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sufi
15-10-2004, 05:33 PM
....so here it is...it was bound to come up, no? :D

can we discuss the ins & outs of file-sharing in a reasonable manner?
not so much a debate as a chat, like, because i know there are strongly-held views about, so i doubt we'll reach consensus or even agreement, but we should be able to share our views and challenge one another in a non-arsey way, please...

nevertheless i'd like to hear folks opinions, i think the issue in the meeja is a different story to the one that i've seen on the blogs - while the press report events relating to copyright and big corporations , the blog debate is about creativity, censorship & conoisseurship - (if i got it right?) & the effects on the small labels and artists

the latest, (http://www.bpi.co.uk/news/bizinfo/news_content_file_846.shtml) of course, is that UK filesharing punters are getting nabbed, and that they're going for the people who host the files rather than the downloaders,
but that legalistic side of the issue is kinda dull, i'm more interested to hear about the moral and ethical quandaries....

http://83.216.135.129/inglistan/brikistan/icon7.gif peace & love
sufi xxx

DigitalDjigit
15-10-2004, 05:34 PM
Suppose you only buy used vinyl? You are not contributing to the artist at all. Why shouldn't it be possible for you to download mp3's so that you know what to buy?

DavidD
15-10-2004, 07:44 PM
They're going for the filesharers rather than downloaders simply because it's near impossible to catch the downloaders. You don't know if random person A already owns the song they are downloading, and just want a copy for their computer. Besides, i don't think they have the technology to spy on two people involved in a file transaction - so unless they actually host the illegal files in the first place, they can't catch someone downloading.

When people are sharing files that have copyright, as soon as they figure out they can download those files it means that they are distributing those files illegally.

I think they're going to have to entirely refocus their business model re: the internet and singles as opposed to albums; itunes has proven there's a market for songs, and that's the only real future. I can't imagine "The Album" has much of a future either.

GuyMercier
15-10-2004, 08:55 PM
MP3 is an inferior format for music

having a folder (or a burnt cd) of an album on your hard drive is NOT having a music record
it's like having a b+w 3" repro of the mona lisa instead of the real thing

so my points are
1) MP3s are for suckers that are not interested in the music
2) the music industry have no right to sue those suckers because they are not dealing with the products that the music industry actually sell, records
3) the music industry selling MP3s is the suckiest move of them all
4) well, no, people buying MP3s from the music industry are the real helpless dummies

I buy records, I favor vinyl

be.jazz
15-10-2004, 10:09 PM
Articles often refer to the "MP3 generation" and people who have "grown up without physical music collections" or "moved on to digital music," but I wonder if serious music fans (such as the good members of this forum) really enjoy MP3s and would consider doing away with everything else. I certainly wouldn't, I still find CDs way more practical. In fact, I still find proper CDs more satisfying than CD-Rs, but then again I enjoy classifying everything in alphachronological order.

DigitalDjigit
16-10-2004, 01:32 PM
But you guys are discussing the ethics of it...

In any case, if you go after the file-sharers then the downloaders will have nowhere to download from. The distinction between sharers and downloaders is non-existent. Once you download something it is there to be shared, that's the whole idea behind p2p. The files are spread and made more easily available.

Vinyl vs. mp3: You can be a devotee of vinyl but it still helps to here something before you buy it. Even a b&w mona lisa gives a better idea of it than the most detailed description in some art book. Although...this makes me wonder.

Sorry for going off-topic, but: Is a good review of a track more important to acquiring it than hearing an mp3 of it. For example you can hear some song and dismiss it and never listen to it again. However if you read a review which places it in a context and gives some info, and then you find out this is a seminal piece of miami bass, you will gain some appreciation for the track. So when you buy it afterwards you may devote many listens to it and discover stuff you haven't before or just appreciate it in a way you wouldn't otherwise. So how important is the context in relation to the content? (Maybe this needs a new thread)

Nick Gutterbreakz
16-10-2004, 08:52 PM
so my points are
1) MP3s are for suckers that are not interested in the music
2) the music industry have no right to sue those suckers because they are not dealing with the products that the music industry actually sell, records
3) the music industry selling MP3s is the suckiest move of them all
4) well, no, people buying MP3s from the music industry are the real helpless dummies


Hey, I really don't like being referred to as a 'sucker' or a 'dummy', but I'll try and keep this reply polite.
I bought vinyl throughout the '80s and early '90s, then moved to CD and ,from earlier this year, to MP3. It suits my lifestyle just fine. Frankly I was sick to death of the ever-increasing amount of space my music collection was taking up. It is partly due to my boundless love of and voracious appetite for music that has prompted the move to MP3. I'm a collector of music. I don't need to have a solid piece of wax with a nice sleeve design to enjoy it. For you to suggest that I'm not interested in music is a total insult.

One other point that I've never seen mentioned before - the ecological benefits of MP3. Music can be enjoyed without using up more of the planet's precious recources. How many trees have to be felled to make the disco bags for your beloved vinyl releases, eh?

As for the original filesharing issue...well, I'm one of the evil file-sharers who are killing music so I guess my opinion doesn't count.

mms
16-10-2004, 10:50 PM
Basically music fans have to reach a situation where the people who are part of the production of the original product that you download, or use to source mp3's are paid for thier work.
the music industry is like anywhere else in that the people who produce the music should get paid for it.

perhaps some kind of brechtian effort on the part of the music industry might do this, perhaps that'll just kill the magic, I dunno.

there are lots of problems with the ethics of record labels same as any other industry, the big example in recent years being robbie williams getting paid 80 million (for a start think about how much of this money could have been invested elsewhere in better music etc) but i think the effort people put into making music, from the smallest labels upwards, people would like some reward for their music.
But then again when the mobos award a soul singer an award for best ringtone you begin to think what the hell..

grimly fiendish
16-10-2004, 11:22 PM
the music industry is like anywhere else in that the people who produce the music should get paid for it.

except it's even more important that musicians get paid.

if, say, you're producing cardboard boxes all day long, you expect to get paid for it. if you don't, you'll quit and do something else ... and someone else will come along and take over producing the exact same cardboard boxes.

but with music, with all art, nobody can replicate what you were doing. if you walk away, your contribution is over; finished.

don't get me wrong: i'm all in favour of downloading. but there have to be controls. at the moment, many filesharers seem to believe they've got a god-given right to listen to music free; as if it just *exists*, that no artists deserve to benefit from their creation. the irony is that it's not the big artists - the ones who can afford to lose a few record sales here and there - that'll suffer.

that said ... why didn't hope taping kill music? hmm. can anyone answer that?

nomos
17-10-2004, 02:36 AM
I'm entirely with Nick on this one. I've collected more records and CDs. than I know what to do with. I love having all of this music but it takes up a lot of bloody space and most of it goes unheard for months or years at a time. More and more I'm listening to mp3s instead. Of course the sound quality can be poor, but most of the time I either don't notice, or I figure that in some ways it's analagous (no pun) to my dad picking up distant AM stations on a transistor radio in the 50s. It's more about the excitement of finding exciting sounds than admiring their fidelity.

For me, mp3s have meant finally hearing rave tunes that I'd been reading about since 1990 or so. Same with all the jungle tracks that never made it to my part of the world when they first came out. And now I'm able to hear the new musics coming out of London and Brazil that I would otherwise be reading about for several more years before getting the opportunity to really hear and sort through it myself.

I think, quite often, a bit of unacknowledged privilege goes along with a great record collection. It means being in the right part of the world, at the right time or having enough cash to buy the fantasy that you were. Being a student and living in Canada, where the combination of shipping charges and exchange rates often makes buying mailorder music more expensive than I can justify, I'm quite happy sticking with mp3s. Not to mention that most of what I'm listening to is either out of print or never was available in any commodified form (live sets, DJ mixes, etc.). However, if I download music that is commercially avaialble, and if I like it enough to play it more than a couple of times I'll buy it. Otherwise, I don't see how it's any different from hearing it on the radio.

That said, I do appreciate the process of searching out records for the love of the music itself. Still, it seems that many people are more motivated by the prospect of owning The Thing - IE: what the piece of plastic represents rather than what the sounds mean to them personally.

Finally, I think Nick's point about ecological considerations is bang on.

All of this rationalising aside, however, I'm also partial to the Spectacle-coming-home-to-roost aspects of the larger mp3 phenomenon. The mainstream industry really has made its own bed over the last couple of decades. Overall, the indies seem to have a better take on the whole thing.

*whew*

DavidD
17-10-2004, 03:20 AM
Autonomic pretty much 100% OTM.

The distinction between sharers and downloaders is non-existent.

I disagree with this (I forget who said it); the difference between downloaders and filesharers is that you can't catch downloaders.

johneffay
17-10-2004, 10:46 AM
I don't buy this eco-friendly thing at all: Given the media used to transfer and store MP3s, I doubt they have much less of an impact on the environment than CDs or vinyl,even if you can pack more of them on your hard drive. Also, if you are collecting MP3s, do you not have them backed up somewhere, leading to more eco-damage? If my music collection disappeared because my hard drive failed I'd be less than happy. At least if your vinyl and CDs get stolen you can claim on your insurance.

mms
17-10-2004, 12:16 PM
[QUOTE=grimly fiendish]except it's even more important that musicians get paid.

yes i didn't mean the producers of the recording but the musicians who write it and everyone involved in the process of making the finished product.

quote: g fiendish
that said ... why didn't home taping kill music? hmm. can anyone answer that?
I don't think hometaping is as widespread as mp3's, plus the quality wasn't as good as alot of mp3 downloads plus there aren't whole sites on the net completely dedicated to easy access to free music often before it has been released, some people nowdays don't buy music because it is avaliable over their modem.

I was near Southern India last year and the kids there were downloading eminem, the worlds a smaller place but also much bigger for those people that want to seek things out. via the internet you can pretty much now hear music from all the continents, also things you'd never get to normally hear (or sometimes afford) also you can hear music from thousands of home producers etc, (not that the music is often great).
That's opened up a world of music to me, and it's music i'll follow up and try and support by purchasing it if I can.

mms
17-10-2004, 02:14 PM
also according to private eye..

2.5 M CDs sold in the UK last week

10 M Cds given away with weekend newspapers last week


yet another mountain... :rolleyes:

GuyMercier
17-10-2004, 07:48 PM
collector of music.

I'm not a collector of anything, I buy records cause I like them and they are how music is supposed to be received according to the guys that do them. I'm not into "lifestyles" either, I'm not into MP3s and consumer electronics, ...
etc!

grimly fiendish
17-10-2004, 07:53 PM
That's [downloading] opened up a world of music to me, and it's music i'll follow up and try and support by purchasing it if I can.

yes: me too. and i think the majority of us who care about music would feel the same way. but the problem is that the majority of people *don't* care about music (at least, not in the worryingly obsessive way we do) and won't see the moral imperative to support the producers. to an awful lot of people, music is a disposable commodity that simply somehow exists: there's no connection to the act of creation and the necessity of supporting that.

then again: i'll hold my hand up and say that i'll copy/not copy music depending on how much importance i connect to it. i got the last aereogramme album (sleep and release; not the new EP, i've not heard that yet) through work, and loved it so much i felt i had a duty to go out and buy it: especially because i know aereogramme aren't exactly rolling in income from their music. similarly, a friend came round today and played me the new isis album: it blew me away. but i didn't copy it because i want to buy it, to own it ... and yes, to pay my tiny contribution to the band. it's the least i can do.

Nick Gutterbreakz
17-10-2004, 08:12 PM
I'm not into MP3s and consumer electronics, ...
etc!

That's fine, and I totally respect your decision to stick with vinyl. i just wish you'd extend the same courtesy to those of us that prefer a different method.

mms
17-10-2004, 08:17 PM
[QUOTE=grimly fiendish]yes: me too. and i think the majority of us who care about music would feel the same way. but the problem is that the majority of people *don't* care about music (at least, not in the worryingly obsessive way we do) and won't see the moral imperative to support the producers. to an awful lot of people, music is a disposable commodity that simply somehow exists: there's no connection to the act of creation and the necessity of supporting that.

yes this is the main problem for me, but it's also a problem that's almost perpetuated by the way artists at the "top" of the game percieve themselves and are portrayed in a sense.
They're often seen as having a shit load of cash and the promos and coverage is often very expensive and flamboyant, , they are kings and queens living in a fantasy world, incredibly rich and successful and very detached from the normals who buy their stuff.

but with almost all things that are bought and sold today the way things are tpackaged and marketed separates the end product from the way it got there, or how it started off, or who made it and how much it cost to be made , and how much time and what the artist or whoever had to do to get to the point they could create it etc..

on the other hand small children get to hear snippets of pr information about which ghost writer wrote which song, what major label has big hopes for what band, which famous producer was pushing the buttons on this new track and how much the budget was for whoevers new video, on cduk every saturday.
which i find very odd .

GuyMercier
17-10-2004, 08:19 PM
That's fine, and I totally respect your decision to stick with vinyl. i just wish you'd extend the same courtesy to those of us that prefer a different method.

and we could rename this forum "consensus"

Nick Gutterbreakz
17-10-2004, 09:21 PM
a clash of viewpoints is what makes these forums interesting, I was objecting more to the language used in your first post. i don't think that calling people idiots cos they don't share your particular code of ethics is constructive.

okay, i'm done with this particular thread now. you can have the last word...

Woebot
19-10-2004, 08:24 AM
I'm not a collector of anything, I buy records cause I like them and they are how music is supposed to be received according to the guys that do them. I'm not into "lifestyles" either, I'm not into MP3s and consumer electronics, ...
etc!

As someone else who (like you) has fallen into the trap of being a record collector by virtue of endlessly having bought records I loved, I'd have to disagree about the mp3 thing being a "lifestyle" option. I don't know how it is in France Guy, but over here mp3s are pretty much the default means most people listen to music now. On the other hand buying records (specifically vinyl) is fast becoming an encultured "classic" pose, much more like a "lifestyle" choice. Though of course I'd vehemently deny it if you cornered me.

nonightsweats
19-10-2004, 08:55 AM
i download and then cut to cd-r. i can't stomach the idea of playing music on the computer, even if it does eventually go though a good amp and speakers (like i have in my lounge room). instead, i love being able to browse through my collection of cds and cd-rs manually instead of via an interface that reminds me too much of those i use for work.

as for the question of sound quality: i find it very, very difficult to hear the difference between a high bitrate (192+) or vbr mp3 and the original cd itself. in normal circumstances i can discern no difference at all. and apple's lossless mp4 format is even better.

and i hate vinyl - all those clicks and scratches were not supposed to be heard.

Rambler
19-10-2004, 09:13 AM
I find that although I've got thousands of tracks in iTunes (the vast majority legal downloads/CD rips), I rarely use them at the moment: I'm writing this on the same computer as all my tracks, but I'm actually listening to my minidisc player. I've only got OS9, so my version of iTunes won't talk to an iPod anyway, so I tend to use it more for compiling playlists for myself which I then transfer onto Minidisc.

As for ethics, I think there's a crucial difference between selective downloading via MP3 blogs and the like, and filesharing entire albums. With the former, you are getting context, a review of the track, and enthusiam from the writer. In my mind it's similar to taping things from the radio - if you like it, there's every chance that you'll buy the record: it's publicity the record companies would love to have. With filesharing, there simply is no (or very little) chance that you're going to buy the thing at all, so that seems ethically more suspect.

Grievous Angel
19-10-2004, 09:23 AM
that said ... why didn't home taping kill music? hmm. can anyone answer that?
It is demonstrably true that home taping did not kill music :-). There is quite a lot of evidence to indicate that home taping drove record sales -- for obvious reasons to do with product sampling enticing consumers, and off-setting post-purchase cognitive dissonance and other factors affecting purchase decisions.

Similarly, there is now quite a good body of evidence which demonstrates that mp3 downloads have driven music sales. Don't forget that in terms of both volume and value, CD album sales are rising. Even CD single sales are rising -- some in the industry thought CD singles would have disappeared by now. If mp3 downloads had one tenth the behavioural and economic impact that the record industry asserts, the effect would have been obvious by now. It is not.

I therefore don't think that the CD album is going to disappear any time soon. Nor do I think mp3s do much harm to the music business.

Hard data is here: http://www.unc.edu/~cigar/papers/FileSharing_March2004.pdf (http://www.unc.edu/~cigar/papers/FileSharing_March2004.pdf)

grimly fiendish
19-10-2004, 09:04 PM
thanks for that link, 2stepfan: i'll read the whole thing when i've got more time. (it was me that asked the original question, not mms.)

GuyMercier
19-10-2004, 09:12 PM
As someone else who (like you) has fallen into the trap of being a record collector by virtue of endlessly having bought records I loved, I'd have to disagree about the mp3 thing being a "lifestyle" option. I don't know how it is in France Guy, but over here mp3s are pretty much the default means most people listen to music now. On the other hand buying records (specifically vinyl) is fast becoming an encultured "classic" pose, much more like a "lifestyle" choice. Though of course I'd vehemently deny it if you cornered me.

having a great record collection is not the result of record collecting. I have one (die radierer, a german band) pic disc, maybe two (an oxbow LP I think) if I was a record collector I'd have much more of those I guess... what I mean is that I'm not driven by the collecting aspect I'm driven by the thrill of music. much as I understand the commodity of MP3s and the inexpensiveness of it, and although I have tried honestly to get into slsk, it is for me a tasteless experience to have files on my computer. "It don't move me" like the old man said. It is a cold medium, the CD was lukewarm and for me vinyl remains HOT. It's not a pose I assure you, I truly feel nothing towards digitized music

boomnoise
19-10-2004, 09:45 PM
I truly feel nothing towards digitized music

Guy - I don't understand this. How can, what is ostensibly, just a change of format render you numb to the music. The music doesn't change. CDs superceded formats of old and any argument against them, like those anti mp3s, has a heavy dollop of irrational fetishisation at its core. I don’t go in for that. I love the music. Its point of delivery doesn’t matter.

Across all formats the music is just data contained on the specific media. Now I happen to horde compressed audio data which occupies no physical space and is eco-friendly. I used to horde plastics discs which took up all my space and damaged the environment. MP3 have changed my relationship with sound, yes; but all for the better.

The music doesn't change. The cultural economy and entertainment's relationship to it does and I think that's what warrants discussion with regards to MP3 'ethics'. It's not an argument based on aesthetics and lifestyle choices but ultimately, one which is based on economics and sustainability and crucially where value can or cannot be added to art.

Backjob
20-10-2004, 07:14 AM
What interests me about the debate is the way that for some reason all discussion has been collapsed down to the question of revenues from recorded music. i.e. filesharing is wrong because it makes it harder for musicians to make money

Since forever, musicians have also earned money from live performance. Since the days of the mass media there is also the possibility of earning money from licensing (for TV , movies or ads).

So, surely, just as the advent of recorded music didn't kill live music, why should the (potential) death of recorded music as a revenue stream kill recorded music? And if there is a shift away from an emphasis on recorded music to an emphasis on live music, is that even a bad thing?

In the sense that we're always saying technological change in music is neither a good nor a bad thing e.g. effect of laptops on djs, effect of drum machines on drummers etc. then surely economic change in the music industry is also 'neutral'.

It seems unlikely that due to mp3s people will suddenly start hating music. So if we assume humans will still love music and therefore (in a consumer society) still want to spend money on it, it follows that musicians will still be able to make a living.

Furthermore a shift from ownership of physical items, and spending on physical items, to a seeking after experiences and spending on experiences would only put music in line with broader economic trends.

GuyMercier
20-10-2004, 09:28 PM
Guy - I don't understand this. How can, what is ostensibly, just a change of format render you numb to the music.

it is the truth
look I don't want to go into the details of a very technical debate
I found this skimming the surface http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=375592
but specially this paragraph describes my own experience:

Also important in this discussion is the inclusion of the additional
effects added by LPs that trigger the ways in which we listen to the
music we hear. Primarily there's the tactile element of records
(having to flip the record halfway through, larger artwork, etc..)
that makes listening to vinyl more of an active event as opposed to
letting music play in the background. Secondly, the addition of
surface noise from use, dust, mold, etc is quite often more "true" to
the music, the history of the artist, the history of the LP itself,
and the connection the listener has with the particular record.

- I find more truth in my highly-listened-to first pressing of "Kind
of Blue" than I would in any audiophile re-release. Just some
thoughts.

so true!

mms
20-10-2004, 09:37 PM
on slight tangent,
this from irdial in 1992
why cd is a con
http://www.irdial.com/w33.htm

grimly fiendish
20-10-2004, 10:19 PM
long post warning! multiple quotes alert!


Since forever, musicians have also earned money from live performance. Since the days of the mass media there is also the possibility of earning money from licensing (for TV , movies or ads).

but musicians make nothing from live performance. gigging pays next to NOWT, unless you're *huge* (madonna, U2-style huge). the cost of getting a band around the country/world is enormous; most ticket costs barely cover overheads. it's long been a truism that the only way bands make money on tour is through merchandise such as T-shirts etc. tours exist to promote the product - ie the record - not to make money themselves.

as for licensing etc: this, for good or for bad, has always been seen as "selling out". many bands simply don't want to do it: and why should they have to? if i'd ever managed to get any of my own music out there, i'd have wanted it to be bought and enjoyed as a self-contained entity, not as the soundtrack to a pair of fucking jeans ;)


So, surely, just as the advent of recorded music didn't kill live music, why should the (potential) death of recorded music as a revenue stream kill recorded music? And if there is a shift away from an emphasis on recorded music to an emphasis on live music, is that even a bad thing?

of course it is. very few people go to gigs. hell, not *that* many people buy records these days (cf ringtones outselling singles); even fewer bother to leave the house and experience a band. if they do, it's some time-served spectacle such as, er, madonna or u2. live music is not a viable way for rock bands to earn a living. hard-working solo artists might just about scrape a crust on, say, the folk circuit ... but even in more "specialist" markets like that, the chances of making a living wage are negligible.


In the sense that we're always saying technological change in music is neither a good nor a bad thing e.g. effect of laptops on djs, effect of drum machines on drummers etc. then surely economic change in the music industry is also 'neutral'.

?!

what: taking away someone's revenue, their livelihood, is neutral?


It seems unlikely that due to mp3s people will suddenly start hating music. So if we assume humans will still love music and therefore (in a consumer society) still want to spend money on it, it follows that musicians will still be able to make a living.

people don't hate music: they just don't like paying for it. i'm a deeply strange person, which is why (qv previous post) i've gone out and bought records i've already had copies of: because i feel guilty about enjoying that music without paying for it. i'm not setting myself up as some paragon of virtue, but come on: very few people do that kind of thing. most people don't think about music; if they find a way of getting it for free, they just think, top, and consume as much of it as possible.


Furthermore a shift from ownership of physical items, and spending on physical items, to a seeking after experiences and spending on experiences would only put music in line with broader economic trends.

er, such as? what, has material capitalism been replaced by spiritual capitalism? i'm sorry: from where i'm sitting (glasgow, uk), i see people stocking up on physical items like there's no tomorrow. houses, mostly. the pricks.

sorry. got sidetracked.

plain and simple truth: musicians might do it for the love, but if they're not getting paid, they're not going to carry on. end of story.

still: interesting viewpoint. i look forward to reading your reply.

andynic
20-10-2004, 10:38 PM
on slight tangent,
this from irdial in 1992
why cd is a con
http://www.irdial.com/w33.htm

thank you mms for that link! scary stuff. all that bizness at the end about sony written 5 years before dvd's appeared. i am frightened

grimly fiendish
20-10-2004, 10:55 PM
on a slight tangent, this from irdial in 1992 [URL snipped]

very interesting. and impassioned. thank god MP3s weren't common currency then :)

but what it seems to overlook is the fact that, for the consumer, vinyl (and don't get me wrong, i love vinyl, if only for aesthetic reasons) is easily damaged, and cassette tape ... well, don't make me laugh. i chucked out hundreds of tapes a couple of months ago because they'd deteriorated so badly. or maybe they always sounded that bad; i dunno. and believe me, i looked after them: they were all boxed and kept neatly in drawers.

my crappy 192kbps MP3s and 128kbps AACs aren't as pure and precise as the sources whence they came (even those evil CDs), but - as another poster pointed out - what's more important: the exact quality of the sound, or the ability to preserve and enjoy (on the move on an iPod, in this case) the songs? it's the same reason my dad has speaker wire as thick as my arm and i've still got the crappy 1p-a-mile stuff i got from richer sounds in 1991: fidelity just ain't a big deal to me. passion, harmony, melody, ROCK ... these are.

johneffay
21-10-2004, 09:46 AM
on slight tangent,
this from irdial in 1992
why cd is a con
http://www.irdial.com/w33.htm

But anybody who was paying attention when CDs came out knew this anyway: It's just the old valve vs. transistor amp dbate which had been running from the early 70s. Most of these arguments about format quality are redundant unless you have really serious equipment and a room set up to listen to it in because, unless you are right at the top end of the market, buying a new stereo will make all your music sound better.

sufi
21-10-2004, 10:34 AM
WOW
What a lot of top responses
thanks all!!

some rilly good links on p3, which definitely put the issue of vinyl vs mp3 to rest
i particularly cherish this un ;) :

As an older person whose hearing range has deteriorated, I am pleased with CD sound and lack of surface noise. My reminiscence of great LP sound is of course subjective.
my take on that aspect is that me & cheekybuddha were totally blown away last time we listened to vinyl, the difference in quality was astounding, after getting accustomed to mp3 over the years... no doubt

I still wanna deal with the ethical dilemmas... here's some case studies


i got absolutely zero sympathy for metallica or the other big acts who are rolling in dosho, but i get a particylar pang about sharing certain tunes from my local sound system, which i myself downloaded,
i don't wory bout downloading em, cos i paid to see that sound at least 50 times over the years, but i worry that if folks dl from me the sound may lose sales... at the same time, i guess that if i make the live recordings available mebbie more people will get encouraged to see the sound play live.
there's one album i bought on vinyl in early 90's of obscure dub, that i really love, i've never seen it on slsk, and i do have qualms about sharing it... definitely it's out of print for years, so i s'pose my qualm comes from some twisted sense of snobbery that i got it and it's wicked and obscure, no?

anyway, well done all for keeping it civil
cheers
sufi

be.jazz
21-10-2004, 11:09 AM
but musicians make nothing from live performance. gigging pays next to NOWT, unless you're *huge* (madonna, U2-style huge).
From what I read, that's the case for CDs as well. Is there any way of comparing how much people spend on pre-recorded music as opposed to live performances (would going to hear a DJ count? I don't know)?

As far as American jazz musicians are concerned, many use government-funded European concert halls to make a living. I don't think you have to be Madonna-huge for it to be worthwhile. And many carry on even if playing (and recording) music isn't earning them nearly enough to make a living, either by getting a job or teaching (I would guess that 99% of jazz musicians here teach, for example).

I don't think it's that different for the myriad rock/whatever musicians either. Eppy of Clap Clap makes music and works, for example.


hell, not *that* many people buy records these days (cf ringtones outselling singles)
If you're able to make more money selling ringtones of your music, wouldn't it make more sense to do that instead of losing money issuing singles? And people buy less music than in the dot com bubble days, but more than they did in the 80s and early 90s.

mms
21-10-2004, 11:29 AM
on the issue of touring, i know a band who are fairly big, not a household name but not incredibly obscure, everyone here would have heard of them, 50 quid man might have picked up their lp, they're in the middle of a european tour at the mo, they have sold out a few of the gigs, they stand to come back with maybe 200 dollars each from it after all is said and done.

alot of music, jazz , electronic etc gets funding from the arts council or european arts councils, it's true.


If you're able to make more money selling ringtones of your music, wouldn't it make more sense to do that instead of losing money issuing singles? .

because ring tones have even less of a connection to the song, singer, emotional resonance than mp3's do, i felt well sorry for the soul singer who went up at the mobo's to collect his award, you've got talent and you sing your heart out on your new record only for it to be reduced to a minute phone jingle.

be.jazz
21-10-2004, 11:45 AM
because ring tones have even less of a connection to the song, singer, emotional resonance than mp3's do, i felt well sorry for the soul singer who went up at the mobo's to collect his award, you've got talent and you sing your heart out on your new record only for it to be reduced to a minute phone jingle.
Admittedly, having a "best ringtone" award is a height of absurdity. First I've heard of this, when did this happen?

Still, a ringtone similar to having your song used in an ad, rather than something "inferior to an MP3." Personally, I'd much rather never have to hear that default Nokia ringtone ever again (the most famous short composition of the 90s?)

mms
21-10-2004, 12:00 PM
Admittedly, having a "best ringtone" award is a height of absurdity. First I've heard of this, when did this happen?

it was on the telly the other week.



Still, a ringtone similar to having your song used in an ad, rather than something "inferior to an MP3." Personally, I'd much rather never have to hear that default Nokia ringtone ever again (the most famous short composition of the 90s?)


similar i think, but the performance ie the human action is still reduced to 0.

cheekybuddha
21-10-2004, 12:02 PM
Hi everyone, this is a good debate. Really there are two issues with mp3's. The first is quality, the second is money.

On the quality issue, there is no doubt that mp3's are inferior - even at 320kbps. This may be because of duff soundcards/poor hifi setup, but as Sufi wrote earlier we listened to some old vinyl the other day and WOW! the difference was huge. The depth and range and richness of sound made me want to chuck my computer out the window! However, quality is a personal choice and if you're happy to make do with a pretty good approximation of the original then who's to tell you not to?

I think the real issue that this thread is trying to address is money. Is downloading masses of tunes from soulseek for free going to kill off artists because they're not getting paid for their work? Frankly, I agree that artists should be paid but for too long now we have been suckered and ripped off by the record companies.

Downloading music provides a new means of distribution which can save the ARTIST costs in getting their music to their audience. How much revenue from cd sales goes on idiot marketing, laywers fees for tying artists into crippling contracts with their record companies who then go on to dictate what an artist produces, swanky record company offices, etc etc.

With the advent of downlaoding the artist is now in a position to take control of their situation and still make money. I bet that if they cut out the middle(hundred)men they could charge 5p a download (which most people would be willing to pay) and make more money than they do through their record companies. This is why the RIAA are so up in arms at the moment - they are SCARED, because they realise it's the pen-pushers and hangers-on who leech money (from us via the artist) and not the artist who will lose out.

Filesharing has provided an opportunity to hear music that just isn't available in shops, specialist or otherwise. It may be a tricky subject at the moment, but I think in the long run it will have a positive effect by forcing a radical shake-up of a very greedy industry where both the artist and us, the consumer, benefit. It may mean a return to artists producing meaningful music rather than so much of the manufactured pop idol shite that we have rammed down our throats everyday. It may cause the death of the album as a musical journey, but we may have already reached that point anyway. How many albums these days sound like three singles and a load of padding just so they can sell the cd's for £15?

I've been rambling too long, but there's my tuppence ha'penny's worth. Let's just hope the formats get better. (Oggs any good?)

d

Yancey
21-10-2004, 05:21 PM
I think that I'm the poster-boy for this. Earlier this year -- fed up with my tiny Lower East Side apartment toppling over with all of my CDs and records -- I began ripping my entire music collection onto a 250 gig external hard drive attached to my iBook. It took about four months of ripping, and the entirety of it ended up being about 200 gigs. Then, a few weeks ago, I took about a quarter of my CD collection to Other Music and sold it, and I'm readying another batch to sell off as we speak. I struggled for a while about doing it, about how much fondness/nostalgia I have for the physical artifact, and finally I just decided that it wasn't worth it. That -- not to get too romantic here -- music isn't made in a pressing plant, so why the hell should I act like that CD is the music rather than being just a vehicle for it?

I didn't start file sharing until last year. A friend got me into some private file sharing group with an FTP server, and while I occassionally upload things, I am primarily a downloader, snagging maybe an album or two a week. My day job these days is as the managing editor of a prominent legal file sharing website/service focusing solely on independently made music, and my position affords me a limitless account of downloads, so on some days I'm snagging as much as 10 gigs of MP3s onto my backup external HD here at work.

None of this has anything to do directly with the ethics of MP3s -- something that I honestly find dull -- but my point is that pretty soon the whole ethical concept of digital music will be a moot one, like a farmer still stubbornly hanging onto his horse and buggy clopping along the interstate pondering the ethics of the internal combustion engine. The shift of music to a conceptual -- rather than a physical -- artifact is already complete. Think of the kids aged 12-20 right now who only relate to music via MTV or Kazaa. Do you think they really care if they have liner notes?

Of course the artists still need to get paid, and I guess I'm doing my part by participating in the cash side of the download age. But all we need is one label-less artist to have a successful album solely via the web, and suddenly the major label/MTV/Clearchannel axis can be sidestepped altogether, and perhaps the rules of engagement can be rewritten, even if only slightly.

grimly fiendish
21-10-2004, 08:51 PM
My day job these days is as the managing editor of a prominent legal file sharing website/service focusing solely on independently made music ...

...the ethics of MP3s -- something that I honestly find dull

for the first time in my life, words fail me.

you're joking, right? this is a big wind-up?

if not, god save us all. especially the poor bands you're dealing with.

this is their L I V E L I H O O D! if people like you don't engage with the issue, who will? what happens in the future is moot - FWIW i agree with your final points - but there ain't gonna BE a future for music unless people start thinking very seriously right now about how downloading can work to artists' benefit. and i'd have thought a manager at a filesharing service would be the very person doing that thinking.

sheesh.

grimly fiendish
21-10-2004, 09:08 PM
Downloading music provides a new means of distribution which can save the ARTIST costs in getting their music to their audience. How much revenue from cd sales goes on idiot marketing, laywers fees for tying artists into crippling contracts with their record companies who then go on to dictate what an artist produces, swanky record company offices, etc etc.

yes. excellent point. this, surely, is what we should be aiming for. BUT ... this is a dream, an ideal. the problem is the here-and-now.

for established artists, the problem is their existing contracts: they can't just go bypassing their labels. and for new artists ... well, without the clout of a label/promoter/etc, it's a lot harder to get your website (the one where your listeners can download your songs at 5p a time) noticed.

the problem is that everything's in limbo at the moment. it's all very well for minor music-biz people like yancey postulating about a glorious new dawn, but the fact remains that the music business has to bring that about. how they do that, i don't know. but one thing's for certain: you can't expect the poor bands - the ones who are busy, you know, writing and performing and creating - to do it alone.

mms
21-10-2004, 10:25 PM
on a tangent, cds and space, the way forward is case logic cd holders, i swear by em :)

echo-friendly
21-10-2004, 11:27 PM
But all we need is one label-less artist to have a successful album solely via the web, and suddenly the major label/MTV/Clearchannel axis can be sidestepped altogether, and perhaps the rules of engagement can be rewritten, even if only slightly.
wondering for quite a while why that hasn't happened yet, i can think of two reasons.

(1) it's just an effect of how success is being measured. since nobody is counting downloads in the big free music exchanges, some music that is very popular is under the statistical radar, because it's success isn't being translated into measurable sales.

(2) Success (in the conventional meaning the music industry has been employing) is a function of focussed marketing. that means, unless there's some concerted (and expensive) effort at promotion, human taste is too random to focuss on a few pieces of music or artists that stand out in popularity above the rest.

but, as usual, i'm not sure!

Yancey
22-10-2004, 12:49 AM
for the first time in my life, words fail me.

you're joking, right? this is a big wind-up?

if not, god save us all. especially the poor bands you're dealing with.

this is their L I V E L I H O O D! if people like you don't engage with the issue, who will? what happens in the future is moot - FWIW i agree with your final points - but there ain't gonna BE a future for music unless people start thinking very seriously right now about how downloading can work to artists' benefit. and i'd have thought a manager at a filesharing service would be the very person doing that thinking.

sheesh.

Well Grimly, I have nothing to do with negotiating the contracts with labels (we only deal with labels, never artists alone), so it's not like I'm fucking off by not considering these things. (My title is managing editor, which means hiring writers (some of whom are on this message board), assigning reviews, editing copy.) The bands that are on our site make out pretty damn well, assuming that the labels distribute the mechanicals the way they should. But our business model is actually a good one -- there's a very interesting article in the most recent <i>Wired</i> about the mainstreaming of niche businesses online -- and it's an effective way of exposing average Joes to new music, and along the way getting the artists a decent check.

I think that the answer to this "problem" (I'm not convinced that it is, neccessarily) is not to ban MP3s or move music back onto the digital realm, but to simply make people comfortable with the idea of paying for a file instead of a jewel case. With the launch of the iTunes store, I became comfortable with that, and buy at least an album or two a week from them. If the psychology of music purchasing can change -- where people don't feel ripped off without something tangible in their hand -- then the online music stores will become more successful.

Perhaps one way to approach it would be to draw more comparisons between music and film in the consumers' minds, giving the act of purchasing/listening to an album more of an event feel. I have no idea how to do this, but people are plenty satisfied with seeing a movie for $10 and leaving with only a ticket stub, or purchasing movies via PPV on their cable boxes. And Jesus, look at the DVD sales! <i>Passion of the Christ</i> sold more DVDs in its first week of release than the best-selling CD of the year will sell in all of 2004. (Incidentally, I downloaded <i>Passion of the Christ</i> when it came out and only watched the flailing and crucifixion scenes -- it's the only time I've ever downloaded a movie. I was thrilled to steal from Mel Gibson.)

Backjob
22-10-2004, 02:00 AM
Expanding on the material versus experiential point (note, experiential not spiritual).

It's an economic and sociological truism, well documented, that in affluent western societies, particularly Europe, there has been a shift in recent years from spending on material goods e.g. cars, watches, lawnmowers to spending on experiences e.g. holidays, classes, restaurant meals.

This is reflected in those countries undergoing a shift from a manufacturing economy to a service economy (obviously this is also connected to increased production of manufactured goods in developing economies).

That is not to say that people have stopped spending on material goods, but they are spending proportionally less.

The second point, is that if people stop spending money on cds, what do they do with the money they save? Do they put it in a bank account? Use it to buy jeans? Or use it to go to a gig?

There's no way of predicting this, but my inkling would be that a sizeable proportion of people will choose to spend it on music in some way, shape or form. It might be gigs, it might be t-shirts, it might be on some form of musical experience that none of us know about yet.

Evidence for this is ringtones. This is an area that did not exist 5 years ago, and now it is a huge industry. I don't know how much people spend on ringtones in a year, but it's a lot. There could be something else, equally leftfield, that will come along in the next few years and provide a source of revenue.

I completely agree that the shift to mp3s will cause massive changes in the economics of music, and may well cause a lot of people short-term pain.

But in the long term there are three things that don't change:

1) People want to listen to music
2) People want to make music
3) People will have money to spend on music

Music has survived a transition from a performance-only medium, to a patronage medium in the renaissance. From thence to an economy based on sheet music and from that to one based on recorded music. I find it very difficult to imagine that there will not be a similar transformation based on the realities of file-sharing and digital formats...

be.jazz
22-10-2004, 07:40 AM
Evidence for this is ringtones. This is an area that did not exist 5 years ago, and now it is a huge industry. I don't know how much people spend on ringtones in a year, but it's a lot.
I remember reading that it was $3 billion last year.

Nick Gutterbreakz
29-10-2004, 10:31 AM
christ, I feel like a total shit....not only did I d/l Grime 2 from Soulseek a couple of weeks ago, but then I just left it in my shared folder and now I'm back online and there's already a bunch of people greedily sucking it into their own harddrives as I type. Wot a total bastard I am. Still, this clearly illustrates the demand for Rephlex downloads, so hopefully they'll get their catalogue available online soon and we can all buy it legally...

sufi
17-01-2005, 11:20 PM
just loving soulseek at the mo :) :D :D

i reckon if it wasn't for soulseek i jus wouldn't listen to music hardly at all

now i got:
super biton de segou, super eagles, faytinga, mulatu astatke, ahmadou & mariam, orchestre zembe zembe, orchestre los angel, orchestre mando negro kwala kwa ...

joy :D

orson
18-01-2005, 11:38 AM
just loving soulseek at the mo :) :D :D

i reckon if it wasn't for soulseek i jus wouldn't listen to music hardly at all

now i got:
super biton de segou, super eagles, faytinga, mulatu astatke, ahmadou & mariam, orchestre zembe zembe, orchestre los angel, orchestre mando negro kwala kwa ...

joy :D

does anyone know if you can run soulseek on a mac (osx) ????

btw .. good discussion

nomos
18-01-2005, 01:16 PM
does anyone know if you can run soulseek on a mac (osx) ????
You can do it using this thing: http://www.captnswing.net/howto/nicotine/. But it looks kinda complicated. I haven't had the nerve yet.

mpc
18-01-2005, 01:27 PM
am i the only one here who doesn't use soulseek?

Rambler
18-01-2005, 01:30 PM
Not the only one... ;)

mms
18-01-2005, 01:50 PM
am i the only one here who doesn't use soulseek?

nope i've never used it .

Chef Napalm
18-01-2005, 04:17 PM
But all we need is one label-less artist to have a successful album solely via the web, and suddenly the major label/MTV/Clearchannel axis can be sidestepped altogether, and perhaps the rules of engagement can be rewritten, even if only slightly.

wondering for quite a while why that hasn't happened yet, i can think of two reasons.

(1) it's just an effect of how success is being measured. since nobody is counting downloads in the big free music exchanges, some music that is very popular is under the statistical radar, because it's success isn't being translated into measurable sales.

(2) Success (in the conventional meaning the music industry has been employing) is a function of focussed marketing. that means, unless there's some concerted (and expensive) effort at promotion, human taste is too random to focuss on a few pieces of music or artists that stand out in popularity above the rest.
The new comments caused me to sit down and re-read this entire thread at lunch today. The above posts caught my eye.

Somewhat like Yancey, I recently came to the conclusion that of the hundreds of CDs I own, I only have about 20 in heavy rotation at any given moment, and the majority of them sit in my desk at work, not in the CD tower I custom built ten years ago. I'm maybe unique in that I didn't really discover the glory that is house until well after it peaked (1996 or so). As a result, the majority of my music purchases are 12" singles. Casual listening tends to be either the aforementioned CDs or mixes I've recorded on Minidisc.

So, I boxed up the whole works and dumped them unceremoniously in my attic. There if I need something, otherwise out of the way.

While I was boxing them up, I came across some stuff by The-Artist-Formerly-Known-As-Prince-Who-Is-Now-Known-As-Prince-Again. Now here's a guy who's got the right idea: sells the mp3s on his website and GIVES AWAY no-frills copies of his latest disc at the gigs. :eek:

Makes me wonder why his example hasn't been trumpeted by more than just fans.

ome
18-01-2005, 10:00 PM
humm.. lets question the ethics of sellers rather than stealers (because the whole 'home-tapeing is killing music' is a dry hat that sucks egg......


But in the long term there are three things that don't change:
3) People will have money to spend on music
{snip}
Music has survived a transition from a performance-only medium {snip} I find it very difficult to imagine that there will not be a similar transformation based on the realities of file-sharing and digital formats...
Sellers of music know that a better 'sort' of person buys rather than steals, (in xchange for cash they get a stable format (HardDrives die suddenly and R-CDs slowly within aprox 4 years), presentation/context, quality, ownership(as least when played privately), and a fearless legal existance..

Lifestyle options with mp3s are a choice to those that wear white headphones, download music fromiTunes and want to be mugged.


With the launch of the iTunes store, I became comfortable with that {snip}. If the psychology of music purchasing can change -- where people don't feel ripped off without something tangible in their hand -- then the online music stores will become more successful.
(warning - yancey has stated his vested intrest in this point of view, being an employee of a company selling this business model)

Apple (iTunes), the current business model and all those that have influenced the current EU Copyright directives (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/12/22/patent_roundup/) want to profit from actualy providing a service while representing that the consumer is purchacing a singular 'mp3' product ((try selling iTune music on ebay) (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2003/09/05/ebay_pulls_itunes_song_auction/). Before iTunes we had eMusic (the original independant label mp3 service), you bought a service (unlimited downloads for 9.99 p.mnth), and explored via downloading vast catalouges that often were not avaliable else where (I have 4/5 of the whole FAX catalouge from Emusic )

This combination will not help artists earn a living. i.e. the current iTunes limited ownersip model (that limits ones offline music player by having to buy a singular tune rather than access to a whole catalouge) & it being now illegal to circumvent digital copyright protection (something that will cost small labels & musician more money to distubute music with).

sad note: the public have bought into this bullshit, the independant labels have sold out & i no longer pay independent labels and thier artists for downloading mp3's..........

wheres the consPiracy now?

mms
18-01-2005, 10:06 PM
sad note: the public have bought into this bullshit, the independant labels have sold out & i no longer pay independent labels and thier artists for downloading mp3's..........

wheres the consPiracy now?

the fact is most independent labels are aware of this, not all of them have got involved and governing bodies such as aim etc are trying to negotiate better terms.
However there are other business models .
tried http://www.bleep.com ?

Omaar
19-01-2005, 12:22 AM
I don't feel like I've ever fully fitted into the standard capitalist model of music consumption, whatever that was/is - listening to my parent's record collection, taping songs off the radio, home taping, borrowing cds from the library, collecting second hand records from op (thrift) shops and now listening to mp3s, as opposed to going out and buying new records/CDs. I did put together a collection of CDs over the years (although a lot were purchased second hand) but they were all nicked which sucked.

I like that MP3s are compact and portable, and make theft less easy (and sharing easier).

Also organising mp3s is awesome. Although I haven't tagged all my mp3s properly yet, I look forward to the day when I can create playlists based on year/genre or any complex search combination.

I like the physical artefact that records are - maybe something about their Aura if am I remembering Walter Benjamin correctly. Actually I think he might have been saying that only original art works (live preformances?) have that Aura - maybe records despite being commodities, have a bit more Aura than mp3s. Although mp3s can be commodities too I guess. (aside - is anyone into the band Aurra? - I have heard some awesome tunes by them).

I don't think art and music and capitalism should have to work together. Artists should not be producing commodities. They shouldn't be doing it to make a living. Except live performers. People should be able to work less and then more people could make art.

Making a living from music shouldn't be about putting a successful product out into the market.

What is primary resources like protein or oil were inifitely reproducible - would we still need a market to make sure they were distibuted fairly?

Anyway maybe if it is going to be harder to make a living as an artist in a digital world then there will be less artists and less art pollution.

sufi
19-01-2005, 12:39 AM
good 1st post!

sad to hear bout your cds, but thay was defunct- like napalm was saying
i never bought too many cds, but have boxes of c90s.....

anhhh
21-01-2005, 08:53 PM
hi, i miss the better ones, maybe tomorrow i ll post some thoghts from my own (if i can find my brain), but by now i ll post an article from jacques attali (the guy who wrote "noises" (and many more books)):
" Potlatch Digital


A Perspective on the Future Economy of Music



Jacques Attali





I wrote »Noise« in 1977, and still today I try to explain that it’s impossible to look at music, or any other form of human endeavour, when you put it outside of the global context. Of course, music is very specific for a number of reasons. One economic reason is that music is pure information. In economies, information is a devil – it’s impossible to manage. For example, the whole of economic theory is the theory of scarce resources. If milk is freely available, then the price of milk is down; if milk is scarce, the price is up: this is economic theory. But it doesn’t work for music: it doesn’t work for information as a whole. If I had a pot of milk, and I give it to you, I don’t have it anymore. But if I give you a piece of information I still have it, I keep it. Which means that if I have something and I give it to you, I create something new: abundance. And this means that economic theory doesn’t work for information, when that information can be separated from its material support – a CD, or whatever is the case today.

When I have something that is scarce, its value is linked to the fact that it is scarce, and that it belongs to me and nobody else. In an information economy, something has more value when a lot of people have it. For example, if I am the only one to have a telephone, it doesn’t mean anything, not if there is no one else to call. If I am the only person to speak a particular language, its value is zero, because I cannot speak to anyone else. In info theory, the value of something increases with the number of people sharing it. It’s why we must be very careful, when we speak about music, not to have in mind the main economic laws.

But there are also other reasons why we cannot rely on economics to understand music. Every human activity has a history, and it is a history that existed before economics, when things had a value that was not a price. So if you want to understand something’s value, you must try to understand what its value was before it was given a price. This is true for everything. It is only when you have found what is the value, what is the role, what is the function of something before it had a price that you understand why it can be considered to have a value in economics, why it still has a value even today.

What is the value of music in precapitalist society? In my view, music is a metaphor for the management of violence. When people listen to music, they listen to the fact that society is possible: because we can manage violence. If violence is not managed, then society collapses. The only way for individuals to survive is for violence to be channelled or tamed. In anthropology, it can be explained that the best way to manage violence requires us to accept the two following hypothesis.

One: We are violent only when we have the same kinds of desire as the other person, and we become rivals. Two: The way to manage violence in society is to organise differences – not inequalities – between people, in order that they do not desire the same thing, and through the channelling of violence by the creation of scapegoats. Scapegoats are a crucial element in the organisation of a society. They are somebody or something which must be hated, and also admired. Without them society is impossible, because violence is everywhere.

What’s the relationship between that and music? If you look at music as a way of organising differences among noises, then you have music as a metaphor for the organising of scapegoats. Noise is violence, it is killing. Organising noises, creating differences in noises, is a way of demonstrating that violence can be transformed into a way of managing violence. And this is true everywhere. In thousands of myths there are relations between violence and noise; music and peace; musicians and scapegoats; music and relationship to gods; dance and religious ceremony. In every case they present the same thing: trying to find a way to organise possible life in society.

Music is prophetic. Why? If we consider music to be a kind of code, we can see that there are many different ways of organising that code: different melodies, different rhythms, different genres. Moreover, we can explore these different forms of organisation much more easily, much more rapidly, than we can explore different ways of organising reality.

Music is just one element in the management of violence, and there are different stages in this. The first and longest stage in the history of mankind was through religion. We may say it began at least 15,000 years ago. Music didn’t exist as an art – for art didn’t exist. Music, dance, prayer, daily life were exactly the same; everything was alive, everything had a spiritual dimension. In this world, music was an expression of God, as well as a way to speak to God. It’s what I call music linked to sacrifice or ritual.

The Bible is the first sacred book in which music is said not to come from gods, but having been invented by men. It is presented as a human way of managing violence, and from Babylon to Egypt, the Greek and Roman and Chinese empires, we see the appropriation of 'sacred' or 'holy' powers by emperors, that is, by men. It is the beginning of division of labour, particularly between the three main powers – religion, the arts and the military – in which each plays a role in the management of violence. Music is the beginning to become increasingly important in this management process, and remains so right through the Middle Ages.

The real change occurred when a new means of managing violence appears: money. There was another way of managing violence, and another way of managing violence through music. More people wanted to be part of society, so it became impossible to tame violence through the old model. Where an 'elite' form of music existed, it was in the courts, in the company of the king. But then a new group of money managers emerged in the form of the middle classes, the bourgeoisie, the shopkeepers. They wanted to access to music but were too numerous and not in a position to finance musicians full time. Thus emerged the public performance. What’s interesting is that not only does this begin to organise music economically – people would put on a concert and others would buy tickets – but that new stiles and new instruments begin to have an aesthetic impact, such as the symphony and the sonata. This is what I see as a period characterised by representation. All this is linked to the fact that there is an increased number of patrons for whom the musician can work, but also because music was being used as a representation of power. Patrons were there to show one another that they are the new elite, that they are powerful.

This developed through the 18th and 19th centuries, and then you have a whole new form of music appearing, linked to the need of developing a representational economy , leading not just to stars – individuals – but to large orchestras of 50 to 100 people… and ultimately the conductor. What is the conductor? He is someone who tames the orchestra, but also someone who is demonstrating to the audience that it is possible to tame the orchestra – we see one of us taming the workers, organising the division of labour, avoiding violence and creating harmony.

At the end of the 19th century, as the burgeoning middle classes began to consolidate their position within society, it was not enough for music to be confined to the concert hall – it had become impossible to give access for music to all those that wanted it. By the way, it is here that music begins to develop an economic value in the form of copyright. What is important to understand is that copyright is not property right. Copyright is given during the lifetime of the musician, and to some extent, that of their children – it’s limited. This means that music has never been accepted as being the property of the musician. Copyright exists to finance his life, but not as property in itself, such as a car. So, to continue: at the end of the 19th century, it was necessary to create another way of organising music, in order to allow more people access to that music. It was time to invent the gramophone. The gramophone was needed because it was impossible to build enough concert houses for the hundreds of thousands of people who were in a position to buy music.

There was a need to create a means of having a private concert, because this was the only way to accommodate all those in a financial position to access music. Actually, there were two ways, which would go on to influence one another throughout the 20th century. Firstly, there was the gramophone – the concert without limit. And secondly there was the radio, which would pose exactly the same problems as the Internet does today, in that it offered free music.

(continues...)

anhhh
21-01-2005, 08:56 PM
....

Thus began what I see as the third stage after ritual and representation – namely repetition, beginning at the end of the 19th century. What is interesting here is that music begins to be seen as something that can be stored, and then copied and copied and copied. The gramophone exists before television, before the car industry, before you have a society characterised by mass consumption. Once again, music was a prophecy, not only in the technological terms that facilitated the production of more music for more people, but also, once again, in terms of style. One of the first styles to emerge in this new era was jazz, which is itself predicated on repetition. And after that, of course, the whole 'scientific' or 'theoretical' approach to music, also characterised by repetition, that was taken by people like Stravinsky, Ravel, Boulez, Stockhausen, Reich and Glass. It was a way of reproducing stylistically what was happening technologically. Today, the music industry faces yet another problem, in that there are limits to the amount of music that they can sell to people. Why? Because there are physical limits to the amount of music that people can store at home, even if you miniaturise the sales format – CD, DVD, or whatever. It’s simply too much, it takes too much space. There is an economic need to facilitate greater storage within a smaller physical space. What is required is a kind of 'virtual music'.

I think we may be entering a fourth era, one which will not replace repetition, just as repetition did not replace representation, and representation ritual. For instance, we still attend the types of concert that emerged during the representational period. There are a number of points to consider here. Firstly, when people talk about 'pirates', we should remember that the music industry is the biggest pirate of all, and has been from the very beginning. Who created the possibility of duplicating and distributing music, if not the record industry itself? You will find the same thing happening at each stage of the technology’s evolutionary development – the record industry shoots itself in the foot. One arm is producing music and complaining that technology is making it easier to steal that music, while the other arm is producing the very technology that it claims to be damaging its interests. This was true for cassettes, this was true for CDs, and it is true again for the Internet. Napster is of marginal importance here. Gnutella or Aimster were born within the industry. Both came out of AOL and they escaped like a virus that escapes a laboratory. They try to prevent it, but they can’t.

The second point to bear in mind is that we must make distinctions between three different types of copying. If I copy something for my own personal use, it is not illegal. Secondly, if I make a copy to give as a gift to another person, that too is not illegal, and this right is upheld across any number of formats, from CD to cassette to DVD. Interestingly, legislation exists that attempts to make it illegal, for the first time in mankind’s history, for me to make such a gift over the Internet… which means that it will not work. The third type of copying, namely the mass duplication of music for sale or profit, is clearly illegal.

But there are roughly one billion MP3 files in circulation on the Internet, and this figure increases by around 100 million each month. The question is whether it is possible to tame this kind of thing, whether it is possible to put the genie back in the bottle. In answer to this, I propose three scenarios. Two scenarios see us remain in a repetitive era, in which we try to treat digital file formats as if they were physical commodities. In one of these, the majors win. They would have to rely on effective cryptography to prevent duplication of music; also necessary would be the destruction of all MP3 files or, at the very least, control over the production of the devices that play digital file formats. This is rather similar to the approach taken by the industry when trying to shift consumers from vinyl records to CD. So it is possible that the industry will begin to produce devices that are incompatible with the MP3 format. This is certainly the approach that the industry is taking at the moment, but to my mind this will not work. It would require legislative support, and it would need to be policed worldwide. It would have to install a system for monitoring email traffic on a global scale, to ensure that no MP3 files were being sent or received. Moreover, it would probably require the industry to control what kind of music was played in a live concert or rave party, or what have you. Most significantly, any monitoring system would inevitably be used not just to check for signs of illegal music, but for wider surveillance as well. My bet is that such a system will not work. But if it does, music will be a prophecy of nothing less than a future totalitarian society.

The second scenario is one in which the majors are not in a position to do it, but where artists will want to do it and will do it. Artists will say, 'I don’t want to be rewarded only for selling the T-shirt'. There will be a fight – Courtney Love is famous for that – but I think a lot of artists would fight against the majors and try to organise the selling of their own music. I think this has a chance to work for the major artist, for the specialised artist, but this is not going to help the main global thing.

The third thing, which, one of three, I think has the best chance of succeeding, is what I would call the 'potlatch scenario', where people will exchange music just for the pleasure of actually giving. This is, of course, how MP3.com originally started, where people posted their music as amateurs, not as professionals. There are two directions in which this scenario could develop. Firstly, if repetition proves to be enough to tame music, we might witness the emergence of what has been called 'cultural capitalism'. And as I have said, information does not conform to normal economic rules that rely on scarcity.

But technology can be used to create artificial scarcity, so that cultural goods can be bought and sold like any other commodity. At the same time, one way of utilising actual scarcity might be to maintain a focus on live entertainment. If I look at the final of a soccer world championship, it is an entirely different experience to watch it live than it is to watch it two hours later, when you already know the result. You don’t need any technology in order to be able to sell a live event, because the value lies in the fact that you absolutely cannot know how it will end. A live concert in many ways is not a live event, because you have an idea of what is going to happen – unless it is totally improvised. So we can imagine cultural capitalism emphasising live events which are either totally improvised, or for which a conclusion cannot be forecast.

However, if I am correct when I say that repetition will not be enough to tame music in the future, a fourth stage in the evolution of music may emerge, which I call 'composition'. The future is no longer to listen to music, but to play it. It is different from everything that I have mentioned before. As a theorist, I have to say that composition would be done first and foremost for ourselves, for each of us, for the simple pleasure of making music. This is significant not only because you do it outside of the economy, for your own personal enjoyment, but because the only person listening to the piece is the same person playing it. It lies primarily outside of communication. And, stylistically, this is important because, as any musician will tell you, what you like to play is often not the same as what we like to listen to.

The tools of composition will be tools that are linked to the body: prostheses. Certainly we can use sexual metaphors here: the first characteristic of composition would be masturbatory. Of course, this would be just one element of the compositional act, followed closely by the need to share with another. It says in the Bible: »You should love others as you do yourself.« I have always understood this to mean that it is impossible to like others if you don’t like yourself first. Of course, the market economy may try to distort composition, to reorganise it in its own image. For example, I am fascinated by the recent work of Paul Allen. As a fan of Jimi Hendrix, he has created a museum in Seattle in which you can simulate the sensation of appearing as Jimi Hendrix live on stage, complete with applause at the end. I am sure this is going to develop as a kind of market-led recreation of composition, where you will simulate being an artist with a simulated audience. Nevertheless, the real pleasure of composition would exist outside of the market economy, just for the fun of it, where violence is rechannelled through creation. For when I create something, and I then give it to you, I may have a chance of living in your memory forever."
you can find this article in: http://www.springerin.at/dyn/heft.php?id=28&pos=0&textid=0&lang=en

minikomi
23-01-2005, 03:22 AM
my vote goes for mp3s...

so whats the point of the music industry anyway?

If the point of the music industry is to create a framework for distruibuting money, so that artists can reach a point where they are completely self sufficient from their art?

If mp3s mean that more people hear your music, and you make amazing music which connects with many many people, is the music industry really the right way to go about it? i.e. paying for a copy of the amazing music your produced? or, like most other arts, should the actual work be 'priceless', yet accesable by anyone who wants to access it? most other artforms do this by raising the price of the work way above the obtainable. instead music could do this by making the actual work 'worthless' and accesable. The artists would still be in high demand - hearing music played loud with a whole bunch of other people also getting off on it will never be out of fashion. live tours = money, merchandise =money, clubs playing music could pay a tariff to play the music, and this could go into a pool of money which is somehow distributed...if music is all played from an electronic medium, this could be monitored quite easily and the money distributed accordingly... much easier than trickling this source of income back down to the artist through vinyl the truly great musical works will survive, no matter what format they are in. the focus just has to shift from 'owning' it, to having 'experienced' it, which makes much more sense for music anyway.


and really, how many artists make better music as they get richer?

would a million dollar grime artist really be worth listening to?

do you listen more to drukqs or SAW1/RDJ album?

would you rather 'experience' to fat, old elvis, or some black slave d00d from the stix bleeding his heart out on a guitar accompanied by his pal on washboard?

most of what i listen to is bedroom produced at the moment, and i think that people willl always find a way to get their music out there. is it really so bad if they have to wait a few years to save up the money to pay for the recording themselves rather than getting funded? or even better, learn to do it themselves? i'd say more than 80% of the people who buy magazines like 'future music' or 'home producers monthly' or whatever do it because they genuinely want to be ABLE to record/make music, not because they want to 'crack into' the 'industry' .


just a few thoughts anyway. feel free to quote and disect and tell me im wrong. I know why I make music,

arcaNa
23-01-2005, 04:25 AM
...word. :)

(but he's right one some points,though...
and as i see it, the "vampiric" greed/state of the music industry is just a reflection of the state of our society/culture in general,- greed and will to power will always exist, people who aren't creative themselves will try to exploit those who are, and recorded music, printed books, works of art, becomes just consumer goods as everything else...
In the same ways as priests managed to "tame" religion and get personal power by claiming they could speak for the "god", so will the music industry keep on trying to exploit the creations of others for personal gain....)
-If a form of direct-communication between artist and audience could replace this,much shit would be eliminated...and also,new forms of expression would be stimulated,not repressed or governed by commercial interests...

egg
24-01-2005, 09:14 PM
late to thread, so apologies, but think there is more life in this discussion:

arcaNa> if a form of direct communication between artist and audience could replace this, much shit would be eliminated......

this assumes that artists are practical people who are able to get their shit together to communicate. it devalues the 'business' roles that at their best work to ensure that the artist does get paid for their work - managers, agents, publishing companies and yes record companies. in my experience the more creative you get, the less ability you have to deal with practical stuff and organisation.

and who pays the people that create and maintain this 'form of direct communication'? that's just another music industry.

minikomi> how many artists make better music as they get richer?

they get rich if they make good music - you'd have them kept on the dole for your entertainment i guess?

minikomi> most of whati listen to is bedroom produced... people will always find a way to get their music out there. is it really so bad if they have to wait a few years to save up the money to pay for the recording themselves...or even better, learn to do it themselves?

this will be at the heart of how music gets made (already is). but it's no different from the very established route of getting onto an indie, proving the market and then licensing/selling to a major. you just become your own indie.

Omaar> artists should not be producing commodities. They shouldn't be doing it to make a living. Except live performers.

*sigh* if songwriting is your vocation you should be able to earn from it, jsut as you can if carpentry or sales is your vocation.

No discussion of teh subscription MP3 model by the way? You can sample whatever you like and everyone gets paid?

Omaar
25-01-2005, 07:04 PM
late to thread, so apologies, but think there is more life in this discussion:

Agreed, definitely more life.



minikomi> how many artists make better music as they get richer?

they get rich if they make good music - you'd have them kept on the dole for your entertainment i guess?


Which relates to:



Omaar> artists should not be producing commodities. They shouldn't be doing it to make a living. Except live performers.

*sigh* if songwriting is your vocation you should be able to earn from it, jsut as you can if carpentry or sales is your vocation.


I guess my problem with this is that under Capitalism, no has ever, or will ever get what they 'deserve' (in the economic sphere that is). I think that the idea behind what you're saying is that the Market will be able to divine the best method of justly distributing wealth, when this is patently not the case.

Just to bring in another issue, what about the 'knowledge divide' - the difference between 1st and 3rd world access to knowledge and ICT technologies (i.e. computers for music production or digital networks for distribution).

One reason I don't think a market model should apply is that I don't think that the supply and demand model should have any influence over art.

I think that the music industry mostly manufactures desire, rather than allowing a greater number of people to consume the music they truly want to.

ome
26-01-2005, 08:31 PM
good threads refelecting on the distribution of music as a sign of the current state of the world..

I'm not to sure how this fits in, but here is a summery of the current legal models of mp3/online distribution:

1) buy an individual product (a song you dont own) and recieve a mp3 distibution service (i.e. iTunes etc.)

2) subscribe to a mp3 distibution service and recieve listening access to record label/s (i.e. like emusic.com was)

and a new way..

3) Listen to a stream of music in a licenced p2p enviroment where anyone can be a selector. URL=http://www.mercora.com/]http://www.mercora.com/[/URL] Mercora

going to download it and give it a go.. seems to be a sort of acoustic blogger?

seahorsegenius
27-01-2005, 05:35 AM
good threads refelecting on the distribution of music as a sign of the current state of the world..

I'm not to sure how this fits in, but here is a summery of the current legal models of mp3/online distribution:

1) buy an individual product (a song you dont own) and recieve a mp3 distibution service (i.e. iTunes etc.)

2) subscribe to a mp3 distibution service and recieve listening access to record label/s (i.e. like emusic.com was)

and a new way..

3) Listen to a stream of music in a licenced p2p enviroment where anyone can be a selector. URL=http://www.mercora.com/]http://www.mercora.com/[/URL] Mercora

going to download it and give it a go.. seems to be a sort of acoustic blogger?

What's your screen name on there? Seems cool so far.

ripley
27-01-2005, 06:12 AM
Late to the thread as well, but I did read it all. good points, all.

But I keep reading generalizations about how artists make their money, about where the money goes.

Before you get there, to the money part, you have to know who owns the copyright (broadcast right, performing right) to the song/lyrics/riddim, and what kind of a contract do they have - what do they make per unit? All of those things are the result of negotiations.

It's not until you know the result of each negotiation that you know where the money you pay (or don't pay) into the current copyright scheme is going to go. The story is (in the US) that (c) is automatic upon creation - but depending on the contract many artists either don't own them at all, or make so little off each recording that it doesn't matter whether you download it for free or pay the label some money.

And talking about making a living.. which artists, exactly, make a living off of their art? What percentage of all artists is that? At what point in time are we talking? The whole concept of an "independent artist" especially one who makes a living off of their music, is pretty specific to time and place, kind of art, and access to a lot of other kinds of support. (I would guess countries with more generous doles than the US, and free/cheap healthcare and education and all that might have more artists surviving off of their art. but what are those of us the The Society Of No Society/Religious Maniacs In Charge/etc. to do?)

Most clearly, the artists who DO make decent money (or indecent in a few cases) off their copyrights are usually either the million-sellers, or the ones who both own their own masters/copyrights, and have good contracts. Should law be written only for them? Will that make more artists million sellers, or more likely to own their own copyrights, or will it just put more money into the pale and puffy hands of the Big Four (ish)?

Ness Rowlah
27-01-2005, 10:54 AM
For me it boils down to this:
should musicians and writers be paid with money?
I believe they should.

I have yet to read about any musician saying that they should only be rewarded by "love" and "praise" -
all I see and read about is disillusioned people who should have made a decent living out of their music being
left with morsels after the record companies have had their piece of the cake (see link further down).

We have to find a better digital distribution model for the future and make it work:
at the moment too much of the monies does not go to the artist.

If you are opposed to the idea of paying for music, fine.

But please let those of us who actually want to support musicians in a direct way
be allowed to do so or try to find a way of doing so. At the moment I do not see
any better model than using open source DRM.
---

The problems with the current digital music payment models
and why Open Source DRM might be the solution.

I am warming up to the idea of using Open Source Digital Rights Management (DRM) as a possible solution for artists getting their rightful piece of the massive music industry (prediction: 2005 will be the music industry's best year ever). While I am opposed to DRM in principle we have to find a solution for that the artists and the "consumers" are happy with.

The rest is just fluff. Managers, music magazines, record labels, radio stations, copyright agencies, award ceremonies, the BPI/RIAA --- they are all eating of the profit that belong to the performing artist or author.
I do believe that artists should be rewarded or at least make a decent living.

As a "customer" I want as much money as possible of what I pay for the music to go to the creators --- not the middlemen, the agents (think Simon Cowell).

I do not have a ready made solution --- these are just thoughts for later fine tuning.

Recording artists are not rewarded the way they should be (http://www.halvorsen.org/business/arts_and_entertainment/music/musicripoff). If a band sells one million records and end up with just $38 000 for doing so something is clearly wrong. If the CEO of EMI at the same time makes $7.2 million something is rotten and deeply unfair. I do not mind people making money: but status quo is simply not satisfactory.


My generation prefers to own a physical object, the kids have no problems with just owning the MP3s (that's the theory anyway, I still see young kids with portable CD players and even walkmen). The kids are happy to pay one quid for a ring tone --- how to get them to pay 69p or 50p for a music track remains to be found out. My point is that the kids are willing to pay for digital content.

I have never posted complete MP3 tracks of decent quality for <Q>evaluation purposes only</Q>. While I do not see posting unknown tracks as a crime, I respect the rights of the rightful owner --- the artist. There is no way the lone artist can keep track of his own works on the web. I've had emails from musicians and photographers about me using their works without permission. Rightfully so.

If the artist decides to post content for free on his web site, then fair cop. If not, it's not --- the art belongs to the artist: unless he has given me permission to do so (explicit (mail, CreativeCommons-license) or implisit (by posting a track for free on a website).

It boils down to this: the art belongs to the artist, it's her work. She cares about it. I care about the smaller artist. And I want to reward the artist. This does not mean that I have never copied music to a cassete or not downloaded <CITE>The Grey Album</CITE>. It simply means that I might want to support the artist in a direct way. At the moment I cannot do that in an easy way for digital music.

DRM as it works today belong to the big media corporations (Sony) and their technological allies (Microsoft, Apple). This ensures that the current regime will stand and the big record companies can extend their lifespan by artificial means by ensuring we get entrapped in their DRM-schemes forever. The record companies are not there to protect the artists --- just like any organisation that grows to a certain size (say 10 000 people) they are only their to ensure that power is preserved or increased. With music the power should not belong to anyone else but the creator and performer (and the end-user if we purchase a "product").

When digital music, MP3 and DRM come up the big five recording companies say they are only doing what is "right". They are protecting the artist. Maybe they are, but more than anything they are protecting themselves and jostling for position for next-generation DRM market share. If the DRM was Open Source, then the record companies would not hold that power. If DRM was Open Source we would not have the problem of trust. How can you trust companies like Microsoft and Sony?

What we need is a simple way of paying artists direct for their "product".
We need transparancy: how much goes to the artist? how much goes to the middlemen?
Todays situation is not satisfactory.

If the DRM was Open Source the "music industry" (and it is an industry)
would not win the moral argument of "we provide the DRM for protecting the artists,
if there is no DRM the artist will be poor". Well let the artist decide if he wants the old regime
to collect the monies for him. Let the DRM be Open Source. Either by using OpenSource
alternatives or by making the DRM code itself OpenSource.




Sakamoto of YMO said in 1998:
"With all existing rights it's only natural that jobs too big for the individual are consigned to large organizations. However, when it's a job that can be effectively managed by the individual, I believe that the option should be kept open to let the individual look after themselves. Projects on the Net can be managed by an individual, and I believe that I should be allowed to decide to manage my web presence myself, while still asking them to monitor other media, and collect a handling charge for doing any task which I authorize them to do. I believe that this is the normal way to conduct business.



Sooner or later there will be organizations on the Internet capable of managing copyright issues. Because the Net does not involve only one country, there will naturally be many agencies which will appear, not bound to any one country's laws, free to compete within a global market for suppliers bearing valuable intellectual properties and sellers interested in them. It's normal market logic. Price would come down, service would go up, and the users would get the best deal that competition can provide.

...

Now, with the Internet, music can be distributed in its digital state, and the whole industry is about to be turned on its head. Music becomes the property of its producer, not his management office. It can go directly from the artist to the end user�without passing through agencies of any kind. This is pretty revolutionary. I can't help the people who deal in the material aspects of the industry when they tell me that they have a right to control my music. All I can tell them is do what they do well in the "material" world. Then, if JASRAC, or anybody else, wants to come onto the Net, and offer competitive price/service contracts, it's not up to me to deny them their right to compete."






The number of middlemen needs to be reduced.

At the moment we have something like:
artist (-- manager) -- recording label -- transaction agency and watchdog (RIAA) -- shop -- credit card company -- the consumer.

Ten years down the line it could look a lot simpler: artist -- agency -- us.

The window of oppurtunity is the next three or four years - nothing has really changed since
1998.

The artist has her website and sells recordings, T-shirts, tickets from the site.

The payment transaction itself is carried out using Open Source DRM through a company
like PayPal or VISA (trusted carriers are needed). And that's it.

The viral nature of music and the internet means it's just a matter of time before we have another Wilco (http://www.halvorsen.org/arts/music/bands_and_artists/w/wilcorporate). Wilco is now firmly back as a corporate band. Simply because the mechanisms to reward them directly are/were not in place.

Until we have a decent alternative (I do not believe in subscription models (nothing changes), a digital pool (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/12/28/fisher_promises_to_keep/) might work (but I think even the artists struggle with the concept of being paid "a bit" --- hence the grimers belief in making millions (why else are there almost no free grime tracks out there) and that guy from Busted "being a fucking conservative").

As the situation is at the moment I see an Open Source'd DRM as the best alternative forward,
the lesser of all evils, the way which can make both artists and us "satisfied".


http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/12/28/fisher_promises_to_keep/

http://www.authena.org/

http://22surf.org/

Sakamoto interview (http://www.ntticc.or.jp/pub/ic_mag/ic026/html/072_073e.html)

(besided this subject: but of interest: the Sakamoto interview is from 1998. I have always
claimed that the music "industry" has been sleeping, and this interview proves it.)

egg
27-01-2005, 01:29 PM
yay hal! said everything i couldn't manage.

Ness Rowlah
28-01-2005, 12:18 PM
> As the situation is at the moment I see an Open Source'd DRM as the best alternative forward,
> the lesser of all evils, the way which can make both artists and us "satisfied".
But there has to be a better way. Using DRM is "evil" whether it is open source or not ...