Great article on the problems of the free culture (i.e. stealing music) movement
A long read, but worth it. Like the author of the piece, I still believe artists, musicians, writers, etc., should be paid for their work:
Oh yeah! This has been getting a LOT of discussion on another one of my favorite audio/music forums.
You know, I was going to type a long post about this issue. And then I recalled a great book I recently read. I will simply recommend it to you guys to read: Appetite For Self-destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry In The Digital Age by Steve Knopper. http://www.amazon.com/Appetite-Self-.../dp/1416552154
Thanks for your reply, Soulster. I read your recommended book last year and it is excellent.
That blog post says it all. I feel for the artists of today. Just think, a mid-level group of yester-year, say The Main Ingredient (not mid-level to me, one of my favorites) in their day most likely will have sold tons more albums and singles than many of the top groups of today.
I hope the music stealing can get stopped.
The file=sharing will never end. The technology is there, yet the law has yet to properly address it. The labels are going to have to fins a way to co-exist with file-sharing/stealing and find new ways to sell music. The problem is that you are going to have a very hard time convincing the last couple of generations that what they have known since birth is wrong. The labels are going to have to come to grips with the fact that we are never going back to the 80s and 90s, when they had absolute, complete control. They are the middle-men, and they are getting squeezed out.
Wonderful article. Thank you for sharing it, tsull. The comments are revealing as well. Check this one:
Three rules we need to adopt instead of continuiong this pointless debate:
1. it’s not ok to let venue owners pay you pittance when your performance is the reason why their bar is full or even half full.
2. Wanting to be a rock star does not mean that the performing you do as an amateur should be for free.
3. The “exposure” argument to both downloading and performing for free is total BS, never take that as a reason to be taken advantage of. (getting on the radio is exposure, getting an ad for your gig is exposure, palying a gig is your WORK!)
4. Be an activist when you see a fellow musician allow a venue or anyone else make them feel as though they should perform for free or give them their music for free. Stand up for your fellow musician OR ostracize the musicians who you see doing this regularly.
While i agree with the notion that it is NOT right for people to steal music that is otherwise being sold in the regular market and that certain internet services should absolutely not be able to make money from music if the creator of the music does not make money (the latter being more important, IMO), i really think just like everything else that is aweful and heartbreaking about the injustices in the economic system, we just need to suck it up and figure out a new way of looking at what it means to be a professional musician.
We just need to be realistic, as musicians, and concentrate on some of the changes in how WE do things in order to combat the denegration of our craft.
What has ruined the music business is oversaturation in a market where the barriers to entry are minimal and where even the artists are willing to be taken advantage of simply because they HOPE TO HIGH HEAVEN that it will bring them glory.
maybe the lessons to young musicians should include stories about ex members of formerly popular bands, who simply work regular jobs now, or who are destitute because their star rose and then fell again. because the focus on being a star is a HUGE liability…
...especally, this one:
Thanks for the great article David, and the other commenters for their insights. If I can add a couple quick observations which I don’t believe have been exactly covered:
1. The argument that artists receive their money from touring is a slippery argument. In the last 10-15 years, the outlets for gigging and touring have dried up significantly. Various styles/cities/etc are different, but my general observations as a musician/engineer are that an average ‘decent’ band with a couple albums and a couple thousand loyal fans (and thousands more streaming or ‘sharing’) can book a couple home gigs a month (~$500 split between members) and maybe a 10 city regional tour a year to support a new album (~20,000 total split between members/manager/expenses). That equates to about an average of $400-500 a month per band member – which is why most musicians need a day job and have to play in multiple bands and capacities to survive. Restaurant and bar venues for singer/songwriters, folk, jazz, or blues are increasingly rare, pay little or nothing, and expect the artist to bring the audience – a hardcore audience that has likely already purchased the album and merch. Even if your band gets invited to the festival circuit (SXSW, etc.), many of those few high profile gigs barely cover the transportation costs – and their target audience is the least likely to actually go online and pay for the album. As mid-level labels flounder, the mechanism for selecting and propelling musicians from the coffee house circuit to self-supporting regional or national tours is disappearing. It is true that the ever-elusive ‘viral’ factor is now more potent, but you’re far more likely to have your gear stolen at a gig then to have a youtube audience flock to itunes. The labels really do serve an important function, regardless of their occasional transgressions, and do deserve to be paid for their work and investment.
2. The claim that anyone with a computer can produce label-quality music is largely false. It is true that a skilled engineer/producer with about $10-20,000 in gear, can come pretty close to emulating a classic studio chain with carefully selected mics, pre’s, ad/da, DAW, plugins etc. But that requires both the skill and artistry to use the gear properly and the cash to buy the gear. It is the artist, not the label, who makes the investment and the risk. If the artist goes to a local studio to record/mix/master, it will cost them at least $5-10,000 out of their own pocket. If you just focus on mechanical and royalties without also considering production and promotion, you shortchange the artists. I strongly believe that any effort should be rewarded accordingly. The album sales should pay for production and the touring should at least pay for the transportation, rehearsal, and performance time of the players. Illegally downloading the album deprives the first, and the current live-music situation often deprives the second.
3. The assumption that every musician is great and deserves album sales is false. There are a lot of crappy bands and whining musicians out there. Many of the young musicians today have the same sense of entitlement that their peers feel when they download the music for free. Still, when their music is appreciated and downloaded, they need to both recoup their costs and receive some monetary reward for their hard work, training, and creative accomplishments.
4. This argument is crucially important, but already somewhat arcane. The trend in the music industry and venues is towards DJ’s and related styles. The overall primary market for traditional ‘bands’ is decreasing in favor of styles that agglomerate the original works. This adds another level of complexity to sort through.
5. I don’t think that the current supply side of the equation is very far wrong. The music is easily available and affordable. I don’t think that ‘sponsoring’ will stick in the long term. However, I do believe that demand is cyclical and I have hopes that it will turn around. More great bands will disappear in the next ten years, but eventually people will demand new music. It might be a rough decade, but if we musicians can hold on until a streaming format can find an equitable balance, then I hope that listeners will once again be willing to pay to get us back.
But to be honest, I have hundreds of my own tunes in scratch format that I just give to my friends and loyal fans because I don’t see the point in spending a few grand to upgrade my home studio in the off chance that the broader market will actually reimburse me for the cost (perhaps my stuff sucks after all). But I think this attitude is very common today. There is simultaneously a glut of mediocre music and a vast treasure trove of unproduced gems. Say what you will, but the big labels, passionate A&R reps, and quality periodicals served the market well in many ways and deserve to be compensated for their efforts just like the artists. As I said earlier, culture and taste moves in cycles and waves and I think eventually people will lament the decline in music quality. If and when that happens, we may be able to engage the market on our own terms again. There are no guarantees in art.
As for the other issues, I think a class action suit against google/youtube and others has merit, but it requires the cooperation of the musicians and the industry – and a leader. I nominate David!
Originally Posted by chidrummer
But, what if your goal isn't to emulate a classic studio? But,, with today's plug-ins, one can get very, very close to "classic" sound. But, you are right about one thing: one needs the skill to produce label-quality sound. Funny thing is, the labels aren't putting out a lot of quality sound these days. My god! A lot of pros are still working in 16-bit! Crazy!
One of the best lines of the story:
Congratulations, your generation is the first generation in history to rebel by unsticking it to the man and instead sticking it to the weirdo freak musicians!
Here's a recent quote from John Taylor, bassist of Duran Duran, on illegal downloading that throws a certain perspective on it: "It’s never, ever bothered me. I’m a music fan that didn’t have a lot of pocket money when he was a kid. I bought what I could afford and taped the rest off radio or made a tape from my friend’s copy of the album. I’m not hurting. I don’t have an attachment to what I call ‘delivery systems’. We write songs and we perform them live – that’s what we do for a living. ... I think songwriters and performers will survive. They just will. Maybe there isn’t as much money in the pot as there was in the mid-70s or mid-80s, but the good writers and the good performers will survive."
The reason John Taylor isn't "hurting" is because he CASHED OUT BEFORE THE INTERNET STEALING BOOM. My God, John, I know you did drugs, but seriously, think about it: You would not be saying you're OK with it if you were a musician today, i.e., after the internet boom started. My God, what an idiot. If Taylor and Duran Duran started today and they had more than let's say 10 million of their songs stolen, you can sure as hell bet he'd have a problem with "delivery systems." Mr. Taylor, you are nominated for the moron of the year.
You have a point about John Taylor making such a statement as he has made his money, but he’s right from several vantage points as well. Kids will always find a way to get the music for free—whether it’s taping off the radio back in the day, or streaming and sharing files in this day and age. But the truth of the matter is the music industry will not go back to its previous economic model. It’s dead and gone. Musicians , young and old, have to work with the situation and now and how it develops in the future. And some will find a way to do very well for themselves.
But it's not the same. I taped some albums, but 90 percent of my music back in the day was bought, as was ALL of my friends, period. The cassette tapes we knew were second-rate and didn't give the sound or have the liner notes. Taylor really underestimates how much stealing is going on today as compared to in the past.
Originally Posted by smark21
Let's say Duran Duran -- a group I actually really like -- was starting off today. They don't get on MTV (that's what made them) because MTV doesn't show videos anymore. Strike 1.
They don't get a major label because few people are getting major labels these days. Strike 2.
And if they do get a major label, approximately 90 percent of their music is being stolen off the internet. Yes, 90 percent. Strike 3.
So Duran Duran tops out at maybe 10,000 albums sold, and let's say conservatively 10 million songs stolen.
I don't care if "everyone is doing it" that doesn't wash. Mr. Taylor knows that and we all know that. He's stupid. If he was starting off today his career wouldn't have gotten off the ground -- period. That's a fact. The only way they could get off the ground is if they auto-tuned everything, lip-synched in concert, and had some no-talent sex kitten leading their songs with a bad rapper next to her.
Let's just be honest about all this.
Well, where do you get your figures?
Originally Posted by tsull1
And, BTW, here's an interesting article that calls BS on the RIAA stats.