The musician Moby has long been an outspoken critic of the old recording industry. He's been a big fan of giving away works for free
(and noting that he's made quite a bit of money from music he's made available for free) and has argued strongly against the old gatekeepers. He's criticized their anti-innovation views
, suggested the RIAA should disband
for suing music fans, and said he can't wait for the major label gatekeepers to die
So it shouldn't be too surprising that Moby happily teamed up with BitTorrent to release his latest album
as a BitTorrent bundle for free (you just have to provide an email address). But here's the more surprising part. Not only is he happily making it available for free, but he's actually fine with people profiting
from potential remixes or other uses of the music. As he explained in a recent interview with Mashable
Are people really free to do whatever they want? Can they sell their recordings?
I met with the BitTorrent people and they were asking, "What if someone comes up with their own remix and they sell it?" They were wondering what I would want them to do with the money. And my response was that they could take their friends out to dinner or give money to their favorite charity. Even if I make the stems, if they made the effort to make the remix, they should be the ones to profit from it.
This is a really enlightened view. Even among people who are accepting of how to use free in a business model, we still see artists get uptight about "commercial use"
-- even though it's often not entirely clear what qualifies
as commercial use. We've long advocated that more people should be open to the idea of allowing commercial use
of their works, as the potential benefits for everyone -- including the artist and fans -- could be great. I recognize this still makes some artists (who otherwise support remix and open culture) nervous
, but I think as we get more examples of artists who allow for commercial use, and see how well it works, that we'll see more artists get comfortable with allowing others to profit as well.
The rest of the Moby interview is worth reading as well. He points out that artists who adapt aren't worried about infringement:
Artists who are adaptable are doing fine. A musician who makes records, tours, DJs, remixes, does music for video games and films is doing fine. If you can learn how to adapt — it's really weird and unhealthy when people talk about restricting progress to accommodate the inability of people to adapt. Every industry has been impacted by [changes in technology] in both negative and positive ways, but I feel like to complain is pointless. I love Thom Yorke, but when I heard him complaining about Spotify, I'm like, "You're just like an old guy yelling at fast trains." I love anything that enables people to have more music in their lives.
He also talks about how great other services like Spotify, SoundCloud and Pandora are -- and notes that he's actively lobbied Congress not to restrict such services. He also talks about how ridiculous it was when his old label, EMI, tried to control everything to prevent infringement:
It was about 7 or 8 years ago when I was on EMI, and someone at EMI business affairs contacted my manager and told him that I wasn't allowed to play my own music when I DJ'ed because they didn't want people in the audience pirating it. This was back in the days of the Nokia flip phone. If someone recorded a song in a nightclub it would be the worst sounding recording you could possibly imagine. You probably wouldn't even be able to identify the song. That seemed like nonsense to me.
Instead, he notes, that wonderful things happen when you stop focusing so much on control, and let creativity and innovation flow:
My approach is to not try and control it at all. I really like the idea of not just giving people finished content. It's giving them something that if they choose to they can manipulate and play with however they want. There's absolutely no restrictions on it and that makes me happy. When people try to control content in the digital world, there’s something about that that seems kind of depressing to me. The most interesting results happen when there is no control. I love the democratic anarchy of the online world.
This kind of stuff is very refreshing after the latest round of artists on the wrong side of history
trying to hold back creativity, culture, innovation and progress.