Thursday, February 18, 2010

Fudge Really Has Nothing To Do With It.

Johnny Others asked me to contribute to this debate with some edifying thoughts about the workshops I sometimes do for a good daily rate in impoverished schools in Hastings. I think the idea would have been to make the case that by diversifying into such avenues, it remains possible for cultish, little-known indie musicians to make money – despite the scourge of internet piracy. I said I’d do it- but then I didn’t, I think this is why.

I don’t really subscribe to any part of such a case. I don’t know if it will remain possible to make a living as a non-classically-trained, artistically uncompromised musician.I don’t know at all that expressing yourself to a rhythm can ever be lucrative. I don’t think intellectual property is the same as property and I don’t think stealing something that the victim still possesses post-crime is the same as theft – but I don’t really like being identified as ‘anti-copyright. Unpaid commercial exploitation of a composition, for example, does deprive a victim and is much easier to call stealing. It is all very grey and defies a labelled position. Most of all though, I don’t really think that internet piracy has anything very much to do with the rapid decline of the music industry.

Let us be clear as to why the music industry was briefly profitable. A small number of companies were able to acquire, by wealth, a few scarce resources. Firstly, the expensive equipment required to record multiple tracks of high-quality audio and mix them together until they sounded nice. Secondly, the spending power to order at a bulk discount lots of plastic circles with data encoded on them as well as to print attractive packaging to house them in. And, lastly access to a large, physical network of shops and printed magazines with which to promote these items for sale...
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