Response to one of Larry's Bogs / I got kinda PO'd!

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chris harris
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Post by chris harris » Wed Mar 09, 2011 2:36 pm

The solutions you guys are offering basically boil down to "embrace the internet and the access it provides to your fans", which is what smart artists would be doing with or without the existence of illegal file sharing.

So, what you're REALLY offering as a solution, is just "ignore it and accept it."

That's the only real solution that you're offering in regards to illegal downloading.

Are you meaning to suggest that as a possible solution, every artist should simply give away all of their recorded music, and find other ways to earn a living? How very 2002 of you!

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Post by TapeOpLarry » Wed Mar 09, 2011 2:55 pm

When I was a broke college student I would buy blank cassettes and tape many of my friend's albums. I wanted to learn about all this music. I went on to buy so many more LPs and CDs, and at one point I figured I had bought almost every album I had taped before! I certainly learned a lot, and I gave back to the music world a lot (I think).

It's REALLY hard to get access to all the music that is out there. I still regularly come across albums that are no longer in print that I really want to hear. I always wish someone had re-issued new masters of these off original tapes, but instead trawl the MP3 blogs of real music fans that post rips of their LPs. Even some major, major albums are not available via labels at this point. Back catalog is being ignored, even though with minimal cost labels could host thousands of awesome records that would slowly make money. They say an album's income mostly centers around the time of release. Major labels certainly ignore back catalog until they get desperate and remaster Led Zep for the 5th time. Not the best plan.

I DO think MP3's are completely overpriced. They sound like shit. Why should I pay $10 for something that doesn't sound like the artist and producer intended? It's not a direct copy, it's a distorted, phase-battered version of something. It should not cost near as much as a CD, and CDs shouldn't be costing near what they do.

This whole system is broken. Alex is pointing that out and that we can take advantage of it. Be squatters living in the ratty hell hole that greedy, retarded labels and biz left behind.

Chris (SAP), you are a smart dude and I respect you. I think we're all too caught up in this argument about semantics of "stealing" or such. Telling people it is wrong is fine, but I think we're looking at such a fucked up, broken, dead, lousy model that traditional music business ran for years that we need to look away from that and forge ahead. Find ways to get music to people that want to enjoy it. No music listener wants to be told they are a thief, whether this is true or not. We can't punish people and expect loyalty. (Thanks a lot RIAA).

And to possibly point out the really obvious: Getting paid for the actual records/music being sold IS REALLY RARE! During the MP3.com trials Roger McGuinn testified that the Byrds basically never saw anything from a record deal beyond the initial advance. If he didn't get paid for that then who fucking does? Elliott Smith only made money from sync, publishing, merch and touring as far as I could ever tell.

It's broken. Been broken for years. Let's move forward.
-LC

McGuinn's testimony:

"During my tenure with the Byrds I recorded over fifteen albums. In most cases a modest advance against royalties was all the money I received for my participation in these recording projects.

In 1973 my work with the Byrds ended. I embarked on a solo recording career on Columbia Records, and recorded five albums. The only money I've received for these albums was the modest advance paid prior to each recording.

In 1977 I recorded three albums for Capitol Records in the group "McGuinn Clark and Hillman." Even though my song "Don't You Write Her Off" was a top 40 hit, the only money I received from Capitol Records was in the form of a modest advance.

In 1989 I recorded a solo CD, "Back From Rio", for Arista Records. This CD sold approximately 500,000 copies world wide, and aside from a modest advance, I have received no royalties from that project."
Larry Crane, Editor/Founder Tape Op Magazine
please visit www.tapeop.com for contact information
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Post by Stablenet » Wed Mar 09, 2011 3:26 pm

subatomic pieces wrote:

So, what you're REALLY offering as a solution, is just "ignore it and accept it."

That's the only real solution that you're offering in regards to illegal downloading.
Not really, and as I've been saying, I'm not looking for a solution to this, you are, my friend. It's not my fight.
What we're saying is that there's only so much time in the day, so maybe it makes sense to focus on what we can do to promote music in a productive way. Allocating my time to curse the sun for making heat and light won't get me anything. Being clever with other people, and figuring out how this can work for us moves music forward.
I ignore the file sharing "problem" because (to make my earlier points a little clearer):
- There are people who are fans who obtain music for free.
These people will spend money on music. They won't just say "Sweet! Music's free! now I can spend my money on golf clubs, finally!" These are your potential Super Fans. If you connect with them after they decide they like your music, enough of them will be there for you.
- There are people who get it for free that wouldn't buy it anyway. If file sharing didn't exist, I don't think they would be buying much music. They'd just listen to the radio or watch TV.

I don't offer a solution because I've never claimed there is one, can be one, and at this point I don't care of there is one, because file sharing, in it's various forms, including your mix CDs, which are illegal by your own gauge, seems to be helping the bands that I care about. The bands that are big enough to actually make money, which means "much bigger than the Byrds" apparently... well, I don't care about them. It may be wrong to not worry about Madonna's bank balance, but I don't, regardless of the moral implications. People on that level are "suffering." People on the indie rock level weren't getting paid anyway, but can these days in other ways.

On the other hand, Subatomic, you keep hollering about how people who take this stance suck, because we're not offering a solution, or what we're "REALLY offering..." is. I've yet to see you offer up something other than "tell people it's wrong."
How? By what means do you do that on a level that will resonate and change minds on a massive scale? Why do I suck if I'm moving past this (IMHO) unsolvable problem, and focusing on things I can change, if you aren't really mobilizing to fix it?
subatomic pieces wrote: The solutions you guys are offering basically boil down to "embrace the internet and the access it provides to your fans", which is what smart artists would be doing with or without the existence of illegal file sharing.
Artists, smart or not, aren't all doing this across the board yet as you assume. Why? Because we're all still figuring out what to do! I do think the smarter ones aren't spending their precious hours fighting file sharing. They are accepting it and figuring out how to monetize it, enjoy creative control, direct access to fans, and reaping the rewards of publicity they may not have sanctioned, but got anyway because their song was good and kids passed it around.

Best,
Alex Maiolo
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Post by TapeOpLarry » Wed Mar 09, 2011 3:37 pm

subatomic pieces wrote:Are you meaning to suggest that as a possible solution, every artist should simply give away all of their recorded music, and find other ways to earn a living? How very 2002 of you!
Team Love Records gave away Jenny Lewis' "Rabbit Fur Coat" album for free on their website (I engineered some of these songs and played bass on one). In less than 2 years it sold 100,000 copies despite that. Maybe people should give stuff away. KRS posts at least one song per released album for free before release. Doesn't seem to hurt.

I wish this world was different. If an easy to use and affordable download system was in place years before iTunes it probably would be different. If Major labels had kept making singles instead of hoping people would buy whole albums of crappy filler it'd be different.
Larry Crane, Editor/Founder Tape Op Magazine
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Post by plurgid » Wed Mar 09, 2011 3:45 pm

subatomic pieces wrote: So, what you're REALLY offering as a solution, is just "ignore it and accept it."
pretty much
subatomic pieces wrote:Are you meaning to suggest that as a possible solution, every artist should simply give away all of their recorded music, and find other ways to earn a living? How very 2002 of you!
nope, that's not what I'm saying at all.
By all means sell your album via traditional channels. Get it on Pandora, etc. Some people will always choose to buy it. Those people are your BEST fans, so do something to reward them for that effort. Give 'em a login to your forums or something, or a sticker, I dunno.

Don't get bent out of shape if it shows up on the pirate bay. Embrace the horror, because there's not a damn thing in the world you could do to stop it, and trying to stop it is just going to alienate potential fans anyhow.

haters gonna hate / downloaders gonna download is I think what I'm saying.

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Post by Stablenet » Thu Mar 10, 2011 6:40 am

plurgid wrote: So, what you're Rhaters gonna hate / downloaders gonna download is I think what I'm saying.
That should go on a t-shirt, plurgid.

Larry, I've been thinking about what you were saying about the cost of commercially downloaded music - how we pay too much for something of much lower quality.

I've seen Sandy Perlman sit on a few panels about this discussion. I remember him saying that there is a threshold, and we need to find it. In his opinion, that threshold is about 25 cents. Meaning, if you can buy a decent quality MP3 for a quarter, as opposed to a lower quality noisy one, with the metadata all screwed up, from a download agent, people will choose to pay the majority of the time.
It's the winning choice on a number of levels: the buyer feels good because there is no longer any moral question, even it's a small one, the quality control is there, and time is money, so they don't have to go looking for a song. They just go to the iTunesish thing of their choice.

His point is people who want to hear a song at work, but have it at home, will probably buy it again occasionally, because of convenience and path of least resistance. Just these "occasionallies" can add up to a lot of revenue. And this theory was brought forth before it was easy to buy songs from your phone! Right there, another possibility for a convenience download. People have done it with jukeboxes, right? They pay for songs they already own at home because they want to hear it now. Only now you'll get to listen to the song again and again. At a bar and like what's playing? Open up Shazam, have it identify the song, then go buy it right now so you don't forget about it later. People won't do that for a dollar. I've done it maybe once or twice. At 25 cents this would happen a lot.

It's really basic economics. Will your song sell four times as much as it would if it were a dollar? For the Rolling Stones, I think we can assume yes. For the band du jour, probably so. Always wanted to hear what Vomit Launch sounded like? It won't cost you much. You can immediately download an EP's worth of music for a buck, not just one song. He went on to say that his hunch was that 10 cents would be even more successful. People wouldn't even think about it at that point.

If people learn about music this way, and the nerdier people, like us, want the extra special copy, we may go out and buy it yet again, on vinyl or something.

Not being an economist, I don't know for sure if this can work, but being the son of a sociologist, it sounds about right to me. I think this finds the intersection of commerce, good feelings, quality control, ease of use (big one!) and morality. Isn't that, combined with the unique situation of having no manufacturing costs all a business could ever ask for?

This was presented a few years ago and Sandy was laughed at by the big labels. Essentially greed won the day. Another chance to talk about salvaging what was left and they weren't interested at all.

We may be at a point where behavior is so established that this idea can't work anymore. Files are getting better quality and as soon as networks get stronger and hard drives get even bigger, people will be able to send WAVs around as fast as we're sending MP3s now.

We've been talking about solutions over the last few pages. For some of us it's been based on "this is the reality, now how can we make it work for us," for others it's been about morality. This idea, put forth by a retirement age guy who has been in the industry for a long time, addresses both, but was ignored.
The Industry, once again, ignored an artist.
You know what artists are really good at? Ideas. Good ones make a living off of their ideas. Hopefully the next time an idea is put forth by the rare person who understands music, commerce and human nature they will listen. I seriously doubt it will happen. In the meantime artists will cleverly work with what's available, hopefully.

Best,
Alex Maiolo
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Post by plurgid » Thu Mar 10, 2011 7:28 am

Stablenet wrote:
plurgid wrote: So, what you're Rhaters gonna hate / downloaders gonna download is I think what I'm saying.
That should go on a t-shirt, plurgid.
ask and you shall receive

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Post by Stablenet » Thu Mar 10, 2011 7:51 am

plurgid wrote:
Stablenet wrote:
plurgid wrote: So, what you're Rhaters gonna hate / downloaders gonna download is I think what I'm saying.
That should go on a t-shirt, plurgid.
ask and you shall receive
Way to make a profit on illegal downloading!

-A
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Post by TapeOpLarry » Thu Mar 10, 2011 9:41 am

Alex, Sandy is right on. I would buy a shitload of music at 25 cents, and way more at 10 cents. Imagine - you'd have to sell 10x as much to make the same as iTunes, but there'd be 10x as much music out there. The THRESHOLD point is exactly what I've been talking about. I'll watch lo res, ad-filled download dropping HULU TV if it is free. If I buy a show on Amazon it better stream.

Subatomic, I hope you're still with us! But we better put this to rest and get down to SXSW and try to put some good back into that crazy mess. Free drinks on Tape Op friday 2-6. C'mon down!
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Post by Jon Nolan » Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:56 am

I'm still here, although I haven't been chiming in. took some time off to cool down a bit, which was probably a good idea. i easily coulda dropped some angry turds on what has become an unusually kick ass thread. totally makes me wish i had bitten the bullet and gone to the tapeop conferences when they existed. i have a feeling a lot of that which has made me, shall we say "grumpy" would have felt differently if there were actual people hanging out and discussing rather than in emoticon land.

i bought "Ripped" by Kot after Larry's post about it. I started reading it immediately, and I'm almost done. i find it to be a *fascinating*, insightful, enlightening and informative read. Thus far, Kot seems relatively unbiased, leaving the reader to draw their own conclusions. i'd highly recommend it to anyone.

I'll have some more thoughts (fwiw) after a little bit more time to mull things over.

drive on tapeop. wish i was coming to sxsw.....

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Post by JWL » Thu Mar 10, 2011 12:19 pm

subatomic pieces wrote:So, what you're REALLY offering as a solution, is just "ignore it and accept it."

That's the only real solution that you're offering in regards to illegal downloading.
sub, what are the alternatives? Sue your fans? Deploy technical infrastructure that reduces personal freedom and civil liberties? As an artist (to the extent that I am these days... *rolls eyes* ) I would much rather people pillage and plunder my recordings than resort to such draconian measures. After all, music is made to be enjoyed, why on earth would I ever want to prevent people from enjoying my music?

Really, the problem is that the 20th century paradigm of music distribution based on the commodification of a recording is not compatible with the 21st century information age paradigm.

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Post by Stablenet » Thu Mar 10, 2011 12:42 pm

Glad you're still with us, Jon. Remember, a lot of points were discussed precisely because you brought them up in the first place!

Besides the access to beer and tacos, events like SXSW are great because the panels put people with opposing views in a room. People are generally nicer to each other when they are at the same table. I try to remember this when I post to threads. Also, it's why I always use my real name.

Kot's book is good. He's actually a little late to the party, but he makes some excellent points and I'm glad people are reading about this subject.

I work with a non-profit called Future Of Music Coalition. My job is related to musician's access to healthcare, but as a group, we've been studying Clear Channel, Napster, iTunes, Copyright, Sampling, Net Neutrality, Low Power FM, and many other issues for about a decade now. Sometimes we take a position, as with Net Neutrality and Clear Channel. Sometimes we just present all of the arguments, as with Sampling and File Sharing. Sometimes we're nothing more than a forum/chat space. Much of our time is spent sifting through the muck and getting to the heart of the discussion.
Our goal, plain and simple, is to encourage the emergence of a Musician's Middle Class.
I'm proud to say that our research has been used on Capital Hill and in legal briefs.
You can see what we do at: www.futureofmusic.org
Please come to our policy summits and enter the discussion. Kot's been there at least twice, along with musicians, politicians, people from the RIAA, lawyers who defend all sides - it's a long list of people who care.

It's hard to part with our comfortable ways. I guess that's why we apparently get more conservative as we get older. We're trying to "conserve" the things we know and love. As Progressives we should try to focus more on progress, however. I hope I can continue to feel that way as I age.

Most of all I just want people to talk about solutions. That's the only way anything gets done.

Best,
Alex Maiolo
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Post by chris harris » Thu Mar 10, 2011 7:46 pm

I'm definitely a part of the same revolution you guys are.
As I said, I put my money and my own music where my mouth is. I'm investing in bands, releasing records, giving away tons of free mp3s. My label actually started as a free mp3 label, and then went on to release 8 physical releases in the first year. Most have broken even at least. I'm doing all of the things that everyone in this thread suggests are "solutions"... I'm using the "new paradigm" to great effect.

But, again, I do those things by choice. And, in the end, I respect other artists' choice to not give their music away. If they don't choose to give it away, and I don't think it's worth paying for, I move on to something else. There's plenty of stuff out there.

I know I can't stop illegal downloading. But, I also can't seem to stop the feelings of aggravation I get when people feel entitled to something, and justify taking it, with faulty logic. It really does burn me up. But, it doesn't stop me in my tracks. It doesn't prevent me from using the "new paradigm" to get ahead in the world. And, it shouldn't alienate any fans. I'm not some douchebag who's demanding coke and strippers. I'm not even complaining about someone illegally downloading my music. I choose to put it out there. I'm just annoyed that people feel like they're entitled to make that decision for me, and to then tell me how good it is for me.

My frustrations in this thread didn't arise out of my feelings of moral superiority. I got frustrated with the suggestion that simply by being a vocal opponent of illegal downloading, I was somehow living in the past, or embracing an outdated and fucked up business model. You can be very forward thinking, on the bleeding edge even, and still respect an artists' right to decide whether their music should of shouldn't be free.

I'm riding into the future with you guys. Hell, my favorite band is about to release an EP on a jump drive, encased in a gummy brain, that's encased in a hard candy skull. It's only three songs. It'll probably cost more than $10. And, you basically have to destroy it to get the music out. But, I'll probably still buy one.

I'll be at SXSW with my band. We've got a show on Friday... but, I think that our set isn't until 7pm. So, I'll try to get by the TapeOp party a little earlier in the day.

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Post by JGriffin » Thu Mar 10, 2011 8:55 pm

I wish I could afford to release a record on jumpdrive. Those fucking things are expensive.
"Jeweller, you've failed. Jeweller."

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Post by Jon Nolan » Thu Mar 10, 2011 9:16 pm

subatomic pieces wrote:I'm definitely a part of the same revolution you guys are.
As I said, I put my money and my own music where my mouth is. I'm investing in bands, releasing records, giving away tons of free mp3s.

..............

But, again, I do those things by choice. And, in the end, I respect other artists' choice to not give their music away. If they don't choose to give it away, and I don't think it's worth paying for, I move on to something else. There's plenty of stuff out there.

I know I can't stop illegal downloading. But, I also can't seem to stop the feelings of aggravation I get when people feel entitled to something, and justify taking it, with faulty logic. It really does burn me up. But, it doesn't stop me in my tracks. It doesn't prevent me from using the "new paradigm" to get ahead in the world. And, it shouldn't alienate any fans. I'm not some douchebag who's demanding coke and strippers. I'm not even complaining about someone illegally downloading my music. I choose to put it out there. I'm just annoyed that people feel like they're entitled to make that decision for me, and to then tell me how good it is for me.

My frustrations in this thread didn't arise out of my feelings of moral superiority. I got frustrated with the suggestion that simply by being a vocal opponent of illegal downloading, I was somehow living in the past, or embracing an outdated and fucked up business model. You can be very forward thinking, on the bleeding edge even, and still respect an artists' right to decide whether their music should of shouldn't be free.

I'm riding into the future with you guys. Hell, my favorite band is about to release an EP on a jump drive, encased in a gummy brain, that's encased in a hard candy skull. It's only three songs. It'll probably cost more than $10. And, you basically have to destroy it to get the music out. But, I'll probably still buy one.
fuck!! I've been trying to write this post all day ^^
my 40 watt noggin just isn't powerful enough to articulate what I'm feeling as well as what chris said above. again. (damn brain.) in any case, this is how i feel too. thanks for that...

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