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On How Can We Get Artists Paid On The Internet? A Chat With David Lowery

@Moff Resist it, or adapt to it. Maybe I don't see success in fighting a tide that powerful.

Posted on June 21, 2012 at 3:23 pm 0

On How Can We Get Artists Paid On The Internet? A Chat With David Lowery

@iantenna It's up to bike shop owners to not put their bikes on the sidewalk, unchained. It's wrong for people to steal, but completely foreseeable that they would. Guaranteed, after the bikes are stolen and the owner calls the cops, the first cop asks what the hell the guy was thinking putting the bikes on the sidewalk unlocked and unattended.

Posted on June 21, 2012 at 3:22 pm 0

On How Can We Get Artists Paid On The Internet? A Chat With David Lowery

@Moff I don't download music illegally because as a hobbyist musician myself I've come in contact with plenty of people who make their living via the old structure, and I'm perfectly fine paying for their/others' work. However, I'm also not going to pretend that people won't download music out of a sense of obligation; they need a tangible reason not to do it.

It's a set of crappy choices facing professional musicians given what their options were over the past sixty years, but that doesn't mean the conditions are unfair, or any worse than the options were in 1800. Do you think musicians bear zero responsibility for selling their music in the formats they do? There's a tradeoff to digital music. They have easier distribution, but music is easier for fans to copy and distribute. Everyone's known about this for a decade and a half. Where's musicians' responsibility in this?

Posted on June 21, 2012 at 3:20 pm 0

On How Can We Get Artists Paid On The Internet? A Chat With David Lowery

@Reginal T. Squirge 1) Your vinyl-to-digital conversion takes real time, yes? That's a consequence, an obstacle to easy copying and redistributing. You have to sit there for an hour and change before you have your digital copies, rather than two minutes.

2) "millions of people you can't get to"... Who says? Why do you need to reach millions of people? What if the future model is similar to standup comedy? There are plenty of folks who make a living at it that you and I have never heard of, because they don't range outside a relatively small region of the country. For that matter, there are plenty of musical acts that don't achieve fame/notoriety outside a small part of the country, yet are able to keep eating and putting roofs over their heads. Maybe in the future there will only be One Directions going on world tours, and Avett Brotherses touring regionally, largely unknown outside the Carolinas.

3) Good point. DSLRs? Bouncers/security. And if someone's using an iPhone to record your show, trust that the sound and video quality will be an advertisement for what it's like to actually be at a show without coming close to satisfying the viewer's need to hear/see the performance.

In the end, I don't have the answers, but my main point is that a lowered ceiling for fame and fortune in recorded music is hardly an apocalypse for music.

Posted on June 21, 2012 at 3:12 pm 0

On How Can We Get Artists Paid On The Internet? A Chat With David Lowery

@Reginal T. Squirge Live performance. Vinyl?

Posted on June 21, 2012 at 2:53 pm 0

On How Can We Get Artists Paid On The Internet? A Chat With David Lowery

@Moff That it's illegal to download large quantities of music/art without paying for it is barely a problem for the millions of people who do it because there are no consequences. Effectively, it's not illegal.

If you want to play the layperson's economics game, why should anyone pay for music when it's easily and freely available at a quality acceptable to her, with zero risk of negative consequence? It's not "automatically fair", but it is unfair to ask consumers to ignore the giant loophole that musicians and their partners have left wide open. Furthermore, again, how much responsibility to musicians and their partners take for selling easily copyable and distributable products? If you sell a knickknack that magically clones when water's poured on it, would you be shocked if people simply cloned knickknacks and gave them to anyone they knew? Of course not.

Again, playing the layperson's economics game, if there's sufficient demand for professionally made music, people will pay for it -- if paying for it is the only way to get it. I didn't pay anything to read work by professional writer Maria Bustillos today; it appears Newcastle Ale paid for me. There's little reason for anyone to copy and post this anywhere else because the original is freely available to all. In fact, I like enough of her work that I might pay for one of her books! Or I could check one out at the public library! Just like anyone else does. Why do people do that with books and not music? Because there's no consequence-free way for them to attain ownership of a paperback for free.

For people who wanted to make a living selling their recorded music, there are a bunch of crappy options right now (assuming there's any kind of demand for your specific product), but that doesn't mean it's unfair that no one wants to pay for it. Ten years from now, being a wildly successful professional musician in a rock band might mean you play seven shows in six nights at a local bar, and you're fighting off aspirants to your throne. If making a living selling recorded music is the goal (and I don't even agree that it's the "best" goal to aim for) then it's on musicians to figure out a way to deliver music in such a way that people only get it when they pay for it, and if they don't there are real consequences.

Posted on June 21, 2012 at 2:52 pm 0

On How Can We Get Artists Paid On The Internet? A Chat With David Lowery

"It should be possible for a working musician to support a household without having to tour twelve months out of the year..." Why? Should it be possible for a working performance artist to support a household by doing nude yoga poses in national parks?

"The bovine willingness with which Mr. Masnick and so many, many others simply lie down in front of the corporate bulldozer is truly flabbergasting, just perversely magnificent." How is this not the other way around? Why are you insisting that labels and the established system of paying for recorded music (at the highest levels, run by corporate cartels) is somehow preferable to a more meritocratic mom-and-pop model in which every musician who wishes to sell her recorded music does it directly to consumers with no middle man?

Furthermore, why aren't musicians accountable for selling their music in a format that's easily copyable and redistributed? Don't want people copying your files? Don't sell easily copyable files.

There's an underlying assumption in this piece of what's "fair" that I don't think is supportable. Maybe you think musicians should be able to make a living making music, but there's no rule that says that should be possible in current conditions. But just as we're seeing with text publishing, an inability to monetize it doesn't mean text publishing disappears. Maybe a greater share of musical output will be from hobbyists. And that's not necessarily bad; it's just different.

Posted on June 21, 2012 at 2:19 pm 0

On What If Obama Meant Nothing?

But I thought Obama was the worst, most radical, polarizing, taking-my-country-away-est president of all time? You mean he's only going to do it in the second term, and not execute any of his self-evidently evil schemes in his first? Damn.

Posted on June 7, 2012 at 2:11 pm 0

On The Bodybuilder's Guide To Getting Rid Of "Computer Back"

I love my standing desk. Make it yourself in two easy steps:

1) Get a desk. Any desk.
2) Put a cheap coffee table on top of it. One of the $24.99 ones, like this one.

Boom. Standing desk.

Posted on May 16, 2012 at 11:30 am 1