Jump to content

An Important Read for Music Fans


Recommended Posts

A great piece by David Lowery on the cons of Free Culture. If you illegally download music or use spotify, give it a read (no judgement, I've done both myself).

 

http://thetrichordist.wordpress.com/2012/06/18/letter-to-emily-white-at-npr-all-songs-considered/

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 89
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

That's a great article. While I don't agree that releasing music was ever very lucrative for less-than-famous artists, that doesn't mean we shouldn't pay them.

 

I especially liked his point that music consumers like to give the man the finger by not paying a record company for songs, so they can listen to the songs on a device created by a bigger mega-corporation.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Emily could have gotten 11000 songs perfectly legally by borrowing files from friends. No one plays for every song they listen to.

 

Vic Chestnutt had a history of depression and while I feel badly he was in tough financial shape he may not have killed himself because people didn't buy enough of his music.

 

I don't think people should steal music, but obtaining music has never been that black and white. Listening to the radio and recording off that, sharing records with friends on tape, etc, have been done for years. Has file sharing hurt musicians? Absolutely. Does everyone share music? Yup. Is it stealing music to trade shows? Perhaps, but just about everyone on this board does it. I wish this issue were clear, but it isn't. (What about buying used LPs and CDs?)

 

LouieB

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sure, everyone shares music. But a lot of us on here own hundreds, if not thousands of albums. This girl has only paid for 15 records in her entire life. And there's an entire generation just like her.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I felt bad when I first read this, then I looked at my cd/record collection. It's definitely directed at the "new" generation of listener...but not all of us in that "new" generation steal music only. My tendency has been to d/l something, try it out, if I like it I find a way to buy it, if not I delete it or let it languish on a hard drive somewhere, never to be heard again.

 

Great article though.

Link to post
Share on other sites

over the last few years, i've gone back to CDs after dabbling in legal and illegal downloading. more is pretty much never not better. i'd much rather spend money on some merch and CD by Wilco and live with it for a few months than listen to lots of different stuff from downloading. quality over quantity is more satisfying.

Link to post
Share on other sites

DrNo, this really is an important reading for music fans, as you appropriately titled.

 

I'm halfway through the article, but I wanted to make these initial comments.

 

Contrary to Ms. White, I purchase all of the music that I listen to. I don't own ripped CDs nor I download mp3s. Even though I know how to program PHP and know to write SQL, to this day I don't know how to use the torrents nor I have any intention to learn.

 

I remember the one time I got into Kazaa and Napster my computer just got infected with a bunch of malware, spyware or whatever and I had to reinstall Windows and reset the machine to factory settings. It was nasty. I also remember downloads taking days to complete.

 

In trying to explain why I keep buying CDs, I've come up with some explanations. I think I'm very materialistic (sadly) and I like to physically store DVDs and CDs in my personal library, like prized possessions. It probably helps that I don't listen to that many bands (I only like a few selected bands) so I don't need to buy that many CDs because a lot of the music just doesn't interest me. I own about 200 CDs so my iTunes has much less songs than Ms. White's.

 

I do stream a lot of music on spinner, grooveshark and youtube. Some of these listens may turn into a CD purchase but this is mostly the exception.

 

When I want a CD I go to great lengths to acquire it, some of my CDs have arrived from as far as Norway, Russia, when I could have just downloaded the songs. I've paid around $30 for very hard to fin, out of print CDs.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I like Dave Lowery, and I'm sure his article is well-intentioned, but it only marginally addresses the notion of "Free Culture." I understand, he's a living artist, currently producing material, so that is his perspective.

 

But there's a lot more to filesharing than studio recordings of living artists. What about all the artists who have been dead for the past 10, 20, or even 50 years? And what about all the "fan" recordings that have been bootlegged at live shows, especially since the 60s?

 

If I download an album by Miles Davis, or Freddie Hubbard, or some other jazz great who is dead, where is the rip off? Am I really expected to compensate a dead musician's family (or, more likely, his or her last record label)? I'm gonna say, um, no.

 

Same thing with live shows. Proponents of sharing live shows, like us old Deadheads, always figured that what Jerry Garcia said should hold true: "Once we're done playing it, it's yours." Having a ton of live performances does not preclude fanatics from buying official product.

 

Look at Wilco! After they streamed YHF for free, they got a lot of hits on their website, and when the album finally came out, it was their biggest seller. And the biggest Wilco fans seem to have a lot of live recordings, yet still go to the shows AND buy the new material, even if they aren't crazy about it. (See Wilco the Album)

 

I rarely buy new music, but when I do, I like to be able to "test drive" it first. If it's worth owning, it's worth paying for. If it sucks, I don't feel the least bit guilty about downloading it and then deleting it. Ever see people in a chain book store reading a book? Exactly. You can't make them all go the library either.

 

I'm not advocating paying for almost nothing. I have bought hundreds of CDs, and before that, records and tapes. But you know what? When the Stones or some other dinosaur act come out with another version of something with bonus tracks, I'm not going to buy it for the third time. I will seek out those tracks and sleep like a baby.

Link to post
Share on other sites

In trying to explain the concept of free software, someone wrote (may have been Stallman himself) that "free" should not be understood "as in free beer" but as in freedom. A GPL license gives you the right (the freedom) to copy and distribute, music sharing is just the opposite, you cannot distribute and especially you cannot copy. There's a current of thought that advocates intellectual property, with music being a part of this type of property.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Louie. Really? You're saying you can't figure out what is stealing and what's not -- that there's too many scenarios? HA. Did you read this article?

 

BTW, they address the "Used" market in the comments below the article.

Stealing music is when you go to a site and take a download from a site that isn't benefiting an artist. I don't do that, but I do take music in other ways. (Please point out where the used record store/ebay/resell market is mentioned, because I just don't see it. Maybe I am just too ADD, I don't know.)

 

But there are so may grey areas here. I have bought many used and promo copies in used record stores. Is this stealing. How about borrowing an album and ripping it into your hard drive, How about being given old albums,etc. I buy plenty of new CDs and LPs and always have but I also have found LPs, bought promos, etc. This certainly hurts artists. But so does all kinds of behavior we all engage in, The aformentioned used markets, giving records to someone else, letting someone listen to your copy, making mix tapes/CDs.

 

Actually the one part of the article that just simplyl pissed me off and didn't help with the argument (which is valid in other ways) is throwing in two musicians with depression/substance abuse issues who committed suicide. Sorry, I am not responsible for that and neither is Spotify. I don't Spotify, either but have Pandoraed and have listened to the radio my whole life including college stations. I know about mechanical liscenses. So really it is the radio stations fault for not playing more Vic Chestnutt, etc.

 

Both dead and alive musicians deserve more financial support from all of us. I buy plenty of music from primary sources and see plenty of shows I pay my own money for (get a comp and you are also cheating the musician).

 

How did this young (she must be young becuase really 11,000 isongs sn't all that much when you add up a record collection, I just did the math. if there are 20 songs on a CD or LP (LPs are slightly smaller, CDs sometimes bigger) that is a grand total of 550 albums. I know plenty of folks here and in real life that this is a drop in the bucket of their entire collections of music.

 

And again, what about all those concerts all of us have that are free and some of us (not me particularly) listen to instead of albums that the artist is selling. Total theft!! Dump all those boots and start listening to only album you paid for?? Ain't gonna happen.

 

One last piece of bulshit from me. Musicans have been crying foul over recorded music since the invention of the record. When was the last time anyone hired a union musican (is there even still a musians union???) Read some history. Every change has brought the same charge for over a hundred years, records will end llive music, tapes will kill the recording industry, etc, etc. Somehow musicians, just like everyone else, manage to keep making livings. Some not so much as would be nice, but things are tough all over. (All sorts of technology has put all sorts of people out of work.) Plenty of musicians make a pretty darn good living. Maybe the real issue is for each person to pick a way to support the folks whom they like and try and buy stuff from them, particularly struggling or local artists.

 

Also....shout out to brother in arms, Mr. Heartbreak. You got it bro..

 

LouieB

Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay...so just took a shower....back to this argument.

 

So tell me if THIS is theft, I ask my extended family over to rip some of my CDs, which are gathering dust on my shellves. They pick and choose artists they like or might like and import them into their hard drives. Some are of the artists are dead and some are a live. Is that wrong? Are they stealing?? Am I aiding and abetting this crime?

 

Regarding Mr. Heartbreaks argument. I was one of those people who checked out YHF when it was streaming. I have since bought multiple copies of YHF for both myself and copies for others. I was also given a copy of the AGIB stream which I still have and have bought multiple copies of that.

 

LouieB

Link to post
Share on other sites

I really liked Lowery's piece and it's made me reflect upon how I acquire music. I purchase a lot, but also use free (some legal, some not; some band-approved, some not) to acquire music. I look at all my old Maxell tapes and realize it's something I've done my whole life, it's just now the quality is so superior. Also, lots of my purchased music was at a huge discount through BMG and Columbia House, which no longer exist. Anyhow, I don't think there's much of a moral, ethical, or legal leg to stand on to defend illegal (Spotify, Pandora, etc. are all perfectly legal, right??) acquisition of music. I've fallen into the dead artist excuse to justify my actions, but knowing a lot of the jazz artists I listen to subsisted on a lower middle class existence, it seems their families deserve a chunk of the change from their lives.

 

Having said that, the starving artist argument is not helped by the existence of bands like Polyphonic Spree or Sufjan Stevens' touring band which seem to manage to feed dozens of musicians each.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think the argument here is about live music that is allowed to be recorded or old music where the artist is dead, and his family/record company are already raking in millions on "greatest hits" albums that they re-release every 5 years.

 

the main focal point of the argument (and there really is no argument about this): downloading active artists' music is stealing. it's simple. he made something current society views as a product, put it out there, and you obtained it without legally paying for it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Having said that, the starving artist argument is not helped by the existence of bands like Polyphonic Spreeor Sufjan Stevens' touring band which seem to manage to feed dozens of musicians each.

 

i had questions about that as well. I think Wilco is a pretty good example of a band that does pretty well through touring. They have a loft with at least $100,000 worth of equipment in there and they've had that loft for a good while now...certainly before they were selling out Red Rocks. Look at Justin Vernon of Bon Iver...he built that badass home studio and owns a bunch of nice recording equipment and instruments, and he has taken a 10-12 piece band out on tour for almost a year now...you can't tell me touring doesn't make *some* kind of profit (and he built that studio before the Grammys and his second record).

 

I kind of wonder if the artists the author is speaking about have possibly surrounded themselves with bad business people who have, to some extent, led them down the path to $35k/year w/no benefits. Lowery makes good points, but I think there are a lot of people out there proving him a least partially wrong.

Link to post
Share on other sites

LouieB - Yes. I if you buy a movie and make a copy of it for friends, that's stealing. If you buy a book and make a copy for friends, that's stealing. If you buy a CD and make a copy of that CD for friends, that's stealing. (Let them listen to the album and then go buy it).

 

Wilco choose to stream that album, right? They own it. They can do what they want, in this case, smart marketing.

 

Mr. Heartbreak. Maybe you should read the article before you respond. That would answer many of you questions/comments. And you do know there are many sites that allow you to preview songs before you purchase. You don't need to download anything to check it out.

Link to post
Share on other sites

It's definitely a touchy issue.

I must admit that I got really caught up in the allure of getting free stuff from these sites (remeber Audio Galaxy?). But I find as I consider my actions, I have fully ceased downloading things other than live music either officially or unofficially sanctioned by the artist. If I want something, I either buy a hard copy or pay for a digital copy. I can afford a high speed internet connection; I can afford a really nice laptop...therefore I can afford $.99 for a song I like.

This doesn't make me a more righteous person, it just makes me feel a bit better about my world in general. And G_d knows we all need a reason to feel good about the world.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's Bob Lefsetz's take on it. You can probably tell what his thoughts are from the title of the blog post.

 

The David Lowery Screed

 

If only he’d make music as riveting as his writing, with as many people caring about what he has to sing. Then again, Lowery is preaching to the converted, wannabe artists who are pissed the gravy train broke down before they could get their fair share.

While we’re at it, why don’t we save the printers’ jobs too. And bring back Smith-Corona. That company had employees…

I believe artists should be paid. But that does not mean they should be paid the same way they used to be. As for inequality, the fact that they make so much less than the corporate fat cats…why not do a little protesting instead of fighting a little girl who’s on your side?

We live in a land of misinformation. Distributed by powerful people to keep you in your place. They like that David Lowery is beating up on this little girl, because that takes the attention off of them and the heinous activities they’re engaged in.

I’m beginning to believe George Carlin was right. You can vote, but it doesn’t make any difference. The owners of this country have a strong grasp upon the machinery and they’re never going to let you be in control, never gonna let you drive. As long as you believe the Republican mantra…"the party of the rich and soon to be rich"…you’re in trouble.

Why don’t you face it. Most people don’t want to hear your music.

And, if some do, that does not mean you’re gonna be rich.

And if you think being rich is everything, you never read Gregg Allman’s book, wherein he states:

"Money doesn’t impress me worth a f**k, and it doesn’t make me feel good. I’ve had it both ways – I’ve been rich and I’ve been broke."

Gregg’s all about playing music.

To be fighting file-sharing is akin to protesting dot matrix printers. File-trading is on its way out. Because it takes too much time to do it. And you don’t fight piracy with laws, but economic solutions. It doesn’t pay to steal if you can listen instantly on Spotify and its ilk.

And please stop bitching about the low payouts… That’s like saying Apple should liquidate and give the proceeds back to its stockholders, which is what Michael Dell so famously said in the nineties. Spotify is a trojan horse. You get hooked, and then you pay for higher quality on your mobile. Facebook stock gets hammered because of its inadequate mobile strategy and you’re not smart enough to see the connection to music??? You can’t get Spotify and its brethren on your handset without paying. And you will. Because you like the convenience of having all your music at your fingertips all the time.

Yes, most people still think you’ve got to stream your music to Spotify on your handset. But no, your playlists synch, it’s just like owning them.

The public will figure this out a few years down the line.

As for the value of Spotify… That’s an investment game. Hell, it’s worth a little less since the Facebook debacle. If you want money, switch sides, go into tech. But your odds of getting laid and getting high are so much lower.

We’re in the midst of a wrenching transition. Anybody who says they know where it’s gonna end up is just plain wrong. But one thing’s for sure, we’re not gonna be where we started.

The major labels, if they exist, will look different. They might not be in control. A future label might get the short end of the stick instead of the long.

The people in power are not listening to you. Not Universal, not Spotify, not Verizon, not Time Warner. Because they’ve got the power and you refuse to understand their game. They’re fighting for survival and you want them to pay attention to musical artists. That’s like Al Qaeda being distracted by U.S. high school protests.

You want to make a difference?

MAKE GREAT MUSIC!

Then the doors open.

Lady Gaga famously told Steve Jobs Ping sucked. Was he so powerful that he could make it successful? No, she was right. She spoke truth to power. Are you speaking truth to power?

That intern David Lowery is beating up on has no power. He’s wasting his time. And you’re high-fiving him as if it all makes a difference. You’re involved in a circle jerk anybody with the chance of making a difference is ignoring.

Why is it everybody in America can’t see the big picture? Why do union members vote for Scott Walker? Why do poor people want fewer taxes on the rich? Why do musicians think they can shame people into doing the right thing?

If that was possible, nobody would talk on their handset on the freeway. But this behavior is plentiful, to the point where deaths have not declined since the hands-free laws have been in place, because everybody ignores them.

If we want to talk about law and shame, why don’t we get all the musicians to stop doing dope?

But they’re gonna say those are stupid laws.

And the public is gonna say that fourteen dollars for a CD with one good track is stupid.

You start first with a killer product. And then you leverage this for change. Knowing that economics are more powerful than emotions.

David Lowery is not gonna make a difference. He’s speaking in an echo chamber. He’s got the right to do this, but that does not mean we should applaud it.

He’s right. The artists have suffered financially with the collapse of the CD model/Napster. But with destruction comes opportunity… Don’t forget, the record companies sued to kill the Diamond Rio, the predecessor of the iPod.

Do you want to give up your iPod to satiate David Lowery?

Just hang in there. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Spotify pays most of its revenues to rights holders. The fact that labels come before acts and they don’t distribute all their income… Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

And the fact that revenues are low now…

Live Nation is worried about Sillerman and Burkle, not your misunderstanding of ticket fees, which you think its company Ticketmaster swallows whole.

The problem is the artists.

And it still is.

Want to be powerful Mr. Lowery? Then make good music and sell it yourself. Be the new Curt Flood instead of one of the faceless minions agitating for the way it always was.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember getting into a rather heated discussion with a late friend of mine of the generation before mine. He was indignant at my downloading of music for free (and rightly so.) However; the majority of our discussion occurred while he was standing at the copier making copies of sheet music.

He never saw the irony of our discussion.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's Bob Lefsetz's take on it. You can probably tell what his thoughts are from the title of the blog post.

 

The David Lowery Screed

 

 

 

 

 

If only he’d make music as riveting as his writing, with as many people caring about what he has to sing. Then again, Lowery is preaching to the converted, wannabe artists who are pissed the gravy train broke down before they could get their fair share.

While we’re at it, why don’t we save the printers’ jobs too. And bring back Smith-Corona. That company had employees…

I believe artists should be paid. But that does not mean they should be paid the same way they used to be. As for inequality, the fact that they make so much less than the corporate fat cats…why not do a little protesting instead of fighting a little girl who’s on your side?

We live in a land of misinformation. Distributed by powerful people to keep you in your place. They like that David Lowery is beating up on this little girl, because that takes the attention off of them and the heinous activities they’re engaged in.

I’m beginning to believe George Carlin was right. You can vote, but it doesn’t make any difference. The owners of this country have a strong grasp upon the machinery and they’re never going to let you be in control, never gonna let you drive. As long as you believe the Republican mantra…"the party of the rich and soon to be rich"…you’re in trouble.

Why don’t you face it. Most people don’t want to hear your music.

And, if some do, that does not mean you’re gonna be rich.

And if you think being rich is everything, you never read Gregg Allman’s book, wherein he states:

 

 

 

"Money doesn’t impress me worth a f**k, and it doesn’t make me feel good. I’ve had it both ways – I’ve been rich and I’ve been broke."

 

Gregg’s all about playing music.

To be fighting file-sharing is akin to protesting dot matrix printers. File-trading is on its way out. Because it takes too much time to do it. And you don’t fight piracy with laws, but economic solutions. It doesn’t pay to steal if you can listen instantly on Spotify and its ilk.

And please stop bitching about the low payouts… That’s like saying Apple should liquidate and give the proceeds back to its stockholders, which is what Michael Dell so famously said in the nineties. Spotify is a trojan horse. You get hooked, and then you pay for higher quality on your mobile. Facebook stock gets hammered because of its inadequate mobile strategy and you’re not smart enough to see the connection to music??? You can’t get Spotify and its brethren on your handset without paying. And you will. Because you like the convenience of having all your music at your fingertips all the time.

Yes, most people still think you’ve got to stream your music to Spotify on your handset. But no, your playlists synch, it’s just like owning them.

The public will figure this out a few years down the line.

As for the value of Spotify… That’s an investment game. Hell, it’s worth a little less since the Facebook debacle. If you want money, switch sides, go into tech. But your odds of getting laid and getting high are so much lower.

We’re in the midst of a wrenching transition. Anybody who says they know where it’s gonna end up is just plain wrong. But one thing’s for sure, we’re not gonna be where we started.

The major labels, if they exist, will look different. They might not be in control. A future label might get the short end of the stick instead of the long.

The people in power are not listening to you. Not Universal, not Spotify, not Verizon, not Time Warner. Because they’ve got the power and you refuse to understand their game. They’re fighting for survival and you want them to pay attention to musical artists. That’s like Al Qaeda being distracted by U.S. high school protests.

You want to make a difference?

MAKE GREAT MUSIC!

Then the doors open.

Lady Gaga famously told Steve Jobs Ping sucked. Was he so powerful that he could make it successful? No, she was right. She spoke truth to power. Are you speaking truth to power?

That intern David Lowery is beating up on has no power. He’s wasting his time. And you’re high-fiving him as if it all makes a difference. You’re involved in a circle jerk anybody with the chance of making a difference is ignoring.

Why is it everybody in America can’t see the big picture? Why do union members vote for Scott Walker? Why do poor people want fewer taxes on the rich? Why do musicians think they can shame people into doing the right thing?

If that was possible, nobody would talk on their handset on the freeway. But this behavior is plentiful, to the point where deaths have not declined since the hands-free laws have been in place, because everybody ignores them.

If we want to talk about law and shame, why don’t we get all the musicians to stop doing dope?

But they’re gonna say those are stupid laws.

And the public is gonna say that fourteen dollars for a CD with one good track is stupid.

You start first with a killer product. And then you leverage this for change. Knowing that economics are more powerful than emotions.

David Lowery is not gonna make a difference. He’s speaking in an echo chamber. He’s got the right to do this, but that does not mean we should applaud it.

He’s right. The artists have suffered financially with the collapse of the CD model/Napster. But with destruction comes opportunity… Don’t forget, the record companies sued to kill the Diamond Rio, the predecessor of the iPod.

Do you want to give up your iPod to satiate David Lowery?

Just hang in there. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Spotify pays most of its revenues to rights holders. The fact that labels come before acts and they don’t distribute all their income… Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

And the fact that revenues are low now…

Live Nation is worried about Sillerman and Burkle, not your misunderstanding of ticket fees, which you think its company Ticketmaster swallows whole.

The problem is the artists.

And it still is.

Want to be powerful Mr. Lowery? Then make good music and sell it yourself. Be the new Curt Flood instead of one of the faceless minions agitating for the way it always was.

 

What does Bob Lefsetz have that I can steal that might be worth something? A blogger's opinion has no worth or importance.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...