Taylor Swift's View Of The Future Of Music Is Actually Not That Far Off

from the not-that-crazy,-actually dept

It seems like a bunch of folks collectively rolled their eyes at the news that superstar singer Taylor Swift (or the people she hires to do these kinds of things) had penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal about the "future of music." Of course, there are few artists out there that inspire rolling eyes like Swift does these days -- and there are some nutty claims in her opinion piece (and the writing is... stilted, at best). The main problem with the article is highlighted nicely by Nilay Patel over at Vox, who points out that she doesn't understand basic economics. And that's clear from this bit:
In my opinion, the value of an album is, and will continue to be, based on the amount of heart and soul an artist has bled into a body of work, and the financial value that artists (and their labels) place on their music when it goes out into the marketplace. Piracy, file sharing and streaming have shrunk the numbers of paid album sales drastically, and every artist has handled this blow differently.

In recent years, you've probably read the articles about major recording artists who have decided to practically give their music away, for this promotion or that exclusive deal. My hope for the future, not just in the music industry, but in every young girl I meet…is that they all realize their worth and ask for it.

Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It's my opinion that music should not be free, and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album's price point is. I hope they don't underestimate themselves or undervalue their art.
This is, as Patel notes (and I've been discussing for over a decade), a very, very naive view of economics. Based on this, the more you spend putting into the album, the higher you should price it, and the world should reward you for that. That, of course, is not even close to how the world works. You don't get rewarded based on effort. You get rewarded by providing a product that people want at a price they're willing to pay. Sometimes, perhaps, pouring more "heart an soul" into the product may help, but plenty of artists put their heart and soul into lots of works and get basically nothing for it. Sometimes it's because that heart and soul isn't enough and the product sucks. Sometimes it's because no one hears the music. Swift is lucky that she has the core of the traditional recording industry and all its marketing muscle behind her. I would imagine that the singer sitting at home in his or her garage pouring their heart and soul into a new recording and hoping to have it heard might find that they'd actually do much better giving the work away for free to get some attention for it.

That said, most of the rest of Swift's piece is actually a pretty good look into where the music world is these days, in which the focus needs to be on connecting with fans and giving them a unique experience that isn't easily copied. On connecting with fans, she notes:
There are always going to be those artists who break through on an emotional level and end up in people's lives forever. The way I see it, fans view music the way they view their relationships. Some music is just for fun, a passing fling (the ones they dance to at clubs and parties for a month while the song is a huge radio hit, that they will soon forget they ever danced to). Some songs and albums represent seasons of our lives, like relationships that we hold dear in our memories but had their time and place in the past.

However, some artists will be like finding "the one." We will cherish every album they put out until they retire and we will play their music for our children and grandchildren. As an artist, this is the dream bond we hope to establish with our fans. I think the future still holds the possibility for this kind of bond, the one my father has with the Beach Boys and the one my mother has with Carly Simon.
This is like Kevin Kelly's concept of "true fans." Of course, it's weird that Swift would mock the idea of giving away works for free -- when it's possible that giving away such works might actually help artists build those bonds, enabling those true fans to look for ways to support them later.

From there, Swift discusses how giving unique experiences is key to the future of music:
I think forming a bond with fans in the future will come in the form of constantly providing them with the element of surprise. No, I did not say "shock"; I said "surprise." I believe couples can stay in love for decades if they just continue to surprise each other, so why can't this love affair exist between an artist and their fans?

In the YouTube generation we live in, I walked out onstage every night of my stadium tour last year knowing almost every fan had already seen the show online. To continue to show them something they had never seen before, I brought out dozens of special guest performers to sing their hits with me. My generation was raised being able to flip channels if we got bored, and we read the last page of the book when we got impatient. We want to be caught off guard, delighted, left in awe. I hope the next generation's artists will continue to think of inventive ways of keeping their audiences on their toes, as challenging as that might be.
Exactly. There, she's recognizing the value of a unique experience that can't be copied or "pirated," and which people have to pay to experience. And, once again, it seems odd that she'd knock the concept of free music, when that very same free music can help drive a lot more fans to want to go to these unique and special shows in which she "surprises" her fans.

The op-ed comes off a little silly in places, but the overall view of where the future of music is actually is pretty much spot on. Connecting with fans and giving them a unique and valuable experience. It's almost like something some of us have been saying for many years now. Yeah, the part about free music is a bit off, but the overall vision seems very much in line with reality.

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    Zakida Paul (profile), Jul 8th, 2014 @ 12:16pm

    It is good to see a major artist believing in the CwF+RtB principle. It is a sound principle that will see artists build a loyal fanbase who will buy their work, see their shows and spread the word.

    It's amazing how the music fan can become the PR service of the artist who connects with them through social media or other method.

     

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    Vidiot (profile), Jul 8th, 2014 @ 12:17pm

    "You don't get rewarded based on effort. You get rewarded by providing a product that people want at a price they're willing to pay."

    Even simpler to remember than Cwf + RtB... words to live by. Business majors: quick trip to the tattoo shop, I think.

     

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    Digger, Jul 8th, 2014 @ 12:25pm

    Me thinkest that word does not mean what you think it means...

    Piracy / Pirates - in the media world (RIAA/MPAA) only means one thing.
    Taking physical media, replicating it and selling that media for profits. That is the only LEGAL definition of piracy and those that commit piracy can be called pirates.

    Converting a work to digital, then sharing that digital work isn't piracy. Sorry RIAA/MPAA, but it just isn't so.

    In fact, since the work clearly shows the Artist as the creator, it's not even a copyright violation.

    File sharing *INCREASES* sales for the artists and labels.
    Every bit of research paid for by the RIAA/MPAA that shows that digital sharing decreases sales have been proven false.

    Here's why.

    Not every shared file = a lost sale.

    let me repeat that.

    Not every shared file = a lost sale.

    Get that? Good.

    Now - someone shares file a - a song on an album with person b.

    Person b likes it so much, they go out and buy the entire album/dvd/digital copy - from a legal source. - PROFIT.

    Person b doesn't like it, deletes the file, nothing lost, nothing gained - net result - zero change for the industry and artist.

    Yes, there are people who will download songs and never buy anything - these are the same people who will record off the radio / sirius-xm / etc - wherever they can find it.

    None of those sources are counted as "pirating" or "file sharing", yet they are the same thing - and with sirius-xm, it's all digital.

    So, I say to you Taylor Swift, quit drinking the RIAA kool-aid, and actually read up on things.

    You're best bet?
    End your contract with your record label.
    You'll be richer by far as they won't be stealing
    99.99% of your income from you.

    Then share a song or two from each album for free,
    on legal download sites and watch your digital sales
    skyrocket.

     

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      nasch (profile), Jul 9th, 2014 @ 10:10pm

      Re: Me thinkest that word does not mean what you think it means...

      Converting a work to digital, then sharing that digital work isn't piracy. Sorry RIAA/MPAA, but it just isn't so.

      In fact, since the work clearly shows the Artist as the creator, it's not even a copyright violation.


      Copyright has nothing to do with attribution. You can absolutely violate copyright while clearly and correctly attributing the author of the work. And distributing a copyrighted work without permission in a way that isn't fair use is copyright infringement, regardless of attribution.

       

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    John Fenderson (profile), Jul 8th, 2014 @ 12:27pm

    The other economic problem

    Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable.


    Music is art, and art is important. However, some forms of art (such as music, for instance) are the exact opposite of rare. Even if we only count the good stuff, music is exceedingly common.

    As an unrelated aside, that quote reminded me of this bit of wisdom from Zappa: "Information is not knowledge. Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is not truth. Truth is not beauty. Beauty is not love. Love is not music. Music is the best."

     

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      Leo Antunes (profile), Jul 8th, 2014 @ 12:36pm

      Re: The other economic problem

      Yeah, I also meant to comment on that.

      Music - as in the actual listening experience - can be mediated by digital files which are for all intents and purposes an infinite resource.
      The actual potentially (but not in practice) scarce resource would be new music and this gets us back to artists who are embracing the kickstarter approach to art: give for free to get attention; ask for money to keep producing.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2014 @ 2:06pm

      Re: The other economic problem

      "Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable."

      Music is art and art is important but it is not rare. Art is a part of who we are and the desire to express ourselves is in everyone. People do it as a hobby, for fun and some of those clerks, burger flippers, bankers, teachers, policemen are quite good. A few might be better than those with recording contracts.

      There is nothing in our current system that guarentees talent rises to the top and probably there's a lot saying it doesn't.

      I did find it offensive that she contributes her success to talent and "heart and soul" as if she's got a divine right to be where she is. I find that sense of entitlement a big turn off. There are a lot of people who put heart and soul into their work and they may be talented too. That doesn't guarentee success when the market is monopolized like it is now.

       

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        John Fenderson (profile), Jul 8th, 2014 @ 2:27pm

        Re: Re: The other economic problem

        "There is nothing in our current system that guarentees talent rises to the top and probably there's a lot saying it doesn't."

        Yes indeed. This is particularly true in music, where (in my opinion, obviously) the best music I hear only very rarely comes from the Big Stars. 90% of the time, it comes from unknowns.

        What the old-guard system floats to the top isn't the most talented, but the most profitable. There's a rather huge difference between the two.

         

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      PaulT (profile), Jul 9th, 2014 @ 1:56am

      Re: The other economic problem

      The other point to make here. Let's say her brand of pop music was indeed "rare" or "important" (it's not really, except perhaps if you have specific life experiences tied to the song that are personal and not created by her). Well, the word "value" means a great deal more than a dollar value placed on it. We have all received free things we value greatly, and many of us have made huge purchases such as a house or a car that are much less valuable than they once were (in terms of monetary value or emotional attachment).

      The fact that money seems to be the only value she places on something raises serious doubts on her claim to be an "artist" rather than just another person churning out soulless product for some cash. That's subject to market forces, and if the market says that an infinitely reproduced digital copy of that product has no value, then she needs to find something with real value to sell. So far, all I'm seeing is whining that the thousands of people who have paid good money for such a valuable experience may have seen it before in a different way.

      She apparently doesn't value the fans who pay to see her in person.

       

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    JWW (profile), Jul 8th, 2014 @ 12:29pm

    Taylor Swifts next album.

    The best most loved album ever with all my heart and soul - $1,000,000

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2014 @ 5:50pm

      Re:

      "The best most loved album ever with all my heart and soul - $1,000,000"

      oh good it will use all her heart and soul and there will be nothing left over for any new albums.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2014 @ 12:35pm

    "It's my opinion that music should not be free"

    How would she stop the person who sits with a friend and a couple of guitars and whiles away the hours, or a church choir, or a person who learns to play an instrument for pleasure inviting friends for an evening's music? Did music srise before money? Should she be paid more if a person plays her purchased product (oops, I meant music) with other people in the room?

    Believing and advocating that music should be monetized (or otherwise not-free) is exactly like saying open-source coding should be banned.

     

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    Dirk Diggler, Jul 8th, 2014 @ 12:35pm

    Meh

    It doesn't hurt to have an army of handlers at your side. I mean don't get me wrong, Swift is great and all, but most "working" musicians just want to pay the bills and have their music heard(I'm not talking MTV cribs here - just a minimum wage when broken down hourly). For all the good technology has done to lower the entry cost of making music, it has only been neutralized by the over saturation of people entering industry. At the end of the day, it's still mostly a very small group of (usually physically attractive) artists working with a very small group of companies that make up the vast majority of music sales.

    My prediction for cliche responses:
    - Musicians can make more money touring. (This is false in my experience)
    - Maybe if your music was "better" you would sell more.
    - Copyright reform would solve all your problems.

    The future of music for most is that the musician does everything booking, advertising, promotions, web design, print design, social media, and something else... oh yeah the actual music. Success in the industry doesn't really have anything to do with being "good" or "bad," but often how much weight you can throw around (see money/time/resources) to get your stuff heard. If talent = financial success/fame/fans, the music landscape would look very different.

    That being said, it's good for me that talent doesn't really mean much. I'm really not that good, but music is fun :)

     

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      PaulT (profile), Jul 9th, 2014 @ 2:12am

      Re: Meh

      Nice false guesses and distortion of reality (nobody ever said that an artist can't hire someone to manage them or market them, etc. Only that it no longer needs to be a major label and they have the option to compete solo if they wish).

      Do you want to try addressing the actual opinions people have here, or are the strawmen too fun to beat up for now?

      "It doesn't hurt to have an army of handlers at your side."

      If they give you the right advice. If they're telling you that you've be a billionaire if only it wasn't for those evil pirates, and take most of your royalties while doing so, then yes they will hurt you.

      " At the end of the day, it's still mostly a very small group of (usually physically attractive) artists working with a very small group of companies that make up the vast majority of music sales."

      Yeah, having the same major corporations control most of the distribution, advertising and even live music venues will do that for you those labels. Hell, people can't even stream independent music or play at an independent venue without a fee being demanded for the majors. That doesn't mean they're right, only that the momentum they built up is taking a long time to slow down.

      "Success in the industry doesn't really have anything to do with being "good" or "bad," but often how much weight you can throw around (see money/time/resources) to get your stuff heard."

      So, you admit that the system is still broken and gamed toward those with huge resources rather than the actual artists, and you admit that the industry's success has little to do with the artists they claim to represent? Yet, you still outright reject the arguments people make in support of that? Hmmm...

       

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        Dirk Diggler, Jul 9th, 2014 @ 7:51am

        Re: Re: Meh

        First of all I never said anything about piracy. I could care less if someone "pirates" my work so don't put words in my mouth. All my albums have been "leaked" to the pirate bay, given away for free on bandcamp and sold on iTunes, Amazon whatever. Still waiting for those sales to pick up though. Could I write or rewrite my music to make it more universal? Yep, but I won't and I can deal with that on my own.

        "Only that it no longer needs to be a major label and they have the option to compete solo if they wish."

        I'm saying that artists who have the resources to afford staff are almost always mainstream top 40 artist on a major label - so yeah for the most part it does need to be on a major label to actually generate revenue despite what the average consumer thinks. Where do you think all this money to hire staff comes from when I'm giving away my work for free because that's what the consumer demands and "because the internet changed everything, man?" Also artist have always had the option to go solo. That isn't new or anything.

        "Do you want to try addressing the actual opinions people have here, or are the strawmen too fun to beat up for now?"

        I really don't care about some person's opinion on how music or art should be created, distributed or sold - I'm talking about facts. I'm talking about the reality that the vast majority of artist don't even get the option and never break even.

        "Hell, people can't even stream independent music or play at an independent venue without a fee being demanded for the majors."

        Yeah I'm going to need a source on that one. As an actual independent artist, I've never EVER had to pay a fee to play a venue and, as a consumer, I stream independent music all the time... unless you count watching an ad before accessing content then yeah. But again, when everyone's solution is to give the product away, ads will be there.

        "So, you admit that the system is still broken and gamed toward those with huge resources rather than the actual artists, and you admit that the industry's success has little to do with the artists they claim to represent? Yet, you still outright reject the arguments people make in support of that?"

        Yes... I think. All I'm really saying is that major labels still make up the vast majority of record sales - that isn't my opinion - that is a fact. For all the times I've heard to just do it yourself and put music out there for free, it never never never translated into making money. And as noble as being a starving artist is (lol), this idea that you can just kickstarter your album all the way to the top is completely bogus. It's great that you have an opinion or whatever, but I get the idea that you are not in an industry where the most common advice is to work for free. Again, I'm not talking MTV cribs here. I'm just talking about hopefully breaking even and, if you're really lucky, making a min wage.

        Also those "quotes" aren't meant to be directly quoting you.. just generic respondes I hear often.

         

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          PaulT (profile), Jul 9th, 2014 @ 8:37am

          Re: Re: Re: Meh

          "First of all I never said anything about piracy. "

          Neither did I, except in the context that it's the line that artists are usually fed by the major labels to distort the argument and stop them from realising that the labels are often the ones taking from them. I know that most artists outside the echo chamber are usually more insightful. Apologies if I suggested you weren't one of them.

          "I'm saying that artists who have the resources to afford staff are almost always mainstream top 40 artist on a major label"

          So, what's your solution? You complain that it's too difficult to do it all yourself, and also that it's too expensive to hire experts to do it for you (even presumably on a pro bono or profit share basis). You also complain that the industry is gamed toward the major labels.

          There's solutions, but you seem to have dismissed all the obvious possibilities out of hand.

          "Also artist have always had the option to go solo. That isn't new or anything."

          No, it's not new, but artists have also never had the same access to recording, marketing, distribution and direct connections to their fans all around the world. The barrier to entry is lower than ever. Sadly, that also means that it's never been so crowded.

          "As an actual independent artist, I've never EVER had to pay a fee to play a venue and, as a consumer, I stream independent music all the time"

          You misunderstood me. You don't have to pay, but the venue/radio station quite often do.

          "Yeah I'm going to need a source on that one."

          Haven't got one to hand, but look up the demands being made by collection agencies from both venues and streaming/radio services. Both tend to assume that those venues must be playing some kind of major label music and demand payment on their behalf regardless of the actual content played.

          I can provide actual links when I'm in a better position to search if you need them, but they tend to be very well discussed on this site.

          "I really don't care about some person's opinion on how music or art should be created, distributed or sold - I'm talking about facts. "

          When I talk, I'm usually talking about the ways I see that work to get me to pay you the money for the entertainment you provide. I'm sorry if my ideas on how to get money from me and those like me aren't what you want to hear.

          "I'm talking about the reality that the vast majority of artist don't even get the option and never break even."

          Most small businesses fail in the first few years. Why is music different? Does the fact you play an instrument shield you from the realities of getting people to pay you for your work?

          "this idea that you can just kickstarter your album all the way to the top is completely bogus"

          Who, exactly, is proposing such a simplistic and naive idea? Kickstarter provides an excellent route for people to be able to fund their own projects without depending on major label contracts, bank loans or any of the other normal routes to finance. But, it's still a business venture, with all the risks that includes, with no guarantees of success.

          "It's great that you have an opinion or whatever, but I get the idea that you are not in an industry where the most common advice is to work for free. "

          I'm also not in an industry where I get to be paid for work I didn't do on that specific day, or one where I can have multiple revenue streams as a result of my work. I know working musicians, most of whom tour on a regular basis and manage their own business needs. They had to establish themselves somehow, and often that meant working for free in the early days, since it's a very crowded market and most venue owners won't pay decent sums up front for an unproven act. That's a harsh reality, but that's the industry unless you have any suggestions on how it should change. So far, all you seem to be doing is rejecting everybody else's ideas while having none of your own.

          "Also those "quotes" aren't meant to be directly quoting you.. just generic respondes I hear often."

          Fair enough, but you used some broad strokes to pre-emptively dismiss any arguments myself and others might have.

           

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            Dirk Diggler, Jul 9th, 2014 @ 9:45am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Meh

            You know I'm not even going to disagree with 90% of what you said, and yes my reply is phrased in VERY broad strokes. You're not wrong at all. You're RIGHT It's just that....

            "There's solutions, but you seem to have dismissed all the obvious possibilities out of hand." And "So far, all you seem to be doing is rejecting everybody else's ideas while having none of your own."

            I don't really think that it is fair to say I've dismissed or rejected them all. I'm actually very open to any and all suggestions that let me quit my day job and be a working musician. But at the end of the day most suggestions can be simplified into either DIY or be on a label, and labels make the most money.

            Here is the funny thing. I'm actually in talks with a (super small) label. I fought it for a long long time, but these guys seem cool so I'm more open to the idea because right now, on my own, I'm at negative x-thousand dollars. Gear, gas, studio time, ect. This guy's pitch is that I'll get basically almost all of album sales and in return he gets almost all the licensing and will shop my stuff around to films, commercials (sellout) other artist for collaborations ect. I really don't like the idea of giving a percentage of possible revenue to some guy, but right now there IS no revenue - only losses.

            I'm generalizing here, but it's just weird that there is this idea that labels = bad or labels are the ones "taking." There is nothing to take from most non label artists. If they can get me to lose less, break even or maybe just maybe make a little money, I'm in.

            "So, what's your solution?"

            Pray Kid Rock retweets one of my singles? Keep trying? I dunno. I do it because I love it. That's all. But I would be soooo happy if I could not lose money at every turn.

             

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              PaulT (profile), Jul 10th, 2014 @ 12:47am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Meh

              "But at the end of the day most suggestions can be simplified into either DIY or be on a label, and labels make the most money."

              A great oversimplification, but that's true.

              But, you can say that of any industry - for most people, your choices are to be self-employed or to be an employee. The only difference with music is that it's common to be a successful entrepreneur and still make less money than the average employee.

              Of course, that still comes with its own greater set of risks (signing over your copyright to the label, being bound by their terms, always owing them X amount of your royalties, etc.). It depends on what's more important to you.

              Plus, even being employed (or on a label) isn't equal. You can be a corporate drone (or a major label product) with some guaranteed income or an employee of a small company (independent label) with very different sets of freedoms and benefits.

              "I'm generalizing here, but it's just weird that there is this idea that labels = bad or labels are the ones "taking.""

              It's not weird, it's just that when most people say things like that, they're thinking of the major labels. Those labels have a long history of ripping off artists and abandoning them at the drop of a hat if they're not instant major hits, and have completely controlled the industry to shut out competition for decades. If people generalise, that's what they're thinking of, not the small independents.

              "I do it because I love it. That's all."

              In that case, I wish you well in all of your endeavours and hope that you make a successful career out of it one day.

              But, the reality is that it's a crowded market where there have always been more losers than winners, and the idea that you might have to work your ass off for free or low pay for years before getting noticed is hardly new. Not right for the truly talented, but not new. You just have more direct access to financing, recording, marketing, distribution and exposure than someone 20 years ago would have done. If people are telling you this, they're not saying that Kickstarter or free singles are guaranteed to make you rich, they're just pointing out an alternative option that can be pursued, and has worked for others.

              There's no easy answer, and no magic bullet. Just the honest hope that if you're good enough and talented enough, you will get yourself noticed and do what you love for a living.

               

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              Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2014 @ 4:08am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Meh

              "This guy's pitch is that I'll get basically almost all of album sales and in return he gets almost all the licensing and will shop my stuff around to films, commercials (sellout) other artist for collaborations ect."
              Tell them it doesn't sound like a very good deal for them and that you will take the licensing and they can have "almost all" of the album sales.

               

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2014 @ 12:44pm

    I find it odd we even listen to entertainers when they get outside their field of work. They are no different than you or I, often with unfounded opinions that collide with the real world.

    The Dixie Chicks showed just what that can do for a career when they go spouting off about things they don't really know about.

    As has been said many times before, it's hard to get someone to see reality when their paycheck depends on them not understanding it. Here's a prime example of that.

    Personally, I could care less about the cookie cutter image that Taylor Swift puts up as her public image and even less about her music. Simply, I am not a fan. I don't connect with her idea of music and never have. I have no desire to hear her songs nor a desire to hear what she has to say.

    It would be a miracle to hear her tell the real truth. That is that music is changing in the market place and sales are trashing because of that for the physical medium.

    Young folk today no longer want to own a library of music. Instead they want to hear their music when they want it and how they want it, which is streaming. This shows that Pandora, Spotify, and the others like it are the wave of the future.

    This is also being reflected in the market. I am told that it is getting increasingly harder to find cd players in automobile stereos. It's getting harder to find blank CDs. Dvds are not far behind in the difficulty to find blank.

    Judging sales on physical media will soon show that music buying through that means is tanking. Poorly written and performed filler for an album is headed the same way.

     

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    art guerrilla (profile), Jul 8th, 2014 @ 12:45pm

    *sigh* rich, pretty-ish, privileged upbringing...

    ...but still can't reason their way out of a wet paper bag if you spotted them a knife...

    this bit you hightlighed:
    In my opinion, the value of an album is, and will continue to be, based on the amount of heart and soul an artist has bled into a body of work, and the financial value that artists (and their labels) place on their music when it goes out into the marketplace.

    demonstrates she didn't give this issue 5 minutes of serious thought, otherwise, she might wonder about this: Artiste A puts years and years of 'heart and soul' they 'bled' into a body of work, AND they 'place a financial value' on their work... (WTF does 'place a financial value' mean, EXACTLY ?)

    but NOBODY buys it /wants it, NO matter how much the Artiste has bled on it... (and/or IN SPITE of their 'heart and soul' leached into their work, it could STILL BE CRAP!)

    Artiste B has someone else create the material they perform (very little to zero of their personal 'heart and soul' is sacrificed), tear off a 20 minute recording session (very little blood involved), but it is championed by Big Music Corp, gets on all the playlists, and becomes a 'hit'...

    obviously, the 'effort' or amount of 'heart and soul' in the work is TOTALLY BESIDE THE POINT, otherwise Artiste A should be a zillionaire, and Artiste B in the remainder bin...

    that ain't how it works, must be something else going on as well...

     

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      Dirk Diggler, Jul 8th, 2014 @ 1:09pm

      Re: *sigh* rich, pretty-ish, privileged upbringing...

      Yep. Heart and soul does not equal sales. And without sales, artist cannot survive to make art - whether the consumer likes it or not. I don't know where this idea that the DIY kickstarter/give everything away type model is an effective way to generate revenue (it DID work for Bieber lol), and I REALLY don't know where the idea that a "good" artist must be financially broke to be legitimate came from.

      Either way, Swift is just talking from the other side of fame like it is the norm. I'd be more than happy to take a min wage to make music, but am currently about... I dunno 20 grand in the hole after 15 years.

       

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        robert spano, Jul 9th, 2014 @ 9:49am

        Re: Re: *sigh* rich, pretty-ish, privileged upbringing...

        All the heart and soul time 10 doesn't make crappy music worth anything today. maybe sometime in the future today's crap will be recognized for something unique but I doubt that any of today's crap music will fare any better 10 years from now much less 100 years from now. Talent and great songs can come easily to some and never to others.

         

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        nasch (profile), Jul 9th, 2014 @ 10:23pm

        Re: Re: *sigh* rich, pretty-ish, privileged upbringing...

        And without sales, artist cannot survive to make art - whether the consumer likes it or not.

        There must be a lot of dead artists.

        I don't know where this idea that the DIY kickstarter/give everything away type model is an effective way to generate revenue (it DID work for Bieber lol)

        a) you just pointed to an example that worked and b) nobody is suggesting an artist give everything away forever. Give away the plentiful to try to create value in the scarcities, because selling the plentiful probably isn't going to work very well anyway.

        I REALLY don't know where the idea that a "good" artist must be financially broke to be legitimate came from.

        I don't either, but you won't see anyone around here saying that. At least I've never seen it.

         

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    Mason Wheeler (profile), Jul 8th, 2014 @ 1:30pm

    Music is art, and art is important and rare.

    Taylor is nominally a country singer, but her music is, at the very least, heavily influenced by pop styles. When I see something like this I wonder, does she even know what "pop" means? (Hint: it's short for a three-syllable word that's pretty close to the exact opposite of "rare".)

     

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    mcinsand, Jul 8th, 2014 @ 1:30pm

    dictator much?

    >>It's my opinion that music should not be free...

    I would respect this line much more with the addition of one word:

    'It's my opinion that MY music should not be free...'

    The creator and sponsors get to decide how they want to make the connection with their audience. I have an issue with any one group of either saying that how they want products priced is how everyone should handle sales. To me, that's collusion, and I'm glad we have laws against it.

    This is much like the software that I use. I respect that license. I don't use Linux because it's free. I'm thankful that it's free, but I use it because it is easier to manage and frees up my time for other things. If they charged several hundred dollars per license, I'd pay it.

    Video games might give the music industry something to consider. Steam is making huge waves in gaming, and the RIAA would be wise to take note. Distribution costs no longer exist, and, in return, consumers both pay a low price and get the freedom of not being tied to particular media. If I buy a Steam game, I don't have to keep track of my DVD. All I have to do is make sure that I keep my account details. Steam also works with me to make sure that my account information doesn't get cracked by requiring some identification checks with a new computer or even logging in from a different distro (same thing, effectively, I guess). Don't make us worry about whether we buy on CD, DVD, SD card, etc., and don't expect us to automatically buy the whole album. Google Play and iTunes are growing for good reason.

    Swift's 'heart and soul' argument made me want to gag. She needs to visit MOBA. This museum is full of examples where value is not tied to how much heart, soul, and labor artists poured into the works, and those works are thankfully rare. (More on MOBA in a minute, as a disclaimer at the very least.)

    Art's intrinsic value is tied to how it connects with us. Not everyone connects with art the same way or to the same extent. For some, whatever comes in as background noise is good enough. My 'issue' is that a very talented individual helped me to find art that truly resonated, so radio is rarely close to being acceptable. There is also art that will just never resonate, and that's a personal thing. If I really, really connect with a piece of music, I will make a point of paying for a copy just to support the artist, as long as we're not talking about an exhorbitant fee. How much heart, soul, sweat, etc. is not relevant; the value is in the listener's ears.

    A friend once told me that she only listened to country because it is 'genuine.' The quotes are there because this was her wording. My ears are very, very different.

    Now, back to the MOBA. The pieces don't connect with me, but that is much of what makes MOBA what it is. At the same time, the museum itself is one of the most inspirational works of art that I have encountered. These artists poured their emotions and themselves into these works. They may have failed directly, but, at least for me, they have collectively shown a will to express themselves, no matter what. Anyone can be an artist, even if the artist is the only audience member that connects with the work.

     

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2014 @ 3:22pm

    As usual Massnick completely misses the mark with his arguments. Just because you price something higher (because that is your right to price your product at any price you deem fit) doesn't mean that the market will reward you by paying that price. BUT, a consumer's disapproval of the price does not allow them to pirate the music/movie/book/etc... They are still legally and morally obligated to compensate the content rights owner in accordance with the terms of service. Music is free on OTA radio (actually the cost is paid by the station who makes money from advertising) and it may be recorded for personal use. Television programming broadcast OTA is free (again the programming costs are picked up by the station which sells advertising to cover the costs and make a profit).

    Free to the end user does not mean that the content is free. Someone is footing the bill!

    I would love to further dissect your post, but I honestly don't want to waste my time reading the rest of your biased post.

     

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      John Fenderson (profile), Jul 8th, 2014 @ 3:37pm

      Re:

      Your comment seems waaaay off -- you're arguing against positions that haven't been taken.

      "BUT, a consumer's disapproval of the price does not allow them to pirate the music/movie/book/etc..."

      And where did anyone argue otherwise?

      "Free to the end user does not mean that the content is free. Someone is footing the bill!"

      And where did anyone argue otherwise?

       

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        That One Guy (profile), Jul 8th, 2014 @ 3:58pm

        Re: Re:

        You're wasting your time, just point out that the 'arguments' the AC presents are nothing but strawmen and ad-homs and therefor don't deserve a serious response.

        Mind you, the 'your biased post' bit at the end there is pretty funny, given the above strawmen and ad-homs above making is abundantly clear that the AC didn't even bother to read what the article said, but based their comment on what they assumed it said or 'implied'. 'Biased post' indeed.

         

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Jul 8th, 2014 @ 5:33pm

      Re:

      Just because you price something higher (because that is your right to price your product at any price you deem fit) doesn't mean that the market will reward you by paying that price. BUT, a consumer's disapproval of the price does not allow them to pirate the music/movie/book/etc...

      Can you point out where I said that it was ok? I said nothing about piracy being okay.

      Free to the end user does not mean that the content is free. Someone is footing the bill!


      Again, have I said otherwise?

      I would love to further dissect your post, but I honestly don't want to waste my time reading the rest of your biased post.

      Might help if you actually responded to *what I said* rather than some made up idea of what you think I said.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2014 @ 5:37pm

      Re:

      So if it's not actually free and the bottom line is that "free is evil" then what's the problem?

       

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      JMT (profile), Jul 8th, 2014 @ 5:49pm

      Re:

      "As usual Massnick completely misses the mark with his arguments."

      Pot, kettle, etc...

      "...a consumer's disapproval of the price does not allow them to pirate the music/movie/book/etc... They are still legally and morally obligated to compensate the content rights owner in accordance with the terms of service."

      Nothing in the above article claims otherwise. You're completely missing the mark yourself by implying otherwise. The only "free" music discussed is that which is given away.

      The rest of your comment is just stating the blindingly obvious. Thanks for wasting everyone's time with that...

       

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2014 @ 3:22pm

    As usual Massnick completely misses the mark with his arguments. Just because you price something higher (because that is your right to price your product at any price you deem fit) doesn't mean that the market will reward you by paying that price. BUT, a consumer's disapproval of the price does not allow them to pirate the music/movie/book/etc... They are still legally and morally obligated to compensate the content rights owner in accordance with the terms of service. Music is free on OTA radio (actually the cost is paid by the station who makes money from advertising) and it may be recorded for personal use. Television programming broadcast OTA is free (again the programming costs are picked up by the station which sells advertising to cover the costs and make a profit).

    Free to the end user does not mean that the content is free. Someone is footing the bill!

    I would love to further dissect your post, but I honestly don't want to waste my time reading the rest of your biased post.

     

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      PaulT (profile), Jul 9th, 2014 @ 1:41am

      Re:

      "As usual Massnick completely misses the mark with his arguments. "

      Actually, you just repeated his arguments. Noting that the reality of the world is that things will be copied, borrowed, pirated, and used in many ways that don't directly result in compensation to the artist doesn't imply support of piracy.

      "Music is free on OTA radio... Television programming broadcast OTA is free"

      Yep, and they are built on business models that have allowed these to flourish for decades without whining about piracy. Why is it wrong to suggest that the recording industry needs to alter their business model to similarly flourish?

      "Free to the end user does not mean that the content is free."

      Indeed. But, there are ways to monetise the content without trying to sue fans, overcharging paying customers, reducing the value of the content with DRM and other anti-consumer crap or refusing to licence content to any number of people because you're afraid of the new market reality.

      Why is it wrong to criticise these things?

      "I would love to further dissect your post, but I honestly don't want to waste my time reading the rest of your biased post."

      Yeah, he's so biased that you actually repeated and agreed with most of the points he usually makes.

       

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    Beta (profile), Jul 8th, 2014 @ 3:58pm

    Chef said it best

    "Don't you see? You have the heart, but you don't have the soul. No, no, wait... you have the soul, but you don't have the heart. No, no, scratch that... you have the heart and the soul, but you don't have the talent."

     

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    Helpless Idiot, Jul 8th, 2014 @ 5:05pm

    My hope for the future

    "My hope for the future is that in every young girl I meet…is that they all realize their worth and ask for it."

    I would like to see this future as well, all the young girls know their worth and tell us what it is. I would like to purchase some.

     

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    Whatever (profile), Jul 8th, 2014 @ 7:37pm

    Funny stuff

    Exactly. There, she's recognizing the value of a unique experience that can't be copied or "pirated," and which people have to pay to experience.

    News flash... this is a concept that is old as the hills, not something fresh as a response to piracy. You can go back and look even in the early days of rock and roll where different groups would travel together and do shows together, often appearing together to perform song. Guest musicians are not a shock, they are pretty normal.

    Many moons ago, I saw a show from Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin front man) during one of his solo tours. The drummer for that particular group of shows, totally unannounced, was Phil Collins (from Genesis). Having him come forward and perform a couple of his fresh solo songs (In The Air Tonight was hot at the time) was a bonus for an audience not expecting it.

    Swift isn't breaking ground. She's just doing a decent job of putting on a show and generating value for money. She likely could do the same thing without the guests and still sell everything out.

    All of that however doesn't in the slightest suggest a piracy benefit. If anything, it shows that she feels she has to keep changing and adding things (and likely spending more time, effort, and money as a result) just to stay ahead of pirates who even try to break down the walls of the unique live show experience. It's perhaps more of a sad commentary that people just don't have any patience anymore and don't want to earn the rewards of a live event experience.

    How long before concerts are free and they all sell just unique t-shirts?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2014 @ 12:14am

      Re: Funny stuff

      When you can pirate a concert down to the exact fragment of space, time and experience, you let me know.

       

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      PaulT (profile), Jul 9th, 2014 @ 1:12am

      Re: Funny stuff

      "There, she's recognizing the value of a unique experience that can't be copied or "pirated," and which people have to pay to experience."

      Indeed. Nobody here's ever denied that. We've only pointed out that a digital copy of a mass produced album does not meet any of these criteria.

      Yet again, you go off on a moronic tangent. While you're not wrong about your central point, it neither addresses the points in the article nor the long-held opinions of people who comment here regularly.

      Why do you spend so much time writing comments only to be so wrong?

      "Many moons ago, I saw a show from Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin front man) during one of his solo tours. The drummer for that particular group of shows, totally unannounced, was Phil Collins (from Genesis). Having him come forward and perform a couple of his fresh solo songs (In The Air Tonight was hot at the time) was a bonus for an audience not expecting it."

      That sounds pretty cool. How would albums being pirated (which they would absolutely have been at the time) or people watching YouTube videos of the performance have diminshed or removed that experience from you?

      "It's perhaps more of a sad commentary that people just don't have any patience anymore and don't want to earn the rewards of a live event experience."

      I pay for my tickets, like everyone else who attends gigs and festivals. Why haven't I earned the experience just because someone else might have opted to stay home?

      "How long before concerts are free and they all sell just unique t-shirts?"

      Oh dear, you're this stupid, aren't you?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2014 @ 2:02am

        Re: Re: Funny stuff

        Yeah, he's that stupid.

         

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        Whatever (profile), Jul 9th, 2014 @ 2:17am

        Re: Re: Funny stuff

        Indeed. Nobody here's ever denied that. We've only pointed out that a digital copy of a mass produced album does not meet any of these criteria.

        I look forward to hearing your original music. Oh wait, what she creates is new and unique and in demand. The issue of piracy is only that people feel entitled to enjoy her work without having to compensate her for doing it. Playing 6 degrees of seperation between the creation and the product you pirate doesn't change it much, does it?

        That sounds pretty cool. How would albums being pirated (which they would absolutely have been at the time) or people watching YouTube videos of the performance have diminshed or removed that experience from you?

        Had this been announced before the tour, as an example, it would have changed expectations. An online video of an earlier show in the tour may have taken away the surprise as well. Perhaps it would have "gone viral" and been unavoidable, which diminishes the value of the event as a result.

        Why haven't I earned the experience just because someone else might have opted to stay home?

        If they just stayed home, it wouldn't be an issue. But they are out there filming the shows, writing up detailed second by second reviews, and leaking every piece of anything about the shows of the media a long time before most of us get to see them. It's almost impossible these days to get to a major event without having the whole thing played out ahead of time. It's pretty sad when simply building up a great show and taking it on the road isn't enough.

        "Oh dear, you're this stupid, aren't you?"

        Ad homs? really?

         

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          PaulT (profile), Jul 9th, 2014 @ 2:48am

          Re: Re: Re: Funny stuff

          "I look forward to hearing your original music."

          Yours first. I only claim to be a paying customer of musicians and other artists for over 30 years, not a musician. Why does my opinion not count?

          "the product you pirate"

          Oh dear, straight into the idiot assumptions again. Do you want to actually deal with my words, not some moronic strawman you set up to make it easier for you? Stop lying about people if you're as interested in a discussion as you claim.

          "But they are out there filming the shows, writing up detailed second by second reviews, and leaking every piece of anything about the shows of the media a long time before most of us get to see them."

          ...and this reduces your enjoyment, how? Again, you haven't detailed anything about how this makes the performance in front of your face, among the crowd, in your local venue any less valuable. In fact, I'd argue that being able to relive the events after you've been to them increases the value even after you've attended them (something not usually made available by the artists or labels themselves). There are hundreds of performances I've experienced that are now lost to the mists of time because people did not or were not allowed to film them. Those performances are not only unable to be relived by myself, but are unable to recruit new fans for the next tour - many great artists are not well represented by their studio material.

          "Had this been announced before the tour, as an example, it would have changed expectations. An online video of an earlier show in the tour may have taken away the surprise as well. Perhaps it would have "gone viral" and been unavoidable, which diminishes the value of the event as a result."

          Same would have happened if you had a friend in another city who attended the show then talked about it on Facebook, Twitter, called you on the phone or told you in another way. Same if someone described it in a review or any number of things that require no video at all. In addition, nobody is forcing you to see a video of the artist on a tour you're intending to visit. Besides, since most artists play the same setlist on every date on a tour, why would you watch a video of that tour if you're so scared of not being surprised?

          On the other hand, seeing the video in advance may have changed the mind of someone who was originally not going to attend, but now buys a ticket for when the tour hit their area as a direct result of the video. There's more than one side to the silly, silly arguments you're making.

          "Ad homs? really?"

          You said something utterly moronic so I called you stupid.

          OK, if you're too offended by that, how about - that's a totally stupid argument, one that people like me have been arguing against since the first "home taping is killing music" idiocy (after which came one of the most lucrative eras of the industry, btw), let alone the first whining about Napster.

          If you're going to trot out long-debunked, unoriginal completely stupid, cliched arguments, I apologise for making assumptions about the intelligence of someone who would do such things. But, you're not presenting a real argument to try and discuss, only ancient fictions.

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2014 @ 7:21am

          Re: Re: Re: Funny stuff

          So if an ad campaign for an event or entertainment goes viral it diminishes the value of the event? More people knowing about the event makes it worse in your eyes?

          Are you high?

           

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      nasch (profile), Jul 9th, 2014 @ 10:28pm

      Re: Funny stuff

      News flash... this is a concept that is old as the hills, not something fresh as a response to piracy.

      Did you even finish the article?

      "Connecting with fans and giving them a unique and valuable experience. It's almost like something some of us have been saying for many years now."

      And Mike has pointed out repeatedly that this is not something he came up with or something that's new. He brings it up because some people, particularly in certain industries, still don't seem to get it.

       

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    TestPilotDummy, Jul 8th, 2014 @ 11:24pm

    Nashville / Country Music Scene isn't Rock

    That whole Nashville gig is silver spooning it compared to the bands I see, many who have no labels. Often they GIVE their discs they produce away.

    Will she still do 250 person occupancy gigs? Too un-classy right, welp she's is not an expert at everything clearly.

    My understanding of economics is, what people are willing to pay for something you have sell, is what determines it's value. If you are dangling a Goatwhore album in front of me and I actually listen to Reggae there's going to be a problem with the VALUE to me. Not to mention, I think I Need another package of BACON to actually EAT and I can't EAT your album. Also what you have produced and sold, minus those production costs is an indicator which way your economy is heading. You didn't take a loan with interest did you to produce this stuff? Cause if you did, you sure better hope it works out.

    Music is a poor example of gross domestic production in my opinion.

    I mean sure, the mixer manufacturer people get bucks, the electronics ppl, computer ppl, the software ppl, the plastic disc ppl, the label ppl, the promo ppl, the venue ppl, this isn't what I mean. In music, your just making software basically. (1's and 0's of audio representation is the SOFTWARE) It's using other natural resources, not even producing a necessary product. While sure you are working, yet there's nothing to eat, there's no energy created, instead energy is actually used. It COSTS..

    Now growing pears, apples, that's producing products. Kind of like my family back east, after picking apples and pears they whip out the guitars and banjos and harmonicas and drums and play on the porch FOR FREE all day long.

    country music when compared to "out on the streets rock" is like silver spoon, to keep on a positive note (note get it?), perhaps she should offer up this silver spoon up more often to others. Look at a band like Tesla, they offer their TITANIUM SPORK (version of spoon) to help (present tense) and helped (past tense) local bands.

    I will not fault Taylor's beliefs. After reading Think and Grow Rich, I know why she does what she does, it's her bubble, (even I have a bubble too) let her do her thing. Fair Market Value will sort it out either way. And when bad happens she will grow from it.

     

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    Julian (profile), Jul 9th, 2014 @ 2:09am

    What happens to musicians

    http://www.well.com/conf/inkwell.vue/topics/459/State-of-the-World-2013-Bruce-St-page02.html#post38

    B ruce Sterling: Come 2013, I think it's time for people in and around the "music industry" to stop blaming themselves, and thinking their situation is somehow special. Whatever happens to musicians will eventually happen to everybody.

    Nobody was or is really much better at "digital transition" than musicians were and are. If you're superb at digitalization, that's no great solution either. You just have to auto-disrupt and re-invent yourself over and over and over again.

    It's pretty awful to be a musician and have no possibility of health insurance (as Jaron Lanier keeps pointing out), but you could have been a Nokia engineer. You'd have been blindsided even harder and faster, and you wouldn't even have had the girls and the weed.

     

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


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