Sunday, March 29, 2009

I'm copying this from the great Sid Smith's blog, 'Postcards From The Yellow Room' (link below ); partly because it gave me a great laugh, remembering an intricate cut and paste job I once did on some bean tin labels to make them read 'Heinz Naked Beast', but also because it does bother me that music shared 'for free' has to be paid for somewhere along the line. Are RRers really buying more music through hearing more, or are we putting corner shops out of business? What's on your hard drive and iPud that you've not paid for?

I Want It All And I Want It Now And I Want It For Free

How come my corner shop won't give me a free can of beans?

I mean surely they could put adverts on the tins that would pay for it? Haven’t they heard of the new business models that are all the rage in the music and entertainment business - especially via the internet?

I mean, I’ll tell all my pals about how great his shop is, and how great the beans are. They’ll tell all their friends and very soon, my local corner shop will have lots of fans.

With every can of beans that gets distributed for free, the reputation of the shop will just grow and grow.

“But, how will the shopkeeper continue to feed his family and pay his bills and generally meet his commitments?” ask the unhip and terminally old-fashioned critics of this ‘new thinking.’

Well, that’s easy.

The great thing about this new business model is that after having the free beans, and being filled with a munificent sense of well-being at having been nourished for free, later on people will want to try the other beans that are on the shelf - the kind that you have to pay for.

You think?

And how about a variation on the theme? The ease with which new media enables folks to give music away. This is a true story and one which you'll be all to familiar with.

There’s a band I know who’ve just released a new album.

The music isn’t commercially mainstream. They aren’t particularly well known beyond a fairly small community of listeners. The album will hopefully break even and maybe turn a modest profit.

Except it won't because a fan of the band has uploaded the album onto his blog and is giving it away for free. It doesn't matter that the blogger didn't ask or get permission to do this.

The blogger, who loves the band so much he wants all the world to know how good the band is, has it online and “ripped @320. cover and booklet scans included.”

The band in question, who won’t see a cent from the couple of hundred downloads so far, aren’t fat cats with yachts, fancy cars, big houses and the like.

They aren't 'the man,' or part of some multi-national corporation, which may be some kind of ass-backwards 'robbing the rich to give to the poor' justification (although it isn't actually) to be ripping their material like this.

They're just working guys trying to make a living by composing and playing music who released an album they hope people will buy.

When challenged about this upload, the tart response goes along the lines of "fuck you and fuck them. I'm helping promote the band - you and they should be thanking me for everything I do! I bought this album fair and square. I can do what I like with it. Anyway, this one is shit. Their last one was much better."

And so on.

Music is reduced to an accessory or a commodity and the human beings who make it are just stacked up like so many cans of beans.

If this new business model is so cool and generally advantageous to one and all in the music business how come other professions and services aren’t queuing up to take part?

How come my dentist won’t do my dental work for free or next to nothing?

Why won’t my mate’s plumber come and sort out his central heating for free?

How come my corner shop won't give me a free can of beans?


Blimpy said...

statistically speaking, i know for a fact that i spend way more money on music that yr average 2-cds-from-tesco-a-year type who makes up the majority of the population - and to me this justifies the occasional dl of song for sampling purposes. If it's any good I'll, more often than not, try to buy their LP either straight from them, or from their record label - where more of the money goes direct to the artist.

I'm glad that the HMV 1 cd for 15 quid is dying out, I don't remember the last time I bought music from a dinosaur shop like that.

Probs the worst thing I do for the record industry is buy 2nd hand cds from the local new and used emporium.

TatankaYotanka said...

I'm not trying to moralise with this one: I was thinking back to the days of mixtapes when a mate might put a lot of time and effort into a compilation, which might get you into something that you'd then go and buy; partly to get the whole album, if you'd just had a track or two, but also to get the stuff in better quality.

These days you can so easily find yourself with whole albums with virtually no effort and at the same quality you'd have if you paid to download. Inertia is all that's required from that point.

Personally, I have an amount of live stuff; audience recordings that originate from the days of tape trading, when the justification was that you bought everything that was available for sale anyway and that acquiring the 'extras' meant establishing relationships, putting in some work copying and posting tapes and as such was pretty self-limiting in the ways in which it impacted on the incomes of music makers. In fact from the perspective of today's digital feeding frenzy, and with the examples of box sets benefiting from former bootleg bonuses, then a de facto symbiotic relationship could be implied. I'm just not so sure that that's the case these days.