El-P: We Make Our Music Available For Free And Trust Our Fans To Support Us, And We Always Will

from the good-guys dept

In the pantheon of massively talented musical acts that also get and embrace the power of the internet, of using free music to make money, and of emergent business models, the folks behind Run The Jewels stand particularly tall. The duo, Killer Mike and El-P, have managed to make themselves household names through a combination of freely available music, a positive and often humorous level of interaction with their fans, and the kind of forthright public statements that create a bond with those that follow them. It's all so perfectly well done that you would think Run The Jewels was following some kind of a script, but it is pleasantly obvious that these are just really good guys who happen to also make fantastic music. They also occasionally, and far too infrequently, write blog posts, including for Techdirt.

The most recent version of all of this started with a Twitter user complaining to El-P that he or she typically listens to RTJ on Spotify and had no idea where to get their albums. Another Twitter account piped up confirming that, like the rest of the RTJ catalog, the albums were available for free download on the group's website. That same Twitter account mentioned that he also bought the albums through iTunes purely out of a desire to support RTJ. This, of course, happens quite frequently, which is virtually ignored by the "Piracy is killing music, argghghgh!" crowd.

What doesn't happen as frequently is what came next from El-P.

And we always will. That's how you know when a philosophy has moved beyond a tryout of a gimmick and into a more dogmatic adoption of a business philosophy. And there can no longer be any doubt that behaving this way is simply good business. However, I'll be damned if all of this doesn't come off far more genuine than had it come out of a boardroom of suits looking to maximize profits. The truth is that El-P is just a really, really good dude. This is the impression one gets seeing interactions like this. And it fosters a bond with the community of fans of RTJ.


There are many more replies like that. And why not? Why wouldn't a musical act being human and awesome to its fans not foster a closer bond and desire to support that act? That seems like common sense to me, even as it eludes far too much of the music industry.


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 23 Oct 2018 @ 3:20pm

    Ignoring the usual copyright path also works.

    We probably won't hear from the usual pro-copyright strict constructionist here as it is hard to argue with a copyright holder who is successful in giving away their content. Successful in that they are still alive and happy to continue to give away their content.

    Whether they are rich or not is not at issue, because it does not appear to be an issue with them. Hmm, are they rich? How does one define rich. Is it a solely monetary construct, or does rich in satisfaction come into play. Don't ask a pro-copyright strict constructionist as the answer will be skewed toward money.

    Those pro-copyright strict constructionists are probably sad because this model destroys many, if not all of their arguments.

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

    • icon
      Gary (profile), 23 Oct 2018 @ 5:40pm

      Re: Ignoring the usual copyright path also works.

      Those pro-copyright strict constructionists are probably sad because this model destroys many, if not all of their arguments.

      It only take one example to prove an absolute position is incorrect.

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

      • icon
        Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 23 Oct 2018 @ 5:57pm

        Re: Re: Ignoring the usual copyright path also works.

        And yet some absolute positions are 'enhanced' with 'bogus statistics' that keep getting iterated, regardless of accuracy or substance. To them, correct. To any thinking, logical person with integrity, not so much. (Note I leave out the morons in a hurry, 'cause they're morons).

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

        • icon
          Gary (profile), 23 Oct 2018 @ 6:44pm

          Re: Re: Re: Ignoring the usual copyright path also works.

          Well the usual suspects are astroturfing for corporate copyright holders so nothing will sway them, eh?

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

          • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
            identicon
            THE "usual pro-copyright strict constructionist"., 23 Oct 2018 @ 7:41pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Ignoring the usual copyright path also works.

            "A-A-C" and "Gary" each back after an hour still trying to troll up some response...

            My reasoned ON-TOPIC comment below. Contrasts greatly with your empty trolling.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    THE "usual pro-copyright strict constructionist"., 23 Oct 2018 @ 7:34pm

    Samo lamo: garage band gets enough for drugs, therefore...

    First, I'll assume that's ME since everyone reasonable has long since quit commenting here. -- You're just trying to gin up controversy with insulty trolling, fanboy-troll, to make it look as though anyone cares about this tired assertion. -- I'm here only for hoots, and late to not help your goals.

    Anyhoo.

    You've every right to give away YOUR OWN content.

    I want you to do so. Enjoy not getting rewarded very much for your labor, if at all. See if doesn't make you re-consider your notions.

    Listen, kids: no one has EVER said that garage bands can't support themselves if expectations are low. MILLIONS of "artists" get a subsistence EVERY DAY without exercising copyright. (I don't even understand why Techdirt has such few examples! I guess only politically correct artists like Cory Doctorow are regarded as successes here. OR Techdirt / Masnick are simply unware of history since Hank Williams drove around selling records out of his Cadillac's trunk. Techdirt doesn't seem to know anything that's not done on the net...)

    But do you think Taylor Swift, who last I saw had gotten $200 million from the "dinosaur system", known world-wide now, is EVER going to give away her music?

    Techdirt never mentions sites like download.com off which I got hundreds of megabytes of music and some of it GREAT. But that service was eventually dropped (after full-scale experiment over several years) because PROVED doesn't reward either host or artists!

    Now look at Linux for whether giving away for free works. It does not, even though one gets not mere passing entertainment but potentially years of actual use. (I doubt that from own experience trying dozens in which never even saw a desktop from some, and haven't found even one recently that can rely on, but there are CLAIMS.) But seems EVERY distro (at least the few not on the corporate subversion and surveillance programs) struggles to get enough to pay bandwidth. Ubuntu famously tried re-directing searches. Some have various nagware. Recently, one (not on Sourceforge but own server) panicked over 10-15 cents for each 4 gigabyte download. -- By the way, just stating that FACT helped me get banned from a Linux forum! They do not want to hear anything but that all is wonderful. -- Anyway, counter-examples in Linux abound. And I repeat, a Linux can be product used for years, not just one-time entertainment.


    Here's SOLID evidence that giving away for free does not work without corporate sponsor:

    Mozilla, maker of Firefox, was paid to promote GOOGLE'S surveillance:

    http://allthingsd.com/20111222/google-will-pay-mozilla-almost-300m-per-year-in-search- deal-besting-microsoft-and-yahoo/

    And more recently after sucessfully extorting both Yahoo and Google:

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/11/14/mozilla-terminates-its-deal-with-yahoo-and-makes-google-th e-default-in-firefox-again/

    Yeah, I didn't believe it either! THREE HUNDRED MILLION EACH OF THREE YEARS! And even more since! Just for default search choice? Man, Google gets WAY too much WAY too easily!

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

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2018 @ 7:49pm

      Re: Why you running away blue boy?

      Bawk bawk coward.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2018 @ 7:59pm

      Re: Samo lamo: garage band gets enough for drugs, therefore...

      Listen, kids: no one has EVER said that garage bands can't support themselves if expectations are low. MILLIONS of "artists" get a subsistence EVERY DAY without exercising copyright

      Except, genius, that's exactly what you and your fellow clowns have been whining for the last decade of you plaguing this site. Every time a success story is posted you scream "Anomalies! Anomalies!" like you're getting anal probed. And now you're saying there are millions? Thamks for admitting to lying, jackass.

      SESTA voted your comment. In the name of copyright enforcement!

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 23 Oct 2018 @ 8:10pm

      Re: Samo lamo: garage band gets enough for drugs, therefore...

      "MILLIONS of "artists" get a subsistence EVERY DAY without exercising copyright."

      If they don't need copyright to get stacks of cash, why does Disney?

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 24 Oct 2018 @ 2:51am

      Re:

      "You've every right to give away YOUR OWN content."

      Yep, and despite your regular lies, many people do this and still make a good living.

      "Now look at Linux for whether giving away for free works. It does not"

      Absolute bullshit, but I always love you lying about it on a web server that runs it.

      "But do you think Taylor Swift, who last I saw had gotten $200 million from the "dinosaur system", known world-wide now, is EVER going to give away her music?"

      Possibly not deliberately (although everything she has ever recorded is still available for free whether she likes it or not - another indicator that you are lying whenever you say it's impossible to make money if that happens).

      What about the tens of thousands of other, possibly better, artists who don't get the same success because the industry is pumping all their money into advertising and killing competing platforms to the ones she uses? Should they just lay down and stop recording because your heroes bought the system?

      "Here's SOLID evidence that giving away for free does not work without corporate sponsor:"

      As usual, words do not mean what you want them to mean... It also means that you are ready to ignore all the evidence that prove you wrong so that you can cling on to something that supports what you think you're trying to say.

      "Mozilla, maker of Firefox, was paid to promote GOOGLE'S surveillance"

      No, it was paid to include a default search engine, which the user was free to change or remove at any point. It was paid to market a product. You must have some concept of how advertising works, surely? Or, is that only acceptable when Taylor Swift's management buys it for millions of dollars instead?

      "And more recently after sucessfully extorting both Yahoo and Google:"

      Business contracts freely negotiated by both sides are extortion now? Or does that not count if they were negotiated with an expiry date than re-negotiated with other people included in the negotiations?

      Hmmm.. I may have just worked out why you think that infinite copyright is a good idea despite all the evidence to the contrary.

      "Yeah, I didn't believe it either! THREE HUNDRED MILLION EACH OF THREE YEARS! "

      You do realise that the only reason Google would pay such amounts if they expected a return on investment, right?

      The things you think we've learned from your rambling bullshit - effective free product is impossible.

      What we've actually learned: our resident idiot neither understands how business or marketing work, and was somehow under the impression that not charging for a product means it's not acceptable to pay for service by other means. In other words - he still doesn't understand the core concepts that have been discussed here for a decade, but still loses his shit when it's mentioned that Google operate as a business.

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

  • icon
    Mononymous Tim (profile), 23 Oct 2018 @ 7:41pm

    "..it eludes far too much of the music industry"

    Because appreciation has no place in the greed business model. There is no human factor. It's only "you will give us your money or we'll force it out of you and you will like it (not to be confused with appreciation)".

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

  • identicon
    Gabriel, 23 Oct 2018 @ 8:14pm

    Have to pay that

    "we know that sometimes you just don’t have the dough for music"

    There's a bagilazillion-ish new artists out there (which is great) and never enough money (which is not great). This is the attitude from an artist though that will have me downloading a sample tonight.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    John Smith, 24 Oct 2018 @ 4:53am

    This model can work, if one has a large enough fan base and mainstream media exposure to convince people they don't deserve to have their work stolen.

    With so much material out there it's not going to work for everyone but that's the basic problem we have now. The solution isn't to weaken copyright law, however, since even "free" stuff still needs protection.

    Some artists prefer to rward those who pay by making content exclusively available to them, while others rely on patronage, which this is.

    I will say that preserving audience size should take priority over preserving revenue, but also that push shouldn't come to shove because copyrights are not being enforced. Most free stuff is supported by ads, even if it's just the band advertising its live performances.

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

    • identicon
      ryuugami, 24 Oct 2018 @ 10:11am

      Re:

      This model can work, if one has a large enough fan base and mainstream media exposure to convince people they don't deserve to have their work stolen.

      Which you get by, wait for it... giving stuff away for free. So the model works, and is fueled by itself -- as long as the stuff is good enough :) This kind of exposure-for-free was also done through the radio since, I dunno, Triassic era or thatabouts.

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

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 24 Oct 2018 @ 10:47pm

        Re: Re:

        Let's be honest here, he wasn't thinking of the model where artists gain a fan base by connecting with fans and letting them discover and interact through natural methods. He's thinking of the one he breathlessly supports - where a corporation spends millions to force a particular artist on to the mainstream, then demands a ransom in return for every moment the product is used.

        He's yet to understand that Amazon's free pages are the same thing as someone reading a few pages in a bookstore and so rails against the idea ass some new form of theft, do you think he'll understand that most people have always listened to most of the music they enjoy for free?

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Show Now: Takedown
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.