. And that means pulling down artificial barriers. In the end, that’s what Lowery is really complaining about, even if he doesn’t realize it. He and his friends who once had some success as musicians face a more difficult world not because of unethical kids or because of technology… but because the way they used to make money was based on an artificial barrier that limited supply and competition, and allowed them to artificially inflate prices. It was good for them, but sucked for everyone who was kept out of the market. Why do you think this same crew is now arguing for a “new elitism” and directly insulting artists who succeed through more open means? It’s because they want to go back to a limited supply. That’s not happening.

And that brings up Ethan’s second key point. There is no right to make money:

It is not a musician’s god given right to make money from their art. No one ever said this would continue as is.

This is a hard lesson. It doesn’t mean that copyright isn’t important. It doesn’t mean that artists can’t make money. It just means that it’s not a given, nor is it the responsibility of others to make this possible.

No one has ever had a “right” to make money from what they create. They have a right to try to do so. And many people have figured out how to do so under the current system. Those complaining don’t seem to understand that you don’t just get to sit back and have people give you money. You have to work at it, every day. That’s the lesson Amanda Palmer provided everyone with her massively successful fundraising. She didn’t raise that money based on any “ethical” arguments or anything having to do with copyright at all. In fact, she’s explained how infringement has always helped her. She’s able to do that because she works hard every single day to not just create great music, but to connect with her fans at a very deep level. She doesn’t scold her fans — she celebrates them. And because of that, she can make a ton of money and her fans love her for it.

Finally, we’ve got musician Travis Morrison, who was in a decently successful band (Dismemberment Plan) for a while and now works for the Huffington Post. He points out that this argument that there’s some sort of ethical issue with the “kids these days” ignores the fact that past generations got music for free too, and for him, it was a huge boost to both his fandom and his desire to become a musician:

Music is so important to people. It is majorly important to young people. And to me? Literally somewhere below water and air but above food. And I just went for it. I bought a lot of music; I got a lot of free music from whatever sources were at hand; I just had to have it by any means necessary. If you duped a copy of a Dismemberment Plan record in college or something, it’s cool. I guess I’d like to have the money, but you know what, I hope you just listened to it with even 1/10 of the consciousness I gave to the music I listened to as a kid–copied, stolen, or bought. And you know, maybe take some of the sermonizing from my peer group with a grain of salt. I think some of them did some of the things I did. Or… maybe a lot of them.

He’s basically reinforcing the original point that Emily made and which kicked this whole thing off. Access to music and compensation of artists are two separate issues. The fact is that people know that the technology today enables access to pretty much every piece of music around. And it’s a shame that we try to suppress that. The issue of compensation is somewhat separate from that — and plenty of smart musicians are figuring it out. But arguing that access automatically means you need to compensate musicians at a high level (remember, Spotify’s no good according to this bunch) or it’s “unethical” just doesn’t make sense, and has never made sense.

This debate has been interesting, but I’m glad to see that tons of people who live directly in that world have been coming out to correct the many inaccuracies in Lowery’s post, which a few too many people took as gospel without understanding the details.

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Companies: tunecore

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Comments on “Some Facts & Insights Into The Whole Discussion Of 'Ethics' And Music Business Models”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Not enough evidence...

what is this the fourth TechDirt piece responding to Lowery’s phenom post with musicians… too funny… wasn’t mike’s initial response “I have nothing to say about it” and now you’re on post number four… the lady doth protest too much me thinks…

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Not enough evidence...

Well, it got a lot of attention and that’s why he wrote the first time about it in the first place. Then it started getting replies from artists and from ppl in the music business. Mike then wrote further follow ups with what those ppl said (and that produced pretty good articles). So, what’s the problem again?

In the end Mike is right, Lowery said nothing useful or that was worth mentioning. However, the discussions that followed his insipid post were quite interesting.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Not enough evidence...

I feel bad for techdirt too… spilling alot of ink on something that mike said, “not much to say about it.”

usual nonsense, five posts of whining at techdirt to one blog post by a modestly successful indie rocker from two decades ago, completely laughable…

As your hero Larry Lessig would say, just get over it already and stop whining…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Not enough evidence...

odd that mike would be at a loss for words…

actually it appears that mike just can’t take his own advice… it’s a bit hypocritical… so that’s an interesting spin when you can’t even follow-through…

so what happened last week anyway that it warrants five posts from TechDirt doing damage control in a desperate attempt to reclaim the conversation?

kinda funny that there was “not much to say about it”… apparently there’s a lot more to say… hmmmmm….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:13 Not enough evidence...

bingo. lowery has nothing to say about mike so he doesn’t. mike on the other hand has “not much to say” about lowery and here we are on the sixth post about lowery on Tech Dirt… the lady doth protest too much me thinks.

stop already, you look more foolish with each post… stop whining about Lowery! Lowery! Lowery!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Not enough evidence...

mike said that there’s “not much to talk about” but yet has now written about Lowery like six times? That’s funny, really. You guys can’t follow your own advice but expect other people too? Wow… Ok… so Streisand Effect applies to everyone but you?

What you focus on grows, that’s for your support!

Chosen Reject (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Not enough evidence...

I’m well aware of what Mike wrote (You’ve quoted it many times already like a broken record, ad nauseum, over and over again). Now that you’ve said it, are you able or willing to discuss anything else or are you too intellectually incapable of having more than one thought per article?

We could talk about:

  • why it is you think it matters that Mike didn’t think there was much to talk about then vs now
  • how intellectually dishonest or misinformed David Lowery was in his post
  • the NBA finals
  • I mean, I’m all for repeating a point to make sure it’s heard and considered, but your point has been heard, considered, and found lacking in anything even remotely worthwhile to discuss, yet you’ve somehow managed to repeat over and over as if all of us cared.

    I also thought there was something to write about even when Mike wrote the original article, though I thought the more to talk about was more along the lines of “ho hum here we go yet again with the banal rantings of some clueless moron who thinks he has the smoking gun only to learn surprise surprise that he’s got arguments that were debunked over a decade ago.”

    Given that, I can see how Mike didn’t think there was much to write about, but he did (obviously) and here you are being easily replaceable with a simple shell script. Or maybe you already are.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Not enough evidence...

*** why it is you think it matters that Mike didn’t think there was much to talk about then vs now ***

That’s funny! Why do you think it matters? Mike asked what happened last week? He doesn’t seem to know… but he does seem to think that there’s “not much to say about it”…

so what happened exactly that there isn’t much to say about?

Chosen Reject (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Not enough evidence...

Are you normally this stupid or are you being deliberately so here? I don’t think it matters, but you brought it up and continue to do so as if it does. That wasn’t the question. It was why you think it matters. So why does it matter to you? Also, the discussion of what happened last week is one you’ve got going on in another thread further down. Not here. Try to keep up on your buffoonery.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re:

What Mike is writing is a fresh perspective on the whole affair, with quotes from other people who also have their own perspectives and views.
He is not trying to change what happened last week. What does that even mean? Are you actually dumb enough to think that Mike thinks that by writing articles, he can go back in time?

fogbugzd (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

>>Are you actually dumb enough to think that Mike thinks that by writing articles, he can go back in time?

Only media industry execs believe it is possible to go back in time. Time travel to the past seems to be the prime tenant of their management style. In fact, they not only seem to believe it is possible to travel back in time, but it is even possible to travel back to their fantasy version of the past.

Lowestofthekeys says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

That’s kind of a naive comment, but then if you look at the pattern with other execs…like for instance the telecom companies sitting on dark fiber which could provide higher speed internet and information exchange to the entire US. why are they sitting on it…why aren’t they looking forward, oh right…it’s not in the business model.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Well, when you crawl out of your hole, your horizon will get wider.

The reasoning for why Mike wrote this has already mostly been explained. The only reason why you would not understand it is if you do not understand what a source is and why it is important.

Here is a source for you to read to understand sources:

Lowestofthekeys (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

Awesome, it’s a sweet gig. I mean do you know how easy it is to distort facts about Spotify by calling them greedy? Oh man, if Mike did that with every post, he’d have a Lowery following, and David wouldn’t need lapdogs to ruin his SEO anymore.

…then again, that means you’d be out of job, but I guess it must be because of the recession, right?

Lowestofthekeys (profile) says:

I started out the job I’m at making 28k a year. If I work hard and pay my dues, and prove that I am valuable individual to my employers, then I will get a pay bump.

Lowery claims that the average musician makes 35k a year without benefits.

Sounds like a pretty good starting pay to me, especially if you have the mentality that you don’t have to prove your worth or pay your dues before making the big bucks.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Key point to talk about there is what exactly an “average musician” actually is. How do you define it? What metrics do you use? Are the only musicians those who make money? If so, what about those who don’t? Is a professional music teacher a musician?
I can clap my hands in a rhythm and call that music. As far as I’m concerned, I’m now a musician. I don’t care about being money though, as my job covers that.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Is a professional music teacher a musician?

The fact that Lowery is “a lecturer in the University of Georgia’s music business program” might be some of the problem here. It’s hard to teach something you don’t understand. The new ecosystem of the internet doesn’t always play by the old economic rules. Infinite goods and such are throwing wrenches into the works. It almost seems as though he is pining for the good old days that he once understood in order to be able to continue teaching about it. Jonathan Taplin at USC also seems to be pining for them old days he understood.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Pining for the past is unfortunately something a lot of professors do, no matter the subjects. I have met professors who did not trust computers, while calculating difficult models by hand (they can be done infinitely faster and better by computer in most cases).
I have also met a professor working in earth science with no understanding of model-calculations and no understanding of flow of water and air. That is a pretty tough position since that is 80% of what the students understand. He made his biggest work in degradation done in batches 35 years ago and has been pining for that time since then.

It is a huge problem for the value of the education and honestly the amount of complaints over those people should give an idea about the problem.

Students are not stupid and I would guess that Lowery is frustrated at the students understanding something he has not looked into and he is still too comfortable in his old understanding that he does not want to look at this side-development of something he disproved effectively 30 years ago…

Ima Fish (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

This is what kills him for me:

Further, in order to loot you need to have a $1,000 dollar laptop, a $500 dollar iPhone or $400 Samsumg tablet. It turns out the supposedly ?free? stuff really isn?t free. In fact it?s an expensive way to get ?free? music. (Like most claimed ?disruptive innovations?it turns out expensive subsidies exist elsewhere.) Companies are actually making money from this looting activity. These companies only make money if you change your principles and morality! And none of that money goes to the artists!

He thinks the electronic industry and wireless industry should be paying him. Can you imagine if a musician from the 70s claimed that he should get a cut from all the Ghetto Boxes sold? Someone from the 60s claiming that he should get a cut from all the turntables sold?

Heck, David… why stop there? Those laptops have to sit somewhere. Sue the table manufacturers for your cut. And those electronic devices use electricity. Sue the power industry for your cut. And those devices are delivered over the roadways. Sue the construction companies that build those roads. Sue fricken everyone!

David, it appears you think the entire world owes you a living. It does not. Do what you love. If it doesn’t provide enough income, quit bitching and get a fricken job. That’s why I did when I couldn’t make a living playing music back in the 90s.

Ima Fish (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

And it’s the only reason I own a table too.

Heck, sometimes I listen to music off of youtube while cooking. David better go after manufacturers of stoves, refrigerators, and microwave ovens.

Sometimes I’ll even “air” drum with wooden spoons on pots and pans. That’d be an infringing derivative performance of the song. The kitchen utensil industry has been mooching off of musicians for decades! David, they’re next!

Anonymous Coward says:

Just curious if any of the sources upon whom you rely to discredit Mr. Lowery came out and said there is no moral/ethical dimension to an end-user illegally downloading content they would otherwise have to purchase?

One or more appear to say it is not a good idea to dump on “fans”, but I do not recall any of them saying that fans who illegally download are paragons of morality and ethics.

Frankly, I believe the following from Mr. Price aligns with Mr. Lowery’s views concerning sites that exploit musicians:

Anonymous Coward says:

the biggest problem is, those that were making lots of money weren’t making it themselves, they were making it off of someone else effort. now that option is diminishing fast they not only dont like it, they cant handle it. you then have the added problem of those who are doing their best to assist in keeping things how they were are of the same age group, the same era and same opinion as the old gatekeepers. basically, they are too damn old for the internet age and instead of stepping back and letting those that know carry on and do, they keep trying to stop progress. until these dithering old farts get the fuck off the internet and allow changes, there is going to be stagnation. the way to change this is to change the elected officials and until that happens, there is going to be a hanging on to the old ways.

Andrew F (profile) says:


From a pure ethics perspective, the argument against file-sharing seems quite simple:
(1) I asked you to stop doing something that I find disrespectful — i.e. sharing my stuff without permission.
(2) The cost of doing so to you is low — e.g. the world will not end if you don’t download my music.

That are counter-arguments that are also ethical in nature — e.g. we should encourage music piracy because it speeds up innovation, which is a moral good — but I think most people would accept the basic ethical premise, if not Lowery’s exact formulation.

Lowery’s problem is that ethics alone aren’t a basis for legislation, business models, or overreaction. Adultery is unethical, but that doesn’t mean it should be illegal. Shoplifting is unethical, but your business model should still account for it. If someone flips you off without cause, that person is unethical, but that doesn’t justify you sitting in a corner and pouting all day.

Ethics provide a way to regulate your own behavior. But they’re not a great way to resolve problems involving other people.

Noah Callaway (profile) says:

Re: Ethics

There’s a serious problem with your ethical formulation:

(1) I asked you to stop doing something that I find disrespectful — i.e. sharing my stuff without permission.
(2) The cost of doing so to you is low — e.g. the world will not end if you don’t download my music.

This presumes that I agree with your assertion that the behavior is disrespectful.

What if I told you I find it disrespectful for you to post comments on Techdirt that I disagree with, and I ask you to stop?

(1) I asked you to stop doing something that I find disrespectful
(2) The cost of doing so to you is low (just don’t post!)

Is it enough for me to make the assertion that it’s disrespectful? Or do we have to (as a society) come to an agreement as to what behavior is disrespectful?

If I make unreasonable assertions as to what is disrespectful you will probably rightly ignore them.

Basically, I think the ethical situation is much more complicated than you’re acknowledging.

Andrew F (profile) says:

Re: Re: Ethics

Fair. Let me put it this way.

(1) I did something nice for you, and it wasn’t cheap.
(2) If you can afford it, please do something nice for me.

I bet that the average person agrees with this in principle. A stranger saves you from a fire. Most people would feel some moral obligation to do something nice in return. Note that you’re not under any legal obligation to reward your rescuer. It’s just that it’s the “right” thing to do.

Ditto for music. If you download a song and enjoy it, and the artist asks that you pay, and you can afford it, you should pay. I don’t think that’s controversial.

My point, though, isn’t that people should pay for music. It’s that ethics aren’t very useful for making laws or business models. There’s no law to reward your rescuer. And any business model that relies on gratuitously saving people from burning buildings is probably going to fail.

Chosen Reject (profile) says:

Re: Ethics

No, copyright law as written today stands completely on economics. If you move it into a moral or ethical debate, copyright loses every time, and loses hard. In order to have copyright, you have to take away all but the holder’s natural right to copy and mimic and share. This was thought to be a good tradeoff for more works being produced as it gave an incentive for the author to publish. Copyright laws were not written for moral or ethical reasons except that it was thought moral and ethical to attempt to increase the number of works available the public.

The question is not whether sharing is moral or ethical, it is simply whether limiting natural rights is more or less moral/ethical than increasing the quality/quantity of works available to the public.

DH's Love Child (profile) says:

Re: Ethics

“Lowery’s problem is that ethics alone aren’t a basis for legislation, business models, or overreaction.”

The other problem with this is that ethics are a personal choice. My ethics and your ethics are not going to be the same. Even societal ethics will vary based on geography. Your example of Adultery for example.

Laws are to be created for the benefit of societal order.
Murder is outlawed because society, as a whole, agrees that it is unethical. This is the case with most laws. And since society, as a group, is in agreement with the laws, they are generally effective.

The problem that the copyright dependent industries have is that they are essentially trying to completely outlaw sharing, and that is a losing battle. We are all taught to share from a very young age, and they want us to stop doing that. Just like Prohibition was a spectacular failure and only proved to make criminal enterprises more profitable and powerful, outlawing sharing is not ever going to be effective.

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

Forget the ethics of piracy

I can buy a used CD from Amazon and have it mailed to me for less than it costs to download the album. The artist gets nothing, and I can resell the CD if I don’t like it. Let’s talk about the ethics of that.

The U.S. Government sponsors it’s own legal Pirate Bay where I get hundreds of CDs for just a few bucks a year, as well as all the books and movies I could ever consume. It’s called the public library. Let’s talk about the ethics of that.

An artist records a song in 1930 and has been dead for 50 years, but it’s still under copyright even though nobody knows or can prove who exactly owns the copyright. Let’s talk about the ethics of that.

A radio station can broadcast a song for free over the airwaves, but can’t broadcast the same thing online without paying enormous fees. Let’s talk about the ethics of that.

Disney gets to sit down at a table with lawmakers and draft new laws that benefit Disney and rob legitimate culture from the public. Let’s talk about the ethics of that.

Some of the most profitable movies in history have still not shown a profit according to Hollywood. Let’s talk about the ethics of that.

There are more things to get worked up about than some intern wishing for a better Spotify.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Anybody else convinced the pink AC that keeps repeating “not much to say it about it” is actually Lowery?

Almost certainly. Either him, or one of his Trichordist buddies (all they seem to do all day long is pat each other on the back and reblog each other on their personal blogs and comment on each others’ posts with complements – it’s quite amusing)

I’m fairly sure Lowery, though, is specifically the one who picks a single mantra like that and just repeats it over and over and over and over and over and over again in one of the most stunning displays of obnoxious childishness you’re likely to find outside a beverly hills reality show and several and several degrees worse than you’d see inside a bona fide Daycare For Obnoxious Children.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The reluctance to adapt is a kind of embarrassing nostalgia that glosses over the many sins of the old ways, and it argues for a kind of pity fuck from the market.

nice circle jerk for the choir… but i have one question?

what happened last week that there’s “not much to talk about” except like six posts from tech dirt talking about david lowery?

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: The reluctance to adapt is a kind of embarrassing nostalgia that glosses over the many sins of the old ways, and it argues for a kind of pity fuck from the market.

“what happened last week that there’s “not much to talk about” except like six posts from tech dirt talking about david lowery?”

Sigh…do the class a favor and answer a simple question. Let’s assume we concede that last week Mike said he didn’t have much to say about the post and then changed his mind and did several posts on the matter, posting more as more outside reaction to Lowery’s piece came in.

Why does this matter? What is your larger point? Do you have one?

Anonymous Coward With A Unique Writing Style says:

My favorite part of this entire comments section is where the Lowery Troll keeps repeating that “there’s nothing to write about” and how Mike should stop whining. To the point that he’s said it like 20+ times already. Those exact same two things.

The reason I like that is because of how he’s trying to paint Mike as being dismissive and a liar. What makes it truly amusing is that up above the comments section, there’s this thing called the actual article, where one can read about some of the facts as given and sourced by people who are essentially saying, “David Lowery was wrong and here’s why.” Yet the AC, per usual norm, ignores any of that just to harp on about one irrelevant thing. Rather than, you know, debate what the facts actually say.

It’s kind of sad in a way, but it’s pretty funny. It just goes to show how little substance there actually is to what Lowery said. Rather than back up Lowery’s assertions and debate why the facts above are wrong or what they mean when compared to what Lowery said, the AC is trying to put the focus on one tweet made by Mike at the start of the whole thing. Which was correct in my opinion. Not really much to say, just the usual Lowery rant with nothing of substance to support it but a nice bit of shaking his fist at the internet and people in general because he’s now become irrelevant and it’s a nice way to get some attention.

Now that that’s been said. Ahem. AC, would you like to discuss the facts presented in the article above? Because yes, we all heard you the first 20+ times already and frankly my finger is just itching to hit report on your spamming. If you’re not going to contribute anything I don’t want to hear you whining momentarily about “censorship” when your spam-like comments get reported. Some of us actually like to discuss things, not have to deal with your troll-like ways.

HiggsLight (profile) says:

A Case Study In New Business Models

I’ve been a regular reader and lover of Techdirt for about 3 years. I’ve never bought their merch, clicked an ad, donated, or even added that much to the conversation.

Until today!

The onslaught of “The AC Now Known As LoweryTroll” finally motivated me to clean up my Paypal account so that I could properly pay for my TechDirt consumption. They didn’t make me pay, I found my reason to buy. And this isn’t the last time I’ll be buying here.

If LoweryTroll’s obtuse and poorly drafted inanity pisses you off, makes you laugh, or both, make it your reason to buy – not your reason to take the troll bait.

I’ll just leave this here:

anon says:

Love this articel

Really this paints a clear picture for everyone. The old way of doing things was of benefit to the gatekeepers who kept most of the profits from any content created. The fact that 98% of content creators were not a success and did not make any money is shameful on the industry and is the one reason that the laws must change and allow the artist to make a profit from there content not the gatekeeper.

These two points need to be talked about over and over again and drummed into politicians heads until they understand that for copyright laws to work it must be of mutual benefit to the consumer and the artist. A gatekeeper of music is not important they are a business and they have to change with technology, the only importance of the copyright regime should be either there is no copyright at all or the copyright allows technology to benefit the artist and consumer only.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Love this articel

you mean the new gatekeepers who are commercial corporations ripping off artists and exploiting them worse than labels ever did? So congrats, you and your friends are the new RIAA working for the new gatekeepers who withhold 100% of the artists money. I can see how paying artists 20% under the old model was offensive to you, so now you and your friends are doing a great job making sure artists get 0%

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Love this articel

Tsk tsk, you’re getting the message wrong! Careful, or Trichordist will start blocking your comments.

It’s not 20% that artists made under the old model – didn’t you see Lowery’s slide? The correct figure, as stated by the man himself, is:

Theory: 25%. Practice: 75%? 100%?

Yes, with David Lowery’s magic system you can get paid 100% of sales through a record label. More, in fact. I’m sure you have questions like: What is the secret to this? Is it complete and utter bullshit? Why do I get a headache every time I try to process one of Lowery’s ideas? These are all good questions — but you’ll have to drudge through Lowery’s tiresome, rambling presentation to find out.

Anonymous Coward With A Unique Writing Style says:


I’m just going to point out how the post are NOT censored, not even in the slightest. Go grab a dictionary or get a clue. A reported and still viewable comment is not in any way censored. That said, please find some new material. You’re as bad as the other two idiot ACs already on this thread.

Oh and hint, if you don’t want your comments reported/flagged maybe you should try adding something of substance to them, besides angry remarks and ad homs. That’s as off topic and thus report worthy as you can get. Moron.

Anonymous Coward With A Unique Writing Style says:


We’ve been through this discussion before and that is not at all what I am saying nor what I’m implying. (And by “we” I don’t necessarily mean you. But I mean myself and other people commenting on here, usually to the AC who goes on and on about how his comments are being “censored”, despite all explanations on actual censorship to the contrary.)

A comment, that is still viewable and in no way has been actually censored (either as in edited by a Moderator or forced to be changed before being allowed to post), is not at all a censored comment or an example of censorship.

Censorship if used here would mean the comment would be completely gone. No one would be able to see it. Or, the particular AC would not be able to even post a comment at all in the first place. That is not the case here and because a comment is allowed to be posted, without moderation, it quite clearly puts an end (or should) to any possible cries of “censorship”.

A comment that is reported/flagged by the community is still perfectly viewable to any who wish to see it. It even has a message basically saying, “Click here to view the comment.” However, it has been reported for a reason.

Also, a website that is censored is one that is completely non-viewable. Not even with a modest amount of effort. Now, if you’d like to explain to myself and others, and perhaps the AC with a grudge, how say a website like Dajaz1 being completely inaccessible for over a year and multiple spam-like/ad hom comments which are still viewable are exactly the same, by all means, do so. I’d love to hear this. As I’m sure everyone else here would.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:


Actually, I’m not the one who said that “there’s not much to talk about”. I was always of the opinion that Lowery’s screed had lots in it to talk about. Deceptions, misstatements and outright lies among them. Mike had another opinion at the time. Not me.

It’s almost impossible to not take a shot at you when you are repeating yourself mindlessly and endlessly or to respond in a way you won’t take as a shot or another repeat of your phrase of the day. I just thought it would be better to remove any doubt. For all that I disagree with Lowery he, at least, attempts to make some sense.

You just drop by to repeat yourself endlessly. What’s amusing is that for all the blogs and sites that have responded to Lowery’s post, almost all that I’ve seen negatively, that his defenders have acted like you are.

So, in a way, he is the candy man. A cure for boredom and a fascinating tour through the state of recorded music in the United States and elsewhere. And mindless, brain numbing defenses from the same band of loyalists who were saying that he’d really gotten us Techdirt freetard types where we live. Ya, know, something about the artist striking back at long last.

Thing is that he did nothing of the kind. In that sense Mike was right.

It’s still a smelly pond you’re swimming in. You can guess the colour if you want.

I wouldn’t have missed the debates around this for the world.

You, I could have done without but it’s also been hilarious how long you’ve hung onto that single line of yours as if it proves something. It doesn’t prove a thing. Except that we Freetards don’t march along in lock step with Mike or each other.

Anonymous Coward says:

And he says that nearly all of Lowery’s factual claims are wrong, or at best, misleading. Here’s a snippet, but the whole thing is worth reading:

which is it ??????

it’s either wrong, OR misleading, and NOT freaking wrong..

you appear as confused as he is, if it is a FACTUAL claim then by definition it is FACT, therefore not wrong OR misleading..

Fact is a fact, like it or not, or understand it or not (ie to be mislead), is your problem..

You like the hedge your bets dont you masnickie..

Anonymous Coward says:

This is a point that Lowery and his friends always ignore: because they don’t count all the bands that failed under the old system

no accounting for those that just fucking SUCK!!!!..

sure, if you are no good at your craft, you wont make any money, and no one will want to pay you.. wow masnick you cant work that out ?? even as a failed photographer yourself ??

Im sure you fully understand what it is like to suck at something, and have no one want to pay you πŸ™‚

varagix says:


First off, there is no definition of theft that would cover IP infringement without losing all conventional meaning. If you define theft as depriving someone of their property, assuming ‘intellectual property’ isn’t a misnomer, its not possible to steal it as the original owner is not deprived of their IP.

If you define it as “taking it without permission or consent”, it also does not apply as the IP was freely transfered to audience/consumer, and then from audience/consumer to the wider public. It may violate IP laws, but it is not theft. The same can be said for defining theft as “taking by force”.

Secondly, you fail the state what the ethical dilemma in IP infringement is. You state that infringement is unethical because its illegal, but don’t represent both sides of the dilemma.

On the opposite side of the debate, is that IP law in itself is unethical because it is a civil (ie government granted) right that deprives the public of natural rights.

All people have a natural right to their accumulated knowledge and experiences, and a natural right to sharing and communicating that knowledge and experiences, limited only by their own tools and ability. These rights exist without the need of an outside force.

Once that knowledge and those experiences have been passed on to another, that person also has a natural right to the keeping and passing on of that knowledge and experience to others, independent of the person who first transferred it to them. It cannot be taken away from them, and even if it could, once freely given to them it would be unethical to forcibly take it away.

All people have these rights: the knowledgeable can teach the ignorant, artists can perform or present their art for an audience, and those that were taught or entertained can in turn teach or perform for others.

The dilemma comes from the fact that IP laws give a civil right to individuals to categorically repress these natural rights in others, and whether or not society currently benefits from this, in a world where our tools allow our expressions of knowledge and experiences to be created, stored, and communicated near perfectly, quickly, and over great distances.

As far as ethics are concerned, the ability of individuals to profit directly from their ability to create “intellectual property” doesn’t matter. What matters is whether or not the infringement of the natural rights of the People through the civil rights granted by IP law is justifiable.

Most people who follow Techdirt regularly, such as myself, believe it is not, either in the form IP law currently exists in, or as a whole.

JMT says:


Actually you’re wrong. Factual means “of or pertaining to facts; concerning facts”, it does not mean something is a fact. And something claimed to be factual can certainly be incorrect, misleading or an outright lie.

Your mocking outrage is quite pathetic. How about some mature discussion instead? Act like an adult for a change.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:


You’re asking a complex question there which David over simplifies in his way and gets wrong in so many others.

Should the core of it be do artists, musicians, in this case, deserve to be paid for their work. The answer is and emphatic yes. Did they and do they under the RIAA gatekeeper system? After all the creative accounting does by the gatekeepers despite what Lowery says the answer is kinda. Obviously that’s not the complete answer and there are others who have responded to David’s post in far more detail and with far more direct knowledge than I have.
We can start here:
Which answers David Lowery directly.
And for a Then vs Now comparison there’s this:
On software the answer is a “maybe” depending on the licensing of the software.
For closed source which is what Microsoft and Adobe largely deal in the answer is that infringement is a civil offense and probably best not done. Perhaps not for moral issues but more practical ones like support, bug fixes and nice stuff like that. There are times that it becomes a criminal offense for example when unauthorized software is downloaded for a profit.
For open source you it’s morally, ethically and legally correct. In fact that’s what open source is built on. The ability of the user to modify the software to allow it to work better for them. Under the GPL license which is the one Linux uses, now far more than a $100K project, you can download the source, have at it, make whatever changes you want but you must upload it back to the project leader under the same license.
Cultural endeavours like songs have a similar license known as the Creative Commons license which comes in slightly different flavours depending on what, if anything, the creator wants to restrict.
With respect to what David writes about he’s both right and wrong and it’s covered in one of the links I put in above. Perhaps what’s missing in all of this is this historical context for “piracy” is that with Napster it started because the recording industry wasn’t filling consumer demand at the time for a return to the “single” or “track” instead of the CD album which, in the late 1990s was something of a gamble as the grumble at the time was that you bought a CD of 14 songs and only 1 was worth the effort. Did it infringe? Yes. Was it ethical? In the purest sense of the word no. Then again it could be and has been argued that what the recording industry was doing at the time was anything but ethical as well. In the sense of “you’ll damn well take what we give you and shut up”. The musicians got caught in the middle and risked not getting paid for their work which no one here, then or now, agrees with. So that is a moral wrong. Technology allows for it and with the recording industry planting both feet into a market that was vanishing around them the battle lines were set up. Eventually Apple and Amazon came along and more or less forced a reluctant recording industry into resurrecting the single and letting Apple and Amazon retail them. The musicians started to get paid again.
One day something like this will happen for first run movies as well. Soon.
The moral clash will restore some balance even though nothing will ever return to pre Napster days. Morality notwithstanding.
As long as there is software that people in second and third world countries want or perceive they need software piracy will continue, I’m afraid. If there’s a moral question there it’s similar to the pharma one which is can me ethically expect people in those parts of the world to pay the same prices for software (or medication) that we do for first world countries?
The question is complex as are the answers. Economics as a science/art doesn’t deal in morality just how markets behave in given circumstances. Markets themselves are amoral in that what a market demands it will get one way or another. I don’t pretend to have the answers to the questions I asked above concerning pricing ethics what I know is that people will get what they feel they need.

I’m glad that Lowery got you thinking and involved. Don’t lose either.

Anonymous Coward says:


Oh please. 99 times out of 100 the “report” function is used to hide speech- dissenting opinions that all the pirates here disagree with; it’s not used to report actual spam or something that’s genuinely incongruous with the tone that Masnick and others regularly practice here.

That fact is yet more proof that you people literally define the term “willful blindness”. You practice it every day. Most amusing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Wow a lot of censorship on this thread… Guess mike really doesn’t like being the subject of his own “Streisand Effect”!

For a guy who said there’s “Not much to talk about” regarding David Lowery you guys sure are scrambling to do a lot of clean up in this thread…

pretty embarrassing… four posts about david lowery for something that wasn’t worth a response…

Anonymous Coward says:

Not enough evidence...

ya’ll are too funny… more censorship in this thread than I think any I’ve ever seen… hurry, quick… better cover up and protect mike!

mike said that there’s “not much to talk about” but yet has now written about Lowery like six times? That’s funny, really. You guys can’t follow your own advice but expect other people too? Wow… Ok… so Streisand Effect applies to everyone but you?

What you focus on grows, that’s for your support!

Anonymous Coward says:

Not enough evidence...

man… you guys are too much… hit too close to home?

I feel bad for techdirt too… spilling alot of ink on something that mike said, “not much to say about it.”

usual nonsense, five posts of whining at techdirt to one blog post by a modestly successful indie rocker from two decades ago, completely laughable…

As your hero Larry Lessig would say, just get over it already and stop whining…

Anonymous Coward says:

Not enough evidence...

mike said that there’s “not much to talk about” but yet has now written about Lowery like six times? That’s funny, really. You guys can’t follow your own advice but expect other people too? Wow… Ok… so Streisand Effect applies to everyone but you?

What you focus on grows, that’s for your support!

Rikuo says:


Okay then. Here’s a test you can do. I want you to create a picture file, a JPEG. Or write and record some music, an MP3. Then, post it on the internet, on your own site, and wait for someone to COPY the file.
Then, go to the courts and say these exact words “These people STOLE from me! It’s THEFT!”
The first thing the judge would do is throw the case out, because in the legal world, IT IS NOT THEFT. The judge will say you cannot charge people with theft when they copy files. The link YOU YOURSELF gave says for it to be theft, you have to be DEPRIVED of your “property”. As in, when someone copies the file, the file has to somehow magically delete itself.

So go on. Come back and keep on repeating how its theft, WHEN THE JUDGE WILL TELL YOU IT IS NOT!

Bas Grasmayer (profile) says:

“We generally like to verify people are using their real name or an identity that we can track back to a real person. We think think this keep the tone of the debate more honest and civilized.”

Can the real Lowery please stand up?

And explain why words like ‘consumer’ and ‘market’ result in deletions on The Trichordist. I’d assume those are pretty important words to include if we’re talking about business.

Anonymous Coward With A Unique Writing Style says:


See, perhaps it’s used because of comments like yours. Where you already start off by calling everyone here pirates. You have any proof of that claim? Or are you assuming that just because a majority of the people disagree with you they’re all pirates?

And sorry to say, the “report” function is used to report actual spam. I’ve seen it used for such plenty of times.

As for dissenting opinions. Mhm. So the idiot saying “nothing much to say here” 50+ times is a dissenting opinion? Really? I thought it was spam, because it appears to be spam. A simple and irrelevant to the discussion comment that is being reposted near indefinitely by one person (or four as now the case appears to be). In addition, it’s being used on comments that are nothing more than “you’re all pirates/thieves/freetards”. Again, seen that multiple times in this thread. Nothing else has been reported.

And “dissenting opinions” is shot down when you see the comments made by Hmmmm. He/she most definitely has a dissenting opinion. Yet, he/she attempts to try and explain their points of view and then back them up. And does so in a manner that is both respectful and reasonable. Notice something important about Hmmmm’s comments? I bet you don’t. But I’ll help you out, not a single one is/has been reported. (Probably for the reasons previously mentioned. Respectful. Reasonable. Etc.)

Please do find a new point to harp on. Or just cry “censorship” like the other idiot (or two or three). It just makes it easy to see who to ignore and who has nothing to actually say. It’s great for newcomers to the site to see who’s actually got something worthwhile to say and who doesn’t, as is evidenced you’ve got nothing to say. And, yet again, the facts are very much against you as is apparent to anyone with even half a brain.

Marcel de Jong (profile) says:


It’s really telling that these Anon Cowards are all family of each other. (I suspect something involving moms and bears)

Trying to turn a flippant throwaway remark into something really big. Ignoring the fact that these posts aren’t on Lowery, but on responses on Lowery.
Trying to derail the discussion, doing everything in their power NOT to respond to the points.

You Lowery-lovers are lower than low. Trolls are a step up from you.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

The reluctance to adapt is a kind of embarrassing nostalgia that glosses over the many sins of the old ways, and it argues for a kind of pity fuck from the market.

Yup, so he’s just being antagonistic. In other words, he can go outside and play hide and go fuck himself.

Seriously…I’m failing to see of what consequence Mike saying he didn’t see any reason to respond to Lowery, but then posting stories about OTHER PEOPLE’S response, which he DID find interesting.

I mean….how is this tough to understand?

Anonymous Coward says:


If you are implying that the Supreme Court has ruled that free file sharing of music, software, books is A-OK – I would like to see that.

Except that no one but you even implied or inferred it. Stating the facts (SCOTUS stated that infringement is not theft) does not allow for the jump in logic that ‘it isn’t theft so it’s okay.’

This renders your comment useless.

Marcel de Jong (profile) says:


Ok. I’ll bite, you have actual proof of this hypocrisy? I mean other than the constant spouting of your point over and over again. I mean actual proof. Like links to outside sources (other than the rather more biased Trichordist)

Remember, Mike Masnick has posted in the past that he wants the RIAA and the MPAA to succeed. I don’t particularly agree with him, but that’s opinions for you.

BTW, and this has been explained to you a great many times, it’s not censorship if you can still read the comment in question. Also it’s not Mike doing that, it’s the community, who is quite frankly fed up with your spamming, and rightly so.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

accuracy of numbers

Is the yelling what happens after you do a couple lines off a hookers ass?

Not having worked for a major label can actually be seen as a good thing – it means he isn’t willing to ignore reality to make sure he makes the same money he made 2 decades ago at the expense of artists.

I’m willing to bet you thought you had a thought once, and laid down till your head stopped hurting.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:


its not the “site” censoring anything.
It is the users of the site clicking a button on posts that add nothing of value… like your post… but funny the comments are still there to be viewed if you want to.
Now the other side of the coin is the “industry” aligned sites that do not allow comments at all, or never allow posts they disagree with to see the light of day.

ProTip – press the option to view the posts in “Threaded” mode and it make a great deal more sense.

chelleliberty (profile) says:

No, I’m not confusing anything. Theft *is* a legal term, and means something specific which is quite inflammatory in any discussion of intellectual monopoly restrictions. And, I did indeed notice and mention (thus showing I did see what you were doing there) that you were using it metaphorically, and that I thought it was being used in a way that was inappropriate.

“To not call it theft is an attempt to minimize the action and make it seem like a slight technical act that has no real impact on anyone.”

No, To call it theft is an attempt to argue by analogy that two things are morally equivalent, when a discussion of the *actual* impact of any particular infringement is key to any conclusion on whether it’s morally comparable to theft.

However, it is my reasoned opinion that using ‘theft’ in that particular metaphorical sense is an abuse of language, one which serves no purpose other than to shut down discussion and to mislead people who just look at the surface of the debate without delving in further.

This abuse is especially clear to me when the topic under discussion is at least in large part about precisely that in the first place! (It’s particularly clear to me that the term is not applicable in some cases, for instance I believe that private copying of music for non-profit use is a clear-cut case of something which is so different from theft that it’s *very* misleading to speak of it in that way.)

NOTE: I am not saying you are intentionally trying to mislead people above, I am simply saying that the term ‘theft’ is itself misleading when used to describe infringement of intellectual monopoly restrictions; and in fact I think probably your equivocation of the term leads you to believe that your conclusions are stronger than they are, and also probably leads you to make inaccurate judgements about those of us who don’t accept that the two are equivalent, which really doesn’t make for a very productive discussion.

So, this is why I have a problem with you using that metaphor. I don’t agree at all that someone who copies music is morally equivalent to someone who steals physical property. Yes, I understand the metaphor you are using and I understand why conclusion you are trying to draw by analogy.

But (a) if you look closely in at least some subset of cases of infringement it’s fairly straightforward to see the difference between those cases and theft, and (b) if there are significant cases in which infringement is theft, then it’s not a proper term to use when debating infringement as a whole, since there are instances of infringement which *aren’t* morally equivalent to theft in any relevant way.

Anonymous Coward says:


there seems to be only 2 options remaining.
1) companies change their business model to deal with infringing (this turns my stomach, but may be pragmatic)
2) some new technology is put in place to reduce infringing (I dont see this happening).

So, maybe mike is right after all πŸ™

Since infringement has always been around, and you can’t eraticate it, there seems to be only 1 option remaining.

1) companies adapt by continually changing their business models to leverage current and future technology to reduce infringement.

So, mike is right after all πŸ™‚ FTFY!

bratwurzt (profile) says:


There is no way to steal information (music, software, ebooks) – you copy it.

About ethics – ethics change with every generation – you cannot force your ethics from 1980 to a generation that never saw a cassette tape, VCR and never actually owned music in a physical form. Younger people (~20 years old) grew up with filesharing and while it’s frowned upon it will be excepted – remember when we had pirate radios?

And you think old business models will be here forever? Letter carver for the printing press, buggy whip maker and recording executive met in a bar…

bratwurzt (profile) says:


First three are tangible things – I thought I’d point out the difference.

You pay for your software? So you bought your windows 7 preinstalled and you bought your office? Aaaaand then you… don’t actually use anything else? Thanks to you programmers at Microsoft can eat again!

paying for music – I’ll pay good money for live music (which I’m certain it’s good). I won’t pay for your music – first I’d listen to it. Then I’d listen to it some more. If it’s good – I’d buy music from you. I can’t buy music from you directly? Or Kickstarter, Indiegogo? No? Well I’m really sorry but my money is not for gatekeepers (at least not as much as 30%) – it’s meant for the artist or me. If the artist is incapable of setting up shop on the internet (dauting task in 1995, I tell you) I’ll get it through more convenient means – filesharing. So no – I will not pay for music – I will pay for convenience of getting it. And I am not the only one – lookup that Emily post, it got pretty famous, some Lowery guy got upset about the fact that time moves on. Damn you laws of physics!

Fnordius says:

A reply to Hmmmm

There is a huge gaping flaw in your argument, in that infringement is not theft, it is more like trespassing. And in most cases, the “trespassing” is no worse than taking a shortcut across an empty lot. Or you could also compare it to the complaints of a sports stadium owner about the neighbours watching games and concerts from their own rooftops and not paying him to actually enter the stadium – they haven’t occupied a seat that a paying customer would take, have they?

The current complaint about copyright reminds me of a fence owner selling views through a peephole, who then is upset when people figure out that they can actually look over the fence. The performers that also complain about this have grown so accustomed to getting their (small) cut from the fence owner that they haven’t thought about how to pass the hat themselves.

darin says:


Hmmm wrote:

“I normally never post – but this whole issue got me motivated because I see a waterfall of opinion on the wrong side of the issue. I guess we will see where we end up.”

Although I am one of those on the other side, I am glad that you decided to post. Your contributions to the discussion have been thoughtful and articulate, and I hope you’ll stay in it.

Karl (profile) says:

accuracy of numbers


Nice caps lock, Screamy McShoutypants.

Aside from that, here’s what Jeff Price did:

Jeff is also co-founder and was GM / President of the New York based independent record label spinART records for seventeen years. spinART distributed over 200 releases from artists such as: The Pixies, Frank Black, The Eels, John Doe, Apples In Stereo, Vic Chesnutt, Jason Falkner, Richard Thompson, Echo and The Bunnymen, Ron Sexsmith, The Fastbacks, Creeper Lagoon, The Church, Lilys, Clem Snide and more.

In 2004 Jeff contributed to the founding charter and organization of The American Association of Independent Music (AAIM) ? a nonprofit non-governmental trade organization representing the interests of its independent label members.

From 1997 to 2001, Jeff worked with, serving first as a consultant, next as interim VP of Content Acquisition and finally as the Senior Director of Music/Business Development. He contributed towards the creation of eMusic’s initial business model and created and implemented the first subscription-based music sales and distribution structure.

In November 2005, Jeff founded TuneCore (with Gary Burke and Peter Wells) based on the fevering belief that every artist should have access to distribution and receive 100% of the revenue from the sale of their music without having to give up any of their rights.

It’s right there in TuneCore’s bios.

And Jeff Price’s figures seem entirely consistent with what everyone else in the industry says. People like Steve Albini, Courtney Love, Janis Ian, Michelle Shocked, Too Much Joy, Danny Goldberg, or The Root.

Nobody paints the same rosy picture as Lowery.

No One says:

I have a question about the “no one has a right to make money from what they create” thing.

I agree that if I, say, paint a painting, or make a lithograph, or make posters from a photo I took, or whatever, and I try to sell it on ebay or at the swap meat for a dollar, and no one is interested, then what can I do? I guess my painting or whatever sucks and has no value and I better go get a job at McDonald’s.

But if people are interested and want a poster or a painting to put on their wall and enjoy for years to come, don’t I then have a right to a dollar from each of those people?

Thank you.

Karl (profile) says:


I have a question about the “no one has a right to make money from what they create” thing.

I think what people mean is that making money isn’t a “right.” You can convince potential customers to give you money, but it’s not a “right.”

Just like you don’t have a “right” to work at McDonald’s – you can apply for a job, but nobody at McDonald’s has an obligation to hire you.

You do, of course, have a right to charge whatever you want for your painting. But if people aren’t going to buy it – whether for $1 or $1000 – then they aren’t violating your rights.

Now, here’s the question. Say those people want a poster or painting to put on their wall for years to come. Do you then have a right to a dollar from those people?

Not necessarily. Say, for example, that someone buys your painting for $1, then turns around and sells it to someone else for $1000. Do you have a right to a portion of that $1000? No, you do not. Once you sold that painting, it is no longer your property.

Now, what if he buys your painting for $1, prints up posters of it, and gives those posters away to friends for free? Does the owner now have to pay you to do this, even though the owner isn’t making a profit? Do you have the right to prevent the owner from doing this?

Under copyright law, the answer to the last two questions is “yes.” Even though he’s not selling the posters; even though it doesn’t keep you from selling posters of that painting yourself (or prevent you from selling other paintings); even though the owner’s friends were not likely to pay you for the posters if they weren’t free; even if one of the owner’s friends is more likely to commission you to do a new painting because she liked the poster she got for free.

This is what people have a problem with.

No One says:


Thanks very much for the reply.

So…I’m at the swap meet trying to sell my poster (that many people are buying, it’s only a dollar after all, and it took a lot of work to make, so I am very grateful that they like it and are willing to pay for it), and someone else makes copies of my poster and starts giving it away at the swap meet, and I shouldn’t be greatly bothered by this?

I think anyone who has bothered to make a poster and go to the swap meet and set up, and try and make their way as an artist, would be greatly bothered and say to that person, “what are doing? Why would you do that?”

And if some people get the poster for free who actually like it and would have bought it now get it for free, then I’m out of some dollars that I had a right to, aren’t I? And if some people wouldn’t have bought the poster anyway, why are they taking it?

I’m just trying to understand as a person who “creates things”.

Karl (profile) says:


So…I’m at the swap meet trying to sell my poster (that many people are buying, it’s only a dollar after all, and it took a lot of work to make, so I am very grateful that they like it and are willing to pay for it), and someone else makes copies of my poster and starts giving it away at the swap meet, and I shouldn’t be greatly bothered by this?

You have every right to be bothered by this. Just as you have every right to someone itting outside your booth saying “This artists sucks.”

The question is, what right do you have to do anything aobut it?

In the second case, the answer is: none. Their opinion is protected expression. Protecting their right to say “you suck” is fundamental to democracy.

Similar things have to be considered in the case of someone giving away copies of your poster. Now, these are the actions that the traditional media companies are doing:

1. Sue anyone who took a free poster, for more than what they make in their entire lives.

2. Have jackbooted thugs storm the booths of suspected infringers.

3. Lobby the government to shut down swap meets altogether.

None of these things seem like good ideas.

Also: I didn’t require that it should be “at the swap meet.” We live in an age where every single person can, without leaving the comfort of their own home, make a copy of an artwork, and distribute it as far and wide as they can, without having to go to a swap meet at all.

If anything, doesn’t this sound the death of swap meets?

And if some people get the poster for free who actually like it and would have bought it now get it for free, then I’m out of some dollars that I had a right to, aren’t I?

That’s assuming that they would have bought the posters in the firs