Rockin’ in the Free World

Music Wars: Open Mike, the live town hall Michaela and I hosted on the music sharing mess last week, is re-airing in an hour long form from time to time on TechTV. If you didn’t get a chance to see it, check your listings. I think it’s well worth watching. I understand the Music Wars special was shown at a class at the Library of Congress for U.S Representatives, Senators and staff called Peer to Peer 101.
I’ve always been conflicted over the Music Wars. Stealing music is unequivocally wrong. But it’s also clear that the current music system is unfair to most artists and music lovers. I am convinced that the record companies are pursuing a wrongheaded course with copy protection, lawsuits, and digital rights managements. In other words, I am stuck between conflicting points of view, like most everybody else.

After listening to all the parties, I think I’ve finally realized where the paradox lies. We’ve all been drinking the record company’s kool-aid by buying into their marketing. It’s no coincidence that the most downloaded artists are the biggest record company stars: the Metallicas, Madonnas, and Mobys of the world. The recording industry spends millions making these acts into stars, building the demand for their records with radio airplay, advertising campaigns, and publicity blitzes. It works. We want their music. The conflict occurs when we’re unwilling to pay for their songs, and download them free instead. Of course the record companies are incensed. And they ought to be. They spend millions to make these people stars, then we spend nothing to own their music.

But what would happen if we didn’t buy the hype. What if, instead of clamoring for the manufactured stars, we used the power of the web and peer-to-peer file sharing to discover new, independent musicians. The music companies would have us believe that their A&R system uncovers all the talent out there but I’m convinced that only a tiny number of the great artists in the world makes it up the music biz ladder. There are thousands of musicians working every day who are just as good as those you hear on the Top 40 charts. Dare I say, maybe even better? The egalitarian potential of digital recording and Internet distribution means that these artists can finally get a chance to be heard.

What would have happened if Chuck D and Public Enemy had had the tools to create their own web site and distributed their own music from the start? Would they have reached an audience? Certainly. Would they have become mega-millionaires? Probably not, but they would have been able to make a very good living. If all music were distributed this way, directly from artist to listener, many more artists would have a better chance to be heard and work full-time at their art. Furthermore, the billions of dollars that are siphoned off to support the moribund marketing, manufacturing, and distribution machine of the current music industry would be freed up to support even more musicians.

What I’m proposing is the democratization of the music business. Instead of five mammoth companies deciding what music gets recorded and distributed, and collecting the lion’s share of profits as their reward, every musician would have a chance to be heard. Instead of two companies playing the same songs over and over on US radio, thousands of Internet radio stations would flourish worldwide. Many more artists would have a voice; those who connected most directly with an audience would prosper. Sure music piracy would still occur, but the availability of legitimate sources of digital music unencumbered by byzantine DRM schemes, and the more direct connection between the artists and their audience, would encourage fans to pay for the music they love. Unlike the record companies, I do not believe that we are a nation of thieves. I think most music lovers are honest people who are willing to pay a reasonable price to the artists we enjoy.

Time is running out, though. After years of stonewalling, the music industry has finally seen the light. Unfortunately, instead of using this opportunity to democratize the system, they’re merely recasting their inherently unfair business model for the digital era. And just as they did when we upgraded our LPs to cassettes, and our cassettes to CDs, they stand to reap a huge windfall profit on the move to digital music without in any way improving the lot of the artists who are the true and only source of the music we love.

You can’t blame the industry. The privileged always act to preserve their position. If we want to reinvent the way music is recorded and distributed, the burden is on us, the people who love music most.

The solution is simple. If you want to own a hit you heard on the radio, you should buy it from the record company that produced it. That’s not only the law, it’s the right thing to do. But if you want to support a future where every musician has an equal chance to find an audience, dig deeper. Look for unsigned and independent artists. Buy their music online; attend their concerts. Support Internet radio stations that play independent artists. We have an opportunity to remake the music business in a way that best serves artists and music lovers. The only casualty will be a business that has made a fortune stealing from both. The solution is not to steal from the record companies, but to eliminate them entirely.

Further reading:

Some places to go for independent music:

  • The Internet Underground Music Archives, IUMA, has always been a great source of undiscovered music.

  • EMusic represents 950 smaller labels. Their flat fee subscription service offers a variety of lesser known music in a paranoia free high-quality MP3 format.
  • Shoutcast and Live365 serve thousands of Internet radio stations. To dig deeper check the Radio-Locator, formerly the MIT List.

Please comment – what do you think? And if you know of a great source of independent music, post it here, too!

38 Replies to “Rockin’ in the Free World”

  1. Thanks you, Leo, for taking on this cause. I know you wanted a solution at the end of the TechTV program that would benefit everyone, but it didn’t happen. Everything you said during the program and in this blog entry, I agree with. Your efforts will definately have an impact on the ultimate solution to this problem.

  2. I taped the original broadcast because I was heading out of town that night, and still need to finish watching it now. One thing that I’m uncertain whether it was addressed or not is that a big part of the appeal of peer-to-peer file sharing is the “peer-to-peer” aspect of it. I know that without the content itself it wouldn’t exist, but the backbone of what the Internet is all about continues to be the interactivity of it. That’s why IM, IRC, and message boards like Leoville continue to thrive while it’s still very hard to come up with a successful business model to make money on the Net. It’s not about distribution so much as communication and connection with others with similar interests or thoughts without the limitations of geographic boundaries. I can’t help but think that no music store will be able to reproduce that experience, and therefore I don’t know how they’re going to ever eliminate the issue.
    Are we heading toward a day when all media is under the control of media conglomerates who dictate where and when and how and how often we can hear, read, or view the entertainment they choose to feed us? I find that truly scary.

  3. To me it seems like there are a lot of bands that started out playing in a bar or even a barmitze (sorry about the spelling). Back in the 60’s the small bands waited to be “discovered” by the labels by sending the label companies and radio stations their tapes. Even though there was a reliance on the major recording companies, it appeared that there was a certain “Damn the Man, I’m making music” attitude. Although I am far away from the scene anymore, I am sure that there are bands that would just like to have their music heard and possibly make a buck or two. In todays world, where is that station or label company for the band to do that? I believe that Leo is right, the music industry will change. But it will take a person with the desire, intelligence, and skills to make an underground change of the way music is currently packaged. Does anyone know of a younger Steve Jobs that has motivation and skills to go out and recruit the never signed band to an internet radio contract? I know you are out there, Steve Jr., please let us know your website address so that we can watch (and listen) to history being made.
    Thanks for reading my rambling.

  4. I’m more than happy that you came to the same conclusion as I did, Leo. And this was even BEFORE The Music Wars program was brought about. I know it was a very difficult thing you went through doing that forum a few weeks ago. You and Michela showed great restraint and professionalism doing it.
    The music industry has gotten away with stiffing both old and newer artists as well as stifling the customers who make up the market with the same old, same old. But at least some artists are beginning to see the record companies for what they really are. Billy Joel did as well as John Fogerty.
    And just so you know I do a radio show on a station called Crusin’ 1040 WHBO called Warlock Radio. A very quirky little show I created because I realized Radio stations weren’t giving me the kind of music I like to hear. Tune in sometime and enjoy what you hear. It’s my way of trying to make a difference in the way Radio is now.

  5. Excellent show, Leo… i recently saw the 90 min version of “Open Mike” and I also watched the cut down 60 minute version and I also saw the 60 min documentary “music wars.”
    My opinions (on file sharing music) did not change from viewing the show, but it was refreshing to hear so many articulate people make their cases for how they stood on the issue.
    some points I considered while watching:
    If I were in Grateful Dead i wouldn’t mind people file sharing, but that guy is not the rule, he is the case where he made his money and his fans file shared…. a middling musician or band would not be so lucky. they can not take the “hit” of so many potential customers getting the music for free.
    Listening to music on the radio seems free, however the artists are paid in ascap fees, so they get something…. if you download from kaza they get nothing. so the radio analogy doesn’t work.
    I also consider the fact that a lot of music lovers download a heap of music into their ipod (or other mp3 player) get bored of that list and download new music, so it is constantly getting erased, it isn’t all being burned to a cd forever…. and even if it is burned to cd, sometimes the cd ends up in the backseat forgotten and fallen from favor… the music fan is fickle.
    The companies do a lot for promoting their clients, but that is their job, they are supposed to do that, that isn’t something to think of as drinking the kool aide, unless you see all media as the kool aide, in which case TTv has a flava of kool aide, too.
    In other words, the two things I heard from the discussion was to answer your rhetorical question of whether 63 million people want the music for free, YES THEY DO, will they pay a small amount if forced to? maybe… butprobably not. And do the artists deserve to be compensated, YES THEY DO. No one wants to be the “bad guy” and the failureof the riaa to whole-heartedly embrace the new technology has done a disservice to their clients, but that still doesn’t mean it is ok to download music for free if the artist says they want to be compensated.
    And the poor guy who wanted you to have the ‘cover art” with the mp3 was saddly in a dream world if he thinks people want that, for a fee, instead of an mp3 with no cover art for free.
    Great show, do some more…. the guests are what made the show really good, kudos to whomever booked them all…. they did a great job explaining their issues.

  6. Leo says: “The egalitarian potential of digital recording and Internet distribution means that these artists can finally get a chance to be heard.”
    ********
    And I would say, they would also be file shared, without compensation. It is up to the individual consumer to make the decision to file share for free or compensate the musician. getting heard isn’t the problem, it’s getting paid.

  7. Leo writes: “If all music were distributed this way, directly from artist to listener, many more artists would have a better chance to be heard and work full-time at their art. Furthermore, the billions of dollars that are siphoned off to support the moribund marketing, manufacturing, and distribution machine of the current music industry would be freed up to support even more musicians.”
    **************
    Well, that dreamy example is like saying “do away with the New York Times” we all can go out and read Blogs now to get our news, we don’t need a clearing house for reporters, they can stay home and blog and we’ll find them.
    But that is like finding a needle in a hay stack (to find the good ones) and I would say they don’t have a better chance to be heard, but a worse chance to get heard…. but the egalitarian dream is a nice one. I just doubt it would actually pan out.

  8. Here here!! Leo you are on to something big bere, and I highly agree with you on all points.
    I admit in the past I have been guilty of downloading that kewl song I just heard on the radio and what not, but you make a very good point. Because so many times I justified it saying ahh they are makin a fortune its time to cut em down to size with the rest of us normal folk, but you are right, cutting them down to size is not the solution, the solution is to cut them out entirely. only then will we have truly free music and only then will we begin to discover what a talented country we have.
    you have my support. and have made a believer out of me.
    alex

  9. Leo, first let me say that I really enjoyed the Music Wars town hall meeting. Sure it was way too much info to be covered in 1.5 hours, but you all did a really admirable job of trying to make sure every angle of the story and every interest was represented. As usual, watching the discussion of the music biz really got my blood boiling. (By the way, I think TechTV should do similar live town hall meetings once a month at least.)
    I’m 100 percent behind the idea of eliminating the middle man (labels) and promoting a direct buyer-seller relationship between artists and consumers. The Internet absolutely makes this possible. The issue of promotion is the main stumbling block however, because as EB said above, wading through so much material will make all but the most ardent music fan throw in the towel. But I do believe that Internet radio and the tried-and-true method of touring in support of an album could go a long way to mitigate this. The main thing that concerns me about the RIAA is that they are doing everything they can to sever ties between the independent artists and the music listener. Through the CARP proceeding, they attempt to shut down the valuable independent webcasters–one of the main platforms for independent artists to be heard. Through the whole payola deal with the Clear Channels of the world, they collaborate to *shrink* radio playlists to 15 or so monotonous “hits,” spoon-feeding the casual listeners with homogenous music while so many other talented artists languish in obscurity. Through their anti-file-sharing lobbying and lawsuits, they work to eliminate yet another method by which music fans can share their more obscure interests with others (albeit illegally much of the time). It’s definitely time for distribution to change to a more direct seller-buyer relationship, allowing artists to keep all or most of the net profits while offering product to the consumer at a significantly lower sticker price. It’s a win-win, and a resulting consequence is that the fans feel invested in the artist, and the artist feels a much stronger connection with the fans.
    Anyway, here are a couple of sites that I recommend people check out:
    http://www.cdbaby.com
    An online store that sells and promotes CDs by a ton of independent artists (for a small fee per disc sold). They’ll only sell CDs that come straight from the artists… not from distributors. Whether you’re a basement recordist or a five-piece band aiming for big time success, CD Baby will offer a popular Internet destination where you can distribute your album without a label taking most of the profit.
    http://www.KEXP.org
    This is an excellent, noncommercial over-the-air station in Seattle, WA (90.3 FM), which actually increased its simulcasted webstream offerings while the CARP proceedings were shutting down Internet broadcasters left and right. Not only does it play a great variety of music Clear Channel isn’t open-minded or art-appreciative enough to play, it offers a realtime playlist, two weeks of streaming archives, and deejays that are actually allowed to program their own shows! You’ll hear some major label artists like David Bowie and Bob Dylan, but the station primarily gives exposure to smaller independent labels and even plays some great self-released discs that artists submit.

  10. Stealing is stealing.
    Pirating is pirating.
    Saying that you’re stealing or pirating because CD’s cost too much is a poor damn excuse.
    Sure, a CD costs a bit more than what they did ten years ago. But, so does a bottle of Coca~Cola. Doesn’t give me a right to steal that, either.
    The Record Companies are evil? Aren’t all big companies? 😉 Stop giving excuses and start being real. File sharing other peoples music without their consent is wrong, no matter the faux moral argument you make for doing so.

  11. First of all, I’d like to say that I saw the whole 2 1/2 hours that night and I thought that it was all very interesting and very informative to hear from all sides of this issue.
    I agree that all parties involved in the creation process – from the artists all the way up to the record companies themselves – need to be fairly compensated for their work because, after all, each one plays a part in providing the music we enjoy.
    However, I believe that the RIAA’s “solution” to the file sharing problem will ultimately be counterproductive. Yes, they have probably scared off a lot of the file swappers with just the threat of a lawsuit, but there is a lot more out there that will just keep on sharing because they have become disillusioned with the way the record industry works.
    We’ve been buying albums for many, many years with the belief that the majority of the money we were paying was supporting our favorite artists, but many consumers have woken up to the fact that this is simply not the case, and I believe that what fuels much of the file swapping activity out there is perhaps a misguided need to rebel against the record industry.

  12. Me being a musician myself, I am apalled by the actions taken by the RIAA and the only five Music distributors they represent. All we’ve really heard from them is how they’re plan for dealling with music downloaded music is for the subscription plans like Itunes. But how it is oh so hard for them to get people to pay for what the can get for free. Well, when you have a square peg, don’t keep trying to force it in to a round hole. Find a way to get paid while letting the consumer download it for free. That’s impossible you say. Oh wait, radio’s been doing it for decades. Which is a great model for current times because guess what, the musicians unions sued radiostations in the early days to the point that they had nothing but News, live programming, and commercials for GE products. So we have a group of millions of people of all ages and types, focussed on a specific medium and your telling me advertisers don’t want their products seen by such a large group of people. It’s the biggest group of people on the internet right now. You can easily track what is downloaded the most and build a royalty structure to pay the Record companies their millions of dollars that they paid to build the Britney Spears and Justin Timberlakes of the world. And are you telling me the filesharing community wouldn’t show loyalty to brands that pay for them to get free music. If pepsi bought me free downloads, I’d have a caffeine buzz the size of texas.

  13. i think there should be some kind of compromise you should pay for new music
    its the bands job they have to paid to but i am not going pay for a song from 5 years ago i just want to hear @ this time in life after a CD has bin out for 2 or more years it should be OK to download it

  14. I would like to see the music industry and radio industry change their ways. Back when I was young, I lived in a small town with 2 AM radio stations. One was country, and the other was a top 40 station. However, the top 40 station would try to play a variety of music. I would hear rock, disco, soul, folk. Also, they would dig up older 45s from their “vault” and play them. I now live in south Florida. A good number of stations are owned by one company. So they have all the stations splintered into “formats” and you hear the same music every day, over and over. Also, this station owns part of one of the satillite radio services. What a great way to boost subscribers to the service, just make “free” radio suck.
    Fortunatly, I have been purchasing CDs for at least 15 years and have a bit of a collection. I have a Creative Nomad with 10 gigs storage and one of those little FM antennas that allow you to play it through your car stereo. I very rarely listen to broadcast radio anymore…
    Anyway, Boxelder, a good band from South Florida, I saw these guys play at a bar in North Palm back in 1999 and was blown away. http://www.boxelder.com

  15. I have been a working musician for 35 years. I hear musicians all the time as good as, or better than what one hears on the radio, etc. Musicians have very little or no control over the music business. That’s obvious from what is being played. With very few exceptions, none are worth the mega millions that some make. (Whether you are a fan or not, some do: Elvis, Sting, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Prince, W.Nelson just to name a few.) There are musicians worth this kind of money. But in general I agree with Leo that way too much money is siphoned off to a few mostly undeserving “artists” ( I use the term loosely, in many cases ) and even more money goes to the big companies to support their business model, and he’s correct that the effect is to deprive us of a lot of good music. The current distributing model allows for zero creativity. All we get now, is the same thing over and over. As an older person turned off by the constant noise of the music business, the only way I’ve come to like some of the newer artists, is by exploring on the net. I’ve just begun emusic.com and it has a lot to offer. It may even be possible to find new artists easier this way than I could in the Napster days. But what I found most intersting about Napster, etc. was seeing what people who had music I like had in their collections. For one thing it made me feel not quite so alone. The people I’m around (my musical public, if you will) for the most part make me feel like an ass, if I don’t play only the few songs they hear on the radio. Finding that in fact there are thousands of people all over the world who like what I do, was very comforting. That has been taken away by all the lawsuits. I still think file sharing ( as in Kazaa, etc. ) should be made legal by finding a way to pay the artists, while leaving us the freedom to explore. I like a lot of different music. I’m a big fan of jazz (from the 50’s thru the 70’s ), classical, space music, etc. I might add that when I find an album I really like, I buy the CD and rip it myself. Even “emusic” encoding is just OK, but not as good as I do when I rip. I might add that the first time a CD won’t allow me to rip, and/or hoses my computer, will be the last CD I ever buy. Music is a “want”, even a “need” but not a necessity. I don’t think the record companies have figured that one out yet. And I will never go back to the pre-computer days of lisening to my music. Fortunalty, I have hundreds of CD’s of all kinds of music, and could cut off buying CD’s if I have to. I’d just have to content myself with download servies.

  16. I believe that the “Big 5” are fighting so ferociously against music swapping because they feel the cold kiss of death on their necks. As stated several times in this blog, the Internet allows artists to sell their product directly to consumers. What is left for the “Big 5” to do? Yes, they do have a huge marketing machine that allows them to sky-rocket just about anyone to ultimate stardom but (and this makes me sick) they will let that star fall back down into nothing if they stop selling zillions of records.
    I disagree that the music recording companies help us in our music experience by “weeding out” the music scene to give us only the very best. They tell us what’s worth listening to and what to buy. Can anyone actually admire Britney Spears for her singing voice?
    I also believe that the recording companies have a heavy hand in the kind of music that’s being produced. Even established artists will find themselves pressured (or ordered) to pump out albums that are, by the artist’s standard, inferior just to give the “Big 5” a better bottom line. (case in point: The Cranberries)
    Most artists I know and love have either worked with smaller, indepedant labels or actually went out and started their own company to distribute their music. And these artists can find a new, cheaper, better voice with the Internet. (Michelle Branch’s comments during “Music Wars” were very a propos to that effect)
    The “Big 5” are indeed feeling the kiss of death. All they do is take a CD and copy it 500 000 times. I’m afraid that in this high-tech day and age, a 5 year old can do that.

  17. Allan above touched on something I was just thinking about. The monopoly placed on radio stations so that only certain songs by certain artists will ever get on air is a big problem. I’d rather hear a collection of artists who really have talent and a unique style than be force fed a constant stream of pre-manufactured “pop” artists whose fame is built more on style than truly exceptional talent. What we’re seeing slowly happening to the major record labels now is just the result of the seeds they have sown for a long time. I feel that both the artists and the consumers have been ripped off all these years, and now we’ve finally progressed to a technological level where people have other options. So I think the record company’s own past manner in which they’ve conducted their business is coming back to haunt them. Now we just need to rewrite the book and figure out how to fairly compensate the artists while giving the consumers what they really want.

  18. wy are thay fussing now back when we all had cassett players” thay made two cassett in a player so you could copy one to the blank casset and that was my cassett i bought it and once i coped it it was mine now i could gave that cassett to any of my friends i wonted to now is that stilling so what is the deffents what im trying to say is thats not stilling.ps if i couldet copy a song to a disk (a blank one that is)than i would not need to by blanks desks at all.so ever time i buy a blank disk i thank that a part of that money should go to the music companies.

  19. Leo wrote: “Furthermore, the billions of dollars that are siphoned off to support the moribund marketing, manufacturing, and distribution machine of the current music industry would be freed up to support even more musicians.”
    Unfortunately, this ‘machine’ employs thousands of hardworking people. Where are they supposed to go when when we put this decadent mechanism out-of-business?
    Leo said, “And just as they did when we upgraded our LPs to cassettes, and our cassettes to CDs, they stand to reap a huge windfall profit on the move to digital music without in any way improving the lot of the artists who are the true and only source of the music we love.”
    Each of those ‘upgrades’ included a benefit of some sort whether it was portability, sound quality, etc. If the LP was the only medium that music could be listened to from, the labels would still be making profits, wouldn’t they? If we didn’t think it was right for the labels to make more money off of us again, we shouldn’t have returned to their well to drink. ‘Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me’.
    Ultimately, our lives are full of choices. I wholeheartedly agree with Leo that we can better support our artists through direct contact with them, if they are cutting out the middle-man.
    For instance, my favorite band, Dream Theater http://www.dreamtheater.net , happens to be on a major label. To support them as much as I can, I would never consider stealing from them. I buy their music through legitimate channels and go to their concerts (that’s where they really make their money). But if our favorite bands are doing their distribution directly, we have to support them! We can’t make their songs available to the world for free through the Kazaa’s of the net. Is that even possible? In a perfect world, I would hope so.
    But, this world is far from perfect…

  20. Kevin,
    Sorry if I came off sounding harsh.
    I would go further than you and suggest that the reason people are flocking to the Kazaa’s is not so much because of the selection but BECAUSE it is free. As far as DAC’s back catalog, someone who holds the copyright to those recordings has made a choice not to make them available. Maybe they will or won’t but it’s their decision, not ours. If we respect the law, we should respect their right to do what they wish with that copyright.

  21. I was disappointed the RIAA didn’t appoint a representative to be present at your Music Wars special. It was a perfect opportunity to defend their actions and convert doubters to their side. Their failing to appear only strengthens my condemnation of their resolve to make people buy less music, or keep downloading as they have in the past. I think what they are doing will turn around and bite them in the butt. Perhaps they are unknowingly seeding their own demise.
    http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=11662
    After watching the TechTV special, there is serious confusion on the question of copyright laws in relation to different forms of recorded media. VCR, cassette, LP (for the older music lover who loved the sound), CDs, MP3s, DVR/PVR are terms frequently lumped together. One audience member on the special remarked, since it’s common for people to record off of the radio, why is that permitted but downloading an MP3 is not. Let me make sense of this. We shouldn’t download a track of a CD converted to MP3, but it’s all right to make copies of a television show on a VHS tapes and give it to our friends? It’s okay to record music off the radio and convert the recording into a MP3, or do we now own the music that was recorded off the station broadcast and are subject to copyright violation? What if we share the radio recorded MP3 with our friends? The educational message to empower consumers to differentiate, and therefore, adhere to copyright infringement policy is lacking, no doubt.
    You make good points about supporting the lesser know artists. The fact is that we notice the artists who are promoted to the point of annoyance. The popular local radio station plays these heavily rotated artists because they want commercial revenue. It’s a vicious, and some may argue, unfair circle. Remember the hubbub when Internet radio stations were costing artists money and the debate of Internet broadcaster fees owed were rampant (google ‘David Lawrence’). I wouldn’t be surprised if the ultimate goal was to stifle what you propose, to keep the privileged in power and control. To help keep the superstars and big record labels wealthy. What we see with the latest lawsuits levied against the music lover at home, is an extension of that. Power and control are intoxicating. I wonder what will be next.

  22. I agree with you on this issue Leo. I have purchased several hundred cassettes, LP’s, and CD’s over the years. Many of these bands were “one-hit wonders”. Many of these bands make one decent song and the rest of the album is garbage. After I discovered downloading, I would download only the “good” songs that I liked. If a band had more than one “good” song, then I usually went out and bought the album to support the artists. I always thought of downloading as a way to make the “popular” artists and “one-hit wonders” work harder to produce better music. While I do believe that artists should get paid, most bands that I have known make their money off of ticket sales and cover charges. Very little money is generated by CD sales, except for those who sell through the major labels. The truly great bands, all had excellent stage shows. A good example is the band “KISS”, their music was okay (my personal opinion), but their stage shows were exciting and thus were the main draw for the band.
    I also agree with one of the earlier comments about the same stations being owned by the same companies. My parents live over an hour away in a different city, however the same company owns the stations in both cities. I am constantly reminded of this when I hear the same music played over and over when I go to visit my folks. I’ve also noticed that on cd release dates (usually Tuesdays), the stations play the same 3 songs over and over again, each time followed by commercials or DJ “recommendations” to go out and buy the new album because it is the best thing next to sliced bread. The few times I have purchased one of these albums, I have usually been disappointed.
    Keep up the good fight Leo. It’s people like you, me, and the other people who posted above that will ultimately make the difference in this battle.

  23. First let me say how you did a very good job hosting Music Wars. You tried to be fair and tried to give the music industry a chance to defend themselves. I just wish they would have answered some of the questions they were asked (e.g., what is different between file sharing and listening to the radio). In this piece you have summed up exactly how I feel about the situation. Downloading music simply so you don’t have to pay for it is wrong, wrong, wrong. However, for some of us it is the only way to sample new music. I have no problem supporting an artist I like. I however have been burned way too many times paying $17 for a CD that I find out I don’t like when I get home.
    The most interesting point I’ve heard in this debate is from Orson Scott Card who points out that the recording industry’s business model is based on stealing copyrights. How ironic. As a person who is in the tech field and has studied the history of technology, I have seen several situations throughout history where new technology has made jobs obsolete. Every time that happens the people whose jobs are now obsolete always fight the technology. Eventually technology wins and the industry as a whole not only survives, but is better off. The situation the music industry finds itself in is similar to all of these other situations. The only difference is that instead of factory workers and peasants losing their jobs to technology it is business execs with money that are on the verge of extinction. Darwin is at work and adaptation is necessary. Unfortunately, instead of adapting the execs are trying to legislate through congress and the court system. The ironic part is that technology is the very thing that created their jobs and is now threatening to destroy it.
    I could go on, but I’ll leave it at this. Keep up the good work Leo.

  24. i’ve found a wonderful way to hear music for free whenever you want: live in a dorm. (this also applies to hearing music whenever you don’t want too) alas, these people don’t listen to what i like, so now i’m working on channeling canadian radio stations into my head…
    that’s not illegal yet, is it?

  25. Kevin M: “I always thought of downloading as a way to make the “popular” artists and “one-hit wonders” work harder to produce better music.”
    Yeah! My butcher’s meat is only good some of the time, so I just take an extra steak without paying. That way he’ll work harder to produce better cuts.

  26. People will gladly pay $50 for a steak dinner that they will enjoy for an hour, but they are reluctant to pay $20 for a cd that they will listen to for the rest of their lives. Everyone who wanted to be a musician, become a CHEF! No one has invented digitizing steaks yet!

  27. I never said that my opinion was a good one, or even a correct one. I agree that artists should receive some form of compensation, however I think there are better ways to go about compensating artists than relying solely on record sales or by filing friviolous and invasive lawsuits. In the case of the RIAA, the end does not justify the means. Personally, I would not be opposed to paying a per song fee to download music, but most of the pay-for-play sites I have tried only deal with a few select record labels and an even more selective song lists. As long as sites like Kazaa and Morpheus have a larger variety of free songs than the pay-for-play sites, then people will keep using them. Try finding a copy of David Allan Coe’s underground and prison albums on a pay site, and you will see what I mean.

  28. Thank god for the Internet. I’m tired of hanging around people who are spoon-fed media. How about making up your own mind? How about enjoying an artist because YOU like him/her. NOT because you heard them on a media outlet. (radio, TV, whatever.) Thank god for people like Leo, people who still care about the big picture – the big picture – there are so many that don’t. So many that say, “who cares, it doesn’t affect me.” It’s a shame this selfish world has created such beings – what ever happened to that feeling when Al Gore and George Bush were just a mere few votes away from getting the presidency?? People proclaimed their vote! People cared and realized they had made the scales tip one way or the other by voting that day. Those times get forgotten, I guess. But one vote does matter – and one voice does too. Quit trying to win a popularity contest and TRY to make a difference. I surely respect that, and would rather poop inside a can of play-doe and eat it, than close my eyes and forget that there’s a world going on around us – a world that we are all of age to take a part in, and should be.. because if we don’t, it will surely go by without us. Too bad people don’t ever want to grow up. Too bad people don’t ever want take a stance and do/say what *they* believe in – they’re merely peasants, while the rest of us, that believe like I do, are, at the very least, attempting to make a difference. Even if it’s an un-heard voice. Like it or not, that means something. The rest of you are lazy, selfish and have been spoiled. Go with the flow? Or try and make things the way you think they should be? Going with flow is great at a party – but sucks in the real world. Want to make difference? STAND UP! Have an f-in opinion!

  29. One thing that I still never addressed is the rights of an album owner to download an MP3 of a song on the album that they own. If we shutdown all file sharing, then there is no way for a person to obtain a legal MP3 of a song they have already purchased. Why penalize a person for not owning the expensive equipment to properly transfer vinyl albums to MP3s? Stealing will always happen, but there is no need to penalize everyone because of the acts of the thieves. It’s like saying that because there are criminals that use guns, the right to bear arms must be removed from the bill of rights.

  30. I know that because of peer to peer I have found a wealth of music I would never have been exposed to otherwise. I started listening to mainstream rock on peer to peer, then that led me to the blues due to songs by artists I knew but the songs I never heard because they were not “hits,” and not on the radio, but those songs were created from the gut of the musician. I found out the roots of rock, American blues. I listened to “Muddy, Sam and Otis” by Rod Stewert, then I had to find out who Muddy, Sam and Otis were (for example). I am learning the nuances of each song, the individuality of each unique songwriter, guitarist, singer. I am learning the evolution of the best of the best,what made them who they are as artists. I have learned who later became “Guitar Gods” and who first started in the group The Yardbirds. I know most people might know this, but I didn’t. I have learned a new appreciation for different styles of music, and I am learning what I like, not what I have been forced to listen to. I don’t like that the Riaa dictates who THEY think I should listen to and buy. I want MUSIC and I want choice, not marketing. Furthermore, if I can tape a movie on TV for my own use, what difference is it if I download and listen to music for my own use? The Riaa that preaches not to “steal” is entering my home and privacy through my computer and even if I do not share files is saying they have the right to hack into my computer. I call that breaking and entering. Also, artists make music from tours, not primarily from recording. This suing peer to peer users is just the Riaa protecting it’s own pocketbook, they never looked out for the artists best interests. Look at the Dixie Chicks and the fact that they had to sue there record company to get a portion of what they deserved to receive. The Riaa’s tactics are just brainwashing techniques to keep consumers thinking the way they want them to in order to protect the music industry executives and keep them rich. People need to think for themselves and not stay in the Riaa’s little box-like mindset. The Riaa needs to step outside there box and use honesty and creativity to make a living.

  31. I found peer to peer file sharing a wonderful way to find out of print music and music goes out of print very quickly these days. A friend tried to find a Traveling Wilburys album but to no avail, it was out of print. I believe this happens because of a court descision regarding of all things a tool and die company which made it impossible for companies to get tax deductions for their unsold inventory; so, the companies (music companies and book publishers included) stopped keeping anything around for long. I’ve bought every Beatles album that’s come out but the mono versions of Sgt. Pepper and Revolver aren’t available in stores. If they are ever rereleased I’ll be sure to buy them but for now the only way I can get those tracks is peer to peer. The “Jukebox in the Sky” is a wonderful concept but I wonder if the music companies would ever bother to get all that wonderful unavailable music out there. Well, that’s enough rambling.

  32. here’s a point I don’t think was made here.
    artist don’t make their money from album sales. It comes almost exclusively from touring and public appearances. Everybody else makes the money of album sales…the artist, if they are luck, may get a dime for every unit sold. And where does that money go? promotion of their own stuff.
    People are complaining that file sharing hurts artists. It seems artist are hurt by the record companies that employ them way more.

  33. and direct artist to listener form of business CAN and will work. (once people understand how to go about things) Think about it. How do you find websites now? Well, there are search engines, and there are sites with links about the topic you seek. You just have to know how to utilize your resources. Getting you song on a bunch of popular music related sites will get you exposure, the same way radio stations do. The difference is that it possible to get a even bigger selection, and you aren’t force fed anything the way you are with tv and radio.
    just think about it.

  34. Leo,
    Your views definitely have merit. I strongly feel that the RIAA are biting the hand that feeds it. The federal government now gives the RIAA the legal right to make your provider give them names of clients who have been file sharing and/ or downloading music. And I believe that the current “witch hunt” of individual file sharers equals illegal search and seizure by coming into your home through your modem (Privacy? What privacy?) without a warrant. We’ve definitely thrown our individual rights away through our legislative bodies. And it will take a grass roots effort to inform our politicians from the local to federal levels to rescind these laws. The public is being punished because the profit of the record industry is less than forecasted because they have lagged behind the times and technology. I agree that the RIAA must go away and a demorcratic system of artist direct servicing should apply.

  35. I agree – the RIAA and it’s members are simply going to have to come to terms with the fact that the fundamental distribution model for art (be it music, video, film, photo, etc.) has changed. Using litigation to try and overcome this new paradigm will be fruitless (except for a few law firms, of course).

  36. Well said Leo! Well said! I agree wholeheartedly. I’ve never been one to download MP3s, because I’ve never had the time to spend really looking into it. But, a few years ago, I stumbled across some really good Contemporary Christian Musicians on the web. Small town folk, who happened to have a website with some samples of their music. I found it much more rewarding for me, to make contact with these people, and actually make purchases direct from them. I knew where my money was going, direct to the starving artists. I also enjoyed some wonderful music. Music that I would have never heard just listening to the radio.

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