Recording Industry Persecution Complex: Claiming EMI's Plight Is Due To File Sharing

from the um,-no dept

Bas points us to a bizarre opinion piece for NME (which is usually a bit better than this) in which recording industry insider Alan McGee posts a near factless diatribe claiming that EMI's recent takeover by Citigroup proves that "downloading has murdered the music business." There's almost nothing accurate in McGee's piece. It's fantasy-world writing where people just make up stuff. Let's dig in a bit:
First things first: EMI is still a great British label. I mean, it owns the Beatles back catalogue! So why is it in the hands of a bank? Its just economics. Guy Hands bought it in 2007, at the height of the market, when people were paying stupid prices for everything, not just labels.
Ok. So we agree. Guy Hands (well, really his firm Terra Firma) paid way too much for EMI in 2007. Frankly, that's the reason for EMI's plight today. Terra Firma got infatuated with the names on EMI's roster, didn't understand the recording industry at all, and got suckered into paying way over a reasonable price, and then couldn't handle the debt load. It had nothing to do with people paying stupid prices in 2007. People weren't paying stupid prices for record labels -- just Terra Firma. And that's because they didn't really understand what they were buying.
The trouble is, now everyone has woken up to the reality, which is that illegal downloading is murdering the music business.
So much incorrect in such a short sentence. First, I don't think anyone views the industry's situation much different in 2011 as they did in 2007. File sharing was rampant then as it is now. The struggles the recording industry were facing were already quite clear in 2007 (hell, they were clear in 1997 to people paying attention). Second, the only part of the "music business" struggling is the record labels. Nearly every other part of the music business has grown massively over the last decade. Third, there is little to no evidence that "illegal downloading" is the cause of any serious problems. Yes, it does act as a substitution in some cases, but as we've seen over and over again, when musical acts embrace file sharing in conjunction with a smart business model, they end up making more money. So, no, "illegal downloading" is not the cause of EMI's problems. EMI's inability to adapt to a changing market, combined with a massive debt overload was the issue.
I actually think Guy Hands didnt do a bad job. He was just personally unfortunate. He came along at the wrong time. Shit happens. It was a time of affluence of abundance. Then the world economy turned upside down, Lehman Brothers went broke, and the world changed. The market crashed.
Huh? The market crash had nothing to do with the troubles facing EMI. Nor does McGee show how the two are connected. As with his earlier claims, he just insists it's true with no proof.
EMI's problems should be a wake-up call. How did they get into this mess? It all comes back to the impact of illegal downloading. We have to change the legislation in this country and come down much harder on piracy.
First up, we've already discussed why the impact of unauthorized file sharing was not the problem, but more importantly, countries around the world have been changing legislation plenty over the last decade to come down much harder on "piracy" and it's done nothing to improve the lot of the record labels. Is McGee totally unaware of the Digital Economy Act in the UK? Rather than recognize that such laws have been passed and have not helped the record labels, McGee just wants more protectionism. That old line about the definition of insanity being doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results may apply...
Otherwise guys in little bands starting out now are never going to be the next Rolling Stones.
Wait, so the only options are failure or the Rolling Stones? And that statement is a ridiculous one either way. What we've seen (and been documenting for years) is that things are much better for bands starting out today than in the past because they don't need to win over the gatekeepers. They can find their own audience. They can create their own business models and make a living -- unlike under the old system, where you either hit it big or you gave up and went back to your day job. As for who will be the next Rolling Stones, I have little fear that the general nature of human psyche will continue to find new acts to turn into superstars.

And, should we even mention just how much money the Rolling Stones make from touring, which is an industry that has actually been helped by unauthorized downloads in building up larger fanbases of various bands?
When you download an album illegally, it's not the record company guys that get fucked -- those people are still on massive salaries -- it's 19-year-old kids, it's guys in bands making £100 a gig.
Wait, what? In this very same paragraph you claimed the totality of EMI's problems were due to unauthorized file sharing, but then just a few sentences later you claim the record labels aren't impacted. Keep it together, McGee. As for the impact on the 19-year-old kids making £100 per gig, they can actually be massively helped by file sharing, because the more people who know and like their music, the more people will be willing to come out to their gigs, so maybe they'll start making more than that £100.
When I came along in the 80s and 90s, I was lucky to be in a market where people bought music. Now If I wanted an album, I could just go on some torrent site and download it. You've got to give bands a chance, let them develop. In the 80s, bands started dodgy, then they got good. The bands I worked with Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine, even Oasis -- it took them a few years to go from being OK to being good. These days bands don't get the chance, they just get dropped.
Again these are statements that appear to imply some sort of causal relationship, but fail to show any. What does the fact that people bought CDs have to do with letting a band develop? I mean, if it really takes so much time for a band to develop, then doesn't that mean people shouldn't be buying their early music anyway? And the final line highlights the crux of the problem: it assumes that the only way to succeed today is by signing to some big label. So if that label drops you, you're screwed. And yet, we're seeing over and over again that musical acts are being amazingly successful without a label (since they don't need to make nearly as much money as they have to on a label to make a damn good living). In fact, we're seeing bands celebrate being dropped from their labels, because it means more freedom to develop and the ability to make more money.
There's only one independent label, post-Creation, that's really been phenomenal, and that's Domino. Laurence (Bell, owner) is a genius. He's touched with gold dust. Whether it sells or not, he's got the magic touch.
This is a total non sequitur. What does the fact that there's been a good indie label have to do with file sharing or EMI?!? Furthermore, "whether it sells or not," seemed to be the whole point earlier in the article. Now it doesn't matter? Finally, to say that there's only been one good indie record label suggests a level of ignorance to what's actually going on in the music world today. There are a bunch of fantastic indie labels out there. Perhaps McGee should get out more.
As for me, if I ran EMI, I'd get legislation changed and make a profit by stopping piracy.
Can someone -- anyone -- explain how getting people to stop downloading creates a profit anywhere? Getting people to stop downloading doesn't magically make them start buying. And it's not like EMI hasn't been among the efforts by all the major record labels to get legislation changed for years, and all of that has done absolutely nothing to stop file sharing. It's pure folly to suggest that there's some sort of magical legislative move that will stop unauthorized file sharing and create "profits" at the same time.

What will do that, however, is smarter business models -- something that McGee never even seems to consider. Thankfully, reading through the comments on that article, nearly everyone is pointing out all of these points to McGee, though I doubt he'll ever read any of them.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    Mike C. (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 10:33am

    Semi-appropriate

    For some reason, I see Mr. McGee (Magoo?) agreeing with the direction in todays Ctrl+Alt+Del comic...

    http://www.cad-comic.com/cad/20110209

     

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      Not an electronic Rodent, Feb 10th, 2011 @ 3:46am

      Re: Semi-appropriate

      todays Ctrl+Alt+Del comic...
      Hilarious and scarily true. I particularly liked the "subtle" hint in the penultimate and ultimate lines of the registration code.

       

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    Marcus Carab (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 10:49am

    As for me, if I ran EMI, I'd get legislation changed and make a profit by stopping piracy.

    I was about to make a joke about the fact that he thinks running a company means you get to change legislation, but then I had a rather depressing "oh wait" moment...

     

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    Irving, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 11:23am

    Is his nickname Fibber?

    Whether it is or not, 'taint funny, McGee!

     

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    weneedhelp (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 11:24am

    I love it.

    Love the Lily Allen pic as an example of an EMI artist.

    Great example, McGoo & Allen 2 clueless ftards.

     

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      Matt (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 12:08pm

      Re: I love it.

      Allen no longer records for EMI after a spat with Mike over her campaign against piracy, which is probably more what they're going for

       

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        Marcus Carab (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 1:14pm

        Re: Re: I love it.

        Hehe I'm not sure we can say it was all Mike that caused her to leave the music business! But I admit the timing was interesting...

         

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          Matt (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 1:41pm

          Re: Re: Re: I love it.

          I wasn't suggesting that Mike drove her to the cliff, but merely pushed her over the edge

           

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            vivaelamor (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 3:49pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: I love it.

            "I wasn't suggesting that Mike drove her to the cliff, but merely pushed her over the edge"

            I thought it was supposed to be due to all the horrible people insulting her. If Mike managed it then she must be allergic to civility.

             

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              Marcus Carab (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 4:36pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I love it.

              I think that's blowing it a little out of proportion. From the Techdirt perspective Allen was "that copyright maximalist singer we caught being extremely hypocritical" - but that wasn't the defining aspect of her career to the public. Most people never heard about it, or about all the abuse on her blog (which was still a tiny number of people compared to how many buy her records and tell her they love her on Twitter). I'm sure she had all sorts of reasons for her decision to leave music.

               

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                vivaelamor (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 4:48pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I love it.

                "I think that's blowing it a little out of proportion."

                Sorry, I wasn't seriously suggesting that horrible people were insulting here, merely poking fun at her stated reason for quitting.

                 

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                  Marcus Carab (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 5:07pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I love it.

                  Right. But that was her stated reason for shutting down the blog, not for quitting music. She announced that she wasn't renewing with EMI on the bog *before* shutting it down over the abuse.

                  In fact, hilariously, one of the reasons she gave for quitting was that she wasn't making any money because the record label was taking it all.

                   

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                    vivaelamor (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 5:16pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I love it.

                    "Right. But that was her stated reason for shutting down the blog, not for quitting music. She announced that she wasn't renewing with EMI on the bog *before* shutting it down over the abuse."

                    Shows how much attention I paid to the issue. I was going by what the previous commenter said and a quick Google search, which appears to be a lesson about misleading headlines.

                    "In fact, hilariously, one of the reasons she gave for quitting was that she wasn't making any money because the record label was taking it all."

                    Well, one thing I do remember was that her rants tended to have even less logic than TAM's.

                     

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                      Marcus Carab (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 6:58pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I love it.

                      Yeah it seems like because she announced it on the blog, and because publishers are only willing to give so much space to Lily Allen, a lot of the stories mushed her quitting music and her shutting down the blog into one article.

                       

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                        Jay (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 9:53pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I love it.

                        It's one reason that I believe objective journalism is dead. No journalist actually looks at the good scoops anymore. Just a quick 5 second handjob story, then on to the next one...

                         

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                        Matt (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 11:37pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I love it.

                        It's probably more a case of the British Press trying to shove the blame on to someome else, to stop them looking bad

                         

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    Gwiz (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 11:28am

    There's only one independent label, post-Creation, that's really been phenomenal, and that's Domino. Laurence (Bell, owner) is a genius. He's touched with gold dust. Whether it sells or not, he's got the magic touch.

    Wait..what? If it doesn't sell he's got the magic touch to do what exactly? Pull magic sales figures from his ass?

    Not dissing on the Indie label Domino or Laurence Bell here, just seemed like a stupid statement.

     

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    Pickle Monger (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 11:33am

    Just like half the overweight slobs out there who think they can do a better job than a head-coach of a major league team, so too Alan McGee engages in some armchair quaterbacking. It's easy to make statements when there's ZERO chance of having to walk the talk. What makes him think he could do better than the job he has done at Creation Records and Poptones? Does he honestly believe that the size and importance of EMI would let him write legislation and ensure enforcement of said legislation around the world? Is he on crack?

     

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    John Doe, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 11:35am

    The problem with liars...

    "Wait, what? In this very same paragraph you claimed the totality of EMI's problems were due to unauthorized file sharing, but then just a few sentences later you claim the record labels aren't impacted."

    The problem with liars is they eventually paint themselves into a corner.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 11:37am

    "We need bigger sticks! Sticks that shoot other sticks! Carrots? Carrots are a sign of weakness! We need a stick that looks like a carrot and then when they least expect it, STICK!"

     

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    Anonymous, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 11:54am

    I love it when Masnick tries to pretend downloading didn't wreck record sales and the business.

    Every time a stranger comes here and reads that type of crazytalk, they'll be like, "wow, that guy is bat-shit insane."

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 11:57am

      Re:

      I am trying to figure that out as well. Recorded music sales are way down even as personal music collections continue to expand, yet piracy has nothing to do with it.

      bat-shit crazy indeed! Could it be the Masnick Effect at work again?

       

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        Gwiz (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 12:16pm

        Re: Re:

        Recorded music sales are way down even as personal music collections continue to expand, yet piracy has nothing to do with it.

        Personal music collections continue to expand without having to repurchase songs that were already bought. Digital music does not degrade over time. It is exactly the same as the day it was purchased. You don't have to replace a scratched CD or cassette that fell into your coffee cup. Also with digital music it can be moved from device to device without repurchasing.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 12:20pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          A nice explaination, but not covered by reality. If that was the case, the vast majority of people would not have music newer than 2001 or so. The truth is people download an incredible amount of music (out of people I know who download, each of them is well into the terrabyte club).

          It isn't only about moving the music you own around. To pretend so makes the EMI dufus almost sound reasonable.

           

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            Gwiz (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 12:28pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Not pretending here.

            Just pointing out that there are plenty of other factors coming into play than just piracy that is causing the slipping sales figures of the big labels.

            To pretend that piracy is the ONLY problem is very narrow minded.

             

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            JEDIDIAH, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 12:54pm

            Information distortion

            There are plenty of bands that I have listened to over the years through the various means of legal "freeloading". I have enjoyed their work without contributing a single penny to them or to their respective labels.

            One simply doesn't need to pirate to "freeload" and never has.

            People are used to "free music" because it's always been free.

            As a means of information distribution, the Internet also makes things more obvious. The fact that you can see things happening now doesn't mean they weren't happening before.

             

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            JEDIDIAH, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 12:54pm

            Information distortion

            There are plenty of bands that I have listened to over the years through the various means of legal "freeloading". I have enjoyed their work without contributing a single penny to them or to their respective labels.

            One simply doesn't need to pirate to "freeload" and never has.

            People are used to "free music" because it's always been free.

            As a means of information distribution, the Internet also makes things more obvious. The fact that you can see things happening now doesn't mean they weren't happening before.

             

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            Eugene (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 1:38pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            A nice explaination, but not covered by reality.
            Wait wait wait. Wait wait. Hold up. Waitasec. Whoa.

            ...do you even know how digital things work? Gwiz's explanation covered some really basic, kindergarten stuff.
            And why would that even mean they wouldn't have music newer than 2001? Do you believe artists stopped making digitally downloadable music after 2001? Have you ever been to iTunes in your life?

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 2:05pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              If it was digitally downloadable from Itunes, they would be purchasing it. People have TB drives full of music, none of which they have paid for. If all of that music was paid through Itunes, the record labels would be experiencing record sales.

              They are not.

              It's frigging amazing, isn't it. It's like the music just appears on their computer like magic.

               

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                The eejit (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 2:32pm

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

                Well, not really, if people are downloading singles through iTunes, rather than albums. Singles make for less money for the record labels than albums do.

                And thanks to the Big Labels, iTunes no longer allows you to download a track more than five times. I've deleted many a track because of this.

                 

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                Eugene (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 3:43pm

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

                BS. All the music I'm into is by bands who sell their music directly on iTunes, independent of any record label.

                Or does that count as stealing because the bands are shirking your system?

                 

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                vivaelamor (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 3:55pm

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

                "If it was digitally downloadable from Itunes, they would be purchasing it. People have TB drives full of music, none of which they have paid for. If all of that music was paid through Itunes, the record labels would be experiencing record sales."

                I don't think anyone is suggesting that all the music people download is paid for, merely that people being able to buy singles instead of albums is a more plausible reason for the sales to drop.

                 

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                PaulT (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 4:18pm

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

                "If it was digitally downloadable from Itunes, they would be purchasing it. "

                Are you saying that literally nobody buys music?

                "People have TB drives full of music, none of which they have paid for."

                Ah, you are. I wonder how they're still in business after this long then? Also, you're saying that if people have a 1TB drive it's all "pirated" music. No legal rips from legally purchased CDs? No podcasts? No CC-licensed content? Just 100% downloaded infringing material.

                I'd like to see the study that says that people do this (and no, studies that just count the number of iTunes purchases don't count).

                "If all of that music was paid through Itunes, the record labels would be experiencing record sales."

                Let's see, rough calculation.... There's approximately 1,048,576 MB on a 1TB drive (1024GB*1024MB). Let's say the average MP3 is 5MB for a 3 min song. That means that there's 209,715 songs on there. If sold for $0.99, these would retail at iTunes for $207,617.85

                If you think that the average 1TB drive represents $207,617.85 in lost income to the music industry, you truly do live in a fantasy world.

                 

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                  Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 5:01pm

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

                  Ah, you are. I wonder how they're still in business after this long then? Also, you're saying that if people have a 1TB drive it's all "pirated" music. No legal rips from legally purchased CDs? No podcasts? No CC-licensed content? Just 100% downloaded infringing material.

                  One case I am very familiar with is a girl who is very specific. Everything comes from a semi-private torrent group, which she downloads from constantly (24 hours per day). She doesn't even listen to 10% of what she downloads, but she has it all.

                  It's 100% pirated, the site doesn't have anything but.

                  If you think that the average 1TB drive represents $207,617.85 in lost income to the music industry, you truly do live in a fantasy world.

                  I didn't say that, and no, I don't live in a fantasy world. But clearly, these sorts of people like music enough that, without the pirating option, they would likely buy at least some.

                  My points is if people actually paid for what they have, it would be incredible boom times in the music business. The fact that record labels are suffering and music sales are at an all time low indicates that the people are obtaining their recorded music in another way. It is entirely misleading for Mike to suggest that EMI's problems don't stem at least in part of a failing market due to piracy.

                   

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                    vivaelamor (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 5:42pm

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

                    "She doesn't even listen to 10% of what she downloads, but she has it all."

                    Which suggests that having 1TB of pirated music is meaningless. Why focus on the amount if you know that it's meaningless?

                    "But clearly, these sorts of people like music enough that, without the pirating option, they would likely buy at least some. "

                    Have you asked why they don't buy any now? What do they spend their money on instead? I buy a fair amount of music online but I'd bet that I don't spend anywhere near as much as the average concert goer or merchandise buyer.

                    "My points is if people actually paid for what they have, it would be incredible boom times in the music business."

                    Having admitted that people don't necessarily listen to what they have, why would you presume paying for it is an option?

                    "The fact that record labels are suffering and music sales are at an all time low indicates that the people are obtaining their recorded music in another way. It is entirely misleading for Mike to suggest that EMI's problems don't stem at least in part of a failing market due to piracy."

                    I'm not sure he's suggesting that at all. He's certainly suggesting that the recording industry can't blame piracy for everything, but I don't see where he suggests that piracy had no effect. Having said that, I think the labels reluctance to embrace digital distribution contributed to the fall of the recording industry far more than piracy could have.

                     

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                    btrussell (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 8:39pm

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

                    "Everything comes from a semi-private torrent group, which she downloads from constantly (24 hours per day)."

                    What is her download rate? How long has she been doing so?
                    How many megabytes to have all music ever recorded?

                    I can download 31,449,600MB/year. That is Megabytes MB, not Megabits Mb. 6,289,920 songs @ 5MB each. I had no idea there was so much recorded music out there. @ 5 minutes each, that is what? 300 years to listen to all of the music she has downloaded?
                    How many lost sales are there? How much of that would have been bought had she not downloaded it all? $6,227,020.80?(@ $0.99/song)

                     

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                      Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2011 @ 5:55am

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

                      You could download that, yes, if you actually got 100% thruput at all time. But P2P is very inefficient, and the group is small. She is also on an ISP that shapes traffic, so much of the day P2P comes from at about 25k a second at best.

                      As for the amount of music, when you start getting into remixes and such, the list gets very, very long.

                      I know you are trying to mock me, but come on, keep it reasonable.

                       

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                        btrussell (profile), Feb 10th, 2011 @ 8:39am

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

                        "But P2P is very inefficient"
                        It is very efficient, which is why some Universities use it to roll out updates.
                        I personally get excellent, consistent, download rates using P2P.

                        I suggest you keep it reasonable. If she doesn't listen to 90% of it, what makes you think she would have bought it otherwise?
                        Or did you mean she is downloading complete albums which, generally anymore, only have one song on it worth listening to?

                         

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                    techflaws.org (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 10:38pm

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

                    One case I am very familiar with is a girl who is very specific.

                    Anecdotal evidence. You just gotta love it.

                    She doesn't even listen to 10% of what she downloads

                    Right, and this is harming the recording industry how?

                     

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                      Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2011 @ 5:47am

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

                      I always love your comments, because they are so meaningful. Right.

                      No, I use her as an example. I know of a number of people in the same boat. They all have significant downloaded movie or music collections, with no intention of every paying for any of it.

                      Right, and this is harming the recording industry how

                      She is one of the people who "seeds" outside of her group. So she takes what comes from the private group, and seeds it in a more public manner for people who are not in the group. Even if she never listens to it, she helps to make sure that many more people have access to it for free.

                      Yeah, what's the harm, right?

                       

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                        PaulT (profile), Feb 10th, 2011 @ 7:09am

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

                        "No, I use her as an example."

                        Hence, anecdotal.

                        "I know of a number of people in the same boat."

                        Also anecdotal.

                        "They all have significant downloaded movie or music collections, with no intention of every paying for any of it."

                        Then, in terms of their collections, they represent absolutely no direct loss to the industry. If they are willing to pay $0, and they ultimately pay $0, then the net loss to the industry is $0. that's not to justify their actions, but that's the reality.

                        You can start to make arguments as to whether or not these people would suddenly start to pay for their entertainment if the pirate option wasn't available, but it's pretty clear that it's not 100% of the music pirated.

                        Sadly, McGee is trying to pretend that 100% of his industry's losses are through piracy, an amazingly faulty premise, which is being rightly criticised.

                        "Even if she never listens to it, she helps to make sure that many more people have access to it for free."

                        Who may also amass large collections that they would never have been able to paid for had the free option not been available...

                        Start from 2 facts - that 100% of losses for the music industry are not due to piracy, and 100% of the "value" of the music pirated would not be recouped if piracy was somehow eradicated.

                        Once you understand these concepts, you may be able to continue discussion on the realities of the industry.

                         

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                        techflaws.org (profile), Feb 10th, 2011 @ 7:51am

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

                        I always love your comments, because they are so meaningful.

                        Thanks but just stop posting bull and there's no need to comment it. Easy, eh?

                         

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                        vivaelamor (profile), Feb 10th, 2011 @ 9:28am

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

                        "I always love your comments, because they are so meaningful. Right."

                        I notice how you pick out the one you deem least meaningful to reply to.

                         

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                    Any Mouse (profile), Feb 10th, 2011 @ 2:05am

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

                    You have a single (purported) case, then. Which is not indicative of everyone else. Examples: Of my friends who do NOT purchase music, all of them download stuff put up specifically to be downloaded for free. Why bother to pirate the corp crap being spewed by the labels when you can get better, legally, for free?

                     

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                    PaulT (profile), Feb 10th, 2011 @ 2:26am

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

                    "One case I am very familiar with is a girl who is very specific."

                    Fantastic. I have anecdotal evidence as well that proves the entire opposite scenario. I'm sorry if I don't think that individual anecdotes are something to based copyright laws upon.

                    "But clearly, these sorts of people like music enough that, without the pirating option, they would likely buy at least some."

                    What do you have to prove that? More anecdotes? Would they buy, or just record from the radio, swap with offline friends, etc?

                    At least you agree that the girl would not buy all of them, so you admit that the music industry isn't "losing sales" from a proportion of those files.

                    So, what proportion are we talking about? You say "girl", so I assume she's a child or teenager. lets be generous and assume she has an income of $5000 per year from allowances, etc. Say she spend that solely on music for the last 5 years - that's $25,000, or 12% of what the music collection is "worth".

                    Even in this fantasy world scenario, the "losses" from piracy only represent 12%, yet industry people want us to believe it's 100%. Which is more likely? If you accept that it may be far less than 100% of the losses claimed by the industry, perhaps now you can see why we try to insist at looking at the larger picture, where piracy is irrelevant...

                    "The fact that record labels are suffering and music sales are at an all time low indicates that the people are obtaining their recorded music in another way."

                    That's one interpretation. There are many others that have nothing to do with piracy, ranging from quality and availability of purchases to the fact that the main target group for major labels are more interested in videogames and other forms of entertainment.

                    "It is entirely misleading for Mike to suggest that EMI's problems don't stem at least in part of a failing market due to piracy."

                    I agree that it's PART of the problem, but a smaller part that the industry can route around by using the methods Mike often champions. The bigger problems have nothing to do with piracy, and by counting it as the only problem (as McGee seems to), they're doomed to failure even if piracy was eradicated (which is frankly impossible).

                     

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                    Bill Transue (profile), Feb 10th, 2011 @ 8:10am

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

                    Most of your other points have been debunked, save this one...
                    But clearly, these sorts of people like music enough that, without the pirating option,
                    You presume she pirates because she likes music, however I suspect she likes music because she can pirate. Now bare with me for a second, she has downloaded and amassed so much that can she only listen to a mere 10%. Clearly this isn't about music so much as it's about downloading, collecting and organizing something, anything. If it weren't music (or something else digital) she'd probably be collecting stamps, or coins, or stamp coins.

                     

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                Brendan (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 9:28pm

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

                Why do you claim it must all be paid for? I listen to a lot more music (radio, web streams, downloads, etc.) than I buy. I generally only buy the stuff I end up liking, after giving the album a try a couple times.

                You have to try out lots of music to find new things you like. Downloading is just one channel by which you can do so, not really any different than the radio.

                 

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                Brendan (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 9:29pm

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

                Why do you claim it must all be paid for? I listen to a lot more music (radio, web streams, downloads, etc.) than I buy. I generally only buy the stuff I end up liking, after giving the album a try a couple times.

                You have to try out lots of music to find new things you like. Downloading is just one channel by which you can do so, not really any different than the radio.

                 

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                techflaws.org (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 10:36pm

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

                People have TB drives full of music, none of which they have paid for.

                Citation needed for both asserstions.

                 

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        Anon, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 1:11pm

        Re: Re:

        Odd, I seem to remember that before I could download songs, I didn't buy albums either. I would tape the songs off of the radio unless I really liked it.

        I wonder who all these mythical before downloading buyers are. My dad even had a reel to reel collection he had made mix tapes off of LPs that were traded around. Piracy has been around as long as music has.

         

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          vivaelamor (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 4:01pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "I wonder who all these mythical before downloading buyers are. My dad even had a reel to reel collection he had made mix tapes off of LPs that were traded around. Piracy has been around as long as music has."

          My brother used to play a tape with The Offspring on when I was young and it was a big factor in my interest in music. Later we bought at least three of their albums on CD. Sadly, now I've stopped buying major label music altogether they don't get a penny. I guess that was caused by file sharing, but not in the way the industry might suppose. Happily there are many independent bands who have embraced the internet to spend my money on instead. I like NOFX better anyway.

           

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      Kevin (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 11:59am

      Re:

      Oh you fail so hard. I am not going to even try to point out whats wrong with your statement.

       

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      Jay (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 12:00pm

      Re:

      "I love it when Masnick tries to pretend downloading didn't wreck record sales and the business."

      Sure did, so the record label industry is suffering.

      Artists however, are not. Or are you going to ignore all evidence to the contrary?

       

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        Anonymous, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 1:05pm

        Re: Re:

        There is no evidence to the contrary. Masnick picks a few unknowns that he says make more money now, tosses in NIN, and says that's how things are.

        Mike Masnick is a disingenuous slimeball that knows absolutely zero about what's really going on out on the ground for musicians and bands.

         

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          Gwiz (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 1:23pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          There is no evidence to the contrary. Masnick picks a few unknowns that he says make more money now, tosses in NIN, and says that's how things are.

          At the very least, Mike has shown some evidence to support his position. You on the other hand have produced ZERO evidence to support yours.

          Mike Masnick is a disingenuous slimeball that knows absolutely zero about what's really going on out on the ground for musicians and bands.

          I am guessing that the bands and musicians who Mike works with feel differently about that.

           

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          PaulT (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 2:50pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "There is no evidence to the contrary."

          Correction. There is no evidence that you are willing to accept because it goes against your world view. There's plenty out there, but you always find some arbitrary reason to ignore it (such as the above distortion of who is talked about, despite there being at least one platinum selling artist (David Guetta) discussed this week alone).

          "Mike Masnick is a disingenuous slimeball that knows absolutely zero about what's really going on out on the ground for musicians and bands."

          Apart from, you know, the ones he talks to and discusses these things with. What are your qualifications?

           

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          Jay (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 9:57pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "There is no evidence to the contrary. Masnick picks a few unknowns that he says make more money now, tosses in NIN, and says that's how things are."

          *Que me retorting about how there have been great tools placed in front of bands who use them.*

          *Que long post about how NIN isn't an unknown but did unique things to make people like his music and make money*

          *Que rebuttal that's civil but obviously will be ignored because you can't see past the front of your nose in regards to evidence*

          "Mike Masnick is a disingenuous slimeball that knows absolutely zero about what's really going on out on the ground for musicians and bands."

          Hmmm... 10+ years of watching the mistakes others make and telling them to focus less on suing customers and more on treating others with respect, courtesy, and kindness, which the litigation route doesn't allow...

          Yeah, you're 0-2 there, bucko.

           

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      :Lobo Santo (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 12:01pm

      Re:

      Oh, but downloading did wreck the record sales business.

      Do you perhaps suffer a reading comprehension problem?

      The vinyl/plastic disc industry has been using severely inflated prices due to being able to completely manipulate the market thru false scarcity. Due to the wide and easy availability of downloadable music, the false scarcity and resulting high prices are revealed as an obvious farce, causing most people to simply refuse to purchase at such amazingly inflated prices.

      It's like the old saying goes:
      Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day.
      Teach a man to fish, he'll eat for life.
      Teach a man to create an artificial fish scarcity, he'll eat steak.

      How hard is that? Perhaps you have an economics comprehension problem...

       

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      TDR, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 12:01pm

      Re:

      DISCLAIMER
      Anonymous: "I am a lying industry shill with no sense of morality or even the pretext of a point. I fear change like nothing else and cannot comprehend living without extorting as much as I can from my clients and blaming the 'losses' on a nonexistent problem. I do not know how to address an argument or even present one. I just flame because I know I'm wrong and unable to prove a single thing I've said, and I'm terrified to admit it."


      Evidence, anon, or a complete retraction of everything you have ever said on this site. Now.

       

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      Brian Schroth (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 12:11pm

      Re:

      It's only confusing to idiots who confuse "recorded music sales" with "the business".

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 12:13pm

      Re:

      I love it when Masnick tries to pretend downloading didn't wreck video game sales and the business.

      I love it when Masnick tries to pretend downloading didn't wreck movie sales and the business.

      I love it when Masnick tries to pretend downloading didn't wreck book sales and the business.

      I love it when Masnick tries to pretend downloading didn't wreck software sales and the business.

       

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        Danny, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 12:26pm

        Re: Re:

        So you go some proof of that wreckage? Oh and proof is going to be more than middle men yelling about how the lack of increased profit in their own pockets proves that the entire industry/business is going down.

         

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        The eejit (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 2:41pm

        Re: Re:

        Downloading hasn't wrecked videogame sales. Nor has it wrecked movie sales, or music sales, or software sales.

        What it has done is given an avenue for those who like the product, but don't wish to give money (for whatever reason) to those who they feel don't deserve it. Books are selling more, videogames are selling more, software is selling marginally less, and moves are selling more. And yet, it's still not enough.

        Content is advertising and advertising is content. It really isn't that hard. Hell, Blizzard's business model has been based around connecting with their fans and giving them a reason to buy. Radiohead were released because they weren't making enough money for their label. Radiohead made more for their own-produced album, than they did for OK Computer, their biggest-selling album.

        IT has wrecked the business. But each door that closes opens another opportunity.

         

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      Ron Rezendes (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 12:21pm

      Re:

      I love how people who believe the record labels are staying current with technology, business models and distribution methods come in here and bash Masnick while he uses facts and track records, independent studies, etc. to make his point when idiots like the one above spews idiotic commentary thinking he has the magic bullet to sell shiny discs until piles of gold provide them the life of luxury he obviously deserves because he's so smart.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 1:26pm

      Re:

      Downloading surely has some impact, but it's not so cut and dry. Some studies even claim that it helps sales, but there are caveats (as there are on the it hurts sales side).

      The transition from CDs to digital singles actually tracks very well with the decreased recorded music sales (dollar totals) of the industry. The industry has been fixated on selling the single for decades. In the past, that drove CD sales at ~$15 a transaction. Now, a digital single costs $0.99. Although the relative profit (as a percent of the sale price) is higher on a digital download, you still have to sell many more singles to equal the absolute profit amount from one CD.

      The other issue is that even though illegal downloads continue to rise, the rate of paid downloads is also rising fairly quickly. If it was just illegal downloads that were hurting the industry, these two things would not be happening together.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 2:08pm

        Re: Re:

        The other issue is that even though illegal downloads continue to rise, the rate of paid downloads is also rising fairly quickly

        Actually, not really true. It has been reported here on TD that Itunes sales are not growing very quickly at all.

         

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          PaulT (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 2:59pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          What about other channels? Amazon, eMusic, Zune, 7digital, etc.? Not to mention profits from subscription channels like Spotify and Last.fm (which also allow individual purchases if desired)?

          It might be the poster boy, but iTunes is hardly the entire music download business. Conflating them is like conflating the music industry with the music recording industry - they may get confused, but they're not the same thing.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2011 @ 5:51am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            All digital downloads are not growing very quickly. I mean, if you are going to common on stuff on Techdirt, at least try to remember the glowing posts of the last month or so:

            http://delta.techdirt.com/articles/20100108/0331327672.shtml

            I think you disagree with me just to disagree.

             

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              PaulT (profile), Feb 10th, 2011 @ 7:18am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "the glowing posts of the last month or so"

              What? That link is from Jan 2010, based on 2009 data. How is that the last month?

              Other, more recent articles, have shown how some territories are experiencing growth in sales, but often don't state their data sources - that's what I'm asking for. I also don't see any mention on the links as to who Soundscan collect data from - are the outlets I mentioned included or does it concerntrate on iTunes? None of the articles reference anything but iTunes from what I can see and the exact sources for data seem to be very vague.

              Nothing you post references anything I was saying. If you're going to try and refute me, at least support your own arguments.

               

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      techflaws.org (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 10:34pm

      Re:

      Or rather when a stranger reads the bull guys like McGee spew.

       

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    MrWilson, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 12:05pm

    The fact that the Beatles catalog didn't legally become available in digital format until much later than most everything else probably also played a factor.

     

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    Tom Landry (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 12:08pm

    Even if it were true, at this point whatever hastens the death of these parasitic companies is justified IMO. There's more than enough evidence that shows that the LAST thing these people cared about was the artists and the art of music.

    Artists will still get paid (albeit not in the ridiculous amounts that the successful upper 1% are used to) and music will still be made because some do it because they love it.

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 1:08pm

      Re:

      Says the greedy leech who thinks he's entitled to be entertained for free.

      This war just started for real last year. You're on the wrong side, morally and legally. Good luck with that.

       

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        JEDIDIAH, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 1:44pm

        Changing the rules.

        > Says the greedy leech who thinks he's entitled to be entertained for free.

        Yes. If it's more than 28 years old, then it should be in the public domain. Fire up the seeders.

        Of course this is not the case because politicians were corrupted and the laws were changed after the fact. Large publishers that "created" under a given set of rules were never forced to abide by them.

        The question of whether or not the Beatles are willing to put their stuff on iTunes should be entirely moot.

         

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        BigKeithO (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 1:50pm

        Re: Re:

        Last year?! Where was the other side of this so called war for the last 10 years?

        On a side note I'm listening to music I've never heard before all day long, every day at work. I haven't paid a dime and yet I am not breaking any laws.

        I'm I morally on the wrong side?

         

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          RadialSkid (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 3:36pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Ditto. Shills can't imagine a world where there are individuals who don't want to consume their all-important entertainment. Either they're "buying" it (actually "licensing it for home use") or they're "stealing" it (actually "committing noncommercial copyright infringement"), but either way they MUST be consuming it.

          And any criticism of said industry and their heavy-handed tactics must come from the "pirates" who are "stealing" it, naturally.

           

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        techflaws.org (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 10:44pm

        Re: Re:

        Says the greedy leech who thinks he's entitled to be entertained for free.
        You know that how? Are you acquainted with Tom Landry?

        This war just started for real last year. You're on the wrong side, morally and legally. Good luck with that.
        It's gonna be funny to see suckers like you bang their heads against the wall once you realize all your bought laws won't stop piracy. Popcorn it is.

         

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    lavi d (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 12:14pm

    BM

    "We're going to make a killing selling copies of these little plastic disks"

    "Yeah. If we can just get people to stop making their own"

     

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    Planespotter (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 12:18pm

    just madness! I spent more money on music last year than at any point in my life and the wonderful thing, the truly sweet thing is that the money went to the source of the thing I loved, nothing like walking past HMV logging onto your current fave bands website and sending them $5 via paypal to access their latest album... physical media like cds... wtf!

     

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    Danny, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 12:22pm

    Translation

    What we've seen (and been documenting for years) is that things are much better for bands starting out today than in the past because they don't need to win over the gatekeepers. They can find their own audience. They can create their own business models and make a living -- unlike under the old system, where you either hit it big or you gave up and went back to your day job. As for who will be the next Rolling Stones, I have little fear that the general nature of human psyche will continue to find new acts to turn into superstars

    What he actually means is that the old guard in the recording industry don't have as much control over distribution therefore they don't have as much control over who would become the next Rolling Stones. Back in the day with the Stones were up and coming record companies literally had a choke grip on who went big and who went home (back when "I made you, and I can break you!" was actually true).

    The thing that bothers folks like this is that they when taking those acts to the top these days there is actual competition. Meaning that if they don't actually put some effort into promoting their acts (instead of just resting on their laurels because were nowhere near as many other options to hear music or get your music discovered back then) they could get left by the wayside by people doing their own thing.

    And that's what scares them. The fact that they aren't as vital to the music world as they once had everyone convinced they were.

     

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      Gwiz (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 12:53pm

      Re: Translation

      And that's what scares them. The fact that they aren't as vital to the music world as they once had everyone convinced they were.

      Right. Technology is re-engineering them out of jobs. It has happened many times in many industries.

      I started my corporate career as a Draftsman drawing with pencils and straight edges. With the coming of PC's and AutoCAD where engineers can produce their own quality drawings, draftsman have become extinct.

       

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        Joe Industry, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 1:51pm

        Re: Re: Translation

        But sir, doesn't commercial drafting by hand deserve saving? Think of all the pencil and ruler makers that will be out of work.

        Maybe we should pass a law subsidizing draftsmen!

         

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    Colin, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 12:27pm

    When you download an album illegally, it's not the record company guys that get fucked -- those people are still on massive salaries -- it's 19-year-old kids, it's guys in bands making 100 a gig.

    So illegal downloading hurts EMI, but the people working for EMI still have "massive salaries"...I never thought I'd hear someone who is defending labels just flat out say that they're screwing artists over.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 12:57pm

      Re:

      He probably works for EMI.

       

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      identicon
      Anonymous, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 1:58pm

      Re:

      No, he's right. Look at the salaries for the bigwigs at WMG; they're just as big as ever. What happens is people down the food chain get laid off. Less money goes out for investment and support of new bands. A lose situation for everyone but the music execs and the pirates.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 2:14pm

        Re: Re:

        I guess that explains all those new bands not making any music at all. They all stopped, right?

         

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          identicon
          Anonymous, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 2:42pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          What do you think results in better art: a band that can devote their time to creativity because they have label support or a band that has to hold down a job to pay their rent and then try to work on music in their free time?

          The only people that don't understand this are those that have never created anything.

           

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            Any Mouse (profile), Feb 10th, 2011 @ 2:25am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I believe better art comes from better artists. The fact of the matter is that not all professionals are /good/, and not all amateurs are /bad/.

            The only people that don't understand this are those who are in the pockets of the recording companies.

             

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          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 3:22pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          What do you think results in better art: a band that can devote their time to creativity because they have label support or a band that has to hold down a job to pay their rent and then try to work on music in their free time?

          The only people that don't understand this are those that have never created anything.

          oh and btw, nice try at censoring me, Masnick. You hypocritical douchebag.

           

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            RadialSkid (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 3:41pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            The latter. The best art comes from people with life experiences, not the people who practice 2 hours a day and then sit on their asses the other 22.

            Furthermore, I can assure you that most major-label artists have primary jobs outside of the industry, since such a tiny percentage of label artists earn sustainable money to begin with.

             

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              Anonymous, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 6:53pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I can assure you that most major-label artists have primary jobs outside of the industry

              Epic Fail.

              Just another example of the fact that all the piracy apologists here know exactly zero when it comes to what really goes on.

               

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            PaulT (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 4:04pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "What do you think results in better art: a band that can devote their time to creativity because they have label support or a band that has to hold down a job to pay their rent and then try to work on music in their free time?"

            Both... and neither. If you wanted to be intellectually honest, you'd realise that art is completely subjective and its quality is in the eye of the beholder. Some great albums have been produced by bands working day jobs, some horrendous albums have been produced by those doing nothing else. Many bands seem to lose at least some of their talent (if not lose it completely) after a few years in the major label cocoon, and some successful "artists" never had it in the first place.

            "The only people that don't understand this are those that have never created anything."

            ...and on what do you base this overreaching wild assumption? I somehow doubt you've ever bothered talking to those who disagree with you, as evidenced right here.

            "oh and btw, nice try at censoring me, Masnick. You hypocritical douchebag."

            Care to explain? In my experience, the only people who get "censored" are those who either try to spam links in the body of the article (thus going to review status, as on the majority of blogs) or those who are so obnoxious that the community here report them manually. Which did you do?

             

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            vivaelamor (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 4:06pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "oh and btw, nice try at censoring me, Masnick. You hypocritical douchebag."

            Damnit Mike! You let one through! Such a failure at censorship.

             

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            Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 6:02pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I create stuff all the time and I still don't what you're going on about.

             

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            Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 6:04pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            What do you think results in better art: a band that can devote their time to creativity because they have label support or a band that has to hold down a job to pay their rent and then try to work on music in their free time?

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_dilemma

            A type of logical fallacy that involves a situation in which only two alternatives are considered, when in fact there are additional options.

             

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            Any Mouse (profile), Feb 10th, 2011 @ 2:25am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Censoring you? How's that? You double posted, you see.

             

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            techflaws.org (profile), Feb 10th, 2011 @ 3:21am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Censoring? Stop whining already, moron.

             

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            Mike Masnick (profile), Feb 11th, 2011 @ 3:06am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            oh and btw, nice try at censoring me, Masnick. You hypocritical douchebag.


            Dude. Your comment got caught in the spam filter. Don't blame me, blame Akismet. It was held for all of 2 hours.

            And you immediately jump to me being a hypocritical douchebag?

             

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    Overcast (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 1:03pm

    "it's guys in bands making 100 a gig."

    Well, one could infer from a typical use of the term 'gig' - that it's a live show.

    Downloading certainly doesn't impact that market. If not for 'free' exposure to music, you would likely never sell a copy.

    For example; what if Elton John, Billy Joel, and Sammy Davis Jr. were never aired for 'free' on the radio. Does anyone want to put up some claims as to how they would have sold the volume of music that they did, if not for 'free' exposure to the public?

    What gets me about the whole situation is that - since Radio was invented there has been 'free music' available 24/7 on multiple stations. But for some reason, only now has this became an issue.

    If not for 'free' music on radio, I suspect the recording industry would have made *exponentially less* money over the years.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 1:06pm

    [quote]As for me, if I ran EMI, I'd get legislation changed and make a profit by stopping piracy.[/quote]


    Can someone please tell me how the head of EMI can get legislation changed? Can legislation only be changed by the head of EMI?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 1:55pm

    Dear Alan McGee,

    I hate you, Mr. McGee. I know that's a very harsh thing to say, and I'm not saying it lightly. I hate your guts.
    That cavalier attitute towards changing the law, coupled with that absolute conviction that the way you want things to be is the way things should be, is why everything is going wrong in the first place.

    EMI's problems should be a wake-up call. How did they get into this mess? It all comes back to the impact of illegal downloading. We have to change the legislation in this country and come down much harder on piracy.

    EMI got into a mess for the same reason as every major label: They're run by a bunch of idiots. Piracy is beneficial at best, negligible at worst. Certainly not worth the insane amount of time and money that has already been spent trying to stop it, with the only result being the development of increasingly more resilient methods of piracy.
    Did you bother learning anything about piracy before writing that article, Mr. McGee? You didn't, did you? If you'd learned about the evolution of piracy, from the early days of Napster to the modern BitTorrent and cyberlockers, you would've thought twice before declaring piracy to be something that can be defeated simply by bribing a few laws into effect.

    When you download an album illegally, it's not the record company guys that get fucked -- those people are still on massive salaries -- it's 19-year-old kids, it's guys in bands making 100 a gig.

    Why, as Mike asked, do you start by saying that piracy is harming record labels, then turn around and say that it's not? Face it, Mr. McGee, you're trying to convince yourself about those 19-year-olds more than anyone else. Stop trying to bury your conscience, and stare your selfishness in the face.

    As for me, if I ran EMI, I'd get legislation changed and make a profit by stopping piracy.

    Look at yourself, Mr. McGee. You think the law is something for you to manipulate to increase your profit margins. You miserable, heartless, greedy wretch.
    I'm sick to death of you and your ilk running things. You tell people you're acting in their interests, and then take them for all they're worth.
    That is not a sustainable business model. Whether you learn that the easy way or the hard way is up to you.

    Sincerely,
    -Anonymous

     

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      Anonymous, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 6:58pm

      Re: Dear Alan McGee,

      You only hate him because he speaks the truth about piracy.

      The reality is that he is a rebel who thumbed his nose at standard industry practices and became very successful.

      But since he dared to criticize your precious piracy, you guys must now hate him.

      What a sad, pathetic lot you all are.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_McGee

       

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        Jay (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 10:07pm

        Re: Re: Dear Alan McGee,

        Wait, he managed Oasis?

        The cover band? The guys that took older songs and just made them their own?

        And he sold his record companies to Sony?

        How is that thumbing your nose at standard industry practices?

         

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          Simon Chamberlain (profile), Feb 10th, 2011 @ 5:05am

          Re: Re: Re: Dear Alan McGee,

          He *was* also responsible for releasing some amazing music back in the 80s - Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Super Furry Animals, Teenage Fanclub, many more. (I kinda like *some* early Oasis as well, but I see your point...)

          That's what makes me sad about this article. McGee was genuinely an independent voice, releasing stuff that other people wouldn't, that's still worth listening to today.

          He's completely wrong here though.

           

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        Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2011 @ 10:44am

        Re: Re: Dear Alan McGee,

        You only hate him because he speaks the truth about piracy.

        What, exactly, is the "truth" about piracy?

        Is the "truth" some made up anecdote that you throw together in an effort to convince people that something is happening? Or is the "truth" based on a series of studies backed up with evidence that says downloading music is improving the music industry?

        Unfortunately, the only "truth" you are willing to accept is the "truth" you've made up in your own head. Why do you keep commenting here? Do you think your stupid rants, with zero facts and the occasional insult, are doing anything to turn anyone to your way of thinking? If anything, the abject idiocy within your posts pushes people away from your argument.

         

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    almorris, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 2:35pm

    but where is the great new music?

    i'm knocking on a bit now but when was the last really great album in any genre made? Most of the great albums we associate with a vibrant industry came later in the relevant artists career when they had developed writing and recording skills. The record industry doesnt invest in new talent and certainly is not in it for the long haul with new artists and so we are left withnthe generally dismal DIY world which is as stimulating as watching Youtube all the time instead of quality TV or movies.

    Great stuff, whatever the medium, needs talent and investment of time and unfortunately often money and if the record companies die, Youtube standard bands is all you will get. The music business needs to monetised for those of us who want quality and the downloaders should be forced to watch and listen to the bedroom bands.

     

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      Richard (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 3:14pm

      Re: but where is the great new music?

      The music business needs to monetised for those of us who want quality

      Put your money where your mouth is - go on Kickstarter find a band you want to fund and donate.
      Problem solved.

       

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      MadderMak (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 3:32pm

      Re: but where is the great new music?

      So to paraphrase... ALL bands on Youtube suck. ANY band signed to a label is GREAT!

      Care to rethink that? Yes - I took the extreme position from your comments but there *ARE* good bands on the tubes and there *ARE* crappy bands signed to labels.... and just maybe people have different taste in music than you...sorry but you pushed my "snob" button there.

       

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      RadialSkid (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 3:47pm

      Re: but where is the great new music?

      Well, as far as funk/jazz goes, Urtzi Azkue's debut album is recent, and great.

      But then again, it's CC-licensed and not produced or distributed by a label, so I wouldn't be surprised if you haven't heard of it.

      Ahem.

       

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      Ron Rezendes (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 3:55pm

      Re: but where is the great new music?

      "...quality TV or movies."

      You lost me right there, probably forever. There are more bad/poor quality TV and movies made by the "professionals" than their are good ones - unless you think more than 50% of ALL TV and 50% of ALL movies are "good" quality.

       

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      vivaelamor (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 4:34pm

      Re: but where is the great new music?

      "i'm knocking on a bit now but when was the last really great album in any genre made?"

      Perhaps if you provide us with some examples of what you think is great then we might be able to offer our opinions on the matter. I like a wide range of music genres and don't fancy playing pot luck trying to guess which ones you're interested in.

      Besides which, how much old music was really 'great' beyond the fact that it was radically different at the time? Many people consider Led Zeppelin to be great, but all they did was take take even older music and give it a new sound or find old sounds and give them a new audience.

      Personally, the last album I bought was by Adele and I think her first album was great. It's not very political, it's not very technical, it's not new, but it's still great because it's got the right balance of elements that makes me want to listen to it. It feels genuine, like the artist is sincerely trying to communicate something to you. Perhaps a modest accomplishment for an album, but still great.

      What's great to you?

      "if the record companies die, Youtube standard bands is all you will get"

      I have to admit, I'm too much of a Luddite for things like Youtube and Twitter. Somehow though I still manage to find and enjoy many independent artists who are succeeding without any fear of piracy. Perhaps my standards are low, but unless you're willing to give us some examples of high standards then that discussion can't really start.

       

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    Bas Grasmayer (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 3:31pm

    "As for me, if I ran EMI, I'd get legislation changed and make a profit by stopping piracy."

    No, Alan, no. If you want to change laws, you have to go into government.

    Well, that's how the system is supposed to function anyway.

     

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    PaulT (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 3:46pm

    A few thoughts in response to Mr. McGee

    "EMI is still a great British label. I mean, it owns the Beatles back catalogue!"

    No, it's a poorly run label which happens to have some valuable legacy assets. Case in point: The Beatles catalogue was not offered for sale digitally for well over a decade and, once licensed, was only allowed for sale through a single retailer. That's not good business.

    "The trouble is, now everyone has woken up to the reality, which is that illegal downloading is murdering the music business."

    No, some of us have woken up to the reality that the music recording industry isn't the cash cow it used to be, and that there's never been so many choices for your entertainment purchase.

    Assuming a single point of failure where common sense indicates multiple points of failure is, itself, a failure.

    " Then the world economy turned upside down, Lehman Brothers went broke, and the world changed. The market crashed."

    ...and the world was plunged into the worst recession since the Great Depression, and EMI's entire business depends on selling luxury entertainment products. Of course, you're not going to factor that in as being a reason for recent losses, just piracy, right?

    "How did they get into this mess?"

    By ignoring customer demands in an attempt to maintain the control they were used to in the olden days of physical only purchases. This approach failed.

    "You've got to give bands a chance, let them develop. In the 80s, bands started dodgy, then they got good. The bands I worked with Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine, even Oasis -- it took them a few years to go from being OK to being good. These days bands don't get the chance, they just get dropped"

    So, I wonder what he's saying here. If they didn't get dropped in the 80s, why are they getting dropped now? Why aren't the labels putting in the time to develop these bands? Did 80s record buyers simply buy bad records in droves to keep these bands signed?

    The sad reality is that the majors don't care about developing these bands. They want X-Factors star, products they can devlop and control, not Liam Gallaghers and Shaun Ryders who might turn out hit records in between drink & drug binges...The result is less interesting music, and most people have been burned by shoddy product enough time during your heyday to make them spend less on new music now - and today's kids are used to other forms of entertainment.

    Oh, and as for the bands he names? Oasis hit it big with their *debut* album - I'm not sure where "piracy" might have stopped them from becoming "good". Most of Primal Scream's reputation rested on the seminal Screamdelica, which arguably had more to do with Andrew Weatherall's remix and production than the band themselves (although they were still a good band when they returned to purer rock). It was a fantastic and original concept at the time, which is probably why such risks don't happen any more - the marketers don't know how to handle it.

    "There's only one independent label, post-Creation, that's really been phenomenal"

    So, XL Recordings (to pick one off the top of my head) doesn't count? Wikipedia don't agree - "The label has grown into one of the most commercially successful and influential independent record labels in the world." - and I know for damn sure I own more of their records than Creation's releases.

    "We have to change the legislation in this country and come down much harder on piracy."

    ...and here's the thing. How? Nothing over the last decade has shown that legal measures against "piracy" actually work and there are huge unintended consequences, from DRM handing the keys to the digital kingdom to iTunes to people who are sued for file sharing despite not even owning a computer. In the intervening decade, "piracy" has grown exponentially. It's unlikely that further measures will be any more successful, and the collateral damage is going to be horrendous.

    No, the real solutions are in front of your nose, but they require massive reform, and they simply require meeting customer demand. Try licensing EMI's to digital retailers, for example, including up and coming innovators in the space such as Spotify. Restructure licensing tactics to include the global market instead of small chunks of the population.

    A more open market will not be as incentivised to "pirate" as those with a choice of reasonably priced and available content. Meet the needs of those willing and able to pay, and they will. The others probably won't pay you no matter what.

    Meanwhile, restructure the business so that it doesn't depend so much on the music recording copies being sold as the major product. There's plenty of expertise in such a label on all sides of the industry - use it.

     

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      vivaelamor (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 4:39pm

      Re: A few thoughts in response to Mr. McGee

      "So, XL Recordings (to pick one off the top of my head) doesn't count?"

      Case in point, they signed Adele, which I just cited as one of my favourite new artists (and is a big hit over here).

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 4:01pm

    Used to be, long ago, I bought tons of music. Over and over again I bought much of the same music because the formats changed and there was no option but to choose what I wanted most.

    After sue'em all came into being, I quit buying music and haven't bought a thing since. I will not do business with those that think their sole option is to sue their customers. When the movie industry started the same thing, I quit buying movies. Not only did I quit, I don't go to the theater any more at all. Nor do I watch tv. I find I have a lot more time to do what I want to do while at the same time denying those I dislike from getting profit.

    To the trolls and shills, live with it; I do. Expect less income because I'm not the only one that's fed up with mess that the protection industries have made of copyright and the laws.

     

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      vivaelamor (profile), Feb 9th, 2011 @ 4:45pm

      Re:

      "After sue'em all came into being, I quit buying music and haven't bought a thing since."

      There are plenty of artists I find worth listening to who aren't associated with the big four labels and therefore more deserving of your money. You might try Bandcamp.com, Jamendo.com or Magnatune.com for a start.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 5:15pm

      Re:

      If you bought the music over and over again, why did you not just "format shift" it? Until we got to CDs, there really was no issue at all in doing this. Digital capture was the same as recording to tape.

      It sounds like your screwed yourself, and then got mad at the record companies because you were too stupid to think past your own nose.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 6:21pm

        Re: Re:

        It sounds like EMI screwed itself, and then got mad at the public because they were too stupid to think past their own nose.

         

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    CW, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 6:20pm

    Sadly this Techdirt article is riddled with more bias and incorrect reasoning than the McGee piece.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 7:19pm

    If you bought the music over and over again, why did you not just "format shift" it? Until we got to CDs, there really was no issue at all in doing this. Digital capture was the same as recording to tape.

    It sounds like your screwed yourself, and then got mad at the record companies because you were too stupid to think past your own nose.
    ----

    Your assumptions are all wrong. During the times of 8 track, there weren't much in the line of recorders. Those came out around the time cassettes came out for the expense that a home owner could handle. When the recorders were out, I was no longer fooling with either of those formats but was into reel to reel.

    Nor did I have a problem with cds in buying. That is until...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2011 @ 1:33am

    "Otherwise guys in little bands starting out now are never going to be the next Rolling Stones. "

    This is EXACTLY the problem with the old guard "music industry" either you throw enough money to float the entire company, battleships and all or you are a failure.

    That just isn't the way it is anymore (nor should it have EVER been).

    Time and again we have seen that people that like music from an artist or band WANT to support them! Yet even now the "industry" can't understand anything less than Rolling Stones level success as being actual success.

    The sooner the old guard retires the better, they, their views and their power over artists and consumers are literally all that is wrong with music, and it should not EVER be referred to as an "industry" again.

     

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    Robin Millar-, Feb 10th, 2011 @ 3:35am

    Allan Mcghee article and your response

    I agree with a lot of what you say in response to Allan Mcghee's NME article. It was hasty and ill-thought. Re record company execs yes they are overpaid and not directly affected. However the bottom line of the business certainly is affected by plummetting CD sales so they will probably suffer in the end by losing their jobs. What I really wanted to comment on is the over-focusing on bands. All of what you say applies quite properly to savvy determined bands making their own way and growing a live audience. This is how music was always communicated for 12,000 years. However about 90 years ago someone invented a way of recording music. Over the decades more sophisticated processing and multitracking allowed an enhanced reality to take hold. artists could specialise in recording and the magic of the studio made them seem better than they were. The collapse of the recorded music, major studio, good budget business has been replaced by Garage Band and a laptop. The studios are all closed. For me as someone who came into music through a love of studios and what they can do, I am very sad that this era has passed on. I don't have any problem with what's happened and what the internet provides and I agree with you that it presents huge new opportunities. But I hope you will allow me to be a little sad that only clever touring bands will survive and the kind of inept but gifted dreamers who would always have made bad decisions and given lousy live performances but who somehow made magic in a studio will cease to be.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2011 @ 10:55am

      Re: Allan Mcghee article and your response

      meh, robots will continue producing "pop" music for years to come.

      I'm no kind of music snob. I love all of the auto-tune, remixing, and "studio magic". It won't be going away any time soon; it will just be much cheaper to produce and the "stars" might have to get some odd jobs in commercials, movies, voice overs, video games, etc.

       

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    charliebrown (profile), Feb 10th, 2011 @ 8:33am

    EMI - Every Mistake Imaginable!

    That joke in my post title is not mine: It was from the album "Bad News" by a heavy metal band called Bad News (made up of comedians from the UK and Brian May of Queen) which was released on ENI in 1987. But I digress...

    Ah, EMI. What are we going to do with you? You were my favourite record label as a kid because you had The Beatles and Paul McCartney and Queen. Now you are almost at the same level as my most despised labels, Sony and Warner.

    So, EMI, your UK record plant made great records in the last few years. Then I bought Lily Alen's album "Smile" and got the same horrible distorted mess that was on the CD. What happened to quality control?

    You have an artist on your roster, Amos Lee, who is so good that I pre-ordered his latest album, something I have never done in my life! I have his first two albums on record from audiophile label Classic Records. They sounded horrible on your dynamically limited CD's yet Classic brought out the soul in this singer and his music. But just as his third album is due, I hear from a very reliable source that you, EMI, have pulled out of contracts with audiophile labels who produce your albums on record. Why? Your CD's sound horrible and you expect me to trust you to cut a record with as much care as an audiophile label? You lost many audiophile fans that month, I am certain.

    Ah, but your plight continues. One of your major acts, Queen, has moved to Universal and taken their back catalogue with them. Another, Paul McCartney, has taken his back catalogue to independent label Concord. Rumours persist that Pink Floyd, Deep Purple and David Bowie all plan to do the same. What went wrong?

    I think that, like the other three major labels, you let a combination of greed and fear get in your way. You mastered and remastered and dynamically compressed the life out of your CD's to be louder like Sony did. You charged through the roof for many back-catalogue titles like all the labels did until a consumer backlash forced the prices down. You, like the others, profit from recordings made 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 and even 60 years ago which have already more than recouped their costs.

    I'll give you credit, EMI, as you were the first major label to allow iTunes to sell your songs without DRM. But to your discredit, you charged a higher price for the privallige, even charging customers extra per song to convert existing purchases to DRM-free copies.

    I'll give you credit, EMI, as you have released many albums on LP as well as CD, thus giving the consumer some choice in the format they desired. But to your discredit, you did pull the plug on letting audiophile labels offer your product on LP, whilst allowing audiophile labels to still produce your product on CD. This, at least to me, suggests that you KNOW your CD's are inferior. So, I ask again, how can I trust you to do a great quality LP?

    EMI, have you really made Every Mistake Imaginable? Maybe you have. But there is a chance to redeem yourself. Many chances, in fact. Improve the quality of your product, which is recorded music. It is not hard to release audiophile standard CD's. And it is no more expensive than running a master tape into a computer's soundcard. Any mastering engineer worth their salary shoud be able to do a great job.

    Give download purchasing customers the option to download audiophile standard files as well as the edition that is optimised for MP3 players.

    Plunder your vaults and discover the genuine treasure that is the EMI catalogue. Give it the care and love it deserves. And give the creators of that catalogue their dues too. Customers may want to pay less for a CD than you'd like to charge them but that should not stop you form producing high quality releases. High quality audio does not cost any more to put onto a CD than the low quality distorted garbage all the major lables have been releasing lately.

    Let your artists record and release an album or EP or single when they are good and ready to. Yes, studio time may cost money, but without studio time there would have been no "Pet Souds", no "Sgt Pepper" or no "Dark Side Of The Moon".

    And for God's sake, please attempt to make a "Best of the 1980's" compilation that does NOT feature Culture Club's "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me" or "Karma Chameleon". I think that they are great songs but I already have five copies of each because you keep on putting out "Best of the 1980's" CD's with 3 or 4 different songs and the other 15-16 are repeats from the last release!

    (Of course, I am under no illusion that anybody from EMI will actually read this post, but I thank you all here at TechDirt for letting me get all that off my chest!)

     

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  •  
    icon
    lumatrix (profile), Feb 11th, 2011 @ 2:55am

    100 a gig at 19

    Hahaha - you have to fall over laughing. At 100 a gig which generally last 3-5 hours INCLUDING transport time the STRUGGLING 19 year old is getting 20 an hour. 4 gigs a week gives the national average wage. No, the people struggling are the amateurs who cannot get a gig, cannot land any work and filesharing is not even an option with their work. You all need to get real.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Huph, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 12:52pm

      Re: 100 a gig at 19

      You misread that. The *Band* makes 100 a gig. So you can assume that each member (if it's a 4-piece) takes home 25 apiece. Perhaps less 10% of the gross if they have a manager. Oh, and maybe they have a merch girl, so they'll have to pay her regardless of whether they sold shirts or other merchandise (And they had to pay to have the merch made. cha ching).

      And of course the gas in the van has to be replaced. Gas prices in the UK are pretty extreme, right?

      Oh, and if the band had to take a van to the gig, you can assume they are not at home and have to feed themselves with something.

      Also, they had to promote right? So printing flyers, handbills, etc. costs money, too. We'll go ahead and assume one of the band members can design the flyers, so we'll ignore the cost of graphic design.

      So, imagine that the take home pay still miraculously somehow ends up being 15 apiece; divided by your 5 hour workload equals 3 an hour (nevermind the hours spent writing and practicing). I don't know what the UK minimum wage is, but I know that's not as much as the US wage.

      But most importantly!: what the hell do you care if someone is making more than the average wage? Why does it seem to make you angry (jealous?) that someone might make more than... you?

       

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


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