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Jason Spitz
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One important thing to remember about the Long Tail: your position along the curve is fluid. Artists move up & down it all the time. A flash-in-the-pan hit can leap to the top of the curve, but quickly slide back down to the lower reaches. I think the biggest advantage of the new media economy is the ability for artists to move themselves up the curve, through their hard work and quality output. They may never reach the far-left peak, but if they can drag themselves from the outer limit to a stable position in the "torso", they've found success, and I think the potential for that scenario is greater now than it ever has been.
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I think the difference between Reznor and Metallica in this instance is rooted in the type of release they're putting out (and their goals for said release). Reznor is trying to "break" How To Destroy Angels and capture a wider audience for his new band than he was able to reach via DIY the first time around. He needs global exposure and marketing muscle, so a major label makes sense. The Metallica project sounds like something only their existing fans would want -- who else would buy a Live DVD from the tour of a middling album that came out 4 years ago? Metallica doesn't need a big flashy marketing campaign for this release to be successful. They just need a solid D2F infrastructure. Given the financial benefits of the D2F approach, it makes a lot of sense for this DVD project to be released independently.
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Truly flattered! I would also add Susan Lainson (@slainson) to the list. She posts really smart links & commentary on the business of media, mostly music.
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I second all those recommendations.
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Hahahahahaha. Whoever you are, you're hilarious. I do regret slagging on David's post. The majority of what he says is well-reasoned and thoughtful (though he does come across just a weeeee bit bitter). But if you think I'm a pawn of a large corporate interest, you have no idea who you're talking to. Do a little homework.
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Here's the difference: Media companies actively made the choice to rip off artists, they built it into their business model and work hard to do it every day. People of Emily's generation were nine years old when Napster was shut down. They grew up in a world where ripping CDs and swapping hard drives was the norm (and where major labels were big evil monsters that sued grandmas & college kids). We need to TEACH these young people that piracy is bad. We can't "teach" media companies and ISPs to pay artists their fair share...we have to legislate & regulate it, or convince them to change their business practices through collective bargaining & lobbying (yeah right).
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Maliciously stealing and blithely abusing someone's intellectual property rights are different things. They're both illegal and morally wrong. But you can't solve them both the same way. Thievery should be punished and strictly enforced. But for those who are unaware they've done anything wrong, and who are using legal tools to take advantage of unethical opportunities, pure punishment and demonization won't solve the problem. Their behavior can be changed by offering better alternatives, by appealing to personal sense of ethics, and to some degree by simply accepting that the pie will forever be smaller than it used to be, and figuring out other ways to make money.
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Dave, i'm tired. Here's 2 things: 1) If you think I 'outed myself' as a spoiled label brat who never pays for music, you don't know anything about me. 2) Yes, youre right, it's a hazy gray area of morality and economics. And yes you're right, egregious piracy is bad and should be stopped. So what do we do about the case of Emily White (and the generation gap she represents)? Do we sue her? If we were a label 10 years ago, we would, but that seems counterproductive. Do we yell at her and try to teach her a lesson? Maybe. Do we try to find out what she really wants, and find a way to offer it to her at a reasonable price (while compensating artists fairly)? I hope so.
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Okay one last thing and I'm done. David Lowery's statements - about the situation we as a society find ourselves in - are 100% correct. I appreciate the depth of his analysis. I disagree with his conclusion that $2000 worth of computers & smartphones is worth the same as $2000 in music purchases...that's flawed. But the questions he raises about morality and technology, self control and ESPECIALLY the money telecom/internet companies are making on the backs of artists - these are discussions we NEED to be having. And he does it well (mostly). THAT SAID... Emily White, a 21yr old intern, wrote 500 words expressing her conflicted feelings about the music industry. David Lowery, a 50 yr old college professor, wrote a 3800 word lecture about morality, technology, economics, and art. Both have valid perspectives and the truth is somewhere in between. Let's not call Emily White (either one of them) a "piracy apologist" or a "thief" or an "immoral person" (we can call David Lowery a cranky old man because he actually said 'get off my lawn' in his post) (kidding). I want to hear what more people her age have to say. If they're ever gonna change their behavior & attitudes about paying for music, I wanna ask em what they'd be willing to pay for.
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Emily ripped CDs from her college radio station's archives. How is that theft? Do you think she would have gone out and bought every single CD on her radio station's shelf if she didn't have the ability to rip them for free? Of course not. So those rips do not equate to "lost sales" or "theft". If she worked in her school's library, and she scanned books into PDFs and put those on her Kindle, would you castigate her for ruining the publishing industry? The fact is, when you can make a perfect digital copy of something, and not degrade the original, you are not STEALING. When you shoplift food from the supermarket, you're taking an apple that someone else would have paid for. When you sneak into a venue, you're occupying floor space that someone else would have paid for. When you rip a CD, you don't deprive anyone else of the ability to buy that CD. You aren't doing anything illegal. IT'S COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. It's not immoral, it's not stealing -- it's a rational response to the reality of the market economy. Blame technology for making it available, but don't blame the consumer for using the technology they've been given.
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I guess you missed the part where she buys concert tickets and merch. Or the part where she invests her time working for a radio station to help get music into people's ears. Or the part where she asks for a streaming service that pays artists better than Spotify does. Emily has nothing to be ashamed about.
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You want a lesson on the history of the music business, Gimme Culture? Let's look at the 80s and 90s, when labels got bought by multinational media corporations and kept raising prices on CDs because fans had no other option but to pay. Let's look at lavish expense accounts and idiotic business decisions, all that wasted money and sense of entitlement. I worked at major labels, I saw it all from the inside as it crumbled. It was a FUCKING BUBBLE, and technology came along and popped it. And instead of adjusting their business model to change with the times, the majors decided to sue the problem away. But just like every technological innovation before it, the cat was out of the bag, and you could either fight the tide of change or swim with it. Apple saw the wave and rode it to huge profits. The music industry gave away all their power & leverage and let their assets be carved into 99-cent pieces because they couldn't be bothered to solve the problem on their own. Now they're giving everything away to Spotify because they think that will solve their problem (and it might, for a year or two). All the fucked-up things the industry has done over the last 10-15 years...they shit the bed, they made themselves the enemy, they failed to do right by their artists...all this, and yet you blame it all on a 21-year old kid for "stealing" (aka ripping CDs from her college radio station's office)? You're the one who needs a history lesson.
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That's harsh, Edvard. How does morality even play into this discussion? Oh wait - IT DOESN'T. All you people ripping on Emily for being "immoral" or breaking a "moral code" or "stealing"...just STOP IT. There's no moral argument to be made here. Emily's behavior doesn't come from a fucked-up moral compass or a deep-seated evil. She is behaving like a rational consumer in a market economy. She's grown up in a world where music is freely available, whether by burning friends' CDs, streaming on Spotify, or filesharing on Kazaa. Do you expect her (and the millions of her generational peers) to say "This is the world we live in, and it's the way things are, but it's all fundamentally wrong and we should go back to how life used to be 15 years ago"? All you people on your high horse yelling about "morality" can fuck off. You're just wasting your time wishing you could return to the past, when you should be coming up with new ways to capitalize on the opportunities of the future (which are already here).
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This has veered so far from your original post, Nelson, that it seems you've lost the point. At first you complained about not "compensating creators". Now you're advocating a retail distribution model? The one where labels, distributors, and stores all get paid before the artist does? Look, people still want CDs as a format, but that doesn't mean they need to buy them through the old channels. Why not advocate for more direct-to-fan sales through artist websites, or on-demand pressing of CDs? The former puts more money in the hands of the "creators" and the latter makes distribution a lot more efficient. You wanna talk about "compensating creators"? Sure -- let's solve that problem. But don't blame it on Emily White and her generation, because creators have been under-compensated for a LONG-ASS TIME.
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Your concern is legitimate, and the folks who "won" under the old system certainly have an advantage. But new entrants are building steam in their own way. Will they ever reach the levels of widespread fame or "big hit" status that older acts got? Probably not, but since the whole cultural landscape is fractured into niches, I think we need a new yardstick to measure success. Don't ask "Are new bands as successful as the old ones?" but "Can new bands create a self-sustaining business model that allows them to stay afloat independently?" It's a slower process, and bands won't reach the heights of yesteryear, but if you can make a decent living doing something you love and making other people happy in the process, I'd call that winning.
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1) OK, "mountain" was an exaggeration. But most artists were never paid a penny beyond their initial advance, and many major-label accounting & royalties departments kept it that way through shady accounting and sheer negligence. 2) Fair enough. When I say "meritocracy", I don't mean "the best music wins", I mean "the band who works hard (both on their music and their business) will see rewards from that work". Work harder, get better, and things will improve. That didn't used to be the case...hard work only got you so far, and then it was up to luck or chance. Things have shifted so that "success in music" is less like a casino and more like a real economic market. Success is never guaranteed, but artists have a lot more power over their fates. That's what I mean by "meritocracy".
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If I give you a gun, will you shoot ME so I don't have to hear inane arguments like this one ever again?
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I said all music was digital, I didn't say it WASN'T also physical. I know CDs are still a huge market, certainly bigger than digital in terms of dollars. But the trend is moving away from CDs, faster & faster, and it's not gonna reverse direction. In terms of "compensating the creators", you weren't clear on who should be doing the compensating. At first I thought you meant fans like Emily should pay, and you were bemoaning the fact that her generation thinks it's a "quaint idea". Now you're saying companies like Apple & Spotify aren't compensating the creators -- which I DO AGREE WITH. Hardware makers, service providers, and telecommunications companies all profit from the ways technology has disrupted music, and they are not compensating the artist nearly enough. A shift towards compensation at that level would really make a difference. But down at Emily White's scale, changing fans' attitudes so they pay for more music? That isn't gonna happen. Better to convince them to pay for other stuff (which will get higher prices and bigger margins anyway).
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Because she's a smart, articulate, passionate person who has clearly worked her ass off in pursuit of her love of music. Through no fault of her own, she's grown up in a world where music (and almost all media) is digital. That's the world WE created. Technology leaps forward, and humanity catches up slowly, figuring out the consequences as we go. Don't blame Emily for using the tools she was given.
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GAH! All you people trying to make the analogy between ripping digital music and stealing food or sneaking into a concert...STOP IT. The comparison is apples & oranges, it just doesn't work if you think about it for more than two seconds.
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Jealous of what, exactly? Everyone who is complaining about how "people don't buy music anymore" seems to forget that in the "old days" when people DID buy music, hardly any of that money actually made it into the hands of the artist. The major labels built an unsustainable business model, then technology came along and popped their balloon. Artists suffered before MP3s, and they're suffering the consequences of a failing model. But there is a new model emerging, one where artists keep 70 - 80% of what they earn, and I can't say whether it will make things "back to normal" but I know it's the best chance we've got at building a sustainable economy around music. So stop fucking complaining about the past, and make the future happen!
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Artists didn't "receive their due financial reward" in the old days, either -- they received a mountain of debt, and lost control of their creative output in the process. I'd argue that artists today have a better chance of getting "due financial reward" because there's a closer correlation btw the work they put in and they money they get out. Music is becoming a meritocracy, where hard work, smart strategy, and quality product can actually earn money. Not million-dollar advances like the old days, but it's not a game of pure luck anymore, either. David Lowery comes across as a bitter old man, a contrarian who only sees the negative. Meanwhile, thanks to his major label past (and his TWO successful bands), he's got a built-in audience of thousands of people who would pay good money directly to him if he made a record & released it himself. Most bands would KILL for that opportunity, and they'd figure out smart ways to take advantage of it. But David just complains, and that's lame.
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Personally, I would never want to listen to music on tape. I don't think most people do. But if someone's buying tapes? Hell yeah I'll sell it to 'em. Who cares if it's "ironic" or "retro"? Someone wants to BUY it. Actually I do think the cassette tape represents an interesting space for unique album art. I've seen some cool, creative art on those long narrow sleeves. Also, maybe there's some weird 14 year old kid who grew up in the digital age and finds tapes quirky and kinda interesting. It's history, yknow?
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Good points, but terrible headline. This article does not offer any tips on "How to promote a show", just some advice on setting realistic expectations for WHO will help promote it.
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Oct 20, 2011