U2 Still Insists No Value In 'Free' Music, Despite Making Millions From It

from the it's-all-part-of-a-business-model dept

As you may have heard, earlier this week Apple announced a bunch of things -- and that included that U2 was releasing a surprise new album that everyone who uses iTunes would magically get automatically for free in their library. That struck some people as interesting, given that the band has long crusaded angrily against "free." Four years ago, we wrote about how Paul McGuinness, the band's long-time manager, was railing against "free." Here's what he said at the time:
If you had to encapsulate the crisis of the music industry in the past decade, it would be in one momentous word: "free." The digital revolution essentially made music free. It is now doing the same with films and books. For years we (and by "we" I mean the music business, musicians, creative industries, governments and regulators) have grappled with this new concept of "free." One minute we have fought it like a monster, the next we have embraced it like a friend. As consumers, we have come to love "free" - but as creators, seeking reward for our work, it has become our worst nightmare. In recent years the music business has tried to "fight free with free," seeking revenues from advertising, merchandising, sponsorship - anything, in fact, other than the consumer's wallet. These efforts have achieved little success. Today, "free" is still the creative industries' biggest problem.
Bono has repeatedly attacked the idea of free music, complaining that it's "madness."
Music has become tap water, a utility, where for me it's a sacred thing, so I'm a little offended."
Funny, it seems even more ubiquitous under this deal.

Of course, the other side will argue, this is different. This is "okay" because they got paid upfront. Bono himself still seems offended by the concept of free, but insists this doesn't count because it's not really free:
“We were paid,” Bono tells TIME. “I don’t believe in free music. Music is a sacrament.”
Yup. Of course. Bono repeated a similar story to the NY Times, and current manager, Guy Oseary, says more or less the same thing:
Bono, U2’s lead singer, alluded to the deal himself at Apple’s event. After the band performed, he and Mr. Cook playfully negotiated over how the album could be released through iTunes “in five seconds.” Mr. Cook said it could if the album was given away free.

“But first you would have to pay for it,” Bono said, “because we’re not going in for the free music around here.”

Mr. Oseary, who took over management of the band less than a year ago, stressed in a phone interview after the event that the music still had value even though it was being given away.

“This is a gift from Apple to their customers,” Mr. Oseary said. “They bought it and they are giving it away.”
But, as per usual, this (once again) misunderstands the nature of "free." For years we've tried to hit back on this notion. As we've said free is not the business model, but free should be a key part of the business model, with the idea being that "free" helps the artists make more money. And that's exactly what's happened here. Now, of course, because of U2's stature and Apple's billions in cash, this could be done as a big upfront deal (rumors are saying that Apple will pay somewhere around $100 million total). But for others it may involve giving away stuff free to build a larger audience for shows. Or maybe it involves getting money upfront via a crowdfunding campaign and then sharing the music widely. Or maybe it involves using a tool like Patreon to get people to pay for each new track released, but still making them more widely available for free.

The point is that "free" is not some evil. It's something that the public really appreciates, and when done right fits very nicely in with a smart business model. For U2 that's collecting millions in cash from Apple. For others, it's other things. Free is not evil. It's a tool, and one that can be used to make people lots of money -- as U2 and Bono are realizing, even if they don't "realize" it. Amusingly, since these tracks are automatically showing up in everyone's iTunes, some are actually arguing that it becomes the equivalent of junk mail. In other words, there's an argument to be made that this promotion which effectively pushes "free" tracks even to people who don't want them does a lot more to decrease the value of the music than any sort of unauthorized files sharing. At least with file sharing, people get the free music because they want and value it.

In the end, though, I tend to agree with Amanda Palmer's take that everyone should be doing all kinds of business model experiments, so I certainly have no problem with this particular one. In fact, I think it's great.

It would just be nice if U2 and its managers could admit that maybe "free" isn't automatically evil.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2014 @ 10:17am

    you have to remember though, all the best things in life are free! perhaps being a friend of the Pope has helped?

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  • identicon
    Lord Binky, 11 Sep 2014 @ 10:19am

    My friend is pissed this album showed up on his phone. He was still livid this morning during the car pool. To him, this is worse than junkmail because he can't even throw it away.

    I really hate to see what they will claim about forcing this album on people. I guess if you want the biggest album release in history all you’d have to do is buy a spam list and send it in an e-mail to everyone. Yay, I delivered 1 billion albums on release day! Wooo! Best musician in history I say!

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    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 12:37pm

      Re:

      "To him, this is worse than junkmail because he can't even throw it away."

      So this album is actually being forced on everybody? Damn, that makes me even happier that I don't use iTunes than I was before.

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    • icon
      Jesse Townley (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 12:54pm

      Re: I'm pissed too...

      I've spent about an hour off and on since yesterday trying to remove this crap from my iTunes and iPhone- all I can do so far is "hide" it, but it doesn't remove it from my "cloud."

      A gift is not a gift if it's forced on the recipient.

      The real reason I'm pissed is because it's as if my clothes dryer started adding polka dotted undershirts to my loads of laundry without warning.

      I like polka dots. I don't like U2.

      I'd rather choose whether or not I get either from my consumer items that I've purchased, instead of having the manufacturer of that consumer item deciding to "give" me something I do not want.

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    • icon
      Chronno S. Trigger (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 2:26pm

      Re:

      I haven't used iTunes for a long time, before they had the iCloud that you could back up your stuff in. Is the iCloud limited in size or another way?

      E.G. the free version of Google Music allows you to have 20,000 songs. I'd be quite pissed if Google forced some music on me, taking up my space, and not allowing me to delete it. Google has put free music into my library before, but I've always been able to delete it.

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  • icon
    Zakida Paul (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 10:26am

    The biggest scandal here is that Apple and U2 are forcing the new U2 album on Itunes users whether they want it or not.

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    • identicon
      A Non-Mouse, 11 Sep 2014 @ 11:43am

      Re:

      "The biggest scandal here is that Apple and U2 are forcing the new U2 album on Itunes users whether they want it or not."

      Give them a little credit, maybe they're experimenting with a new business model.

      Here, take this new album for free! We've even been so kind as to automatically add it to your library, sync it to your device, and add it to all your playlists.

      And for only $9.99, we'll undo all that.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2014 @ 10:26am

    At least with file sharing, people get the free music because they want and value it.

    Not necessarily, they may get the music to see if they like the band/musician, and find out that they don't.

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  • icon
    fgoodwin (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 10:30am

    Free is in the eye of beholder

    I think what tech-dirt and other sites promoting "free" fail to consider, is this: if the artist wants to include free in his business model fine, if he doesn't, that's fine too.

    Only the artist can make that decision. It is not a decision that the consumer can make (in the form of piracy for example), or tech-dirt, or anyone else, other than the artist.

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

    • icon
      jupiterkansas (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 10:43am

      Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

      Techdirt doesn't insist that an artist offer their music for free. It's always up to the artist (although more likely the publisher which owns the copyright) to choose how they offer their work.

      What Techdirt says is that the music will be available for free whether the artist likes it or not, either through file sharing, public libraries, or trading with friends, and the artist must consider how they deal with that. The response initially was to just make it more and more illegal and futilely trying to make it go away, jeopardizing the open nature of the internet in the process. That's what Techdirt is against.

      U2 has decided to find someone besides the fans to foot the bill, which is exactly the kind of business model exploration that Techdirt encourages. They've turned to a corporate benefactor the way classical composers once turned to royalty.

      Now it's a question of whether Apple spent their money wisely and can this work for other artists in the future.

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      • identicon
        Michael, 11 Sep 2014 @ 11:04am

        Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

        What Techdirt says is that the music will be available for free whether the artist likes it or not, either through file sharing, public libraries, or trading with friends, and the artist must consider how they deal with that.

        I think you are even a bit off there. It's not that artists should simply have to accept that their art is going to be given away, it is more important for them to understand that they are often better off building a business model around their infinite goods being free and other things that are not infinite (like their time, access, t-shirts, etc.) being more valuable based on the popularity the gain with their infinite goods.

        Music, in particular, has for a long time really been "free" in that people can listen to it on the radio, sing it to themselves in the shower, etc. People have been buying tapes and CD's because they were convenient, because they really did want to give back to the artists, because they liked the booklets and artwork that came with them.

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        • icon
          jupiterkansas (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 12:21pm

          Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

          I would say that's an option Techdirt proposes, but doesn't insist that all artists follow it. Some could sell their music and not do anything about it being free because of the effort involved. Not all artist are out to maximize sales of recordings. Some get paid in other ways. My local symphony is a great example.

          And people can listen to music free if it's on the radio, but most of what I listen to is never played on the radio. And singing in the shower? Maybe if you've heard my music elsewhere you might sing it in the shower. There is still music out there I can only get if I purchase it - usually used so it's not profiting the artist.

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    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 10:45am

      Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

      "Only the artist can make that decision. It is not a decision that the consumer can make (in the form of piracy for example), or tech-dirt, or anyone else, other than the artist."

      Of course. I don't think Techdirt has ever said differently. In fact, I think they've made this exact point numerous times.

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      • icon
        Whatever (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 11:02am

        Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

        Not really true. Techdirt has made the point that the initial selling price should be up to the artist, but that piracy makes that zero so why bother?

        It gets to the nub of the issue with Mike's personal stand on piracy. He doesn't think it's right, but has made a good living giving presentations, talks, and operating a website that shows people how to "profit" from it.

        Also, let's be clear here: the music isn't free in any meaningful sense. Apple very likely paid a butt load of cash for the album (a number probably around the sales of the previous album would be my guess), and then permitted a push installation method that is both annoying and for the moment does not appear to allow it to be deleted. For those people paying bandwidth charges on their phone, this album certainly wasn't free. For those people who have spent time trying to delete it without success, this album certainly hasn't been free.

        The lack of the consumer paying for the material didn't make it free. In fact, it may turn out to be one of the most expensive "gifts" ever given.

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        • identicon
          Michael, 11 Sep 2014 @ 11:10am

          Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

          the music isn't free in any meaningful sense.

          It may not be free in any sense that is meaningful to you, but to those of us that may have wanted this album and have found it in our iTunes catalog without having to pay for anything - it was 100% positively free. That is really the ONLY meaningful sense of free there is to me.

          What you are talking about is "the artist got paid". Yup. Guess what? Artists can get paid without consumers of their art having to pay for it. Some things are "commissioned" sort-of like this. Some things are free to build a reputation that can be profited on (like TechDirt). Some things can be given away to drive people to buy concert tickets.

          You are not going to make much ground here with this "not really free" nonsense.

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          • identicon
            Michael, 11 Sep 2014 @ 11:13am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

            To add to that, U2's stupidity around "we got paid" and "this is a gift from Apple, not us" has got to be the dumbest marketing move I have seen in a long time.

            Hey guys, here is a tip. You got paid for this. Fantastic. Start telling your fans that you are grateful they didn't have to pay for it and would love for them to show their appreciation by BUYING SOME OF YOUR OTHER CRAP. You could make a lot of money from this.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2014 @ 2:58am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

              U think he ain't enough of that yet to live 5 lifetimes worth? Nooo he just likes people to hear how full of himself/shit he is ^^

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2014 @ 2:58am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

              U think he ain't enough of that yet to live 5 lifetimes worth? Nooo he just likes people to hear how full of himself/shit he is ^^

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        • icon
          orbitalinsertion (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 11:13am

          Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder


          The lack of the consumer paying for the material didn't make it free. In fact, it may turn out to be one of the most expensive "gifts" ever given.


          Sounds more like mineral and land use rights, but whatever.

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        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 11:16am

          Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

          " Techdirt has made the point that the initial selling price should be up to the artist, but that piracy makes that zero so why bother?"

          Oh? I missed that bit. When did they make this point?

          "He doesn't think it's right, but has made a good living giving presentations, talks, and operating a website that shows people how to "profit" from it."

          Indeed. That's called a rational response to operating in the real world. "Bad Thing X exists, and here's a good way to deal with it." I'm not sure how this related to the incorrect assertion that Techdirt doesn't think artists get to decide the terms under which they release their music.

          "The lack of the consumer paying for the material didn't make it free."

          Of course, but you're using a meaningless definition of "free" in this context. By your definition there is nothing in the world that is "free". If everything falls into a given category, then the category is without meaning.

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          • icon
            Rikuo (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 11:35am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

            "Indeed. That's called a rational response to operating in the real world. "Bad Thing X exists, and here's a good way to deal with it." I'm not sure how this related to the incorrect assertion that Techdirt doesn't think artists get to decide the terms under which they release their music."

            More along the lines of "Bad Thing X exists, here's a good way to deal with it, that doesn't involve sacrificing speech and/or property rights of everyone else just to prop up a business model so that everyone wins".

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          • icon
            Whatever (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 5:23pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

            Oh? I missed that bit. When did they make this point?

            Go back and read the last 10 years of techdirt. The world according to Techdirt says that piracy and the infinite distribution create an infinite supply, zero marginal costs and when you have infinite supply the price is zero. So the artist is free to set any initial price they want, but the market will make it zero. The basic end result is the old "cwf/rtb" stuff, where you connect with fans giving away what already has no real market price (the music) and hope like hell that they buy a t-shirt or a concert ticket or something to support you.

            it's really the basics of the business model, which is rather than fighting piracy, you should profit from it. Make piracy your compelling business model to sell more concert tickets or swag.

            Of course, but you're using a meaningless definition of "free" in this context. By your definition there is nothing in the world that is "free". If everything falls into a given category, then the category is without meaning.

            No, if U2 decided themselves to give something away for free, it would be free. That Apple paid for it and decided to give it away for free by force (and with no simple way to decline or remove) makes it truly not free at any level.

            The consumer not giving over hard cash doesn't mean that the product was free (sort of like OTA tv, it's not free either... just without monetary transaction).

            Free is a very easy word to use, but it's also rarely true.

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            • icon
              That One Guy (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 5:41pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

              The basic end result is the old "cwf/rtb" stuff, where you connect with fans giving away what already has no real market price (the music) and hope like hell that they buy a t-shirt or a concert ticket or something to support you.

              Nice, though blatant, dodge/strawman.

              Tell you what, if it's really that clear, find me a good quote from Mike or one of the others writing for TD backing that up. I mean, 10 years worth of articles, surely you can find some backing evidence for your claims that Mike and co. are suggesting that creators need to give away their music and hope someone buys a t-shirt in exchange, right? Surely you can find something that validates your claim that that is what Mike means when he mentions 'CWF+RTB', some bit of evidence among all those articles?

              Or you could just admit your claim is a strawman of what's actually said on TD, and move on from there. Your choice.

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              • icon
                Whatever (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 6:38pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

                you could just admit your claim is a strawman of what's actually said on TD, and move on from there

                I serious recommend you go back and re-read a whole bunch of techdirt. search for cwf+rtb and go back to the very start of it all. You will find all the answers you seek. Like I said, it's not a single definitive quote (Mike would never do that), it's a build up of so many things over time.

                You could start here:

                https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20061025/014811.shtml

                ". Suddenly, you've lowered the cost of making something to nothing -- and you should then try to use as much of it as you can. One simple example of this is to use that item that "costs" zero as a promotional good for something that does not have a zero marginal cost. When you realize how zero factors in, you realize that there's nothing new or radical here at all. It's just coming to terms with the idea that free market economics still works in the face of zero (in fact, it thrives) and there's no reason to put in place government-sanctioned barriers to shape the market."

                Since music has zero marginal cost (due to piracy)... do you need more help with this?

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                • icon
                  nasch (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 6:56pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

                  Since music has zero marginal cost (due to piracy)... do you need more help with this?

                  Piracy is not why copies of music have zero marginal cost. It's the other way around.

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                  • icon
                    Whatever (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 11:25pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

                    *sigh* another one.

                    Without piracy, music would have low marginal cost, but since it would still be limited (by the number of copies the label, company, or artist) chose to reproduce, it would never be absolutely infinite, thus never truly zero.

                    The cost of making a copy, even if it's a digital copy, is still not zero - unless people are throwing the electricity used, the bandwidth, or the media you record on in for free. Only piracy (where people do not consider those marginal costs) can even bring something to having true zero marginal costs.

                    Zero marginal cost only happens in that manner, reproduction of a digital work, even in the most basic form, will always have some sort of marginal cost.

                    Only piracy creates zero marginal costs, because the users don't consider their actual costs as being relevant to the distribution / replication.

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                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2014 @ 2:18am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

                      Without piracy, music would have low marginal cost, but since it would still be limited (by the number of copies the label, company, or artist) chose to reproduce, it would never be absolutely infinite, thus never truly zero.

                      There you have the heart of the problem, trying to create an artificial scarcity for for a product, where there is no actual limit on the number that can be produced. Those people trying to fight piracy via extreme laws and punishments, are trying to hold back the tide. It is likely that King Canute knew he would fail and was trying to teach his nobles a lesson about the limits of power, stand in the way of a tide and you go under, the publishers lack that insight on limitations of power.

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                    • icon
                      nasch (profile), 12 Sep 2014 @ 5:43am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

                      *sigh* another one.

                      Yes, unfortunately for you some of us know what we're talking about.

                      Without piracy, music would have low marginal cost, but since it would still be limited (by the number of copies the label, company, or artist) chose to reproduce, it would never be absolutely infinite, thus never truly zero.

                      And some artists/labels choose to release music for anyone to copy as they please.

                      The cost of making a copy, even if it's a digital copy, is still not zero - unless people are throwing the electricity used, the bandwidth, or the media you record on in for free.

                      Electricity - I would be surprised if you could even measure a difference in electricity consumption between downloading a song and not. Even if you can it's so tiny it's absolutely meaningless. I wouldn't hang your hat on this one if I were you.

                      Bandwidth - Most people still have available to them an internet connection that doesn't charge by the megabyte. So no marginal cost.

                      Media - That is a fixed cost, not marginal.

                      Only piracy creates zero marginal costs, because the users don't consider their actual costs as being relevant to the distribution / replication.

                      Wait, so do you think downloading a song has a marginal cost or not? I thought you just got done attempting to explain that it does, and now you're saying if you pirate then it doesn't. That doesn't make any sense (surprise) because the copyright status of a song doesn't affect the cost of downloading it.

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                • icon
                  jupiterkansas (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 8:04pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

                  Music has zero marginal cost (due to having all I want availabe to me at the public library)

                  I've been getting plenty of free music since 1985 from the library, and before that I only listened to the radio - more free music.

                  You talk like music was never free until mp3s were invented, but the music industry has always thrived despite easy access to free music.

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                  • icon
                    Whatever (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 11:20pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

                    I've been getting plenty of free music since 1985 from the library, and before that I only listened to the radio - more free music.

                    *sigh*. Let me start banging my head against the wall, because we have been over this crap about a million times.

                    Radio isn't free. It's just without "cash out of your pocket". You pay for radio with your attention to the ads, and that attention is sold to advertisers. For that matter, you have to pay for the receiver, so even that isn't free. Radio is just without a per minute or per song cost, but it still costs you. Moreover, you don't get the same rights you would get when you buy a copy.

                    Libraries are exceptional, but again, unless you pirated a copy from the library's recording, then you didn't get the same as purchasing a copy.

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                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2014 @ 6:05am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

                      You know what else isn't free? My attention span. You *have* to pay me with entertainment in order to get any of my money. That's certainly a part of the equation you haven't talked about.

                      What are artists doing for me? U2 doesn't want to release their album for free. No problem. I have YouTube, Twitch, UStream, Pandora, Bandcamp, Spotify, ITunes, Steam, Netflix, Amazon Prime and a whole world's worth of entertainment venues to choose from. I don't need to listen to U2 because I can fill my time with everything else.

                      Add to this the simple economic physics (that you apparently can't grasp) regarding near-zero cost duplication and you have the world we live in today. You can fight it all you want but you won't win because you are trying to defeat nature.

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                    • icon
                      jupiterkansas (profile), 12 Sep 2014 @ 8:39am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

                      By your logic, torrenting isn't free either because you have to have pay for a computer and an internet connection and it requires bandwith, and you have to give your attention to ads on the torrent sites.

                      But yeah, let's keep redefining what you mean by free until it only fits the narrow logic you need to make your pointless point that Mike endorses piracy.

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                • icon
                  That One Guy (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 8:16pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

                  Uh no, music doesn't have 'zero marginal cost' due to piracy, it has zero marginal cost because that's about how much it costs to reproduce it. A single digital file, whether it be song or not, can be stored, 'sold', and copied an infinite times and the costs will still be the same: nearly negligible.

                  And I'll see you your one quotation/article, and raise you another:

                  'Give It Away And Pray' Isn't A Business Model... But It Doesn't Mean That 'Free' Doesn't Work
                  https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20080522/1545021204.shtml

                  As we've pointed out before, no one says that "free" by itself pays the bills. You need to have a more complete strategy than that -- and it involves a lot more than "give it away and pray."

                  Huh, funny but that seems to me to be the exact opposite of Mike claiming that 'Give it away and pray' is a viable business model', but rather that 'free' has a place in business, but only as a part of it.

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                  • icon
                    Whatever (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 11:43pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

                    I didn't suggest that he said "give it away and pray", thanks for pointing that out. He just says since piracy is going to give it away anyway, you may as well do the same and profit it from it as marketing towards whatever business model you are using.

                    Let's be fair though. Any business model based on giving away a key part of your product as a lead to getting consumers to do something else is "give it away and..." hope? plan? Aspire? Your goal is hoping that the people like what you are giving away enough to reward you with their money at some point in the future, or to build up your personal brand / stature enough that you can get others to pay for your time.

                    Remember, it's "connect with fans plus reason to buy", which basically said the music is how you connect with fans, then you give them a reason to buy something valuable, preferably finite and limited so that you can better control and justify the price. Limited edition things, concert tickets, etc... all thing that are in limited supply when done correctly.

                    and I quote from the same article:

                    But, that's not a business model. That's not tying the free and infinite good to other scarce goods that will help you make money.

                    The difficulties of course are that for many endeavors, there is no true scarce good to attach. You have to create that artifcially (limited edition snake skin covers!), and in the end, you are in fact praying that people will do something.

                    It's also very important to realize that this a business model against the reality of piracy. Mike's entire push for many years (as these articles date back 6 years or more) is "bend over, because it's going to happen anyway". You may not have a zero marginal cost product, but the pirates are going to make it into that for you. So you may as well figure out a way to enjoy that feeling, rather than fighting it. Perhaps you can profit by selling autographed, limited edition "I bent the artist over" t-shirts.

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                    • icon
                      nasch (profile), 12 Sep 2014 @ 5:50am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

                      The difficulties of course are that for many endeavors, there is no true scarce good to attach.

                      I would be interested in some examples where there is no scarcity to be found.

                      The difficulties of course are that for many endeavors, there is no true scarce good to attach. You have to create that artifcially (limited edition snake skin covers!), and in the end, you are in fact praying that people will do something.

                      Snakeskin covers are a naturally scarce good. You may choose to make them even more scarce by producing them in limited numbers, but they are naturally scarce to begin with, and an example of a scarce good tied to the infinite good.

                      Mike's entire push for many years (as these articles date back 6 years or more) is "bend over, because it's going to happen anyway".

                      You read "here's how you can make money in this environment" as "bend over"?

                      You may not have a zero marginal cost product, but the pirates are going to make it into that for you.

                      Piracy cannot remove costs, only prices.

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                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 13 Sep 2014 @ 4:10pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

                      I didn't suggest that he said "give it away and pray", thanks for pointing that out. He just says since piracy is going to give it away anyway, you may as well do the same and profit it from it as marketing towards whatever business model you are using.

                      Technology changes business models, and can also change the people who can prosper in any given business area. The change from silent films to talkies destroyed the career of many of the silent movie stars. Radio, and recording changed which performers could make a living from the variety theater day. Steam traction, and then motor vehicles changed the people making a living in the transport industry.
                      Near zero cost copying and distribution is changing those who can make a living in the content industries. One of its impacts is that more people can make their work available for others, which means that it is more competitive and making a living means reducing overheads. Further, the jobs in the content industry that are being eliminated is the middleman organizer/publisher, especially when they want control of works, and take most of the income.
                      Those creative people who are doing well in the free to copy and distribute environment are those who have a reasonable degree of marketing skill, which is what connect with fans is all about. Also just because their work is available for free does not mean that they cannot also sell copies to fans, especially as fans realize that their favorite creators need to make a living, or if amateur, that is creating for the love of it, need to meet their hosting bills.
                      For any creator trying to make money from their work, what matter is the number of paying fans that they can acquire. They can try and prevent copying, and probably have very few sales, or they can use a CC license, or otherwise ignore copies being circulated for free, and accept however many fans that that creates. 50 sales, and no free copies is hardly likely to be enough to make a living, several hundred thousand copies circulating, and several thousand sales can be a living.
                      While a painter or a sculptor can produce limited edition, that is unique works, and anybody producing physical goods can produce limited edition, it is pointless trying to control the number of copies of any electronic goods.
                      Alternative business models include live performance, sponsorship and crowd funding. People will finance and support the production of goods that are give away, which is how the whole free/open source software industry works.
                      A final point, the production of cultural goods is not dependent on them being a means of making money, while the production of physical goods in bulk does require them to make money. It is tough being a distributor when your services are no longer needed, especially when as so many of them have done, they have pushed the value added work, production and marketing, onto the creators, and left themselves with the redundant part of the business, organizing the production of physical copies and the distribution logistics.

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                • icon
                  techflaws (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 10:15pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

                  do you need more help with this?

                  Right back at ya.

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            • icon
              John Fenderson (profile), 13 Sep 2014 @ 11:17am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

              "Go back and read the last 10 years of techdirt."

              Based on the fact that you frequently mischaracterize Techdirt positions, I think I have a fuller grasp of their history than you.

              As to your example, it's saying the exact opposite of what you claim. Far from "Why bother", it's pointing out various ways artists can profit from their works in the face of the obvious economics and piracy.

              What I don't understand is why you think this is a bad thing.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 13 Sep 2014 @ 2:30pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

                All the person ever does is make opinions/claims that are baseless and devoid of fact and if anyone calls them out for it and they can't give an argument back they just call the person (who called them out) a troll. It sure speaks volumes about them when they can't give an argument back.

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        • identicon
          JEDIDIAH, 11 Sep 2014 @ 11:48am

          Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

          > Not really true. Techdirt has made the point that the initial selling price should be up to the artist, but that piracy makes that zero so why bother?

          Not quite.

          You simply can't force people to buy your work. It doesn't matter if piracy exists or not.

          On the other hand, forms of "free" have always existed. The idea that the Internet is anything new in this regard is just the crying dinosaurs complaining that the world changed and that they are unable to adapt.

          Radio and mix tapes and home recording and even MTV all predated the Internet as Music relevant forms of "free".

          There are some notable artists that I have only ever consumed in some form of "free". It was all perfectly legal too.

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          • icon
            Whatever (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 5:27pm

            Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

            You simply can't force people to buy your work. It doesn't matter if piracy exists or not.

            I am not sure what you are getting at here. Nobody is trying to force anyone to buy something. There is nobody in the street with a gun going "buy my music or I'll shoot you!".

            Radio isn't free - it's without cash cost, but it's not free. MTV is not free either (you both pay for the channel on cable and then pay with your attention to commercials and hype). Mix Tapes are perhaps the only example of free that you have, yet even those started with someone buying the music, so not entirely free.

            There are some notable artists that I have only ever consumed in some form of "free".

            yes, and what you missed was that is really wasn't free, just without cash cost to you. The difference is significant!

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2014 @ 6:14pm

              Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

              I am not sure what you are getting at here. Nobody is trying to force anyone to buy something. There is nobody in the street with a gun going "buy my music or I'll shoot you!".

              Except that whenever a movie or album or game does badly these days, it's never because of the quality. Someone will scream "piracy" and begin suing people for thousands of dollars, or demanding laws to be put in place because of "lost sales".

              By the way, walk along Los Angeles. There are many instances of a scam where some guy tries to pass you a CD, claiming it's free, then when you do pick up on his offer, he and his buddies surround you to demand payment. Guess you're wrong on that count.

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              • icon
                Whatever (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 6:33pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

                By the way, walk along Los Angeles. There are many instances of a scam where some guy tries to pass you a CD, claiming it's free, then when you do pick up on his offer, he and his buddies surround you to demand payment. Guess you're wrong on that count.

                [citation needed]

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2014 @ 7:48pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

                  40 Travel Scams to Watch Out This Summer.

                  Also it happened to me when I was in the States two years ago, but I refused the CD.

                  But hey, everyone knows you're not too big on evidence even when it happens to countless others.

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                  • icon
                    Whatever (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 11:47pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

                    everyone knows you're not too big on evidence even when it happens to countless others

                    Hey, thanks for the personal attack. I needed that.

                    Seriously, an infographic is your source?

                    That you didn't notice that it says "new york" and not "los angeles" doesn't add to my feeling that you really know or care about it, only that you are trying to troll. The story may or may not be true, but as a scam, it would be incredibly, overwhelmingly small potatoes.

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                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2014 @ 2:33am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

                      Except for the fact that I was in Los Angeles two years ago, and had the same thing happen to me.

                      I'm not surprised that you'd rather stick up for scammers, though. "I don't think it happens enough, therefore it's not a problem." Fantastic logic!

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                    • icon
                      nasch (profile), 12 Sep 2014 @ 5:52am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

                      The story may or may not be true, but as a scam, it would be incredibly, overwhelmingly small potatoes.

                      Interesting.

                      A/C: this thing happens sometimes
                      Whatever: prove it
                      A/C: proves it
                      Whatever: I don't believe you, plus it doesn't happen very much so somehow I'm right and you're wrong.

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        • icon
          jupiterkansas (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 12:29pm

          Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

          Techdirt shows people how to profit despite piracy, not profit from piracy, and that's where your whole argruement fails.

          You seem to think the only proper response to piracy is to condemn and rail against it until it goes away, and any other thought is endorsing it, but all Techdirt is saying is accept the fact that it's not going away and figuring out how to deal with it.

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          • icon
            Whatever (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 11:56pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

            Techdirt shows people how to profit despite piracy, not profit from piracy, and that's where your whole argruement(sic) fails.

            Without the piracy, neither bit of word play would matter. The concept of giving stuff away or profiting (word here) piracy would be meaningless.


            You seem to think the only proper response to piracy is to condemn and rail against it until it goes away

            Not at all the case. However, I think of piracy in the same way that I look at other petty crimes. If you celebrate it, if you promote it, if you attempt to get rich from it's existence, then you are contributing to the problem.

            Techdirt is saying is accept the fact that it's not going away and figuring out how to deal with it.

            It's not going away because they support the people fighting hard to protect it. Sticking up every argument in the book (including the amusing "copyright is against the first amendment" arguments show not just a desire to "deal with it" but to continue to create the atmosphere and legal situation where it's a fact of life.

            Remember what I said at the top. It's never one thing that is said, it's the collective words, actions, and intentions that mean so much. If you stand too close, you don't see it. Step back a bit, and it's rather much more obvious:

            anti-copyright, anti-patent, anti-middleman, anti-government, anti-authority, pro-first amendment, pro-free speech... all tacked in with "we know better" attitude. it's the whole f'n deal :)

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            • icon
              nasch (profile), 12 Sep 2014 @ 5:54am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

              If you celebrate it, if you promote it, if you attempt to get rich from it's existence, then you are contributing to the problem.

              Techdirt neither does nor encourages any of those things.

              It's not going away because they support the people fighting hard to protect it.

              You're actually claiming that piracy will not go away because of people like Mike Masnick? I may have entered the wrong "argument"...

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    • icon
      Nastybutler77 (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 10:56am

      Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

      Only the artist can make that decision. It is not a decision that the consumer can make (in the form of piracy for example), or tech-dirt, or anyone else, other than the artist.

      I think you mean "should make" not "can make." Otherwise you're tilting at windmills. Every time I download a torrent, I prove that I can.

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    • icon
      orbitalinsertion (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 11:11am

      Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

      You haven't actually read techdirt, have you.

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

    • icon
      Rikuo (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 11:43am

      Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

      "I think what tech-dirt and other sites promoting "free" fail to consider, is this: if the artist wants to include free in his business model fine, if he doesn't, that's fine too.

      Only the artist can make that decision. It is not a decision that the consumer can make (in the form of piracy for example), or tech-dirt, or anyone else, other than the artist."

      I think what you yourself are failing to consider is that this involves restricting speech and property rights of everyone else on the planet. If an artist wants to release a music track for 99 cents and have it enforced by the law, the only way the law can do it is via a system that monitors speech and restricts property rights. iTunes doesn't have DRM anymore but at one point in history it did. DRM involves taking away control of a computing device away from its owner and preventing that owner from using that device to make speech.

      I can't find the quote I'm thinking of, but it goes something along the lines of "If your business model depends on sacrificing other people's rights, then you don't deserve to be allowed to do it".

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      • icon
        fgoodwin (profile), 12 Sep 2014 @ 11:57am

        Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

        I think what you yourself are failing to consider is that this involves restricting speech and property rights of everyone else on the planet.
        Are you seriously suggesting that if I, as an artist choose to sell my song at a price that you personally disagree with, that somehow infringes on your speech and property rights?

        How exactly are your speech and property rights infringed if I create something and choose not to sell it at all?

        If I misunderstood you, I apologize. Please enlighten me.

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    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 11:47am

      Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

      Only the artist can make that decision. It is not a decision that the consumer can make (in the form of piracy for example), or tech-dirt, or anyone else, other than the artist.

      Curious if you could point to any argument we've ever made that says artists must give away their work for free?

      Thanks.

      Otherwise, an apology would be nice.

      Also, if no one else can make that decision, other than the artist, can you explain how many record labels make that decision for the artists anyway? Thanks.

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      • icon
        Whatever (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 5:36pm

        Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

        Curious if you could point to any argument we've ever made that says artists must give away their work for free?

        Nobody claims MUST. You have spoken often about the inevitability of it, the effects of infinite distribution and all. There is no must in play here, only that the piracy fueled (or decimated) marketplace dictates the price is zero. So rather than sell music, sell tickets, swag, shirts...

        There is no "must", only what you see as inevitability.

        if no one else can make that decision, other than the artist, can you explain how many record labels make that decision for the artists anyway?

        It's only because the artist has chosen, by contract, to allow that to happen. It was the artist's choice.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2014 @ 6:47pm

          Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

          "only that the piracy fueled (or decimated) marketplace dictates the price is zero"

          That's one of your many fundamental misunderstandings. It's the stark reality of infinite supply that dictates the price is zero. Trying to artificially change that results in piracy--piracy is effect, not cause.

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          • icon
            Whatever (profile), 12 Sep 2014 @ 1:25am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

            I understand perfectly. But as an artist, if I choose to sell only 10 copies of an album, is it in fact INFINITE, or very finite? It's very finite until one of those 10 decides to rip it and give it away via piracy... then it's infinite and it's cost is zero. Piracy is the only true infinite distribution, everything else at best is near but not truly infinite.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2014 @ 4:07am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

              If you only choose to sell ten copies, it's really not anyone's business to send you money when people end up making their own copies that you didn't want money for.

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            • icon
              nasch (profile), 12 Sep 2014 @ 5:55am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

              But as an artist, if I choose to sell only 10 copies of an album, is it in fact INFINITE, or very finite?

              The physical objects are finite. The data is infinite, which is shorthand for non-rivalous and non-excludable.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2014 @ 11:24am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

              You still don't understand. You choose to sell only 10 copies of an album. You sell me 1. I make an INFINITE number of personal backups.

              You have not controlled the number of copies of your work in any way.

              The only thing you have done is changed the distribution arrangement since I am not legally able to distribute my backup copies. Of course, I can lend a few to friends.

              So no, piracy doesn't change the marginal costs of reproduction. Piracy is simply the leaking of licensed works through unconstrained channels. The physics are already there. What you see are the photons of bad business models.

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

      • icon
        fgoodwin (profile), 12 Sep 2014 @ 12:04pm

        Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

        I said Techdirt "promotes" free. This very article is an example. Don't be a pedant, Mike.

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        • icon
          nasch (profile), 12 Sep 2014 @ 12:25pm

          Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

          I said Techdirt "promotes" free. This very article is an example. Don't be a pedant, Mike.

          "Only the artist can make that decision. It is not a decision that the consumer can make (in the form of piracy for example), or tech-dirt, or anyone else, other than the artist."

          That definitely sounds like you're accusing Techdirt of trying to make the decision for artists.

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

      • icon
        antidirt (profile), 12 Sep 2014 @ 12:57pm

        Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

        Curious if you could point to any argument we've ever made that says artists must give away their work for free?

        Thanks.

        Otherwise, an apology would be nice.

        Also, if no one else can make that decision, other than the artist, can you explain how many record labels make that decision for the artists anyway? Thanks.


        Hey, Mike! Why don't you tell us explicitly what you believe about copyright so there's no doubt where you stand? Oh, yeah, you won't do that. I guess you like the perceived plausible deniability too much to give us straight answers. I guess *that's* why you're such a weasel when it comes to being explicit about your beliefs. No one can pigeonhole you, right? Sigh.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 13 Sep 2014 @ 2:24pm

          Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

          Still stalking Mike after 4 years with your obsession in hounding him!

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 14 Sep 2014 @ 3:40am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

            Someone really should let his wife know that he's using her laptop to flirt with other married men that he holds unrequited affection for.

            Unless his wife's name is Whatever.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2014 @ 1:10pm

      Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

      "Only the artist can make that decision. It is not a decision that the consumer can make (in the form of piracy for example), or tech-dirt, or anyone else, other than the artist."

      Have you ever thrown a rock into a pond? Of course you have. And did the water ripple? Sure it did. Have you ever expected the water not to ripple? Of course not, why would you - you know exactly that the water will ripple, if you throw the rock into the pond, no matter how much you wish it wouldn't.

      But there is one way to avoid the ripple:

      Don't throw the rock into the pond.

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

      • icon
        jupiterkansas (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 1:19pm

        Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

        What kind of a answer is that?

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2014 @ 2:26pm

          Re: Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

          The web is much more akin to a force of nature than it is to a "technical device". It has shown to follow certain rules - and no matter how hard someone tries to change these rules, they tend to reinstate themselves organically.

          If the rock is the artists work, the publishing act is equivalent to the throwing of the rock. Once published, the artist looses control over it and can't in any way avoid that his work gets copied. He might think that only him can "decide" wether his work gets copied or not - but that is wishful thinking or better - reality denial.

          The only way to not get copied is not to publish.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2014 @ 3:10pm

        Re: Re: Free is in the eye of beholder

        "Have you ever expected the water not to ripple?"

        Yes. But it was mid January in northern Minnesota at the time.

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  • identicon
    Michael, 11 Sep 2014 @ 10:30am

    “This is a gift from Apple to their customers,” Mr. Oseary said. “They bought it and they are giving it away.”

    Yes. This is a gift from Apple. It is not a gift from U2. U2 thinks you are all a bunch of freeloading a**holes and you should go f*** yourselves for ever thinking about listening to their music without paying them for it.

    Thanks guys.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2014 @ 10:32am

    Um, how is U2 giving it away for "free"? Apple paid them quite a hefty sum.

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

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 10:47am

      Re:

      But the people getting the music aren't. So it's free. What U2 and Bono have complained about is some weird sense that music is cheapened or devalued when the people listening to it don't pay for it. This release certainly counts as that.

      Of course, they also completely ignore the fact that as long as radio has existed people have been getting music for free.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2014 @ 2:19am

        Re: Re:

        U2 didn't give a fuck about idiot pirates with this release. They were paid a princely sum to make it for Apple. Nothing free there.

        Do you think your time/attention is free? The time you spend listening and then removing this from your itunes? Wish I had that kind of "free" time.

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

        • icon
          nasch (profile), 12 Sep 2014 @ 5:59am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Do you think your time/attention is free? The time you spend listening and then removing this from your itunes?

          People generally mean "zero price" when they say free. If you count every possible cost, nothing can ever be free (there is always opportunity cost), and the word would be useless. So instead we generally use a definition of the word that gives it some function.

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

  • icon
    Inwoods (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 10:34am

    I'm Catholic. Charging for sacraments is a sin.

    God's grace is infinite, and freely offered to us. Granted, text books and things being concrete, physical objects in limited supply sometimes have a fee attached. There is a "stipend" attached to a mass that is supposed to cover the cost of the physical things like the priest's gas money. But that is waved if someone can't afford it. Cost should never stand in the way of an experience of the sacred.

    So if U2 wants to charge for physical things like CDs, then sure, the sacramental analogy helps him. But in so far as copying music costs him nothing? Spread that grace as far as it goes!

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

    • icon
      James Jensen (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 12:31pm

      Re:

      I was wondering when somebody was going to mention this. I used to be Mormon, and we had the same deal: nobody got paid for sacraments.

      In addition, my grandfather was a Baptist minister. He never took money except maybe to cover gas. He once got paid a couple thousand for a sermon; he turned around and put the check in the offering plate the next week.

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

    • icon
      art guerrilla (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 12:39pm

      Re:

      i'll just reply to you, since boner's 'music is sacrament' statement is annoying, much like he is...

      no, music is NOT sacrament, i realize it has a LOT of meaning to a LOT of lives, but not necessarily everyone, and not necessarily as deeply as he thinks...

      when i'm sitting at my desk idly drumming a pattern, that is a form of music, it is not a sacrament, and it is not really a huge deal, but it IS a form of music that i enjoy...

      you, your wife, your kids, they sing a line or two, they hum a song, they dance around crazily and sing nonsense tunes, it is all still 'music', maybe not polished, maybe formless, maybe not professional caliber by any stretch, but it IS 'music'...

      AND, i would maintain that such personal music 'performances' are 100 times more valuable than music made by professionals for us to merely consume, NOT perform...

      i'm sorry, *most* musicians are NOT so special: ANY OF US with the time and inclination could do what 90%+ of them do; they are NOT all virtuosos and geniuses one step removed from mozart...
      they aren't sacred, they're technicians/artists with a specialized skill...

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

      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 12:44pm

        Re: Re:

        "i would maintain that such personal music 'performances' are 100 times more valuable than music made by professionals"

        I agree with this completely, although there is also great value in hearing artists performing their own work.

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

  • identicon
    pegr, 11 Sep 2014 @ 10:35am

    U2?

    They stopped being relevant back in the late eighties. They are as "hip" as my Dad now. Who really cares what these blood-sucking dinosaurs think?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2014 @ 10:47am

    If it's so sacred, why is he charging to experience it? Is music now Scientology?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2014 @ 11:08am

    But is the album any good?

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

  • icon
    pouar (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 11:14am

    Oh well, Rock sucks anyway.

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

  • icon
    saulgoode (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 11:16am

    Music has become tap water, a utility, where for me it's a sacred thing, so I'm a little offended."
    Music has become a litigating weapon, an indictment, where for me it is a recreational pastime, so I am more than a little offended*.


    * Which is why I have not purchased a single album or attended a single concert by a major studio act since the recording industry started suing its fans 11 years ago (I do support indy and unsigned acts by direct purchases and attending performances at local venues and music festivals).

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

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 11:23am

      Re:

      This is a good point. I stopped buying RIAA member music roughly around the same time you did, for very similar reasons.

      In part, because I agree with Bono that music is a sacred thing, and that those companies use it as a weapon (even against people who don't listen to music at all) is deeply and powerfully offensive to me.

      That Bono supports that system is a heresy against the very beliefs he claims to hold dear.

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

  • icon
    Chris ODonnell (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 11:29am

    If taking music without paying is piracy, and receiving music without asking is spam, does that mean the the opposite of piracy is spam?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2014 @ 12:54pm

      Re:

      Oh, that could create some hot waters. Music industry indulging the spam industry and demanding pay for sacrament etc.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2014 @ 11:43am

    I was under the impression that the sacred transcended money. Sure, a person that helps one find and participate in the sacred can be paid for that service. This person does have bills to pay, after all. But to say you must pay because something is sacred offends the very idea of that sanctity.

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

  • identicon
    Michael, 11 Sep 2014 @ 12:03pm

    “This is a gift from Apple to their customers,” Mr. Oseary said. “They bought it and they are giving it away.”

    So I am assuming that U2 is totally ok with me selling or giving away any digital U2 music files I currently have.

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

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 12:19pm

      Re:

      I'm sure that Apple negotiated and obtained a license allowing them to do this. If you negotiate and obtain such a license, then yes, you can too.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2014 @ 12:46pm

        Re: Re:

        So, you're saying Mr. Oseary is twisting the truth: Apple hasn't really bought the music they are giving away as gifts. They only paid for a license to give it away for free (or something like that).

        Now, me, I just received a gift. Pray tell me where it says I cannot do as I please with the gifts that I receive... (such as "give away" or "sell")

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2014 @ 3:41pm

      Re:

      This is a gift from Apple to their customers,” Mr. Oseary said. “They bought it and they are giving it away.”

      Sharing is caring , wait i thought that was illegal So we can now use that as a legal defense.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2014 @ 12:14pm

    Music as Sacrament....

    “We were paid,” Bono tells TIME. “I don’t believe in free music. Music is a sacrament.”


    Er, way to mix metaphors, Bono. I don't believe in chairs; I just sit on them. However, I've NEVER heard of someone having to pay to take the sacrament.

    Not only that, I guess that means Bono doesn't believe in Folk music, or for that matter, in any of the stuff I produce, all of which is free, and is used as a social stimulus that drives other community-related activity which increases my audience and makes people more willing to pay for other things.

    I'm surprised nobody has pushed out an article with the headline "Bono thinks the church should charge for its services".


    With the iPhone and U2 at that event, all we were missing was the Wii. And yes, it's the "we" that makes "free" music a lucrative offering.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2014 @ 12:28pm

    Collecting cash from Apple

    "For U2 that's collecting millions in cash from Apple."

    As an Apple shareholder with an iTunes account and a strong dislike of U2 I think this deal stinks. I've got an album I don't want from a band I don't like and disagree with Apple's use of the cash. Couldn't they find a younger band who needed the exposure instead of forking out for a superannuated bunch of pompous rich guys? Rhetorical I suppose, but Tim Cook is showing his vintage.

    (Yes, I did listen to some of the album in an attempt to be open-minded and it's just not my thing.)

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2014 @ 12:36pm

    I can see this for u2. in the 80's we were OK with a song existing thanks only to an electronic delay. Unfortunately for U2, this no longer passes as worthy of merit. so free is all they got.

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

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 12:41pm

      Re:

      According to the reviews of the album that I've been reading, it's bad enough that people feel they've overpaid even when they got it for free.

      Disclaimer: I've never been a fan of U2, I haven't heard (and probably will never hear) this album, so I have no actual opinion on the music. But there seem to be a lot more negative reviews than positive ones.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2014 @ 12:53pm

        Re: Re:

        Is it possible that folks are being harsher in the reviews because it was pushed on them?

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2014 @ 1:14pm

        Re: Re:

        I haven't heard it either, but I imagine it sounds like this,

        One note played over and over struck in time with a delay that builds up the same note. Next, drone the root on the bass, then add a vocal that goes 1 - 3 - 5 (these are intervals, adjust for minor etc...). in other words, just like anyother u2 'song.'

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

  • icon
    JWW (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 12:41pm

    Sacrement?

    Bono calls music a sacrament and then complains that because he thinks of it like that people should pay for it.

    But, when my church gives me communion (an _actual_ sacrament), they don't charge me a dime for it.

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

  • icon
    LAB (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 12:49pm

    I think the underlying issue Bono is addressing is, obviously, piracy. In that regard, I agree. The value of the artist in society is that they create art with intrinsic qualities that differentiate it from the creation of another. So much so that people desire to experience it and realize they themselves have neither the time nor talent to make this creation. To the artist maybe the art is spiritual or cathartic in nature. I believe we should monetarily reward the artist if we enjoy their art and to foster the creation of more art. If you truly enjoy an artist support them. Some approach art is if the artist is only "hocking their wares." However, many artist spend hours and years practicing their art and that has, in my eyes, a monetary value that society tends to devalue, especially in this digital age.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2014 @ 1:12pm

      Re:

      art? we are talking about U2. Art is not a factor.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 1:12pm

      Re:

      I believe we should monetarily reward the artist if we enjoy their art and to foster the creation of more art.

      I don't believe anyone is arguing otherwise, where the contention enters the picture is what happens when the artist(or more often their label) doesn't feel like they are being 'monetarily rewarded' enough, and decide to break out the lawyers/laws to 'fix' it, collateral damage be damned.

      Artists should be rewarded for their works, and so they can create more works in the future = General agreement from most.

      A song goes from being worth $1 to thousands or tens of thousands if downloaded, rather than 'purchased' = Not so much agreement.

      Stuff like that, is where people start disagreeing, and when you've got artists who see nothing wrong with the above, then people start disagreeing with them as well.

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

      • icon
        LAB (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 7:09pm

        Re: Re:

        " where the contention enters the picture is what happens when the artist(or more often their label) doesn't feel like they are being 'monetarily rewarded' enough, and decide to break out the lawyers/laws to 'fix' it."

        I am not sure what being monetarily rewarded enough means. Lawyers get involved when someone breaks the law. I have not heard often "that business is getting paid 'enough' so I will break the law and acquire their product." A label is nothing more than a business that sells music. The monetary liability for breaking said law can be quite excessive and I believe should be adjusted. However,generally businesses exist to provide a service or sell a product in order to turn a profit, so it is only logical they would take action when something interferes with that.

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

        • icon
          nasch (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 8:10pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Lawyers get involved when someone breaks the law.

          Oh yes! Nobody ever involves lawyers unless someone has actually broken the law! Good one!

          However,generally businesses exist to provide a service or sell a product in order to turn a profit, so it is only logical they would take action when something interferes with that.

          The question is, what action? Buy laws, or compete in the marketplace?

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

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 8:44pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Lawyers get involved when someone breaks the law.

          Or someone is accused of breaking the law, or a company outsources their 'targeting' to a company that's not so interested in the whole 'evidence' stuff, or someone wants to use the system to make a quick buck...

          To clarify, when I said 'fix' I was primarily talking about buying laws to prop up their old business models, at the cost of pretty much everyone else. Retroactive extensions to copyright, completely and utterly absurd fines and threats, demanding that everyone but them be responsible for their content(and at their own expense), those sorts of things.

          If the system was sane and reasonable(drastically lowered copyright duration and infringement penalties being the two changes that come to mind first), then odds are when copyright was violated, most people would be on the side of the creator/owner, and see little wrong with a little punishment handed out.

          But when you've got (effectively) infinite copyright duration, truly insane fines handed out/used to shake people down(innocent or guilty), collateral damage left and right by those 'enforcing' copyright, who couldn't care less about any side-effects from their actions, purchased laws that are entirely one-sided... yeah, that's where I and others start to have problems with the system.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2014 @ 10:21pm

      Re:

      And if we think your music is crap, are you providing full refund, plus paying for my time that was wasted and I will never get back?
      My time is valuable. I receive over $100 per hour for my services.

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

  • identicon
    da skunkster, 11 Sep 2014 @ 1:05pm

    U Poo

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 1:22pm

    Only if you do it wrong

    As consumers, we have come to love "free" - but as creators, seeking reward for our work, it has become our worst nightmare.

    I regularly listen to songs, and often entire albums, completely free on Bandcamp, quite often multiple times.

    Not so coincidentally, at about the same time I began to do so, my music purchasing went from essentially non-existent(I believe I had maybe half a dozen CD's before that point, more than half of them gifts) to rather frequent, with my collection clocking in at just under 90 albums, and a dozenish singles at the moment.

    All that 'free' music at my fingertips, where I can listen to it as much as I want and browse it as I wish, has caused a massive boost in my music purchasing habits, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who's been affected as such, so if 'free' music is a nightmare for him, it's only because he doesn't know how to use it properly to increase sales.

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

  • icon
    PW (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 1:28pm

    Conflating the "free" argument

    The challenge with using the term "free" is a semantic and a contextual one. Focusing on the contextual issue, "free" is relative to the consumer of music not the producer. The idea that we can predicate business models where consumers don't pay with money but with their attention happens all the time. Providing free content in exchange for consumers seeing ads is a simple example of that. In this case, consumers don't pay money (hence "free") but they still have an exchange of currency with the provider of the content who can monetize consumers' attention.

    When we get to the producer of content (in this case musicians), producing music is only one aspect of the "business of providing consumers with music". Other aspects of this business include getting attention for their music, which they can do by buying ads, getting friends or fans to review their music on music review sites, or getting distributors of music to feature their music in exchange for a percentage of each sale they generate. If they don't have the funds or the friends/fans to get attention, then giving their music away is their marketing cost. In other words, they paid with their content instead of with paying money to publications (for advertising) or distributors (sales commissions).

    If they're not in the "business" of making music but do so as hobbyists, then there should be no expectation of making money, unless in giving it away they develop a following and can then choose to market their music in other ways to better monetize it. Of course, many musicians may view themselves as being in the business of making music, but to the extent that their best monetization option is by performing concerts then they should realize that their value proposition is as an entertainer not a content producer. If it's in selling paraphernalia or other items relating to their brand, then they are retailers or distributors of that content. The music itself becomes just their currency of exchange for marketing which they believe presents a favorable ROI against the business that they are really in.

    It's silly to have arguments about "free" without some context around what's being exchanged and what free really is. Heck, some times I wonder if there's anything that's really free any more...certainly not anything on the Internet ;)

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2014 @ 3:45pm

    I still find it funny that U2 feels they own the history of the Irish people , like they actually created the stories they use as lyrics , a message to U2 you may sing about it , but the stories are part of culture.

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

    • icon
      Gwiz (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 5:03pm

      Re:

      I still find it funny that U2 feels they own the history of the Irish people , like they actually created the stories they use as lyrics , a message to U2 you may sing about it , but the stories are part of culture.


      Wait, are you saying that people in Ireland still can't find what they're looking for because the streets have no names?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2014 @ 6:17pm

      Re:

      So if we download enough U2 songs, Ireland would eventually cease to exist?

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

  • icon
    CanadianByChoice (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 9:27pm

    Not so Free

    After I started reading the comments here, I checked my iPhone - and sure ehough, there was this "U2" album that I knew absolutely nothing about. I'm not a U2 fan - in fact, I don't think I've ever listed to a single track they've ever produced. What U2 suffers from most of all in this household isn't piracy, isn't "free" .. it's obscurity. And that is far, far worse! (Took three hours to get U2 off my iPhone. My time is worth something to me, so that is no where near "free".)
    Artists (and musicians) produce their art because they're artists, not because they make money. Artists have no "right" to make money; they DO have a right to try. Once the focus is money, however, they're not longer artists, but, rather, they become businessmen.
    Some people assert that you can be both artist and businessmen. As a rule, I tend to disagree. An artist produces a representation of what they feel. A businessman produces things that sell. It's very rare that these attitudes co-exist.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2014 @ 2:26am

    100+ replies and not one dolt realizes how U2 just punked SillyCon Valley.

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

  • icon
    antidirt (profile), 12 Sep 2014 @ 12:54pm

    Techdirt Logic: U2 gets paid millions of dollars by Apple, yet this shows they've embraced "free." Priceless.

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

    • icon
      Gwiz (profile), 12 Sep 2014 @ 1:41pm

      Re:

      Techdirt Logic: U2 gets paid millions of dollars by Apple, yet this shows they've embraced "free." Priceless.

      Did you actually read through the article, AJ?

      You (just like Bono) are misunderstanding the nature of "free". The fact that that Apple paid them upfront doesn't change the fact that "free" is part of the business model that paid them.

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

      • icon
        antidirt (profile), 12 Sep 2014 @ 1:57pm

        Re: Re:

        Did you actually read through the article, AJ?

        You (just like Bono) are misunderstanding the nature of "free". The fact that that Apple paid them upfront doesn't change the fact that "free" is part of the business model that paid them.


        I did read it, and I thought it was pretty funny. U2 granted Apple a license for millions of dollars. That's not giving it away for free. If I buy you a beer at a bar, the bar has not embraced "free." Give me a break.

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

        • icon
          Gwiz (profile), 12 Sep 2014 @ 5:38pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I did read it, and I thought it was pretty funny. U2 granted Apple a license for millions of dollars. That's not giving it away for free.

          You are being purposely obtuse now. Apple is obviously embracing free as some part of their business plan by paying for and then giving away the music for free. By accepting Apple's cash for doing this, U2 is also embracing "free" as a part of their business model.


          If I buy you a beer at a bar, the bar has not embraced "free." Give me a break.

          That's a lame analogy. Buying someone a beer is nowhere near a multi-million dollar music deal.

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

          • icon
            antidirt (profile), 12 Sep 2014 @ 6:13pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            You are being purposely obtuse now. Apple is obviously embracing free as some part of their business plan by paying for and then giving away the music for free. By accepting Apple's cash for doing this, U2 is also embracing "free" as a part of their business model.

            U2 has done nothing of the sort. U2 was paid handsomely for their product, that is, the music. They didn't give it away for free. They sold it for a nice profit.

            That's a lame analogy. Buying someone a beer is nowhere near a multi-million dollar music deal.

            Do you not understand how an analogy works?

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2014 @ 6:54pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              You think spamming the same remark on every thread and mimicking a barnyard counts as funny and intellectual.

              No, you don't deserve the benefit of doubt when it comes to describing how analogies work.

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

            • icon
              Gwiz (profile), 12 Sep 2014 @ 7:37pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Do you not understand how an analogy works?

              Do you? Good analogies compare things that are actually analogous with each other.

              Comparing a $10 expenditure that requires about 14 seconds of thought with something like U2 marketing their next album for millions of dollars is not a good analogy. It's lame.

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

  • identicon
    Rummeltje, 13 Sep 2014 @ 5:57am

    U-who ?
    Did the record company forget to close the retirement home again ?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Sep 2014 @ 3:02pm

    Fuck U2.

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


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