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Another LONG rant about people not paying for music


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By the way, I am close to completing my first novel. I recognize that the day of $40k advances for successful novelists is gone. I realize that I will have to market my butt off and choose the correct pricing to sell more than to my family members, but in my opinion, that is balanced by the fact that I am not being kept out/down by the publishing industry and can get my work to potential readers w/o gatekeepers. But part of the environment will include people disseminating digital copies in a manner that undermines my earning potential.

That's life.

Are you a full-time novelist?

Things change thats a given, but change which means the rich get richer and the people at the bottom get poorer and their jobs become more difficult is not a change for the better.

At least the "Music Business" of old re-invested some of the profits made into A&R and encouraging new artists etc.

We all know it was less than perfect but the new model proposed by the freeloaders is far worse and will create a situation which discourages new artist and pushes the "Pop Idol, X-Factor" type crap down all our throats.

Exactly.

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By the way, I am close to completing my first novel. I recognize that the day of $40k advances for successful novelists is gone. I realize that I will have to market my butt off and choose the correct pricing to sell more than to my family members, but in my opinion, that is balanced by the fact that I am not being kept out/down by the publishing industry and can get my work to potential readers w/o gatekeepers. But part of the environment will include people disseminating digital copies in a manner that undermines my earning potential.

That's life.

Are you a full-time novelist?

Do I have to be for my opinion to count?

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Intellectual property will always be a challenge to safeguard and protect.

Just because something occurs for a period, does not mean it will always be. Change is the only permanence.

The notion of a middle or working class is also temporary, even though it seemed like reality, it was fleeting in the context of time... much like disco.

In the past, wealth was concentrated at the very top with very little of it extending down to the majority. This is THE model that mankind has lived under for centuries.

Only in the last 4 or 5 centuries has the flow of wealth begun to trickle down to a segment of humans deemed the "middle class".

Prior to that, almost ALL intellectual property was held by the Kings and Queens.

Western Civilization is in decline, our current model is simply being replaced with a new one.

The new model is similar to the old one before the wealth started to flow from the top.

Most of mankind is being fitted for their new dystopia right now. Everything is in decline except for technology.

Newspapers and magazines are dying too. Much of the motion picture industry is hurting too.

Downloading is killing a lot more than just music artist's royalties.

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By the way, I am close to completing my first novel. I recognize that the day of $40k advances for successful novelists is gone. I realize that I will have to market my butt off and choose the correct pricing to sell more than to my family members, but in my opinion, that is balanced by the fact that I am not being kept out/down by the publishing industry and can get my work to potential readers w/o gatekeepers. But part of the environment will include people disseminating digital copies in a manner that undermines my earning potential.

That's life.

Are you a full-time novelist?

Do I have to be for my opinion to count?

It's easy not to be concerned with profit from your novel when your ability to put food on the table doesn't depend on it.

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Do I have to be for my opinion to count?

No, but it's a lot easier to fly the flag of your business model when it's just a side hobby. Imagine if your main thing was being a plumber, and you truly had a passion for it. But you had to maintain a restaurant gig to pay your bills, because plumbing just wasn't paying enough, and amateurs and freeloaders were undercutting your earning potential. Eventually the job that pays the bills will siphon time and energy away from what you truly love and are good at. Wouldn't it be better if you didn't have those distractions?

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Not buying that either. This would be the flip side of your "full price for two songs" argument. For every one or two good artists putting out pro-quality stuff, there are 10 or more hacks churning out crap because they can.

If true, that undermines your argument.

If good artists putting out pro-quality stuff is still fairly rare, then it should be easy to separate from the pack and still make money. Maybe not as much as the artists want, but...Is there an objective value for recorded music?

Unfortunately, making that great music isn't free.

Of course not. An artist should invest in themselves, in proportion to what they can earn from that investment. Even a cheap DAW on a cheap computer has better output than a $100k recording studio from the 60s. But even though it is cheaper, it is still a risk. I guess I just don't get this attitude that the world owes someone a lavish income because they can use auto-tune and know how to strum cowboy chords.

Probably because they're not seeing a tangible return on that investment? What good is word of mouth if it merely sends other people to file-sharing and torrent sites? And I'm sure more often than not that those who trumpet their willingness to go see a band live whose music they've helped themselves to somehow come up with a litany of excuses why they can't venture out and see that band's show and buy that band's merch when that band comes to their town. Sell them your music and your income isn't compromised when their kid's soccer game occurs on the same night as your gig.

Yep, that all sucks.

What guaranteed income are you proposing for artists? Who determines who gets to be designated an artist?

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Not buying that either. This would be the flip side of your "full price for two songs" argument. For every one or two good artists putting out pro-quality stuff, there are 10 or more hacks churning out crap because they can.

If true, that undermines your argument.

If good artists putting out pro-quality stuff is still fairly rare, then it should be easy to separate from the pack and still make money.

Not really. How much shit are you willing to wade through in order to get to the beach before you give up and pull yourself up out of the shit?

And again, how do musicians make money when consumers aren't willing to pay for music?

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By the way, I am close to completing my first novel. I recognize that the day of $40k advances for successful novelists is gone. I realize that I will have to market my butt off and choose the correct pricing to sell more than to my family members, but in my opinion, that is balanced by the fact that I am not being kept out/down by the publishing industry and can get my work to potential readers w/o gatekeepers. But part of the environment will include people disseminating digital copies in a manner that undermines my earning potential.

That's life.

Are you a full-time novelist?

Do I have to be for my opinion to count?

It's easy not to be concerned with profit from your novel when your ability to put food on the table doesn't depend on it.

Ah, yes: some animals are more equal than others. There should be an Orwell equivalent to Godwin's Law.

I guess it isn't enough that I aspire to be a full-time novelist, and that I'm aware enough to see that the new digital environment creates opportunities along with the threats to traditional earning models.

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Musicians aren't exempt from the laws of supply and demand. I look forward to a fuller understanding of market systems to take hold among musicians, because right now, the whining is drowning out what would otherwise be excellent music.

I say this as someone who has paid 2 different "amateurs" for private recordings via this website. True, I paid a pittance for Brooks' CD, bargain-basement clearance. But I'd pay more for a second CD if he has one available, and I have spent my own time praising his stuff on three different occasions.

Thanx Nathan (GH cd's still available, see my sig).

I hope to see a day when quality musicians can earn a decent return on quality releases,

and the public is willing (or forced thru a new online technology) to pay a reasonable price.

I still pay for downloads from artisits that I deem worthy of my dollars

(newer quality artists, or established non-millionaire artists).

That said, I'm guilty lately of using the youtube mp3 converter to steal old stuff that I paid for vinyl copies of years ago

(Lynyrd Skynyrd and WASP are not getting another dollar from me, but I will always pay for John Scofield's work).

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I guess I just don't get this attitude that the world owes someone a lavish income because they can use auto-tune and know how to strum cowboy chords.

Again, no one's talking about lavish incomes here. Teachers salaries aren't even being earned by most musicians.

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1) Technology changes, and when it does, it drives people out of work.

Technology has changed the method of distribution, not the validity of copyrights. Regardless of distribution, there are legal and illegal ways to obtain music. One way pays the creator of said music, one way doesn't. The tech used shouldn't matter.

2) To a certain extent, this is a self-inflicted wound by the music industry. i) By packaging only 1 or 2 decent songs with the rest of the album being filler, but charging a price as if the whole album was good, the industry was screwing over fans for decades, and karma is a bitch. ii) By charging $20 for a CD that cost $.25 to make, and not allowing the market to set the price of what it was worth, the industry was screwing over fans for decades, and karma is a bitch. iii) By using the radio to popularize music, the industry conditioned fans to a visceral feeling that music should be free.

Going back to the change in distribution, the ability to legally purchase individual songs vice the entire compilation negates your entire point except for the expectation that music should be free. I'll just call BS on that without more effort. People have listened to music over the airwaves for years and before 10 years ago there was never an expectation that one should be able to own that music for free.

3) the whole idea of music copyrights is dysfunctional to begin with...And why should Hendrix's relatives still be making money off of Jimi's musical genius? Is that fair at all? Why was Michael Jackson able to purchase the rights to the f'n "Happy Birthday" song? You do know that's why restaurants have to develop their own Happy Birthday clapping chant, right? You can't get a restaurant staff to sing Happy Birthday to you on your birthday because that restaurant risks getting sued.

I disagree with the idea of musical copyrights being dysfunctional. Write an original piece of music, copyright it, and it becomes your (or your estate's) property until 75 years following your death. At that point it becomes public domain, which is the answer to you classical music example. Michael Jackson never owned Happy Birthday, but it is copyrighted (as it should be) and a fair share of the revenue STILL goes to the family of the deceased, and why wouldn't it? If your novel becomes the next Hunt for Red October, yet you meet an untimely death the day it's released, are you suggesting your family should get nothing from it's sales?

By the way, any restaurant is free to choose to sing Happy Birthday in it's original form as often as they like, given they're wiling to pay royalties for its commercial use. It's a perfect example of musical copyrights working as designed.

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And again, how do musicians make money when consumers aren't willing to pay for music?

That is one question. Others are: How much should they make? Who decides? What efforts should they have to make when a percentage of listeners will download free copies instead of official copies?

I'm not trying to pretend there are easy answers to the questions.

I've generally been of the opinion that the seller always overvalues the value of their merchandise, and the buyer usually (but not always) undervalues the same merchandise. But a compromise has to be reached by both parties to make a sale.

What is my guitar worth? To an extent, what a buyer is willing to pay. But recently I got an extremely fair offer for one of my guitars, yet I didn't sell it. The reason why is although it was a fair market price, it wasn't enough for me: the guitar was worth more than that to me. If enough people have the same opinion and aren't willing to sell for less, then that extremely fair offer is no longer a fair offer.

Or let's say I love my Fender Squier Affinity that I bought used for $20. Let's say I love it more than I love the toppest-top-of-the-line Suhr. Should I be able to get $3000 because that's what I'm willing to sell it for?

Of course not.

So maybe musicians are pricing themselves out of the market by holding on to an outdated pricing model.

From what I hear, iTunes has sold millions and millions and millions of downloads. Amazon is doing pretty well in downloads, too. Someone is buying digital music, and the price point where it isn't worth it to steal seems to be about $1/song.

Is that unfair?

If Aimee Mann can't get $1/song, what does that mean? That everyone in the US is a dirty thief, or that maybe her music isn't worth as much as it used to be?

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I guess I just don't get this attitude that the world owes someone a lavish income because they can use auto-tune and know how to strum cowboy chords.

Again, no one's talking about lavish incomes here. Teachers salaries aren't even being earned by most musicians.

How much has Aimee Mann made on her music? It is her letter that stimulated the conversation, so yeah: when I think of Aimee Mann and the profits she made off of "Voices Carry" alone, I'm wondering what she is complaining about, and that colors my input.

But, yeah, there is a wide range of musicians we are talking about here, and the reality Aimee Mann faces is different than what Steel Panther faces, and they have advantages Joe Smith trying to make a career as a guitarist doesn't have.

But wasn't Joe Smith going to face difficulties making a living under the old model, too?

How much has Jessica Black made from "Friday"? How much should she have made from it? Is her success stealing from "real" artists?

I'd still like to know: what should an artist make? Who decides how much they should make? Do reggae artists deserve more than blues guitarists? Or vice versa?

I'm in favor of letting the market sort it out, and I repeat: this is probably a dark ages for musicians, as we transition from the old business model to the new. In 10 years or 20, it will be possible again to make a decent living as an artist even within the digital age. Someone will figure out what it takes to get people to pay money, and how to distribute wide enough so enough people pay enough money to have a good enough living.

In the meantime, it sucks. I could probably be more sympathetic, but I think tough love about facing up to the cost/risk analysis of the current business model is probably more helpful in the long run.

Even if it pisses people off in the short term.

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And also the notion that every artist wants to get rich in the music business. We're talking about the inability to clear even a teacher's salary making music.

Not necessarily, a teacher today would be able to produce his peace of art on free software in his home and even print and burn the medium to materialize or load it all up for free. What's the value talking money respectively when it was almost free equipment being used except the necessity of hardware involved?

Andy McKee certainly is this type of "teacher". At least as far as I know, he started from the low. Supposedly he makes a good living with the online marketing model.

I have seen him 5 or 6 years ago in Germany, playing for a dime in a church hall with 2 other bands/artists before him. At the time his downloads went into millions already since he was announced being successful that way. The friend who took me to the venue is a classical music teacher and wondered how Andy could live from the live proceeds I remember.

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The means have always been there to rip off music. It's just more convenient today. Anybody who copied an album to casette tape would be a thief right? Even if you owned the album, and made a copy, and that would have been considered "unathorized". Every album I can recall stated that to be a violation of applicable laws.

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How much has Jessica Black made from "Friday"? How much should she have made from it? Is her success stealing from "real" artists?

I'd still like to know: what should an artist make? Who decides how much they should make? Do reggae artists deserve more than blues guitarists? Or vice versa?

The discussion around David Lowery's rant isn't what X artist should make relative to Y artist, but only that they should both be paid.

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By the way, I am close to completing my first novel. I recognize that the day of $40k advances for successful novelists is gone. I realize that I will have to market my butt off and choose the correct pricing to sell more than to my family members, but in my opinion, that is balanced by the fact that I am not being kept out/down by the publishing industry and can get my work to potential readers w/o gatekeepers. But part of the environment will include people disseminating digital copies in a manner that undermines my earning potential.

That's life.

Are you a full-time novelist?

Do I have to be for my opinion to count?

It's easy not to be concerned with profit from your novel when your ability to put food on the table doesn't depend on it.

Ah, yes: some animals are more equal than others. There should be an Orwell equivalent to Godwin's Law.

I guess it isn't enough that I aspire to be a full-time novelist, and that I'm aware enough to see that the new digital environment creates opportunities along with the threats to traditional earning models.

Not at all, but aspirations are meaningless if you can't sustain yourself in your chosen vocation. If you chose to live on your military pension one day and produced novels merely for the satisifaction of doing so, then profit becomes a secondary concern. Sure, you're a "full-time novelist" and the extra dosh is nice, but you have no worries when it comes to providing for yourself, or your familiy.

An artist who depends on sales of his output, no matter what the medium, to put food on the table generally sees profit as a driving motivator.

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How much has Jessica Black made from "Friday"? How much should she have made from it? Is her success stealing from "real" artists?

I'd still like to know: what should an artist make? Who decides how much they should make? Do reggae artists deserve more than blues guitarists? Or vice versa?

The discussion around David Lowery's rant isn't what X artist should make relative to Y artist, but only that they should both be paid.

That "should" in your statement is very dangerous. Who provides the money for Artist X and Artist Y? If that money isn't provided willingly, it is slavery. If it is provided willingly, then by what right does Artist Y demand a living wage from his/her efforts if the audience isn't willing to pay it?

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Most of the people with broadband internet connections in the USA are middle class.

The middle class has seen their incomes fall consistently since the 70's.

Now, most middle class households are strapped for cash and can't afford to buy music like they did in the past.

If people had more discretionary income, they could buy more music legitimately.

I was buying box sets and CDs like you couldn't believe in the 90's... my collection is massive as a result.

Now, I can barely afford to put gas in the car, so buying music stopped.

Do I stop listening and getting more music? No.

Hence the downloading rise being congruent with the decline in middle class incomes.

I don't have any money and so when I download for free, I wasn't a candidate for a legitimate sale in the first place. It's not like they can count on my spending dollars anymore because there aren't any.

The problem is when you already HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO BUY THE CD AND CHOOSE NOT TO, not the working poor being able to listen to a new song once a month because they downloaded it illegally.

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By the way, I am close to completing my first novel. I recognize that the day of $40k advances for successful novelists is gone. I realize that I will have to market my butt off and choose the correct pricing to sell more than to my family members, but in my opinion, that is balanced by the fact that I am not being kept out/down by the publishing industry and can get my work to potential readers w/o gatekeepers. But part of the environment will include people disseminating digital copies in a manner that undermines my earning potential.

That's life.

Are you a full-time novelist?

Do I have to be for my opinion to count?

It's easy not to be concerned with profit from your novel when your ability to put food on the table doesn't depend on it.

Ah, yes: some animals are more equal than others. There should be an Orwell equivalent to Godwin's Law.

I guess it isn't enough that I aspire to be a full-time novelist, and that I'm aware enough to see that the new digital environment creates opportunities along with the threats to traditional earning models.

Not at all, but aspirations are meaningless if you can't sustain yourself in your chosen vocation. If you chose to live on your military pension one day and produced novels merely for the satisifaction of doing so, then profit becomes a secondary concern. Sure, you're a "full-time novelist" and the extra dosh is nice, but you have no worries when it comes to providing for yourself, or your familiy.

An artist who depends on sales of his output, no matter what the medium, to put food on the table generally sees profit as a driving motivator.

But aren't my efforts just as worthy, whether or not I need it to feed my family? If I live off my military pension, I still want to get paid for my efforts, just like an artist that makes just above poverty-level income might want enough to purchase a new car, or eat out at a nice steak restaurant once in a while.

Or are you proposing a cap on earnings by a full-time artist to precisely match the poverty threshold, with the rest to go to charity?

The point is, whether or not I depend on writing to actually eat, I intend to write in order to earn money, fame, and adulation. The ability of thieves to digitally copy and profit from my effort still exists. Even if my survival needs are met, I still want to earn enough to buy a bigger house, drive a BMW 7-series, and travel around the world for a year. I face the downsides of the digital revolution as much as Aimee Mann, so my money is where my mouth is.

Your attempt to disqualify me and my opinion based on my current employment is inappropriate and incorrect.

After all, any musician can still work 40 hours in the service industry to put food on the table, and still have twice as much free, non-sleeping time to make music. Many famous musicians did that before they "made it" big. Why is that beneath the current artists?

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How much has Jessica Black made from "Friday"? How much should she have made from it? Is her success stealing from "real" artists?

I'd still like to know: what should an artist make? Who decides how much they should make? Do reggae artists deserve more than blues guitarists? Or vice versa?

The discussion around David Lowery's rant isn't what X artist should make relative to Y artist, but only that they should both be paid.

That "should" in your statement is very dangerous. Who provides the money for Artist X and Artist Y? If that money isn't provided willingly, it is slavery. If it is provided willingly, then by what right does Artist Y demand a living wage from his/her efforts if the audience isn't willing to pay it?

Throw another straw man into the fire, eh?

Your comments seem to imply musicians want to be rid of the concept of supply and demand altogether, and they all MUST be paid an equal amount regardless of quality. No one is suggesting poor product will be rewarded under ANY system. Let's assume artist X makes a great song and artist Y makes a bad song. They're both paid equally for their efforts in that they each receive $0.25 for each legal download. The song by artist X is downloaded four million times, putting a cool mil in his pocket. Artist Y's song only reaches four thousand downloads, netting him a paltry $1k for his efforts.

The market is this example is completely consumer driven, there's no slavery (not sure where that even came from), and the artists are being paid an amount relative to their worth, as deemed by the customer. If you want to relate it to slavery, the closest example in this debate is expecting artists to provide music without our needing to pay for it.

But again, the OP and the link weren't trying to address RELATIVE worth, only that there IS worth.

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At the risk of forcing this to go to the Outer Circle, it is interesting to note a similar situation happening in another field: amateur porn is significantly harming the profitability of professional porn.

Is that different?

(I can delete, if necessary)

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I've thought about this many many times.

Music is "ethereal" and "reproducible" by nature, therefore it's very easy to steal. Instead of fighting reality, let's just embrace it and try to do something different.

To me the problem is reduced to finding a way to adding non-reproducible-but-high-value content to the musical content. We need to rely more on the value of the "hardware" part added to the musical experience, and less on the "soft" side -which is the music itself.

So, we need to come up with new ideas which would make of the "listening to music experience" an incomplete experience as a whole, if that extra "hardware" value is not present.

Suggestions? :rolleyes:

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The problem is when you already HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO BUY THE CD AND CHOOSE NOT TO

this is a great point. somehow i don't feel like i'm stealing a king diamond or twisted sister tune off the youtube/mp3 converter, because i'd never pay to download 'em (plus the quality sucks from youtube rips).

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